Bad Mother: Book summary and reviews of Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman

Bad Mother

A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace

By Ayelet Waldman

Bad Mother
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  • Published in USA  May 2009,
    224 pages.

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Book Summary

In our mothers’ day there were good mothers, neglectful mothers, and occasionally great mothers.
 
Today we have only Bad Mothers.
 
If you work, you’re neglectful; if you stay home, you’re smothering. If you discipline, you’re buying them a spot on the shrink’s couch; if you let them run wild, they will be into drugs by seventh grade. If you buy organic, you’re spending their college fund; if you don’t, you’re risking all sorts of allergies and illnesses..
 
Is it any wonder so many women refer to themselves at one time or another as "a bad mother"? Ayelet Waldman says it’s time for women to get over it and get on with it, in a book that is sure to spark the same level of controversy as her now legendary "Modern Love" piece, in which she confessed to loving her husband more than her children.

Covering topics as diverse as the hysteria of competitive parenting (whose toddler can recite the planets in order from the sun?), the relentless pursuits of the Bad Mother police, balancing the work-family dynamic, and the bane of every mother's existence (homework, that is), Bad Mother illuminates the anxieties that riddle motherhood today, while providing women with the encouragement they need to give themselves a break.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Her determinedly frank revelations are chatty and sure to delight the online groups she frequents." - Publishers Weekly

"… it's the…uncensored rawness that made me reluctant to speed through any of Waldman's essays, for fear I'd miss some of the more jolting zingers…They say that a good mother is one who doesn't need her kids to like her all the time. Of writers and their readers, Waldman's book leaves me thinking, the same might be true." - The New York Times

"Waldman hates to hold back, and that trait serves her well in Bad Mother, a collection of 18 essays, many of which have been published previously. She covers a lot of the terrain of modern motherhood as experienced by a privileged subset of women…After reading these stories, plenty of parents will fault Waldman for something or other. Plenty more will be able to relate." - The Washington Post

"Whether or not one agrees with Waldman's choices, her style of parenting or her opinions, she earns respect for all of them here. One other thing is clear at the end of these well-written and economical essays: Waldman's deep love and devotion to her children. She is, one might say, a good mother." - Shelf Awareness, Debra Ginsberg

"This is not only a wonderfully written book, but I think it may also be a book of great salvation for many women. Most of the mothers I know (the honest ones, the tired ones, the confused ones) will see themselves reflected in these wise pages, and will find long-overdue comfort here." - Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

"Ayelet Waldman writes cleanly and thoughtfully about motherhood as both an experience and a spectator sport. Bad Mother is blunt, wry, prescriptive and pleasurable." - Meg Wolitzer, author of The Ten-Year Nap

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Author Information

Ayelet Waldman Author Biography

Ayelet Waldman is the author several books, including Red Hook Road, Bad Mother, and Daughter's Keeper as well as seven Mommy-Track mystery novels. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Believer, Child, Guardian, Vogue and Salon.com.

Waldman and her husband, the novelist Michael Chabon, live in Berkeley, California, with their four children.

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Link to Ayelet Waldman's Website

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