Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink

Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink

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by Katrina Alcorn
     
 

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Winner of a Foreword IndieFab Book of the Year Award

Katrina Alcorn was a 37-year-old mother with a happy marriage and a thriving career when one day, on the way to Target to buy diapers, she had a breakdown. Her carefully built career shuddered to a halt, and her journey through depression, anxiety, and insomnia—followed by medication, meditation, and

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Overview

Winner of a Foreword IndieFab Book of the Year Award

Katrina Alcorn was a 37-year-old mother with a happy marriage and a thriving career when one day, on the way to Target to buy diapers, she had a breakdown. Her carefully built career shuddered to a halt, and her journey through depression, anxiety, and insomnia—followed by medication, meditation, and therapy—began.

Alcorn wondered how a woman like herself, with a loving husband, a supportive boss, three healthy kids, and a good income, was unable to manage the demands of having a career and a family. Over time, she realized that she wasn’t alone; many women were struggling to do it all—and feeling as if they were somehow failing as a result.

Mothers are the breadwinners in two-thirds of American families, yet the American workplace is uniquely hostile to the needs of parents. Weaving in surprising research about the dysfunction between the careers and home lives of working mothers, as well as the consequences to women’s health, Alcorn tells a deeply personal story about “having it all,” failing miserably, and what comes after. Ultimately, she offers readers a vision for a healthier, happier, and more productive way to live and work.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This memoir of obligation overload mixes personal stories with impassioned, research-based rants about the struggles of working mothers in the U.S. Despite a supportive husband, good childcare, a successful Web design career, and a well-intentioned friend for a boss, Alcorn has to deal with anxiety and panic attacks. Though she tries to maintain control via cognitive behavioral therapy and sheer force of will, after the birth of her new baby and a work situation that requires her to return to work full-time almost immediately, she suffers a breakdown and dissociative anxiety that convinces her that quitting her job is the only sane choice, though she still must deal with residual anxiety, insomnia, and depression. Compared with the struggles of lower-income or single moms, Alcorn’s story reads as entitled; her guilt comes from leaving her kids at a loving daycare provider, and dealing with difficult clients and too much travel for work. But for Alcorn’s peers, the book is a brave admission that we are not all successfully managing our overbooked lives, and should not feel alone. On the whole, the book provides a powerful reminder that even well-to-do mothers do not thrive in our current system, that having a positive attitude, leaning in, or opting out aren’t viable choices for many women, and that other countries (such as Denmark and Sweden) serve working mothers more effectively. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
“Alcorn's moving account is pertinent for American women and men who are trying to chase their own version of the American dream, and she offers helpful suggestions and techniques to combat the inevitable stress encountered along the way. An eye-opening, expressive narrative on an often hidden but common problem in American society.”
Kirkus Reviews

“. . . the book is a brave admission that we are not all successfully managing our overbooked lives, and should not feel alone. On the whole, the book provides a powerful reminder that even well-to-do mothers do not thrive in our current system, that having a positive attitude, leaning in, or opting out aren’t viable choices for many women, and that other countries (such as Denmark and Sweden) serve working mothers more effectively.”
Publishers Weekly

“Alcorn tells a gripping story of how the demands of work and parenting sent her over the edge. She brilliantly connects her experience with key changes we must make to end the insanity and make work fit our lives.”
Joan Blades, author of The Motherhood Manifesto and co-founder of MomsRising.org

“This is a deeply important story told by a highly gifted writer. So many working mothers are living in 'emotional debt' these days that this book is bound to strike a chord.”
Arlie Hochschild, author of The Second Shift

“Katrina Alcorn wrote the book that desperately needed to be written. In Maxed Out, Alcorn goes where most memoirs don't, recounting the terror-inducing triple play of work, marriage and motherhood which give rise to extreme depression and anxiety. From her darkest days to her recovery, Alcorn tells an awfully compelling story, giving us insight into a world where most fear to tread, and inspiring us to rethink how we spend one of our most precious resources: our time.”
Robert Wilder, author of Daddy Needs a Drink

“This is important, even essential, food for thought. We have to stop and take stock of our lives. We have to make sure that if it all ended tomorrow, we would feel right about the way we spent our time. That’s the conversation this book wants to start.”
Kelly Corrigan, New York Times bestselling author of The Middle Place and Lift

"Every once in a while you pick up a book that just grabs you by the scruff of your neck and commands your undivided attention. [Maxed Out] was just that kind of book for me.”
Sarah Welch, BabyCenter.com

“. . . once I started reading, I couldn’t put the book down. Maxed Out is elegantly written and beautifully structured, with a logical, almost inevitable narrative . . .”
Katherine Lewis, About.com Working Moms

“. . . I could not stop reading even though it had become the deep, dark of night . . . [Alcorn's] story is riveting, and it is one that will resonate with any mother, or woman thinking of becoming a mother, whether she works outside the home or not.”
Maureen Langloss, Project Eve

Kirkus Reviews
Alcorn chronicles her descent into a nervous breakdown. "One-third of adults in the United States will have an anxiety problem within their lifetimes," writes the author in her honest portrayal of her slide into panic attacks and a full-blown breakdown, and "women are 60 percent more likely to suffer an anxiety disorder than men." In her late 30s, Alcorn had a successful, full-time career, three great childrenand a loving husband who also worked. What she didn't realize was that in her attempt to juggle the needs of her boss and clients with those of her young children and husband, she'd neglected to find time for herself. The slightest twist in a carefully plotted schedule, such as a sick child, a needy co-worker or an annoying client, threw a monkey wrench into her life, to the point where she could no longer function. "Unfortunately," she writes, "the juggling act of working and parenting can put you in a perpetual state of fight or flight. The adrenaline glands start producing stress hormones like mad….Eventually, the nervous system maxes out, and the body goes haywire." When she did manage to balance all the elements, she felt guilty. At work, she wanted to be with her kids; at home, she thought about work, and she came to realize through support groups and research that she was definitely not alone in feeling overwhelmed. Alcorn's moving account is pertinent for American women and men who are trying to chase their own version of the American dream, and she offers helpful suggestions and techniques to combat the inevitable stress encountered along the way. An eye-opening, expressive narrative on an often hidden but common problem in American society.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781580055239
Publisher:
Avalon Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/28/2013
Pages:
392
Sales rank:
392,832
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 5.50(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Katrina Alcorn is a writer and an experience design consultant. She holds a master’s degree in journalism and documentary filmmaking from UC Berkeley, and is a regular blogger at WorkingMomsBreak.com and for The Huffington Post.

Since 1999, Alcorn’s day job has been leading design projects with corporations in a variety of industries to help them put technology in the service of people. This work has given her an insider’s glimpse into dozens of companies—from Fortune 500s to small startups—and she has spoken at more than a dozen design conferences internationally. She lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and three children.

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Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Finally, someone out there has written a book on the day to day challenges us Mom's face between working full-time, parenting full-time, being a wife full-time, maintaining friendships full-time, managing family finances full-time, keeping up with housework full-time, while being depressed and sometimes miserable at the same time! It's tough, but I really appreciated reading Ms. Alcorn's take on these issues and hope more women read this if they are feeling or starting to feel "Maxed Out."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must read for all working moms to know that you're not alone!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book helped me realize that the way I was feeling was pretty normal for a person in my situation. It's hard to be all things to all people...and finding a balance can be a challenge. After the birth of my third child in December, I am certainly feeling the strain. This book was worth reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is the first of its kind that I've read that truly captures the challenges faced by educated mothers with successful careers. Alcorn's story about her struggles as a working mother is poingnantly written and will resonate with many modern families. While she tries hard to be inclusive of many different family types, giving a nod here and there to single parents and those of lower economic status, her own story may seem, to some, the rantings of someone who is part of a spoiled, affluent class. To her credit, she is self- deprecating and sensitive to this, suggesting that if her proposed solutions would benefit her, they could most certainly benefit those in even worse shape. Alcorn's proposed solutions aren't exactly groundbreaking and are highly liberal in nature. Some will embrace this and others will be turned off. However, what is groundbreaking is that Alcorn alludes to the real complexity of the problem, and to the fact that modern day families are indeed part of a new, grand, social experiment. Furthermore, it will take everyone working together to ease the career burdens faced by today's parents. Her message is a powerful one, and opens the door for further discourse on the topic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago