Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The book I wish someone would write

When I saw this book advertised the other day, I thought I’d found what I was looking for.  Alas, I had misunderstood the title.  I thought it meant 4 mothers of kids who are now aged 35+ giving their advice about raising children.  That, I would buy.  But it’s about 4 mothers who have more than 35 kids between them giving advice about how they manage.  I only have 3 kids and I’m not planning on buying a van any time soon.  Looks like a good book but it's not the one I'm after.

I’ve read a few parenting books, skimmed some more and given up on a couple part way through.  But the thing I really want I haven't found yet.  I want a mother (not a father or a psychologist - bless their hearts; I've read a few of their books too) who’s been there and made it to the other side.  Of course I’d also like them to be able to remember some of the reality of the journey and not give me the old “it’s all so wonderful and fleeting so make sure you enjoy every minute of it” routine.

I did inadvertently stumbled on it last year at a conference.  I had to choose an elective from a set of options that were very ho-hum.  The elective I chose was entitled “Have a New Kid by Friday”.  I’d already read the book, and didn’t think there was much more to say, so I went to it rather reluctantly and didn’t bother taking out my notebook.  Lunch was next on the agenda so at least I had something to look forward to.

However, the speaker totally surprised me.  The mother of three boys in their 20s and early 30s, she briefly mentioned the book and said it was very helpful but that we all really knew that it took much more than one week to raise a child.  Then she said – and this is when I tuned in big time – that they made many, many mistakes raising their kids but here were 6 things that they felt sure they’d gotten right.

The room went nuts.  Every mother in the place, including me, was desperately grabbing at their bag to find paper and pen!  And I listened to every single word after that.

I do find talking to other mothers (and fathers) in the same stage of life very helpful.  But none of us really know what the final quarter of the game will look like.  I want experience and I want perspective.  Hard to find.  Or maybe just hard to start a conversation about.  I don’t know many mothers of that age group that I could just bowl up to and say, “Hey, tell me about your parenting journey.  What worked?  What didn’t?”  That’s an incredibly personal conversation.

There is an element of my enquiry that is flawed however.  Part of me wants to find out what to do so I can do it all perfectly.  Cough, cough, cough.  Never going to happen.  And part of me wants to believe that there is one right way that will guarantee everything will be fine.  I started on that quest early in my parenting life by serious research into the “perfect” way to get babies to sleep/eat/roll over/study physics.
It’s just not true that I can find a way to so control the present that I guarantee a happy future for my children.  Seriously.  Read that sentence again if you have to. Seems so obvious to say that but I think most of us run around putting a fair bit of energy into trying to do just that.

But putting aside my ridiculous perfectionism, I would love to hear the counsel of those who’ve made it through.  I know every family is different and that’s why I’d like a panel of mothers.  I’d love to ask, “What did you do with your kids that they look back on as really fun?” and hear 8 completely different answers.  What went right? What would you do differently?  How did you handle teaching them about your faith?  What did you do when they refused to obey you in some area?  What kept your marriage alive?  And so many other questions!

It’s not a hard book to write.  Find 10 mothers who have survived the parenting caper.  Interview them all.  Cut and paste the best responses into a meaningful book.  Send to publisher.  Done.

Come on!  Someone out there write me this book, please.


Petrina said...

And the 6 things were?????

Karen said...

I'm keen to know the six things too.

Probably not exactly what you've requested here, but I've found this book reasonably helpful and practical. Written by parents who've gotten through the younger years. It's published by Anglican Youthworks. Not very expensive either.

CardsAsGifts said...

Start writing Deb. Start writing for the benefit of future generations. Start telling your story and experiences so that your children's generation will have someone, something to turn to. If there is no book in existence now.... create one!!

kdbkenyon said...

Card as Gifts wrote it so much nicer than i was going to write...'do it yourself!' You know the old adage, 'if you want something done properly do it yourself!!!' I would read it!