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The Mask of Motherhood: How Becoming a Mother Changes Everything and Why We Pretend It Doesn't Paperback – May 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (May 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140291784
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140291780
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.5 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 449,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Becoming a mother is filled with the extremes of emotion --the highest highs and the lowest lows. But women are often reluctant to talk honestly about the experience for fear they'll be seen as bad mothers. With wit and candor, The Mask of Motherhood

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First Sentence
IN THE DEBATES about education, employment, and equity that have dominated the feminist agenda ever since Betty Friedan, motherhood is the one issue that seems to have been left behind. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Vicki W on 31 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
Great book but feel the central point was worked over a few too many times. Well worth reading though
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a very interesting read. Thank you.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 42 reviews
167 of 168 people found the following review helpful
Honest Appraisal of Motherhood 29 Mar. 2001
By Penny - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was prompted to write a review to counter some of the negative reviews that I read about this book on this site. I bought it despite the negative reviews because it came so highly recommended by a friend. I wasn't sorry at all. This is an excellent look at the realities of motherhood for all women, but I think particularly for women who are older & have been engaged in an active professional life for some period of time. I have a number of friends who really could have benefitted from the author's insights into the adjustments to motherhood.
Because of the negative reviews, I admit that I read it on the lookout for evidence that the author was biased against motherhood or for any indication that she herself didn't enjoy motherhood. I found no evidence of this at all! She's not arguing that women who had an easy time with delivery and/or enjoy breastfeeding are lying. She's simply pointing out that it is an adjustment for many women, and yet it's not necessarily discussed (which leaves many women wondering if they are normal or not).
Her chapter on breastfeeding is *not* anti-breastfeeding. It is obvious that she is not a proponent of the attachment theory of parenting (Sears et al). But, for goodness sakes, just because one doesn't necessarily believe in demand feeding doesn't mean one is anti-breastfeeding!
I also thoroughly enjoyed her chapters on The Juggled Life (balancing career & outside interests with motherhood) and the Superwoman chapter on gender roles that may play out in marriages after the arrival of the first baby.
I highly recommend this book -- it's excellent "food for thought," whether you're considering having children, are pregnant or already have one or more children.
46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Thoroughly Insightful and Informative Book! 16 May 2006
By Busy Mom - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wish I had found this book three years ago when I was struggling with post-partum blues, then maybe I wouldn't have felt so alone. I wish I had found this book when I couldn't keep breastfeeding my two, then maybe I wouldn't have felt like a failure or guilty because I wasn't a "good enough mom." This book had me nodding my head throughout the entire book ~~ and yes, there were points that I disagreed with but that's because it wasn't relevant to my situation. This is a must-read for all moms who are overwhelmed with taking care of children and juggling work and childcare.

Unlike some of the reviewers in here, I did not find this book to be negative. I found the author to be concise and thoughtful in her narrative. She shared with the reader her experiences and was honest. She did not make it sound like motherhood is a negative thing ~~ just sometimes, women get blindsided by reality that they had little or no prior knowledge of what to expect. Women just do not talk about these things. Women just do not talk about their lack of breastfeeding experiences or how overwhelmed they are when they are first home with their children and how overwhelmed they get when they go back to work. Sometimes, even the spouses don't help out and they (both mothers and fathers of newborns) find out that they've fallen in traditional roles. However, she did point out that it's just as much as the women's fault as the men's in allowing that to happen. (That is one chapter I read with misgivings because it doesn't fit in my life and perceptions of what is like in my own family.)

This is an informative book ~~ one that I urge all mothers read. It is enlightening and honest. It is not a dry book ~~ it is very interesting and pretty fast paced for me. I did not find this book to be negative in complaining about motherhood. Reality is reality and sometimes, it's hard to bear. I know that I denied my first year of motherhood ~~ I didn't want to admit that I struggled with a lot of issues that were going on at that time. No one wants to admit that being a mother is hard sometimes and that it's tedious, boring and sometimes, just too much. But isn't that true of life? Being a mother may be a job but it is a job that spans over an entire lifetime ~~ and like any job, there are moments of pleasure, joy and tedium.

Any woman who wants to stop feeling alone should read this book. It's worth it.

81 of 85 people found the following review helpful
An important read for moms... 12 April 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I am a mother of a 19-month old and read this book several months ago. I was looking for confirmation that the feelings I was experiencing as a new mom were not unique to me, odd, or unusual. This book encouraged me to relax and trust myself. I've asked friends and my sisters to share their feelings of motherhood -- whether they experienced any negative feelings about the change in their lifestyles, etc., and not one could relate to what I was talking about -- they all simply showered me with how great their kids are...This book descibes that process as typical as we are raised not to complain or label any of the feelings associated with motherhood as negative, no matter how valid those feelings might be. I adore my child -- that is not even in question, and this author seemed to capture the thought process I've experienced as a tired working mom. I recommend this book to any mom who is looking for a honest answer to her question "do you ever feel..."
89 of 99 people found the following review helpful
Thinking mother's must-read 15 Aug. 2000
By Southern Yoga Mom - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Are you a new mother who finds yourself feeling angry all the time? Are you having a hard time reconciling Motherhood into your self-concept? Read this book! Basically a sociology book, "The Mask of Motherhood" explores the reasons why this generation - the 30 and 40 somethings - are having the most difficult time in history adjusting to the demands of parenting. Like it or not, we are the unwilling guinea pigs of the Feminist Experiment. We are the first generation raised to expect much more out of life than just home and children. Our higher expectations make it tough for us to handle the almost complete sacrifice of self that caring for an infant or small child requires. This book doesn't offer any answers, but the glaringly honest examination of the reasons behind this problem will make you think - and reassure you that you're not the only one feeling this way!
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Slightly depressing, but definitely worth reading 24 July 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Susan Maushart tells it like it is--everything from how labor KILLS to how basically impossible it is to combine a career and motherhood (that is, you can do it, but you can't do both equally well and without a lot of pain), to how a good marriage and parenthood pretty much don't go together.
I'm oversimplifying what she has so painstakingly researched and written of course--the book is eloquent and thorough. Her theme throughout is not how terrible motherhood is, but what a monumental and difficult achievement it is, and how women need to not be afraid to tell it like it is, so mothers around the world can get recognition and validation for their experiences (and not feel like they are crazy). I think she opens up some terribly important arguments, issues that have been kept way too quiet. And it does alot to validate mothers who might otherwise be thinking "Am I the only one feeling this way?" For these reasons, it's definitely worth reading.
As a warning, though, I found the book's tone a bit pessimistic by the time I got through the 200+ pages. I think Maushart takes it for granted that we KNOW motherhood is a joy, a meaningful experience, so she doesn't spend alot of time elaborating on the merits of motherhood. Most of the writing is, instead, on the fallouts of motherhood--the alarming rate of mental illness among new mothers, the depressing statistics of even liberated men who don't help out, etc. When there are exceptions--women who coast through labor, or men who help out equally--she makes it sound as if they are the "oddballs" (an actual word she uses in that context) and that this is not something you should realistically hope for. So especially if you're not a mom, it's easy to finish the book feeling, "God, motherhood sounds awful!" even though you know this is not her point.
A more upbeat and lighthearted (and balanced) book on the joys and agonies of motherhood is the Girlfriend's Guide to Surviving Your First Year of Motherhood.
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