Monday, August 1, 2011

How I Am Reading This Book

For a long time, I have meant to read Mortimer Adler's How to Read a Book. (I just put it on hold at my library a few days ago.) For some reason, I always think of this book when I hear people's allusions to the notes they make (or find) in a book they are reading. Until I heard of this book (in an article about something like, oh, how one should read books) the idea of marking up a book was alien to me. Write in a book? Maybe a school textbook, but my precious other books, which I value so much I buy my own copy instead of borrowing them from the library? Ruinous! But if a textbook, then why not other books? Especially the ones you want to process more deeply, the ones you know you will revisit, the ones you want to keep learning from? I began to acknowledge the value of interacting with a book in a more tangible manner.

And so--into the shallows--my first experiment with book-marking (my yet-to-occur date with Mortimer Adler notwithstanding) is 10 Habits of Happy Mothers.

I intended to read this book from the library first and buy it later, maybe. But I got impatient with the ILL rules and just bought it so I could have it for Elizabeth's ongoing study. And gradually, as I read the first chapter and found this or that passage jumping out to say something to me, I began to think, "Well, you bought it to study. Why not?" I got a sharp pencil and, very lightly, started underlining things.

***

Thursdays are Elizabeth's 10 Habits for Happy Mothers days. The first Thursday I was already behind. Thursday after that I was having a baby. Last Thursday I was still too busy to play catch up, so I think that now, rather than try to discuss a whole chapter in a post, (although do drop in at Elizabeth's and join the conversation,) I'd share with you some of the pieces I underlined. That all by itself can reveal something of a person's mind, don't you think? Sort of like a favorite poem or proverb or song.

If you are reading the book, or have read it, what is a part of Habit 1 that spoke to you?

***

And believe it or not, they need to see us do the menial, boring chores for them because, while these feel trite to us, they communicate to our kids that when it comes to caring for them, no task is unimportant. Our value to our kids is that they need us--to do the big stuff for them and the small stuff, too. (p. 5)

~

I have literally read the value that you hold in your kids' lives, allover their faces and through their body language. When you walk into a room, your son changes immediately... Your mood changes his world a bit. If you are in a good mood, he can relax and play with his trucks. If you are upset with him, he wants to make up (he may not show it, but he does) because you are the center of his small world. He needs you to like him again. You. No one else. Because once you are happy with him, he can go about his business and life will feel good again. He can focus at school, get his homework done, and pay attention during his basketball game. That is the power that you have and that power comes from the fact that in this one child's life--your child's life--who you are matters as much as life itself. You are loved. (p. 6)

~

Why even wonder what we're good at when we don't have time to do what's expected of us already? Isn't this an exercise in frustration? No, because each of our gifts doesn't need to be used at this moment... We lose sight of of deeper purpose in life--to raise good kids and use our strengths to better the lives of others, over the course of our lifetimes. (p. 12)

~

"[My mother] said that her number one job was being a good mom. And because she wanted to be a good mom, she felt that she needed to teach us how to make a difference in someone's life. She taught us by living it out. And that changed me." (p. 17)

~

"I believe that when you love the life you're supposed to be living and you happen on fulfilling the deep meaning of your life, it works. The energy comes, you get bolder, and you live less fearfully. I have friends back home who tell me I'm crazy. I'm too old. or I'll have a heart attack. I feel sorry for them because they don't really get what life's all about." (p. 18)

~

We mothers are indispensable to our kids because no one can teach them how to love, empathize, nurture, or value others like we can. No one. And when it comes to teaching them how to love and value themselves, we are the ones with the greatest power to impart these profound and necessary truths to them. (p. 18)


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