cover image Beyond Motherhood: Choosing Life Without Children

Beyond Motherhood: Choosing Life Without Children

Jeanne Safer, Safer. Pocket Books, $15.95 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-671-79344-9

``This book is about making a conscious decision not to have a baby,'' writes Safer, a practicing psychoanalyst who made this choice herself in her early 40s. Here Safer offers her story and those of other women and couples who have made the same choice for reasons of temperament or career rather than childhood trauma or sexual orientation. Her point is that women can lead healthy, productive, satisfying lives whether or not they choose the more socially acceptable role of motherhood, which ``is no longer a necessary or sufficient condition for maturity or fulfillment.'' The lives of the women Safer interviews--including women in the arts, lawyers, nurses, even a housewife--certainly bear this out. Sandra Singer, now a committed photographer of children, chose not to live the life of her mother, who ``had many unrealized dreams''; while Barbara Cowan and her husband broke from the baby boom norm in 1952 and ``opted for travel.'' Safer raises intelligent, stirring questions about how these women's childhoods, temperaments and career choices influenced their decision, and about the way our society treats these nonconformists. Sometimes, though, the voices here, rather than reflecting a wide range of viewpoints, seem to echo the author's defense of her decision and to serve to drive her point home. (Feb.)