Tuesday, January 18, 2011

‘Totally Desperate Mom: Keepin’ It Real in the Motherhood’ by Wendy Hagen – Book Review

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Although I am not a mother, I do enjoy reading books that are outside of my ‘life box.’ The latest book I have read is ‘Totally Desperate Mom: Keepin’ It Real in the Motherhood’ by Wendy Hagen.

Here is the synopsis of this fun book:

Have you ever been amazed by how you love your kids more than air and yet have days when you wish you could take a leave of absence from “the motherhood?” Have you ever had a meltdown after a long day of temper tantrums, endless diaper changes, failed naps, or a child who whines every time you look at her? If you answered yes, then you also answer to “Mo-om!” and are hereby labeled a “Totally Desperate Mom.” This book has your (new) name written all over it.
Starting at the delusion-filled journey into motherhood and progressing through the various stages that take place in the preschool years, this book is a no-holds-barred, comical look at motherhood from a mom in the trenches. All the while, you are offered biblical encouragement and practical tips for taking care of yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually, as well as how to keep your marriage on track. It’s your turn to pee your pants (from laughter, not postpartum incontinence), feel refreshed, draw inspiration, and reflect on the gift of children.

Here is the biography of this author:

Wendy Hagen is a speaker, writer, blogger, former childhood actress, wife, and Totally Desperate Mom to three young children who have given her more than enough quality material for this book. She earned a degree in Communications Studies from UCLA…which did not prepare her for motherhood.

When Wendy was nine years old, she looked in the yellow pages, found a talent agent, and left a message on their answering machine, unbeknownst to her parents. That agent called back, set up and interview and there began her acting career. She appeared in over 20 commercials and eventually went to Hollywood where she starred in the TV show "The New Lassie" and guest starred on shows like "The Wonder Years" and "Growing Pains." She had a great experience as a childhood actress and has no criminal record. Wendy attributes that to her faith in Jesus and her supportive family.        

Wendy left Hollywood to have a "normal" senior year of high school and then went on to UCLA where she was on the dance team for two years. Her acting career and her degree in Mass Communications did not do a whole lot to prepare her for her current career - the motherhood.

Wendy is the totally desperate mom to 6 year old Elijah, 4 year old Lydia, and 2-year-old Jordis and has been married to her college sweetheart Shiloh for over 12 years. She loves to encourage fellow moms who are in knee deep in dirty diapers, rolling eyes, hugs, kisses, and hilarious questions. And at the prompting of friend and author Debbie Alsdorf and in a moment of temporary insanity Wendy wrote "Totally Desperate Mom: Keepin' it Real in the Motherhood." She hopes you will find laughter and encouragement in its pages.

In my research, I discovered that clips of Wendy’s childhood acting career are on YouTube! She was a cute little girl! She worked with two actors who went on to Big Screen fame – Leonardo DiCaprio and Hilary Swank! In this clip, Wendy plays the character of Cheryl:

And here is Wendy this past summer (with her adorable son, Elijah) talking about her book:

Wendy made contact with me after I reviewed her friend Debbie Alsdorf’s book ’The Faith Dare: 30 Days to Live Your Life to the Fullest’ (you can read my review here). She mentions Debbie in the book’s Introduction:

Two years ago I spoke to the MOPS at my church about “Taking Care of Mom.” During my talk I used the phrase “totally desperate mom” in reference to using soup cans in lieu of weights to try and sneak some exercise into the busy mom’s life. After I spoke, our women’s ministry director Debbie Alsdorf (www.design4living.org), came up to me with excitement and said, “You’ve got to write a book about this stuff and title it Totally Desperate Mom.”  The seed was planted and the vision was cast for this book. But at the time, I was pregnant with my fourth child (have one in heaven) and could not really see straight. Still can’t but that bonus child gave me a lot more chapters of desperation and I began to write. (p. xi)

This book is both touching and comical! Here is a passage that reflects both of those adjectives:

Whether or not our children share our DNA, God is the ultimate tattoo artist and has designed our children to be a part of our lives. Forever. That is comforting, because for the days when you blow it and you feel like the worst mom ever, there are more days to come. More days to love on your kids, to apologize to them if you’ve wronged them, to wipe their tears (instead of causing them), to encourage them, to teach them about God’s love for them. Because yesterday you had an “MBD” (a not-so-medical but accurate term for Mom’s “mental breakdown day”) and it wasn’t funny at all. More days to enjoy your kids. You would think that would come naturally. Many days it does. But the preparation for the days my kids are seriously buggin’, I pray this prayer a lot: “Lord, help me to enjoy my kids.” And I think it actually helps. (pp. 4-5)

I love this description of pregnancy:

Despite all the discomfort and imbalance pregnancy induces, there is actually something really special about pregnancy. About carrying another life inside of you. About feeling that life kick and twirl and hiccup. Don’t believe in miracles? Now’s your chance. There is absolutely no way this could happen outside of the hand of God. By week five your baby’s brain, spinal cord, heart, and other organs begin to form. By week eight every organ is in place for that baby (and he or she will soon displace yours). By week ten facial features, feet, fingers, and toes become apparent. Never an accident. Never by chance. So worth it. (p. 27)

God is prominently featured throughout this wonderful book. Here Wendy takes about how God also knows what she needs when she needs it:

Another one of these reminders came when Shiloh [her husband] and I were vacationing in Hawaii a few months after Faith ditched us for heaven. (Our friends had blessed us by secretly giving money to a travel agency on our behalf.) I won’t go into all the details of our trip, but suffice it to say after several “coincidences” (God at work), we ended up at a mall on a weekday afternoon. It was there that we “happened to” (God at work) comes across a church that just “happened to” (God at work) be in the middle of a special service.
You’ve got to be kidding me, I thought as we “stumbled” (God at work) into the pastor as we entered the church and he explained to us the purpose of their special service – a memorial service for people had lost babies. We told him why we were in Hawaii, and he invited us in to share this divine appointment with his congregation. Hebrews 13:5 says that God has promised, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” He has proven this to me over and over again. (p. 31)

I loved this well-written and comical section on breastfeeding:

Many women enjoy breastbleeding or whatever it’s called. I am not one of them. Many women say it is a bonding experience with their babies. I totally relate to the word bond when it comes to breastfeeding. I just add an –age to the word, and then it accurately conveys my feelings about breastfeeding. I feel kind of like a jerk mom for even saying that. But just like of, because I know I am not the only mama who struggles with these sentiments. I know I will never be allowed into an “Breast is Best” clubs (darn it), but breastfeeding has been difficult for me on many levels. Before you go calling La Leche League on me, let me state that I do think breastfeeding is very important. There is no nutritional substitute. It is amazing that God has created us to be all our baby needs for the first six months of their lives. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it, right? (p. 45)

Wendy thinks the terrible year in a child’s life is age three (not age two, as is commonly held); here she tells her readers about a moment with her daughter, Lydia:

Three-year-olds and teenagers have a lot in common – they both know everything about everything. After Lydia un-humbly declared a false statement to be true, I said to her, “Lydia, contrary (and yes, I did use the word contrary as if the know-it-all would actually know what that means) to what you think, you don’t know everything.”
“Yes, I do,” replied the child prodigal. I mean…the child prodigy. I guess she did know what the word contrary means. (p. 64)

Wendy believes that it’s important to take care of oneself when one has little ones - emotionally, spiritually and physically:

I don’t want to brag, but I must say I am gifted in this “taking care of Mom” business. I don’t know if it’s because I’m extremely selfish or just a genius. Perhaps both? But I figure my kids don’t need a train wreck for a mom and my husband didn’t marry a (total) basket case. Thus, I don’t feel guilty about carving out some time for my psychological welfare, other than just grocery shopping by myself every once in a while. (p. 94)

Taking care of one’s spiritual side is also very important. Wendy provides ten suggestions to help make that happen (pp. 115-117):

·         Pray.
·         Join a Bible study or small group.
·         Read the Bible.
·         Go to church.
·         Memorize Scripture
·         Keep a journal.
·         Listen to sermon podcasts.
·         Listen to Christian music.
·         Teach your kids about God.
·         Serve Others.

I highly recommend this excellent book for moms-to-be, moms that already have a houseful of tots, and those that love those moms, too (so they can better understand what mom is going through). It is fun and easy to read, while at the same time having substance and pointing people to the Lord.
Although I am not a mother (other than to a rambunctious Cocker Spaniel puppy and a more mature, albeit still fun, six year old Cocker Spaniel), I still found this to be a wonderfully funny book! I laughed out loud in some places! And, in other places, it reaffirmed the fact that I do not have the maternal instinct and made the right decision in not having children! I do have a friend whose daughter will be celebrating her first birthday in February, so I plan to pass this book along to her so she can see what is in the future for her – both the joys and the moments where you may want to pull out her hair!

You can order this book here.

This book was published by WinePress Publishing and generously provided by the author for review purposes.


TDM Wendy said...

Thank you! So glad you enjoyed. Hope your friend likes it too!

Andrea Schultz said...

Hi Wendy! Thanks for stopping by, and you're welcome! I'll be seeing my friend Thursday, and I am pretty confident she'll LOVE your book!

KQ said...

Great Review! Already read the book and reading your review has prompted me to remember several people that I haven't given it to yet. I need more copies!!

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