April 27, 2011

The Happiest Days of Our Lives

Pink Floyd, The Wall 1979

For the lawyer's personal pleasure: I purchased this book of my own free will with my own money.   I do consider Meagan to be a friend, but I also have other friends who read this site.  Truth in reviews, at your service.

I have had some fairly significant writer's block lately and it could not have come at a more inconvenient time.  I read Meagan Francis' book, The Happiest Mom, about a month ago and have wanted to write a review.  However, I was not sure what to write since I am in such a weird place with my own writing and overall, with my site.  Still, I really wanted to support the message and vision of Meagan's book and her site of the same name, so I will just keep this simple.

Buy the damned book already.  For you.  For a friend.

Okay, okay.... I am not going to cop out with that.

First and foremost, I chose this post title specifically for this review.  It is so very easy to say "Kelli! Making yourself happy is selfish.". Admittedly, even I used to cringe at the title "The Happiest Mom". Ugh.  However, I have completely come around to the concept.  Nowadays, I would argue that creating a happy life, one in which you are satisfied with all aspects of yourself - mother, wife, friend, whatever - can actually teach your child how to craft such a life for themselves.  Besides, a person who chases happiness at the expense of others is not truly a happy person anyway and Meagan's book is NOT about that.  Instead, this book is about achieving that sweet, elusive parity - finding a happiness and a satisfaction that does not come with some ultimate sacrifice.

It is about determining what is important to you and your family.

When I received the book,  I was in the middle of a work deadline - I set the book by my computer and I have to say, with truthfulness, just looking at that lovely cover made me happy straight away.  It was so darned pretty, with the whimsical flowers and soothing blue.  This is a book which you can most certainly judge by its adorable cover.  I did peek inside and fell in love with the cute little drawings of critters.  Yes, even the squirrel (and we all know how much I Hate Squirrels. *Shudder*)

When  I was finally able to sit down and read the book, I loved how organized it was - it is neatly divided into 10 chapters which are easy to read and digest (there are even blank pages in the back for doodling and notes)  The chapters include titles such as "Aim Low, and Go Slow" and "Keep It Real" and my personal favorite "Trust Your Gut". (In fact, that has always been my #1 piece of advice to new moms: "Trust your gut because no one knows your baby like YOU and your husband know your baby.  NO ONE. Not even your doctor.")  I have to admit I did not really care for the Cosmo-style quizzes, all too often, more than one answer applied to me (depending on the day and month, right?) and after awhile, I skipped those.  I did enjoy all the quotes from other moms because again, it is about gathering ideas.

One of my favorite quotes from Meagan really sums up her site and her book:

Of course, good parenting requires a lot of effort--but you won't score extra points for difficulty, so there's no point making motherhood harder than it has to be. That doesn't mean you do everything by halves or don't bother trying, it means setting up your life so that you're putting effort into the things that really matter to you.
I think that is key here.  All too often, as a mother, I look at what others are doing and I question what the heck I am doing.  Which is wrong.  Completely and utterly wrong. I should be focusing my efforts on what really matters to me. Not anyone else.   It took me a long time to figure out that we do not all want the same things for ourselves or for our children.

And that it is okay.

For me, the message I always get from Meagan is that it is healthier to simply identify what is important to my husband and me - what do we want to get out of parenting?  What do we want our children to take away from their childhoods?  The details are not important, quite frankly.  And in The Happiest Mom, you will find all sorts of ideas and concepts that will make you think about how you want to craft a Happy Life for yourself.  This is not a How-To book with precise instructions - it is a guide and a simple framework, that can be used to figure out the direction you would like to go with your own parenting style.  I do expect that as my children get older and our lives change, I will be referring to this book again as I figure out the next stages in our lives.

Finally, I would like to address the whole "Why Buy the Book When the Blog is Free?" question.  The book really provides a concise guide and framework that can stand alone.  However, Meagan's site provides more details and examples into specific situations (e.g. holidays...traveling...specific marriage situations, such as dividing household chores).  More importantly, Meagan's site provides nice commentary from other readers.  She has such a nice, thoughtful community over there and it is one of the few sites where I click through to read the comments. Furthermore, there are still a few folks who do not actually read blogs (shocking, yet true!)  I love that non-bloggy types can also get a gander at Meagan's Happiest Mom concept.

Overall, this book is great for a new mom or even an experienced mom. Throw in a bottle of wine and you have a perfect gift.  No?


Anjali said...

Great review. Thanks for tipping me off onto this book!

Dee said...

This is on my to-read list. Glad to see that you enjoyed it.

jodifur said...

I'm in a reading rut. Adding it to my list.