A scattered book “in defense of mothers everywhere who have had enough of the constant commentary…and guilt-inducing advice on something we might do far more enjoyably (and far better) left to our own instinctively irritable and lazy but loving devices.”
Many commentators decry our current navel-gazing, self-concerned society, and it can be especially difficult to navigate for new mothers and mothers-to-be. Social pressures and medical establishment expectations can make a dos and don’ts list a mile long. Waugh (Last Dance with Valentino, 2011), a relative of Evelyn, adds another book to the growing list of counteractive books, insisting that years of scientific research, common-sense knowledge distilled through generations of trial-and-error parenting, and all of those self-limiting prison walls people construct around themselves can be disregarded, provided it’s done with panache. The author even found a doctor who told her that it doesn’t really matter what substances you put in your body while pregnant. If children want to sit on the couch and watch a Harry Potter movie for the 10th time, they should be able to. After all, they will have adulthood to spend doing things they don’t want to do—unless they read this book, in which case they can cherry-pick which responsibilities to address. The general thrust of Waugh’s argument is “don’t worry, be happy,” which could be made convincing with more of a focus on skewering those specific areas that lead to obsessive-compulsive helicopter parenting, combined with some insight into how too much drive to “do the right thing” can also be damaging and lead to burnout. Instead, the author’s emphasis is focused more on making sure parents do “a little less fretting and hassling.”
Whether or not you agree that parents deserve to hold on to vestiges of their pre-parenting years, for the most part, Waugh’s message misses the mark.