Title: Loud and Clear
Author: Anna Quindlen
Basic Overview: I’ve seen Anna Quindlen quoted in several books and articles I’ve read on motherhood, so I decided to go straight to the source. “Loud and Clear” is a collection of columns the author wrote for Newsweek and it covers a myriad of topics ranging from parenting to politics. While I didn’t always agree with her opinions, I cannot deny that Quindlen writes beautifully; I found myself pulling out my highlighter again and again. The first section of the book entitled “Heart” deals primarily with motherhood and contains most of my favorite pieces.
In “A New Roof on an Old House”, Quindlen compares parenting to roofing a house, one slate at a time. She talks about how our sometimes grueling, daily routine is actually a “work of the ages”:
“We are building character, and tradition, and values, which meander like a river into the distance and out of our sight, but on and on and on.
….And so is one hour of miniature golf, one tête-á- tête under the covers, one car ride with bickering in the backseat, one kiss, one lecture, one Sunday morning in church. One slate laid upon another, and another, and in the end, if you have done the job with care and diligence, you have built a person, reasonably resistant to the rain. More than that, you have helped build the future of her spouse, his children, even their children’s children, for good or for ill” (page 50).
Put that way, it made me feel the need even more to “mother on purpose” and to find the meaning and intention in my daily mothering tasks.
In another of my favorite articles, “Oh Godot” Quindlen discusses how we often wait our whole lives for that one “thing” that will make our life wonderful or successful. There are voices in the world telling us how to be and how to live. The author simply says, “Don’t listen.”
“This will always be your struggle. I know from experience. When I quit The New York Times to be a full-time mother, the voices of the world said that I was nuts….But I am not nuts. I am successful on my own terms. Because if your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your soul, it is not success at all” (page 143).
“You are only real if you can see yourself, see yourself clear and true in the mirror of your soul and smile upon the reflection” (page 145).
This reminded me that I am ultimately in charge of my life and my experiences. I don’t have to wait for perfect circumstances to be happy, I can feel good about myself now by how I choose to define success.
Several other stand-out articles for me were “Good-bye Dr. Spock” (you can read all the books in the world, but you’re still the expert on your child); “Doing Nothing is Something” (how we’re over scheduling our children); and “Anniversary” (reflections on the passing of the author’s mother).
How This Book Made an Impact In My Life, Especially as a Mother (or why I just really liked it):
Many of the articles in this book reminded me just how important my job as a mother – which is always helpful when one’s day is full of potty training and breaking up fights. I liked that each article was short, yet they left me thinking about what I read throughout the day. Quindlen is really honest about motherhood, I laughed several times as I read thinking, “I’m so glad I’m not the only one who’s felt this way!”
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