1. It gives you permission to be scared about what you're about to embark on.
2. She uses frank, funny language that's engaging to follow and quick to read.
3. She's not afraid to show her faults and the faults in her marriage, even if it means telling us how disappointed she was in her husband for a very long time (he's a saint by the way, if he's OK with her airing their dirty laundry like that), about how she almost drove away and never came back...
4. ...but then she doesn’t forget to explain how it all got better: her husband started helping out more, how they found more time to be together as a couple, how sweet and special her kids are a majority of the time.
5. The book takes away any preconceived notions, letting you know that things won’t be perfect, and you shouldn’t expect them to be, and that’s OK.
6. Stark and her army of friends and interviewees provide helpful tips for keeping your sanity during an insane time.
A few quotes I enjoyed:
“The standards to which we hold ourselves contribute to the enormous tension we feel, and underestimate a child’s fervent desire to be team player and to help manage family life and its complications. Most moms I know don’t think to delegate chores and they try not to bore kids on weekends with grocery shopping and errands. We’re managing motherhood with white gloves when even in the roughest, dirtiest of circumstances, kids are astonishingly smart, sometimes even prescient.”
She also pulled from another book (The Dance of Anger, by Harriet Lerner) these valuable lessons:
“Venting anger may not help. It tends to protect or solidify, rather than challenge, the existing rules or patterns of a relationship; the only person we can truly change or control is our own self; blaming and fighting are often ineffective methods for exacting change, and ways to avoid the more threatening job of changing yourself.”
One thing that I started to get to me though, by the time I read the 250 pages, was her downer attitude. Stark sought counseling and she suffered from a bit of depression. While this is all fine, and I appreciate her sharing that with her readers, I do think the depression probably made motherhood and marriage seem a little more torturous for her. While I can definitely see the fighting, the resentment, the frustration all coming to fruition in any new family of three (or more), I hope for most it’s much easier to find the happiness than it was for Stark.
So, in the end: loved the lessons, loved the advice, loved hearing from all the other moms. Laughed out loud. Dog-eared pages. I could’ve just used a little more positive words from the author herself.