By Stephanie Freybler
When I picked up The Brave Art of Motherhood by Rachel Marie Martin, all I knew was that it was a self-help book written by a writer I adored. Even so, I have to admit that I was hesitant to begin reading. I often have a hard time getting through self-help books, even when I enjoy the content. I usually end up putting the book down part-way through and never pick it up again. After a few days, I forget that I even started the book.
While I was optimistic to start, I didn’t think I needed much change in my life, either. I was generally content with how things were going, even if I would ignore a slight feeling of being stuck from time to time. I didn’t see any problems that I could do anything about, so I didn’t consider them problems.
Truth be told, I was excited to read it simply because I had been following Rachel Martin on her blog, Finding Joy, for years, and I loved everything she wrote.
By the time I was done reading, though, the only thing that stayed the same was how much I loved reading Rachel’s words.
For starters, I couldn’t put it down. It didn’t feel like any self-help book I had tried to read in the past. I wanted to keep reading, and no chapter disappointed. This was not another self-help book that would collect dust at the bottom of my bookshelf.
Rachel weaves her own story into The Brave Art of Motherhood, making it not only relatable but an easy book to read. She gives her raw account of financial hardship, emotional turmoil, and the masks she wore.
She talks about her own turning point when she was asked if she could see her situation changed twenty years from now, ten years from now, five years from now.
I think we all hope for a certain future twenty years from now, and probably even ten years from now. But saying things will be different in five years sounds close, like we may actually need to turn things around and make some changes now. It can be a scary and powerful thing to make that realization.
While my story is different than Rachel’s, I could see my own journey as I read hers. She writes to each reader’s heart, sharing her own story and asking us the hard questions about our own lives. That idea that I didn’t need change in my life? Yeah, I was wrong about that, too. While reading The Brave Art of Motherhood, I was searching my soul.
As I read, I examined my life — my excuses, the masks I wore, and how I was using my strength. Where did I feel stuck? What is my normal?
There was room for improvement. There is always room for improvement.
I had been wearing a mask and making excuses, just like Rachel had been. Once I realized how I had been inhibiting my own growth, I knew that I had to make the changes she talked about. I owe it to myself to have true joy, just like every other woman owes it to herself.
Now, Rachel talks about large changes she made in her journey to true joy, but her story applies to small changes, as well. This book truly can help women overcome any challenge they’re facing when it comes to true happiness. I’m worth the work to make change, and you’re worth it, too. We’re not alone on this journey.
Intertwined into Rachel’s story are the steps she took to find a more joyful place in her own life. She outlines her thought process and the physical steps the reader can take to find their own joy.
One of the things I feel most self-help books are lacking is lasting inspiration. Sure, I feel motivated as I’m reading. But what about five minutes later? A day later?
The Brave Art of Motherhood has that lasting inspiration. She writes in such a relatable way, asking the questions that spark the change from within your soul.
There is such credibility here, too. I have followed Finding Joy for years and continue to do so. Rachel has always been honest with her readers, so we see the journey continue.
She’s not writing from some cloud of absolute bliss. Instead, she writes about the places she still struggles on her journey. She lifts us all up with her honest words from her own place in motherhood. This book is about being honest with ourselves and those around us, which is something that Rachel Martin shows us consistently.
In one of the most emotional passages for me, she talks about her Bible study group and their prayer intentions they shared weekly. Generally, she would hear superficial prayer intentions and she would share her own superficial prayer intentions, despite true hardship she was facing. One day, she broke down at Bible study. She couldn’t hide behind the superficial prayer intentions, and she bared her soul. She ugly cried and shared all of the struggles she’d been facing. Instead of being met with judgement, other women stripped away their superficial prayer intentions in the same way. In her moment of weakness, the bravery spread throughout the room.
This honesty with ourselves takes courage, and The Brave Art of Motherhood gives us the tools to find it. Not only will this help us live more honest lives, but it will help those around us.
Rachel writes this book as an honest friend. She breaks down all of our defense mechanisms and lifts the reader up with the hard truth. She talks about the importance of the friends we have in our own lives. She encourages us to find them, to lean on them, and to let them lean on us.
In the months since I read The Brave Art of Motherhood, my own friendships have grown deeper. We’ve mirrored Rachel’s Bible study group, really.
Once I’ve been honest with myself, I’ve been able to open up to friends. They then opened up to me in the same way.
Now is the time to make these changes, friend.
Maybe you’re where I was, not seeing much need for change. Maybe you feel stuck, but you don’t know where to start. Maybe you want to change, but you’re afraid of what will happen.
There truly is no time like the present to turn things around so that your story is the one you envision in twenty years. You deserve that life now.
The Brave Art of Motherhood is a must-read for women everywhere. Once you’ve read it, you’ll want to share this wisdom with your friends. All of you will be better for it.
Stephanie Freybler is a stay-at-home mom of five kids. She writes about embracing imperfection and getting rid of “mom guilt” on her blog at www.racingelephants.com. She’s been published on the blog Her View From Home. She embraces personal growth, and tries to see things with a sense of humor.