Some additional thoughts on Kristin Maschka’s book about motherhood.
I don’t normally read self-help type books, or advice books, or indeed generally any sort of non-fiction other than in very narrow fields such as Egyptology and Classical Studies. So, when my mother gave me a book on motherhood that she’d found in a bargain-bin, I sort of shrugged and smiled internally, and figured I would never finish reading it. But in order to not appear ungrateful, I sat down and began to read the first few pages of Mashka’s book This Is Not How I Thought it Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to get the Lives we Want Today. The tone of Mashka’s prose is conversational, rather like a chat with a friend over coffee, but at the same time she raises important questions about motherhood, fatherhood and social pressures.
The book crystalized and articulated a lot of the worries I’ve been having about motherhood in the last few weeks as my due date approaches. I worry that I won’t be able to cope, or something will go wrong with my brain chemistry, or that my husband won’t think to pitch in. All of these are actually fairly groundless fears (except possibly the post-partum depression one, but even then everyone around me knows I fear that and is on the lookout for warning signs). Still, the fear of the unknown and the high expectations put on new mothers has me far more worried about the part after the birth rather than the birth itself. Fear is not exactly the emotion I want my son to engender, so I appreciate having my fears articulated so expertly by Ms. Mashka. Having a fear out in the open where we can look at it helps us treat that fear as a problem to be solved rather than something to hide from. Best of all, This Is Not How I Thought it Would Be ends on a positive note of encouragement. Not encouragement to forget our fears, that it would “come naturally” or something like that. Instead, Maschka encourages her readers to remember to cut ourselves some slack, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and we CAN solve our problems.
So far, pregnancy has not been how I thought it would be. I expect motherhood will confound my expectations as well. I just hope it confounds in mostly pleasant ways.