Wednesday, March 17, 2010

MamaLit Book Review #2 - Sleep is for the Weak

Arens, Rita (ed.)  Sleep is for the Weak: The Best of Mommy Bloggers including Amalah, Finslippy, Fussy, Would Coulda Shoulda, Mom-101, and more.   Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2008.

1.  Do not read this book, until after you pee, if like me, your post-baby bladder is less than, um, reliable.
2.  Do not read this book with beverages of any kind in your mouth.
3.  Do not read this book with a sleeping baby in your lap. 

I ask you, what better way to start a book review than to announce to the world that said book made you pee yourself, send an entire mouthful of coffee spraying in all directions and that your body was quaking so hard from silent laughter that it caused a premature end to your daughter's nap?  If that doesn't grab ya, nothing will! 

Rita Arens, mama and blogger author of Surrender Dorothy, has pulled together a collection of blogs about parenthood that range from heartbreaking - to thought provoking - to uproariously funny. The titles alone are enough to make me groan or crack a smile. ("Visiting My House? Bring Your Own Autoclave," "Vacationing with Childless People," and "Mama, Who Invented the Speculum?" come to mind here). 

The collection is full of bite-sized goodies that you can read on the go, (or on the john, or before you drop dead of exhaustion at night) - a perfect fit for those of us with anklebiters who would much prefer we spend our time reading them The Very Hungry Caterpillar again and again (and again!), than spending any time with reading of the grown-up variety.      

I would describe this read as 'bloggy goodness.'  All of the entries are informally written and deeply personal, but because these writers are all really talented bloggers, you never feel like a voyeur here.  The book is infinitely relatable.   If you have children (hell, even if ya don't) I guarantee that you will find yourself giggling and groaning and maybe even getting a little teary whilst perusing this collection.

There are far too many good ones to mention, so I'll just mention my top 5 here:

1.  The one that made me pee my pants - (in my defense - it was only a little, and I really had to pee and I was pushing it because I figured if I moved, one or the other of my children would arise from their slumber and steal away my "me-time".  Turns out I shoulda taken that chance.  And ironically, this essay is about PEE! Anyhoo...).  "Visiting My House?  Your Own Autoclave" by Sheryl Naimark, author of blog Paper Napkin.  Naimark's exploration of her daughter's ability of outpee any diaper or pull-up is freaking hilarious (Though maybe only because potty humour seems to have made a come-back on my humour radar since becoming a mama!  I'll be interested to know what other readers think.)

2.  The one that made me spit out my coffee:  "Vacationing with Childless People" by editor Rita Arens.  This is a witty look at expectations of childless vs. children people whilst vacationing.  And it's just good.

3.  The one that made me wake my baby because I was a big ball of barely held-in laughter:  "Are You There, God?  It's Me, Risa," by Risa Green of Mommy Track'd.  I loved this one.  This essay coulda been written by me.  I don't mean to imply that I'm that good of a writer.  What I mean is, I felt like Green could have been channeling my innermost thoughts and then twisting them to mould them into something adorably charming and witty.

4.  Sweetney blogger Tracey Gaughran-Perez' "Notes for Amelioration" made me cry.  It's a tiny snippet of a blog about the experience of one's child telling you that they don't love you (which, if you have ever endured said trauma, you will know that this is the emotional equivalent of being stabbed in the heart with a fork.  I have been stabbed with said fork, and I cried then too).  Gaughran-Perez documents this experience with excruciating honesty - bless her poor fork-stabbed heart.

5.   Susan Wagner's (Friday Playdate) entry "Be Careful What You Wish For" is an insightful and thought-provoking look at ability, disability and the practice of comparing our children to other children.  The message that we need to love, respect and honour our kids for who they are and where they are at is loud and clear.

The only real criticism I can level at this book is that of the 54 blog entries featured, there are only 24 writers.  Though to be sure, this is a wonderful collection, I can't quite believe that there are only 24 mommy-bloggers out there whose work is stellar enough to be featured in such an edition.  A good excuse for a second volume, I suppose!  The book still gets a solid A from me, so I can't be that annoyed about it.

I regret that I took this book out of the library instead of buying it.  (And not just because of the giant coffee stains on pages 11-13).  I'm going to rectify the situation by going out and buying myself a copy.  Because I might need to read it again.  And again.  And again.  Look out Very Hungry Caterpillar - you've got competition.

And the added bonus of reading this book?  The ability to find and follow your new favourite mommy bloggers.  Read this one.  I'm quite sure you won't regret it.


  1. Oh, I'm so glad you liked it! I wish there were more books. The more books people by, the better the chance of that. So thank you for your wonderful review.

  2. Hey thanks, Rita! I'm ammazed you stumbled upon my blog! It would be great to see a 2nd volume -it's definitely mama soul food!