What a gift to be given by my colleagues a few days before my maternity leave began! Parenting the shit out of life was the first book I read of 2021, one that I read in the moments where my newborn snoozed away in the Moses basket next to me. I’d never heard of Mother Pukka before, but after reading her book, and her experiences, I’ve had to find her on social media to follow.
Publisher: Hodder and Staughton
More of an autobiography than text book, Mother and Papa Pukka share their perspective on key events leading towards parenthood. It starts with their relationship, and their decision to become parents. Then they discuss the difficulties they experienced in the process of having children, the birth, then navigating the first few years of parenthood.
I read Parenting the shit out of life just after my first baby was born, but I wish I’d read it in the early stages of pregnancy. So much of the text is geared towards managing the fears and experiences of pregnancy that it would have been handy to have read before the birth. The book isn’t a ‘self help guide’ or an ‘information book’ but is an honest recollection of the experiences of a couple, from their own perspectives. It seems that both Mother and Papa decided on a topic to write about for each chapter, then crafted their section without the input of the other. You can clearly see the difference in perspective and opinion from each side.
They discuss the high points of having two daughters, but also address the low points. Both write candidly about the horrors of miscarriage, the struggles of pregnancy, and the fears that surround couples hoping for children. Thankfully, their observations and honesty is supported by fact boxes, diagrams, and advice for the nervous, new parent.
Having Papa Pukka share his experiences was probably the most insightful for me. My partner is notoriously reserved, and although I asked, I’m not sure he ever felt truly comfortable sharing his experience. Reading a man’s perspective on pregnancy, birth, and parenting made me feel as though I understood my own partner a little more. As the birthing parent, it’s easy to get wrapped up in yourself and not consider how the other parent feels at each point.
I’m also a big fan of the strange taxidermy photos at the end of the book – a bit of a surprise, and just my humour.
Parenting the shit out of life is definitely worth a read whether you are pregnant, trying to be, or already have a noisy little human in your life. I think it’s a particularly helpful read for people going through miscarriage, as the experience and aftermath are a focal point of Mother Pukka’s journey towards parenthood.