BOOK REVIEW: ‘A Monster Ate My Mum’

Posted on February 13, 2014

 

I first came across this book–A Monster Ate My Mum–not because I have suffered from postnatal depression myself, but because of my work with women as I train to become an infant massage instructor. I love it so much that I would like to share it with you. While I can’t speak personally about the debilitating effects of PND, I understand enough (as a woman, mother and friend) to know it’s vital for us to be able to speak openly and honestly about the illness.

A Monster Ate My Mum was written by Jen Faulkner, a mother of three who has suffered pre or post-natal depression with each of her children. When pregnant with her third child, she wanted a way to explain her depression to her older children and so she wrote a poem (on which the book is now based).

The book is a wonderful explanation of PND (or depression generally), written in a way that is absolutely accessible for children. It follows the plight of a young boy who is searching for his mum, her laugh and her smile – his mother’s PND is depicted through hungry monsters and he asks each one ‘have you eaten my mum?’

I think the reason I love this book so much is because it is heartbreakingly honest and allows parents to start a conversation with their kids about PND. Postnatal depression isn’t something that should be stigmatised and this book gives parents the opportunity to explain to their children (in an age-appropriate way) why mummy is feeling sad. Most importantly it tells kids that it’s not their fault and things will get better.

As Jen Faulkner writes on her blog: “My children are why ‘A Monster Ate My Mum’ is so important to me, I want to be open with them about my illness. For who knows, maybe one day they may need to be open themselves. I desperately hope that the book will help many families of those who have suffered or are suffering. Please help to spread the word, and thank you for reading.”

A Monster Ate Mum is a wonderful tool for families feeling the impact of PND. It is written for children aged from two to 12 years.

The Poem: A Monster Ate My Mum

A young boy wandered far and wide.
No one walking by his side.
His mum seemed lost, not the mum he knew.
Would someone know just what to do?

She’d not been like herself at all.
Crying lots and feeling small.
Not wanting to go out, get dressed.
Feeling trapped and like a mess.

A monster must have gobbled her up.
Made her sad and feel unloved.
A monster must have eaten her joy.
“I’ll go and find it,” said the brave young boy.

He found a monster big and tall.
A grumpy monster with no friends at all.
A monster that ate smiles and joy.
‘Did he eat my mum?’ thought the brave young boy.

“Excuse me, but have you eaten my mum?
I want her back I want some fun.
I want to see her smile, my mum.
Is she in your big, round tum?”

“No she’s not here I just ate her smile.
I’ll give it back after a while.
I’m sorry, I was hungry you see.
I don’t know where your mum could be.”

So the little boy wandered on.
Knowing where his mum’s smile had gone.
He found another scary beast,
And wondered if he’d had a feast.

“Excuse me, but have you eaten my mum?
I want her back I want some fun.
I want to see her smile my mum.
Is she in your big, round tum?”

“No I just ate something that made her cry.
She won’t know how, she won’t know why.
I’m sorry, I was hungry you see.
I don’t know where your mum could be.”

He wondered on and soon he knew.
That it wasn’t his fault, nothing he could do.
The monsters had eaten what made her happy.
It wasn’t him who made her snappy.

He carried on walking along the path.
Wondering who had eaten her laugh.
He saw a monster asleep on his tum.
Was he the one who had eaten his mum?

“Excuse me, but have you eaten my mum?
I want her back I want some fun.
I want to see her smile, my mum.
Is she in your big round tum?”

“No I just ate something that took her spark.
She can have it back, not feel in the dark.
I’m sorry, I was hungry you see.
I don’t know where your mum could be.”

All of these monsters had had their fill.
They had each been what had made his mum ill.
He wanted a cure to make her well.
He wanted to help her out of this spell.

He found a wise monster among the trees.
“Could you help me and my mum please?
She’s not been happy, she sleeps all day.
Can you help in any way?”

The monster turned and said to the boy,
“Those monsters will return her joy.
The monsters will return your mum.
She will be back you will have fun.”

“Time is what you need my friend.
Love and kisses and cuddles send.
It won’t be bad like this forever.
She can and will one day get better.”

So the brave young boy walked home and knew.
He would be patient, see this through.
He’d rest his head upon her tum.
Hoped no more monsters would eat his mum.

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