December 3rd, 2007

_I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids_

Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile have written one of the most fun, good books on parenting I've read. And many of you know I've read several.

The ground they are covering is, in theory, well-plowed. _The Bitch in the House_, _Mother Shock_, _The Mask of Motherhood_ and others of less recent vintage all address the massive transition to motherhood and all the stuff that gets lost along the way. And I don't just mean a good night's sleep and time to go to the gym.

But where the other titles mentioned above describe the phenomenon, and there are countless advice books out there that try to kid us all into thinking there might be some way to juggle everything, and there are even half-hearted efforts in articles and so forth to reduce our expectations, Ashworth and Nobile have done something very remarkable.

They set up the problem (parenting kinda sucks and it makes us unhappy because it crowds out all the small joys in life we failed to appreciate adequately before having children), they laugh raucously at any effort to attack it by organizing, then focus relentlessly on prioritizing. Mostly, by dropping as many things as possible. And then abandoning more. But rather than just exhort the reader to, say, slack off on picking up the toys, they include on virtually every page salient quotes from other mothers who did, along with pithy bits about how hard it was or how surprisingly little pushback there was, or how they adopted a yeah-whatever attitude to anyone who took issue with the change. So in one, complete-with-quizzes volume, we get: validation, lots of data points, laundry lists of what we can stop doing, etc.

It's nice. I really enjoyed it, altho that might be because I self-righteously feel that as a slacker-mama-extraordinaire, I have already removed virtually everything imaginable. And it's worked out really well for me. Yeah, I know, I need to work on saying no, cause this whole trustees thing turned out to be a crazy amount of work. But other than that. . .

Highly recommended. Very enjoyable. There's only one chapter on husbands, and it is a decent one. There's a presumption of heterosexuality, but that's so typical it's hard to get too worked up about it. There's also a presumption of middle-class and up, but again, pretty typical. They have some good stuff about satisficing, rather than optimizing, which is ground I know well and they quote the right guy. Their info about sharing decision making is, unfortunately, limited to observing that far too much of the planning/deciding regarding kids/family/school/etc. is done by women by default; not a lot of useful detail for changing your decision making, which would be really useful, IMO. That's what made the difference for R. and me.