Sleep Is for the Weak, edited by Rita Arens

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


Sleep Is for the Weak
I wasn't exactly planning to read this book. I hadn't heard about it previously nor do I remember seeing it on any blogs. I was searching for some other book when this one showed up in the search results. The title sounded interesting and when I read the description, I was more than eager to read it. Who doesn't like to read essays? -- Especially, when they are about topics that you can relate to.

Now is probably a good time as any to talk about something I have been doing lately. No, this has nothing to do with parenting or this particular book I'm reviewing, but everything to do with how this book even got to be read. Like most of you, I have a huge TBR - at home on my bookshelves, on my Kindle, and also on a virtual bookshelf on Goodreads. There is no way I am going to read all those books, and that's fine. That doesn't really bother me. What bothers me is that there are all these books listed somewhere (physically and virtually), knowing fully well that I won't be reading a good portion of them. In a typical reading year, only a small percent of books read are from any of those shelves. I shelve far too many new books, at a rate faster than I can read them. So what then is the point of all this shelving? This is when I decided to change my system a bit to reflect what I actually do. I generally prefer picking a random book to read, and almost always, I avoid picking a book from any of my lists. So, why not just empty my virtual TBRs and only keep the core books that I definitely want to read. This will likely be a small number and I can now guiltlessly read any book I come across. That's why, when I saw this book, I started reading it immediately - not caring much about reviews or ratings or looking at my big TBR stack with trepidation.

(Yes, I realize I am doing the opposite of what I should be doing. I should be reading only from these shelves, ignoring all the random books that line up in front of me. Sadly, that option doesn't appeal to me at all. I would rather whittle down my TBR shelves to the books I want to keep and then allow myself to discover random books for my reading pleasure.)

So, now this book. Sleep is for the Weak is essentially a collection of parenting essays written by some very popular writers and bloggers. I will admit to not knowing about any of these writers or their blogs. Their essays covered a huge spectrum of parenting - there are essays about how kids rule the house (even if parents like to believe that they are in charge), how having a baby has changed so many of them, and how even though you love your kid, you do think that they suck sometimes. As is typical with books like these, some essays are very short and some are long. But all are what I would consider blog post-length. I enjoyed all the essays but there are a few I loved the most.



Happy Freakin' New Year by Risa Green on Mommy Track'd: This is the post that inspired my blog post about living life the way my future self would want me to. Risa Green planned to adopt that as her New Year resolution (I don't know how that went though) and I loved the essay and the thought behind it so much that I wanted to live my life that way. Especially, in light of all the suffering around me lately.



More Bell Ringing, Less Crappy Treatment by Sheryl Naimark on Paper Napkin: This essay about how important it is to respect kids if you wish to teach them essential lessons the right way struck a chord within me. Most people I know from my generation and older got whipped as kids. This happens less often nowadays (phew!) but I have been part of many conversations where folks have defended being hit or hitting their kids saying everyone turned out fine. I have so many issues with that line of thinking. Yes, some kids do grow up damaged from being hit as kids but most probably don't. The danger is in their self-esteem levels, their confidence in meeting the world, their decision-making skills, and their socio-economic maturity levels. Plus, there is a higher chance that these kids will do the same when it is their turn to parent. I have no idea what kind of parent I will be but I hope I never use canes as disciplinary tools.



Be Careful What You Wish For by Susan Wagner: Susan's son has a very high IQ. His numbers are often off the charts and she mentions how this is something most parents want their kids to have. But she talks about the downsides - how her kid cannot understand emotions, how it is unfathomable to him that different people have different interests, and how he is often throwing tantrums because his mind is so logical that it cannot understand the complex emotional framework that this world is built on. She cautions that it is best to have a healthy baby than a smart one. While I agree with her, I think this is cultural as well. In some cultures, smart kids are preferred, emotional problems be damned, and to change this line of thinking, the parents need to change their attitudes.



Corn on the Cam by Birdie Jaworski: This is probably my favorite essay from this book. I loved it so much that I made the husband read it as well. This is a hilarious account of a road trip to Vegas that Birdie did with her two kids. They were planning to take PB&J for the road but the older kid suggested using the "car cookbook" (a cookbook that they bought at a yard sale) to make their meals. This involved wrapping up their meals in tin foil and placing them in the hottest part of the car's engine. (The sheer ingenuity of it! Now I need to try it too.) So, the kid planned all their meals and watched the odometer to make sure they pick up their meals after driving a certain number of miles. Other than this clever way of making food, they also learn a ton of other things on their journey. I think most of all, I love Birdie for putting this kid in charge of the meals, despite it involving opening the bonnet too many times and encountering many samaritans coming over to help.

(Oh, and if you were curious, this is the car cookbook - Manifold Destiny.)



Becoming Mama by Karen at The Naked Ovary: The lone story in the book about adoption. Also one of the most heartwarming. When Shreya was born, it took me a few days to actually bond with her. Initially I was terrified to be holding an infant but slowly I began to connect with her. For me, it was breastfeeding that did it. The husband needed a longer time but eventually he did bond as well. But when you adopt a baby, how long will it take? Movies like to show this connection to be an immediate thing but in reality it is not. In this essay, Karen talked about how it was for her. She worked on getting the baby to connect with her but she didn't know how long it was going to be for her to actually connect. When is she going to feel like a mother?


I borrowed this ebook from the good old library.

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