I’m on a cozy mystery kick lately. My top three: Agatha Christie (the master), Miss Fisher, and Flavia de Luce. I like them because I can read them really quickly, and they tick one of my favourite boxes: “wasting” a big chunk of time on a book.

Since I learned to read I have loved to dive into a book like its a swimming pool and stay in it until I’m exhausted and shivering (i.e., the book is finished). I have several memories of doing this.

  • When I was about 11, I spent an entire rainy afternoon curled up in a wing chair in the living room reading A Wrinkle in Time and A Swiftly Tilting Planet back to back, over and over. I read them each 3 times.
  • I challenged myself to read Narnia in three days (did it) and Lord of the Rings in the same (it took four, because my mom made me do stuff, ugh).
  • When the seventh Harry Potter book came out, I stood in line to get it at midnight, then read it until it was finished (at 6am).
  • I often go on Terry Pratchett benders and reread five or six of them in a row.

I’ve had this practice written off as being “just easy books” and not “real” reading – i.e., non-fiction or intensity books. That’s really annoying to me. I read a lot of meaty stuff, too, but I’m a sensitive flower and I like having a good immersive book available so I can check out sometimes. Lots of people have talked about the value of escapism in books, so I don’t need to cite a bunch of reasons, but I do want to say that that attitude persists and it’s annoying.

I will always love a book that feels like cozy jammies. I also love books that move me, change me, teach me, and shock me; I’ve learned so much from books, and I have a long list of “serious” books that I’ve found invaluable in shaking my privileged, sheltered self. But it’s really hard not to feel like I should read and write something serious, when it’s pretty clear that I gravitate towards the cozy end of the literary spectrum.

Maybe one day I’ll write a serious book. For now, swimming pool/pyjama/cozy stories it is.

annemarie holding a tiny newborn baby. her gaze is soft.

I drove down Academy in our ready-for-baby four-door beige sedan listening to Peter Gabriel as loud as I could stand it, crying. I thought, this will be the last time I can do this. Ever.

I remember laughing when the tall ristretto hazelnut latte kicked in and we could see it kick in for the baby, too, because I was 24 hours into my “labour” and hooked up to the fetal monitors and the heart rate jumped 10 beats per minute across all the accels and decels.

I remember the tornado of hormones and exhaustion when the baby wouldn’t sleep because she was hungry, so hungry, and tired, and I was hungry and tired and gross and overwhelmed, except I’m retconning that, because what I actually remember is feeling that horrible mix of I will die if this goes on and this is so desperately important to me that I will die if it does not work. It was not me who called my aunt to come help us overnight, because I couldn’t. I was just dying.

All three births were moments of my life that have a pin stuck in them; they have been highlighted in neon and stand out from the mundane. They are the midpoint of the boring awfulness of gestation and the boring desperation of sleep-poop-eat.

I take a moment on my children’s birthdays to remember how I felt, on those highlighted days; the over-the-top drama of the events around the first one, the silent, abject horror that I was not going to survive the second, the grim knowledge that I only had one chance to get through the third.

I used to write a mommy blog. I wrote it for myself, and for my parents, but also because I secretly hoped to become a little bit internet famous. Then I realized that monetizing children is pretty gross and I deleted the whole thing. But I miss writing about parenting, and motherhood, because those things are a part of me. I am a far, far better mother because I read other people’s oversharing about their kids.

I still don’t think it’s okay to exploit my children’s lives for clicks. But I do find it valuable to document my life online, because writing for a public lens (even though no one reads this blog) changes my tone. It’s not the same as my journal, which is mostly yelling and swears. I want to write more about being a mother, so I’m going to.

Writing is how I remember what matters. And being a mother matters to me. My children matter to me. So I write.