Child of Mine: Original Essay's on Becoming a Mother / Edition 1

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It's difficult to understand just how overwhelming, exhilirating, joyous, and lonely becoming a mother can be—until it happens to you. While many aspects of motherhood are universal, the core of each woman's experience is highly individual and deeply personal. 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 babysitter; 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. In one of the most moving pieces in the book, a mother living in dire poverty in the Vermont backwoods tells of raising her daughter, making do with clothing and toys from the Salvation Army. And we see the adoption experience with all its ups and downs.

The book covers an amazing breadth of experience, and 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 the challenging first year of motherhood. Child of Mine will be the perfect book for mothers-to-be and new mothers, as it will prepare them in a way that no guide or manual can for the exciting and challenging times to come.

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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: 9780786862337
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 5/2/1997
  • Edition description: Gift
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 0.94 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 5.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Christina Baker Kline is a novelist and nonfiction writer. She is the author of the novel Sweet Water, and coauthor of The Conversation Begins: Mothers and Daughters Talk About Living Feminism. She has taught creative writing at Yale, New York University, and the University of Virginia, and currently resides in New York City with her husband, David, and her two children, Hayden and William.

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Table of Contents

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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