Saturday, April 7, 2012

Book Review: Loving the Little Years

Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the TrenchesLoving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was hoping for more from this book than what I got out of it.  It came so highly praised that I thought it would really give me tips and be a heartwarming advice book that would help me appreciate where I am in life.  It did that a little bit but not as much as I was hoping it would. 

The author, Rachel Jankovic, does go on about how hard it is to be a mother of five young children but doesn't give advice on how to cope in every chapter.  She does give some advice, and I will highlight the chapters that I felt were the most helpful, but many of the chapters, she is simply pointing out how it is.

The first part that I enjoyed was "Spirited Riders".  She talks about how little children have all this emotion in their little bodies and they don't always know how to manage the emotions as adults do.  She compares a child's feelings to spirited horses and that the children are the riders.  I quote from the last paragraph of the chapter: "The goal is not to cripple the horse, but to equip the rider.  A well-controlled passionate personality is a powerful thing."  I think I liked this part because I felt that I could see that in my daughter, and also my sons.  They just need to learn how to manage and control their emotions.

She also talks about seeing your children.  You can’t make a watermelon from a tomato plant.  You need to look at your children and see who they really are and let them become the person they’re supposed to be.  That’s not to say you shouldn’t shape them along the way, but she makes a valid point by saying that it would cause unnecessary pain and damage to try and turn a watermelon into a tomato. 

Another point she makes is the issue with sharing and fighting over toys, something that is very common for young children.  She talks about how with her own children, she tries to elicit sharing by reminding them that their relationship with their sibling is more important than the toy they were fighting over.  She gives specific advice on how to do this, which was helpful.

She does give good advice on disciplining and how to use it as a tool to produce a functioning adult who chooses a good path in life.  She talks about limits and boundaries but also about how too much of that can be disastrous. 

I appreciate that she talked about setting up clear and realistic expectations, which will gradually change as the children get older.  I definitely agreed with what she said in that chapter. 

My favorite part was when she talked about “me time”.  I have come to loathe the implications of “me time” by society’s standards.  But the way she defines it is so wonderful.  She says,

We are like characters in a story.  Our essential self is not back in the intro, waiting to be rediscovered.  Who you are is where you are.  When you are married, your essential self is married.  As the story grows, so does your character.  Your children change you into a different person.  If you suddenly panic because it all happened so fast and now you don’t recognize yourself, what you need is not time alone.  What you need is your people.  Look out—look at the people who made you what you are—your husband and your children….Those women who try to find themselves by stripping away the "others" will find that they are a very broken little thing.

I did enjoy the book and would recommend it to anyone with young kids.  I almost wish that I had read it a little sooner, since now my children are in that middle phase of childhood and I have sort of missed the boat on a few things. 

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Spring said...

Love, love that last part. I had a lot of friends try to talk me out of marrying Aaron because I had changed since I met him. I could never convince them that I wanted to change, because I wasn't some 18-year-old kid with no responsibilities anymore, so I shouldn't be the same person. Those same people say that I am even more different now that I have kids. Well, I hope so! Being a mother is life-altering!

Royalbird said...

I used to be the mom who didn't want to change, but I'm starting to realize that parenting does change you and it should! So does marriage.


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