I don't want this blog to turn into a “Mommy” blog or a parenting blog (although the content of recent posts suggests otherwise). Once more I reflect on how my blogging has changed—how it used to be an outlet, a way for me to process my life, a platform from which to express opinions, an efficient means of sharing things with others, and so on—and yet as I said in an earlier post (I forget where), Twitter has taken up much of those functions. Nevertheless, whereas Twitter is characterised by brevity, my blogging is not (as you could probably tell from my last post, which clocked in at around 5,000 words). It's not that I feel like every post I write now needs to match that length; it's more that I feel like I need to have something to say before I put anything up here.
At the same time, however, I'm a lot more time-poor—or rather, I prioritise my non-Astrid time so that I'm focusing on writing (of which blogging is a part but not the whole) and resting (so that I'm more energised for the time I do spend with Astrid). This means that any time I spend blogging is backed by a conscious choice to work on this rather than something else. (It's the tyranny of life: it forces you to choose because you are limited. I wonder if in heaven we will truly be limitless and thus able to pursue all the roads we fancy in the duration of our eternal life.)
Today I choose not to work on the Writing Projét Dujour, but instead review a couple of books that I've found helpful—for parenting, yes, but also for marriage, art, creativity and writing. I'm reviewing them fast (I'm just trying to capture my initial thoughts about them instead of crafting a “proper” review the way I would for some sort of publication), so I'm probably going to miss a lot. But hopefully you will get the gist of why I think they're helpful. Anyways, here goes.
The first is Babyproofing Your Marriage by Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O'Neill and Julia Stone. I've talked about this book before, but I think I mentioned it when I was only part-way through it. I found it through Babyology, who also did a brief review of it, and their post was enough to get me looking for it on the web and reading excerpts before deciding the subject matter was important enough for me to purchase myself a copy.
Why did I think the subject matter was important? It's the only book I've come across that's about the impact of babies on marriages. (If you've heard of any others, please let me know in the comments!) The transition to the third “stage” of life (married to married with kids) is hard (and hard to describe beyond painfully simple adjectives like “hard”). I think it's significant that Judith Wallerstein names it as the third task procreating marriages must master in order to be successful (see The Good Marriage):
To embrace the daunting roles of parents and to absorb the impact of Her Majesty the Baby's dramatic entrance. A the same time the couple must work to protect their own privacy.
All parents go through this adjustment, whether they're open to talking about it or not. It's just that most of them are not. I suspect that people's closemouthedness on the subject is for several reasons:
The thing is (I think, anyway) this sort of closemouthedness isn't doing our society any favours. It gives people unrealistic expectations about parenthood—so that when people become parents, they feel disillusioned and disappointed about what they've gotten themselves into. (This TED talk by Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman comes to mind: they end with a plea for parents to be more open with each other and the world for this very reason.) It also causes struggling parents to put up a front and pretend everything's okay instead of being honest because they are afraid of the negative consequences of honesty (e.g. judgement, condemnation, other negative things people might think about them upon learning about this, that or the other).
Anyway, what I love about Babyproofing Your Marriage is that it tells it like it is in all its ugly and painful glory. The book starts by describing the whole mess—what a marriage often looks like after the first baby's arrival in comparison to what it was like before, and what's happened to both husband and wife. Then the bulk of the book's chapters focus on these major areas of conflict—
—before summing up and helping you feel like your marriage and your parenting isn't as bad as you think it is.
This is what I love about it:
Marriage is one of the few things we can ignore without immediate and dire consequences. If we ignore our job, we’ll get fired. If we ignore our kids, they’ll starve. But if we ignore our relationship, our spouse can live off the scraps for a pretty long time. (p. 242)
I want to finish off this bitsy review by mentioning one more thing: don't read this book before you have a baby. It won't really be helpful to you then because it will be like reading marriage books before you get married and thinking, “My husband and I won't be like that. We won't fight. We'll be good communicators. We're good at resolving conflict,” and then you get married and experience married life with all its pimples and go, “Oh.” One person I know who read the book before she had kids found it really negative and unhelpful. I personally think it becomes more useful at around the six month mark—when you've had a bit of time to see how having a baby and becoming a parent has affected your life and your relationship with your spouse. (By then, however, you may have no time to read …)
Okay, time to end this. I leave you with two bits of further reading:
A way of funding writing in the future: pitch and idea and get people to support it.
Place where you can hire play equipment for parties, etc.
How to recalibrate the home button on your iPhone.
Unsolicited manuscripts accepted by Pan Macmillan with certain conditions.
Thought Balloon is a group blog in which the writers tackle a new theme every week? month? with one-page scripts. This URL is for their Phonogram ones.