I'm making an effort to work through a list of books I've been wanting to blog about, and the selection of the Republican running mate pushed this one to the top of my list: You're a Good Mom (and Your Kids Aren't So Bad Either) by Jen Singer, creator of the popular parenting site MamaSaid.net, "where moms like you can get some laughs and validation while your kids find new places to leave crumbs." (She also writes the Good Grief! blog about parenting tweens for GoodHousekeeping.com.) I read this book on an airplane a couple months ago and absolutely loved this girl's chatty, you-gotta-laugh style. And I thought about it again when people started dredging up a bunch of tired old crap about "mommy wars", which stuffs women into boxes labeled "Working Moms" (condemned as uncaring Lady Macbeth types) and "Stay-at-Home Moms" (harshly judged as lazy slobs.) For a culture that so horrendously underpays our teachers, we certainly have a lot of people claiming that their political agenda is for the good of children.
So what is a good mom? Is it politically incorrect to say that one kind of parenting is better than another? And for the love of sweet baby Jesus, can't we all just get along? Jen Singer's take on all this is refreshing, lighthearted, loving, and immanently pragmatic.
From the press kit:
For 21st century mothers, there seem to be just two choices: live up to the Super Mom or give up to be the Slacker Mom. One's bad for you; one's bad for your kids. So what's a momma to do?
In You're a Good Mom (and Your Kids Aren't So Bad Either): The 14 Secrets to Finding Happiness Between Super Mom and Slacker Mom, the Internet's favorite momma, Jen Singer, tells all. Turns out you can raise perfectly good kids in that sweet spot between flash cards at breakfast and "donuts for dinner, kids!" You'll find great tips like these:
Don't answer the phone when the class mom calls.
Your kid's birthday party isn't your coming-out celebration.
Don't treat fine restaurants like a McDonald's PlayPlace.
You think you're a "cool mom," but they think you're a pushover.
Filled with "that happened to me, too!" stories, YOU'RE A GOOD MOM offers giggles and a pat on the back for today's moms, whether they're deep in diapers or petrified by puberty.
What comes out in Jen's book (along with the belly laughs) is the simple truth that a good mom is the mom who meets the needs of her kids as individuals instead of struggling to adhere to fads, peer pressure, the PTO posse, or tight-lipped mandates from her own mom/ grandmom/ mom-in-law. A good mom blesses opportunities to laugh but is not afraid to let her children see her cry.
I'm really glad a friend handed me You're a Good Mom. It's not something I would have picked up on my own because my kids are grown, but it's an entertaining, girlfriendy read that has a lot to say about life and relationships no matter where you're at in the journey. I also love this book cover design with the one wayward duckling who refuses to stay in line. Darlings, no matter how much time, creativity, devotion, and mental real estate we put into mothering, every kid is going to be that duckling once in a while. You gotta love the little rascal.
Jen and I are also cell sisters; she was diagnosed (on D-Day, no less) with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma -- just as she was mowing through the final draft of this book.
"By the time I turned in my manuscript in August," says Jen, "I'd finished half of my chemotherapy treatments. The tumor in my lung, which had been the size of a softball, had shrunk to the size of a walnut. I was tired, weak and bald, but my kids didn't care as long as I was home, which, by the way, was under construction. In fact, I edited parts of this book while sawdust fell on my head from upstairs and strange men hammered and sawed on the other side of the wall."
Truly one of life's intense refining fires raging there. Vampire that I am, I can't wait to see what this bright, funny, completely delicious young author does with the raw material.