Could be a trend. Several new books out for Mother's Day acknowledge the reality that mothers are people, not paragons. The real moms in these books offer the kind of empathy that only comes from having been there. Maybe mothers will find it a relief to step off the pedestal and admit mistakes. Of course, we love them anyway.
The Imperfect Mom
One of my closest friends gave birth a few weeks ago. As I sat in her apartment several days later, watching this woman--who I've known my whole life--figure out how to hold the baby, try to assess what she needed from different types of whimpering, and navigate the worlds of breastfeeding, Snuglis, and strollers, one question kept running through my mind: How on earth does she know what she's doing? After reading Therese Borchard's new collection, "The Imperfect Mom," I've realized: she doesn't. And it's OK. No offense to my friend--she's already proven herself to be a terrific mother--but Borchard's book makes clear that, despite the myriad childbirth classes, parenting books, expert-led workshops, and lactation consultants, motherhood is often a trial-and-error deal. Ranging from Gail Belsky's candid tale of indecision about her baby boy's circumcision to Pamela Satran's "relaxed" child-proofing to Kelly Harrington Johnson's devastating account of her four miscarriages in one year to novelist Jacquelyn Mitchard's essay on being expelled from her suburban car pool for lateness, this smart and touching collection is sure to inspire women at any stage of motherhood.
The 7 Stages of Motherhood
Call it “Passages” for moms. Motherhood is “the defining event in a woman’s life, a seismic transformation, a path we travel forever,” writes Ann Pleshette Murphy, author of “The 7 Stages of Motherhood.” While books tracing child development abound, motherhood itself as a developmental path in which women grow and change and discover themselves alongside their children. Ms. Murphy, Good Morning America’s parenting expert, proves herself an able trail guide from pregnancy to the day kids leave home for college or jobs. Murphy offers examples from her own less-than-perfect journey (her first baby died a few days after birth from a rare disorder) as mother of two individualistic kids who challenge her assumptions about herself. (She quotes Fay Weldon's wry comment: "Once you have children, you understand how wars start.") There is ample advice from experts and findings from research. But more than anything we hear the voices of real mothers expressing their demons, insecurities, anger, elation, and ferocious love as they grow more fully into their humanity, spurred on by the small people they’ve brought into the world. --Wendy Schuman
I Am My Mother's Daughter
For the millions of Baby Boomers still grappling with unresolved mother issues (made more poignant by their parents' advancing years), Iris Krasnow offers much-needed hope. The author best known for "Surrendering to Marriage" and "Surrendering to Motherhood" looks unblinkingly at the experience of being an adult daughter in her new book, "I Am My Mother's Daughter: Making Peace with Mom Before It's Too Late." Through interviews with more than 100 women, together with insights from Krasnow's own journey with her frail and elderly mother, a Holocaust survivor, she paints a complex picture of anger, resentment, frustration, and punishment—as well as possibilities for forgiveness, peace, love, and healing. Krasnow writes in an accessible style with plenty of compelling first-person accounts of her interviewees in their own words. This is an intimate and intense conversation among girlfriends. The book is at times comforting, at times challenging—but always rich with insight into how every woman must ultimately let go of her mother, even as she accepts those parts of her mother that live deep inside herself. --Holly Lebowitz Rossi