I read this book about ten years ago, when I was a regular reader of Barbara Curtis' blog, Mommy Life. As a young mother, her writings were instrumental in the forming of how I approached motherhood and faith. Barbara was the mother to about twelve children, including three with Down Syndrome which she and her husband Tripp adopted. The original "megamom" in my mind, she wrote passionately about her conversion to Catholicism and was strongly political. Also a homeschooler, Barbara truly inspired me.
Barbara died in 2012 (on my birthday, no less). Gone too soon, it warms my heart to remember her and emulate her with this blog. <3
This book was highly enjoyable for me to read, and Barbara Curtis is quickly climbing up my ladder of favorite authors. My favorite feature about this book is the super short chapters. The books is medium length--190 pages--and there are 30 chapters, but each one is no more than 8 pages long. Barbara puts her experience as a mommy and expertise as a writer to great work. The chapters are organized into subcategories such as "The sooner you surrender, the better," and "A little bit of Mommy goes a long way." Each chapter has a quick tip, word of encouragement, or resource as well. She lists helpful websites, recipes, games to play with kids, Bible verses, and quotes from famous people. At the end of chapter 5, "It came to pass, not to stay," there is a recipe for Toads-in-a-Hole which is an egg cooked in a piece of toast. I made it for breakfast and the kids ate it up fast!
Many of her topics are somewhat counter-cultural, such as saying it's okay to win and lose, and that boys and girls are really different and how (in general) the public school system has changed to avoid competition and favor girls over boys, labeling stereotypical "boy" behavior (being more active, etc) as bad. From page 63: "Some 'experts' read the active, more assertive behavior of boys as indicating a propensity to violence. But this line of thinking shows a lack of respect for the unique qualities God has built into boys--the qualities that will someday make them men."
I found a lot of encouragement in this book as well, and she brings it back to Jesus often. One afternoon I was an emotional wreck (pregnancy hormones perhaps?) and I sat down to read more of this book and got to chapter 23: Desperate Motherhood. From page 140, "But what happens when you come to the concusion that you're responsible for making a mess of things? What happens when you take stock of where you are as a mother and you don't like what you see? What happens when you feel you've failed, that you made the wrong choices or that you never tried hard enough?" When I read this and the rest of the chapter, I felt like Jesus, through Barbara's writing, came alongside me, making me feel less alone in my role as a mother. I have support but sometimes it does feel very alone on a bad day. Either my attitude or the kid's is off (more often it's me that's the problem!) and I just feel like a failure. It was encouraging to read in this chapter, "For anyone headed in the wrong direction--or who just needs to tweak a few things to become a better mother: Every day is a new opportunity to make a fresh start." I am thankful that Jesus always brings a new day for me to follow him in everything, including my role as a mother.
As with Barbara's other book I reviewed, I highly recommend reading this book for any woman, new or not-so-new to motherhood. Thank you Jesus, for speaking through Barbara to me while I read this book!