I discovered Emily’s blog Dear Mama (now Rants in the Dark) thanks to Jolisa Gracewood, who marked her as a blogger to watch in a ‘new media’ session at the Auckland Writers Festival in 2015. I read some of her pieces as soon as I got home, and everything about parenting suddenly made sense. I immediately commented on one of Emily’s blog posts and got seriously the quickest response I’ve ever had: she knows how to build the community she wants to see.
I was delighted to see Emily become the Parenting section editor at The Spinoff, and publish pieces by mamas and dads from all over New Zealand, explaining aspects of their parenting and lives to us all. I’m now divided on whether the Parenting or the Books section is better!
Emily’s parenting philosophy is to let kids be kids, parent with respect, and be kind. But as she says herself ‘This book is an advice-free zone.’ Emily shares the trials and tribulations of parenthood as you’ve rarely seen it before – if there is one takeaway, it is that every child is different. Even within families.
The format of the book is cleverly done, with very short pieces (for checking out on the loo with kids interrupting) interleaved with longer – but not too long, we’re talking sleep-deprived mum length, essays. Some of the essays are serious, like ‘We built a village’, others are more a yawp into the void: see ‘How to get your baby out of a swaddle’ for a cry-laughing moment for an example of this. All of the essays are easy reads for those of us who don’t remember what being a fully functional, sleeping adult feels like any more.
If you are pregnant and wondering just what you are in for (really), grab this book. If you are pregnant and on the terrified side of what you are in for and still hoping everything is going to be like the ante-natal teacher has told you (it might, don’t get me wrong), then um maybe wait a few months. Once you have your bubba, it will all make sense.
Like Emily, I have two boys. I’ll leave you with this: ‘My boys are very delicate and gentle and loud and boisterous and cuddly and angry and delighted and easily upset and resilient and quiet and hilarious and rambunctious.’ Children are wonderful, and so is Emily. Thank you Emily, for being the person who is brave enough to talk about the bits of parenting that other books do not.
Reviewed by Sarah Forster
Rants in the Dark
by Emily Writes
Published by Random House
NB: Emily Writes is doing several events over the coming months. Check out where she will be next here on her website.