I promised you a few book reviews and this is the first.
The subtitle pretty much sums up the content of the book: Nurturing Your Self While Raising A Family. If you’ve ever watched a talk show – including Oprah – you’ve likely seen an episode or two where the host introduces a “frazzled mom”, briefly discusses the challenges she faces, and then ends the hour by either sending the woman to a spa for a day or hands her a coupon for free housecleaning for a year.
Huzzah. But, really, not enough.
Much like the adage about giving a man a fish, it’s safe to say that the manicure will be chipped by the third day and the mom will still be cleaning up daily chaos even with that weekly maid service in place.
And, much like teaching a man to fish, the idea of teaching mothers about self-care (both physical and psychological) is much less glamorous but much more effective.
There are mothers out there who don’t need to read this book. I mean, I know a lot of mothers who do take good care of themselves and who would read through the book and say, “I don’t get it – doesn’t everyone do this stuff already?”. I also know some mothers, like myself, who struggle to figure out what the hell they’re doing.
I appreciated that the book was geared toward working and stay-at-home moms – there was no “Mommy Battle” being waged between the pages. That, first and foremost, was important to me. I am a SAHM but many of my friends work outside the home – neither one is “easier” and neither one is “better”.
I also appreciated that there was advice for parents of older kids included – both because I skipped the baby phase (as many other adoptive parents do) and also because many books seem to assume that parents of older kids have already got it all figured out.
As if the only stressful time in a parent’s life is when their child is an infant! (Ha!) Every age and every stage brings new challenges – and joys.
The biggest part of the book that resonated with me was the need for balance. I knew it already, of course, but having it spelled out in detail really kicked me in the head. Keeping your own identity (as opposed to simply being “The Mother of This Child”) and keeping your own hobbies and interests alive are just as important, I think, as finding ways to maintain your adult relationships.
The book has some great ideas for making time, fitting things in, and how to know whether you’re fighting a battle that you can’t win (and how to deal with the sadness of giving those things up).
Amongst the best parts, for me, was the section on grieving for your “former life” – the life where you had no kids and you stayed up all night and you had sex on the living room floor. Or, perhaps, grieving for the parts of parenthood you wanted – and didn’t get.
There’s a lot of reminders that parenting is not an easy thing to do – that it’s fraught with worries and concerns and “Am I screwing this kid up irreparably?!” questions. But it’s framed in a way that says it’s okay to worry about these things – but not okay to be paralyzed with fear. It’s not okay to throw yourself entirely into parenting to the point that you lose yourself as a person.
The reminder that being a mother is not “a job” but “a relationship” really resonated, too. It’s not about schedules and time sheets – it’s about a connection between two (or more) people.
There’s information about Daddies, too, by the way. And I suspect that for any fathers who are taking care of kids – whether as SAHDs or not – there’s information here that would apply just as easily.
But.. the very best part of the book, as far as I’m concerned, is that it doesn’t try to be ALL of the parenting/mommy books combined. It’s not “The Ultimate Guide to Being A Mom”. There are so many resources (books, web sites, etc) offered throughout the pages and in the resources section – giving me some really good ideas for follow-up reading on some of the subjects that really struck me as important to me.
All in all, I’d recommend “Mojo Mom” to any new parent, struggling parent or person-considering-becoming-a-parent..