Bad Mother (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
In Bad Mother, Ayelet Waldman asks whether it is possible in contemporary society to be a good mother. The women’s movement of the twentieth century promised women emancipation from the traditional monochromic roles of secretary, teacher, nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother. It promised the freedom to succeed both in marriage and in business, achieving results on a par with one’s partner and one’s professional peers. Sharing in the tasks of taking out the garbage or screwing in a Molly bolt, as well as in the accomplishments and rewards of the workplace, has become an expected norm for married couples. Such multitasking for success takes its toll, however. Motherhood is still an idealized role that is likely to make every actual mother feel guilty for not living up to its image. Young professional mothers exhaust themselves in simultaneous pursuit of perfection in career and caregiving. Waldman, a former public defender and workplace mom, addresses this issue with humor, pain, and good sense.
Waldman observes that visions of the ideal mother generally begin in the starry-eyed hopes of the mother’s mother, who passes on her own model of motherhoodone that she herself could not matchto her daughters. The author speaks of her own mother, a member of the women’s movement, who advocated and instilled values of freedom and self-determination in her daughter. As she notes, “My mission as her daughter was to realize the dream of complete...
(The entire section is 1653 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
The Atlantic Monthly 304, no. 5 (December, 2009): 86-101.
Booklist 105, no. 16 (April 15, 2009): 14.
Kirkus Reviews 77, no. 8 (April 15, 2009): special section, p. 8.
The New York Times Book Review, May 10, 2009, p.7.
The New Yorker 85, no. 19 (June 29, 2009): 76-79.
Newsweek 153, no. 22 (June 1, 2009): 13.
Publishers Weekly 256, no. 11 (March 16, 2009): 52.
(The entire section is 37 words.)