To breed or not to breed

A review of Beyond One by Jennifer Bingham Hull

Jennifer Hull's Beyond One: Growing a Family and Getting a Life crossed the reference desk the other day and caught my eye.  "Hey," I thought, "I have one child and no life!"  Plus, two sweet-looking children were pictured on the cover, snug as bugs in what appear to be crisp, clean sheets.  Remember clean sheets?

Hull has been places and done things; she worked as a reporter in Nicaragua, the Middle East, and places in between.  Her articles have appeared in an impressive (to little ol' me, anyway, who's only been published in MADreads) array of magazines.  Once, she was the mother of one daughter and now she's the mother of two.  Right around the time her family expanded, Hull realized that almost all parenting books are written for parents of one, filled with tips and tricks that just might work if the mom didn't have a wailing baby in her arms and a screaming toddler wrapped around her ankles.

Beyond One isn't a how-to manual, though Hull refers to many and includes a bibliography (bravo!).  It reads more like the anecdotes you might hear from a neighborhood mom at the park or story time, if you were able to negotiate nap times and tantrums, bundle your children up, execute a last-minute diaper change, and actually make it to the park or library.  And if your kids would leave you alone long enough to have an adult conversation.

If you're looking for a book to help you form a family plan, this isn't it.  But if you're a parent needing to know that growing families are survivable and enjoyable, Beyond One fits the bill.


Plus, two sweet-looking children were pictured on the cover

Yeah, until they start yelling and fighting and you have to send them each to their bedrooms.