Spoiler alert: I’m not a mother.
But I am a parent, a father even, and in picking up the new book The Beauty of Motherhood by Kimberly Knowle-Zeller and Erin Strybis found echoes of my own experience in these pages.
Organized in a similar fashion as To Bless the Space Between Us by another deep-thinking writer after my own heart, John O’Donohue, The Beauty of Motherhood provides reflections, prayers, and practices that correspond to that age-old question by the pensive writer of Ecclesiastes, “What time is it?”
As any parent knows, each stage of development in those early years is also a stage of development for the parent walking with that child. This book surrounds the stages of “infancy,” “toddlerhood,” and “childhood” with words that bless, console, and encourage moms and mothering figures, bringing intention and attention to the movements of the heart.
I always balk when people tell young parents to “savor every moment,” because honestly you’re usually too tired, confused, or even annoyed to enjoy one moment, let alone every one. This work provides some scaffolding to that sentiment, though, easing the pressure that phrase can cause. A parent need not savor every moment in real time, but with the help of these authors can bring memories and moments that may have slipped away, giving them new life through these reflections.
A special part of this work, and one that is all too familiar to so many but rarely talked about, are the parts where the anxiety and heartache surrounding “waiting for motherhood” is given voice.
Motherhood is a mixed bag. These authors know this well and are attentive to the prismic emotions that comes with it.
The Beauty of Motherhood is a book that, while geared toward those first years of being a mama, could certainly help one awaken meaning at any stage of mommy-ing. My own boys have long since abandoned calling their mom “mommy” (a sad milestone of its own!), and rarely call me daddy anymore. But having something that notes that threshold makes a difference to these parenting hearts, even if for a few paragraphs.
This is the perfect gifts for moms and moms-to-be, and I would contend makes a great gift for grandmothers, too, especially as they watch their children live into parenting in their own way.
Trying to encapsulate the distinctive reflections in this book in a succinct post is difficult, so maybe I’ll let the author’s words do their own speaking here at the end.
When talking about exploring nature with their young son Jack, one mom is brought to a fallen tree trunk where green moss is growing tenderly on bark, “a burst of color amid a muted landscape.”
“What’s this, Mommy?” the young Jack asks.
“It’s beautiful,” the mom replies. (p. 120)
And that, Beloved, is kind of what it feels like at the best of times to be a parent, a mommy (and a daddy).
And it is.
This daddy saw himself in the beauty of motherhood here.