The Mother Dance: How Children Change Your Life

The Mother Dance: How Children Change Your Life

by Harriet Lerner
     
 

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Bestselling Author Harriet Lerner leads you in the most magnificent dance of all: The Mother Dance!

Her phenomenally successful audio books have profoundly changed the way we think about anger and intimacy. Now psychologist and mother Harriet Lerner tackles the most emotionally charged, issue of all time: motherhood.

In her own candid, and compassionate

Overview

Bestselling Author Harriet Lerner leads you in the most magnificent dance of all: The Mother Dance!

Her phenomenally successful audio books have profoundly changed the way we think about anger and intimacy. Now psychologist and mother Harriet Lerner tackles the most emotionally charged, issue of all time: motherhood.

In her own candid, and compassionate voice, Dr. Lerner discusses this extraordinary, life-altering experience as no one before her has done. Listen as she explores:

  • his new life versus your new life
  • worry guilt, self-blame and other unavoidables of motherhood
  • how your own childhood influences your parenting
  • the unexpected feelings motherhood awakens in you — good and bad
  • how children change your marriage
  • how to talk to kids you can't talk to
  • mothers and daughters — mothers and sons
  • and much much more — from labor pains to empty nest pangs

Lerner shares personal stories and vivid case examples that are both hilarious and heart-wrenching. Lerner will guide you on this lifelong journey, whether you're considering having children, currently raising little ones, or are the mother of grown-up children.

Read by the author on two cassettes.

Editorial Reviews

San Francisco Chronicle
Lerner is a serious writer with a gift for translating scholarly ideas into books that hit a nerve with lay audiences. The Mother Dance is an engaging account of her parenting experiences that will leave many mothers chuckling with recognition. Lerner's reassuring tone and intelligent advice make her book a useful addition to any parent's bookshelf.
Library Journal
Lerner reads her own work on motherhood with mixed success. She may characterize motherhood as a dance, but what she describes is more of a rollercoaster ride. She shows parenting as a challenging, confusing, and, at times, exhilarating emotional mix of worry, guilt, and joy. As might be expected, she begins with the experience of pregnancy and ends with the empty-nest syndrome. Throughout, she illustrates her points with stories from bringing up her own two boys. She borrows from friends and others to show the unique relationships between mothers and daughters. Her's is not so much a guide for mothers-to-be as it is splendid reassurance for women in the thick of it. The only weakness is Lerner's measured reading pace. It is too slow and seems stilted--a marked contrast to the lively subject matter.--Jeanne Leader, Everett Community Coll. Lib., WA
Clare McHugh
The Mother Dance is the most reassuring, gutsy, and entertaining book about being a mother that I have ever read. A real tour de force!
New Woman
USA Today
Rare authenticity.
Kirkus Reviews
A popular psychotherapist writes with grace and striking candor about what it is like to be a mother. Lerner has two sons, both now grown and out of the house but still friends with their mother and father, and with each other. That is no small accomplishment, and while Lerner gives herself and her husband (also a psychologist) appropriate credit for what they did right, she also looks back regretfully on what she did wrong.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780694519743
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/01/1998
Edition description:
Abridged, 2 Cassettes
Product dimensions:
4.54(w) x 7.04(h) x 0.81(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Conception and Birth:A Crash Course in Vulnerability

I became pregnant in the old-fashioned way. I never believed that I would really become pregnant because the thought of having an entire person grow inside your body is such a bizarre idea that only lunatics or religious fanatics would take for granted the fact that it might actually happen. And then there is the matter of getting the baby out, which is something no normal person wants to think about.

I was thirty when I became pregnant for the first time. Beforethis pregnancy, I had not experienced one maternal twinge. Whenmy friends would bring their infants in little carrying baskets todinner parties, I felt sorry for them (the parents) because the wholething seemed like so much trouble. "Oh, yes' " I would chirp withfalse enthusiasm when asked if I would like to hold one of thesetiny babies. But I was just being polite or trying to do the normal-appearing thing. I always sat down before allowing anyone to handme a baby because I'm something of a klutz and I knew that ifanyone was going to drop a baby it would be me.

To say that I was not maternal is an understatement of vast proportion. I enjoyed adult company, and my idea of a good time did not include hanging out with babies who were unable to dress themselves, use the toilet, or make interesting conversation. By contrast, my husband, Steve, truly loved babies and never worried about dropping them. We always planned to have children, but not, on my part, out of any heartfelt desire. I just thought that having children was an important life experience I shouldn't miss out on, any more than I wanted tomiss out on live concerts or traveling through Europe. Although I thought having children seemed like the thing to do, I put it off as long as I reasonably could.

As soon as I got the news that I was pregnant, however, I was bursting with self-importance and pride. I wanted to grab strangers in the supermarket and say, "Hey, I may look like a regular person, but I'm pregnant, you know!" The fact that other women had done this before me didn't make it feel any less like a miraculous personal achievement.

My confidence inflated even more when I sailed through my first trimester without a flicker of nausea or discomfort. I took credit for the fact that things were moving along so swimmingly and I concluded that this was a "good sign," that maybe I was suited to motherhood after all.

But at the beginning of my second trimester I began spotting, then bleeding. My doctor asked if I wanted to consider having an abortion because the baby's risk of brain damage was significant. Sometimes I wouldn't bleed at all and Id be filled with hope, and sometimes I'd really bleed and think that I -- or the baby --was dying. I felt panic-stricken, filled with a mixture of terror for our dual survival and of utter humiliation at the prospect of ruining someone's expensive couch.

I consulted with an expert at the University of Kansas MedicalCenter, then transferred to the best obstetrician in Topeka, onewith outstanding diagnostic skills who did not think my baby would be brain damaged. Basically the whole thing was a gamble.We didn't know whether enough of the placenta would stayattached, because it had become implanted too low and was shearing off as the pregnancy progressed. There is probably a more medically accurate way to describe what was happening, but this is how I understood my situation at the time. I had a healthy fetus in utero, and I thought that the medical profession, as advanced as it was, should know how to make a placenta stay put. It seemed like a minor technicality that needn't have life-or-death consequences.

Containing my anxiety was not easy. When I was five months' pregnant, Steve and I were watching a late-night adventure story about a group of people trapped in the elevator of a high-rise building. The bad guy, lurking above them in the elevator shaft, was severing the steel cables that held the cabin. Panic spread among the occupants as they swung about, their lives now hanging by a thread. What a stupid, boring plot, I thought. Seconds later, I felt as if I couldn't breathe. I told Steve I was about to faint or I was having a heart attack or I was simply going to die. "Call the doctor at home!" I commanded my frightened husband. "Wake him up!"

"It sounds like you're hyperventilating, doesn't it?" the doctor said when I had composed myself enough to describe my symptoms. I should have put my head in a paper bag. Now that it was determined that I would live, I was embarrassed that we had awakened him at midnight -- two psychologists failing to recognize the ordinary symptoms of anxiety. The television show must have triggered my terror about what was happening within my own body. The image of people trapped in an elevator with the weakened cords threatening to plunge them to their death stayed with me for a long time.

Having a baby was now almost all I cared about. I wanted this baby with a fierceness I had not known was possible, and I would burst into tears if I found myself in line at the supermarket with a mother and her infant. I'm not sentimental about fetuses, so there was no way I could have anticipated the searing intensity of this bond and the devastation I felt at the prospect of my loss. I desperately, desperately, desperately wanted this baby, but what I got was a crash course in feeling totally vulnerable and helpless. Indeed, having children, even in so-called ordinary circumstances, is a lifelong lesson in feeling out of control. So if you're one of those total control freaks, I advise you at all costs to avoid making or adopting a baby.

What People are saying about this

Mary Pipher, Ph.D.
Lerner writes with charm, precision and at times almot unbearably honesty about what motherhood is. She's a mother, a therapist and a wise woman. This book shows us the way.
— Author of Reviving Ophelia
Mary Pipher
"Harriet Lerner writes with charm, precision and at times unbearable honesty about what motherhood is. This book shows us the way." -- Author of Reviving Ophelia
Naomi Judd
Here are the stories that your own mother might never have had the courage to tell you. Once you start reading you won't allow yourself to be interrupted from the unflinchingly honest revelations about the awesome power of being a mother.
Gloria Steinem
"Harriet Lerner pioneers on behalf of women's whole humanity. Each chapter in The Mother Dance is worth the price of admission."
Dr. Benjamin Spock
In The Mother Dance, there are no mistakes in parenting - only learning experiences told with a great sense of humor.
Clare McHugh
The Mother Dance is the most reassuring, gutsy, and entertaining book about being a mother that I have ever read. A real tour de force!
Thomas Moore, Ph.D.
The Mother Dance is one of the wisest and most honest books on parenting I have read. As a parent myself, I ate up story after story, insight after insight. This excellent book offers a reader pleasurable learning, an oxymoron in the world of education and professionalism, and it is deceptively simple. With its fluid and engaging language lies solid psychological insight and analysis.
— Author of Care of the Soul and The Soul of Sex
Betty Carter
I couldn't put this book down. It comes the closest I've ever seen to fully articulating the dilemmas, insecurities, and the many great joys of motherhood.
Anne Lamott
What a gift Harriet Lerner's work continues to be. I loved The Mother Dance; it's wonderful -- true, touching, practical, spiritual, sanity-saving, and I laughed out loud a number of times, with recognition, surprise, and gratitude.

Meet the Author

Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., is one of our nation’s most loved and respected relationship experts. Renowned for her work on the psychology of women and family relationships, she served as a staff psychologist at the Menninger Clinic for more than two decades. A distinguished lecturer, workshop leader, and psychotherapist, she is the author of The Dance of Anger and other bestselling books. She is also, with her sister, an award-winning children's book writer. She and her husband are therapists in Lawrence, Kansas, and have two sons.

Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., is one of our nation’s most loved and respected relationship experts. Renowned for her work on the psychology of women and family relationships, she served as a staff psychologist at the Menninger Clinic for more than two decades. A distinguished lecturer, workshop leader, and psychotherapist, she is the author of The Dance of Anger and other bestselling books. She is also, with her sister, an award-winning children's book writer. She and her husband are therapists in Lawrence, Kansas, and have two sons.

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