Life's Work

Life's Work

4.5 2
by Lisa Belkin
     
 

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Life's Work is the story of one woman's search for balance -- and the realization that it can't be found. It is the story of modern motherhood, where true happiness is often reached when you finally give up and give in.
A few years ago, while trying to make sense of her own hectic world, award-winning journalist Lisa Belkin was asked to write a very

Overview

Life's Work is the story of one woman's search for balance -- and the realization that it can't be found. It is the story of modern motherhood, where true happiness is often reached when you finally give up and give in.
A few years ago, while trying to make sense of her own hectic world, award-winning journalist Lisa Belkin was asked to write a very personal column for The New York Times. She called it "Life's Work" because it was about the intersection -- or, more accurately, the collision -- of life and work.
Since then she's been inundated with stories of other people trying to catch their "balance": the CEO father-to-be who restructured his entire company so he would have time to see his baby, the divorced mom who thought she might have to give away the family iguana because the store that sold live food closed before she got home from work. But after hundreds of columns and thousands of reader e-mails, Belkin has yet to hear from a single person who has everything neatly under control. Finally, while trying to confer with her editor from a cell phone in her pediatrician's office, she reached an epiphany: No one can do it because it can't be done.
With natural wit and hard-won wisdom, Belkin takes on the myth of the Supermom. Fans of her "Life's Work" columns will find them at the heart of this book, but they will also find the life lived behind those columns -- stories of her husband, who really deserves more attention; of her two young sons, who might eat more vegetables and fewer chicken nuggets if she had more energy; of her editors, who expect her to fit some work into a day filled with school plays and science projects; and of her mother, who is always happy to offer advice about how things used to be. The book that results is a conversation between a columnist and her readership, between a work-from-home mom and her generation.
Lisa Belkin's Life's Work speaks to anyone trying to find meaning in a world where work has become life (and vice versa). Hers is the funny, poignant, and always dead-on story of trying to do it all...and learning that doing just some of it is enough.

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
Collecting together many of Belkin's popular "Life's Work" columns from The New York Times and adding new material, this is a witty and dead-on depiction of the life of the modern working mother. With a healthy dose of self-deprecation, Belkin explores the obstacles inherent in the act of juggling parenthood (or even marriage) and work, but she never fails to observe and celebrate the humor in the chaos that ensues. More than anything else, these essays pay homage to the effort that so many working mothers pour into filling their lives with joy and fulfillment -- regardless of whether their labor is carried out in the home, in the office, or somewhere in between.
Publishers Weekly
Belkin, the New York Times's "Life's Work" columnist, has gathered some previously published pieces with some new material for a lighthearted look at many career moms' reality: juggling career, kids and personal needs. No one can give 100% to each, Belkin reassures, so "let's start by forgiving ourselves when we can't do it." To get readers in the mood, Belkin shares her own worst moments: potty training her son while on the phone with "Very Important Sources," having to finish work on some galleys at gasp! the pediatrician's office and her son's tantrums at discovering his work-at-home mom wasn't available for play. Tears at work, morning sickness, breast pumping, laptop addiction, work addiction Belkin at least mentions all the usual career-mom issues. But since the entries are only a few pages long, treatment can be disappointingly superficial: when stressed at work, eat a chocolate; consider buying a second computer for kids to channel them away from Mom's. Hidden in all the feel-better solidarity are some valuable nuggets. Describing the importance of the nanny/babysitter's happiness to her own mental health, Belkin identifies a feeling many women share, but rarely discuss. Also on target is her observation that her mother's generation "did it all," but serially first the family, then the career. Despite its old-hat thesis, Belkin's book will serve as a pick-me-up to some career mothers in need of sympathy. (May 1) Forecast: With a first serial in Glamour and second serial in Ladies' Home Journal, Belkin's sure to gain national stature, even if her short takes work better as newspaper columns than in hardcover. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
New York Times reporter Belkin needed an outlet for discussing the trials of being both a modern working woman and a modern mother, so she founded the newspaper's "Life's Work" column, which often incorporates stories from both men and women. This editorial technique creates a sense of solidarity among her readers: they can take comfort in knowing that no one can easily juggle these roles. Collected here are 54 brief selections, some new, others previously published but expanded. They make convenient commuter reading, but as they are intended as condensed slices-of-modern-life, they do not offer a great deal of soul searching (for that, see the memoirs that follow). This will have a previous reader base, so buy where demand warrants. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/02.] Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A tell-it-like-it-is collection of short essays that cheerfully and comfortingly address the conflicts between life as a spouse and parent and life as a working person. Belkin (Show Me a Hero, 1999, etc.) gets right to the point: "It cannot be done." It's impossible to be a 100% parent, a 100% worker, and a 100% human being, she writes: "So what?" Her verbal shrug is not an attempt to downplay the importance of the multiple roles that women and men assume, but to reassure all the fretful people who try to reconcile work, parenting, and relationships, plus diet and exercise, that something—maybe lots of things—have to give. Some of the pieces began in Belkin's New York Times column, "Life's Work," then were updated as she followed events (the dot.com crash, September 11); some are original. The author achieves a graceful balance between personal anecdotes and reports from others (families, couples, retirees, and singles) who juggle job and life. Key chapters go to the high-powered, two-career couple who plan to lunch together often to keep their relationship meaningful. Work pressures short-circuit their lunch plans, so they quit their jobs and take a sabbatical in Bali, reassessing their priorities. Another tale reflects on a wired entrepreneur who, when he found that he and his wife were going to have a baby, planned to restructure his company, embracing parental leave, day care, and shorter hours for all his employees. Those plans fell apart with the technology downturn. Belkin also deftly discusses jet lag, filing expense reports, and pets in the office, issues not as trivial as they might seem. There's an insightful epilogue on how little September 11 changed the pattern of work vs.life conflicts. Written with wit and perspective, these short takes on integrating home and job will be balm for guilt-stricken parents and harried workers. First serial to Glamour; second serial to Ladies' Home Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780743228954
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
05/30/2002
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
File size:
284 KB

Read an Excerpt

The woman Mediaweek says "could very well be the next generation's Anna Quindlen" steps out from behind her celebrated New York Times column in a book about the intersection -- or more accurately collision -- of life and work.

A few years ago, award-winning reporter Lisa Belkin left the office to work from home, amid the chaos of two young children, writing deadlines, and everyday domestic details. She began writing a very personal column for and about people trying to "balance" their lives, but hundreds of columns later, she noticed that she had not heard from a single person who had everything under control. Then she realized: Nobody can do it because it simply can't be done.

Life's Work is the story of modern motherhood, where true happiness is often reached when you finally give up and give in. Belkin's is the funny, poignant, and always dead-on story of trying to do it all...and learning that doing just some of it is enough.

Meet the Author


Lisa Belkin is a reporter for The New York Times and author of that newspaper's "Life's Work" column. She is the author of First, Do No Harm, about a Texas hospital as seen through the prism of its ethics committee, and Show Me a Hero, about the effects of a judge's desegregation order on one small neighborhood. Belkin lives with her husband, Bruce, two sons, Evan and Alex, and dog, Riley, in Westchester County, New York.

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Life's Work: Confessions of an Unbalanced Mom 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so increadble to read! I love the woman who's husband bought brown grapes! I love this book so much I have been refering it to friends (I have even purchased it for some who were at their wit's end). Thanks Lisa for putting this book together!