Child of Mine: Original Essays on Becoming a Mother

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Child of Mine is a book of original essays that reveal the many faces of motherhood, and which explore the amazing variety of feelings and changes that women go through in the first year of maternity.

The essays--by writers including Susan Cheever, Mona Simpson, Sarah Bird, Naomi Wolf, Meg Wolitzer, and many more--address a wide range of concerns, from changes in your marriage to delivery experiences to body image, to the mother/child bond, to ambivalence about breastfeeding. We...

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Overview

Child of Mine is a book of original essays that reveal the many faces of motherhood, and which explore the amazing variety of feelings and changes that women go through in the first year of maternity.

The essays--by writers including Susan Cheever, Mona Simpson, Sarah Bird, Naomi Wolf, Meg Wolitzer, and many more--address a wide range of concerns, from changes in your marriage to delivery experiences to body image, to the mother/child bond, to ambivalence about breastfeeding. We see an African-American mother who's conflicted about hiring a Jamaican baby-sitter; we see an urban working mom who's delighted to be back to her job after maternity leave; we see a mother's nightmare journey through a year of her son's colic. And we see the adoption experience with all its ups and downs.

Covering an amazing breadth of experience, readers will recognize themselves as they discover that other mothers have felt the same emotions, cried the same tears, thrilled to similar milestones, and suffered the same indignities and heartaches in that challenging first year of motherhood.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Anyone who has a child or is planning to have one should find of interest these 28 essays by women about their first year of motherhood. Kline (Sweetwater), a creative writing instructor at Yale, has collected short memoirs from well-known writers including Valerie Sayers and Susan Cheever, as well as contributions from first-time essayists who Klein felt had powerful stories to tell. Many of the pieces, such as Elissa Schappell's "In Search of the Maternal Instinct," explore the difference between the actual experience of motherhood and the societal expectations of what women should feel. The strength of these essays lies in their honesty and their focus on a variety of experiences, which will validate many women's feelings of both joy and ambivalence in the early months of motherhood. Cathi Hanauer, for example, details the severe episodes of soreness and infection that caused her to stop breast-feeding after nine weeks, while Teri Robinson describes a year-long blissful nursing experience. (May)
Library Journal
Every mother loves nothing better than to share stories with other mothers about their children, especially about the birth and the first days spent discovering this utterly dependent -- and utterly independent -- little creature. And who better to swap stories with than women who write and are thus capable of articulating thoughts and feelings that for most of us simply come out as a gush: "It's so wonderful!" Wonderful indeed are these stories from topnotch talent ranging from Naomi Wolf to Mona Simpson to Allegra Goodman, thoughtfully selected and edited by novelist and nonfiction author Kline. From Marcelle Clements's poignant, slightly panicked cry, "What are onesies?" to Wolf's dawning realization in the midst of a sojourn in Italy that she is pregnant to wrenching accounts by Ericka Lutz ("Thumbelina: The Complexities of Having a Pretty Little Girl"), about a baby needlessly induced, and Abigail Stone ("Bye Bye Baby: On Mother Guilt and Poverty"), this is a splendid collection. Highly recommended. Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
Kirkus Reviews
A refreshing essay collection on the two years that flank a baby's birth, from 28 well-known writers, edited by novelist Kline (Sweet Water, 1993).

Pieces by Allegra Goodman, Valerie Sayers, Mona Simpson, Naomi Wolf, and Meg Wolitzer, among others, are divided into three sections—"Anticipation," "Initiation," and "Child of Mine." Those describing their pregnancies in "Anticipation" remember fretting that they lacked the maternal instinct and fearing, as journalist Elissa Schappell put it, that they would join those "other mothers who snacked [on] Cheerios out of tiny plastic bags, [and] smelled faintly of baby vomit." "Initiation" covers childbirth ("doing a marathon without moving an inch," quips novelist Sarah Bird), breastfeeding, and what editor/novelist Alisa Kwitney calls "the eternal now" of living with a baby. The final section touches on the terrors of babysitting, defining one's child's place in the world, and the child's effect on the mother, nicely symbolized by a worn bear in Susan Cheever's essay. Despite misgivings, marital discord, even encounters with violent eruptions of individuality in one's offspring, the writers present a nearly unified vision of hope. An infant may scream, poop, and tyrannize, but as political writer Helen Winternitz says of her son, he "opened up a new continent for me, a territory of emotions as big and inviting and perilous as Africa." There is sadness at initial separations and some regret, but because most of the children discussed are still young, these emotions are largely anticipatory. One exception is novelist Abigail Stone, who raised her now-grown daughter alone and poor, and offers a moving confession of the ways in which poverty and her conflicting needs to be a writer and a mother affected her relationship with her daughter.

For those who find pregnancy books disingenuous and friends with children too knowing, this book offers an alternative community—skeptical, worried, reflective, and grateful. Think of it as you sneak your two-month-old into the cineplex.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385333023
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/28/1998
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.26 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
Life Within Life 13
In Search of the Maternal Instinct 22
Waiting for Brendan 32
Pokega, From the Heart 39
Most Reluctantly Mother 50
Spittin' Image 61
Moral Terrors and Motherhood 72
A Painless Labor 85
Mother's Nature 93
Thumbelina: The Complexities of Having a Pretty Little Girl 103
Motherhood as Subversive Activity 117
A Creation Story 127
A Dangerous Thing to Hope For 138
Initiation 146
Baby Blues: A Journal 155
Negotiating Violence 171
Breastfeeding: The Agony and the Ecstasy 181
The Last Nursing Mommy Tells All 192
Metamorphosis 202
The Eternal Now 211
Real Me 225
A Family Romance 232
Bye Bye Baby: On Mother Guilt and Poverty 243
The Hand That Pushes the Stroller 254
Student Mother 265
Confessions of a Lazy Mom 275
Making It Work: My Life as a Career-Minded Mother 287
The Buddy System 297
My Choice 307
Beginning 319
List of Contributors 327
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2003

    Fabulous read for all mothers

    This was given to me as a gift while pregnant with my first child. It truly spoke to the uncertainty I was feeling about being pregnant, the isolation I felt, and the confusion. It let me know I was not alone. It also let me know that bonding with your baby does not have to happen instantly, that you are not a horrible person who should have never become a mother if it is a process. These essays also let me know that my child would become a joy, gave me hope that I could be as good a mother as I wanted to be.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2002

    Essential gift for the new mom!

    I read this while I was pregnant and felt so comforted by it's many messages, most importantly that there are as many styles of being a mom as there are women. I give a copy to accompany every baby shower gift and my friends' feedback is the same everytime. My sister said she felt like it was ok to just be herself and not try to be 'the perfect mother'. It's nice that the price is great too!

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