I borrowed this book because the title popped up when I searched for Mary Roach’s name in the NLB website.
The cover discribed this : 33 Mothers write about children, sex, men, aging, faith, race and themselves.
Reading this book is akin to listening to my friends tell me their stories, except that they’re probably not as articulate or long winded. Yes, I’ve heard it all before. Well for most of the stories anyway. It’s amazing to read the book and realise how mothers are the same everywhere, whether in Asia or in USA.
I was also surprised to learn many of the writers who had contributed to the book are single mothers, whether by default of separation, or by choice -i.e., through artificial insemination from a sperm bank or from a temporary partner.
There are stories of inter-racial marriages that give a glimpse of cultural differences (between an American woman and her Iranian Muslim husband); or the racial prejudice suffered by the African American wife in NY city.
Along the way, one gets advice from the writers, like how Janet Fitch talks about parenting 13-year-old girls:
The girl needs the woman to stay back and let her emerge into her own space and her own style. But at the same time, she still needs the woman to set boundaries, to know that she is being held, even when they’re making it up as they go along.
Ariel Gore laments about parenting teenagers:
I’m not the mother-of-a-teenager I meant to be. When I thought forward to these years, I saw myself so well adjusted: easy to talk to, the owner of "safe" house where all the kids would hang out. At the very least, I imagined I’d be quiet and knowing, calm and rational. But most days, I’m failing around, flawed, clueless and irrational.
Sounds really familiar.
Cecelie S. Berry tries to bring up her son to be colour blind. But when Sam attends a summer cap for the academically gifted, he asks, "Why are so many of these kids Asian and Indian?"
Lastly, Susan Straight echoes my inner thoughts on mother’s body:
Our impossible, celebrity-charged standards now: Cindy Crawfordd, SJP, Catherine Zeta Jones, Madonna(She forgot Heidi Klum). Belly-baring as soon as possible after giving birth; no alteration in the body – and for most of the rest of us, guilt or disbelief at the amount of flawless skin exposed for our instruction. Those abs, whose below-navel planes of flash with no stretch marks or after baby pooch, requires hours of gym time and personal trainers, which requires nannies, which would require entirely different lives for most mothers, not just postpartum bellies.
She continues to add:
We’re in our thirties, our forties. We have given birth to and are raising children. Who expects us to look like this?
It’s a great book, at least to remind this mother that mothers are the same everywhere and that I’m not alone.