Last year sometime I was gifted with a copy of Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson's book Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe. It was a kind gesture as I was feeling rather strained during the time period in which Bookworm4 was becoming part of the family. All the same, I set the book aside for a bit because I have a weird relationship with Sally Clarkson books and didn't want to dabble in it then. Clarkson's manner of speech can frequently grate on my nerves (I confess it) as I'm anti-nickname in general (e.g., "sweet one" or "dear heart"). I frequently feel like she's dismissing me and my frustrations when she repeatedly calls me (the reader) a sweet one; the major problem being that I typically don't feel very sweet. I mostly just feel like I want to get to the point.
As I said, this book has been sitting on my shelf for a good year at least when finally, within these last few weeks, I began to feel a certain sense of, shall we say?, desperation in my mothering journey. ("Coincidentally", my feelings of desperation directly coincided with our launch into the new school year. But I digress . . . ) I jerked the book off the shelf, crawled into bed (not quite burying my head under the covers because I needed light to see the pages) and began to read. Words I had previously resisted hearing became like a hard driving rain on a dry and weary land. Suddenly every single word that authors Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson had written down were filled with great meaning and I identified completely, soaking up all of the encouragement that they meant to offer.
Eventually though I had to get out of bed again and live life with my family. This was a moderately challenging prospect but as is so often the case, after a good night's sleep and a good round of frustrated primal yells (ahem), life begins to improve. The desperate feeling subsides. The need to read the book felt like it was diminishing and then I found myself back with the Sally Clarkson that I'm used to. Being "deared" and "sweeted" began chaffing again, even though I know she means to be affectionate and loving. I'm left to think that my attitude towards Sally Clarkson is jaded and unfair. When I'm in need of great kindness and encouragement, she completely hits the spot. When I'm feeling alright I'd rather not read her. But that's me and definitely not her. It's my bad, if there is a bad. When your mothering soul is dry, Sally Clarkson is standing at the ready to fill your heart with positivity, launching you, once again, back on your journey. There's something to be grateful for in that, to be sure!
As the subtitle of the book suggests, this book is all about offering drowning mothers hope and courage to keep on keeping on. Sarah Mae is a younger mother who begins each chapter with a letter to Sally explaining her feelings of the moment and then offers her words of wisdom to the readers. Sally enters in about halfway through each chapter with her response to what Sarah Mae has shared, as well as wisdom and insight of her own. It's an interesting layout and you have the benefit of two voices communicating certain truths instead of one.
Although it's true that in a multitude of counselors there is safety, in the case of this book I would really have preferred to hear only one voice - that of Sally. The "problem" I have with Sarah Mae as an author is one that many others would probably ignore. Chiefly, I object to her age and lack of experience. At the time she wrote this book (2014), Sarah Mae's oldest child was six years old. Her youngest was three. While I do understand that her heart is to encourage mothers who are feeling weary in the journey, I find it a little hard to take from someone who is behind me in the mothering race. Not to say that people who have less experience parenting have nothing to share with me because that is absolutely not so. However, my personality, (and I think wisdom dictates this too), is one who is very careful and selective about who I go to for advice and counsel. When I seek someone out and ask for their help and/or opinion, it is with a remarkably determined intention to take whatever counsel they offer. Because of this, I tend to seek out people who are ahead of me in the game and who I have witnessed to have a proven track record in some regard or another. If I have a problem with my parenting (which I occassionally do, believe it or not!) I want to know that the advice I'm going to receive has been tested and tried. I didn't feel that much experiential wisdom was offered by Sarah Mae, although I would not for a second deny that she has wisdom. Personally, I wouldn't even think about writing a book at this stage of my life and I don't tend to seek out those who feel the need to talk before walking the walk, if that makes sense. It's nothing against Sarah Mae as a person, per see. It's about her age and level of experience. I also confess that it didn't help when she started talking about wanting to adopt and expressed her flowery feelings to that end. Having adopted - three times now - I see the subject more deeply and feel it more intensely than she does and I just couldn't take her seriously.
Now, this issue of age and experience might not bother you like it did me. I wouldn't tell people not to read the book because it serves a useful purpose. I did appreciate the parts in which Sally Clarkson was doing the talking so I didn't chalk the read up to a total waste. At the same time, I also didn't mark down any passages that particularly stood out to me as being amazing. Generally speaking,this title is good on generic hope and encouragement. There's nothing wrong with that but it won't be one of those titles which I feel I have a good chance of re-reading.
In the end, did I find it helpful? Well, I did get out of bed and I have kept my feet moving forward. But I'm still looking for a book on mothering to read alongside my Bible reading which will hit me where it really hurts and bring about some deep thought and conviction, and not just inspiration for a new day, if that makes sense. I kind of feel like Desperate was a bandaid when what I really needed was surgery. This daily dying to self thing and laying all of one's burdens at the cross is no joke. Necessary! But no joke. I feel like my feed are shuffling through some mud at the moment but I do know that God can and does use everything beautifully in His perfect time. Hard times are but for a moment and so we press on in that mothering goal, seeking to be the best mothers we could possibly be, correct? That's where I'm at.