When I first began making my way around the blogiverse a couple of years ago, Amy Tiemann's blog, Mojo Mom, became an early addition to my blogroll. Through her blog, I've followed the process of her writing an updated edition of her parenting book, also titled Mojo Mom, and was excited to be offered a chance to read and review it.
One accusation often leveled at "bad mothers" is selfishness. But there's a selfishness of self-importance and superiority, and a selfishness that simply acknowledges that one's self is just as important as anyone else's. The subtitle of Tiemann's book refers to the second kind of selfishness; it's the idea that we're actually better nurturers of our families and communities when we don't lose ourselves in the process.
Acknowledging that motherhood changes our identities, Tiemann's premise is that change doesn't have to equal loss. Even when we're overwhelmed by the exhaustion and demands of early motherhood, we need to recognize that our own needs and wants still exist - and deserve time and attention. It's not going to be like this forever, and self-care is the first basic step in ensuring that a sense of self remains healthy.
Tiemann's tone throughout the book is knowledgable and encouraging, rather than authoritative and insistent. Beginning with the early-motherhood period she calls "the cocoon," she suggests that this period of intense mother-and-child togetherness can also be a time when we re-evaluate who we are and who we want to be. The changes motherhood brings can help us focus on how we want to go forward as ourselves. And despite the somewhat New-Age-y way I've put that, Tiemann's approach is very practical. She discusses ways to handle gulit and anxiety, claiming time and "mind space," and discovering outlets for self-expression. She examines relationships with partners, money, and the larger community, and suggests that at-home-mom/working-mom "mommy wars" may be fighting the wrong enemies. She offers references and resources in every chapter, as well as illustrative anecdotes.
Recommendation: I'm a believer in the kind of "positive selfishness" that this book advocates. I don't feel that we give our best to our relationships if we don't make our own care and nurturing a priority. I think it's very easy to get "lost" in motherhood, and I appreciate the ways that Amy Tiemann addresses and combats this in Mojo Mom. I would recommend this for mothers-to-be and new moms as a little nudge to care for themselves during this wild transitional time. However, motherhood has a number of transitional times - as do the childhoods is parallels - and Mojo Mom's ideas and guidance could be valuable to mothers whose children are emerging into the pre-school and school-age years, and even mothers of teens and those on the verge of emptying nests. Amy Tiemann's book suggests that it's never too late to locate and nurture your Mommy Mojo.