Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Parenting Books That Don't Make You Feel Like Crap

I'm the mother of a six year old boy and I remember when I was pregnant that, being the bookworms that my husband and I are, we went looking for books that could help us figure out what was going on, what we could expect, etc.

I don't know if you've noticed, but a lot of parenting books tend to make the reader feel like crap. I don't know if this is intentional or what, but they tend to make you feel guilty for eating the wrong thing, not exercising enough, exercising too much, and no two books are the same, so how can you be sure that you are getting the right advice? We started panicking and shunned most of the traditional titles that people were recommending to us, like What to Expect When You're Expecting.

Shortly after Tristan (that's my bubby!) was born we went on vacation and went to a book fair where we picked up one of the books I'll talk about today. This title made me realize that there were a whole lot of books out there that weren't as antagonistic as the ones I'd read while I was pregnant. While we don't plan to ever have another biological child, these are the books I wish I'd read back then and that I would recommend to anyone who might be having a kid in the future. Actually, these books are probably good for anyone starting a family, whether you're pregnant, adopting, or what-have-you. These are about raising good kids, dealing with the ups and down of parenthood, and in a fun way that doesn't make the parents feel like crap.

So, here we go!

Author Jeff Vogel did not go into parenthood with any delusions. He knew that he would love his daughter, and that was terrifying. What if he screwed up? And he knew that life with a baby would be different, that it would be filled with an endless stream of filthy diapers, unexplained wailing, and sleepless nights. Not to mention no sex. The parenting books painted a picture of smart, communicative babies and mindless, limitless joy, but he knew they were lying to him. So he wrote his own book. The Poo Bomb: True Tales of Parental Terror recounts, in a no-punches-pulled style, the first year of life of Cordelia, Jeff's freshly hatched, gooey human girl. The first year of parenthood isn't about joy or fulfillment. It is about menial labor, wiping up human waste, and marking time until the kid is old enough to run and play and thank you for its life. Jeff chronicles the journey through the morass of year one week by week. Rich with irreverent honesty and humor, The Poo Bomb is the reality show of parenting books: It reflects what most parents have sometimes guiltily felt about their not-so-delightful bundles of joy.
This is the book I mentioned finding at a book fair shortly after the birth of my son. Since he was a premature baby, we were dealing with a lot of ups and down (still are, in fact). That entailed a lot of worry about what his development would be like, what was normal for him as opposed to another child the same age, etc. This book helped up feel at least a little bit better about raising Tristan. It helped us to laugh and to realize that there was at least one other person out there that wasn't a perfect parent and that someone was willing to admit it. Not only admit it, but publish his account of it so other parents could realize they weren't alone.

It takes a starship to raise a child. Or a time machine. Or a tribe of elves. Fortunately, Geek Parenting offers all that and more, with thoughtful mini-essays that reveal profound child-rearing advice (and mistakes) from the most beloved tales of geek culture. Nerds and norms alike can take counsel from some of the most iconic parent–child pairings found in pop culture: Aunt May and Peter Parker, Benjamin and Jake Sisko, Elrond and Arwen, even Cersei and Joffrey. Whether you’re raising an Amazon princess, a Jedi Padawan, a brooding vampire, or a standard-issue human child, Geek Parenting helps you navigate the ion storms, alternate realities, and endless fetch quests that come with being a parent.
Includes parenting experts from across time and space, such as:

Luke and Vader
Korra and Tenzin
Wednesday and Morticia Addams
Frodo and Bilbo
Rose and Jackie Tyler
Carl and Michonne
Thor, Loki, and Odin
Starbuck, Apollo and Adama
Stewie and Lois
Sarah Manning and Mrs. S.
T'Challa and T'Chaka
Spock, Sarek, and Amanda
Claudia and Lestat
San and Moro
Perseus and Zeus
Dorothy and Auntie Em
Bruce Wayne and Alfred
Buffy and Giles
Meg Murry and Aunt Beast
Orpheus and Morpheus
Paul Atreides and Lady Jessica
Kal-El and Jor-El
Chakotay and Kolopak
Scott and Dr. Evil
Diana and Hippolyta
Alexander and Worf
My #otspsecretsister from Twitter, Andrea, sent this to me within the last couple of months and I wish I'd had it when I was pregnant or when Tristan was younger. If you know me, you'll know that I don't really talk well about things unless they're about things I know comfortably. Ask me a personal question, I probably can't answer it. Phrase it in a way that it's involving pop culture, now that's a whole other story and makes it a totally different situation.

Parenting is a difficult situation because the story is always different, but when you can find some kind of common ground, say a fandom you share with someone or a parental example to learn from therein, you might just have something. Geek Parenting has a wide range of such examples from comic books to television shows to movies, basically something to appeal to every kind of fandom. It's an easy collection to get through too, because instead of long chapters with dry writing it is made up of short essays that you can read during a nap, while a load of laundry is in the dryer, or some other such situation.


The Unmumsy Mum writes candidly about motherhood like it really is: the messy, maddening, hilarious reality, how there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and how it is sometimes absolutely fine to not know what you are doing. The lessons she's learnt while grappling with two small boys – from birth to teething, 3am night feeds to toddler tantrums, soft play to toilet training – will have you roaring with laughter and taking great comfort in the fact that it's definitely not just you...
My husband just found this blog/book the other day and I am in love with this woman's sense of humor. Her British wit and her experience with her two kids gives me some sense of calm in my life, now that Tristan is a young child, no longer a baby or a toddler. I haven't read her book yet, but from my look over of her blog I figure that Sarah Turner suffers no fools, particularly those that think you can't feed your kid fish fingers. She knows what it's like to want sources of parenting advice, but not want to be made to feel like an idiot. Her blog isn't updated nearly so much now as she's had a couple of books out, but her first one is about parenting while the second book, The Unmumsy Mum Diary, is about parenting, blogging, and having her books out in the world.

These are some of the best experiences I've had with parenting books, but as I've said in this post, no experience is 100% the same. Can you share any books or blogs that have helped you or made you feel a little less like you were messing up? Share the titles/links in the comment section below.

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