Monday, 28 September 2015

Book Review: Bedtime Stories for Busy Mothers by Caylie Jeffery

I'm not really sure what the rules are for reviewing books written by friends, but please know me well enough that I would always give you an honest opinion in my reviews. I have too much respect for the Australian Publishing Industry to pay lip service to anyone. Even if you aren't friends with Caylie, you will be after reading this book. She shares the intimate stories that only friends share over coffee and through tears. She shares with the reader, just as she gives to all around her in real life, all that she has to give, without it feeling like an imposition or invasion.

I met Caylie at a workshop I was conducting for Queensland Writers Centre about publishing Picture Books. I knew right away, it wasn't for Caylie. She had far too much to say to fit into a 500 word limit, and the parents needed to hear it more than the kids. Kids are much smarter than grown ups after all.

It's reassuring to know instead of completely dashing her hopes of becoming a published author, she took my dare and looked instead at ways of writing that were more authentic for her personal writing style and less contrived to fit into a specific favourite genre. I wish more writers would take her lead. She had already been a successful writer before I met her, just not a print published one. It was her goal to change that.

Her book, Bedtime Stories for Busy Mothers, is a quilt of blog posts about her life, her role as a parent and wife, and her views on the world around her. What I learnt about Caylie from reading this book was she is much braver than I am. Not only for the honesty she portrays in her book, but for things she has done with grace and there is not other word but...bravery.

The first story in the book hit me the hardest. I too struggle with not feeling adequate as a Mum, especially after 3 premature births, but unlike Caylie who asks for help, I am the Mum hiding in the public toilets trying to clean up poo with socks when I've run out of wipes and re-dressing my baby in the hodge podge of clothes that have somehow accumulated in the baby bag, which consists only of shorts and tracksuit pants, and racing back the car before anyone sees. She is braver than me because she can ask for help.

The story is around a derelict woman who asks to see her little boy as Caylie is walking alone around the streets of Harlem. Caylie is braver than me. She lets the lady touch her little boys feet. Caylie is braver than me. The lady gives her a crumpled $5 note and makes her promise to look after her son as she herself couldn't do with her own children. Caylie pins the $5 note to her apartment wall. I would have used it to buy need to read the first story in the book to find out why Caylie is braver than me.

This book is not only a perfect gift for new mothers, but anyone who needs a dose of reality in a world of projections of perfection. Her writing style in inclusive and endearing and I really hope she will write a book dedicated to her sailing adventures around the world. I would put on my imaginary lifejacket, as Caylie is braver than me, even in my imagination. If you agree with me, please contact her and let her know, just like I have.

I give Bedtime Stories for Busy Mothers 4 stars out of 5. A great read.