It has taken me months to review this book and it’s not because I didn’t like it. It’s just that life got in the way. It’s exactly as author Angela Mollard describes it. “Life with children is like a story without full stops. The constant doing, the demands, the groundhoggedness of days spent wiping crumbs and bums spill like sentences without form.” I’ve just been so busy and I was so happy to find a book in which a mum acknowledges this.
‘The Smallest Things’ is part memoir, part manual and it’s all valuable. I loved the tone and candour of this book. At times, it felt like you were reading a letter from a close friend who’s dishing the dirt on the realities of parenting. Angela is unflinchingly honest about her mothering experiences and it is so reassuring to read them. I cringed while reading about her losing it with her kids because I remember the times I’ve done that and the feeling of immense guilt that follows.
I empathised with her struggle for wanting to maintain her career yet be there to raise her children because that’s how I feel. I enjoy my part-time job yet sometimes feel pangs of guilt that I’m not a stay at home mum. Damn that motherguilt!
Most of all, I appreciated her honesty about her marriage. After admitting on national TV that her relationship with her husband was strained by having kids, I was so relieved. No one ever talks about the pressure of children on relationships and how the tiredness, resentment and frustrations can build up until you wonder why you’re with your partner. (Yes, I’ve felt that about Mr Mummy Project!).
What’s so valuable about this book is realising that you’re not the only frustrated mum who gets it wrong sometimes. Motherhood doesn’t demand that you are a perfect mother. Why would you be? We’re not perfect individuals.
The second part of the book is Angela’s tips on making a happy family. I loved this section as there are so many useful and practical ideas. I loved Angela’s emphasis on focusing on the small stuff. After four years of being a parent, I can honestly say that’s what counts with kids. Angela’s included chapters on reading to your kids, getting them to eat healthy and getting them outdoors. I also appreciated her parenting technique, the wonderfully named DAFT™ method.
My only problem with this book is that it wasn’t written early enough. I would have loved to read this in my first year of motherhood when I was in the midst of it all. However, would I have appreciated it? Or even comprehended it with the tiredness of a new mum? Probably not.
‘The Smallest Things’ is published by HarperCollins Publishers. RRP $27.99. Review copy provided to The Mummy Project.