December 15, 2010

Three Shoes, One Sock & No Hairbrush

Just finished this-- it's published in the UK and not easy to find in US stores.  Luckily, there are used copies available on Reading this was very validating and would have been even more helpful had I picked it up during Liam's first year. But I believe if I had read it sooner than that, I would have been completely frightened by the prospect of mothering two children. This book tells it like it is. The author has a gentle, humorous style but doesn't sugarcoat anything.  She makes moms of two feel like all the difficulties and rollercoaster emotions are completely normal. Thank you Rebecca Abrams.

I read most books with a pencil in one hand and tiny post-it notes stuck inside the cover so I can mark what's important to me.  Here are a few things I underlined in Abrams' text because they rang so true for me:

• A woman's capacity for generosity, tolerance, patience and sensitivity towards her children will be affected by how other things are going in her life: how much sleep she's getting, how her marriage is going, whether she has any money to pay the bills, whether she has friends to talk to, or parents to help her. Her ability to love will be affected by her past experiences of being loved, as well as her present circumstances;   p. 71

• With our first child we can just about live up to the standards set in the baby books; if we fall short, at least there's time to read up on the problem. With our second child, particularly in the first year or two, there's barely time to brush our teeth nevermind monitor, assess or modify our mothering technique.   p. 140

• Life with two children at times resembles nothing so much as a vigorous game of squash in which you are the little black ball...When there are two children going full-tilt at you, and at each other, especially when you've been up three times in the night with one and up since six with the other, it becomes far harder to find time or spaces to work out what’s going wrong, let alone work out what to do about it. Situations spiral rapidly out of control. Tempers flare with terrifying speed and ferocity. Attitudes may need reviewing, behavior modifying, and changes implementing--but who's got the time or energy?   p.101

• Becoming the mother of two children turned me into the kind of mother I always intended not to be--impatient, distracted, unimaginative, tired, prone to snapping 'in a moment' and 'just wait' and 'not right now' in a tone of voice no one could feel proud of.   p 196

• How do you feed wholesome gloop to the baby in a serene and loving fashion when your three-year-old is so determined to wind you up that she is scaling the kitchen cupboards to get at the butter dish you moved out of her reach five minutes earlier?.... How do you do jigsaw puzzles with one, when the other keeps walking off with half the pieces?   p. 81

• A day will come when you no longer have to approach the weekly supermarket shop like a ground offensive, with a top secret mission to accomplish before the enemy detects what you're up to.   p. 196

• It is easier by far to describe the difficulties of life with two children than it is to convey adequately the profound rewards of the experience.   p.207

• Having two children brings huge rewards, as every mother-of-two knows, however harried and exhausted she may be, and they are as intricately woven into the tapestry of daily life as the problems...The swell of tenderness at the sight of your first child sleeping peacefully is only equaled in this world by the tenderness you feel at the sight of your second child doing the same.   p.207

Next on my parent reading list?  Beyond One by Jennifer Bingham Hull.


  1. Sounds like an interesting book...

  2. That p 196 quote is me with one kid. I can't even imagine two at this point. I would have to get alot of other things in order first. Hence the p 71 quote.

  3. Thank you for sharing the book's paragraphs. All of them sound so true for me. At least I don't feel like I am the only one who feels overwhelmed at times and responds like the author. The question remains: when will we be able to relax and watch them grow without always worrying, or stressing?
    On a positive note: They are worth every second of one's life Aren't they?

  4. I like the 207 quote. I am sure it is very difficult and hard doing it with two children, and more so alone, but I'm also sure the rewards are great! And I think it's not double one child, probably triple as beyond mother and child #1 and mother and child #2 there's the whole joy of seeing both children interact.. [I hope you understand what I mean]