Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The best book about being a mum

When I had my first child, Max, I was genuinely surprised at how hard I found the whole experience. I really couldn't fathom how I was meant to look after a baby, whilst getting the weekly shop sorted, keeping the flat tidy, ensuring we all had clean (and dry) clothes and getting myself showered and dressed. And all on about five hours of sleep. What made it even more difficult was that everyone around me seemed to be coping just fine with their new arrivals. At the weekly catch-ups with my NCT group, I'd flap about, trying to get through my coffee without revealing a boob or dropping it on the floor (the coffee, not the boob) whilst they ordered a second cappuccino and lunch and a glass of wine. One girl said she had expressed so much, she had enough to fill the top compartment of her freezer. At times, I felt like I was a complete failure.

And then I read this book. 'What Mothers Do' is unlike any other parenting book you might read. It doesn't tell you what to do, how you should be feeling or what you're probably doing wrong. Instead, it's just a completely reassuring, honest and truthful account of what you and thousands of other real mums are feeling and doing - even when it looks like you're doing not very much at all. The author, psychotherapist Naomi Stadlen, bases the book on a weekly discussion group she held with mothers for over twelve years and it's full of real conversations with some of them, dotted within chapters such as 'Nothing prepares you,' 'The power of comfort' and 'I get nothing done all day.' It's not at all negative; in fact, I'd say it's such a positive, rewarding read purely because it makes you feel like you're not alone and that, yes, you can do it. And you are. Brilliantly. And that woman with the beautifully braided hair, pushing a pram with one hand and firmly holding her flat white in the other? She's finding it tough too. She's just good at braiding hair.

(You can buy What Mothers Do here http://www.amazon.co.uk/What-Mothers-Do-especially-nothing/dp/0749926201).