Books for Mothers

“Motherhood can be one of the most intense experiences of a woman’s life. While there are many books that offer the “dos and don’ts” of effective parenting, few offer guidance on navigating the tumultuous inner experience of being a mother, with all its joy, pain, change and uncertainty.”

Eden Steinberg, from Finding Your Inner Mama 

Like buses three wonderful books of motherhood have come along at once into my life…which I really want to share with you. So, being me I’ve gone the whole hog and am sharing ALL my favourite books on mothering to celebrate Mother’s Day here in the UK and Ireland this Sunday.

Now I need to be clear here: I am NOT talking about parenting books, (usually written by smug nannies or doctors with willies… which tell you how to do it all -if you’re perfect, have no feelings, aren’t exhausted, are perfectly patient and have an angel child), and let’s all feel guilty cos we’re not doing perfectly enough – gah! How I hate those books…

No, I am talking about books of soul, written by mamas, for mamas. Books to nurture, support, inspire, to reflect back the myriad emotions of motherhood through the lens of words and images… and what I love most is that they are published BY women, FOR women – long live indie publishing, it’s putting the soul back into books and giving authentic voice to women!

Musings on Mothering – edited Teika Bellamy, with a foreword by Naomi Stadlen, Mother’s Milk Books 2013. 

I was invited to contribute to this book, a fundraising initiative for La Leche League. The words I contributed were some of the most powerful I have written on motherhood, and I was very honoured to hear that they were shared at the inaugural Story of Mum retreat last week.

This book is a celebration of motherhood, attachment parenting and breastfeeding. An impressive collection of writing, poetry and art on the theme of motherhood. The talent of the contributors was humbling, and much of the poetry and art truly breathtaking, each expressing in their own unique way the ineffable nature of motherhood. Sensitive, reflective and beautifully compiled – it brought me to tears many times.

An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice – edited by Suzi Banks Baum, Laundry Line Divine, 2013. 

In the introduction to this treasure chest of a book, Suzi opens with the image of a bus with 36 women already seated, each has an open seat beside them. You are invited to sit for a few minutes and enjoy the journey with each of your companions as they share some homemade cake along with their stories.

This is precisely the experience of reading this book. Like a fruit cake full of juicy currants, cherries and toothsome nuts, it is SO rich and deep and true.

I cried many times, tears of recognition and empathy. And many times I felt myself holding my breath, or my heart missing a beat as I listened to these sacred stories of the inner life of mothers so rarely told. It is a pocketful of mothers: wise real women, who speak of the tender, tragic and mundane moments – we hear of miscarriage and premature births, of babies lost and children grown, of domesticity, creativity and connection. Many of its contributors words will be carried always with me in my heart.

Birth, Breath and Death: Meditations on Motherhood, Chaplaincy and Life as a Doula – Amy Wright Glenn, Create Space

We are born, we die, and in between these irrevocable facts of human existence the breath weaves all moments together.

At the age of fourteen, Amy began to question her family’s strict faith and embarked on a life-long personal journey towards spiritual truth. Her quest has taken her around the world, to further studies and to both ends of life’s spectrum, in her dual callings as doula and chaplain to the dying and their families.

This little book is exquisitely written and is full of profound insight, reflection and compassion on the subjects of life, love, birth, mothering and death. Reading it is a meditation in its own right. It is a book of soul which leaves you richer.

What Mothers Do (Especially When it Looks Like Nothing), Naomi Stadlen

I read this book  religiously when each of my babies were infants on the breast, bathing in its loving wisdom. I hated it when Mr DA would come home and ask what I’d been up to – there I was exhausted, covered in vomit, shaking with hunger… I’d cast my mind back and “nothing” is all I could think of. I had no words for the invisible acts of mothering that I had been doing. This book helped to give me language… and value to what I did day after day in the early years. I have yet to read her second book, How Mothers Love, but have heard many good reports of it.

Moods of Motherhood – Lucy H Pearce, 2012.

Moods is a compilation of my best-loved posts on motherhood from Dreaming Aloud, my columns from JUNO magazine and many new pieces, never before published. It is a book full of my trademark searing honesty and raw emotions. It will make you laugh and cry – wherever on your mothering journey you may be.

Topics include: tenderness, pregnancy and birth, happy days, anger and fierceness, playfulness, love, patience, homemaking and much, much more… it is illustrated throughout with beautiful black and white photographs. I have put it together by topic so that you can dip in and out, wherever you are in your mothering journey. Pick it up for wisdom, reassurance, a laugh, some empathy. Take me to the park in your bag, keep me by your bed, or on your bookshelf… what a funny concept!

The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood. Lucy H Pearce, Soul Rocks Books, 2013 

My Amazon #1 bestselling book, featuring the words of over fifty creative mothers: visual artists, writers, film-makers, potters, performers and crafters.

Visioned as the guide and mentor that most creative women yearn for, but never find in their daily lives, The Rainbow Way explores the depths of the creative urge, from many perspectives. This positive, nurturing and practical book promises to empower you to unlock your creative potential within the constraints of your demanding life as a mother. It has been credited by women across the globe for kickstarting their creativity and making them feel seen and accepted as creative mothers.

Finding Your Inner Mama: Women Reflect on the Challenges and Rewards of Motherhood – Edited by Eden Steinberg. Trumpeter, 2007. 

“Motherhood is not what we imagined. It is more delightful, more heartbreaking…It is not the calm after the storm we have been led to expect. It is almost more than a person can bear. Almost.”  -Ariel Gore, The Mother Trip

A soul-manual of mothering, sketching the landscape of the mother-soul and speaking truly of the vocation of motherhood, the dark and the light, the unspoken and unspeakable. It is written by women of courage, insight and vision who are putting into words a realm of experience which has traditionally been left without language.

Divided in to four sections: The Reality of Being a Mother; The Inner Work of Motherhood; Why is Being a Mother so Hard?; and Finding Balance, this collection of writing by psychologists, poets, novelists, spiritual teachers, and everyday mums explores the rich, transformative journey of motherhood. Amongst the contributors are some of the most talented American women writers of our generation: Louise Erdrich, Adrienne Rich and Ariel Gore.

And finally, hot off the press – the New Mama’s Welcome Pack – which includes an e copy of my book Moods of Motherhood, as well as inspiration and resources from over 60 other mamas – this is the ultimate gift for new mamas to give wisdom, reassurance and practical help. The mama receives one short email a day, with words of love, and a resource.

Delivered over three months direct to their inbox, the New Mama’s Welcome Pack is bursting with supportive and uplifting digital goodies, all designed to help a new mama make the most of this precious and exhausting time.

What are YOUR favourite mothering books?

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