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Book Review: Because I Said So

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“But why???” the child asks.

“Because I said so,” says Mom.

I’ve been on both sides of this conversation. This second answer, however, doesn’t satisfy my oldest, who presses for details. Then, I have to respond, “You don’t have to know everything.” Still, I’m sure every mother has said this famous phrase. This book has 33 stories written by 33 intelligent women who happen to be mothers.

Stories cover the gamut of breaking cultural rules, losing a successful business and starting over, dealing with divorce, moving to a foreign country and leaving your children behind, facing a difficult situation when the kids love the nanny as much as the mother, and other topics that many of us would never dream of confronting. For those who have faced such situations, these stories remind us we’re not alone.

I don’t know how to do these stories justice with this review. I feel like a friend sitting across from the author of the story, telling her tale as if I were her best friend because of the intimate details she shares. The stories don’t have a hint of whining children, male bashing, or “woe is me” moaning. After reading a story, don’t be surprised if you wish you could meet the author and become her friend.

Instead, meet a Muslim woman who deals with the stigma of having a child out of wedlock in “The Scarlet Letter Z.” Meet a woman whose father killed himself when she was young and she didn’t find out till eight years later — then her own husband was killed leaving her a widow at 34-years-old with a child on the way in “On Giving Hope.” Meet a woman who arranged to have a dinner with her husband at a five-star restaurant and everything prior to the event goes wrong as she explains, “Why I Can Never Go Back to the French Laundry.”

Mothers sometimes feel disconnected like their lives are all about their children and their activities. Reconnect by reading these essays and take strength in knowing there are smart women who happen to have the title of Mom added to their list of roles and accomplishments. They talk about motherhood beyond sleepless nights, potty training, carpooling, or food battles.

Read stories about autism, spousal abuse, growing up, babysitters, dolls, parents-to-be from different races, and a single woman having two children by artificial insemination. Expect to learn life lessons from these stories as these women have grown from experiencing life. You might walk away with something you didn’t have before reading the book.

I am stunned by some of the revelations as I can’t imagine admitting such things to a friend much less to a faceless public, which no doubt includes family and friends. The honesty reminds us that it’s OK to feel or think this way — it doesn’t make us bad, just human.

The essays vary in length so a mom can squeeze a little reading between feedings, a few minutes before going to sleep, while waiting in the carpool line, or during lunch break. Any time spent with this book is gratifying and worth every minute.

Meryl kicked… er… sent her two older kids to school today.

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About Meryl K Evans

Meryl K. Evans, Content Maven, is the author of "Brilliant Outlook Pocketbook" and the co-author of "Adapting to Web Standards: CSS and Ajax for Big Sites." She has written and edited for a bunch of places online and off. A native Texan, she lives a heartbeat north of Dallas in Plano, Texas with her husband and three kiddos.