An Anthology of Babes - Book Review

"I almost never feel like I have ample time to indulge in my creative impulses and ideas. Nevertheless, I just keep making art anyway."

- Lori Landau, An Anthology of Babes, p. 25

"I'd always sensed [my mom] had felt caged and yearned for a deeper connection to a more earthly spiritual god; something deemed holy yet outside of rules and ritual."

- Monica Devine, An Anthology of Babes, p. 45

"The truth is I'm deeply tired. I haven't felt fully rested since I became a mom...my mind is cluttered with...full-catastrophe living."

- Lori Landau, An Anthology of Babes, p. 97

"Excuse the mess, but we live here...My sense of how to juggle everything is constantly changing."

- Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser, An Anthology of Babes, p. 102

"We've crossed the threshold from all right to not all right...Everything bad and irresponsible I have ever done looms over me like a nasty bully in the alley of shame. Four days into motherhood and I am a complete failure."

- Jenny Laird, An Anthology of Babes, p. 111

Yesterday a mom asked me, "So how is it having lots of kids? I mean, I know you love them all, but are you glad you had so many?"

I looked at her, laughed, and then sober-faced I replied, "It's hard."

Recently, Suzi Banks Baum sent me a copy of An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice. Suzi is the editor and collaborator for this book. She also writes for her own site Laundry Line Divine.

I finished reading this book the day before Mother's Day, and thought it would be a timely chance to review it.

The cover has a sort of matte slick finish that feels delightful in my hands. It begins with an introduction about riding a bus with these 36 women who contributed essays and art for the book. The idea being that I get a chance to sit in a seat with each of the women, hearing their take on what it means to be maternal as well as partaking of their visual creations.

Some of the women "I sat with on the bus" I connected better with than others. I wanted to hear more from certain moms and less from others, but as I read it all and stepped back to get an overarching view of the book, I came to appreciate that there are so many different voices, weighing in on so many different approaches to being a mom. This makes this book an inspiration to all women. And you know what else? Seeing this wide arching view of all the things that make up motherhood, why it makes me feel sane. It's not an easy undertaking.

In the book you'll find:

  • Moms that are concerned with nutrition and homesteading.
  • Moms that have regrets and moms that don't.
  • Moms that didn't birth children traditionally, but rather used their maternal instincts to birth books, art, and creativity in themselves and other women.
  • Moms with adopted children.
  • Single moms.
  • Moms of babies and moms of teenagers and moms of grandkids.
  • Moms that couldn't survive without creating art.
  • Moms that found they needed to take a break from creating.
  • Moms that found deep friendship in connecting to other women.

Various other topics are touched on including beauty, loneliness, fear, time management, celebrations, sanity, death, family strife, faith, illness, art therapy, etc.

The essays are short, making this easily a book a tired or frazzled or busy mother could read a chapter from a day.

The majority of essays in this book touch on artistic expression and how mothers choose to weave this into their lives. There is beautiful black and white art scattered throughout the book. It's the most profound book I've seen for Mother-Artists. It's not a practical book with how-to's as much as it is a book touching a raw nerve, that nerve that makes us Momma-Artists feel a little crazy as we walk the edge.

The book is raw and gritty, real women writing on the real messes and emotions that accompany being a mother.

There are biographies of each of the contributing artists/writers included, so if you particularly connect with a certain woman's voice, you can find more she has created.

I think it would make a perfect gift for a baby shower. But it's also the kind of book you send to the dear kindred mommas in your life when they feel like they're losing themselves in the midst of mothering and longing for permission to artistically express their wavering emotions and the messiness of it all.

You can purchase the book HERE.