Books for the Maternally Inclined
Source: Island Parent Magazine
Original Article: Click Here
Originally Published: May 2011
Thanks to our intrepid band of reviewer mamas…and papa—Samantha Agar, Mike Lowe, Sarah Milligan, Carly Sutherland, and Carolyn Wilkinson—who sought a quiet couple of minutes/hours here and there to tirelessly, uh, okay, gleefully read, and sometimes re-read, the following assortment of motherhood books.
So Sexy, So Soon, by Diane E. Levin and Jean Kilbourne
Whether we admit it or not, we live in a world today where children are sexualized from a very young age. So Sexy So Soon (Random House, 2009) takes a hard look at the reasons behind the sometimes-shocking realities of what our kids are exposed to, and why.
The first half of the book is a difficult read—not to say that it isn’t well written and informative—it is difficult because of the many examples of young children struggling to understand the sexualized world they live in. The authors deconstruct media and marketing tactics that contribute to the problem—certainly reminiscent of co-author Jean Kilbourne’s well-known work, Killing Us Softly: Advertising’s Image of Women. Far from a mere treatise on what is wrong with the world, So Sexy So Soon also serves to arm parents with the tools they need to talk to their kids about sexuality and sexualization—and the critical differences between the two.
Along with valuable sample conversations, you’ll find a number of specific things you can do to protect your children and arm them with the capacity to handle the images they will inevitably encounter in our hyper-sexualized society. ML
Good Enough is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood by Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple
Every woman who has recently seen me reading Good Enough is the New Perfect has blurted out that they want to read it. And really, I would feel confident recommending it to any of them. The book is about being a mother and figuring out how to balance that with your career or job.
The authors provide a history of the women’s movement and motherhood over the last few decades. This contextual information helped me to understand how we got here to this time in motherhood and feminine issues—our inheritance. Like a pendulum, we swing one way, “I gotta get to the top of the corporate ladder” and then back, “I’m missing out on my kids’ childhoods.” This book is about each woman finding her own balance. It includes individual vignettes—the authors surveyed over 900 women—some of which really resonated with me. A couple of messages that I really liked included: Your sacrifices should reflect your priorities (usually mine just reflect what I didn’t get done in time); and don’t let other women’s choices dictate your own. Good advice, all around. CW
10 Habits of Happy Mothers by Meg Meeker
If I’m lucky, I can read for 10 minutes in one sitting. Can you relate? Regardless, mothers, you need to read this. In 10 Habits of Happy Mothers (Harlequin Non-fiction, 2011), author Meg Meeker examines the crucial functions—and dysfunctions—of friendships, faith, jealousy, solitude, love, fear and hope. So many of us are overwhelmed and unkind to ourselves. This book gives simple, sound, practical advice on how to make small changes for big, happy results.
As a mother and pediatrician, Dr. Meeker has done the legwork. In one chapter, she states her belief in God and says faith is important for everyone. A long-time agnostic, I found this risky and proceeded with one eyebrow raised, but she doesn’t disappoint. Her discourse on faith isn’t preachy, but inclusive and elegant, threading nicely into her final chapter on hope.
“Giving and Receiving Love in Healthy Ways” resonated for me. A day after reading it, I stopped when I might normally lose patience with my three-year-old. I realized a need wasn’t being met. I listened. Cuddled. Talked. It changed the entire day for us. Really. Mamas, I wish you love and sound sleep. Read this book. SA
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
“One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.” This is one of my favorite quotes from The Happiness Project (HarperCollins, 2009), Gretchen Rubin’s account of her year-long experiment trying to squeeze more happiness out of an already mostly-happy life.
How to sum up all that is wonderful about this book? Rubin’s writing style, for one—witty, engaging, and earnest. Her methodology, for another—she exhaustively researches happiness philosophy, from ancient literature to Elizabeth Gilbert; she quotes countless studies and books, managing to sneak in scientific facts about happiness in a readable way.
Rubin focuses on one area of her life each month, from marriage to work to attitude. She test-drives specific methods to increase her happiness in these areas, keeps a ‘Resolutions Chart’ to track her progress and hold herself accountable, and finds, after all, that getting more sleep, finally starting those memory boxes for her kids, and nurturing friendships really does make her feel happier.
Am I inspired to start my own ‘happiness project’? Definitely. Is the book a worthwhile read? Absolutely. SM
More Time Moms Family Meals by Joanne Lalonde Hayes
More Time Moms Family Meals (More Time Moms, 2010) is a fabulous family cookbook that strikes a balance between simplicity, nutrition, taste, economy, and variety. I love to see a cookbook for families that caters to slightly more sensitive palates, yet does not dumb down food by instructing us to spend entire weekends pureeing vegetables to hide in things (I’m talking to YOU, Jessica Seinfeld!) or centre every meal around chicken nuggets or pizza.
The recipes in this beautifully styled and well-organized cookbook are broken down by week, with corresponding grocery lists and appendices in the back. I am particularly grateful for the grocery lists: although I love to cook, I hate to grocery shop and am famous for spewing curses at the sudden and unexplained absence of crucial ingredients that I was certain were buried in the pantry.
Although many of the recipes might not get a gold star for creativity—the cover features tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich—I can always hit up my Vij’s or Rebar cookbooks for that. Rather, More Time Moms Family Meals is the cookbook to turn to when you need an answer to the age-old question: “What’s for dinner?” Tonight it will be the (successfully) tried and tested Greek platter and pork tenderloin. Oh and there IS an app for that: go to web link. CS
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Island Parent Magazine
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