Child of Mine: Original Essays on Becoming a Motherby Christina Baker Kline
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/i>
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.
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 communityskeptical, worried, reflective, and grateful. Think of it as you sneak your two-month-old into the cineplex.
- Random House Publishing Group
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- 5.26(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.75(d)
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