One of the best things I've done for my sanity since becoming a mom 17 months ago was start a mommy book club. I had started a local book club after I moved to my current home five years ago--and found it was a great way to meet people and make new friends. However, after becoming a new mom, I felt a specific need for mama friends: to find women who were going through the same things as me. None of my old friends had yet crossed over that threshold into parenthood, so I needed to look elsewhere for that support. Since I am also a working, pseudo-single mom (ie. doctor's wife), I knew I'd have to put some effort into creating a new peer network. So, that's how I landed upon my solution: book club experience + need for mama friends = mama book club!
I recruited most of the women in the book club through my mama-baby yoga class and regular yoga classes, so we're all a bit 'crunchy granola.' There's about 10 women on the email list, and maybe five will show up at each gathering. We've been meeting every month for the past year, and it's been a great outlet. The book list I put together ended up being a good mix, but reading (or finishing) the books was always optional.
As a whole, the mama gatherings have been a great time to get out of the house; to vent; to gripe about parenthood and marriage; libido blahs; postpartum bodies; baby behavior advice; solids and diapers and sleep; miscarriages; second pregnancies; and being moms! Our discussions can be both light and deep, or friendly and therapeutic. It all depends on the book and/or the group of women who gather. After a year, I can say that I have a group of women I can call on for advice and sympathy. Ideally, if we can keep this group going, I'd like to see us being able to do some babysitting swaps and more playdates. On a personal front, I like to see more working mamas in the group as well. I love my SAHM friends in the group, but working parenthood (and my pseudo-single parenthood on top of that) adds its own challenges.
Anyway, I wanted to share the 2010-11 Mama Booklist we used this past year. I tried to make a mix of parenting genres: advice; anthropology; emotional development; cognitive development; memoirs; and anthologies. With one book to go in the year, my favorites were Momma Zen; The Mask of Motherhood; and A Slant of Sun.
See the list behind the cut.
2010-11 Mama Booklist (Greenville Mamas)
1. What's Going on in There: How the Brain and Mind Develop in the
First Five Years of Life
2. Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood
3. The Mask of Motherhood: How Becoming a Mother Changes Our Lives and Why
We Never Talk About It
4. Einstein Never Used Flashcards
5. Our Babies Ourselves
6. The Girlfriend's Guide to Toddlers
7. Playful Parenting
8. Baby Hearts (Child emotional development)
9. A Slant of Sun by Beth Kephart (memoir)
10. Mothers and Others
11. Mother Nature
12. I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids