So maybe I'm a little late to the party, as there are already a fair number of reviews for Cindy Rollins' new book floating around out there. But late to the party or no, I'm going to throw my thoughts out there into cyberspace too. If you haven't yet been convinced by the reviews of others that you ought to grab a copy of Mere Motherhood and read it, perhaps this one will tip you over the edge. Because really, you should.
Mere Motherhood is a 'lighter' read – it is not dense or heavy. I read it in two evenings while unable to sleep due to jet-lag after our epic West Coast trip. Parts of it were heart-wrenching. Other parts were laugh-out-loud funny. And yet, even though it was an 'easy' read, it was also profound. I came away reminded of my high calling as a mother, and yet not in a way that discouraged me or made me feel like I can't live up to some perceived standard. I won't. There are no perfect families, after all. But there is grace and redemption for that.
This isn't a 'parenting' book in the practical sense. It's a memoir. Cindy tells us her story – the joys, the heartaches, the regrets, the things she doesn't regret, and what she learned along the way. I came away from reading it convicted but encouraged, ready to face the challenges of motherhood with renewed vigor and confidence. Maybe confidence isn't the right word – because I'm more aware than ever that I. can't. do. this. But I know the One who holds me and my whole family in His hands.
I have mostly have given up reading practical parenting advice books, because mostly they just make me feel like I can't live up to the standard they set, with their lists of dos and don'ts. Maybe that's a failing on my part. But reading Cindy's book was different. In reading it, I experienced for myself the power of story. In You Are What You Love (also worth reading!), James KA Smith says this:
"Story isn't just the what of Christian worship; it is also the how…Our imaginations are captured poetically, not didactically. We're hooked by stories, not bullet points. The lilt and cadence of poetry have the ability to seep down into the fine-grained regions of our imagination in a way that a dissertation never could. The drama and characters of a novel stick with us long after the argument of a book has been forgotten." (p.106-107)
Stories get under our skin. They form us – inspire us – change us, in a way that the lists of dos and don'ts can't. Charlotte Mason was on to this idea too, which is why she encouraged the use of well-written narratives in place of textbooks as the backbone of her curriculum. Cindy's book – her story – did for me the very thing that I hope a rich, literary education will do for my children.
The only drawback to Mere Motherhood: at the end, Cindy spends a couple of pages listing the titles of books that have had some kind of formative influence on her. I've only read about half of them….
Good thing my sweet hubby just got me some more bookcases at Ikea, huh?