As you may or may not have gathered here at sisterkin we are not big fans of parenting manuals or guides. That being said there are a few books we would heartily recommend to all parents-to-be. Books that will give you a hint at what is to come, that will fill your eyes with tears and will hopefully prepare you for this life-changing event.
So here are our top five non-parenting books that nail it:
The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
Not to give too much away The Pursuit of Love is a novel about family, love and relationships. It was published in 1945 and its warmth and humour are still relevant today. The narrator Fanny describes the romantic journey of her cousin Linda while also describing her own marriage and family life.
As far as I know Mitford never had children (thanks Wikipedia) and yet this passage from The Pursuit of Love perfectly sums up motherhood to me.
“…the endless drudgery of housekeeping, the nerve-racking noise and boring repetitive conversation of small children (boring in the sense that it bores into one’s very brain), their absolute incapacity to amuse themselves…
And yet, when I consider my life, day by day, hour by hour, it seems to be composed of a series of pin-pricks.”
The woman was a genius!
Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott
OK, so I realise that some of the parenting tips in this book are a little (over a hundred years) outdated, but in my opinion everyone can use the wise words of Mrs March (aka Marmee) in their life. My favourite part is Chapter XV, On the Shelf, (don’t panic I won’t quote the whole thing at you) when Meg goes to Mrs March for some advice about her relationship with her husband after having twins. I love the way Mrs March paints her own husband as a ‘new’ man, even if her resulting advice, although sound, is rather old-fashioned.
“When you are Jo were little, I went on just as you do, feeling as if I didn’t do my duty unless I devoted myself wholly to you. Poor father took to his books, after I had refused all offers of help, and left me to try my experiment alone. I struggled along as well as I could, but Jo was too much for me. I nearly spoilt her by indulgence. You were poorly, and I worried about you till I fell sick myself. Then father came to the rescue, quietly managed everything, and made himself so helpful that I saw my mistake. And never have been able to get on without him since.”
Of course, it doesn’t have to be father that helps out, but that advice has stood the test of time – don’t struggle alone, ask for help.
The Best A Man Can Get by John O’Farrell
This is the book I thrust into the hands of any bedazzled dad-to-be. It tells the story of Michael and not to reveal the twist (that comes early on in the book) he is an over-exaggerated version of almost every man or father. Not bad, just confused by life and unwilling to face up to his responsibilities. So when your husband leaves the house with just the baby and his car keys (again!) you can comfort yourself with the fact that at least he is nowhere near as bad as Michael. Nowhere near.
Here’s my favourite excerpt:
“I remembered all that spare sleep I’d had when I was sixteen, seventeen, eighteen. I’d spent it so recklessly. If only I could have put it in a sleep bank, saved up for a sleep pension later in life. ‘Michael! Get out of bed,’ my mother used to shout up the stairs at me. We spend the first few years trying to get our children to stay in bed and then before we know it, we’re trying to get them out again. It’s hard to think of a period when we actually get our sleep right. Small children wake up to early, teenagers don’t wake up at all, new parents don’t get any sleep because of the noise their children make, and then a few years later they can’t get to sleep because now there’s no noise of their children coming home.”
Makes me yawn just reading it.
How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Part memoir part feminist manifesto I love the rant-y nature of this book. Moran speaks to you like a friend and will have you nodding with recognition as she recounts things you have done or thought, but could never describe. It would be fair to say that alongside Jilly Cooper, Joan Collins and Angela Lansbury, Caitlin Moran is one of my idols.
Here she is musing on motherhood
“…there is the sheer emotional, intellectual, physical, chemical pleasure of your children. The honest truth is that the world holds no greater gratification than lying in bed with your children, putting your leg on top of them in a semi-crushing manner, while saying sternly, “You are a poo.”
Odd I know, but true!
Oh Baby, the Places You’ll Go (A Book to be Read in Utero) by Dr Seuss
I can not write about this book without my eyes welling up. This is the book I read to the twins every night before they were born. As a result 3-year-old Freddie (and I am certain this is no coincidence) is obsessed with rhyming.
The book follows the journey of a baby who encounters many fabulous creatures and some famous Dr Seuss characters along the way. I just adored reading it to my humungous bump, particularly the last part:
So now, as my voice
burble-urps in your ear-
with a bump-thumpy sound
that is not very clear-
the words I am saying
you hear in your heart,
and know that i wish you
the very best start
It’s a sumptuous world
and it’s ready to greet you.
And as for myself…
I can’t wait to meet you!
Sob. Just sob.
Do you have any books you would add to the list? No manuals mind!