This weekend is Mother’s Day, and I thought I would take the occasion to write a little about some of the books I love as a mom. Some are fiction, some are nonfiction, all are relatable.
I was the first of my friend group to have a kid. It was tough. I had an awesome support system in my family, my husband was right there with me, and my friends were great and incredibly understanding throughout. But having people to talk to and having people to talk to who know exactly what you are going through are two different things.
I did find Young House Love, a blog about a young couple who had a daughter close to my oldest son’s age and loved to do DIY projects. (I’m sure you know about them, but if you don’t, you MUST check our their blog and their podcast!) Because I felt like their lives were so similar to my husband’s and mine, I ate up everything they wrote. I still do. But there were not as many other mom blogs for me to turn to then as there are now.
So, as I often do, I turned to books to find advice, to find camaraderie, to find my way as a mom. Thankfully, I now have many more friends in the same boat I am in. It is so nice to be able to talk to your people about everything from diaper rash to birthday cake design.
However, I still love a book that speaks to me as a mom. So here is a list of a few that I have loved and learned from over the years:
- Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother – by Amy Chua
I am not entirely sure why, but I tend to gravitate toward motherhood books (at least nonfiction ones) from other cultures. I think this is because I am surrounded by American moms (and the children they produce – I meet 180 new ones each year as a high school English teacher) and just want to see how other people do it. I always find new and interesting ideas. And while I do not incorporate all of them into my parenting style, I do tend to take bits and pieces, and it seems to have worked out pretty well so far.
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother was one of the first mom books I ever read. I have distinct memories of holding a sleeping child with one hand (the oldest one NEVER napped in his crib for me) while balancing this book with the other. It taught me that being the tough mom was not necessarily a bad thing. That I could be tough and still be loving. And while I am certainly not as tough as Amy Chua, I know from conversations I have with other moms that I am much tougher than many American mothers. Most of the tough things I do as a mom are a result of my mom’s own toughness and my experiences as a teacher, but reading Amy Chua’s book let me know that I was not the only one who planned to continue at least some of that parenting style with my children. As she says in her book, “… even when Western parents think they’re being strict, they usually don’t come close to being Chinese mothers.”
Also, I am really interested in reading Amy Chua’s newest book, Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations about how we “must rediscover a national identity that transcends our political tribes.”
2. French Kids Eat Everything – by Karen Le Billion
I loved reading this book about how a mom changed her kids’ eating habits. However, I have to admit that I have not done a remotely good job of using her advice. I am a picky eater myself, and I sincerely want my children to be less picky, but goodness they are stubborn (apparently they get more than their eating habits from their mother). In fact, because I read this one when my oldest was still a baby, I;m thinking maybe I should read it again. I remember being amazed that her kids lists of favorite foods included beets, broccoli, leeks, mussels, and creamed spinach and enthralled with the way the French school system introduced new foods and even the concept of meal time to children. But I do not remember all of her tips for other moms, so it is going onto my summer reading list for sure. We’ll see, maybe this time around it will stick. It’s worth a shot, for sure.
3. I Don’t Know How She Does It – by Allison Pearson
This is quite possibly my favorite piece of mom fiction ever written. I cannot tell you the number of times I have searched Google or Goodreads for “books like I Don’t Know How She Does It.” One review dubbed it, “The national anthem for working mothers,” and I couldn’t agree more. This was the self-care book before self-care was a thing. The book that showed all moms that we don’t have to do it all. That we do need to take care of ourselves (and our relationships with our husbands), not just our kids. That things do not all have to be homemade. That we are superheros. I am forever grateful for this book, and may just have to add it to my summer reading list again too! Or maybe I’ll just watch the Sarah Jessica Parker movie instead, because you know I won’t have nearly as much time for reading as I like to imagine I will … sigh …
Okay, pitty party over because guess what?! As I was looking up info for I Don’t Know How She Does It, I found out that Allison Pearson has written a sequel!! It comes out in June, and I will DEFINITELY find time to put it on my summer reading list! (Probably more like my summer listening list – I’m an Audible girl all the way. I mean seriously, how else are moms supposed to find time to read books without just falling asleep in bed??) It’s called, How Hard Can it Be? and it’s available for pre-order. It follows Kate Reddy to her 50th birthday, with children who have grown to teenagers, and a husband who is facing a mid-life crisis. Aaahhh! I’m so stinking excited.
4. There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather – by Linda Åkeson McGurk
This is another parenting book by a mom from a different country. I picked it up in the store because I saw that she now lives in Indiana (as do we) and writes about how different it is from Sweden (where she is from). However, the lessons are just as applicable in any state. Basically, she wants her kids to be resilient, hard-working, unafraid of stepping out of their comfort zone, and healthy, as all mothers do. So she takes her children on a six-month trip to Sweden to teach them the lessons of friluftsliv (“open-air living”) and hygge (the coziness and the simple pleasures of home) from her own childhood. Learning those lessons right along with them was fascinating, and I have definitely incorporated many of them into our lives.
5. Little Fires Everywhere – by Celeste Ng
This one was recommended to me by my favorite celebrity, Reese Witherspoon! (Seriously, if you don’t follow her book club on Instagram, you definitely should!!) It is such an honest depiction of all different kinds of mothers, and I genuinely could not wait to read (listen to) more. The stories of these mothers, daughters, sons, and husbands are so intriguingly intertwined that you just have to know how it is all going to play out. The things they go through and the decisions they make are authentic, often painful, and extremely thought-provoking. It is not a typical fiction book for me (I tend to be a happy-ending-with-an-epilogue-that-shows-everyone-is-still-happy-30-years-later kind of reader), but it is so well written that I liked it in spite of myself. I will say that if you or someone you love has gone through the adoption process, it does hit a little close to home and may not be the best idea (emotionally) for them to read. Having good friends who have gone through it made the tears flow for sure for me.
As always, thanks for reading! I would love to hear from you! What “mom books” do you love? I am always looking for recommendations for my Audible list. Leave them in the comments below or on one of my social media accounts and I will definitely check them out.
And while we are on the topic of Audible , I am an Amazon Associate (see disclaimer below), but I legitimately used Audible way before I ever wrote a blog and cannot recommend it enough for busy moms. I listen to books while I do dishes, fold laundry, drive to and from work (mostly after the boys have been dropped off, I try not to torture them too much), and exercise. I would never be able to read all of the amazing books I want to read without my subscription. And while I love a physical book as much as (probably more than) the next girl, I love that Audible lets me actually finish books even more!