Karen Maezen Miller summarizes both her book and my gripes with it when she writes, “[t]his is how I would live if I had mastery of myself.” Essentially, a mother of one who happens to be a Zen Buddhist priest looks back on her anxious and strung-out first few years of motherhood, distilling lessons learned like “[l]etting food [just] be food,” taking a deep breath (or ten) to avoid losing her temper, living in the moment (rather than obsessing over regrets or to-do lists), and taking time for herself in order to better serve her family. Far from producing the “messianic message” Miller envisions in the “gentle and reassuring voice” the book jacket advertises, her reflections grated on my nerves. Throughout most of the book, Miller confesses her decidedly un-Zen behaviors while employing liberal use of the pronoun “we” (generalizing about mothers) and a didactic tone. Of course, the latter would be totally appropriate in a missive directed only at first-time parents (which this book was, she reveals about half-way through) if Miller offered any unique strength, wisdom, or perspective. And I personally have had many a ruffled feather smoothed by inspired or clever prose. But – and the italics are key here – for me, Miller’s work largely lacks all of the above (her best: “[f]or mothers, finding a sitter is a nuanced blend of desperate need, blind faith, gut instinct, and overpowering guilt, delicately seasoned by a sense of your child’s developmental readiness and emotional well-being”). At the end of the day, “Momma Zen” is a memoir that ought to become intensely precious to Miller’s daughter and a handful of others with whom Miller would “click” in person. Unfortunately, most experienced parents will find nothing particularly well-written, new, or Zen; and newbies can find the same common parenting advice better delivered elsewhere (ahem, “Brain Rules for Baby”).