Much of early motherhood takes place in the darkness – from laboring to mid-night feedings to nightmares and glasses of water. It’s in this darkness that the light and joy of raising small humans can be found. Do I love being woken in the wee hours? Not particularly. Is there something indescribable about another person trusting me for anything – regardless of sleep deprivation? There is, indeed.
In Starry-Eyed: Seeing Grace in the Unfolding Constellations of Life and Motherhood, Mandy Arioto looks at this “light in darkness” model of the mothering experience. In a series of short, independent essays, Arioto leads the reader through her dark moments and those filled with light. The essays aren’t exclusively about motherhood, though that is a definite them, as Arioto is a mother of three and CEO of the organization, Mothers of Preschoolers.
It’s hard to rate a series of essays – some were wonderful and others fell a bit flat. The ones where she talks about how she and her husband live out their faith in front of their kids was a favorite. She talks about the importance of sharing stories and forming a rich family narrative. Perhaps it’s because Bea is very much into asking for stories from my childhood right now, but that resonated deeply. It’s something I should take seriously and remember that these stories form a foundation of our family.
Others fell flat – talking about being a “salty” person and surrounding herself with others who have flavor felt a bit othering. Perhaps it’s because I’m not a very salty person at all, but I wondered about those other flavors that aren’t as cool.
My only other criticism is that it wasn’t fact checked. There’s a chapter describing the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, which is where I teach. Many basic facts about the museum were incorrect, which made me wonder what other facts in the book weren’t checked. Sadly, it made me suspicious any time she quoted someone who wasn’t an expert in their field.
Overall, I’d recommend this book to a mom who is looking for encouragement in the form of short, easy chapters.