30 March 2012

reading therapy

The upward swing continues. Helped along by the boy's improving reflux - or at least his  becoming somewhat of a 'happy chucker' - and increasing interactive cuteness. I have also started reading two books, which both had me punching the air after about the first 20 pages.

Susan Maushart's The Mask of Motherhood: how becoming a mother changes our lives and why we never talk about it (strangely only available as a US imprint via Amazon).  And The Divided Heart by Rachel Power, a series of musings based on interviews with prominent artists about the wrestle between the incongruous worlds of kids and art (or a creative life, for those less aspirational :).

We know people who are considering babies for the first time. I have had to stop tie myself to a chair to stop from running headlong at them shrieking 'don't do it!'. (And then flail around trying to explain why without sounding frazzled, burnt and totally uncool.) Which is nothing short of awful. But now, thanks in large part to these books, I think I understand why.

Along with the highs, becoming a mum has been an often-bleak 'who moved my cheese?' experience for me, for many reasons - from traumatic birth and breastfeeding experiences to the very large role-adjustment and the demands of a refluxy baby. All with an entirely overworked, under-appreciated support network of one, who has had to deal with my frequent meltdowns whilst starting a new job and moving his wifey, new baby and our worldly possessions (minus a bus) to a windswept outpost. I have also lamented strongly the incredibly limited capacity I have now for creative time.

Thankfully I'm feeling a lot less like this. And more like someone who can see the wondrous journey unfolding. And delighting in my cutest, most edible baby.

Susan Maushart's book in particular had me simultaneously whimpering and cheering (internally of course) in recognition. In that way when someone articulates your own latent but furiously percolating thoughts. Not just one, but layers of understanding only possible through lived experience. I should add a small caveat: I have only read the first chapter, though the introduction alone snagged me good and proper.

I could be wrong, but the recent surges in E's development make me think I will enjoy parenting little kids - and then big kids - more than I've enjoyed (or often not) the new baby phase.

Anyway. This is all a bit of a jumble. But I totally recommend these books to anyone thinking baby thoughts. I wish I'd discovered them earlier - and not just before I dropped a bomb on a counsellor. One of the contentions in Susan Maushart's book is around the silence on the reality of parenthood - that we're caught up in the need to compete and compare ourselves and our babies and therefore gloss it all up and secret away the downs.

I'm not sure if it's kosher, but I'm going to email the prospective baby-ers my reading recommendations.

So there.

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