All of the financially secure, highly educated, and incredibly capable mothers Judith
Warner interviewed for this book admitted that they were going way beyond anything their own mothers had
done. They were on call 24/7, doing everything they possibly could to support their children’s intellectual/psychological/social/emotional
well-being. It was their “mission”. And while these women chose to devote their lives to their
kids (and had the financial means to do it) they weren’t happy. They felt at odds with the expectations
they had for themselves as mothers and the nature of raising kids.
As one woman put it, “The reality is: at the end of the day, you could put your heart in it and
for nothing wrong that you did, your kids could wind up a mess, and there’s your life’s work.”
They knew they couldn’t possibly guarantee that their total immersion in their child’s development
would stave off all problems (now and forever), and yet they felt powerless to disengage from the quest
to be “uber-Mom”.
Warner comes to the realization that there’s something very damaging in the current culture of mothering. “...all
mothers in America, in differing ways and to different degrees, were caught up in The Mess. And that’s
because the climate in which we now mother is, in many ways, just plain crazy.”
What Warner has brilliantly done, is to provide a historical context for the need to focus so intently on
our children’s lives that we discontinue all other non-child-related pursuits including creative and
professional endeavors that once brought us great joy and a sense of self-worth. It’s an important
read for any mother who is trying to make sense of her life and of family life in our times.
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