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September 8, 2007

Girlology: Hang-Ups, Hook-Ups, and Holding Out

Cover Girlology Hang-Ups.jpgToday is Three Kid Circus Auditions' stop on the Parent Blogger Network Blog Tour for Girlology: Hang-Ups, Hook-Ups and Holding Out, the highly-anticipated book from Melisa Holmes M.D. and Trish Hutchison, M.D.

Apparently I'm the last person on the planet to get wind of Girlology - this popular educational curriculum created by Dr. Holmes and Dr. Hutchison spawned a website: and the original book, Girlology: A Girl's Guide to Stuff That Matters. This fantastic series of books tackles some of the toughest topics for young women with confidence and directness. Rather than preaching or admonishing girls to follow a rigid, antiquated set of rules, Holmes and Hutchison present case studies - in the form of anecdotes - that delve into the real-life situations that most girls will encounter, or at least hear about through the grapevine, and then break down the important issues in a concise, straight-talking question and answer section.

As a mother of a sooner-than-I'd-like-to-be tween, I'm already bracing myself for the inevitable questions - and I'm coming up short. I'm absolutely thrilled to know that there is a wonderful series of books that takes on these topics. (I can't imagine discussing some of these topics with my now-eight-year-old daughter, even when she is older, but just because I'm having a hard time envisioning a discussion about whether oral sex does or doesn't count as 'real' sex, doesn't mean that her friends won't go there - and probably not when they are in college, either.)

I really liked this book - Holmes and Hutchison had this to say about Girlology: Hang-Ups, Hook-Ups and Holding Out:

Our new book is definitely for the teen that still needs advice, but also needs more detailed information for "damage control." By this age, they're past the puberty stuff and they've already established some personal values and behavioral patterns. Some are already having sex, and many are thinking about it. Hang-Ups, Hook-Ups and Holding Out still emphasizes the importance of a committed adult relationship as the best setting for sexual intercourse, but it offers viatl information that can help teens make smart and safe decisions about their health, relationships, risk taking and sexual behaviors.

I really enjoyed the open-minded approach - good and bad decisions are presented and analyzed. The great Think it Through sections at the end of each chapter are a fun, eye-catching way to help young women work through a situation and come to some very important conclusions.

Girlology is a great find - especially for those of us who don't know how or where to start with all of this. I'm putting this one on the shelf for later years when my daughters are ready - I have no doubt that it will be a welcome resource for both of us.

To see what other Parent Bloggers Network tour members had to say, please check out the roundup.
Click here to get your own copy of Girlology: Hang-Ups, Hook-Ups and Holding Out.

And to find out more about Girlology and the authors, visit

September 6, 2007

Maximum Ride: Saving The World

When MotherTalk put out a call for reviewers for Maximum Ride: Saving The World and Other Extreme Sports, I was eager to read it. My oldest daughter is an avid reader, and prefers exciting stories with fantasy elements. We've spotted this series before, but hadn't picked it up yet. I'm familiar with some of James Patterson's other books, hand-me-downs from my husband's airplane reading stash. His rapid fire, cinematical writing style makes for a quick, entertaining read, and I was curious to read his young-adult offerings.

Maximum Ride: Saving the World is the third book in a series that is projected to have several more books and a movie, too. A line early in the book has the narrator and main character "Max" commenting:

Ah, the joys of being an adolescent hybrid runaway.

Ah, yes... that pretty much sums it up nicely.

I willingly suspended disbelief as I tore through this book. Winged kids? Cool! Crazy mutants and plots to control the world's population and hybrid human/animal experiments and teen angst and evil corporations! Wahoo!

The thing about this genre (action fiction?) is that it plows breathlessly along, the plot proceeding so quickly that there is not much time for in-depth character development or descriptive writing beyond the basics. As someone who prefers literature that offers riches, this didn't meet my needs.

But here's the other thing - I'm not the target audience for this book. While my eight-year-old could probably follow the story, the heavy use of slang, sarcasm and faux-swearing (freaking, for example) and references to crack addicts and hookers make it a little too edgy for younger kids, say, the 8-12 year old range. Maybe I'm just sheltering my kids.

For a slightly older child, who is already well-versed in pop culture and sophisticated enough to understand the sarcasm and other elements, I think this would be a great series. The rapid-fire chapters and non-stop action are great for readers who don't like to linger, and the characters are undeniably cool. Best of all, even with all the strange abilities of the characters, these are plausible, real-world kids, with problems and emotions just like the target audience. They don't have everything figured out yet, and their flaws are both endearing and authentic.

With a tied-in blog, and an active community of enthusiastic fans, Maximum Ride will continue to build momentum. The publishers aren't waiting for the adults to catch up - they are speaking directly to kids through their sites, and from the enthusiasm of readers...and that is really cool. For all the press that the end of the Harry Potter series would equal the end to kids reading - I have to laugh. Maximum Ride offers a great chance for kids to escape into a fantasy world that resembles their own - and that is very appealing. This is just one of thousands of great options that will get - and keep - kids reading.

Click here to check out what other MotherTalk Bloggers thought.

July 16, 2007

The Dark Dreamweaver

DarkDreamweaver.jpgThe Parent Bloggers Network kindly arranged for my family to receive a copy of The Dark Dreamweaver, which is the first book in a new series, The Remin Chronicles, by Nick Ruth. I'm a huge fan of young-adult literature, so I leaped at the chance to review this book. I'm happy to say that The Dark Dreamweaver doesn't disappoint.

Eleven-year-old David is suffering from nightmares. Over and over again, he dreams about a strange, bear-like man with black eyes. He's not the only one; an epidemic of nightmares seems to have infected the Earth. David takes matters into his own hands and embarks on an adventure to Remin, a land powered by dreams. Aided by a caterpillar wizard, a jellyfish-man, two wise-cracking water serpents, and several other unusual characters, he sets out to find and confront the evil wizard who is causing the nightmares. The challenges that he encounters will require all of his intelligence, his courage, and most of all, his imagination.

Nick Ruth has a great writing style, action packed and descriptive. David's questions and choices really resonated with my kids, who sat rapt by my side as we read through this book. David is a believable hero, and his tenacity and grit in the face of challenges will inspire readers to reach down deep inside themselves and find a way. Blending science, fantasy and magic with memorable characters and inventive adventures, The Dark Dreamweaver is a great launching point for what promises to be a fantastic series.

For more information on The Remin Chronicles, visit the official site. To order your own copy of The Dark Dreamweaver, click here.. To see what other Parent Bloggers Network reviewers thought, check out the roundup.

May 1, 2007

Mother Talk Blog Tour - Writing Motherhood

Today is Three Kid Circus's stop on Mother Talk's latest blog tour, featuring Writing Motherhood by Lisa Garrigues. It is four o'clock in the morning here, and I've been up half the night with scattered thoughts. I've had a rough couple of days with my kids, feeling irritable and easily annoyed. They seem to have a endless supply of energy while my tail is dragging. I haven't wanted to write about it, because it seems self-serving and whiny.

And yet, it is also my experience, my right now. As a blogger, I've become mindful of "my audience" and will often avoid writing about the negative, the heavy, the self-pity. As a writer, I've learned that the best way to send those demons packing is to write them away. And as a mother, I've experienced the guilt and doubt associated with writing my own story - I'm justamom, right? I am wasting time on writing, when I could be folding laundry. Right?

Lisa Garrigues has wriiten a powerful and empowering guide for mothers who feel the urge to write. Writing Motherhood is a roll-your-sleeves-up-and-prepare-to-get-dirty workshop in a bright orange slipcover. Lisa doesn't just tell you how she writes - she shows you how to capture your own stories, one prompt or invitation at a time.

Central to the Writing Motherhood method is the creation of your Mother's Notebook. I cracked up when I read Lisa's recommendation that you start with a disclaimer:

Almost every time one of my students prepares to read aloud a passage from her Mother's Notebook, she offers some excuse for her writing: I haven't slept in days. I had a root canal. My children were screaming bloody murder when I wrote this. The inclination to disclaim our writing has become a running joke in my classes, but we can't help ourselves. Apologizing before reading our writing, it seems, is as automatic as clearing our throats before speaking.

Joking aside, I tell students to reserve the first page of their Mother's Notebook for a Disclaimer, and overall apology for their writing...Title the first page of your notebook "Disclaimer" and write down - in list or paragraph form - every excuse you can think of to explain the lack or lackluster of your writing...

Get it all down - the excuses, the self-doubts, the self-incriminations. Then whenever you feel discouraged about your writing, read over your Disclaimer and recognize the sniviling voice of your self-critic for the wimp he (or she) really is.

*scurries off to write Disclaimer*

In quick, fifteen minute bursts, Lisa teaches even the most reticent mother to capture her stories. Rather than rigid style guidelines and write-by-the-numbers lessons, Writing Motherhood is all about the journey. There is no universal mothering experience. Lisa gives each writer the freedom to find and explore their own path, while providing a solid framework to build on.

Each lesson is illuminated with Lisa's personal experiences, and those of her classes of writers. From the pre-baby years through empty nest syndrome and caring for aging loved ones, Writing Motherhood encourages women to capture the triumphs and heartbreaks that make up our lives.

The book is organized into two parts - the first is a step-by-step guide to building and filling your Mother's Notebook, and filled with suggestions on how to find the time and space to write. It is also full of inspiration and validation - something every writer needs.

*scurries off to buy notebook and dig moat*

The second part of Writing Motherhood focuses on the life-cycle of motherhood.

Part Two follows the chronology of raising our children from birth to adulthood, but motherhood does not follow a straight path. As mothers, we spiral back year after year to the same issues and emotions viewed from a different perspective. So whether you are raising toddlers at twenty or at fifty, whether your parents are agile or aged, you will find inspiration and relevance throughout the book.

On every single page, I found my eyebrows shooting up and my fingers wiggling, eager to put these wonderful writing lessons to work. I am very impressed with Writing Motherhood, and I highly recommend it. In fact, I think this would make a fantastic Mother's Day gift.

For more reviews from the mamas at Mother-Talk, click!

April 25, 2007

Let's Get Ready for 1st Grade

Today is Three Kid Circus Auditions' stop on The Parent Bloggers Network review-tour for the awesome, award-winning Let's Get Ready for... titles produced by Cedar Valley Publishing. Let me just start off by saying that I wish I had requested both titles, because these books are fan-freaking-tastic. Since I was sent the 1st Grade version, my review will focus on that title alone.

Packed into this lightweight volume is literally all the required curriculum that your kids will be expected to master in 1st grade. Think I'm kidding? I showed this book to my son's 1st grade teacher, and she couldn't spot a single concept from the standardized curriculum that was missing from this book. And my son, who is in the final month of 1st grade, also recognized these concepts as things he covered in class this year.

The information is organzied into kid-friendly pages full of colorful illustrations and large text. Each concept has its own page, perfect for introducing or reviewing. Unlike many of the popular worksheet books available, this book is something that even my four-year-old was happy to sit down and flip through the pages. There is no pressure here, only solid information that I believe would be beneficial to every parent and student to have at their fingertips before the school year even begins.

Academic requirements are so much more intense than they were when we were kids. Take the mystery out of wondering what your child should know, and pick up a copy of Let's Get Ready for">Let's Get Ready for 1st Grade (or Kindergarten) today.

To see what the rest of the Parent Bloggers Network Reviewers had to say - check it out here.

March 23, 2007

Super Mom Saves The World - And Wins My Heart (Again)

Melanie Lynne Hauser won my heart with her charming blog Refrigerator Door long before I ever read her first novel, Confessions of Super Mom. Melanie is one of those truly funny people who you just want to lure to your living room with the promise of coffee and cookies and then never let her go. Er, I mean, listen to her spin one funny yarn after another.

The idea of a superhero mother isn't so far-fetched, but has the potential to be enormously corny. In Melanie's gifted hands, Birdie is a fully-dimensional character whose life is nothing short of... regular.

Super Mom Saves the World is a great novel built on the back of solid characters. There are flights of fancy throughout, but what I really enjoyed was Birdie's journey as a mother, friend, PTA rebel, lover and ex-wife. Despite the levity, Melanie manages to sneak in some emotion-packed wallops. I won't go into the story, so I don't give away any of the charming and surprising elements by accident. But I will encourage you to pick up a copy of Super Mom Saves the World for yourself (and your whole book club, and your mama, and your neighbor.)

And then go tell Melanie that you love her!

January 25, 2007

12 day Body Shaping Miracle

Over at my healthy living blog - Big Slice of Life, Small Slice of Cheesecake, I have been struggling to shed 50 pounds. I've managed to lose 12, but it has taken me nearly a year, and I've suffered all sorts of setbacks, most of them self-inflicted. In my never-ending quest to find the magic answer to my slow weight loss, I've been reading a ton of diet and exercise books. I recently recieved a large stack of upcoming books to review, and the first one I pulled out of the pile was Michael Thurmond's 12 day Body Shaping Miracle.

The cover announces Michael Thurmond as "TV's #1 Diet and Fitness Makeover Expert, and Author of the New York Times Bestseller 6-Day Body Makeover. This is my first exposure to Mr. Thurmond, but some of you may know him from his work on Extreme Makeover.

Throughout the book, Thurmond addresses readers in a straightforward, non-judgemental manner. Rather than dwell on how the excess weight (or lack of muscle) happened, he provides tools to determine how your body will respond to diet and exercise, and provides a plan of attack.

Regardless of your individual body type, you have the physical potential to develop a beautiful body and an attractive shape through diet and exercise. Knowing your body type is the first step toward attaining these goals.

I really appreciated the lack of condescending language. Thurmond assumes that you are ready, willing and able to tackle his program, and quickly establishes his authority without spending page after page trying to sell you on his expertise.

Thurmond's chapter on the mind-body connection, with suggestions for positive visualization and relaxation techniques is another example of how this book is overwhelmingly positive and empowering. Thurmond doesn't promise drastic weight loss or dramatic physical difference, although he does present testimonials from clients who have experienced incredible changes over 12 days. What he does offer is the chance to see visible progress for those who apply the techniques he advocates.

With clearly explained, photo-illustrated exercises, sample meal plans and guidelines, and encouragement free from cheerleading, Michael Thurmond's 12 day Body Shaping Miracle is an impressive resource for those of us who have managed to get off the couch, but aren't sure what to do next. I highly recommend it.

January 23, 2007

Mother Talk Blog Tour - Babyproofing Your Marriage

Today is Three Kid Circus's stop on this week's Mother Talk Blog Tour for the highly anticipated new book Babyproofing Your Marriage. The tagline reads: How to laugh more, argue less, and communicate better as your family grows. I think most marriages could do with a few helpful pointers in those areas, right?

I'll admit, when I first cracked open Babyproofing Your Marriage, I was put off. I did my usual open the cover, jump around reading random pages, scan the final pages, and I wasn't ready for what I found. At first pass, the language seemed flippant, the anecdotes I read seemed overly negative, and the vibe of the book seemed harsh.

Don't do what I did. Start at the beginning, and read the book as it is meant to be read. Despite my initial reaction, I settled down into a chair after a long day, and dove in. When I surfaced several hours later, pages were turned down, passages were highlighted, and my husband was reading over my shoulder. I honestly think my knee-jerk reaction to the first few anecdotes and passages I read was due to the real-life experience I have with many of the emotions and realities recounted in this book.

Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O'Neill and Julia Stone are all longtime friends, and it comes across in the writing. The tone is chatty, humorous and down-to-earth. The three authors have seven children between them, "...none of whom have yet set foot in a Kindergarten. Needless to say, we lived this book as we wrote it." Ah, my favorite kind of 'experts!' Those that are walking the walk, not just talking the talk.

Cockrell, O'Neill and Stone conducted a bazillion interviews with parents, and present the good, the bad and the ugly in a straight-forward manner. They note early on:

Athough this book is written by women, men get a fair shake and a loud shout. This is not a girl's bitch session; though we don't pull any punches. We've done our best to get the guys' side of the story straight. We didn't always like what they had to say, but we can pretty much guarantee that whether you are a man or a woman, something in here is going to tick you off. Fair enough. Just try to keep an open mind. We found that even the most inflammatory comments helped us learn something.

With my mind locked in the open position, I jumped in. With chapters discussing everything from keeping score to the "Sex Life" of New Parents, dealing with extended family and adding more children to the family, the authors leap right into the middle of the subjects that most new parents struggle with. Even eight years after the birth of my first child, I still found myself wincing over some of these problem areas. Babyproofing Your Marriage is written with newbie parents in mind, but many of their astute observations and troubleshooting tips can be applied by seasoned parents as well.

My appreciation for Babyproofing Your Marriage continues to grow as I reflect back on some of the passages I reacted strongly to. Even though I've hashed over these trouble spots with friends time and again, and I know that most of my friends had similar struggles, it would have been very empowering to know that some of these problems are almost universal, especially as a newly minted parent.

Babyproofing Your Marriage offers tools to get the conversation started, and suggestions for resolving some of the strife that comes from adding a new member to the family. I think that Babyproofing Your Marriage is a great addition to the growing library of parenting books that tell it like it really is.

For more reviews from your favorite Mother Talk Bloggers, check here
Babyproofing Your Marriage is on sale today!

For more about the authors and the book, you can visit their site

October 18, 2006

Mother Talk Blog Tour - Sleep Solutions for your baby, toddler and preschooler

Ann Douglas has a sterling reputation as the author of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books. I've long admired her blog, but haven't had the opportunity to actually read one of her books - until now. Three Kid Circus is one of the stops on the latest Mother Talk Blog Tour for Ann's newest book - Sleep Solutions for your baby, toddler and preschooler.

I yanked the book out of the shipping box the moment it arrived, and did what I always do with this sort of book - flipped directly to the resource section in the back. I wanted to see if there was a quick reference guide, a place to jump right in and start solving. Us sleep deprived mamas don't always want to read through the entire book to find that one nugget of wisdom that might help, you know.

Sleep Solutions doesn't disappoint. Right off the bat, I loved the comprehensive index, and the fantastic, no-bull approach to navigating. Ann provides clean, simple charts that compile sleep solutions, and address possible reasons for sleep disruption, providing simple explanations on appropriate actions for the different age groups she addresses. Ann gives helpful summaries of challenges and methods, and provides the location of additional information within Sleep Solutions.

Satisfied with the ease of getting directly to the advice, I turned to the first chapter. Ann is friendly, engaging and real, and her advice and information feels like it is coming from a friend, not an expert.

...I'm not going to do a guilt number on you in this book. Your sleep choices are your own sleep choices. Enough said. It's my job to provide you with the most accurate, unbiased information I can and to present it in a non-bossy way.

On the bottom of page 5, there is a section called The Sleep Deprived Parent's Quick Guide to This Book
which, when you turn the page, leads to another brilliant chart that tells you how to quickly find the information you need for your particular situation.


Sleep Solutions is a quick, entertaining read, full of real-life questions and answers from Ann's extensive research and interviews. I was tickled to read quotes from blogging mothers. Most of all, I appreciated the even-handed, unbiaised approach, presented in a way that even the most sleep-deprived of parents could easily find ideas and form a plan of action.

Even as an eight year veteran of the Sleep Wars, there was new, reassuring information in here for me. I particularly enjoyed the relaxation techniques for preschoolers. We've already put the "sound of silence" into action, and it is working like a charm!

For more on Ann's fantastic library of pregnancy and parenting books, visit The Mother of All Blogs. To see what the other Mother Talk bloggers think of Sleep Solutions, check this out.

October 17, 2006

Can Be Fun

I've been battling lousy manners and bad attitudes around here for the last, like, forever, which sucks. Granted, I'm not the best of role models, so there's that. But still.

I've enlisted the help of author Munro Leaf in my attempt to march my little monsters down the righteous side of the street. I love these books, and I seriously can't stop laughing about them. These books don't mince words, and the bluntness is shocking in this day and age, but it strikes a chord with my kids. They get it.

Safety can be fun (out of print) - featuring kids being ridiculed for putting plastic bags on head and playing with fireworks, among other, slightly less dramatic safety violations.

Manners can be fun - "The Noiseys - They shout and scream and yell until I can't even think. They make so much noise they make me tired." Amen, Munro. Amen.

And of course, How to behave and why - which explains that you have to be honest, you have to be fair, you have to be strong, you have to be wise. Or else. Stupid Nitwit.

September 20, 2006

Mother Talk Blog Tour - We Are All Fine Here

Three Kid Circus is today's stop on the Mother Talk Blog Tour for Mary Guterson's We are all fine here.

I dropped the kids off at school and curled up on the couch with a cup of coffee and my copy of We are all fine here. I planned to read it over the course of a couple of days, stealing an hour here and there from my schedule. Guess what? I couldn't put it down. I read the whole book cover to cover, almost missing school pickup.

From the opening pages, I was completely wrapped up. From the back cover:

Julia has been married to Jim for fifteen years, and admittedly, the thrill is mostly gone. It doesn't help that Jim flirts outrageously with his pretty young coworker and flosses naked in front of the TV. So it's no big surprise that she finds herself thinking about Ray.

The truth is, she hasn't stopped thinking about Ray since she first saw him shirtless, leaping for a Frisbee on the college lawn. And as their recent reunion has proved, he's as good in bed as ever. Well, technically, as good up against the bathroom sink as ever.

But now she has tricky news to share - with her hypochondriac mother, her obsessive-compulsive sister, her inscrutable therapist, her jilted neighbor, and both the men in her life. She's pregnant. And she has no inkling whether the father is Jim or Ray...

It is as much fun as it sounds. I enjoyed Guterson's dry wit and sympathetic, yet not sentimental portraits of her characters. These people are all deeply flawed, in a very recognizable, real-world way. Guterson vividly paints a portrait of her cast of characters, and as I chuckled my way through scene after scene, I recognized people from my own life in these portrayals.

What really tickled me were Julia's proclamations on motherhood. Scattered throughout the book, Julia offers pithy suggestions and observations on everything from proper parenting techniques:

...allow me to summarize: Sleeping with your baby is good. Sleeping with your baby is bad. Schedules, yes. Schedules, no. Lay them on their stomachs. Lay them on their backs. Bottle. Breast. Wean. Don't wean. Toilet train. Don't toilet train. Pick them up when they cry. Never pick up a crying baby. Public school. Home school. Montessori. Competitve sports are good. Competitive sports are bad. Fluoride. No fluoride. Vaccines. No vaccines.

You're welcome.

to a stark summary on the joys of mothering:

Mothering is everything it's cracked up to be, which is to say, a complete and total nightmare. Anyone who tells you differently is not to be trusted.

I found myself moved to hilarity and tears as I plowed through the pages. We are all fine here is an irreverent, ultimately revealing look at the way the choices we make affect our lives.

August 14, 2006

Passing It On - My Favorite Books From Childhood

From the moment I felt my oldest daughter quickening in my belly, I was already making plans and stockpiling favorite books and CDs to share with my kids. I had lofty notions about avoiding all televsion and movies until, say, college, but I was steadily filling a bookshelf next to the crib with classics - like Goodnight Moon - and not so classics - The Giant Jam Sandwich. Some of my fondest memories from my childhood take place on the couch, snuggled up with my mom and siblings as she read picture book after picture book. She kept them all safe, and I gleefully raided her stash of books from my childhood as I prepared for my daughter's arrival.

There is something magical about pulling my own children into my arms and cracking open the pages of a story so familiar that I can recite it from memory. The words fall from my lips effortlessly, and I watch their faces instead, reacting to the artwork, turning the pages with chubby hands and adding their own two cents on every illustration. My kids are fascinated by The Little House - like me, they pour over the simple illustrations, imagining the lives of the tiny figures, and tracing the orchards and roads with sticky fingers. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel is another story that has captured all of our imaginations. I still want to kick mean Mr. Henry B. Swap in the shins on behalf of hard-working Mike. Pirates in the Park still gets me on the edge of my seat - who doesn't love a good pirate story starring a girl named Jenny?

Now that my oldest is seven, and starting second grade, we've finally begun to read the smaller chapter books that enthralled me as a young elementary school student. I devoured these little paperbacks, and searched the library for new series to read. The Littles still tickle my imagination, and we've just finished reading Misty, Stormy and Sea Star. We've made our way through the Happy Little Family series and have read several of the Little House on the Prairie series. I found myself as in love with Roald Dahl as I was in third grade as we read through The BFG and The Witches in one weekend. We've got my dog-eared copies of Beverly Cleary's Ramona books on the shelf.

Continue reading "Passing It On - My Favorite Books From Childhood" »

August 8, 2006

Mother Talk Blog Tour - The Ghost In The House

Three Kid Circus is the third stop on this month's MotherTalk blog tour, featuring award-winning journalist and freelance author Tracy Thompson's new book The Ghost in the House: Motherhood, Raising Children and Struggling with Depression.

I've never suffered from depression, either before or after having children. When I agreed to read The Ghost In The House: Motherhood, Raising Children and Struggling with Depression, I had no idea what to expect. I assumed that I would be reading a memoir, or perhaps a just the facts ma'am book about depression. When it arrived in my mailbox, I ripped open the envelope and joined my three kids out on our deck. I set up a lounge chair and kept a lazy eye on the wading pool while reading the introduction.

Depression is a subject that has come out of the closet, except when it applies to motherhood. Somehow, juxtaposing depression and motherhood - to raise the possibility that there are some things about the work of raising children that may be stressful, or even conducive to illness - seems bad manners. Motherhood is supposed to make women happy, period.

With a dolphin-like squeak, my three-year-old launched her self in my direction, splattering the open pages in my lap with grape-sized drops of water. I snapped at her. Clearly she could see that I was reading, and she didn't need to be splashing. Couldn't she just serenely sit in the wading pool with her siblings? Couldn't they just let me read in peace?

What is maternal depression? Thompson offers this definition:

It's what happens when a mother's depression reaches out to ensnare her child. It's depression exacerbated by stresses common to motherhood, and - most important- it can be transmitted from mother to child via learned behavior, environment, genetics, or any combination of the three.

Most of the women I know maintain that it is "normal." My mother is a woman of strong convictions. We've had many conversations over the last decade about my frustration over the rigors of child-rearing. "Those were the best years of my life," she tells me. "I loved everything about being a mommy."

Yet, when I mentioned that I was reading The Ghost in the House, and began to describe the book, she waved away the conversation. "All mothers struggle. All mothers have stress. All mothers are depressed. They always have been, and they always will be. You just do the best that you can. There's no point in discussing it to death."

So, polite society would rather not hear about stressed out mothers. But who is merely stressed, and who is depressed?

Continue reading "Mother Talk Blog Tour - The Ghost In The House" »