Monday, July 07, 2014

Book Review: Grace for the Contemplative Parent by Lily Crowder (written by Coffeewife)

When I requested this book for review, I somehow missed that it's meant for mothers specifically. So I thought it'd be fun to give it to Coffeewife to read and review instead. And so I present to you: a guest post and book review by Coffeewife.

I would first like to say that I do not believe I was the intended audience for this book.  I believe this book was written for conservative Christian mothers, when I am a liberal independent Christian mother. Yes, I am a strong Christian woman but I am also a child and adult therapist (psychiatric NP). It took me a bit to get into this book and my husband had to listen to my comments about not being the intended audience through those first couple of chapters.  This review will be from a mother, therapist, nurse, and Christian woman.

Once I finished the book, I found it to be insightful in many ways. I rather enjoyed Lily’s words of wisdom and I feel that many people need to hear them. I’m glad that she was able to tie it to the Bible. However, I feel some of her insights are so important that they could or should be included a book for all audiences and not just for Christian women. I wish I could share some of these insights with some of my patients’ parents.  

Lily talks about being mindful, a Dialectical Therapy Term. However, she calls it practicing “daily wonder”.  Making sure that you are connected to things around you: other people, environment, and yourself. This is crucial to enjoying and dealing with life. This will help you feel like a connected person, feel emotions, feel an overwhelming amount of love for your partner, children and family. Many now become involved with their phones, TV, iPad/Tablet, etc. They devalue people for devices. I can’t tell you how many times I have been involved with a family therapy session and a parent pulls out their cell phone during the session, a patient completes a therapy assignment using texting acronym, or someone stating that they want to spend more time with a family member when they are not on the computer.

I also found her comments about remembering to take time to play to be important. Letting your children be children and not expecting them to be little adults. There is a way to merge having well behaved children and letting them continue to be children. I can’t tell you how many times I have had people look at me during church because my 6-year-old son is making noise. However, it is age appropriate noise. He is not screaming or yelling, but is making comments, giggling, talking with other kids and playing. Sitting on the floor under the pew and wearing his tennis shoes with his church clothes, all part of age appropriate play.  Using both of these pieced together could allow a parent to be grateful for what they have.

I am so glad that she reminds parents to take some for yourself. Great comments, hard to implement. I completely agree with this and find it to be an important part of holding onto your sanity. Making sure that you are a person and not just mom or dad. Being an individualized person, having your own likes, dislikes, fun, and limits is important for people to know and understand about yourself.  Taking time out to recharge your mental battery, make you a happier person therefore it would make you a better/happier parent as well.  Everyone should listen to this, not just parents. Parenting can be compared to any other job, however those that are parents know it is not the same. If you take time for yourself, you do everything better: work, think, play better.

I must comment on the negatives before I share with you what I think is Lily’s best insight. I found the beginning of the book a little “gooey.” I realize she was trying to set up how she became a parent, but I’m not sure that all the information she shared was important for the purpose of the book. Due to being a non-conservative Christian there were many things that I wouldn’t do and ways I do not view the world. I do feel that motherhood is the most important thing in my life, I also want to put out there that it is NOT for everyone. Children and being a parent are expensive, you need to know who you are and what you want/expect from life,  know your partner, enjoy your partner and let yourself experience your life and/or career prior to making the commitment to being a parent, because it is a FOREVER commitment, outlasting many marriages and the majority of the time your life. Being a parent shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of but it is not something that should be shoved down others' throats. Take it in grace and realize that others don’t always hold the same thoughts and feelings. You can be a good or awesome Christian woman and not be a parent at the same time. There is also a way to have a career if you want and to have children. You do not have to give up your career or job to have children. I realize that Lily talks about how feeling guilty about giving up your career goals because you have wonderful and lovely children, but I’m not sure if that it really possible while taking time of your self and your needs. Be proud if you are a working mother. There is some guilt that goes along with this as well, wanting to be home more frequently. However, each working and not working comes with some guilt. The deal is, don’t hold it in. Talk to others about these feeling, talk with your boss, and practice balance. This is something that not only I deal with but also my husband, a minister, has to do as well. With any job and family, balance must be found through trial and error. Not just mothers need to find balance, everyone needs balance.

My final statement will be of something that Lily said that really struck a chord with me.  I actually became tearful.  She comments that even though we lay claim to our children because they are our flesh and blood that they are individual people that are kind of on loan to us. They will live on after us and we are entrusted with their upbringing and their care. The thought of being entrusted with my lovely children, a son and daughter, I find myself lucky and exceptionally fortunate.  I am thankful for the fortunate life that I have been given and that God has allowed me to have this life.

(I was sent a free copy of this book to review by the Speakeasy blogging book review network. My opinions are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.)