Sane in the Membrane

A while ago Mary from Owlhaven asked if I thought I would receive her book if she sent it to me in the mail.  I was all, "We could try.  Not promising anything." (There was a certain Christmas package from some other dear friends that remains to be delivered.  Perhaps someone else's family is enjoying it.)

I didn't want to get my hopes up.  But then the other day I wandered down to the post office and found my name on the list for "Post Restante."  (Post Restante is the way to GO!  I foolishly gave my house number out for the other package.  It's much better to go and pick stuff up myself.)

It was the book!  I was so, so excited.  Mail from home is awesome.  Mail from home which is a book by a woman that I admire muchly is beyond words.  I started reading it in the nearby Japanese restaurant, after I smelled it and then passed it around to my friends so they could ooh and ahhh over it.

And it totally delivered.  The book is called A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family.  I was really interested, because Sane is really what you want, right?  And I've been finding myself calling out for it lately, like Grace!  Serenity!  Sanity now! (Today I may or may not have heard the words, "Mom! Solo's playing with his poo!" in a moment when I was making chapatti in full view of my smallest son, happy that he was so content.  I'm not telling.  I also may or may not have pulled a dead bee out of his mouth.)

Mary's love for her family just oozes out of every chapter.  As someone who is (still) interested in expanding her family through adoption, I loved reading about the practical bits of their adoptive family lifestyle.  I loved all the little glimpses into the life of their family, in general.  I'm someone who is always asking, "How do other people do it?" and by asking I mean literally asking.  "Where did you buy that?" I ask.  "Is he sleeping through the night?"  "What math program are you using?"

Mary talks about the Supermom Myth, a chapter that almost made me bust a tear with this line: "People have a hard time seeing mothers of large families as normal." Waa ahh ahhh, because from the Indian women who kindly ask me when I will get the "operation" to the travelers who go cross-eyed trying to count the kids, sometimes I get to feeling a little lonely in my mommishness. Mary covers the different myths and practical ways to deal with the real life challenges of parenting a lot of little ones.

She gives practical ways to get through stressful or sleep-deprived days, good hearty words on expecting chaos so as to have our expectations in the right places (I so needed to hear that one) and a rockin' chapter on likeable kids.

I love how Mary focuses on having respectful kids who help the family run smoothly, rather than the hyper-focus on perfect robotic obedience in other parenting books I've read.  She has great thoughts on creative ways to help your kids keep their attitudes in a good place, and lots of great words on sibling love.  She emphasizes kindness and respect, making the point that your kids need to learn character skills that will help them in the bigger world.

Oh, and I think my favorite chapter was the one on Celebrating Each Child.  In this one she covers the love languages and small and big ways that you can help each child feel cherished.

I came away from reading feeling like I had taken a deep breath and brought in some hope for the future as well as encouragement about all the little things that come up every day with my kids.  Overall, Mary's message is one of love for her family and hope that a mother can come through the wilderness of parenting many kids with sanity intact as well as great scoops of blessing, all over the place.