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June 2023

It’s always nice to read a book in praise of something that you’re already doing.  So this was a nice “pat on the back” for our family.  A few things Dr. Laura said also challenged me.  First, she addresses the loneliness and feelings of drudgery that a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) can feel feel.  She says

The “Is that all there is?” feeling isn’t there because you are a SAHM.  It is a natural phase of life when the planning and hoping has largely come to fruition: you are married, settled, have children, responsibilities, challenges, problems, and disappointments, with the “sameness” that goes along with those.    p. 53

I confess that in the day in and day out of being a SAHM, there are many times when I wonder, “Is this all there is?  Diaper changing, endless dishes and meal prep, wiping sticky faces, potty training and whining children?”  It’s nice to be reminded that this is normal for me to be feeling, not so much because I’m a SAHM, but because of the phase of life that I’m in.

The second challenge I discovered was that as a SAHM, I should learn to think about my job as bringing The Good, The Bad and The Unforgettable. While The Good is nice, and The Bad makes me want to quit, The Unforgettable makes it all worthwhile.

The Good— sometimes goes unnoticed:  Time to play with my kids everyday; eating breakfast, lunch and dinner together; lots of hugs and kisses whenever needed; seeing my kids first thing in the morning and last thing at night; not having to worry whether they’re being well cared for and safe during the day; less stress on our marriage.

The Bad–I tend to focus on:  Potty training, temper tantrums, whining, long days without talking to another adult, potty training, endless tasks that are never complete, potty training

The Unforgettable–Hearing my son say repeatedly, “Mommy, I had so much fun at the park with you.”  Watching my daughter (only 11 mos old!) develop an absolute passion for books and hearing her say “moon” as she points to her favorite, Goodnight Moon.  Going outside on a beautiful summer evening together as a family to say goodnight to the full moon, the stars, the sky and the noises everywhere.

Thanks for the reminder Dr. Laura that I have the best job ever!

A horrifying and tragic book.  I had a hard time putting it down.  Sarah and her parents are Jews living in occupied France in 1942.  When they are rounded up by French policemen to be handed over to the Germans, Sarah hides her little brother, promising to return for him.  60 years later, Julia, an American journalist, stumbles onto Sarah’s story.  Desperate to discover Sarah’s fate, Julia dives into her investigation, and finds some old family secrets. 

Sarah’s Key explores a part of the Holocaust with which I was unfamiliar, the round-up of French, Jewish citizens by French policemen at the Vel d’Hiv.  Although the book is at times difficult to read, its message of forgiveness, remembrance and life is a powerful one.

This book was different.  On the surface, it seemed like one I would really like–your basic “traveling the Oregon trail” book.  But I wasn’t a big fan of Fisher’s writing style.  She had way too many descriptions that slowed down the book, and when the action did take place, she would only allude to it, so, for example, I would realize pages after it had actually happened, that someone had died.  Basically, I had to concentrate too hard on the reading part to be able to enjoy this book.

My other major criticism has to do with the content.  (Spoiler alert ahead.)  A major part of the book is devoted to an extramarital affair.  The main characters engage in this affair without thought to the consequences for all of the children involved, and with the overall feeling of “something so beautiful must be right.”  Even though in the end, the characters physically do the right thing, emotionally, the reader is left with the feeling that true love should have triumphed and that everyone settled for second best in remaining faithful to marriage.  I know that this worldview isn’t limited to this one book, and that it pervades society as a whole.  Still, had I realized that this was the path Fisher was going to take, I would have spent my time reading something else.

So often, chick lit is centered either on a single girl trying to find love, or on a married woman trying to find a new love.  It was refreshing to read a great chick lit story in which a married main character “finds herself,” without abandoning her family.  Moms of young children looking for a great summer read with an uplifting message will enjoy this book.

Since I am a San Diego native who frequented Sea World as a child, a book with Shamu on the cover will always catch my eye.  Of course, when you think “Shamu” you don’t usually also think “love and marriage.”  But that’s exactly what Sutherland did when she wrote a column for the New York Times about how the lessons she learned while observing at an animal training school helped improve her marriage.  She got such a response, that she turned the article into a book.  It’s interesting, funny and full of techniques you can use to improve all types of relationships.

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