Working moms are going to love Life's Work. A collection of columns from The New York Times, this entertaining and thoughtful compilation suggests that the next time you are overwhelmed with laptop, cell phone, deadlines, appointments, pets, and kids, you try something new: shrugging. As author Lisa Belkin says in the introduction, "I am not saying that none of these things matter. They all matter, but not all of the time."
Her columns make great reading for waiting rooms or bus commutes, as each one is just a few pages long. Divided by topic rather than chronological age, you'll start off with a look at balancing work and marriage, progress to pregnancy and babies, and end with sections on travel, organization, and a reexamination of shifting priorities. Topics are sometimes funny, such as Belkin's ramblings on her professional name (Belkin) and family name (Gelb), and the confusion this causes when her son's school called and asked for a name not in the company's list. But singing "the Barney song" from an airport pay phone and having the women around her weep--stories like this ring so familiar with working moms that it's hard to not get a little teary yourself.
From paternity leave to expectations of babysitters, commuting time to sharing a home computer with an 11-year-old, Belkin manages to address all the daily trivia that take on such importance, as well as the really important stuff that often gets lost in the shuffle. --Jill Lightner
From Publishers Weekly
Belkin, the New York Times's "Life's Work" columnist, has gathered some previously published pieces with some new material for a lighthearted look at many career moms' reality: juggling career, kids and personal needs. No one can give 100% to each, Belkin reassures, so "let's start by forgiving ourselves when we can't do it." To get readers in the mood, Belkin shares her own worst moments: potty training her son while on the phone with "Very Important Sources," having to finish work on some galleys at gasp! the pediatrician's office and her son's tantrums at discovering his work-at-home mom wasn't available for play. Tears at work, morning sickness, breast pumping, laptop addiction, work addiction Belkin at least mentions all the usual career-mom issues. But since the entries are only a few pages long, treatment can be disappointingly superficial: when stressed at work, eat a chocolate; consider buying a second computer for kids to channel them away from Mom's. Hidden in all the feel-better solidarity are some valuable nuggets. Describing the importance of the nanny/babysitter's happiness to her own mental health, Belkin identifies a feeling many women share, but rarely discuss. Also on target is her observation that her mother's generation "did it all," but serially first the family, then the career. Despite its old-hat thesis, Belkin's book will serve as a pick-me-up to some career mothers in need of sympathy.
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