Parents today have so many networks and resources available to them. It can be daunting, but it can also be reassuring.
There are so many decisions to make, so many styles to choose from. Do you breastfeed or bottle-feed, or both? What bottles should you use? Cloth or disposable? Co-sleeping or crib? Those first months as a new parent can be so overwhelming. What helped me? Books and blogs.
Reading about how other parents made the decisions they made, how they prepared for birth, grew into their mother or father roles, and what informed their choices around parenting helped me not feel so overwhelmed or alone.
But one thing that I didn’t expect as a new parent was how fun and even funny parenting could be. Not that it isn’t hard, but there is something about being that vulnerable and open with a new human being who is also vulnerable and open that seems to usher in these perfect moments of unexpected hilarity. Some of my favorite parenting memoirs share the heartache and humor in equal measure.
Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year by Anne Lamott
Lamott’s parenting memoir is one that gets so much word of mouth buzz, and for good reason. It’s a shockingly intimate, warts and all confessional about how Lamott got unexpectedly pregnant, became a single mom, and spends her son’s first year trying not to kill him or herself. It’s funny, touching and refreshingly real.
The Big Rumpus: A Mother’s Tale from the Trenches by Ayun Halliday
How do you raise two kids in New York City? Ayun Halliday started out sharing her tales of being a big city mama in her zine, The East Village Inky. Halliday chronicles the early years of “Inky,” her daughter India’s nickname, and son, Milo; she milks the hilarity from any given situation and has gone on to write more books on various topics with her trademark wit. The East Village Inky cast, as Ayun calls her dear family, will also be starring in an apocalyptic Christmas tale in New York next month! To learn more about this zany family, try here and here.
Crawling: A Father’s First Year by Elisha Cooper
“There’s a head sticking out of my best friend. This is insane. …This isn’t a miracle, it’s assault. I’d call 911 but we’re already in a hospital.” So begins Cooper’s parenting memoir of his first year home with his daughter, Zoe. Stay-at-home-dads are not very often given a chance to tell their stories, even though there are more “Mr. Moms,” just like my husband, sprouting up everywhere. An author and children’s book illustrator, he has a keen eye for detail paired with offbeat humor. Cooper’s the kind of dad who plays Outkast’s “So Fresh and So Clean” when he changes his daughter’s diapers, and even admits that he gets a little jealous of his daughter’s breastfeeding. Cooper is honest, self-deprecating and laugh-out-loud funny. He also writes and illustrates some amazing picture books, like Beach and A Good Night Walk, and recently penned a nonfiction book called Ridiculous/hilarious/terrible/cool: A Year in an American High School.
Waiting for Birdy: A Year of Frantic Tedium, Neurotic Angst, and the Wild Magic of Growing a Family by Catherine Newman
Like Lamott, Newman’s memoir is funny beyond belief. But it is also a tender portrait of a woman in her second pregnancy, who knows herself better the second time around. While you can never quite prepare yourself for the first, a second child also changes everything in unforeseen ways. Newman writes with so much love and humor, you feel like you are drinking cocoa in her livingroom as she dishes about poopy diapers and breast pumps. You can also read more about Newman’s family from her online parenting journal, “Bringing Up Ben & Birdy,” which spans 208 weeks of unforgettable stories.
Rockabye: From Wild to Child by Rebecca Woolf
From Woolf’s wildly revealing, no-holds-barred blog, “(This) Girl’s Gone Child,” whose motto is “Who says becoming a mom means succumbing to laser tattoo removal and moving to the suburbs?,” comes a memoir about how an unexpected pregnancy in her 20s sent this L.A. girl from clubs to playgrounds. Woolf truly proves that becoming a mom made her more of a woman, and a kick-ass one at that. Her love for her son Archer shines through on every page of her book and her blog. She also just had a little girl, Fable, in October and also has a regular Babble.com column called “Straight From the Bottle.”
What are your favorite parenting memoirs or blogs? It’s show and tell time, virtual style!