I was an illiterate first time parent. I was brought up in an age where we were not even taught about nuances of sex, leave alone conceiving babies and bringing them to life. I thank my eldest sister, Sidney Sheldon and Mills & Boons equally for the little sex education I had. In the first year of marriage, my husband and I used to look up books on pregnancy and child birth even when we were not planning a child. Simply because, we both had a lot to learn about the process.
Needless to say, when we did get pregnant, I started to read in detail about pregnancy, child birth and child care. This was in 2004 and Google was not as popular as it is now. If we had a question, we still used to refer to books. In spite of all the research, I had a stressful pregnancy and a nightmarish delivery of my first child. I joined work as soon as maternity leave got over. While I always performed well at work, I constantly felt lagging behind in being a good Mom. This lead me to constantly read more on the subject. I was part of parenting groups, online communities and sleeping with parenting books all the time. I also used to eavesdrop on other parent conversations to catch tricks on how to be a better mom. I honestly feel that I was no different than most first time parents of my generation. We have all done our fair bit of research on being good moms.
Today, thirteen years after my first delivery, I somehow got around to organizing some books in our family book shelf. It was then that I stumbled upon a book on parenting. Hmmm, I thought, “I am sure there are more books on this subject lying here. Let me put them all together.” So I started getting them all together. Voila, before I knew it, I had this big pile of books on parenting before me. Wow! I thought. Really! Did I buy so many books to learn how to be a good parent? Man! I surely was f**ked up! To top the list, I know there are at least 5 more books not in this pile because I either lent them to other well meaning parents or I have read (or rather listened) to their audio versions. Plus I have two more books on parenting currently lying under my night light. I was honestly shocked myself. My daughter passed by and looked at the pile equally surprised. She said aloud, “Mama, are these all yours? Did you know nothing about parenting before I was born?” I mutely shook my head. Looking at this pile in front of me, I was also thinking the same. She then laughed aloud and said, “Mama, now I have proof that you are the Worst Mom ever!” With that we both burst out laughing. She eventually helped me click this picture of books for this blog. She of course doesn’t know about the books that are not part of the above pile. We went on with the evening digesting this fact and laughing about it at the same time.
I am pretty sure that I don’t remember 90% of the content from 90% of the books I have read. If you ask me to recommend/review any of the books, I just can’t, because I am not sure what I learnt from them. One thing that I am sure of is that each book lent it’s hand in making me the parent that I am today. But more important than books, I am sure it has been my constant passion to understand my children and their world that has made me the best parent for my children. I am sure, I learnt a lot of things from these books, but my biggest learning on being a parent have come from my children themselves. I could not have been the parent that I am, without having both of them in my life.
So what’s the point? Should we read/follow books or should we follow gut instincts while bringing up our children? My recommendation is double fold on this. In my estimate, parenting is 10% science and 90% art. We all need to learn the science of it, like how babies grow inside the womb and what food are safe for the infant in the first six months. This is where books/online research comes in handy. But more than the science, parenting is an art. Art is best done when you completely love doing what you are doing and simply follow your heart. When parents are completely relaxed and joyful, children thrive in their own learning and development. The more we force our children to fit the pattern mentioned in a book, the more we kill the intrinsic learning of each child. My philosophy is to allow each child enough time and space to grow at their own pace, in their own beautiful environment without following a strict curriculum. This is why I have chosen to home school my children. And yes! I have already ready two books on homeschooling and there are more on their way. Plus, when all this is over, I plan to publish my own book on homeschooling! Hence, I have a personal interest in making sure all moms continue to read a lot. 🙂