The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality

Edited by Avital Norman Nathman. Seal (PGW, dist.), $16 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-58005-502-4
Showcasing a diverse set of women and their mothering experiences, this collection by Norman Nathman (the Mamafesto blog) aims to lighten “the social as well as biological burden of good motherhood.” The mythical “Good Mother” emerges as less a cultural “archetype” or media-driven construction than an internalized angst fed by the “self-induced pressure to become the Perfect Mother” and the lurking suspicion that other parents are having an easier time. In each of the 35 contributors’ reflections on her motherhood challenges—kept short and digestible, and ranging in tone from thoughtful to self-congratulatory—a set of shared narratives emerges: women seeking absolution for moments of perceived failure; women seeking validation for their individual choices; and women seeking to retrieve a sense of self-possession. While some don’t stray far from the “tired tropes” or the blog confessional, several essays by scholars, activists, artists, and professionals delve into the ways in which “motherhood, as an institution, remains oppressive to women today,” and expose ideals of femininity that are not just exclusively straight, white, and biological but ensure that “women’s work” remains “invisible and unpaid.” Refreshingly honest, frequently funny, and overall intelligently self-reflective, these voices reassure the anxious and guilt-ridden that “there is no such thing as a good mother. There is only the good enough mother.” (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/25/2013
Release date: 12/01/2013
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-58005-503-1
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