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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

book - The Mask of Motherhood


The Mask of Motherhood - How becoming a mother changes our lives and why we never talk about it by Susan Maushart

I wanted to read this book as soon as I read the title. As you know by now, I'm ALL about honesty when it comes to we moms sticking together. Motherhood is tough, challenging, difficult, NOT easy. It can be easier though if we speak up about our experiences instead of judging others and staying silent about our own struggles. So, I gravitated toward this book instantly.

In the introduction, the author wrote, "The messages we receive about mothering promise an Easymix lifestyle: having kids will prove not only fun and good for us, but will blend effortlessly with the other ingredients that go to make up 'the good life' (work, leisure, relationships, sex, to name just a few). The reality hits when the ideal baby in our minds is abruptly displaced by the real baby in our lives. It is then we realize there are no 'easy steps' to follow. Sooner or later we realize we're going to have to make the whole thing up from scratch."

There were good chapters, but overall it was very feminist-driven, which is great in many cases but this was somewhat too much for my own taste. I did, however, LOVE the chapter, "Lactation Intolerant," about breastfeeding and the pressures women feel to only breastfeed instead of bottle or formula feed.

From this chapter on lactation, on page 159, the author wrote about how breastfed babies are more likely to wake up in the middle of the night more frequently and for longer periods of time strictly because the babies enjoy the closeness of being with their parent and can't stay asleep like other babies can. This is a theory I completely agree with, based on people's experiences around me, so it was nice to read it in print. The author's point was that this is something lactation consultants, doctors, the media, even friends, etc don't tell new mothers. They only tell the positive sides of breastfeeding.

On page 168, "The propaganda encourages pregnant women to believe that, as breast feeders, all things will be possible - that, with just a modicum of planning, life will go on exactly as before. We are led to expect further that breastfeeding will add a newer, richer dimension to our lives as women. And it can, I believe. Yet there is a price to pay, and for every dimension added there is a dimension subtracted or diminished. This is common sense. This is life. Yet our persistence in upholding the fantasy of 'having it all' is stronger than our will to confront the most basic of our own realities."

I love the ending of one chapter in this book from page 36, "Unmasking motherhood means accepting that we are all of us making it up as we go along, and wishing we knew better."

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