cover image The Mask of Motherhood: How Becoming a Mother Changes Everything and Why We Pretend It Doesn't

The Mask of Motherhood: How Becoming a Mother Changes Everything and Why We Pretend It Doesn't

Susan Maushart, Author New Press $24 (266p) ISBN 978-1-56584-483-4

Adopting the posture of a prophetic truth teller, Maushart (Sort of a Place Like Home) makes some valuable points about contemporary attitudes toward motherhood. She attacks the myth that women can have it all, warning mothers that they will find themselves instead ""doing it all."" Furthermore, she argues, if women dared to speak the truth, they would open themselves to ridicule from those who view ""achievement, control, and autonomy as the highest of adult aspirations."" Motherhood, she stresses, is not and has never been simply one of many ingredients in the ""Easymix"" lifestyle. She's less convincing--and sometimes infuriating--when discussing childbirth: arguing that women's need for control dictates their childbirth decisions (a natural childbirth for some, a medically managed one for others), Maushart leaves no room for the possibility that a mother's choice might be driven by her desire to do what's best for the baby. Similarly, her insistence that breast-feeding women can't work outside the home because of a lactation-induced ""hormonal fog"" ignores or belittles the successful experiences of countless nursing, working mothers. In short, while Maushart provides a bracing reality check for women contemplating motherhood, she's not breaking any new ground. Any woman who has read Vicky Iovine's The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy or The Girlfriends' Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood can consider herself a recipient of the truth that Maushart claims is so hard to find. (Feb.)