An illustrated love letter to motherhood during a child’s earliest years.
Kim’s slim debut consists of a series of one-page, four-panel cartoons depicting dozens of key parenting moments. Some hinge on the stark and often hilarious realities of a toddler’s unruly biology (passing gas and spitting up each make more than one appearance). But far more of them center on subtler issues of psychology and personality, often in ways that will have parents of little kids nodding in recognition. Whether it’s a child’s sudden fascination with cleaning things or his need to be near his mother at all times (“He just wanted my company”) or unpredictable changes in his attention level, Kim portrays it with immense sympathy and good-natured humor. Her drawings are simple to the point of being crude, but they’re never confusing or ambiguous, and the childlike nature of the linework feels oddly appropriate to the subject matter. The book’s two overarching motifs are the utter, loving exhaustion that parents of young children inevitably experience and the infinite flexibility that characterizes good parenting. (There’s also the unspoken assumption that kids are incredibly, relentlessly, almost apocalyptically messy.) Kim’s reflections about how fast children grow up are universal, but she also works in a few slightly more idiosyncratic ideas, as when she depicts a child hugging a departing mother as being like plugging in a device to charge its batteries. There’s little in the way of specific instruction in these pages apart from things that most parents already know, such as the importance of encouraging good behavior and constructively discouraging bad behavior. But it will let those parents know that they’re not alone.
A sweet, unabashedly sentimental work.