Author: Colleen Down
Basic Overview: Colleen Down contests that it does not take a village to raise a child. Villagers do not show up with dinner at six or provide your teenager with braces or potty-train your preschooler. It takes a mother to raise that village. Colleen is a stay-at-home mother of seven children who “decided to ignore her buzzing dryer and ringing cell phone long enough to stand up and defend those whose profession it is to rock the cradle, and to remind them once again that they truly do have the power to change the world.” She writes candidly and optimistically about her family life, the internal struggles she faces as a mom, housework, and just about every other facet of motherhood. Through her wry sense of humor and strong political/sociological opinions, she gives mothers a down-to-earth way to look at their work and recognize that they are doing the most important job.
Parts I liked best: (1) In Colleen’s opening chapter, she explains why she writes: “I will write to remind my brain what my heart already knows. I will write so my daughters will know how critically important mothers are, even in a world that has forgotten. I will write for all the mothers that I rub shoulders with at the park, in the dentist office, standing in line at the grocery store and sitting in the bleachers of the little league fields. I will write to those moms who may need an occasional reminder that they are part of the world’s greatest force for good. Remember, the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world and can change the world” (p.3).
(2) Her chapter “Wells, Tupperware, and Prozac” (I know, it sounds scary, but it is actually very light-hearted), Colleen talks about how women today do their jobs in isolation. Instead of gathering around a common water well, we visit drive-thru windows, get our information from the Internet, etc. Tupperware parties are one of our more “ingenious solutions” for our need to talk to other women. “There can be no other explanation why busy women will give up a whole evening of their time to peruse catalogs of plastic lids and measuring cups and have relay races burping flour canisters” (p.38).
(3) Under the title “Housework 101,” Colleen contends that mothers have the only occupation that encourages and provides intimacy in this “high-fear,” impersonal world. “In our homes we can still give hands on nursing care. A mother or wife can still give a back rub or hold a sick child without putting on a surgical mask. Our job is messy at times, we are often exposed to germs, but intimacy is still a human need that must be satisfied….In the most natural of reflexes a mother scoops up a crying child who has skinned a knee, brings them in the house, grabs a washcloth, the Neosporin and a band-aid and does what women have done for thousands of years, heals and nurtures…History has made us more needed than ever. Teachers are not allowed to touch, day care providers must wear rubber gloves, and nurses hide behind masks and goggles….When the demand is high and the supply low the value climbs considerably” (p.78-79)
How This Book Made an Impact In My Life: After perusing the “Mom” books at the library and reading a handful that only served to upset me, I found this book online. This was the first book that actually connected with me and valued the perspective I had on motherhood. Reading this helped me to feel more relaxed, more sure of myself, and more grateful for my chance to be a mother.
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