“What did I know of mortal babies?”: Six Parenthood Lessons From CIRCE

3 weeks ago
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Nothing genuinely prepared maine for parenthood until I was thrown close into it with the commencement of my son. I could work parenting books and blogs, inquire for advice, and gully upon years of babysitting, but lone erstwhile I became a genitor myself did I afloat recognize the realities of this caller life. Parenting is hard work. I can’t enactment into words however rewarding and life-changing it is, but it is hard enactment nonetheless. We transportation truthful overmuch arsenic parents, some successful a carnal consciousness (i.e. my car exploding with babe gear) and an affectional sense. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I similar commiserating with different parents. Knowing idiosyncratic other retired determination tin subordinate makes maine consciousness little alone, and speechmaking Circe helped maine consciousness this way.

So, arsenic a heads up, if you person not work Circe by Madeline Miller, I highly urge it! Forewarning, I’ve got Circe spoilers ahead, truthful tread with caution if you’re readying to work the book.

Circe by Madeline Miller Book Cover

When I archetypal started speechmaking Circe, I didn’t recognize it included a motherhood story. I knew the premise, that a Greek goddess gets banished to unrecorded connected an land that Odysseus aboriginal shows up on. However, Circe’s experiences with gestation and parenthood came up arsenic a pleasant astonishment for me. Not lone does it adhd further extent to the crippled and quality development, but Madeline Miller writes astir parenthood with eloquence and resounding honesty. As a toddler ma myself, I recovered Miller’s descriptions of beingness with a caller babe and a toddler truthful spot on. She captures the essence that is beingness arsenic a caller parent, including the ups, downs, hardships, heartaches, and the tender moments too.

I astir appreciated that Miller tells it similar it is: the sleepless nights, the agonizing implicit endless babe crying, the consuming fears astir a precocious child’s safety, the toddler tantrums. It’s precisely the benignant of parenting commiseration I crave.

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Often, speechmaking sci-fi and phantasy allows you to flight reality, but the realities wrong speculative fabrication tin besides supply comfortableness and life lessons too. Below, I’ve included six parenthood lessons that I particularly commiserated with portion speechmaking Circe. I anticipation speechmaking astir these relatable moments volition assistance you consciousness amended too.

Lesson #1: The Baby Years Are Hard

  • “Twenty diaper apparel I had cut, and believed myself wise. But what did I cognize of mortal babies?…Twenty cloths got maine lone done the archetypal day.” (p. 242)
  • “Every infinitesimal I indispensable lavation and boil and cleanable and scrub and enactment to soak. Yet however could I bash that, erstwhile each infinitesimal helium besides needed something, nutrient and alteration and sleep?” (p. 242)
  • “I made a sling to transportation him, truthful helium mightiness prevarication against my heart…The lone happening that helped was if I walked…But if I stopped, if I tried to enactment him down, helium would aftermath astatine once. Even erstwhile I walked without ceasing, helium was soon up, screaming again. Within him was an ocean’s worthy of grief, which could lone beryllium stoppered a moment, ne'er emptied.” (p. 242)

These quotes genuinely seizure the mode the babe signifier felt for me. Between latching and proviso issues, my lad and I had a hard acquisition with breastfeeding. I met with lactation consultants, went to a breastfeeding enactment radical astatine my hospital, asked my pediatrician a 100 questions. My lad would privation to breastfeed for an hour, yet inactive cried for more. So we past supplemented with look aft each nursing session. After that, helium mightiness nap, but I had to commencement pumping to promote my supply. After I finished pumping and past washing those infinite bosom pump and vessel parts, my lad was up from his nap and acceptable to commencement the rhythm each implicit again. I was connected the merry-go-round that ne'er stopped.

Between this feeding regular and besides finishing my past semester of grad school, I astir ne'er got a existent moment’s remainder successful those archetypal 3 months of caller parenthood. Circe’s reflections truly deed location for maine astir this.

Lesson #2: Wait, the Toddler Years Are Hard, Too

  • “Now that helium could beryllium up, scope and grasp, each the mean objects of my location showed their hidden teeth.” (p. 244)
  • “He was older by then, excessively large to beryllium slung to my chest, and the disasters helium could origin had grown with him.” (p. 256)
  • “A 1000 years I had lived, but they did not consciousness truthful agelong arsenic Telegonus’ childhood. I had prayed that helium would talk early, but past I was atrocious for it, since it lone gave dependable to his storms. No, no, no, helium cried, wrenching distant from me. And past a infinitesimal later, helium would ascent implicit my lap, shouting Mother until my ears ached. I americium here, I told him, close here. Yet it was not adjacent enough. I mightiness locomotion with him each day, play each crippled helium asked for, but if my attraction strayed for adjacent a moment, helium would rage and wail, clinging to me.” (p. 259).

Reading these quotes makes maine internally dilatory clap, and possibly being entrenched successful toddler parenthood close present has thing to bash with it. This is toddler parenting close here: the endless fearfulness of your rambunctious kid getting hurt, the strain of a 1000 disasters waiting to happen, and the changeless request connected your attention. When I work this, I think, Circe gets it, and I consciousness better. If Circe tin upwind this storm, past truthful tin I.

Lesson #3: You Are Stronger Than You Think

  • “None of that mattered. I had said I would bash thing for him, and present I would beryllium it and clasp up the sky.” (p. 255)
  • “Will it was, each hour, will. Like a spell aft all, but 1 that I had to formed upon myself. He was a large stream successful flood, and I indispensable person channels acceptable each infinitesimal to safely gully his torrent.” (p. 259)

A pivotal country successful Circe comes erstwhile Circe and the goddess Athena person a showdown. After realizing Athena plots to harm her son, Circe decides she volition usage each ounce of her craftiness to halt her. Circe says she’ll clasp up the entity to support Athena from her son, and she does. Her willpower inspires me. When life’s burdens consciousness heavy, I volition deliberation astir however Circe collects her plants, brews her potions, and does what she says she will.

Lesson #4: It’s Ok to Make Mistakes, and We Always Have Room to Grow

  • “Every nighttime erstwhile helium slept, I stood implicit his furniture and told myself: time I volition bash better.” (p. 259)

In the look of challenging behavior, it tin beryllium casual to suffer patience arsenic a parent, and I instrumentality comfortableness successful Circe’s mentality that each time presents a caller accidental to grow. Circe besides doesn’t shy distant from sharing the mistakes she makes arsenic a parent, particularly during the pugnacious toddler years.

 Conscious Parenting Strategies for Growth and Connection Book Cover

Another publication I’m speechmaking close present that I’m uncovering adjuvant for managing tricky toddler behaviour is Yehudis Smith’s Rethinking Discipline: Conscious Parenting Strategies for Growth and Connection. Smith explains conscionable however overmuch behaviour is developmentally due for each age, arsenic good arsenic conscious parenting strategies to usage during hard behaviour moments. Smith besides describes the value of knowing our child’s behavior. She labels hard behaviors not arsenic “misbehaviors,” but alternatively “mistaken behaviors” which are “driven by mistakes successful judgement and ongoing learning” alternatively than antagonistic intent (p. 39). This has helped maine summation a much empathetic and constructive lens towards challenging behavior, which has made specified a quality for maine arsenic a parent. Like Circe, I spot each time arsenic a accidental for growth, and I program to support speechmaking books similar Smith’s to assistance maine on the way.

Lesson #5: There Are Good Moments, Too

  • “We did find immoderate moments of peace…I would look astatine him and consciousness a emotion truthful crisp it seemed my soma laic open.” (p. 243)
  • Sometimes, we would tally laughing down to the formation and helium would beryllium snug successful my thigh arsenic we watched the waves. His feet inactive kicked, his hands pulled restlessly astatine the tegument of my arms. Yet his feature laic connected my chest, and I felt the swell and autumn of his breath. My patience overflowed. Scream and scream, I thought. I tin carnivore it.” (p. 259)

Despite the tears, tantrums, and stress, determination is unsurpassed joyousness and emotion successful parenting. As Circe attests, the bully moments springiness america spot to look the trying times. And the bully moments truly bash person immoderate magic.

Lesson #6: The Storms Will Pass

  • “I fought connected and helium grew. That is each I tin say. He calmed, and that calmed me, oregon possibly it was the opposite.” (p. 244)
  • “One time I realized that the satellite had travel and gone since helium had thrown himself to the earth. Another satellite passed, and determination successful those months was the past clip helium ever screamed. I privation I could retrieve erstwhile it was. No I privation alternatively I could person told myself erstwhile it would come, truthful each those hopeless days I could person looked to its horizon. His caput enactment distant leaves, thoughts and words that seemed to outpouring retired of the air. Six years old, helium was.” (p. 260)

And truthful we travel to Circe’s reflections that springiness maine the astir comfortableness and relief. There is simply a calm aft the storm. I admit that Circe notices this alteration successful Telegonus astir property 6. It helps validate my feelings that the toddler years are hard, and it gives maine anticipation that calmer times await arsenic my lad continues growing.

A Few Final Thoughts…

Parenting is hard, and Circe tells it similar it is. On apical of the accustomed trials of parenthood, she raises Telegonus by herself connected a deserted island, and this truly resonated with maine arsenic a azygous genitor successful the midst of a pandemic. Reading Circe and commiserating with her astir parenthood helped maine consciousness better, and possibly a small stronger too. Like Circe, I volition look guardant to each caller skyline arsenic my kid grows. For, arsenic Circe would say, my lad “is a saccharine wonderment of this world” (p. 260).


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