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Book Review: Mama’s Got a Fake I.D.

2009 March 20

So I don’t think it’s much of a secret that I have some serious issues with the typical messages the church sends to moms. I refuse to accept that my entire identity is wrapped up in my children – that my only calling in life is to serve them. I love my kids, I (generally) love taking care of them, but who I am is so much more than them. But it’s hard to question those messages without being accused of being a bad mom. So that’s why I loved  Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira’s fantastic new book Mama’s Got a Fake I.D. (WaterBrook Press). Caryn has provided a resource (for moms and dads and well, anyone who has to relate to moms ever…) that helps get past some of those false messages and affirm moms’ true identity in God’s eyes. And she does it with humor and encouragement throughout.

I found myself reflected on the pages of this book. I know I have tried to pass off my fake id – attempting to fit into a one-size-fits-all motherhood mold. Caryn pointed out though the hypocrisy in encouraging my kids to develop as unique individuals while I gave up my identity at the motherhood door. That’s not the sum of who God created me to be, and if I want to truly follow him I need to claim my full identity. Moms shouldn’t feel guilty to be themselves, explore their gifts, and follow Christ. Caryn affirms that it’s okay to be more than a mom, be upset at the stupid ways our culture treats moms, and admit our frustrations as moms. She affirms that we are not alone in dealing with the loneliness and loss of self that plagues the modern American mother. And that people who think that moms have all the free time in the world are just clueless.

But at the same time, this book provides resources in learning how to be content as a mom. This doesn’t involve striving to be someone you are not (including the perfect domestic goddess mother). It doesn’t limit mothers or try to strip them of their God-given talents and identity. But it does involve learning to be grateful for what we have right now – being thankful in all circumstances. But this is a contentment that also doesn’t allow us to be held back by perceived limitations or our own insecurities. But to simply allow ourselves to be affirmed in who we truly are – and extend that affirmation to others. It’s a call to moms to discard our fake ids and to question the expectations placed upon us (often by ourselves). This isn’t about being selfish or self-consumed, but about being real. Being ourselves is just far healthier, more spiritually authentic, and provides a better example for our kids anyway.

So this book is seriously great. And I am excited for it’s potential to help moms throw away those fake ids and the identity crises that motherhood provokes. Many of us need that reminder – or more importantly, that permission – to be who God created us to be. So I highly recommend that you read this book. Moms need to read it for sure – but so do dads, and non-parents, and pastors, and moms group leaders, and everyone else. Until the false identity messages are overcome, moms will have a hard time finding ways to fully serve God. This book can help dismantle those false messages, and give moms the encouragement we so deeply need. So go buy the book – give it to all your friends, pass it out to your playgroup, give it to the church library – it’s a book that needs to be read.

(and btw – the book cover actually isn’t hot pink, it’s a nice shade of red.  Just thought I’d mention that for all of you who are like me and hate women’s books that are pink…)

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12 Responses leave one →
  1. March 20, 2009

    Ha Ha – you forgot to list grandmothers along with dads and pastors….! 😉

  2. March 20, 2009

    Thanks for your insights. I’m really excited about reading this book. Sounds like it speaks the truth and allows moms to be the diverse group of people that we are.

  3. March 20, 2009

    “admit our frustrations as moms. She affirms that we are not alone in dealing with the loneliness and loss of self that plagues the modern American mother. And that people who think that moms have all the free time in the world are just clueless.”

    I love this and resonate with it very deeply (if you replaced moms with dads). My grandfather once asked me if I was bored yet staying at home with my then 6-month-old. I simply laughed. The other day he remarked how the kid just doesn’t stop, ever. And I simply nodded. A dad in my playgroup and I talked about the depression we experienced when our partners returned to work and we realized that at-home often meant at-home alone.

    But I always find it interesting to see parenting from a mother’s perspective. And I find myself challenged by what you have written here.

    If I am hearing you right, you are saying that this book encourages moms to throw off the societal expectations placed on “motherhood” and embrace their authentic selves, which is a great challenge. On the flip side, I feel like I did that in becoming a full-time dad, throwing off societal expectations of what it means to be a (providing, etc) dad. And I feel like I found a truer version of myself in becoming a full-time dad.

    Yet, there are times when I feel like I have lost a piece of myself in being a parent, but sometimes I think that piece is the societal piece that expects men to be financially productive. And, I find myself with many of the same domestic pressures I hear moms talking about as my wife works a lot to support us. (To say nothing of the pressure she feels). Of course, I wouldn’t presume to know what it’s like to be a full-time mom, but it’s just interesting the expectations parents have to shed to be at home in themselves.

  4. March 20, 2009

    Karen – bah, I thought I had said grandparents, okay maybe that was a different draft. but yes!!!

    David – I think there is a lot in the book that can translate to dad. It is a book written by a mom from her perspective – but the ideas of discovering our identities should be universal. I do think a book like this is needed for dads who face just as much if not more pressure to fit within certain boxes.

  5. March 20, 2009

    This book sounds really good. I will have to check it out. I never felt like I fit the “mommy mom” mold. I struggled to find my niche in the “Mommy World.” Being a stay-at-home mom was not my career dream as it was for so many of my friends. I have learned to enjoy it and make it my own. As much as I miss working and adult conversation, I wouldn’t have it any other way right now. Maybe I can gain more insights from this book. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Elaina permalink
    March 21, 2009

    Wow, this book sound great. I’ll have to get it for my sister-in-law. She’s never had “lofty” career aspiration, so she hasn’t found a strong identity in specific things that interest her. And while she loves her twins dearly, she finds being a stay-at-home mom mind-numbing sometimes! I think she’ll really appreciate the recognition of her fuller personhood and maybe it will help her define herself in well-rounded and satisfying ways (including as a mother).

  7. Carl permalink
    April 9, 2009

    Looks like a great book with some issues I’ve often thought about myself. Too bad the closest library with it is 1400 miles away! Maybe fitting that it’s Mid-Continent Public Library in Independence, MO.

  8. April 10, 2009

    As a brand-new parent, I’ve struggled to figure out what my identity really is, especially as my husband is out of the country and I’m doing it alone for now. Before Lucas was born, being a long-distance wife was taxing me a lot. Now living the life of a single mom + maintaining a marriage split across borders has left me wondering what’s supposed to be left of me. In need of some kind of recharge or refreshing….

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  1. And The Winners Are….. « The Mommy Revolution
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  3. Emerging Parents − Book Giveaway - Mama’s Got a Fake I.D.
  4. Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira » Blog Archive » And The Winners Are…..

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