I originally grumbled when my book club assigned Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. Last summer I had attempted to read Gladwell’s Outliers and couldn’t get into it. While both national bestsellers, and by most accounts great reads, they weren’t my thing: too tedious, filled with statistics and examples instead of a gripping good story.
But duty called and I ended up pushing through and finishing The Tipping Point only to find several people I knew among its pages. In the “connector”, or “people specialist”, I saw my friend Cameron who seems to know individuals from all walks of life and has an inner talent at weaving them together for their benefit. In the “maven”, the “information specialist” to the connector’s “people specialist”, I saw my brother Martin who takes pleasure in reading, retaining and regurgitating such useful information as how to purchase a refurbished iPod touch or what store has the best Black Friday deals. And I saw myself.
According to Gladwell, “maven” is Yiddish for someone who accumulates knowledge and then wants to share it. A kind of know it all with good intentions who likes to “pay it forward”. An avid reader and now displaced researcher (since I gave up lawyering for parenting), whose pet peeve is “re-inventing the wheel” I am definitely a maven.
Take for example, how I came to attack parenting. After a few months of negative pregnancy tests I was checking out infertility books from the library. Never mind the fact that my eternally optimist husband saw no need to read alongside me. Hey, I figured, I was not one to go into court unprepared so why should I face one of the most important tasks of my life that way either. By the time our first daughter did arrive the stack on my night table had turned into a satellite shelf for the child-rearing section of Joseph-Beth Booksellers: child development, pediatric first-aid, breastfeeding…you name it I enjoyed reading about it.
Early on a good friend tried to dissuade me from this fact-gathering fest telling me “Jane, child rearing is natural and lead by intuition. You just put them on your hip and go.” As well meaning as this was, I knew in my maven heart that I, and my friends, needed me to do this work just like the court had needed me to research the case law, apply it to the facts of my case and inform them of the best ruling when I was a lawyer. I mean who else was going to be able to re-iterate the best children’s books to read to a three-year-old, or the best way to pump milk at work without stressing out to the point of making the well run dry?
Besides I just love learning, and for some reason I find the topics of child development fascinating whatever the angle: sibling rivalry, emotional delays, missed milestones, teens, adoptive parenting versus biological parenting, education, learning disabilities and the accompanying therapies… You name it, I will look at it, or try to find someone who has already done so, thus avoiding the dreaded “re-inventing the wheel” which busy parents really don’t have time for anyway.
This brings me to another point regarding mavens. Mavens get to where they are, in part, by consulting with other mavens. Professional parents like William Sears, MD and T. Berry Brazelton. “Been there done that” parents like my friends Eileen, Cameron, Judy and Ruth. “Gone to hell and back” parents, some of them members along with me on yahoo support groups. And parents like you: mom’s who have shared tidbits about everything from nutritional snack items to where to find cheap Halloween costumes; dads who have sung the praises of organized youth sports or filled me in on how they dealt with the long distance care of their parent with cancer.
Hence, the passion behind this blog and the genesis of its name. If something I have learned, or am learning, along this wonderful journey can help someone else have a new perspective, a new tool in their parenting toolbox, a little lift of the heart or just a good laugh then I have accomplished half my goal. And if you feel you have something to share that has helped you move forward and you post it back as a comment then you have accomplished the rest of the goal of Mavenmama.