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Check It Out

Courier Article by Kate Linderman
Saturday, September 20, 2009

Parenting Books Offer Advice, Humor, Humility

This time of year, it seems like I barely have enough time to get my daughters up in the morning, feed them, dress them and get them to school and day care on time before heading to work myself.
       
I find that as a working mother, I am constantly beating myself up about not staying home to raise my daughters. Conversely, I know that some of my friends who stay home with their kids struggle with the isolation and social perceptions (good and bad) of being a "SAHM" (stay-at-home mom). In short, the proverbial grass is always greener on the other side.
       
I recently listened to a National Public Radio interview with author Ayelet Waldman about her new book "Bad Mother: a Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace."
       
Waldeman, who is married to novelist Michael Chabon ("Wonder Boys," "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay"), humorously but seriously explores the obsession women have with the concept of being a "bad" mother. It seems that no matter what moms do, at some point we've all felt like a bad mother. After reading it, I found myself feeling a whole lot better, and I started searching for similar new books at the library, thus continuing my foray into nonfiction "chick lit."

Turns out, we have a robust section on parenting with humor and humility. "Afterbirth," edited by Dani Klein Modisett, is a collection of essays written by entertainers, writers and people of note - the actor Andrew McCarthy, "Saturday Night Live" alumnus Melanie Hutsell, Peter Horton ("thirtysomething") and Matthew Weiner ("Mad Men") - among others, have contributed to this entertaining collection of "stories you won't read in a parenting magazine."
       
For fun, or maybe a little empathy, try "True Mom Confessions: Real Moms Get Real" by Romi Lassally and the mothers of True
       
MomConfessions.com, a Web site where mothers can anonymously submit their true tales of parenting. This is a quick read, at times funny and at other times remarkably spot on.
       
Deborah Copaken Kogan, a former war photographer and television news producer (and contributor to "Afterbirth") has written "Hell is Other Parents and Other Tales of Maternal Combustion." Kogan gave birth at 40 to her third child, a boy whose siblings are nine and 11 years older than he is. "Hell is Other Parents" is an entertaining look at her re-emergence into the world of parenting a small child after years of absence.
       
As a New Yorker, she's gotten her fair share of unsolicited parenting advice, and she shares her experiences with other parents here.
       
So whenever you're feeling bad about your abilities as a mother, or about your role as a daughter or  a sister, pick up a fun book of essays to pop around. Chances are someone out there feels exactly the way you do, and you'll be glad you "met" them.
       
Kate Linderman is a reader's adviser for the Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library.