Monday, June 29, 2009
BAD MOTHER by Ayelet Waldman
I have been putting off this book review because I'm not sure how I am going to review it. Reading this book became a very personal experience for me and my impressions of the book may be skewed.
I loved this book. It could be that BAD MOTHER is just what I needed to read right now. I thought it was going to be another one of those books in the "not now Sweetie, Mommy needs a martini" genre. You know the ones. All those mommy bloggers who complain about being a mom in a snarky "fun" way. This book does not fall into that category.
Waldman recently came under fire for claiming to love her husband more than her children. People had very strong reactions to that statement. I have no real opinion on all of that controversy either way. I was just curious to see what else she had to say. Waldman clearly loves her family. She does not sentimentalize motherhood nor does she present it as a burden. She is simply a mother trying to navigate the complexities of our modern world.
When Waldman talked about the challenges she faced with many bloggers and online mom "support" groups, I nodded my head. A giant lightbulb went off in my head when she used the example of attachment parenting. People seem to be able to disagree about a lot of things in life and move on but parenting doesn't seem to be one of them. Why is that? Waldman points out that parenting is a belief system for people. It becomes a point where people either subscribe to your view or they don't and there aren't a lot of grey areas. What a simple idea and how true!
I cried when Waldman discussed her struggles with breastfeeding. I was so committed to breastfeedings when I started out and I nearly drove myself crazy trying to sort through all the advice I was given. Northern California is filled with attachment parenting/breastfeeding/anti-immunization/co-sleeping advocates and heaven help you if you don't do those things. People made me feel like the breastfeeding issues were all my fault. I managed to breastfeed for seven months and would have done it longer if I could. To this day, I still feel like a failure.
I cried even more when Waldman shared the horrible circumstances of the abortion of her third child. It takes a very brave person to share a story like that. I thank God that I have never been put in that position and I can't imagine what it would be like.
I appreciate Waldman's openness and her no-nonsense approach. I found myself nodding my head quite a bit and thinking about how I would react in similar situations. The truth is that we all simply do the best we can and hope for the best!
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. This book may not have much to say to individuals who are not parents but it does offer a unique perspective on many issues facing moms today such as why we seem to have trouble simply supporting one another. I have a feeling I will be referring back to this book in the future and I look forward to Waldman's next literary effort.