Friday, October 5, 2007

MOPS books

Joining my local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group recently caused me to look up MOPS books on Bookins and lo and behold there were two of them there and I put them on my wish list and they came and I read them both already. I really enjoyed their Real Moms book I read earlier this year. That one was one of my surprise favorites of the year.

So, I read Mom-to-Mom: Confessions of a Mother Inferior. This was a very short and quick read. It was supposed to be sort of a "bite-sized essays easy for a busy mother to read" type of format, but I found that that style left the book lacking any sort of lasting impact. I would just start to get into the rhythm of the chapter and the point it was making and then it would be abruptly *over*--sort of like the ideas were introduced, but then not explored or finished/conclusions drawn. The table of contents was almost as interesting/illuminating as the rest of the book--each chapter title was a question that most mothers ask themselves at some point about being mothers, such as, "Am I what my child really needs?" or "How do I do this?" or "How do I handle my imperfections?" As I said though, each actual chapter only barely grazed the surface of answering those questions--seeing the questions acknowledged was interesting and valuable in itself though.

I also read She's Gonna Blow. This one isn't MOPS-published, but they do sell it in their online store. It was about dealing with anger as a mother. It came at the perfect time (or maybe it just added fuel to my fire?!), because I had a really bad several days this week. I think it was the pressure of too much to do following being out of commission last weekend and Monday either with sick kids or sick myself--my list got out of control and I felt the pressure of a backlog of responsibilities. I'm climbing back on top of it now. Anyway, I had a long conversation with a supportive friend at playgroup and she was sharing an anecdote about bringing popcorn chicken to our HMN meeting and we talked about violating the "rules" of being a good "holistic" or AP mother. Anyway, she said she feels like about 90% of the time they eat healthy and 10% they don't and that she thinks most of us are that way and it is okay to show each other the 10% (I'm paraphrasing here). Anyway, so as I was finishing this book and my general mood was recovering as well, I realized that really I probably feel 90% good about mothering, life, responsibilities, general contentment/satisfaction, etc. and only 10% bad (or actually tormented like I felt this past Tuesday! It was bad!) and that is probably reasonable and fine. And, I'm probably 90% patient/fine with my kids and 10% angry/annoyed. Life can't be perfect all the time--just during the 10% it feels like nothing will ever be harmonious again! (sort of like when you're sick with the flu, you forget that you've ever been well or what it feels like to be healthy). I guess it probably fluctuates from week to week, so maybe 85% and 15% is more like it (or sometimes 75% and 25%, LOL! ;-).

Okay, so back to the book. Overall, I didn't actually "click" that well with this book (we got off on the wrong foot when she made a crack about LLL--something about never having any perfect, "La Leche earth mother, one with the universe moments while nursing" just excruciating pain until she switched to formula). She has a kind of lightweight and overly jocular style. However, she was very honest about her various mothering mistakes with anger--some of the anecdotes made me think, wow! I guess I AM actually a pretty good mom!

Towards the end she was talking about simplifying your life and she shared a good tip:

"Someone once said, 'We can do anything--but not everything'....I'm not just talking about eliminating the frivolous or unimportant things in our lives. Most of us took care of that a long time ago. Now we are down to the toughest step, which involves choosing the best and saying no to the rest--and the rest is often quite good too...This phrase can be the key to sanity: Pick the best...say no to the rest."

I need to remember this: we can do anything--but not everything. I would add, particularly in the season of your life of intensive mothering of small children. I am trying to make a decision right now, actually, about adding something else to my full plate. I think my gut is saying "no, not now," but then other good points keep flying around my brain and I'm back to being indecisive about it after all...

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