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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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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.
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.
|Life Within Life||13|
|In Search of the Maternal Instinct||22|
|Waiting for Brendan||32|
|Pokega, From the Heart||39|
|Most Reluctantly Mother||50|
|Moral Terrors and Motherhood||72|
|A Painless Labor||85|
|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|
|Baby Blues: A Journal||155|
|Breastfeeding: The Agony and the Ecstasy||181|
|The Last Nursing Mommy Tells All||192|
|The Eternal Now||211|
|A Family Romance||232|
|Bye Bye Baby: On Mother Guilt and Poverty||243|
|The Hand That Pushes the Stroller||254|
|Confessions of a Lazy Mom||275|
|Making It Work: My Life as a Career-Minded Mother||287|
|The Buddy System||297|
|List of Contributors||327|
Posted February 24, 2003
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 6, 2002
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!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.