In The Nursery, author Szilvia Molnar explores the experience of a mother wading her way through postpartum isolation and depression. Instead of shying away from the darker realities of early parenthood, The Nursery leans into them and illuminates the visceral struggles of a mother trying to navigate her new life and altered body. It also explores the shifting nature of relationships with loved ones during major life events, and how we seek connection with others during difficult times in our lives, both of which tap into a universal experience for many people.
Before you dive in, hear from Szilvia about her inspiration behind writing The Nursery and what she hopes readers takes away from the book.
As soon as I gave birth to my first child, I realised that no one had told me the truth about what it is like to find yourself in the position of having to care for a baby. I was told it was going to be “hard” but what it meant in great detail had been left undisclosed, especially the first hours, the first days, even just the first night was a mystery. I had access to some information, most of us do these days, but much of it felt sugar-coated, as if the world was trying to protect me from knowing exactly what happens to your mind and body. The situation is improving, and women are writing some incredible stories on motherhood, but I find that there is still a great amount of taboo around sharing how dark and difficult the very first days can be – how traumatic it can be for many women to quickly take on the new identity of “mother.” Instead, we should stay grateful, we should keep quiet, and keep smiling.
As soon as I cut the umbilical cord, I was faced with a life crisis that I didn’t expect, one that I felt wrong to put into words because it was shameful to have certain thoughts at all. I didn’t know how much I would want to see this new and unfamiliar experience reflected in literature until it happened to me. But I wanted to tell a truth that can hopefully release others from feeling embarrassed or ashamed. I wanted to unravel all the little hours, to make domesticity into literature and write for all the lonesome mothers, the soon-to-be mothers, the non-mothers and the never-mothers out there. I had to do it in this way because I care about literature and believe that it thrives when more truths are told, especially the shameful ones.
Another thing that happens with the arrival of a baby is that it immediately changes the dynamic in a marriage. I was interested in describing what love must endure in the first gruesome weeks and how vital it is to pull anyone out of the dark. I was also interested in exploring loneliness and isolation, how crucial human connection is during the worst spells of depression. The book plays with language, ambition, and identity – mothers and mother tongues.
I have read some wonderful novels that have come close to a truth – this is my attempt at getting even closer.
Thank you for reading The Nursery.
(Author Photo Credit: Ben Mistak)