Slow Down: Embracing The Everyday Moments of Motherhood, by Nichole Nordeman
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
At first glance, this book is a gorgeous coffee-table quality book that seems tailor made for new mothers. The book’s front page makes it clear that this book is designed to be a gift from experienced mothers to less experienced ones, and throughout the book the text is interspersed with high quality photos of adorable children, sometimes with their mothers. At the end of chapters there are additional notes and comments by some of the author’s famous friends, including writers like Natalie Grant  and Jen Hatmaker, and fellow Christian contemporary musicians like Amy Grant. This is a book that seems constructed and designed to help mothers feel like a tribe and stick up for each other and avoid the conflicts and drama that seem to happen frequently between women. Obviously, as a male reader of this book I am likely somewhat unusual because this is not a book that seems written with any kind of male audience in mind. Although I am no stranger to sympathetically reading books written by women, about women, and for women , in this particular case I believe that the exclusive focus on women is a serious mistake.
In about two hundred quarto-sized pages, a length considerably padded by generous amounts of photos, the author writes fourteen short chapters about motherhood. She shares stories like that of her son coloring all of the keys on her piano black as she writes a new song, “Slow Down,” that serves as the bonus track of her new cd as well as the title of this book. She writes about surrendering to the storms of life, recognizing the folly of being rigid about foolish family traditions like having a particular mall Santa, being a part of a strong herd of mothers, accepting that a great deal of life is a matter of fixing things up, commenting that much about motherhood and its struggles has remained consistent through the generations, and that practice makes practice and not perfect. This is an author who seems content with her messy and imperfect motherhood and who seeks to encourage other mothers to be honest and open about their struggles and to avoid putting on a false front of perfection that leads them to be harsh and ungenerous to other women.
There is, however, a massive problem with all of this that may be obvious to you all. Motherhood is not the obvious companion of sisterhood, as this author writes often, but fatherhood, about which this author writes almost nothing. Indeed, the absence of fathers and fatherhood in this volume is a malign one that shows the author is still engaged in image management even while proclaiming her messiness as a mother. Once the author makes a comment about having put her music career on hiatus because her marriage was on life support and she felt it necessary to prove herself as a wife, and another time her mother comments about the author having survived the wreck of her marriage, but aside from these comments the author never comments on her ex-husband at all. The author’s failure to be candid and to support cooperation and harmony between husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, greatly undercuts the credibility of the author as someone who can speak as an authority on motherhood and a positive influence on other mothers. The lack of harmony between parents and within marriages is a far larger problem than the intratribal issues between women, and about this massively important issue the author says almost nothing. This book, therefore, does not help mothers because it fails to encourage women to be better wives in happier marriages, where motherhood has less pressure and more resources. All of the pretty pictures this book has cannot cover that shortcoming. Sometimes, as is the case with this book, what is not said is far more important than what is said.
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