Here's a shocker: I continue to read parenting books.*
I don't know why I can't look away from them. (Like one of my favorite lines from the short-lived Canadian sitcom An American in Canada: "It's like watching a car crash. Into puppies.") If I hear one being talked about on the radio, I must get it from the library--same deal if I see it being promoted on morning talk shows.
Now, as if there aren't plenty of current parenting books out there to drown myself in, I've started to re-read parenting books I've already read. Oddly enough, I first read Rachel Cusk's A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother long before CRjr came into being. I don't know why--I think I heard the press about it, much of which was negative because this is not, emphatically NOT, your usual touchy-feely positive mommy memoir, and because I love negative people, I looked it up.
Because I have a child and my memory and brain have been shot ever since giving birth, the nice part of re-reading this book was that I really couldn't remember it. The sad part was that I can't even remember what I thought of it when I first read it. I think I found it interesting, and enjoyably (and honestly?) un-sweet, but I didn't have a kid then and it was all slightly more theoretical. Passages like the one below, I think, must make a lot more sense to me now.
"I did not understand what a challenge to the concept of sexual equality the experience of pregnancy and childbirth is. Birth is not merely that which divides women from men: it also divides women from themselves, so that a woman's understanding of what it is to exist is profoundly changed. Another person has existed in her, and after their birth they live within the jurisdiction of her consciousness. When she is with them she is not herself; when she is without them is not herself; and so it is as difficult to leave your children as it is to stay with them. To discover this is to feel that your life has become irretrievably mired in conflict, or caught in some mythic snare in which you will perpetually, vainly struggle." (p. 7.)
There's tons of other quotes I wanted to share but I'll let you discover them in her book, on your own,** if you're so inclined. It's definitely a different take on the subject than you'll find in most other parenting books.
*And I don't just read the fuzzy, memoirish types of books. I find myself going to my copy of Caring for Your Baby and Young Child about twenty times a day, looking up things like baby teeth (patterns of emergence), pinkeye, when to switch to a booster seat from the highchair, etc. For most of the medical-type questions I'm usually just overreacting to some imaginary symptom; mercifully, CRjr is very healthy. Some women turn to other suburban mommies; I turn to my book. It's just the way it's always going to be.
** Okay, just one more. "A health visitor came to see us in our embattled kitchen. She produced sheaves of leaflets and laid each one lovingly on the table for me to study while behind her the baby looted her handbag undetected. Have you taken her to toddler group, the health visitor enquired. I had not. Like vaccinations and mother and baby clinics, the notion instilled in me a deep administrative terror." (p. 166.) Ha!