Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Good Reads for Mom

I spent most of my reading hours this month on a handful of books about motherhood. Three of them were so good I have to recommend them to you. My review of the books ran today on Meridian Magazine and you can read the full text there if you like. But I have to say a bit about each one here. I've been so excited about them. They are excellent. All three. In different ways.

The Mother in Me is a collection of essays and poetry about growing into motherhood. Contributing writers are twenty-nine LDS women who live all across the country. They write about the reality of mothering children from pregnancy through kindergarten. The poetry is stunning and the essays are stirring (and oh so honest!) These women share anecdotes that are revealing, humorous, and deeply tender. I laughed aloud on some days (you can read one essay a day if that's all you have time for!) and other days I cried with understanding. It made me hold my daughters tighter. 

If you have a literary heart - you will adore this book! These women are refreshingly down to earth but so gifted at finding beauty in the domesticity, heartache, loss, and challenges of motherhood. It reminded me that we discover the mother inside us, not in the predictability of an easy journey, but in the most trying of moments - the gut-wrenching stuff we often wish we could avoid.

Here's one of my favorite paragraphs from an essay by Emily Halverson titled, Watch with Me.

This is my greatest desire and my greatest anxiety - that it's going too quickly and that I've had too many children too fast, to be able to squeeze all the life and love out of these moments that I can. I feel as though I'm in a race against time to suck all of the joyful marrow out of each stage before it's gone.

A Mother's Book of Secrets is a complete delight. Written by Linda Eyre (mothering expert extraordinaire) and her daughter, Shawni Eyre - these two make a dynamic team - mostly because they offer such polar perspectives. My mom loved reading Linda's thoughts (they are in the same stage - still changing diapers but not buying them anymore) and I loved Shawni's raw reality. Still "in the trenches" mothering 5 children ages 11 and under, she acknowledges the wearing day to day work of being a mom but does so with inspiring passion for her children (whom you come to know quite well by the book's end). One of my favorite quotes from Shawni was about "wit's end." She says, "If anyone wants to know what a place called Wit's End looks like, just ask me. I visit there quite often."

Shawni's photography (she is very gifted) gives the book "eye candy" appeal. The portraits of her children and other family/friends capture the magic of childhood with breathtaking light, color and energy. It was the full-color photography that made me want to stop time and capture every moment I fall in love with my children again. You know - those moments when you hear that little voice whisper that what you are doing matters! I bought this book for my Mom for Mother's Day.


Finally, Contentment.  Another great read for Moms (not necessarily with young children) but with children of any age at home. In fact, it could probably be appreciated by mothers at any stage (as well as the Eyres' book). It is written by prominent best-seller Stephen Covey's daughter, Maria Covey Cole. It's her first book and with its publication she's made quite a name for herself.  What I loved most is that she taps into something most mothers are looking for (whether we realize it or not). We just don't know how to find it. I speak for myself here. She promises contentment is there for the taking if one looks for it. By the end of the book, I was a believer. Initially, however, I laughed at the book's title and thought - it takes some serious emotional and spiritual arrival to say in the day to day madness - "I am content." Cole jokes about a sign that hangs in the kitchen of their family cabin that reads, "For this, I spent four years in college?" But sometimes we wonder don't we?

Written from a Mormon perspective, Cole uses scriptures and quotes from LDS church leadership as well as a slew of wonderful thoughts and insights from mothers of varied backgrounds, religions and professions. I took lots of notes and found the book rather pivotal in how I view my own "contentment" as a mother. Cole writes,

When a mother truly comprehends the significance of what she does each day and the influence for good she has upon her children, she takes the first step on the pathway to contentment.

And one last quote from Daniel Webster that reminded me - all the messes, meals and meltdowns are worth it!

If we work upon marble, it will perish. If we work upon brass, time will efface it. If we rear temples, they will crumble into dust. But if we work upon immortal minds, and instill into them just principles, we are then engraving on that tablet that which no time will efface, but will brighten and brighten to all eternity.

So I bought Contentment  for my sisters.  

I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to share these fantastic mommy books as Mother's Day is on the horizon. Maybe you can clue your hubbies into the gift of a good read or just get started yourself. They are crammed with great writing, candor, and surprisingly helpful insights. Maybe I'm still the novice (or the distracted, hard-headed ninny slugging through each day), but some of what these women had to say was like thunder and lightning rattling my soul. Would love your feedback if you get around to reading them!

3 comments:

  1. I first stumbled onto Brooke Benton's blog through other friend's blogs. She's in the mother in me book/Segullah. I love how the take these moms have on life! Especially since it's not all sugar-coated!

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  2. Great reviews, Cath! I occasionally follow Shawni's blog, "71toes" and I think she is a great writer and inspiration.

    Looks like I'll have to go book shopping. Again. That's where all my money seems to go. I guess it could be worse, right?

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  3. Cath-I've heard A Mother's Book of Secrets is a great book. Thanks for passing on!!

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