Friday, September 22, 2006

Book Review: Take Ten

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Take Ten: Meditations for the Hurried Parent is a charming collection by Utah mother-writer Robin Lynn Pratt. Each of the book's thirteen essays can stand on its own and is brief enough to enjoy over a quick cup of coffee. I read the book in brief bites, tasty morsels really, and found that Pratt's words reflections on mothering and being mothered stayed with me throughout the day.

In the “Quiet and the Chaos” she reflects on the deafening quiet her boys as they grow up and quiet down. Gone are noisy toddlers and active young boys. She writes, "Remembering the days of constant motion may provide a source of warmth" when her nest finally empties. Even as I sweep up the latest round of crumbs, I am prone to fits of nostalgia. This doesn’t make me approach the task any more enthusiastically, but I can feel my future self missing my present self; Pratt captures this feeling well.

I laughed with recognition at “Treasure Boxes” about her six year-old pack rat who retrieves special items- like yogurt lids- from the trash to add to his growing collections. “I briefly considered dumping this stack in the outside garbage. I was sure he wouldn’t even notice. Pretty sure. But then I felt guilty.” Like me, Pratt ultimately cannot deny her son his crap, because years from now these items may truly be a treasure in the form of special childhood memories.

I love a good back-to-work story and Pratt’s did not disappoint. In “The Plan” she recalls crash landing into the world of stay-at-home mothers after a childcare crisis with her boys, then two and four. She recounts her plans to return to work when the youngest is in first grade and, well, you know what they say about the best laid plans. I’d share more of my many favorites, but this is a small collection and I’ don’t want to give it all away. The book’s small size is both a blessing (hooray, I finished a book!) and a curse (I’m done already?).

Pratt wrote these essays when her boys were in elementary school, but they are now well into adolescence. She jokes that one of the wonderful aspects of this new phase is that it provides her with lots of new material. That's good news for us. I'd love to see Pratt add to this brief collection of essays, and I sense that she’s up to the challenge.

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