Dance teacher and newly minted author and mother Ashley Flynn’s debut children’s book My Favorite Job Is You (Wise Ink Creative Publishing) explores through rhyme and illustrations the dance we all go through as working parents.Us working parents love our jobs and are willing to work hard to excel in a 9-to-5 world, but what about the little people who fill up our dance card? How do we manage the choreography that is having a family and a fulfilling career?
The story rings true as it focuses on working mothers who are often laden with guilt as we twirl, pivot, and twist through the responsibilities of our jobs and our homes. The gentle rhymes seem to reassure us. “Hey, you’re not alone” the book strives to say, “we are all trying.”
The beautiful illustrations by Stella Koh evoke a watercolor painting. As a mother myself, what grabbed me was the consistent eye contact depicted in both mother and child. Sometimes a warm gaze means so much. There exists a kind of movement that you can feel leaping off the static page. The pops of vivid colors add to the muted background. The overall appearance evokes a gentle feel, as if the illustrator was reaching into the past, soothing and blurred, to soften a more harsh present. I was quite easily able to picture myself in the story as, I too, dance the dance of work and home life. I try really hard to extend and reach. Oftentimes I fall flat.
As a parent, I took the opportunity to read the new book to my ten- and three-year-old children. My three- year-old and I more spent time exploring the pictures. She was able to recognize how “Mommy works” in the story and connected that with me exclaiming, “You work at school!” She liked seeing the illustrations of the mother and daughter folding laundry together, a frequent chore in our house. My ten-year-old had a surprising and entirely different take on the book. He remarked that it made him feel a little sad, because “The mom in the story seems so sad about having to work.” It actually led to us having a conversation about the challenges of working and being a mom and family. He hugged me and said I was doing a great job!
After we read the book a few times, I did have to honestly ask myself who is the intended audience for this story? Younger children, like my three-year-old, may only see the surface of the story, beautiful pictures of a mother who is sometimes with her child, sometimes not. Older children may find the book’s prose not as engaging because the focus of the story is on the mother’s viewpoint instead of the child’s. Honestly, I think it would make a great baby shower gift. I feel like the book is beneficial equally for the mothers out there as for the children in that it reassures us that we are doing a great job and we aren’t alone in our struggles. It’s something we can read with our kids to reassure them as well as ourselves.
So as we fold tiny socks and make beds in our children’s bedrooms, we can pause and recall the words on the pages, “you’re my one and only, and my favorite job is you!” My Favorite Job Is You reminds us we can stretch our heads higher, knowing that we danced our best dance today.