Friday, November 14, 2014

Book Review: Motherhood Smotherhood by JJ Keith

Motherhood Smotherhood By JJ Keith

Genre: Nonfiction, Parenting Book

Synopsis: What's the first thing a woman does when she thinks she might be pregnant? She Googles. And it goes downhill from there. While the internet is full of calming and cheerily supportive articles, it's also littered with hyper-judgmental message boards and heaps of contradictory and scolding information. Motherhood Smotherhood takes parents through the trenches of new parenting, warning readers of the pleasures and perils of mommy blogs, new parent groups, self-described "lactivists," sleep fascists, incessant trend pieces on working versus non-working mothers, and the place where free time and self-esteem goes to die: Pinterest (back away from the hand-made flower headbands for baby!) JJ Keith interweaves discussions of what "it takes a village" really means (hint: a lot of unwanted advice from elderly strangers who may have grown up in actual villages) and a take-down of the rising "make your own baby food" movement (just mush a banana with a fork!) with laugh-out-loud observations about the many mistakes she made as a frantic new mother with too much access to high speed internet and a lot of questions. Keith cuts to the truth--whether it's about "perfect" births, parenting gurus, the growing tide of vaccine rejecters, the joy of blanketing Facebook with baby pics, or germophobia--to move conversations about parenting away from experts espousing blanket truths to amateurs relishing in what a big, messy pile of delight and trauma having a baby is.

This book was completely hilarious and pretty much spot on from the experience I've had raising a child in the BabyCenter-Internet-OMG-WhatTheCrap stage of this era. I remember having to stop reading parenting and mothering blogs and websites due to the overwhelming amount of information, good and bad, just to survive until the next feeding of my newborn. The author has very staunch opinions on things that some may not agree with, but I appreciate her opinion and lack of who gives a crap attitude. I eventually learned that, just like all subjects in life, we all takes bits of pieces of everything we learn and apply them. Even to parenting and trying to survive the newborn years. This was a very fun and fist pumping read to combat the "perfect mother" syndrome that is plaguing our mommy groups. I totally appreciated being able to laugh out loud and snort with the author's experiences and opinions, and am pleased she mentioned giving husbands/fathers some more credit. If you need a break from the baby mania crazy or thinking you may go insane over one more pinterest craft, send some downtime reading this book. (Note: I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review during the book tour. This did not influence my review in the least.)

J Keith has written about being a crappy attachment parent for Salon, explored the disturbing undertones of Thomas the Tank Engine for, come out as pro-vaccine for The Huffington Post, interviewed Samantha Irby for Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, differentiated being judgmental and having an opinion for Role/Reboot, admitted to a bare knuckled brawl with a dude for The Nervous Breakdown, examined the phenomenon of "don't touch the bump" t-shirts for Babble, and explained what new moms have in common with teenage boys for The Hairpin.
Her writing has been syndicated in the Sydney Morning Herald, iVillage Australia, Mamamia, and Alternet, and she's taken her work to the stage with The Moth, Happy Hour Story Experiment, Write Club, and Expressing Motherhood and spoken about parenting issues with APM's Marketplace, HuffPost Live, and on a panel at the 2013 LA Times Festival of Books. Her micro-memoir won a $2,500 prize from Reader's Digest and was anthologized in The Best Life Stories: 150 Real-life Tales of Resilience, Joy, and Hope-All 150 Words or Less! She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and her two children.