There is so much information out there about motherhood that it can sometimes be overwhelming. New moms are bombarded with well-meaning advice as they try to navigate their way into the mystical world of motherhood.
But so much of this advice is specific to a particular mom and her children and can’t be easily transferred. More often than not, a bit of unsolicited advice can cause anxiety and uncertainty in mothers and have them doubting their choices.
Luckily, other women have chosen to write books designed specifically for moms. Some are beautiful stories of love, hope, and the joys of pregnancy. Others are honest, unfiltered, and hilarious accounts of motherhood. Then some explore what it means to be a mother, a woman in today’s world, and how we can find ourselves through birthing a child.
Choosing to have a child will change you irrevocably and challenge you as few other things will. This list of books has something for every mother, regardless of the stage of her journey.
They have all been written with love, heart, and truth while the authors challenge our beliefs about motherhood and provide comic relief in the form of everyday challenges.
Some you may have already read while others may be new, but either way, I hope you find something that inspires, educates, and empowers.
1. Mom & Me & Mom, By Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou is an icon in the literary world, and the autobiographical style of Mom & Me & Mom is a beautiful representation of the maternal bond.
The book takes us on a poignant journey based on the tumultuous relationship with her mother, Vivian Baxter. Baxter sent her kids to Arkansas when Angelou was very young, and it deeply impacted the course of her life and their complex relationship.
This story is one of forgiveness and love, but more importantly, it reveals the complex layers that make up motherhood. Through her own journey into motherhood, Angelou began to understand her own mother and develop a bond with her that had been missing.
The depth of a mother’s love can never be truly understood, and Angelou honestly explores the ways motherhood changes not just your own life but your understanding of the world around you.
2. Babygate: How To Survive Pregnancy And Parenting In The Workplace, By Dina Bakst, Phoebe Taubman And Elizabeth Gedmark
For many expecting moms, the stress of juggling work and motherhood can be overwhelming. Companies today care more about the bottom line than about employees, particularly new moms.
This book, written by three legal experts, will walk you through everything you need to know about pregnancy and parenting in the workplace. Having a baby shouldn’t impact your career or jeopardize your job, and this book dives deep into everything you need to know to protect your rights.
It is a must-read for anyone thinking about starting a family, but it is also a valuable resource for changing a system that makes motherhood more challenging.
3. Learning To Fly, By Roxanne Henke
Learning to Fly is a beautiful book for mothers as it shows how different parenting styles can affect the adults our children grow into. Following the lives of two mothers and their daughters, this novel looks at the complexities involved in raising kids.
When Susan Schaffer brings her daughter home, she is daunted at the task ahead of her. Each time she feels she has parenting figured out, her daughter Lily shows her that motherhood is a constant journey of learning and discovery.
Her friend JoJo and her daughter travel through life with Susan and Lily, but they discover that growing up and letting go is something that you can never fully prepare for.
4. Awake At 3am, By Suzannah Neufeld
This is an essential book for mothers as it dives into the parts of motherhood seldom discussed. Anxiety and depression after birth are more common than people think, and Neufeld provides the support to help mothers through it.
Broken up into short chapters, they are easy for the exhausted new mom to read and will provide a wealth of information delivered with honesty, love, and compassion. You could even read one during feeds.
The yoga practices are designed to suit the unpredictable schedule of motherhood and provide brief respites from the challenging moments that motherhood is made up of.
5. Like A Mother, By Angela Garbes
If you like facts, research, and science, then this book is for you.
When Angela Garbes was pregnant, she realized that the information about pregnancy and birth was vague, often conflicting, and too quickly dished out. So, she decided to research the physiology, science, and psychology of pregnancy.
What she created in Like a Mother is an informative piece of work that dives into everything from the importance of breastmilk to the function of the placenta. This book offers expecting mothers an authentic look at the changes happening in their bodies while helping them understand and accept them.
Told with honesty and humor, this book is definitely one to add to the expecting mother’s reading list.
6. Operating Instructions, By Anne Lamott
This gritty and good-natured look at single parenthood will have you laughing and crying. Following the first year of Anne Lamott with her son Sam, it is about a single mother on the surface. But soon after diving into the pages, you will discover a wealth of love, friendship, and identity.
Chronicling those exhausting first months of motherhood, Lamott has a way of describing the highs and lows of the baby phase that any new mom will be able to relate to.
Finding yourself through the exhausted stupor of motherhood is a common issue for new moms, and Lamott tackles it all with a realness that resonates.
7. Motherhood, By Sheila Heti
For a thought-provoking read, Motherhood will leave you with some insightful questions about the choice to become a mother. Women are told they can do it all while still expected to become mothers in today’s world. But what does it mean to become a mother? What part of yourself do you need to lose or give up?
Heti’s story questions why women enter parenthood while delivering a poignant and original perspective on something that is almost a prerequisite for womanhood.
Through an exploration of friendships, relationships, and societal expectations, this novel follows a woman’s struggle to make the right decision on whether or not to become a mother.
8. Bad Mother, By Ayelet Waldman
This controversial book will leave you angry, enthralled, outraged, or intrigued. Or maybe all of them? It is a raw and honest collection of essays about the trials and tribulations of motherhood. Bad Mother looks at the pressure mothers are under to get it right and all the ways they don’t!
Ayelet Waldman is brutally honest about her own experiences, and that is what resonates with readers. She doesn’t hold back when talking about her parenting fears and failures, her mental health struggles, or the near-impossible decision to terminate a pregnancy.
Bad Mother, written with honesty, humor, and infectious enthusiasm for the truth, is a must-read!
9. The Blue Jay’s Dance: A Memoir Of Early Motherhood, By Louise Erdrich
Following the four seasons, this memoir describes the first year of motherhood in exquisite prose. While this is a highly personal story, it has a universal quality that all mothers will relate to.
The enormity of the responsibility of birthing a human, the exhaustion of those early months, and the tension between motherhood and career are explored through writing as beautiful as it is breath-taking. Louise Erdrich manages to wax lyrical about the most challenging year in a mother’s life while still conveying the inner turmoil that most mothers experience.
This story is more beautiful after experiencing that first year more than once, and the tale poignantly reminds mothers that it is a precious time.
10. Motherhood, By Erma Bombeck
This might seem an unlikely choice for this list, but Erma Bombeck is an author that will never go out of style. Although her books are old, her stories are not! She brings every day and the mundane to life with wit and humor, hilariously portraying aspects of motherhood that most overlook.
Looking at all sorts of mothers, Bombek records the highs and lows of one of the most challenging jobs around. Being a mother and juggling all the responsibilities that go with that is an almost impossible task, yet women do it every day.
This collection of stories is an ode to all mothers as they stretch themselves to the breaking point.
11. How To Talk So Kids Will Listen And Listen So Kids Will Talk, By Adele Faber And Elaine Mazlish
Another classic, this book is as relevant today as it was 30 years ago. Written by parenting experts, it is a fantastic guide for creating healthy relationships between parents and kids. The idea of respectful parenting helps parents negotiate the big emotions felt by their little people.
With practical advice and examples, this book offers parents actionable steps to communicate better with their children. Helping them deal with emotions, working on the connection over punishment, and respecting them as their own people are ideas that are as valid, if not more so, today than they were in years past.
This book is a great starting point if you are ready to jump down the respectful parenting rabbit hole.
12. Moms Who Drink And Swear, By Nicole Knepper
This book may not be for everyone, but if it resonates, you will want to re-read it and give it to every mother you know!
Nicole Knepper has a penchant for swearing and enjoying a drink, and this makes her infinitely relatable. Based on her popular blog, this book chronicles the trials of motherhood told in a brutally honest way. The idea that mothers are perfect paragons of virtue has long been perpetuated, and it is exhausting trying to live up to that.
Knepper’s book will make you feel better about every bad mothering moment you have had as she shares her own exploits. She also reminds mothers how important it is to have grace with themselves and a sense of humor.
Motherhood will be a much easier experience if you can laugh at yourself, and this book is a good place to get you laughing.
13. I Just Want To Pee Alone
This is the perfect book for your bathroom when you only have time for some light reading and a laugh! If you are a mom, you know how precious peaceful bathroom breaks are and how seldom they happen. This collection of essays from mom bloggers is a hilarious but honest commentary on what it means to be a mother.
This self-published anthology made the New York Times Bestseller list proving how much stories about motherhood resonate with mothers. Mothering can be lonely, exhausting, and disheartening, and having real moms share their stories is refreshing and appreciated.
Written to inform and entertain, it is the perfect option for a quick laugh on a bad day.
14. We Live For The We, by Dani McClain
If ever there was a book for modern mothers, it is this one.
We Live for the We looks at motherhood from the perspective of a black mother raising children in an unjust world.As global movements gain momentum, this book is vital for all others who want to raise a more conscious generation of kids.
McClain doesn’t just pull on her experiences but talks to mothers involved in social, political, and cultural change movements and organizations struggling with the same questions. How do you raise a child with dignity and knowledge of their self-worth in a world that is inequitable? This and other questions are explored in this powerful book.
15. No Bad Kids, By Janet Lansbury
For those moms wanting to parent in a more gentle, respectful way, Janet Lansbury’s No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame is a must-read!
This book is based on the idea that discipline is about our attitude as parents, not about punishment. Parenting is often based on how our children’s actions trigger us and not on the behavior itself.
This book gives parents tangible steps and examples to implement in their homes to create a more respectful environment. A few of the main points are:
1) Have a predictable environment with realistic expectations
2) Don’t parent with fear and don’t take the behavior personally
3) Respond calmly at the moment
4) Speak in the first person
5) Don’t use time-outs
6) Have natural consequences
7) Don’t discipline your child for their emotions
8) Offer unconditional love
9) No spanking
It is an excellent book for the new mom just stepping into motherhood or the tired mom struggling with a strong-willed child.
Well, I hope you found something on this list that you are excited to dive into. Motherhood can be a magical journey, but that doesn’t mean it is easy.
Often it can feel like you have lost yourself. You lost yourself to school runs, lunch boxes, diapers, legos, and a never-ending request for snacks. But the most amazing thing about motherhood is that through losing yourself in your new role, you often land up finding the woman you were meant to be.
It is wild, messy, and exhausting, but nothing will ever be as rewarding as helping your child become the person they are meant to be. These authors understand the difficulties of motherhood and have created a framework to guide mothers through the most challenging but most joyous experiences of their lives.
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