The War on Moms: On Life in a Family-Unfriendly Nation by Sharon Lerner. I highly recommend reading this book. It shows how the supposed "mommy wars" distract from the real problem with American culture--the total lack of support for mothers and children. By keeping women occupied with blaming themselves or finding fault with other moms, the real offenders responsible for making motherhood so difficult go unchallenged. Anyway, I will refrain from turning this into a lengthy review. Get your own copy and tell me what you think!
Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture by Shannon Hayes. I finished this one a few days ago and have a lot of criticisms. Overall, wonder why she created an arbitrary division of homemaking into the "good" kind (the radical, feminist, eco-conscious, gender-equal, stick it to The Man, homemaking-as-deliberate-choice) and the "problematic" kind (your everyday garden-variety homemakers or, gasp, fundamentalist Christians). Her historical overview was extremely spotty and way, way overgeneralized. Too much of we used to live in a happy peaceful matrilineal society that valued men's and women's work equally until evil Industrialization and Capitalism ruined the world. I am happy, though, that people are beginning to reclaim the lost domestic arts--cooking, canning, gardening, home renovations, car repairs, sewing, thrifting, etc.--and find value in domestic/manual labors. I wonder what kind of homemaker she would label me. Would I fit into the exclusive club of radical homemakers? Or would I be one of those who isn't doing it for the "right" reasons? I've had this on my mind today in particular, as another family came over with a huge load of apples to can together. We put up 23 quarts in 4 hours with all four of us adults working and the kids amusing themselves for the most part.
Many of these domestic skills are ones I simply find normal, logical and entirely sensible. I grew up learning how to cook and garden and sew as ordinary yet important life skills. (And this wasn't just for us girls--my little brother learned the same things). When I do shop for clothes or household items, I almost always go to thrift stores. Why spend all that money when you can find it secondhand?
My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira. Another fast read. A novel about a skilled American midwife in the mid-19th century who wants to become a surgeon. When war breaks out, she volunteers as a nurse in a Washington, D.C. hospital and eventually gains the skills to work as a battlefield nurse & surgeon. Of course the childbirth parts are wonderfully/terribly dramatic. For example, Mary comes home to attend her sister's first birth. Her sister's pelvis is too small for the baby to be born. After a bumbling doctor tries forceps and mutilates her sister's insides, Mary cuts a symphysiotomy and helps the baby be born alive. Her sister then dies immediately after the birth of an eclamptic fit.
Women of Courage: Intimate Stories from Afghanistan by Katherine Kiviat and Scott Heidler
Three Tracy Chevalier novels: Falling Angels, Burning Bright, and The Lady and the Unicorn. I originally wanted a different one of her novels, but it was checked out. I pulled a few others off the shelf to read.
Towards a Philosophy of Education by Charlotte Mason.
I also have a stack of books and DVDs to review. In roughly this order:
- Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett. I've had this book for a year now and haven't got around to reviewing it yet. Why? It's such a great book that I keep lending it out to pregnant/nursing friends!
- The Big Stretch (DVD) by Alieta Belle and Jenny Blyth
- BabyBabyOhBaby: Bonding With Your Brilliant & Beautiful Baby Through Infant Massage (DVD).
- Orgasmic Birth: Your Guide to a Safe, Satisfying, and Pleasurable Birth Experience by Elizabeth Davis and Debra Pascali-Bonaro. The companion book to the DVD of the same title.
- Impact of Birthing Practices on Breastfeeding, 2nd Edition by Linda J. Smith