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Mommy Wars: Stay-at-Home and Career Moms…

Mommy Wars: Stay-at-Home and Career Moms Face Off on Their Choices, Their…

by Leslie Morgan Steiner

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Whether it’s by luck or by chance that one becomes a mother, one thing is certain, there are a lot of choices to make in how one goes about raising them: stay-at-home…continue to work…work full-time…work part-time…work from home…it’s these choices that fuel the elusive mommy wars! The most important thing you can take from this book is that there is no right or wrong choice when it comes to being a parent…the evidence supports nearly ALL arguments…kids who have a stay-at-home parent gain access to certain benefits as do kids whose parents work and utilize daycare of some kind. What makes the difference is choosing what is right for YOU and YOUR family…the happiest mothers are the one’s who make the “right” choice (or balance between choices) for who they are and what their goals are.

The Mommy Wars is a collection of 26 essays by well…mothers (with the exception of one essay which was written by a woman not yet a mother). There is a brief bio for each author and while there are some differences between them, for the most part we’re talking about women who are more educated than the average mother and nearly all of whom turned a lucrative full-time (well paying) career into a similarly well paid freelance gig (part or full time), most have help (if not from family, they have the means to hire all the help they need) and nearly off of them live on the east (New York heavy) or west coasts with very little hard from the middle states. I understand why publishers want books like this…from women with writing experience, but I’d personally be will to sacrifice some quality of writing to hear more varied points of view, because Mommy Wars was interesting and enlightening, it’s also skewed and hangs on the precipice of elitism that will certainly be a big turn-off for some readers.

I think what struck me most about this book is that there isn’t really an external “mommy war” and the common themes of this book are spotlighted as these authors turn a spotlight on their own trials, tribulations and tumultuous thoughts on what is right and necessary to raise their children. There is a pretty even split between the stay-at-home and working mother camps (with more than a few that fall somewhere between) and fairly skewers all the most common stereotypes (smug working mom, bored to death stay-at-home mom, holier than thou stay-at-home mom, etc.) and brings to center stage those issues which are really the most important when deciding what is right for you, because what is right for you and your children is what makes you happy…if being at home and dealing with a toddler all day would drive you batty then work and spend happy quality time with your little ones…if working stresses you out and makes you feel inadequate (and you can manage to stay at home without going bananas from the day in and day out routines) then by all means stay at home or work part-time.

In the end, it’s clear that this so called Mommy War is not going on “out there…” it’s going on inside each woman who chooses motherhood (or has it chosen for her though circumstance). For some the decision to work or stay home is easy, very cut and day. For many…perhaps even most, this decision is heart wrenching, difficult and filled with doubt and worry. The only thing that is certain here is that this is an internal war which will probably never be “won,” but it’s nice to read the battles that others have engaged in and see them stand by their decisions and “get” that the most important (and often the most hurtful) judgments in the decisions of motherhood come from within. That makes this book worth reading, all by itself. I give it four stars, it’s a worthwhile read.
  the_hag | Dec 4, 2007 |
This collection of short essays and memoirs from Mothers working in various settings (home, office, somewhere in between) is intended to explain how the "Other side" of the Mommy wars thinks. It could have been better, it could have been worse. I have a few key complaints about this book:
1) Almost every single entry was written by someone who had a full career as an editor or writer. That's it. No other career paths were given up. No other career types had to be juggled. Furthermore, everyone lived on a coast.
2) Almost every single entry was written by a woman who got pregnant much later in life-late thirties or early forties. This has a dual issue. First, it doesn't do anything to consider the needs and inner-conflicts of women who haven't built up a career for 20 years, who can't freelance, and who can't take year long sabaticals to see how they like it. Second, there's no talk about how to get back into a career after raising a child, which is a serious consideration for many younger mothers (especially those who have gotten divorced from that father).
3) Speaking of fathers-they hardly ever speak of fathers. Arguably, they play a big picture in the mommy wars.
4) If she seriously wanted to consider how women now have a choice, it would have been good to hear from a couple of women who really didn't have a choice-they had to stay home or had to work. ( )
2 vote kaelirenee | Jul 26, 2007 |
I really enjoyed reading this. It was very thought provoking. I reminded me how very mindful we must be of the choices we make in life. ( )
  brownsica | Aug 22, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812974484, Paperback)

With motherhood comes one of the toughest decisions of a woman’s life: Stay at home or pursue a career? The dilemma not only divides mothers into hostile, defensive camps but pits individual mothers against themselves. Leslie Morgan Steiner has been there. As an executive at The Washington Post, a writer, and mother of three, she has lived and breathed every side of the “mommy wars.” Rather than just watch the battles rage, Steiner decided to do something about it. She commissioned twenty-six outspoken mothers to write about their lives, their families, and the choices that have worked for them. The result is a frank, surprising, and utterly refreshing look at American motherhood.

Ranging in age from twenty-five to seventy-two and scattered across the country from New Hampshire to California, these mothers reflect the full spectrum of lifestyle choices. Women who have been home with the kids from day one, moms who shuttle from full-time office jobs to part-time at-home work, hard-driving executives who put in seventy-hour-plus weeks: they all get a turn. The one thing these women have in common, aside from having kids, is that they’re all terrific writers.

Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley vividly recounts how her generation stormed the American workplace–only to take refuge at home when the workplace drove them out. Lizzie McGuire creator Terri Minsky describes what it felt like to hear her kids scream “I hope you never come back!” when she flew to L.A. to launch the show that made her career. Susan Cheever, novelist, biographer, and New York Newsday columnist, reports on the furious battles between the stroller pushers and the briefcase bearers on the streets of Manhattan. Lois R. Shea traded the journalistic fast track for a house in the country where she could raise her daughter in peace. Ann Misiaszek Sarnoff, chief operating officer of the Women’s National Basketball Association, argues fiercely that you can combine ambition and motherhood–and have a blast in the process.

Candid, engaging, by turns unflinchingly honest and painfully funny, the essays collected here offer an astonishingly intimate portrait of the state of motherhood today. Mommy Wars is a book by and for and about the real experts on motherhood and hard work: the women at home, in the office, on the job every day of their lives.

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:38 -0400)

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