I am a mother. A working mother. A working mother who somehow scored the right blend of help, stubbornness, and luck to successfully breastfeed. As a working, breastfeeding mother I’ve spent a lot of time in Mother’s Rooms (which thankfully are becoming more prevalent) and as a working, breastfeeding, *librarian* mother, I’ve pondered the books I think should come standard with all Mother’s Rooms. The following is a list I am titling “My ideal Mother’s Room bookshelf.”
Unbuttoned is a beautiful compilation book of personal narratives about breastfeeding. It is in turns hilarious, horrifying, and harrowing. Breastfeeding is an emotional topic, whether you chose to or not to, whether you are physically able to, and the pressures and judgments reigning down from all sides. The story that sticks out in my memory most vividly involves projectile lactating on an airplane… You read that correctly. In a society with mixed opinions on breastfeeding, this book addresses many of the highs and lows and is a cathartic must-read for anyone attempting this path.
Parent Hacks: 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life with Kids by Asha Dornfest
This is a fun and easily flipped through self-help book from which one can glean creative, new ideas for saving time and money while rearing kids (because what parent doesn’t need more time and money?). The book starts with suggestions to use while pregnant (like using rubber bands to expand pants waistlines) before moving on to organization tips and time saving tricks. Next comes all things poop and pee related, with brilliant ideas like layering the changing pad with several waterproof layers so you can easily peel off the top cover and be instantly ready for the next messy change. I also like that the number 134 seems random, and not like the author was trying to hit a specific number to satisfying her publisher. No filler hacks here; they are all legitimately useful suggestions.
I Heart My Little A-Holes by Karen Alpert
I’ll start this with a warning that Karen Alpert is not for everyone. She is pretty crass, often sarcastic, and can come across as pushy. But she can also read like a conversation with your best friend from college. And let’s be honest, having a baby in the house can make it challenging to carve out time to shoot the breeze with friends. I Heart My Little A-Holes is a snarky take on parenting that dives head first into not so glamorous topics like bodily functions (or dysfunctions), braggy moms, and a host of embarrassing situations. Alpert can be over the top, but she might also help you see comedy in the inevitable drama of parenting. If nothing else, the cartoons at the start of each chapter are good for an insider’s chuckle.
French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon
I picked this parenting book up when I first started feeding my kiddo solids. In this, Karen Le Billon shares ten rules she assures will get your kids to eat everything. She developed these rules while living in France after she discovered the children of her French comrades ate everything from blue cheese to delicate soups. Even though I know I wont follow all ten of these rules, there were certain ones that I was glad I read before getting too deeply into solid foods. For example, food shouldn’t be a reward or bribe as this teaches eating for emotional reasons. It seems so obvious when stated like that, but how often do parents offer a treat for doing something unpleasant? With this book in my toolbox from the beginning, I’m more mindful of the food foundation I’m building in my kid.
It’s Not the Stork by Robie Harris
I’m throwing this children’s book onto my ideal Mother’s Room bookshelf because it’s one of my favorite recommendations for parents on how to openly talk to kids about our bodies, about different family types, and a preliminary introduction to the birds and the bees. The first in a three part series, It’s Not the Stork is meant to help parents traverse these sometimes awkward, sometimes sensitive, but always important subjects.
Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This is definitely the most controversial title on this list. Dear Ijeawele is a letter to the mothers of today on how to raise strong, empowered, independent women. The book is comprised of fifteen suggestions, some of which are broader like teach your daughter to read and give her a sense of identity, while others are more pointed, like teach her to reject stereotypical gender roles and be purposeful in how you approach her and her appearance. Even though the book is geared towards the mothers of daughters, I think it is applicable to anyone engaging with children. This is a critique of our society and the role women have historically held within it, and whether you agree or disagree with Adichie’s edicts, these conversations are gaining momentum and will shape the next generation.
All of these titles are broken into short, digestible sections that can be consumed during a 15-20 minute Mother’s Room break. Covering a wide range of moods—a quick laugh, a heartwarming connection, a Pinterest worthy idea, a suggestion on parenting, or a deeper, thought-provoking look at the direction of our society—this small collection of books could serve any Mother’s Room and the working mothers who are fortunate enough to utilize its space.