Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Book Review: what mothers do (especially when it looks like nothing)

what mothers do (especially when it looks like nothing
by Naomi Stadlen c2004

Let me begin by saying, I should have read this book while I was pregnant.  If you ever plan on having (more) kids, I recommend you reading this book during your pregnancy, whether or not you've had kids before.  It took me a while to finish it, mostly because I started it when Jude was a month or two old - not the best time to accomplish anything.

What I liked about it:
It's not a parenting book or a child psychology book.  It's a woman sharing her thoughts, thoughts of the numerous new mothers she's counseled and simply ruminating on concepts that are taken for granted by mothers and the rest of the world.  My favorite chapters (that resonated with me the most) were (4) "being instantly interruptible", (6) "I get nothing done all day", and (11)"snapping at my partner". It genuinely discusses the value and importance of what mothers do - like functioning on interrupted sleep, the ability to shift gears from a project to diapering/soothing/nursing and back again over the course of an hour or more.  In a nutshell, it validated and justified the out of control feelings that surrounded me and appreciated (valued) the unspoken acts a mother gives daily to her child.

Not all mothering experiences are the same so for the chapters that didn't apply to me as much, the reading got tedious, but in the areas I needed, the extra discussion was good.  So, picking and choosing what you want to read about could be a good thing if you're short on time and attention.

Overall, a mom (especially a new one) is so vulnerable to first few weeks and months.  Sometimes there are great women to guide and reassure them and sometimes there just isn't.  This book can definitely fill in gaps.  It's not an instruction manual or even one woman's opinion on how to mother.  It's just a gathering of 100's of women's experiences, organized in such a way to assure the reader that she's perfectly normal and doing great things as a mother, even when it looks like nothing!

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