Shortly after Christmas, I also finished reading Seven Voices, One Dream about the seven founders of La Leche League . LLL celebrated its 50th Anniversary in October--how impressive! I really enjoyed the book, it was honest, realistic, and surprising. It was also surprisingly engaging, though the Q & A format was a little distracting sometimes. I really appreciated the chance to connect more with the history of the organization. These women were really radicals for their time and effected tremendous social change. For example, I had no idea people were having homebirths in the 1950's (I thought it was all Twilight Sleep and forceps!).
Over Christmas, I read two excellent midwifery books. As mentioned previously, A Book for Midwives, published by the Hesperian Foundation, and also Life of a Midwife, published by Midwifery Today. Life of a Midwife is a collection of reprinted articles from Midwifery Today and though it was published over 10 years ago, you'd never know--it is completely relevant and seems completely timely. A Book for Midwives was so excellent, a true community resource, but also somewhat disturbing in its honesty and straightforwardness. I appreciated how it makes information/material available that is sometimes "hidden" in other books--i.e. medical content that is normally reserved for "medical" people or textbooks. The book is geared mostly toward practitioners in third world countries and so its tone is directed at midwives working with very few resources--for someone who tends to glamorize midwifery and to feel very passionate about birth, it was hard to read a book that makes it very clear how difficult things are for midwives and women in impoverished areas. Since it was very clear cut, it also made me realize that it is unlikely that I *truly* want to be a midwife someday after all. Who am I kidding? When L fell down and got a cut on his lip last week, I felt a tad light headed because of the blood. Also, after giving birth to Z, I nearly fainted twice and it was directly related to seeing blood. I am not a very physical person and I don't know why I think an intensely physical profession would appeal to me--I'd better stick to childbirth education and writing! Likewise, the Life of a Midwife book, reminded me of all the nuts and bolts of life as a midwife--the deprivation to your own family, etc. I know I sound like a downer, but it was helpful for me to read both of these books (nearly simultaneously) and take a serious look at my hazy future plans, instead of a rose-colored-glasses look.
I've read through several issues of Friends Journal: Quaker Thought and Life Today, lent to me by one of my friends from playgroup. One had a particularly interesting article in it about being a Quaker parent. Though I am not a Quaker, it still held a lot of good reminders for me about living simply, loving unconditionally, & setting reasonable boundaries.
Finished reading another loaner from my mom by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee called Yarn Harlot. It was great as well, though some of the essays seemed a little familiar, like parts of them were in her other book (?). Regardless, it was funny, cute, and true! Again, I feel an urge to unearth my scarf project from two years ago. I'm worried I forgot how to knit though...
Last week, I also got and read Special Delivery, the journal of ALACE. I am so excited about our newly scheduled ALACE doula training in our area July 13-15! :-) I also read my first issue of Citizens for Midwifery News (I joined quite some time ago, but haven't heard much from them, so I was excited to get this. It was the Summer 2006 issue).
This weekend I also finished reading my long-awaited first subscription copy of Midwifery Today. It was great. The theme was "meconium," which I confess is not one of my top midwifery-related interests, but the issue was great and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I still think about the possibility of midwifery in my future life path, despite my realizations after reading A Book for Midwives after Christmas (I've yet to blog about that--is it weird that I read faster than I am able to keep up with in my blog?). In case anyone was curious, A Book for Midwives is also available for FREE download at www.hesperian.org. I also read Mothering magazine's 20th anniversary issue (1976-1996--I got it from a playgroup friend at a giveaway) and re-read articles from two more issues--one about birth activism, one about alternative schools, and one of my favorites: "The Good-Enough Parent" (I needed a reminder that I'm okay!).
This weekend, during a lengthy (and cold!) power outage, I reviewed the many pages I'd marked in the book Life Lessons, co-authored by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. This book is subtitled, "two experts on death and dying teach us about the mysteries of life and living." I wish I could remember and *live* all of the good insights they share!
Yesterday, I quickly read the short book Sign With Your Baby that came with my baby signs learning kit thing. I need to work on signing with baby Z, because he is *just* the right age to start and I can tell that he is ripe for picking them up right now--he claps and waves and I *know* that he could communicate more things as well. I haven't had time to watch the video or to practice many with him. I've been trying to sign "milk" (for nursies) and also "Mama" and "Daddy" and "potty" (what a combination! ;-)
This morning I finished reading Radical Simplicity. I have mixed feelings about the book. Maybe I didn't read it closely enough, but I feel like I kind of missed some of the point of the book--he gets bogged down with a lot of calculations (to figure ecological footprint) and I think it is a turnoff. Anyone casually picking up the book will think, "I can't do that, it's too much work!" and thus his message is lost. His message was lost on me a bit and I'm pretty radical :-) On the other hand, a lot of his ideas are very TRUE and kind of a wake up call. I like his global living perspective and the analogy of being first in line at a global buffet and deciding how much to take (including how much clean air, water, etc.) and how much to leave for the 6 billion people behind you in line. The book does make you take a hard look at your choices, but I'm not sure how much impetus for change it actually produces.
I'm looking forward to talking about parts of this book next month with the simple living circle that I'm forming with some friends from homeschool group.
This afternoon I finished reading Learning a Loving Way of Life, published by La Leche League. It is a collection of "Mothers' Stories" essays reprinted from La Leche League News (now New Beginnings). It was published in 1987 and I actually put off reading it for quite a while, because I thought it was "too old" or "dated." However, as I read it,I realized how timeless all of the stories are. If the dates on the essays were removed, you'd have no idea that some of them were written 30 years ago! There was not a single essay that seemed "dated" to me--all were relevant and had current appeal.
Last night I started reading the novel Once Upon a Day at 10:00 on a whim (Goodwill buy I was planning to re-sell without reading). As I am wont to do with fiction, I couldn't put it down and finished it at 1:00 a.m. It was interesting and also the first novel with "disturbing" elements that I've read in a while (disturbing books became tons more disturbing to me after having children and I've decided that there is no reason to bring icky stuff into my brain like that--so, I no longer read mysteries, etc. Why fill up your head with all kinds of murders, etc.? There is much pain in the real world, why spend a bunch of time reading stories about imaginary pain?). It didn't get disturbing until about halfway through and by then I was hooked and had to keep reading--that is one reason I kept reading until I was finished, to get "over" the bad sections to the happy ending I was expecting to come.
Anyway, the book was about a father that ran away (mysterious reasons at the beginning) from LA with two children and raised them in total seclusion in a big house in New Mexico--he wanted to keep them "safe." He is VERY obsessive about keeping them safe. He also keeps them in 1950's style--clothes, books, etc. Literally total seclusion--they've never been to town or anything. The brother turns rebellious and leaves for St. Louis when he is 23. The sister stops hearing from him after a while and father gets sick, so she sets off in the world in search of her brother. She meets a doctor-turned-cab-driver whose wife and daughter were killed in a car accident two years before and he helps her navigate the confusing "real world." The rest of the story is about finding her brother and unraveling the mysteries of what caused her father to run away, what really happened to their mother, etc. The book shifts between present day and past happenings (told in present tense).
Yesterday, I finished reading Nothings Too Small to Make a Difference by Wanda Urbanska & Frank Levering. It was pretty good, though nothing really new to comment on. Their tone is very similar to the Simple Living TV show--kind of lightweight and punny (but still good!) I liked their suggestion to have an instant savings plan by keeping all your change each month in a jar and then putting into a savings account at the end of the month (you don't spend any of your change, just always add it to the jar). We save money in other, better ways too, but I thought the change jar was a nice supplemental idea.
I'm currently reading Radical Simplicity which is pretty much the opposite of Nothings Too Small--the message is pretty much that you need to make some pretty MAJOR changes and ASAP or the world is going down the tubes. :( Nothings Too Small certainly presents a merrier picture, but I see a lot of (humbling) truth from Radical Simplicity also.
Last night I read the newest International Doula that arrived yesterday afternoon. It is the publication of DONA which is a doula organization I belong to. I really think their publication is the best of all of the childbirth organizations I belong to (though my heart/loyalty is with ALACE!)
Got another issue of Marie Claire today and read it against my better judgment--it is like watching crappy TV shows and not being able to resist the "intrigue."
Finished reading the newest Mothering magazine yesterday. Interesting and disturbing article about FGM--she really nailed it when she described the "reasons" people give for not getting involved in the effort to halt it (I've used several of them myself :(. The feature article was about babywearing and the article was GREAT! Lavishly illustrated with action photos. It was very well done.
Today I got a variety of publications in the mail and I read In Balance, the newsletter of New American Dream. It always gives me lots to think about, ideas for books to read, and websites to look up. I love their motto: "live consciously, buy wisely, make a difference." I try to live my life that way. There was an interesting article called, "What Does Not Buying Really Look Like?" One of the suggested online resources was Freeganism, which I'd never heard of before. I'm poking around the site now and I'm fascinated, but need to "simplify" my computer time and stop looking up stuff that I don't really need to be reading about it. From the site: "Freeganism is a total boycott of an economic system where the profit motive has eclipsed ethical considerations and where massively complex systems of productions ensure that all the products we buy will have detrimental impacts most of which we may never even consider. Thus, instead of avoiding the purchase of products from one bad company only to support another, we avoid buying anything to the greatest degree we are able."
I also got and read MMA News, the newsletter of the Missouri Midwives Association. My baby Z's birth story was published in it this month :) There was a note in it about the opening of The Womb Room in Columbia. How totally and completely COOL! I want to do something like that!
Yesterday, I started reading Dr. Sears's The Attachment Parenting Book, also from my LLL Group library, and I finished that this afternoon as well. There was a lot of repeat info from The Baby Book, but this book was shorter and more "readable." I also didn't get the same "if only you were doing things right, your baby would never cry" vibe from it that I feel is unfortunately prominent in The Baby Book. I have additional thoughts, but will have to share them another day (maybe).
This afternoon I finished reading Inconsolable by Marrit Ingman. This was another library request that my mom picked up for me. I gobbled it up as well, though it was a memoir, not fiction. I have LOTS of thoughts, but few moments in which to share them. I guess I need to get used to that instead of waiting for some "magic" time when I'll be able to say everything I want to. I have a growing stack of books by my computer that I've finished reading, but haven't had time to make a "proper" entry for--maybe I should just make a list and then re-shelve them?!
Okay, so back to the book. It was a memoir of postpartum depression. The author uses lots of profanity that I found a little off-putting (I'm kind of uptight!), but overall the book was very good, very honest, and very real. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but as I neared the end, I started to feel like it wasn't living up to its promises. Maybe it is morbid curiosity, but I felt like she kept promising to get to all of the "deep and dark" she'd been through, but she never actually got there--i.e. there were lots of references to, "I might have to go back to cutting up my arms" or, "that was when I was having suicidal thoughts all the time..." but she never actually truly writes at an intimate level about those experiences (though she keeps saying she will). She alludes to a lot of suffering, PPD, suicidal thoughts, "crazy" behavior, etc. but the actual essays are more like semi-humorous vignettes excerpted from her life with her young son (a colicky baby who has severe eczema and food allergies). There is definitely as hearty helping of angst mixed in, but it is no where near the "almost as unpleasant to read as it was to experience it" level I was anticipating based on the introduction.
I appreciated her observations on parenthood/parenting styles in general and her comments about judging other people for making different parenting choices. I also started pondering my ongoing sense that I can somehow figure this out once and for all and be PERFECT at last. I think my parenting operates from the assumption that it is possible to be perfect and do everything right. I need to get over that!
Here's a quote I really identified with:
"There's a certain type of parent I see often--sometimes see it in myself--who is a success-oriented person from a middle-class background, well-taught (traditionally or through self-education) and accustomed to high praise. We're used to getting a report card or a performance review every six weeks, we're current with Big Ideas and prone to Big Discussions over pints of Guinness, and we throw ourselves into parenting with the same right-minded stamina with which we might compare graduate programs and scholarships. We educate ourselves about various theoretical orientations on the topic, read the works of champion scholars...memorize acronyms and slogans, and align ourselves with a 'good match.' We study rigorously, and our parenting is like a practicum. We analyze situations and apply theories; we fasten Snappis and gently redirect toddlers with great self-satisfaction, as if we are strutting for a review committee. We meet over coffee with study groups."
"This is not necessarily lamentable. It's good to be well read, to be prepared, to invest oneself in the new role of parent. It's just not really about the kids is it? It's about more than just wanting to be good at what you do; it's about wanting to be the best. We're parenting careerists. We want to be superstars. We want other people to praise us. We want props for holding off on the antibiotics for that ear infection, delaying solids just a little longer, for buying the organic crib sheets and the shampoo that's made with kukui nuts harvested by the indigenous people of Brazil and imported by a woman-owned business. We go that one extra mile. We exceed expectations...Is this wrong? Again, not necessarily. It's not wrong to have ambitions, to dream of home-sewn Halloween costumes (or ones we just "whipped up" because we're so crafty) and slow food and perfect portraits and cooperative preschool."
"But we have to remember that our standards of success, of happiness, of demonstrating our love for our children are inflated. We'll never meet them. Our reach will always exceed our grasp."
It goes on and I continue to identify, but the quote is getting out of hand now!
Another one I just thought was funny. This was just following her cesarean:
"So that was it. I'd failed. Well, close the book on this one. Nurse Rachet was probably stuffing a Nuk into the kid's mouth or giving him a Happy Meal. Hooking him up to an IV of Kool-Aid. He'd have to grow up in an iron lung. Maybe the other kids would use him as third base. He'd call me 'Mother,' and I'd sign his college tuition checks while he snuggled with a rhesus monkey made of sheepskin."
I literally laughed out loud while reading that one :)
"Mothers of the world, we've got to have each other's backs. Without working together, we literally cannot survive. Because we are divided--into 'working' and 'stay-at-home' parents, into 'natural' or 'attachment parents' and 'mainstream' parents--we remain marginalized as a group. We just haven't noticed, because we're too busy shooting each other down, trying to glean little nuggets of self-satisfaction from an enterprise that is still considered less significant than paid work..."
Much as I strive to be accepting and honor the dignity and worth of each human being (like a good social worker!) I do see this tendency toward division sometimes sneaking out in myself--either in thought, or conversation--and I sometimes see it in my friends as well. However, I really feel like I am committed to helping women as mothers. Yeah, I also like babies, but my heart lies in helping other women. I wish I had more time to actually do more of it!
Happy New Year! I rang it in by reading The Yoga Mamas We had a nice family New Year's Eve celebration and I was feeling energetic afterwards, even though it was late. So, I started reading the book that my mom had picked up from the library for me. I started it shortly after midnight and then finished it at 2:00a.m. I'm insane--why did I stay up reading it? Because...I have no self control with fiction, that's why! I gobble it up and have no self restraint. The book wasn't even *that* fabulous! It was funny and kind of cute and also made me miss my daily yoga routine (my New Year's resolution is to start it up again). It was very lightweight though and forgettable. Five women living in Manhattan meet in prenatal yoga class and become bosom buddies. The childbirth educator in me was annoyed at the birth experiences portrayed--off *course* the one who planned a homebirth with a midwife ended up with a three day labor and a c-section. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but the subtext I see there is that women who dare to be so "risky" as to choose "natural childbirth" get punished! Anyway, I have more thoughts, but no time to share them!
I like to read and I read a LOT. I learned to read when I was three and never stopped! This blog was created to share comments about the books that share my days. I'm the mother of two small boys. Most of the readings logged here were read as I nursed my younger one to sleep for bedtime or nap time.
This blog is no longer being regularly updated, due to other blogging projects that have more importance to me.