Mother and reader. These are the two descriptors that I use most often to describe myself. And I’ve come to realize that these two roles have an awful lot in common.
For both the mother and the reader:
You can never choose a favorite.
Every time my girls ask me who is my favorite, I try to be clever and say, “You are my favorite first daughter and you are my favorite second daughter.” Of course, they each roll their eyes and continue to believe that I love the other more but so goes sibling rivalry.
It is the same in the world of books. Choose a favorite book? Never. But my favorites of the year, I may be able to do that. Favorite picture book? The Professional Crocodile by Giovanna Zoboli and Mariachiara Di Giorgio. Favorite middle grade read? Real Friends by Shannon Hale. Favorite young adult novel? The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. And favorite novel? Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.
There is never enough time.
Every day I wake up with a to-do list. By the end of the day, I may have crossed off a few items but most likely I have added more to-dos than I have accomplished.
The same principle applies to my to be read list. Today I may have finished Shadow Man by Ian Drew by but I added The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnvich, Castle of Water by Dane Huckelridge and Jac Jemc’s The Grip of It. It seems likely that there will never be enough time to complete either my to-do list or my to be read list.
It’s important to choose your battles.
The girls spend lots of time on their iPhones. They both watch re-runs of Friends over and over again despite the repeated sexual references that I hope (but know aren’t) going over both their heads. And I do in fact make multiple dinners every night despite knowing, without a doubt, that this is a bad idea. There are simply too many battles to fight every day to fight every single one so I have prioritized as a mom.
I do the same as a reader. I should read more non-fiction, fantasy and short stories. I should keep better track of what I read and what I thought of those books. I should write my name in the books I lend but I don’t do any of these things. I suppose these are the book battles that, for today, I have chosen not to fight.
The is no right way to do things.
Caroline had terrible reflux as a baby. During her first few months of life she slept many more hours in her car seat than she ever did her crib. We have yet to figure out an effective way to get our children to complete chores. And I’ve let our girls quit way more extracurricular activities than I would care to admit. While many, many moms would disagree with these approaches, Caroline iis now a sound sleeper (car-seat free), both girls clean their rooms every so often and they both love the activities that they have chosen to do.
And again, it is the same in the world of books. Did I love The Goldfinch? I did not like it at all (especially the Las Vegas part) but I know that many did. Do I understand the fascination with comic books? No. But I do enjoy watching the faces of people who love them as they talk about their favorite issues. Can I finish any of the many, many audiobooks that I have started? Nope. But I continue to write down reader’s favorites because so many people love them. Like in life, there is not one way to be a reader.
Your tribe is important.
I was lucky that Caroline was born just two weeks before one of my closest friends gave birth to her first child. Talking with Elizabeth about sleep deprivation, tummy time and swaddling got me through those early months. The topics my tribe discusses may have changed. The past few weeks alone, we have talked vaping and college essays and curfews. But the power of the group of women that surrounds me remains the same.
The same can be said of my community of readers. Sure I look forward to my book club meeting each month but now, thanks to social media, I am in touch with my reading tribe each and every day. I check in on the Twitter hashtag #weneeddiversebooks. I scroll through the many posts on the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club Facebook page. I listen to bookish podcasts and I pour over bookstagram. Checking in with my tribe and on my reading community is a highlight of each day.
So there you have it. Mother and reader. Two sides of the same coin.