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May 13, 2008

Stephanie Hirsch Discusses Moms of All Kinds

Posted by carol
We're not done with Mother's Day just yet. Today's post is by Stephanie Hirsch, the author of Mother Nurture: Life Lessons from the Mothers of America's Best and Brightest. She talks about what inspired her to write the book and about some of her favorites of the many inspiring moms she profiles in it pages. And for those reading groups that decide to select Mother Nurture for discussion, Stephanie also has some terrific topics to get the conversation started.

My inspiration to write Mother Nurture was my son. I wanted be the best mom for him and to help him to be successful in life but was so overwhelmed with going to work, being a new mom, and just feeling overwhelmed and confused...all I wanted to do was speak to Steven Spielberg's mother! I kept asking myself, "What did Steven Spielberg's mother do right?" To me he is a very well-rounded person. He is the most successful person in his field, he is a family man, has good values and is philanthropic. From wanting to speak to Steven Spielberg's mom I came up with idea to interview the mothers of highly successful people in all different fields: sports, politics, film, etc, and see what kinds of advice and values they instilled in their children.

Once I had my son I did not realize that my entire world would turn upside down! No one ever told me that a baby only sleeps three hours a night, that your stomach does not go back to being completely flat after you give birth, that your emotions and thoughts are all over the place and you are in a perpetual fog for the first six months. And no one ever told me that your heart would be so torn apart the first time you walk out the door without your baby that you cannot stop the tears or intense emotions that make you want to never leave for even one second.

The moms in Mother Nurture have incredible, wise and useful advice for new and seasoned moms. It is quite inspiring to learn from Justin Timberlake's mother that she always encouraged Justin "to do the right thing no matter what," and that Alicia Keys' mom instilled "respect for elders, people, nature and god in her." I also loved how Lance Armstrong's mother said "it was NOT about what I could give him but what I could show him" that she thought was the most important quality she could give him as his mother. This book is thought provoking and takes us back to a time when life was simpler and we did not have all the luxuries we have today. After interviewing the moms of the 52 Best and Brightest, what I learned is that we must "lead by example," set traditions for our families, foster a sense of independence in our children and, most importantly, be there in mind, body and soul.

For those reading groups that select Mother Nurture for discussion, one topic is how in this present day we have so many luxuries that seem to make child rearing so much easier --- but in reality these are just "material" things. Also great to talk about are the common themes amongst the moms in the book and how they raised their children (ie, dinner every night). Book clubs should ask members how they can incorporate this aspect into their lives (maybe it's not about dinner every night in this day and age but about setting traditions and time for your family and making it the #1 priority --- no meetings, schedules, friends or parties can get in the way; for example, every Sunday is family day from noon to 3). Another point to discuss is leading by example. Have members share their favorite examples of moms walking the walk and talking the talk. A personal favorite of mine is Dr. Robi Ludwig's mom, who said: "Children do not always listen to what you say, but they often imitate what you do."

---Stephanie Hirsch