Book: What I Know Now, Edited by Ellyn Spragins
Date Read: February 24 to 28, 2021
Rating: 3 (of 5) stars
My Mom is the kind of person who likes to give something meaningful for special occasions. Not for every occasion, but for those moments and accomplishments that require a pause and recognition. She is also a sucker for inspirational stories and Hallmark store wisdom. This book is a little bit of both. She gave it to me in 2009, when I completed my undergraduate degree in Psychology from University of Michigan and was preparing to begin graduate school at University of Detroit Mercy. I know I glanced through it then, but did not read it through. When prompted to choose a book that I received for a special occasion, this was an obvious choice.
This book consists of a series of letters written by notable and successful women to a younger version of themselves. I really like the concept behind the book, but something about it fell a little short for me. Each of the letters was fairly brief, which was a nice pace for reading, but made each one feel a little like it was meant for others to read, not actually for a younger version of themselves. I did not feel like any of the letters really resonated for me—some of this may because of when in my life I chose to read it, but I also felt that some of the advice given was either very specific to a situation or very generic.
There was a trend in some of the advice that I have some mixed feelings toward as well. Many of the women talked about the balance of career and motherhood. While I am 100% behind what I feel like the point was meant to be—that it is possible to be successful and be a good mom—I did not feel like this was put forward as clearly as it could (or should) have been. The primary advice given was that each woman who put a pause on their career to start a family had no regrets. That sounds great, but not really realistic advice for most women who need to continue working to support their families. There was some advice on the other side of that as well: women who continued to work while starting a family, who said that their sacrifices were worth it in the end. While I’m sure either could be helpful advice, I still felt like it was suggested that it is preferable for women to choose one or the other, whether its necessary or not. I would have also liked to hear something from the third and less often spoken perspective: motherhood is not for everyone, and that’s okay too.
Boris’s Thoughts: “I’ll follow your lead on this one and add that while motherhood is not for everyone, cat motherhood should be. 2 paws.”