Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Essential Reading: Desiring Motherhood

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There are many interesting conversations about motherhood in the public arena. One that has fought its way onto the stage over the past few years is the right to choose not to become a mother—and not be judged for it. This is an emotive issue rooted in thousands of years of dependence on female fertility. Modern life however, does not necessitate our own progeny to take care of us in our golden years, nor for women to look solely to their family for self-fulfillment—not to mention our right to choose!

Knowing how consuming motherhood can be, both physically and mentally, and how it meets us with our past and personal failings, I have to say that I can see why some people might make the decision not to have children. This was brought home to me by the protagonist in When Never Comes by Barbara Davis. Christine Ludlow decided at a young age never to have children because of her own traumatic childhood. As the chapters in this novel swing back and forth between Christine's formative years, when she was forced to look after her addict mother and tolerate continuous "uncles" and evictions, and her current life as the privileged wife of a movie star, her decision gains weight. When life's twists and turns force Christine to face her past and reconsider her future, including motherhood, the story takes on a depth which is both touching and thought-provoking. When Never Comes is a story about rediscovering ourselves, facing our fears and opening up to possibility.

For women who are on the motherhood track, Christina Consolino, Senior Editor and Profiles Editor recommends this one: "Mindful Pregnancy & Birth: Nurturing Love and Awareness by Riga Forbes is a book for anyone fraught with anxiety about pregnancy and childbirth. Split into four chapters, the beautifully-covered book is a slim volume of only 144 pages, full of engaging and relevant information as well as mindfulness exercises. In the book's first chapter, Forbes introduces readers to living mindfully over the course of the pregnancy and talks about acceptance as a 'navigation tool,' which can help women resist the 'urge to control, change or judge what arises for us.' In the second chapter, Forbes writes about the importance of pressing the 'pause button on life,' cultivating self-love, finding calm, and being open to what life brings. The third chapter concentrates on the physiology of birth and how to take advantage of the right support during labor, while the fourth chapter takes the reader beyond childbirth, where, as Forbes says, 'the journey has just begun.' So many pregnancy and birth books concentrate on the changing body, but this book encourages women (and their partners) to develop 'more awareness, presence, compassion and well-being in [our] remarkable parenting journeys together.' It's a book I would have liked to have when I was pregnant."

Abigail Lalonde, Social Media Editor, shares her recent find to help parents through the tough times: "As the mom of an almost two-year-old who has begun to show signs of frustration, anger, and real-life, full-on emotions, I knew I needed to start reading up on how to help her grow into an emotionally-secure child while also maintaining my own sanity. Whenever I feel powerless in a situation, I try to educate myself on it as much as possible. Cue a voracious search for books on toddlers, specifically how to guide them through all the huge emotions they're feeling. I added a bunch of books to my TBR pile, but immediately devoured The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. I wish I had read this book before I became a parent, maybe even in my twenties. The authors break down emotions and the way our brains work in layman's terms, with simple steps to help a child (or anyone really) navigate their feelings. I love that the authors focus on the importance of communication and storytelling. While the text is aimed at a slightly older audience than I'm currently dealing with, I know that I will revisit it many times as my daughter grows up and needs my support. I also intend to use their ideas and strategies in my own life to help me navigate all the big feelings that come with motherhood and life in general. Regardless of where anyone is in their motherhood journey, I believe this book to be an important tool to have in the parental toolbox."

Which are your favorite parenting novels or guides? Leave a recommendation in the comments, or tweet us @LiteraryMama. You can also follow us on Instagram @Literary_Mama and Goodreads for more recommendations

Nerys Copelovitz is a British born marketing writer and mother of three who now lives in Israel. Her writing on parenting and living in a hot spot can be found in the Times of Israel, Grown and Flown, Scary Mommy and Kveller. When not sweating over a hot keyboard, or stove, she likes to read and swim, though not in tandem.

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Jenna Christina is a freelance photographer, working in the San Francisco Bay Area, who specializes in natural newborn, baby and family photography.

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