While nothing can substitute for the listening ear of a sympathetic girlfriend, diving into a book about motherhood is definitely the next best thing (especially if you simultaneously hop into the tub while enjoying the book in question!) Here, in honor of Mother's Day, is a list of a dozen books about motherhood that are quite simply not to be missed. Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year by Anne Lamott (Ballantine Books, paperback, 272 pages, $12.95).
Anne Lamott was one of the pioneers of the genre that is now known of the momoir -- the "mom memoir" -- and few authors are capable of carrying off the momoir with quite the same finesse as she does. If you haven't discovered this wonderful writer yet, you're in for a treat. Make Operating Instructions your Mother's Day gift to yourself!
Mother Shock: Loving Every (Other) Minute of It: Tales from the First Year and Beyond by Andrea J. Buchanan (Seal Press, paperback, 234 pages, $14.95).
"Imagine you have just moved to a foreign country. You have the worst case of jet lag ever." These are the opening lines of Andrea J. Buchanan's fabulously honest (and often hilarious) account of her own time in the motherhood trenches. She's not afraid to dish the dirt on the evil advice givers who are waiting to bombard you at every turn, separation anxiety (she's talking about mom's in this case -- not baby's!), and the hell that is sleep deprivation.
It Could Happen to You: Diary of a Pregnancy and Beyond by Martha Brockenbrough (Andrews McMeel Publishing, paperback, 272 pages, $12.95)
Martha Brockenbrough takes a definite "tell all" approach in her pregnancy memoir -- with often hilarious results. You learn, for example, that she took to mail ordering pregnancy tests off the Internet because she didn't want to give the folks at the local drugstore any fodder for the gossip mill. And that she and her husband got the giggles in childbirth class when it came time to watch the childbirth videos.
Pregnancy Stories: Real Women Share the Joys, Fears, Thrills, and Anxieties of Pregnancy from Conception to Birth by Cecelia A. Cancellaro (New Harbinger Publications Inc., paperback, 243 pages, $14.95)
Find yourself drawn to the real-life stories of other moms? You'll love this book. Cecelia Cancellaro has assembled a collection of stories that depict the full range of pregnancy experiences -- joyful, funny, and bittersweet.
Celebrating Motherhood: A Comforting Companion for Every Expecting Mother by Andrea Alban Gosline and Lisa Burnett Bossi with Ame Mahler Beanland (Conari Press, paperback, 299 pages, $15.95).
Celebrating Motherhood is an incredibly beautiful pregnancy gift book. It consists of line drawings, photography, poetry and musings about motherhood that are designed to be enjoyed by the mother-to-be over the course of her pregnancy. The book is organized around nine pregnancy-related themes: Anticipate, Flourish, Nurture, Wonder, Voice, Stand, Listen, Envision and Embrace.
The Pregnant Woman's Companion: Nine Strategies that Work to Keep Your Peace of Mind Through Pregnancy and into Parenthood by Christine D'Amico with contributions from Margaret A Taylor (Attitude Press, paperback, 244 pages, $14.95).
Life coach D'Amico has created a comprehensive program designed to help pregnant women work through the psychological challenges of pregnancy and prepare for motherhood. The book is practical and reassuring and contains leads on other helpful resources that may be of interest to moms-to-be.
The Pregnant Woman's Comfort Book: A Self-Nurturing Guide to Your Emotional Well-Being During Pregnancy and Early Motherhood by Jennifer Louden (HarperCollins, paperback, 240 pages, $16.95)
The Pregnant Woman's Comfort Book covers such helpful turf as accepting the bodily changes of pregnancy, dealing with your changing your relationship with your partner, dealing with the physical and emotional challenges of pregnancy, and getting psyched for life in your post-baby universe.
Mother Nurture: A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships by Rick Hanson, PhD, Jan Hanson, and Ricki Pollycove, MD (Penguin Books, paperback, 372 pages, $15).
Feel like you're running on empty? You're not alone. In fact, this condition is so common that it's actually got its own name -- Depleted Mother Syndrome. And if you want to know what you can do to combat Depleted Mother Syndrome, treat Mother Nurture as required reading. It's the most comprehensive book that you'll find on this incredibly important subject.
The Mother's Book of Well-Being: Caring for Yourself So You Can Care for Your Baby by Lisa Groen Braner (Conari Press, paperback, 181 pages, $15.95).
The Mother's Book of Well-Being consists of 52 essays about motherhood. The book -- which addresses such topics as body image, coping with sleep deprivation and finding time to connect with your partner after baby -- is designed to carry a woman through the first year of motherhood.
Braner's tone is consistently reassuring and inspiring: "Adjusting to motherhood is a little like moving to a new town," she writes. "It will take a while to feel at home here, but be patient. Slowly, you'll become familiar again with your new surroundings."
The New Mom's Companion: Care for Yourself While You Care for Your Newborn by Debra Gilbert Rosenberg with Mary Susan Miller, PhD (Sourcebooks, paperback, 304 pages, $13.95)
The New Mom's Companion offers practical advice on coping with the physical, emotional and relationship changes that accompany the birth of a baby, while offering practical tips on balancing work and family and otherwise organizing your life.
The Mother Dance: How Children Change Your Life by Harriet Lerner, PhD (Harper Collins, paperback, 317 pages, $14)
A collection of reflective essays on motherhood by psychologist Harriet Lerner, the bestselling author of The Dance of Anger, the focus of the book is how motherhood transforms a woman and her relationships. The book is lively and funny, but really makes you think. An excellent choice for your mommy book club!
The Complete Single Mother: Reassuring Answers to Your Most Challenging Concerns by Andrea Engber and Leah Klungness, PhD (Adams Media, paperback, 423 pages, $12.95)
Single moms sometimes complain -- and often rightly so -- that mainstream mothering guides frequently leave them in the lurch by assuming that every mom is a married mom. The Complete Single Mother zeroes in on the unique challenges faced by single moms. The result is a fabulously comprehensive must-read guide for single moms.