Keep Calm and Mother On – book review

imageMy sweet friend J bought a bunch of these books, and gave them out to her mummy friends, including me! Was so pleased, and dived into it as soon as I could.

I thought editor Pauline Loh did a commendable job in seeking out mums with great stories. Instead of being merely broadly representative of the spectrum of mums in Singapore, more importantly, it comprised a coterie of mothers who are unique yet similar in how they buck the trend.

This is especially precious in Singapore, where we are oft-labelled as mindless followers, unthinking drones that are more than ready to get anxious and hop on the next parenting bandwagon, for fear of, heavens forbid, losing out. Readers will realise that there are many (for I believe these wonderful women are not alone) thinking mothers who want more than ‘the usual’ for their children, who seek more than straight As and an impeccable resume for their young adults.

I identified with many of the mothers, in what they wanted most for their children, and tears welled up many a time as I read story after story, some of which were jarringly honest, and many a time a total baring of the soul.

Some stories came across as a tad defensive, in explaining the choices that they had made. Perhaps it was because some choices were so much against the norm, or because some others have been made to feel bad about their choices (whether they are the norm or not), that they came across to me as such. Or perhaps it was my own inner prejudice, sub-conscious or otherwise, that made me feel this way.

Regardless, each story told by a Singaporean mum, with kids currently ranging from ages 1 to 37, was illuminating. More so the stories from mums with children older than mine. I see through their eyes, a bit of what might come. And am bolstered by their strength and wisdom, and feel that bit more prepared for, or forewarned about, the future.

To take another somewhat hackneyed phrase, I felt that this book was chicken soup for the mama soul. A soul that doubts itself often, that finds itself wallowing in despair at times, that dives into guilt, that rises again with each minor triumph, that soars with their children’s joy, and that always, always cares.

Indeed, it is through stories that we realise how human we all are. It is through reading stories that we learn from one another, and grow in wisdom and fortitude. It is through sharing our stories that we bless others, encourage mothers who will come after us, and let one another know that this too shall pass, and by God’s grace, it will all be alright.

It is through these stories in particular, that we hear about the experiences of mums who have grown up in similar environments as us (some from the same schools even!), who face the same pressures unique to our society, and who are somehow paddling valiantly beneath the pond’s surface, with a brave smile on their faces.

Reading it was almost like receiving a warm hug from fellow mums whom I may never meet. It was an encouragement to press on, and not to waver from what I believe is true. It reminded me that there is a village of wisdom out there, from which I can draw upon, to glean strength to parent well. Things may and will go wrong, but we can and must always, keep calm and mother on.

p.s. Strongly recommended to fathers too! I’m making strongly encouraging the to hubs read it. : P

p.p.s. Am happy to loan it to those I will be meeting! Or you can get it here at the special web price of $12.75 here.


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