Sunday, June 16, 2013

What Mothers Do, A book review

WHAT MOTHERS DO-Especially when it looks like nothing
By: Naomi Stadlen
Piatkus Books, London, 2004

I first picked up the book, What Mothers Do, because I was intrigued by the title. I remembered a time when I was a stay at home mother to a preschooler and an infant and I attended a party of my husband’s colleagues. Someone came up to me and asked where I worked. I answered “Right now, I work at home and I have never worked harder in my life.” It was true but I could not point to any specific accomplishments. I was mothering and my work was still in progress. The enquirer walked away to talk to someone else and I felt that my work was not valued at this gathering.
This is the type of feeling that Naomi Stadlen is addressing in this book. She has worked with mother’s support groups and has based this book around the comments of the many mothers she has worked with over the years. Her basic point is that while mothering is a complex and, perhaps, the most important job one can do, it does not have the status that other careers get. There is no pay scale and no immediately visible “product”. This makes it easy to wonder what exactly you have been doing.  All mothers have a point where they wonder but it is worse when father or others also question what happens to your time.
The book defines the complex intricacies of holding your baby and helping him or her to grow up to be a happy productive adult from the day he or she is born. The author has a long chapter discussing what “Mother Love” involves. She also touches on the reactions of mothers to significant others in their lives during this time, including baby fathers, mother’s mothers and in-laws. This book is written from the mother’s perspective so does not cover what these others are thinking. 
The author does not comment on mothering choices, such as breast or bottle or stay at home or go to work,  as that is not the point of the book. As she rightly points out, those choices are between you, your baby and your partner in this venture. Whatever choices you make, the concern that you are doing the best you can is always there.

I know that as a parent of a newborn or young child the last thing you think you have time for is to read a book, but if these concerns are bothering you, this book may give you some peace of mind. Each chapter can be read separately and out of order if that works for you. There isn’t a lot of advice in the book but there is a lot of support to help you regain your or confidence after the major life change that becoming a mother brings.

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