Motherhood is full of difficulties. We mommies have good days and not-so-good days. On the good days, I praise God and give myself a little pat on the back. However, it is on those not-so-good days that I need a friend to come along side to encourage me, help me find a solution, and/or offer some much-needed perspective on a situation. Barbara Curtis does just that in her latest “mommy” book, The Mommy Survival Guide: Making the Most of the Mommy Years (MSG).
Curtis writes as only a real mommy can. I connected with her from the opening page:
“Once upon a time I was a pretty normal mom. But that was before I ended up with 12 kids. When did I begin to change? Was it with Number 3? Number 4? Maybe Number 5? I don’t know. For a while, with babies arriving every 15 to 20 months, it all became a blur. And yet at the same time it all became clear, as though I could finally see what was the important part of being a mommy. So many things I thought really mattered turned out not to matter at all. And so many things I hadn’t thought of turned out to be the most important things of all.”
MSG is divided into six sections:
- The sooner you surrender, the better.
- Kids will be kids—let them.
- A little bit of Mommy goes a long way.
- Less is more—really.
- When the going gets tough, just keep going.
- Anything can happen, but God will be there too.
One of my favorite aspects of Curtis’ writing is her honesty regarding motherhood. Curtis understands its demands. She has struggled through relinquishing her rights in order to be a better mother. This makes MSG stand apart from other popular mommy books. Curtis never advocates taking a “mommy vacation.” Rather, she is honest about the sacrifice and selflessness it takes to become a great mother with great kids. She shares a bit of her own journey in surrendering to motherhood. For example, she writes of how her frustrations diminished after she changed her attitudes regarding sleep. She explains, “So, yes, motherhood will change you—if you let it. And believe me, you do want to let it change you, because when you’ve refined the art of not thinking of yourself, you will very much like the person you become.”
MSG is also incredibly practical. Curtis writes about those topics that weigh heavily on most mommies’ minds: sibling rivalry, teaching self-control, television use, simplifying life, and much more. Each chapter has some nugget of wisdom or advice or a simple tip that a mommy can use. In addition to sharing her family’s stories and experiences, the end of each chapter includes a list of ideas, fun stuff, things you need to know, or a helpful resource to check out. Not only is she a mother to 12, Curtis also homeschooled her children and is a trained Montessori instructor. She has years of experience from which she shares her thoughts on child training and teaching. She offers advice for saving time, having fun with the whole family, and helping kids through tough times, to name a few.
Ms. Curtis is also a born-again Christian who is not ashamed of the gospel. About midway through the book, Curtis shares her testimony and how she came to know Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior. She shares how she gently guides her children to know Jesus. Scripture is sprinkled throughout the book. It is the last portion of the book, however, that Curtis shares how a Christian mommy can use the gospel every day. Curtis does not gloss over sin, but she offers hope to the mother who sins against her children. She encourages moms to apologize, ask God for forgiveness, and receive a fresh start. She writes, “Parenthood is really a matter between you and God anyway, because it’s part of our stewardship. Our children are not our children but God’s children given to us for a brief span to prepare them for the rest of their lives.” On those days that we feel like failures or “bad” mommies, it is good to be reminded of the truths we already know and encouraged to go to Jesus.
I enjoyed this book. It is fun to read and full of good advice. The chapters are relatively short—good for mommies who do not have tons of time for reading. MSG is interesting, encouraging, and helpful. I am happy to recommend this book to my mommy friends.
Learn more about Barbara Curtis at her blog, MommyLife.