Jennifer Grant is a savvy mother, writer, and thinker. In her new book MOMumental: Adventures in the Messy Art of Raising a Family (Brentwood, Tenn.: Worthy Publishing, 2012) her acute observations of life, and descriptions of how events trigger a string of meaning in her mind, are consistently a cut above.
Sort of like kettle corn: “a healthy balance of sweet and salty, crunchy and soft”—one of Jennifer’s favorite metaphors—MOMumental strikes a delightful balance.
Early on, the reader is introduced to the concept of “fledge words”—words such as Yes! (with its beginning letter Y) that reaches up “toward heaven, seemingly taking wing to the Most High” ... words that “make our spirits rejoice and stretch toward God” (p. 22). “Fledge” means to be capable of, or to have the feathers required, for flying. These are words that we love to be able to say to other family members—words that affirm relationship and connect us joyfully: “Of course! So be it!”
But Jennifer is also clear that moms can’t always offer a Yes to life’s situations. “Then there’s no. No is the lines in your datebook, the hands of the clock, the entries in your check register. No is a door closing, a disapproving shake of the head, a frown.” But sometimes no is necessary, as responsible moms know, to keep kids from making bad decisions and hurting themselves.
Jennifer, a wife and mother of four children aged 10, 12, 13, and 15, who lives in suburban Chicago, tells of recently driving home at the end of the day and observing two motorcyclists moving in opposite directions. She noticed that they raised their hands in salute to each other as they passed—seemingly just because they were both riding on cycles. “I occurred to me,” she writes, that “in a perfect world, we mothers should do the same. As we pass each other in our minivans ... we should make eye contact, raise our hands, and wave” just to indicate solidarity—that we see each other and are also on the motherhood journey. I agree!
Some of you younger mothers will relate to particulars in the book better than I do—chemical-injected Funky Blue Fries, for instance, weren’t a temptation in the years I was raising children! Her reflections on engagement with and cautions concerning popular culture are invaluable and timely, as are her thoughts on playing AND praying.
MOMumental includes (among other fun “extras”) a test to determine your level of Mommy Burnout—when you might be in need of a getaway with friends. There is a quiz to take on how long it requires for kids to develop empathy. And admonition on the importance of families sharing meals.
By turns witty, fresh, accessibly literary, and solidly practical, MOMumental shows that this mom knows the ropes—and also how to convey depth and quality in her subject matter, in artful and concise ways. Hardly surprising; in fact, Jennifer Grant also writes features for the Chicago Tribune and contributes to her.meneutics, Christianity Today magazine’s blog for women. Her first book, Love You More (2011), tells of the family’s adopting a fifteen-month-old girl from Guatemala when they already had three young children.
I believe you’ll find Jennifer to be—as I did—fun, thoughtful, and immensely likable, and her book to be a MOMumental achievement.
Isabel Anders’ latest book is Spinning Straw, Weaving Gold: A Tapestry of Mother-Daughter Wisdom.
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