Monday, August 13, 2012
Authors: Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Aubery, & Nancy Mitchell
Series: Chicken Soup #28,398 (joking) (mostly)
Publisher: HCI, 2000
Source: Personal Copy
Read for: Fun
Guys, I have a confession to make. I absolutely love the Chicken Soup books. The first one I ever read was Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul, when I was about ten. When I was younger I read absolutely everything in the house, regardless of how appropriate it was for me, and my mom had a copy of this book. For reasons I no longer recall, I absolutely devoured it and read it multiple times. I actually did that a lot with self-help books when I was a little kid. Hmmm, what does that say about me...? Haha. Anyway, in future years I acquired many other Chicken Soup books, including and especially the Teen Soul ones when I was in high school. After high school, I more or less forgot about them. But one day, I saw that the Kindle Daily Deal was over 100 Chicken Soup books for under $2.00 each and I decided I wanted some. I had just found out that I was pregnant, and was also in nursing school, so I ended up buying this one and Chicken Soup for the Nurse's Soul.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the Chicken Soup series (what rock did you grow up under? Just kidding) they are compiled from inspirational stories that readers send in. They are meant to comfort and soothe the soul, like chicken soup when you are feeling sick. They are, in a word, the essential comfort read. Now, I know that these stories are cheesy and mockable. I mock myself for loving them so much. But, romantic, idealistic person that I am, they still strike a chord. And when you add pregnancy to a romantic, idealistic person, you get much weepage and loving of books like this.
I mostly enjoyed this book. There were several stories that struck a chord with me, that mirrored the experiences I have been having as an "Expectant Mother." I've spent a decent portion of my pregnancy alone because my husband was at boot camp and I was extremely busy with school, so it was nice to read some things that I could relate to. There were also some stories that, while touching, didn't move me as much because they were a different situation. Probably about a third of the stories involved adoption. I think this is really, really cool -- there were some absolutely amazing stories -- but I still would have liked more about actually being pregnant, because that is the experience I have been having. And I would imagine adoptive mothers probably wouldn't think to turn to this book, themselves, because the majority of the stories are about pregnancy. So I would think maybe a better way to have dealt with this book would have been to write a Chicken Soup for the Pregnant Woman's Soul and Chicken Soup for the Adoptive Mother's Soul or something like that. But it still worked.
The other slight quibble I have with the book is that there were several stories and poems along the lines of, "You have no idea how hard motherhood is going to be and what you are getting yourself into." I feel like this is something people feel compelled to say to pregnant women, and I think it is not the best message to send. My pregnancy was expected and planned, but it is still pretty terrifying to face the prospect of being responsible for a human life. And I feel like I am fully aware that it will be difficult, although the exact ways in which it will be difficult are not something I have yet experienced (although taking care of the 18 month old to 3 year old kids at church has given me a few scary glimpses, haha). I don't need to be further freaked out by being reminded, "You have no idea how hard this is going to be." So I didn't love that section of the book.
But all in all, there were plenty of feel-good stories and tear-jerkers. I also love the comics that are always mixed into the Chicken Soup books -- sometimes I go through the books and just look at all the comics. While Chicken Soup for the Expectant Mother's Soul had some elements that I probably would have left out or changed had I been the editor, it was a decent read and I will probably revisit it the next time I am pregnant.
Warnings: You may be compelled to weep, especially with pregnancy hormones raging in your body. If you are a cynical type of person, you may be more compelled to vomit. You may also be compelled to feel stress when they reiterate for the ten billionth time that you have no idea how hard motherhood is going to be and that there is no way to prepare for it.