Monday, October 27, 2008

Book Review: I Was A Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids

Do you ever have nights where you just plop down on the couch feeling totally exhausted and wonder what the hell you did all day? The dishes are still in the sink, the highchair still needs to be wiped down, there is a pile of laundry in the hallway and you are still in the outfit you went to bed in the night before. I know Eric must secretly wonder the same thing when he comes home from work and it looks I didn't do anything all day. I always try to justify myself by explaining that I paid bills, went grocery shopping, cleaned out the fridge, graded a few papers while Addie was napping, etc. I don't know why I feel the need to explain myself because Eric never judges me. He thanks me all the time for taking such good care of him and Addie. And deep down I know he means it. But there are times when I have had a long day and he will say something like "do I have any clean work pants?" It's a simple question and I should just answer him by saying "no...I didn't get to washing them today." But instead, I start getting defensive by listing off my daily tasks, which usually leads to a reminder about how I quit my job to take care of our baby. Once I say anything about being a SAHM, his response is usually "lots of moms would kill to be able to stay home with their children." And he is absolutely right. I am so lucky to have the opportunity to be home with Addie every day. I wouldn't change it for anything in the world. But I have to admit...being a SAHM mom isn't what I thought it would be. And honestly...neither is motherhood.

Now don't get me wrong. Motherhood is SO much better than I could have ever imagined. I didn't know it was possible to love someone so much. There are little moments every day where Addie will do something adorable like crawl to me so that I can pick her up and when I do, she will wrap her little arms around my neck and press her face against mine. Moments like this make me close my eyes and thank God for this little peanut. And I know other moms can relate to these precious moments because moms are always willing to talk about the happy stuff. We all sit around telling these cute little stories and then with a collective "Awww" we move on to the next reason motherhood is so awesome. But late at night, when the babies are asleep and we are on the phone with our best friend...the truth tends to come out. Motherhood isn't always as rewarding or joyful as we like to say it is. Sometimes it is exhausting, overwhelming, stressful, confusing....I think you get my point. And when you are done letting out your feelings, you other moms feel this way? The answer is...hell yes they do! Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile's book "I Was A Really Good Mom Before I had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood" is the result of an afternoon conversation that led them to the same question. And what they found is that ALL moms, at least to some extent, share a lot of the same feelings about motherhood. We all love being mothers, we just hate doing it.

"This is an amazingly honest thing to say--I love being a mom; I just hate doing it. And it's all the more amazing because it resonates with so many of us. Why?  We love our children, and we love being their mothers, but sometimes we just hate doing "it" because "it," as we have defined it, is an impossible job. We're not talking about the indignities of wiping up runny noses or runny diarrhea--we expected as much. We are talking about the crushing exhaustion, gerbil-on-a-flywheel feeling of every day. We're talking about the failure we feel when we can't bring ourselves to make a Halloween costume, even though that very day we rushed out of work early to make it to a Mommy & Me music class. We're talking about the sinking feeling we have when we finally get into bed at night, knowing that we've failed to perform competently (according to ourselves) on yet another day. Those parentheses are very important: we're labeling our own selves failures."

Now I don't want to make the book sound like it is all gloom and doom. It is SO not that kind of a book. It is just honest, and sometimes honesty can be gloom and doom. The authors realize this too and that is one of the reasons they decide to write this book.

"The hope is that we'll raise great kids and be happy doing it. And that means talking about the good and bad sides of motherhood. Because if we can talk honestly, perhaps we can lose the notion that we can and should do it all. And if we can lose that notion, then perhaps we can get a grip on our insane expectations. And if we can get a grip on our insane expectations, perhaps we can stop judging ourselves and other moms, learn to say no when we need to, embrace our daily lives, nurture ourselves and our husbands, and maybe, just maybe, relax and find peace. The ideal is to be true to ourselves, to make conscious choices based on our own value systems (and not others' expectations of us), and to live our lives in ways that serve our own best interests and those of our families. Only then can we begin to love motherhood as much as we love our children."

I don't want to write anymore about the book because it is so much better to just read it for yourself. I wouldn't exactly classify the book as "self help" because that label has such a negative connotation. But honestly...I think the book has helped me. It helped me realize that I don't have to be everything to everybody every day. I don't have to stress about a dirty pile of laundry and I don't have to feel guilty if I decide to order a pizza instead of cooking a wholesome meal one night. So if you are a mom looking for a little self help...or even just a good laugh...this book is for you! And if you decide to read it...I would love to know what you think :-)


  1. What a great review...thank you. We are thrilled that the book has helped you.

    Amy Nobile and Trisha Ashworth, co-authors,
    "I Was A Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids"

  2. I'm going to buy the book today. Mommyhood is hard! Why do you think I'm going back to work! Hahahahah :)

  3. What an honor!!! I don't know how you found my little blog in the infinite world of cyberspace...but I thank you for taking the time to comment. Gosh...I feel like I just met a celebrity :-) Cheers to you and Trisha for writing such an honest, funny, warm-hearted book. As you can are going to have quite a following :-) When does the next book come out?

  4. I am gonna rush to B&N on my lunch break to buy this book! Most of the time I feel like a day at work is much easier than a day as a SAHM! haha!`

  5. Hi! Wow, you guys are awesome. Please let us know if you want to read the book as a group and Trish and I can call in! We just finished our 3rd book (yeah!) which comes out in April-- "I'd Trade My Husband for a Housekeeper: Loving Your Marriage After the Baby Carriage." We heard from so many moms and dads that parenthood affects marriage in a very immediate, profound way, so we decided to go for it. Hope you guys like it!
    Amy & Trish

  6. I think I speak for all of my girlfriends (and mom) when I say that we would LOVE to read as a group and have you guys call in!! Some of us live out of town so we might have to find a way for us to conference call or something. I can't wait to read your new book!! I think we can all relate to that subject. Hey...if you ever need any test subjects...we are here for you. Haha!

  7. Okay, Mom is taking credit here. I'm the one who bought Jen this book. I knew she was overwhelmed and loved reading. This catchy, adorable title caught my eye in the bookstore. You see, I too was a good Mom before I had kids - and that was 28 years ago! I thought my days of "being all" and "doing all" were over - - - and then I became a Grandma!!

    Count me in on the group read!!! This is great for Grandmas too!

    Mandy - get Gigi into the mix too!

  8. I am absolutely in for the group read!! I love the new book title too! What great resources for all of us "do it all" kind of moms out there!! I have a few moms who read my site daily...I'll pass along this book review to them as well and do a post on it. Jen, do you mind if I feature your post on my site?

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  10. Not at all my dear...feature away!! We need to figure out how to do this long distance book club thing :-)

  11. Golly, I must get this book. May go take a shower and get ready very quicklike..seems to be a must read.
    Yes, it is hard being a mommy and we are very lucky for getting to stay home. If it makes you feel any better, I've been a stay at home mom for about 6 years and I STILL have a hard time making myself be organized and get things done in a timely fashion. I feel guilty A WHOLE Lot of the time.
    You should come over to my blog, I just posted a couple of days ago about "What's bothering you?" Glad I found your blog...found you through Nina.


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