14 March 2009

Things I've Read - Sleep Is for the Weak

In the last few weeks, I’ve been reading a series of books that have made me angry. So it was a pleasure to tuck into this lovely little book one afternoon as The Boy was napping.

When I first started this blog, I had no illusions that I was unique in my struggles and questions and daily triumphs as a new mom. I’ve lived long enough to know that if I’m thinking something, a whole bunch of other people are thinking it too. Advertisers count on this, it’s called demographics. What I did not know, however, was just how many women have taken to their keyboards and written exquisitely and unapologetically about their lives.

The thing about being a mom, especially a new, first-time mom, is it’s easy to feel alone. Despite caring friends and family, when it’s 3:30 in the morning and your beloved is sleeping and you’re trying to feed the baby and dammit breastfeeding hurts, you’re on your own. The Groundhog Day-like sameness to your days has you striving to be a better mom and person, without even the fun of a car chase. (Seriously, the chase scene in that movie is one of my favourites. Ever.) And conversations with your still-childless friends can leave you feeling pretty isolated. Not because of anything they’ve done or not done, just because they can’t possibly understand why it's such a personal triumph to get to the coffee shop, on time, with baby, both of you recently bathed and in clean clothes. No matter how supportive your partner, and even if you’re lucky enough to have friends with kids the same age, there are so many moments when you feel alone; when the enormity of the decisions you have to make every minute weighs on you almost unbearably.

So many of the child care books I’ve read are emotionally disappointing, discussing developmental milestones and common questions in a detached and impersonal, generic way. This book, however, is a quick read that is the cure for what ails you; the literary equivalent of hot chocolate or chicken noodle soup. (Or, you know, a gin and tonic. Whatever.) Comforting.

In this book you’ll find, as Stacy Morrison says in the Foreword, “…a story from someone just like you, or not at all like you, that will shine a light on something true you didn’t even know you needed to know until you found it.” These are fragments of the lives of women who have written honestly and unflinchingly about their parenthood experience, recognizing the joys of the process, but not glossing over the bits that hurt, that terrify, and that ultimately unite us. I was so moved as I read through the pages. Compassion for Jennifer Satterwhite, struggling to stay clean as she raises her kids, recognition as I read Amy Corbett Storch’s description of her visceral love for her son: “I feel like someone scraped off the top layer of my skin and created an entirely new little person with it,” and tears of solidarity as I read Kelli Oliver George’s advice for a new mom.

Get your hands on this book, or visit the websites of its contributors. I'll be adding them to the blogroll in the next few days and weeks.

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