Book Review: Choosing Home

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A couple years ago I put a movie called Mom’s Night Out on my Netflix list. I don’t know what possessed me to do this as the Jesus vibes were detectable from the commercials. Upon arrival, I tossed it in the DVD player with less than no expectations. Then something shocking occurred: I actually loved it. Yes, they went to church, but it was one strand woven into the fabric of their lives as opposed to the whole point. Yes, it was sexist against men, in that the fathers were largely absent from parenthood and portrayed as totally incompetent on that front. Yes, the zany antics were silly. But there was something about this movie that resonated deeply and powerfully with me. The moral of the whole thing was that motherhood was a valid and valuable role (and that marriage can be healthy, happy, and wonderful). When that movie ended I was sitting there wide-eyed in a moment of silence, having one of those experiences when you try a new dessert for the first time and you realize you’ve found something delectable that you never knew existed. I realized that I had never before in my entire life seen a representation of a family that wasn’t rife with internal conflict or a portrayal of a mother that was a hero for the simple brilliance of being a mother. Now, I knew these morals from my own personal experience, but I didn’t grow up with them and I had certainly never seen them in the media. It wet my appetite for more.

Which led me to the book Choosing Home: 20 Mothers Celebrate Staying Home, Raising Children, and Changing the World, edited by Rachel Chaney and Kerry McDonald. This book is a collection of short stories from mothers who have chosen what I sometimes refer to as full-time motherhood. It was a very easy read that lent itself well to the sporadic reading style of most mothers of littles. It was enjoyable to see the perspectives of other women who believe that motherhood is a valid and valuable lifestyle choice. I wouldn’t say the book is brilliant, and each chapter reads more like a quick email than a profound personal story, but still worth a literary stroll. You can have purpose and joy without turning in your feminist card.

We need more of this – more media that represents healthy, happy family life and rolls around with the strengths and challenges within that context.

“To many, we are what we do, and when we do the hidden work of nourishing souls, we ourselves are often hidden, overlooked, undervalued.”

“The dichotomy between ‘work’ and ‘saying home’ is utterly new and a bit unusual. As if we moms and dads at home don’t work.”

“In a world that has grown intolerant of childhood, free-play and making mistakes, my role often becomes that of defensive tackle: ‘blocking and tackling’ those adults who would limit my kids’ exposure to our day to day life and who misunderstand the value of having kids run amongst us. It is the whole community that benefits from having children live and thrive in the broader world, not just the kids.”

“Our homes have become often-vacant frames in which to store our products of consumption and entertainment, instead of the robust centers of production they once were. Our neighborhoods have become fractured and distant and increasingly sterile, as children spend their days away with their same-age peers, parents spend their days with their same-age peers, and the elderly spend their days with their same-age peers. Our families have become increasingly disconnected. Our children have become increasingly anxious, agitated and over-extended.”

I’ll keep doing my part with the Sage Parenting book series and if you know of any good stuff, please send it my way by commenting below!

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