Sorry: a quick administrative note. I'm getting hit with all sorts of stupid automated comments that are somehow making it through the spam filter, so I've had to enable comment moderation for the time being. Hopefully when these comments dry up I'll be able to take that back off. In the meantime, please comment away and I'll moderate and add your comments as soon as I can!
In honor of Mother's Day coming up, I think I'll just post about parenting books all week. The last one I read was one that's getting lots of press-- Pamela Druckerman's Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. (I originally got it from the library because I saw the author on the Today show, actually wearing a beret, which seemed so ridiculous it almost made me like her.)
Druckerman relates the tale of her whirlwind romance and marriage, and how she eventually found herself in Paris, raising a baby girl (and later, twin boys). Her account is chronological: the account of her love affair, the experience of giving birth in France, breastfeeding, getting her baby to sleep through the night, and so on. Along the way she describes how the French method of child-rearing differs from the American; for example, most French women don't breastfeed, but yet they manage to get their babies to sleep through the night much earlier than American parents. Of course French parents pay much more attention to the food their children eat, and they also tend to send their children to daycares (state-funded, mind you) much earlier, and to try and instill more independence in them. Druckerman also noted that children in France seem much more self-sufficient and well-behaved, meaning that French parents can all get together, along with their kids, and still maintain an adult conversation at the same time.
It's not nearly as annoying a book as you might think; it's actually quite interesting in parts. (I was particularly blown away that French mothers receive both abdominal/core and pelvic rehabilitation therapy services after birth--now THAT's a good idea. Or you could, as my oh-so-helpful OB/GYN suggested, "just do some crunches." Thanks for all the high-level tips, doc.) But the fact of the matter is, as my sister would say, you raise your kids like the parents around you do. I can just see if you tried to give up breastfeeding in America, or have coffee* with other mothers and chat with them about adult things rather than all of you just following your toddlers around and attempting to teach them how to share with each other.
I read the whole thing, and it was okay. But unless I move to Paris (and the attention Druckerman says everyone pays to their appearance in Paris pretty much assures me I will never bother to visit Paris, much less live there) there wasn't much for me to learn or use here.
*Or have coffee at all, when you're pregnant or breastfeeding. You monster!