It seems that the only reading I am doing these days involves parenting books. I distinctly remember going through this same sort of phase after Harrison was born, so last summer and fall, I stocked up on novels from the library and soaked in as much “for me” reading as I could. You know, the really guilty pleasure kind of reading where very little thinking is required. Good thing because there is no time for leisure reading now!
Sadly, though, even my parental reading isn’t getting my full attention as I find myself trying to read not one or two of these helpful guides at time, but more like four or five. And the more I read, the more I wonder, what on earth am I doing to myself?!?! (yes, that is a double interrobang)
According to my mom, she and my dad read no parenting or baby books. Seeing as they are amazing parents, I am flabbergasted by this. Why didn’t they read parenting books?! How did they just DO it?! If they had read books, I could read the same ones and have hopes of becoming the same kind of amazing parent! But, like their amazing cooking skills where they don’t measure and it still turns out AWEsome, I cannot take their example and break it into a Type A/by-the-book formula that can be duplicated. Nope. Apparently I come from Just Wing It Stock which is so funny because I am so bad at just winging it. Hence the four or five parenting books at once.
Perhaps if I decided to wing a book or two out the window, I’d be better off. See, the problem is, I like what I read in each one. They all sound so smart. So right. And here is what I start thinking in my head as I read: If I just do these five or six or ten things, my life will be so much easier. My children will behave. They will sleep. Yes! That’s the ticket! That sounds good. Let me try that approach. We must do this. We must not do this. If only we remove/add/change/duplicate/avoid this, we will be The. Best. Parents. Ever. It also doesn’t help that books are like air to me, so when I read something I often take it as a vital fact. Perhaps my unhealthy obsession with the printed word is the problem here, eh? Sure. Let’s blame it on that…you know, as I sit here typing all my wordy words on my blog about parenting! Nope, no irony there!
So, yes. I do all this reading and believing and then I start to forget. What did that book say? What did that doctor or psychologist or expert or whatever-she-is recommend? Why didn’t I write that down? Or highlight it? Or dog ear the page? How do I do half of this approach with part of that one while avoiding this or that MAJOR error from that one?! I don’t think I have enough room on my refrigerator to post all the little reminders. Maybe I should start writing them on the walls? Not sure that even with this new, bigger house, there would be enough room for all the “rules” that all of these books make me think I should be following.
Gee. I wonder why I’m hearing birds in my minivan?!
Let’s not forget the other complication here. If I don’t have time to read all of these books I am currently reading, my teaching/coaching/taking grad classes husband certainly does not have time for them. So that means that my tired brain is trying to absorb all of this lovely, uber helpful information and then relate it to him. Brilliant. So I read a chapter out of one book, decide it is The Answer and then share it with Ben. Then a few days later I read another chapter out of another book and decide that it, too, is The Answer. But somehow it doesn’t quite jive with the other book. So now what? What to do to make each new Answer fit???
Truly, I bring this upon myself. Most of these books are ones that I asked for, bought myself, or borrowed from a friend. I cannot fault my family and friends for supporting my reading habit because I have fueled it completely. It’s funny though, because now, when a family member, friend or even random acquaintance starts talking about another “new” parenting book that I just “have” to read, my spirit soars a bit and I think, “Yes! New Answers!” Then my spirit sinks a bit as I think, “Oh, Crap. New Answers!”
I think what I am really learning through all of this reading of multiple books at once is that parenting is hard. It is also a bit of a crap shoot. I think that is why so many books about it exist in the first place. Each kid and each family is a little bit different, so the kicker is that there are no Answers. There are only theories, and what works for one may not work for another.
So why I keep torturing myself with these books, thinking that they will make all day every day easy breezy is beyond me. I think I need to go back to (trashy) novels.