Saturday, August 11, 2007

Are You THE OTHER MOTHER?


I love it when there’s a new book out that I can really, really relate to, and I had the opportunity to read Gwendolen Gross's The Other Mother. My own mother asked me the other day how I pick the books I buy and read, and I really don’t know. It’s got to be a certain story that pulls me to it. Some books I will look at, open the front cover, and bam, the first couple of words snag me and I’m done. That’s a book I want to read. The Other Mother is one of these books.

What really drew me into this book was the fact that there were two main characters, neither better than the other. The women both brought something to the reader’s table, and it’s a great storyline because not just some moms, but ALL moms can relate to one of the characters, or in my case, you may relate to both of the characters.

When I had Ajers, I was working full-time as a marketing director for a travel association. I loved what I did. I had great perks, I had my own office; I got to be creative, and met a bunch of awesome people in the industry. I wanted to work. I had a great boss, and it was arranged so after I had my baby, I could work from 7:30 – 3:00 in order to get home to be with my baby. Plus, my mom was going to watch AJers a couple of days a week, eliminating expensive day care. It was the perfect situation.

I had Ajers, and went back to work. I swore I would never be a stay-at-home mom cuz come on, how BORING would THAT be? To sit there and watch your kid shit his diaper, drink his bottle, watch Einstein videos, swing in his little swing, jump in his Exersaucer… nope, that was not me. I was going to offer so much MORE to the world.

Can you sense a spirit of sarcasm here?

Well, then, things started changing at my office, and my husband had an opportunity for a job transfer, and suddenly, moving and becoming a stay-at-home mom sounded INCREDIBLE! The grass was going to be much greener on the other side! I mean, after all, I would be able to sit there, watch my child poop in his diaper, drink his bottle, watch Einstein videos, swing in his little swing, jump in his Exersaucer … It was going to be the most incredible experience in my life!

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Oh my God. I was sooo bored as a stay-at-home mom. At first. I had no friends, had just moved to a new state, knew no one, spent HOURS watching MTV Real World reruns. When I took Ajers to his first little group class, I couldn’t believe moms would actually sit there and sing, “Welcome, welcome everyone! Now we’re here, let’s have some fun!” at The Little Gym.

And just when I started getting acclimated, I decided I wanted a part-time job, so I interviewed at a newspaper. And was offered the job. And got pregnant again when Ajers was nine months old. Stay-at-home mom was going to be tattooed to my forehead forever.

So, I’m not really sure where I’m going with this. Maybe just that there are pros and cons to being a working mom at a job that pays and there are pros and cons to being a working mom at a job that doesn’t pay.

I think the bottom line for all moms is that you need to find a balance in your life, do things that make you happy. If having a career is necessary for your family, or if it’s necessary for your well-being and sanity, then that’s great and wonderful! I applaud working moms. I look at the laundry I have in this house, I stress out about what to feed my family, and I am amazed at women who can keep a house clean, prepare meals, care for their children AND work outside of the home. And if you don’t work outside of the home, and you’re the CEO of your family, and you’re happy and satisfied, and you manage time for yourself, then that’s incredible too!

I don’t understand the Mommy Wars. We try to be sympathetic to other women who do things other ways, yet there’s always the underlying question of who’s doing the better job. Why does it have to be a contest?

Anyway, along with some great suspense, and lively real characters, The Other Mother offers an underlying message about motherhood and the choices made. I went into reading it with a preconception, sure that I was going to side with the stay-at-home mom. I came away from it with a completely different perspective! You’ll really enjoy it!

Here’s the review I posted on Amazon.com:

Having been The Other Mother on both sides of the Mommy Wars fence, I was extremely excited to read The Other Mother by Gwendolyn Gross. It tells the story of stay-at-home Thea, striving for perfection as a mom to three children, and Amanda, a new mother who doesn’t want to give up the career she has made for herself or being the woman she was before she became a mother.

When a disaster strikes, Amanda and her family take refuge in Thea’s home, and Thea is the ever-gracious, can’t-say-no-to-anyone woman. She has to be in control. And later, she becomes the temporary Nanny to Amanda’s baby, and inevitably, she falls in love with the baby.

Amanda’s and Thea’s relationship is both tumultuous and at times sincerely loving. It’s as if they are both looking to find something in the other that they have not within themselves. A series of events, including animal carnage left on doorsteps, a pre-teen in the throes of her first love, and an unexpected kiss lead the reader into a forest of twists and turns in this page-turner of a book.

In addition to a great story, Gross uses her talents as a writer to bring otherwise non-living things to life in The Other Mother. Flowers that turn their “heads” to the sunshine; a leaf-blower “chewing” up the ground covering, and pregnant women described as sailing vessels – her words are beautifully manipulated to create images not long forgotten. I found myself wishing I had a highlighter in order to mark and remember some of her poetic phrases.

In the end, the reader comes away very satisfied, and Gross writes her story in a way that there is no right or wrong in choosing how to mother. Just as long as you’re mothering with a caring heart and all the love you have to offer!


So, do you work outside the home? Full-time? Part-time? Do you wish your days were spent doing something other than what you’re currently doing? Are you overwhelmed as a stay-at-home mom? Are you overwhelmed as a career-mom? Are you bored as a stay-at-home mom? Bored with your career? What do you think when women judge others who mother differently?

And, don’t get me started on stay-at-home dads, because every one of them I’ve ever met has quickly become my hero! Certainly, they ALL ROCK!

P.S. And does anyone else think the girl on the cover looks like Shannen Doherty?


23 comments:

In-Between Panic Attacks said...

Oooh, ohhh!! I'm the first to comment!! I have times in my life.. in fact probably times during every day when I only want what I don't have- to quit the job and stay at home. Then something awesome will happen with my job, and I can never imagine it any other way. I truly do have the best of both worlds- I am fortunate that my job allows me to set my own schedule, and make a ridiculous amount of money if I so choose. One thing I have learned is that often the value of time spent with the fam far outweighs the value of my larger paychecks... however knowing I have control over the finances means decent holidays, vacations and not having to work seventy hours a week all year long for it. I am truly blessed- but there are many times when I wish that the only people I had to worry about in this world were my family- many times solving the problems of my 1000+ clients can take it's toll- on average I field probably 50 or 60 clients with issues in a week, no selling involved... but, I've learned that you can't have your cake and eat it too. I am on that side of the mommy war, I guess. I think if your kids can make it to their graduation day from highschool without getting knocked up or joining a gang, and with strong basic social skills, you've done a great job asa parent. So I guess we'll see what kind of parent I really am in about ten years.

Patti said...

I read and reviewed this book too. I love a book that makes me think...

Zany Mom said...

But what about moms who start their own businesses so the kids can come to work with her? She's neither super-career Mom (kinda hard to when the kids in the back demand attention; nope, no nanny or babysitter, either!) nor Stay-At-Home Mom.

Yanno, I never seem to fit in anywhere...sigh...

Swishy said...

You do both, kinda, too! You're at home, but you do all the freelance stuff and the writing stuff (which WILL pay, soon, soon, soon!) I think the key is balance, like you said, otherwise you'd go crazy either way.

I think the great thing about the way feminism has evolved is that you can do WHATEVER you want--stay home, work, whatever. The only thing that bugs me is when moms quit their jobs and then treat their kids like corporations. The whole competitive parenting thing. So, yes, I suppose I do judge. It's easy to judge when you don't have any :)

Frannie Farmer said...

You just convinced me to order this from Amazon .. I, too, have been on both sides of that fence .. I still struggle ..

Jenster said...

That sounds like a very good book.

I stay at home and have for 12 years. I thought to go back to work when my youngest started school, but loved being able to take them to school, pick them up and volunteer there. Then in the summer I enjoyed playing with them. And I had the "luxury" (I use the term loosely) to make that choice. I loved working before I quit, but I don't recall ever regretting my decision.

By the same token, I have several friends that have always worked and I think the only regrets they have is when they're made to feel guilty for working instead of being at home. Well you know what? First of all maybe they don't have a choice. And second of all, maybe they DO have a choice. So what?

To imply that women who don't work are stupid and lazy is wrong.

To imply that women who DO work are selfish and less than maternal is wrong.

ARGH!! This is one of my HUGE pet peeves. We're mothers. Shouldn't we be supporting each other regardless of what our status??? Crimeny! My best friend up here is a brilliant scientist working on a drug for the treatment of cancer. She loves what she does and she's good at it. And her kids are precious! Two of the nicest teenagers and a little toot of a 1st grader. LOL They're no worse for the wear because they're mom worked full time.

Okay. That's all I have to say about that. Until I think of something else.

eatmisery said...

I am a SAHM during the summers because I'm a teacher. I work ten months out of the year. I wouldn't trade my summers for anything in the world.

I wish I didn't need to work, but I'm grateful that work gives me another side to my complex life. It's not easy to be a SAHM and it's not easy to be a full-time working mother.

I see both side of the coin. And I feel lucky because of it.

Colorado Writer said...

Must read this book!

I have 3 rugrats and stay home fulltime. It's taken me almost 5 years to say I LOVE IT. I used to be in the corporate rat race, but I'll never go back.

How do those working moms do it? (applause)

Of course, my goal is to become a published writer...so I do write a lot during the day and sometimes on the weekends and at night...and I'm very involved in a mom's group...which is the best thing I have ever done!

Staying home day after day is hard.

Of course, there are days when I'm jealous of my husband. He's in marketing and eats out, golfs, etc., while I'm stuck here with hotdogs and tater tots, but give me one snow storm, and I'm so glad I am not out there scraping off the car in high heels.

I'm sitting by the pool with the kids! I'm not cooped up in an office, wearing pantyhose, and wishing I was somewhere else.

In fact, I'm going to thank my hubby right now for letting me stay home and cook up the bacon that he's bringing home~

Holly Kennedy said...

Sounds like a great book.
I will definitely have to
look it up! Thanks for the
great post.

secretmom said...

Looks like a great book. I'm leaving on a trip tomorrow, so think I'll run out and buy it for the plane ride. We'll see how much reading i get done with my 4-year-old in tow. I've been lurking for awhile and wanted to let you know I really enjoy your blog!

Trish Ryan said...

Great review! And thanks for being so honest about your own experiences. I still wonder what I'll do when the time comes; it seems like something you can't exactly figure out until you're in the middle of it.

And I'm amazed that you manage to write novels while raising three kids. Inspiring to the rest of us :)

ERiCA said...

Sounds fabulous! I will have to check it out. Thanks for the review! =)

Eileen said...

I have been at the same job (school social worker since 1985). I love my job, and kept working when the kids came. I am lucky because I work school hours and have school vacation,snow days, etc. However, not that they are teens, it is so much harder. I thought it would be the other way around. This past Feb. I had to take the Family Leave Act, first time not working, due to my daughters illness. I think my family functioned much better when I was home. I was much less stressed and we all just flowed better. But missed the money and benefits, so back to work I went. Right now I off for summer, so we'll see what the fall brings. I am definately buying this book!!

Andrea said...

Before my little Tree Faerie came along, I said the same thing you said before having Ajers.

Now I wish otherwise on most days. It is so hard to drop Tree Faerie off at daycare every day, even though right now she's fine with it. It's all I can do to muddle through my work day until time to go pick her up. Picking her up in the afternoon is one of the biggest highlights of my day.

I must admit, though, it's kind of nice going to work on Monday and not having her attached to my hip.

So, I'm a WOHM who'd like to be a SAHM/WAHM most days, but on rare occasion (or about every other Monday), I'm glad I'm a WOHM. And I consider parenting more than a full-time workforce type job because it's a 24/7/365/forever job. I'm ALWAYS a mom, but I'm only a medical advisor 40 hours a week or so. I don't take my $$$ job home, but I take motherhood to work.

Ello said...

Another great post that I want to comment on! I was a full time working mom until two years ago. My company got restructured, new senior management came in after they fired the COO and General Counsel I had worked for for nearly ten years. I didn't like my new boss so my husband said "why don't you quit and write your book already?" So I did. Here's the thing, I really don't like being a stay at home mom. Not at all. It is so much easier to have someone else take care of your children for you. Seriously. I stayed home for a year and my priorities were kids first, book a very close second. Thank Goodness I had the book to work on. I needed the mental stimulation. I didn't last a year before I decided to go back to work, but my kids loved having me at home so much that I compromised and found a part time job that still allowed me to pick up my kids most days and take them to their activities. Money is no where near as good as when I was full time, lots of luxuries have had to go, but my kids are happier then they have ever been. Also, I have work satisfaction aside from my home and kids. I guess I am the type of person that needs it. I wil definitely be checking out this book!

XYZinn said...

I am a stay at home mom. My kids are 19 1/2 months apart, and most days I feel like I want to pull my hair out. When it gets like that I want to go back to work and not have to deal with it. But then I think about only having weekends off, having to wake up and actually shower and get ready, and having to ask for time off. I hated asking for time off. Now I can just enjoy being at home (sometimes) and feel like I am doing a somewhat decent job. Although, I am going to be ecstatic when my 2 year old can go to pre school next year for a couple days a week. I NEED a break!

Monnik said...

oooh, i'm going to get this book. It looks great!

I don't understand the mommy wars either. I work outside of the home and enjoy it for the most part. I do have some mommy guilt. I do wish I could spend more time with my kids, but I know I'm a good mom this way, and that's what counts.

I agree with swishy - feminism has given women the option to do what they want when it comes to work.

Parenting is hugely personal. If you do what works for you, what makes you and your family happy, and don't cast judgment on those who do it differently, and all will be good.

Manic Mom said...

Here's a classic example of the mommy wars, and it was me who was the ignorant one. A neighbor asked if I could take her daughter with to the school to get school supplies because she had a meeting (she's a consultant). I didn't mind at all--I know she's always busy, and when she is home, she is 100% her kids. Then she called me and said she changed her mind and was going to go to the school because she thought it was important. I told her she was a good mom. WTF? That totally implied that I DIDN'T think she was a good mom when she was going to her meeting and then she changed her mind, suddenly I could tell her she was a good mom. I felt like a rude idiot.

Nick said...

I need balance in my life and I'm not even a Mom. Trust me. I'm not.

Cmommy said...

"there are pros and cons to being a working mom at a job that pays and there are pros and cons to being a working mom at a job that doesn’t pay."--profound!! Bravo!

(ps: HSM2~~sooooo shamefully excited, lol!)
((more ps: It was awesome to see your comment!))

la bellina mammina said...

Thanks for that review - am gonna order that book.

I didn't work when I had my 2 elder boys and I was living in Italy, not speaking the language initially and travelling from time to time with my husband (for his work).

Now, with the 3rd kid, I went to work after my 6 month maternity leave, then worked for half a day for another 6 month and just miss being with him during the day.

I'm wrecked with guilt almost every day so I've decided to quit my job, take a sabbatical for a year and then find something to do part-time.

So I guess I need to find a balance espcially with a young toddler and (almost) tween boys at home.

I also salute stay at home dads...hey, if we can do it, they can do it too!

Patricia said...

I'm going to order this. I've been a sahm mom for the past 13 years. Now I'm thinking it's time to get back to work, at least part time. I'm just not sure....

wordtryst said...

Like eatmisery I was a teacher, so in a way I got to experience both sides. During the school term I was in an almost permanent state of 'wiped out', but I had two months in the summer, three weeks at Christmas and two at Easter when I got to stay at home with my son.

When he was a baby and I was dropping him off and picking him up at the nursery, I used to wish I could stay at home full time. But once he started school our hours were the same and I was happy to be a working mom. Most of the time, anyway.