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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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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.
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
Top customer reviews
I will be honest and say that I do not have a favorite essay in this book. They are all wonderful. I kid you not. They all speak to the heart within me as a reader and as a mom. They explained their choices movingly and thoughtfully. They never criticized anyone else for their choices ~~ if they did, they were just as hard on themselves. Each of these woman did not "face off" ~~ they just wrote why their decisions worked the way it does for them and if they had any regrets, they shared that too. If they were frustrated, they acknowledged that. If they were confused, bewildered, happy, sad, excited ... they wrote it. They wrote about women because they are women. They struggle every single day just as much as the rest of us do. At least they're honest about it and they share a piece of their hearts with us.
The title itself is misleading. Really, it is. It really is not about a face off between Stay-At-Home Moms and Career Moms. It is more about women having a discussion with one another over a cup of coffee and just sharing their life stories. I didn't find anyone of these women bashing or criticizing any one else's choices. In reality, that is true among most moms. (Notice, I said most moms ...) These essays really are moving and honest ~~ sometimes, brutal in its honesty and yes, it is true that they all are writers and are in the professional fields (like a reviewer here complained) ~~ they do all come from different walks of life. There are graduates from Ivy League universities. There are single moms who struggled to get to where they are. There are moms who didn't have a clue in what they wanted to do and fell into writing by accident and discovered that they liked it. They, in my opinion, represent all facets of mothers and women. They write about their children, their childhoods, their dreams and their mothers.
If you like to read an intelligent discourse among women, this book is definitely for you. It is enlightening and encouraging for the moms in your life. There is nothing off-putting about this book ~~ in fact, each of these women seem to be proud to be mothers and it shows in their writing. It's definitely one of the best books that I've read so far in 2006.
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.
In Mommy Wars, you'll get a host of viewpoints, some full of ambivalence, some full of guilt and some fully comfortable with their choice -whether it is working or not working outside the home. You'll feel affirmed with some pieces, challenged by others and perhaps alienated by yet others.
No matter the viewpoint, reading this book made me feel more connected to other women, since I've had both guilt about working and affirmation at well. My personal choice was to focus on parenting, primarily because my work schedule was not family friendly.
Reading this book made me realize yet again (since this isn't the first book of its kind to appear) that I was not alone. Parenting is hard. Working can be hard, too. Juggling the two can be...well....very tricky. Sometimes it isn't workable at all. Other times you make it by the seat of your pants. But connecting with other women, whether on the pages of a book or at the park or over lunch..can serve as inspiration and support. It doesn't hurt to have some more of that.
What ISN'T fully explored in this book (beyond what is implied in the personal essays) are the economic realities of work versus staying home. I wish there'd been a bit more detail about that. The reality is that women who bring in under $10.00 an hour may actually lose money by working (and create a higher tax bill, actually reducing income even more). Even so, the payoff may be worth it, since working may satisfy a need to be with other adults, build skills,etc. In time, as the kids grow older and day care isn't necessary, the income may build again.
For other mothers, work isn't worth the sacrifice, no matter how hefty the salary. In the years since I've been a parent, I've known several lawyers, accountants and others who've left work when their children started having trouble at school. The teenage years seemed particularly rough and dropouts from the work force seemed higher in my circle of friends at those times.
But I'm speaking only personally. Read this book and you'll get a wider range of viewpoints about the emotional and financial and spiritual benefits and costs of working. I confess that I'm one of those moms who don't want to miss the time I have with my children, not for work. But I am lucky enough not to have to make that choice - yet.