Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Struggle is Real: My Reading Woes as a Mama of Littles

Stop me if you've heard this one.

Growing up, calling me a book worm was probably a little too tame. I was more of a "book boa constrictor." I devoured as many books as possible. I spent my summer days pouring through stacks of library books half as tall as me, until my mom sent me outside for fresh air and sunshine in the afternoon. My cousins, on more than one occasion, hid my book from me to force me to interact with real, actual humans. 

And, in part because I read so voraciously, and in part because of my mom's guidance, I read a good mix of quality fiction, a little nonfiction, and the Baby Sitters Club (and other cotton candy books). 

All the way through law school, I read for pleasure as much as I could. I had learned to not start a novel the week before finals. I can proudly say that there is only one book from all my years of education that I didn't (at least) skim -- Walden -- which I keep meaning to pick up again. I suspect I'd have much deeper appreciation for it now than my too-cool-for-nature teenage self. 

When I was teaching English, I didn't read for pleasure nearly as much as I would have liked, but that part of me still felt fulfilled, as I spent hours dissecting reading to prepare for class. Plus, when I did read, I had a great excuse for reading fluffy YA material: I wanted to read what my kids were reading (and using for book reports). 

Then came the babies. Since Clare was born, reading has been at a pretty predictable ebb and flow. It goes like this: I don't read books for too long. I find myself spending too much time doing that idle web browsing of nothingness that is not so much not-fulfilling as soul-sucking, so I pick up an easy read. I tear through it. So I pick up another, and find myself tearing through four or five books of little substance. 

Great! I have my reading groove back!

With that feeling, I pick up a weightier book. A classic. Something that's really worth reading. And while I enjoy it, I need to give the book a little more attention: I can't read in 3 minute spurts before another Angelina Ballerina book is thrown at me as a little bug climbs into my lap. And don't get me wrong -- I love reading to my kids (mostly!), and I love that they love books as much as I do -- it's just that those little spurts make it hard for me to do much by way of quality book reading. So, I stall out on page 57, and since I'm "reading" that book, I go a few weeks before I pick up something light and start the process all over. 

I don't mind reading fluff, but I don't like how little non-fluff I've been working into my diet.

This year (starting yesterday when I finalized this resolution), I'm going to try a couple of new things, and I'm recording them, because it helps when I say stuff "out loud."

1. I'm not going to feel bad if I read mostly fluff. Reading fluff is better for me all around than non-fluff.

2. I'm giving myself permission to buy a few books. I'm not blowing the budget on books (which I easily could), but I'm buying more than I have in the last 5 years.

3. I'm reading real books. I think eReaders and eReading apps are great for certain seasons, but when I'm reading on a device, I'm distracted by all the other junk on my phone and don't read as much, or with as much focus. 

4. I've chosen one book (Kristin Lavransdatter), as the book that I'm going to focus on as my "quality book" when I'm wanting to read better something better. I'm not, though, putting pressure on myself to finish it before I start something different. It's a long book. I'm not even putting pressure on myself to finish it this year. 

5. I'm getting back to spending my morning quiet time doing spiritual reading -- either Scripture or a religious book. I was doing really well until Christmas then . . . too much feasting, not enough praying.

So that's it. That's my reading plan. For now. We'll see how it goes.

1 comment:

  1. Hahahaa...your childhood sounds just like mine. Baby-Sitters Club? Yes please!! Unfortunately, I never did develop a love for the more substantial reading, but I can understand where you're coming from here. No little ones at home (for the next few weeks anyway, haha) yet but TV/social media is the worst distraction for me. I read 4 books since December 18th (mostly because of a 16 hour road trip, twice) and I'm trying to make a better habit of retiring to the bed a little earlier than my husband just so I can get 20 minutes of reading in or something. I wonder if having a newborn will help or hurt that goal? LOL!


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