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Mommy Wars: Stay-at-Home and Career Moms Face Off on Their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families Hardcover – March 7, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (March 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400064155
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400064151
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,865,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Most of the women here, famous and otherwise, express a familiar guilt along with pride at how they make peace with their choices juggling motherhood and career. Some, like Harvard MBA Ann Misiaszek Sarnoff, have pursued a high-octane job while raising two kids; others have scaled back work or work at home in order to be with their kids all day. These mommies (most are upper-middle-class white mothers who've made careers out of writing in some form) almost without exception have solid, provider husbands, and nannies or full-time babysitters. Moms in similar situations stand to gain the most from the collection and will relish such gems as novelist Jane Smiley's "Feminism Meets the Free Market," where she notes, "Home was the refuge when the workplace drove us out," and PW editor-in-chief Sara Nelson's revelation, in "Working Mother, Not Guilty," that her career gives her 10-year-old "a sense that there's a whole world outside of our little family." Washington Post advertising director Steiner offers a valuable opportunity for discussing women's "inner catfight." In lieu of mud-slinging, she presents a reasonable and low-key forum for mutual understanding and respect. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Steiner has set out to resolve the "cat fight" between women who stay at home to raise children and women who pursue careers while raising children. She addresses the infighting that goes on between women who often have no real idea what life is like for those on the other side of what has been called the Mommy Wars. This collection of essays by 26 writers--both stay-at-home and working moms--explores how and why women make their choices between family and career. Steiner precedes each essay with a short biography of the contributor and how she came to make her choice. Contributors include Terri Minsky, creator of Lizzie McGuire; Susan Cheever, New York Newsday columnist; and Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley. Steiner maintains that working moms should appreciate the efforts that stay-at-home moms put into volunteerism, which helps all children, and stay-at-home moms should appreciate the fact that working moms continue to expand opportunities for all women. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

I love reading about how each woman handles the challenges she faces.
Lisa Pozzi
Yes, some essays were beautiful but I found the book demeaning towards women who choose to be stay at home moms.
M. Cherrington
These are by and large wonderful essays, unflinchingly honest and profoundly thoughtful.
Theresa

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By K. Corn TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
These 27 essays provide a wealth of opinions about the range of emotions, controversy and ambivalence that can fill the minds and hearts of mothers. Even those who think they know their values before giving birth may have a profound change of heart. Some decide to stay home. Others go stir crazy and go back to work. Then there are the women who face life-threatening conditions (cancer or something else), have children with disabilities or don't yet have children but are exploring the dilemnas that may face them.

The most wrenching essay for me to read featured a woman who'd already made it through some very, very tough years as a single mom to two young children (her husband deserted the family), struggling with the indignities of welfare and making do as best she could. After she starts to become more successful, meets a decent man and has another child, she learns she may die within "8 months"....that is the grim prognosis...and that fact radically changes her life...forever. I won't go into more detail about that section because I don't want to spoil the suspense of you, the reader, discovering what happens next...but believe me, you won't be able to predict it.

Very few of these women seem to be totally at peace with their decision, at least not without a period of angst and guilt (is this the universal norm for mothers?). Ambivalence and even guilt seemed to be the order of the day, something I could really relate to.

I'd strongly suggest reading this with A Perfect Madness (another exploration of Motherhood) as it goes into greater depth when it comes to researching the challenges facing mothers today. Taken together, the two books provide a wealth of information. Both are honest and insightful.
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Jody Wright on March 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This anthology, as well-intentioned as it is, has one very significant short-coming: the amount of mothers this anthology missed equals the majority of mothers they are trying to market this book to in the first place. These are all professional writers, either formerly or currently or on the side. As with the similar anthology, "Bitch in the House" (Harper, 2003), these essays contain mostly professional women of middle and upper-middle-class families with dreams of success in their chosen field of writing and a husband who doesn't seem to exist.

Because of this, "Mommy Wars" exposes only one very thin layer of the entire picture. If the editor wanted to end the invisible cat fight that she claims all mothers engage in, why didn't she flag down those twenty-six minivans?

In fact, the message this book sent to me was that the "war" only exists between mothers of past, present or future success, in writing or other competitive, professional writing-related fields. To the mothers in this essay, everyone is out to get them, out to compete, because of the cutthroat business they are a part of. Perfectionism, to them, is synonymous with feminism, with motherhood. Success is that mark of a good mother. Success in her children, well, that's even better. That's perfect.

On a more positive note, a handful of mothers had very unique experiences (unique in terms of the content of this anthology). The only essay I truly felt moved by was the first, "Neither Here nor There" by Sally Hingston. This essay left a very poignant message: the mother admitted that she was a bad mom after years of thinking she was perfect.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Anony-mom on June 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
My main complaint is with the editor, Leslie Morgan Steiner, for choosing such similar women to contribute. Most are from the Upper East Side or West Side of Manhattan (no one from below 42nd St, muchless the midwest!), most are affiliated with the publishing world (editors, journalists, columnists, etc.), most are the type of person to specify that she went to "Harvard" or "an ivy league college" even when this specificity has little to do with the essay. They had "Type A" personalities (few spoke about having messy homes); they wrote with that contemporary columnist tone of "aren't I so cute and current?"; more than half a dozen of them shared the EXACT SAME ANECDOTE of being unpopular at cocktail parties because now they were "just moms." (I personally haven't been to a cocktail party in years--I associate them with the pretentious phase I went through and outgrew after college). There is so much more to say and learn about motherhood than the string of essays I've read about one's cocktail party cache going down the drain.

To be fair, several essays were very lovely, vulnerable, and honest. One wrote of post-partum depression, another about the legacy or her mother's suicide, another about the dilemma of helping the daughter of an abusive mom. These and several other essays had, in my opinion, that special quality one reads in great literature. They transcend the ego of the writer and touch upon that soft and mysterious part of the reader, and linger.

But for the most part, I was very annoyed that the part-time editor, who changes into her yoga pants after 2:00 pm every day, had cast such a small net of contributors. Part of me wants to go through the essays and pull quotes that struck me in terms of narcissism and self-entitlement, but I'll refrain.
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