Finally getting books read from last Christmas.
I'm too lazy to even be a lazy couponer.

Motherhood discovered.

I learned this while reading Catherine Harper's memoir A Double Life: Discovering Motherhood: if I even want to entertain the thought of ever trying to have another baby, I have to stop reading books about pregnancy and childbirth RIGHT NOW.

There aren't any gory details in Harper's account, which is a very thoughtful and readable memoir about the experience of having a baby and becoming a mother. (It's also the winner of the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize, which I've never heard of, but hey, it's good to know; and is published by one of my favorite publishers, the University of Nebraska Press/Bison Books.) The bulk of the narrative involves Harper's coping with the changes pregnancy makes to a woman's body, then there's a lengthy chapter on her labor experience, and she concludes with some insights about learning to care for and raise her new daughter. However, the two parts that really made this book stand out (in my opinion) were the very beginning and the very end. In her first few chapters, Harper describes how even the decision to try to become pregnant changes your relationship dynamic (in other books this is either the entire focus of the book, as there are many books in which couples struggle with infertility, or is ignored if the narrative starts with the author's experience of being pregnant). But her concluding chapter really makes the book special:

"After playgroup that morning, after I had sat in that basement--which up to that point had been a fulfilling, companionable place to spend a few social hours--after I had listened to the endless litany of where Cheerios were on sale, what brand of diapers worked better on which gender, how many activities a particular nine-month old baby could accomplish in one day, how expertly another's 'swimming' lessons were going, why one mother took such pride in not finding the time to shower, or how another hadn't put her baby down for a nap ever...after the storm of all that nothing, I found myself undone...

My friends from pregnancy had all returned to work or moved out of the city. I was alone, and I understood for the first time, with absolute clarity, why women went mad...

...I understood more specifically that what was hard about mothering my baby wasn't really the sleeplessness, the poop, the spit-up, the mess at mealtimes, the carrying, or the soothing. Nor was it her generally noisy, demanding nature. These things were challenging but in the end they were the simplest things about having a child. What finally unwound me was the repetitive, isolated nature of these chores. I did the same things, over and over and over. I did them alone, without company or conversation. Once they were done, they had to be done again. And when I went out to be with other mothers, we talked about nothing else..." (pp. 213-214.)

Please excuse the lengthy quoting, but I wanted to give a flavor of how great Harper is at discussing (to my mind, anyway) one of the greatest challenges of motherhood: how to be interested in and raise children without talking and thinking ONLY about children. It's a nuanced point, and it's not made very often. Kudos to Harper for making it here.