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Guest post and giveaway: Carol Snow

October 4, 2011

To celebrate the release of her new book, What Came First, Carol Snow was kind enough to write a guest post for me.  I just love this post because it echoes my sentiments exactly.  I think this post should be required reading for parents of small children.


In the mid-nineties, shortly after I learned that I was pregnant with my first child, I – along with every other newly pregnant woman in America – bought a copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Quickly, I discovered that while my child hadn’t even been born yet, I was already an imperfect mother. Sure, I was popping an enormous folic acid pill every morning and keeping my doctor appointments. Yes, I’d given up alcohol and coffee, even though the caffeine withdrawal made my head hurt pretty much all the time.

But there were things I should have been doing that I wasn’t. Like: exercising regularly. And: not eating so damn much. The What to Expect people laid out just how many pounds I could gain each month. By the end of month four, I’d almost hit my quota.

But it’s okay! This was just something I was doing to my own fat self, not my unborn child – and besides, food had never tasted so good.

Eventually, of course, I had the baby, and she was about as easy as a baby could be – which is to say, really difficult. I went from being so hungry to being so tired (though now instead of being fat and pregnant I was merely fat). I traded in What to Expect When You’re Expecting to What to Expect the First Year. It showed me how to change a diaper and how to give a bath. It provided a handy reference for common childhood illnesses. It told me what milestones my daughter should be, might be, or may even be reaching every month – and what I should (no might about it) be doing to help her along.

And so it began – and continued as I moved on to What to Expect the Toddler Years. I did not breast feed long enough! (Though I tried.) I was not feeding my child sufficiently nutritious food! (Because she wouldn’t eat it.) I did not look nearly as calm and emotionally fulfilled as the women in the black-and-white illustrations. (Or as thin.) Couldn’t my daughter sense that? Was that why she remained in parallel play mode long after other children her age were starting to interact? Would she never have friends?

When my daughter was four, I gave birth to a son. This time around, I consulted the books far less. I already knew how to change a diaper, give baths, deal with diarrhea, quiet a tantrum, suction out mucus, and so many other things that no one tells you about when you decide to have a baby. Besides, with one kid in preschool and one in diapers, I didn’t have much time to read. But I checked the book one day when my son was eight months old. Oh my God! He should be rolling over! Was something wrong with him? What should I be doing?

A week later, he rolled over. A month after that, he started walking (which put him into the top five percent “might” category) – and I stopped doing pretty much everything but chasing him around.
Now my kids are sixteen and twelve. They are both taller than me. While I’m well aware that my job as a mother is far from over, they are good kids, happy and well-adjusted, good students with plenty of friends. And I can take credit for all of that.

Ha! Kidding. My husband and I have done all we can to provide love, stability and guidance, but the older my children get, the more I see that they are who they are, and in many respects I am simply lucky that they’ve turned out okay. As guilt-inducing as the What to Expect books could be, they provided comfort through a kind of implicit promise: If you follow these instructions, your kid will be, if not perfect, pretty darn close.

But that’s just not true. There are parents who do everything right, only to end up with a troubled kid, and there are parents who do everything wrong —  apathy, dysfunction, inconsistency, whatever — only to have a kid come just fine. All we can do is love our children and do our best, however imperfect that best may be.


Thanks to the great folks at Penguin, I have two copies of What Came First to give away.  Here’s a little about the book:

Single and career driven Laura decided she didn’t need a man to have a baby—at least not one she’d ever met. Thanks to an anonymous donor, Laura now has Ian: her adorable eight year old son. But Ian asks Laura for something she can’t give him, at least on her own: a sibling. Laura goes on a hunt to find her donor, and winds up connecting with Wendy, a woman who also used the same donor. Their research leads them to Eric: the much younger, biological father whose girlfriend Vanessa is unaware of his past endeavors and is also desperate to have a baby. In a novel that is a true testament to all the delightful, wacky and different types of families, the lives of four strangers are about to come together in an uncanny twist of fate.

To enter to win WHAT CAME FIRST by Carol Snow, simply fill out the entry form.  Contest is open for those with a US address only.  I will use to determine the winners. Contest ends at midnight EST Thursday, October 13, 2011.   Winners will be announced on Friday, October 14, 2011.  Comments are welcome (and appreciated) but will not get you an entry in the contest.

29 Comments leave one →
  1. October 4, 2011 6:33 am

    I really enjoyed this guest post. The book sounds really interesting as well. I’ll have to add it to my wish list.

  2. October 4, 2011 6:43 am

    This induced a chuckle this morning. I was glued to that book too, with my first kid. I know these books are written to help, but they do give a person a huge guilt trip too! It is amazing how you can be a total idiot and these kids still turn out OK. Loved this guest post.

  3. October 4, 2011 6:48 am

    Loved this guest post. I should print it and hand it out to all my young friends.

  4. October 4, 2011 7:22 am

    I loved this guest post. I remember reading that book when I was first pregnant and being very paranoid afterwards. Funny, the next two pregnancies I totally ignored all pregnancy books! Much less worries that way! All three kids turned out great!

  5. October 4, 2011 8:36 am

    This sounds like a really fun book, and it was fun to read the author’s memories!

  6. October 4, 2011 9:06 am

    Hi Kathy,

    What a great guest post, Carol obviously put a great deal of thought into what she wanted to say and she conveyed the message in a fantastic fun and interesting way. She said what everyone else really thinks, but are frightened to say, in case others think badly of them as a parent.

    The book sounds like an emotional read, with probably one or two funny episodes, shame I don’t live in the US, but good luck to everyone who enters, as someone will inherit a great book. Have added this one to my wish list.

  7. October 4, 2011 9:42 am

    I’m totally intrigued. Thanks for the awesome contest B!

  8. October 4, 2011 9:54 am

    What a great guest post!

  9. October 4, 2011 9:57 am

    I loved this post, and have to agree that sometimes the only things that these types of self-help books do is make you feel paranoid that you aren’t doing it right. I agree with Carol that even if you mess up sometimes, that doesn’t guarantee that your child will come out horribly. Thanks for sharing this with us today, and for the great giveaway!

  10. October 4, 2011 10:06 am

    Wonderful guest post, with similar age children I too was faithful to drag out WTEWYE and the rest and either panic or glow in mine or my babies progress. So much more relaxed the second time around. When they are born we just don’t know how they will turn out, a lot of late night prayers and wine does help! Thanks for introducing me to Carol, and for the fabulous giveaway!

  11. October 4, 2011 11:15 am

    I loved the guest post. It sounds like the experience of a lot of young mothers.

  12. October 4, 2011 11:58 am

    Great post. This sounds like a good novel. Thanks ladies!

  13. October 4, 2011 12:24 pm

    Thank heavens we’re only really expected to do the very best we can and keep on keeping on with our kids…WHEW! The book is not usually something I like, but I’m intrigued 🙂

  14. October 4, 2011 12:28 pm

    Carol Snow has her parenting attitude down perfect. I laughed through her guest post. All so true. Now I want to read her book about different kinds of families. I’ll bet her sense of humor comes through there too.

  15. October 4, 2011 2:05 pm

    What a fantastic guest post. Made me choke up a bit!

  16. October 4, 2011 3:55 pm

    Nice post. And the book sounds good, and I have no idea at all what will happen there (always a good thing

  17. October 4, 2011 3:57 pm

    What a great post! I definitely agree with Caroline though I didn’t bother to read the What to Expect books.

  18. holdenj permalink
    October 4, 2011 9:18 pm

    Great post! I am looking forward to her new book.

  19. October 4, 2011 9:47 pm

    What a lovely guest post. I have been thinking a great deal about these questions in parenting, lately. Thanks for the thoughts!

  20. October 4, 2011 10:05 pm

    I loved this post! It’s one of the best guest posts I’ve read here!

  21. October 4, 2011 10:48 pm

    Great guest post! 🙂

  22. October 4, 2011 10:53 pm

    (P.S. I have added your giveaway to my blog’s sidebar.)

  23. October 5, 2011 10:57 am

    I loved this guest post and Carol makes a very good but daunting point about whether or not good, well-adjusted kids come from great, loving paraents. It’s got to be frightening for parents that doing the best you can may not make a difference. My heart always breaks for parents who love and raised their child well and yet the child grew up and went down the wrong road. Hopefully it doesn’t happen often.

    Thank you for the giveaway, Kathy. Carol’s book sounds like an intriguing, enjoyable story!

  24. October 5, 2011 12:03 pm

    Wonderful guest post, and very timely for a fairly new parent like me. Haha! I was better about reading What the Expect When You Are Expecting as I went through my pregnancy than I have been the follow up book. Ideal per the book’s descriptions my life is not. But that’s okay. And I’m okay with it most of the time. Right now my hang up is the whole solid food thing. Talking to friends–and posts like this–remind me that everything isn’t book perfect and that just because it isn’t, doesn’t mean my child will suffer as a result.

  25. October 5, 2011 1:00 pm

    What a wonderful guest post!! I agree with her wholeheartedly. Those books can make you a bit crazy. It is best just to trust your instincts (they are there even if you don’t think they are).

  26. October 5, 2011 5:01 pm

    Really loved this guest post. I agree with her 100% . You could raise 10 children exactly the same way and they will all be their own person with their own individual good and bad qualities.

  27. October 5, 2011 8:43 pm

    I signed up to try to win the book purely on the strength of her blog post. Even the title is good.

  28. October 7, 2011 12:17 pm

    Great post. I have a love/hate relationship with the what to expect books, but they do provide a certain comfort. My best friend from high school and her wife have two kids from the same anonymous donor. I’d love to read this one.

  29. October 8, 2011 9:12 pm

    Love Love Love Carol Snow! I won one of her books – Just Like Me Only Better and laughed myself silly. Going to note this one down since I’ve started collecting her books. Great post and BONJOUR Carol!

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