When I became a mother, it was natural for me to seek out books about motherhood. I wanted the inside scoop! I wanted to know if other mothers felt the way I did sometimes. I wanted to find ideas for being a better mother. More than anything, I wanted to get the feeling that I wasn’t alone. All of these books have helped me be a better mother in some way–whether it was giving me a laugh when I needed it or making me feel that I wasn’t crazy. You’ll find all kinds of mothers in these books–particularly in the compilations, which are filled with voices of mothers from all different walks of life and circumstances. I have lots of other books on motherhood on my bookshelf waiting to be read, but these are the ones I’ve actually read and related to and felt were worthwhile.
- It’s A Boy: Women Writers On Raising Boys edited by Andrea Buchanan (Note: There is a “girl” version of this book too but I have a son so I got this one)
- Toddler: Real-Life Stories of Those Fickle, Irrational, Urgent, Tiny People We Love edited by Jennifer Margulis
- Breeder: Real-Life Stories from the New Generation of Mothers edited by Ariel Gore
- Mother Shock: Loving Every (Other) Minute of It by Andrea Buchanan
- Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year by Anne Lamott
- The Big Turnoff: Confessions of a TV-addicted Mom Trying To Raise A TV-Free Kid by Ellen Currey-Wilson
A little more information on each book…
Like many books about the experience of motherhood, this is a compilation of different mothers talking about their experiences. In this case, the common thread is the challenges and joys of raising boys. (There is a “girl” version of the book as well). The essays range from mother’s discussing their disappointments on finding out they were having a son instead of a daughter to the advantages of raising a son versus raising a daughter. The mothers are at all different points in their motherhood — some have teenagers, some with toddlers, some with grade schoolers. As with any compilation with essays written by different writers, the reader will find they like some more than others. But, overall, as a mother of a son, I enjoyed reading the viewpoints of other women raising this most “alien” of species to me!
Yet another compilation of essays by writers who are mothers, this one focuses specifically on the toddler time of a child’s life. The subtitle pretty much says it all and was one of the reasons I purchased the book in the first place. The essays are usually pretty funny and recount some of the priceless moments that toddlers inflict on their parents. Whether you are heading into this phase, in this phase, or out of this phase, this is a fast, funny read about one of the most amusing and frustrating periods of motherhood!
This is another compilation of essays about motherhood. What makes this book different from some others is that the mothers are “alternative” moms or moms that don’t “fit” society’s views of a typical mother. The mothers in this book are unwed mothers, lesbian mothers, adoptive mothers, single mothers. But no matter how different these mothers may be from your own upbringing or circumstances, I think all mothers can find a common ground in these essays. After all, all kids poop whether their mother has 100 tattoos or none. The editors of the book are the founders and editors of Hip Mama.
I bought this book right after having my son and realized that motherhood isn’t always the dreamy la-la land that I had imagined when I was pregnant. The title pretty much says it all — the author finds motherhood to be a land filled with great and shining moments and not so shining moments. I loved that she writes about how real mothers are often ambivalent about being a mother at times — and that is OK. Becoming a mother is total shock to your system; your world is turned upside down and inside out, and this was one of the books that I felt was closest to my experiences as a new mom and captured some of those “not so good” feelings about becoming a mother.
Anne Lamott is one of my favorite writers. She writes with an unflinching honesty and a self-depreciating sense of humor that makes her an incredibly accessible writer. She is probably best known for her books on writing (Bird by Bird) and faith (Traveling Mercies, Grace Eventually), but it is only natural that she penned this book describing her first year of motherhood. A single mother who is woefully unprepared both financially, spiritually and physically (she has some addiction problems), Lamott nevertheless decides to keep the baby when she discovers she has become pregnant. Her journey is both laugh-out-loud funny and incredibly sad as well. A must for any fan of Lamott and anyone interested in good writing about the experience of motherhood.
Although this book focuses on one mother’s efforts to keep her son “TV-Free,” it is also really a book about becoming a mother and trying to raise your children in a way that you believe in. It can be hard to try to raise a child in a manner that doesn’t conform with society’s norms (a child that doesn’t watch TV????!!!), and this book recounts the author’s struggle to come to terms with whether she is helping or harming her child. It is also a book about a mother finding herself — not just as a mother but as a woman. I really enjoyed this book and think any parent would find this book thought-provoking.
Another book I read that concerns motherhood and reviewed on this blog was The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing. I did not care for this book but it might be of interest to you. It is more of a horror story of motherhood and asks “Can a mother love any child — not matter how disturbing or bad?”