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Parenting, Warts and All

Book Review
Is it bedtime yet?  by Emily Writes (Penguin Random House, $35)
Reviewed by Justine McLeary

emily_writes_webIf you’re looking for a parenting book that spouts generic pearls about parenting and classifies every part of it into sections as if raising children is a clear-cut job, this is not it.

No, this book is honest. It exposes parenting in all its glory, despair and guilt. It gives you the good, the bad and the ugly, and that’s refreshing since, with parenting – as anyone doing the job will know – there’s a lot of all three.

Author Emily Writes shares in brutal, honest detail how tired raising two young boys makes her, and about how sometimes she really doesn’t like her children. Her musings are interspersed with stories from other Kiwi parents. These touch on various topics including passing on culture to fatherhood, throwing a successful birthday party and how to handle a screaming toddler in a supermarket when everyone is staring at you. It’s real.

Books don’t often make me laugh out loud, but this one did because, being a mother of two myself and having survived the baby, toddler and pre-school years, I can relate to every tale. Ever had a baby poo, wee and vomit at the same time? Tick. Been so tired you forgot you hadn’t started the car and wondered why you couldn’t reverse? Yep, been there. Cried with pride and overwhelming love when your firstborn took his first steps into your arms, or danced on stage in his first production, or won his first award? I’ve done that too.

The only bad thing about this book is that I didn’t find it when I was in the thick of those early years. Parenting can be isolating, and it’d have been wonderful to have had Emily’s writings to help me through those times.

Christchurch-based Emily is quite the superwoman. She juggles various roles that give her a rich source of writing material, just in case her sons don’t provide enough. Her book-writing career originated as a blog; her first post in March 2015 reached more than one million people in just a few days. Her experience includes writing a parenting column in The New Zealand Herald and New Zealand Woman’s Weekly. She’s also written for Metro magazine and edits The Spinoff Parents. Her first book, Rants in the Dark, was a bestseller. Is it Bedtime Yet? is her second book.

But wait, there’s more. Emily is the founder and manager of Ballet is for Everyone, a not-for-profit/volunteer-run charity that provides free ballet lessons for children from low-income homes and/or with disabilities and high health needs. She volunteers for Plunket and Mother’s Network, advocates for children’s and women’s rights, runs The Lighthouse events for mothers and has a popular podcast called Dear Mamas. And she still manages to churn out an entertaining book like this every now and then.

I’m impressed. I can’t wait to see what she’ll do next.