Last year I recommended Rachel Jankovic’s Loving the Little Years for its insightful perspective on taking joy in having small children. If you’ve got kids over the toddler/preschool age, I’d also recommend Jankovic’s follow-up book Fit to Burst : Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood.
It’s not that you wouldn’t get anything out of Fit to Burst if you don’t have older kids, but you’ll get more out of it if you do. I remember reading parenting books when my kids were really small and nodding agreement, but not really getting it. I’m sure there are points about raising teenagers that are going over my head now too.
But I think the reason this book resonated with me so strongly is that I have elementary aged kids now (my oldest is a year younger than the author’s). The issues that hit me the hardest now are how to communicate with my kids and how to manage them, how to balance their fledgling independence with our need for household harmony, and how on earth to wrestle character issues that are way, way bigger now than they were in the toddler stage. Jankovic addressed the issues of parenting elementary aged kids with a depth and insight that I haven’t seen elsewhere.
As I read I found myself first of all surprised by how directly the author seemed to address my issues (it’s a relief to know that other parents must deal with these things too), second of all deeply convicted, and third encouraged to find peace, calm, and joy in the “abundance and mayhem” of motherhood in this stage.
I appreciated humility of the personal accounts in the book–Jankovic says at the beginning that she is writing for herself as well as her readers–as well as the frank willingness to apply hard words in a loving way. This is not an “oh gee, being a mom is soo hard” sort of book, but it’s also not a cold textbook or pie-in-the-sky prescription for parenting. Rather, Fit to Burst will challenge you and make you think in new ways about your parenting, but also leave you feeling refreshed and newly equipped to handle difficulties.
I’d recommend Fit to Burst for any parents, but particularly if your children are in the 4-11 age range.
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