- A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace
- Narrated by: Mia Barron
- Length: 6 hrs and 59 mins
- Unabridged Audiobook
- Release date: 05-20-09
- Language: English
- Publisher: Recorded Books
Regular price: $20.99
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Ayelet Waldman, a former federal public defender, was penning successful "mommy-track" mystery novels when she thrust herself into the middle of the national, media-induced, mommy-tug-of-war. In the now infamous essay, published in the March 27, 2005, Modern Love column of The New York Times, she dared to confess that her children had not supplanted her husband as the center of her passionate universe. And, not only were she and her husband still "doing-it" on a regular basis she was enjoying it!
So, quite frankly, I was expecting a primer on how to become a "bad-ass" mother myself.
I didn't imagine the Ayelet presented by narrator Mia Barron in this collection of essays: a sensitive and loving woman, with a strong identity as both a "good Jewish girl" and a staunch feminist, struggling with society's dictates for mothers in a post-feminist world. By all accounts, Ms. Barron reads with a wonderfully accurate approximation of the author's pedigreed voice. Her tone and cadence is pleasant, with just the right amount of tongue-in-cheek needed to deliver the more ironic passages.
She recounts Ayelet's journey from working, breast milk-pumping lawyer (Chapter 4) to stay-at-home, baby-lusting mother of four (Chapter 16) and the blogosphere-full of disdain for both roles. Like mothers everywhere, she worries that there is something wrong with the baby; something wrong with the 1st grader; something wrong with the 13-year-old.
When she's not crying over an optimistic YouTube portrait of the world her children might someday inherit, she's busy dissecting the influence of her and her husband's disparate upbringings, as it bears on their children's future. And she can go from boring ("My Mother-in-Law, Myself", Chapter 7) to heartbreaking ("Rocketship", Chapter 11) in 60 seconds. As parenthood does, every day.
Ayelet does give up a few secrets, and they benefit both seasoned moms and "we're trying" gals. The secret to an intact, marital libido? Equally shared housework. The secret to a happy, healthy child? "Be the parent your child needs, rather than the one you want to be."
Now, I ask you, does that sound like the advice of a bad mother? Lisa Duggan
"While Waldman's biting humor is ever present, it is her concern for other conflicted mothers that stays with the reader. In all, an unexpectedly tender book in which Waldman candidly considers how difficult it is to be Mommy." (Booklist)
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Charles on 02-28-10
I almost deleted this book several times. The title and media reviews suggested irony and humor. The contents demonstrate, instead, that intelligence plus obsessive introspection don't necessarily add up to insight, that blaming oneself doesn't exclude blaming others, and that having it all doesn't necessarily lead to happiness. There is a compelling narrative about the moral and psychic conflicts surrounding an elective abortion, but no ambiguity at all about the author's joy in getting guilty felons acquitted when she was a San Francisco lawyer. Or any concern that her young children might not be truly capable of the "consent" she obtained to present her rather horrifyingly intimate fantasies about them. There's a reason that many informed choices have a statutory age of consent. A lawyer should know about these things.
I finally gave up in the face of a political diatribe so relentlessly bombastic that it was simply intolerable to listen to-- even though I actually agreed with all of the opinions! Somewhere out there is an Ayelet Waldman who is clever and sophisticated, with a comic touch. But she doesn't appear very much in this book.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
By Maur on 08-10-09
I'm not a mother but I still loved this book.
There is just something about Ayelet that I really like. Her honesty is so refreshing and thought provoking. I am mad that I moved away from my fantastic book-group in PA. I would've loved to have heard what they would have said about this book.
I know I will look at mothers differently after reading this.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful