Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Bringing Up Bebe: What to take and what to leave behind

During a book walk* around the neighborhood, I picked up a copy of Bringing Up Bebe. It's a book I had heard about but since it came out well before I was thinking about babies, it didn't really make it on my radar. But now that I have one of those, it is of more interest. Except I am still finding my time to sit and read is minimal so even though I now HAVE a copy of this book just sitting on my bookshelf, I still took out an audiobook copy from the library. 

I'm sure I missed whatever drama happened around the book when it came out (because it's a book about parenting so of course there was drama) but here's my takeaway.

Good/useful information
Patience is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced and you don't have to make motherhood your entire identity

Those are good things to keep in mind and I certainly didn't think of patience as something you learn and have to work out, so hey, something to try in my own life. 

I also like the idea that trying different food and eating together for regularly, very scheduled meals is just something everyone does and so the children do it and meal times are in general easier. This is appealing to me right now since I'm pretty sure my monster subsists on energy he pulls from the air since he hardly seems to eat, but it would be nice if he ate everything like he used to do.


There are also a lot of bits of this book that I was not crazy about. 

The book purports to be about what American moms do (wrong) and what French moms do (right). But this is a VERY narrow window mostly looking at upper-middle-class Park Slope/Tribeca moms and upper-middle-class Parisian moms. (Sorry, I don't know stereotypes about the types of people in different Paris neighborhoods/arrondissements like I do NYC stereotypes, but I read another review that referred to them as "bobos" as in bourgeois bohemian moms so go with that.) Her section about daycare is really focused on how Americans distrust daycare and focus on mom's that have the option to use other forms of childcare (such as a nanny or not working at all). She allllllmost makes an interesting point about how so much of the childcare in France is subsidized and not so much in the US and perhaps that's an area to explore. But no. Instead there is a line about how expensive daycare is and she assures the readers that "it's not just the well-off who are overwhelmed by childcare costs." That is a direct quote as I stopped what I was doing to write it down as soon as I heard it because WHAT???

The fat-shaming. It's exhausting and comes up over and over and over again. At a fairly early point she talks about how a mom friend was making cupcakes but saw them as something for kids and thus didn't have one herself. And also did not offer the author one, on the assumption she (the author) viewed them the same way. The author then says (I'm paraphrasing since I don't feel like finding the direct quote in the book, but instead was going by what I heard from the audiobook) "My mother, for all her great qualities, never turned down a cupcake." And then I was happy my son was not in the car with me, since I blurted out "OMG just have the fucking cupcake."

The book is also light on data. Maybe if this was treated more like a memoir (which I suppose it semi-is) this would be less of an issue. And this may not be an issue for most people (although I do encourage you to question the broad generalizations without the data behind them), but since my fav pregnancy and early-childhood books were ALL ABOUT THE DATA, I'm skeptical of any advice books that lack this. 

So there you go. A lot of this book was a leave it for me but there were moments. Let's see how good the goblin can get at waiting.

Also hey, an actual review. Would you look at that? 

*Everyone participating puts out any books they no longer want on their front porch or wherever and people walk around and take what they want. You get to clear out some old stuff and you get new books. Wins all around.