By Holly Scheer
Book Review of Mothering Many Compiled and Edited by Marie K. MacPherson
Mothering Many takes the advice of 25 mothers with a more than 160 children between them and discusses common problems and themes in the lives of mothers. The book is in two main sections — the first is the advice and wisdom of the mothers in the context of various real life situation and the second is a lengthy series of appendices. The intended audience, according to the editor, is Christian women who stay home with their children, with a special emphasis on homeschooling mothers. The advice is particularly tailored to the needs of families with three or more children.
Marie drafted a long list of questions (65, to be exact) and sent them to other mothers for insight on how they manage their particular homes. The book is the result of the answers to these questions. The identities of the mothers are kept anonymous because of the intimate nature of the answers to some of the situations.
The advice of the mothers is interspersed with explanations and clarifying notes from Marie. Situations addressed vary from practical advice on running the home, how to budget and manage finances, educational matters, spiritual discussions and a chapter devoted to marriage.
My favorite part of this book are the excellent appendices.
The first appendix is advice from mothers of grown children, with what helped when their children were small as well as what they’d have done differently. There is also copious amounts of encouragement given here.
Appendix two is exclusively from the editor when she had three children. Her answers, her motivation for the book and her routines are detailed here at length.
Appendix three is a natural continuation of the the former appendix — it is from the editor again, but this time six years and two more children later. The compare/contrast of these two sections is helpful to see how one family changed and grew.
The fourth appendix is a quiz to determine the reader’s mothering style, with the goal to help the reader figure out which of the mothers in the book they most closely can relate to.
Appendix five is a series of open ended discussion questions. If this book is used in a small group or Bible study these would be useful for guiding weekly meetings, but they’d also work well for individual use and reflection.
Appendix six is a set of recommended resources, focusing on links to various books or websites that the reader may find useful.
The book closes with acknowledgements.
Overall, this book is sweet and practical, helpful and encouraging. I have some concerns with some of the suggested resources, particularly the Pearls’ book To Train Up a Child, which is incredibly controversial because of the discipline style in it. There are various non-Lutheran resources recommended for use, some of them quite different theologically than what I would point a new or inexperienced mother to. This book addresses a lack that many mothers of big families may feel — that lack is one of a local community of women with which they can discuss and receive compassionate and Christian advice about the varied situations that arise in their daily lives.
Mothering Many is available for purchase here.