"7 Stages of Motherhood" by Ann Pleshette Murphy

Kind of grim that its title is a spoof off the seven stages of grief. I only read the first few chapters, about pregnancy and birth. Once she started trying to justify herself for returning to work, I didn't feel like I could relate anymore. It was annoying because she kept on explaining why it was okay for her to be away from home, even while she felt gut-wrenching guilt. Lady, there's a reason you felt that guilt.

I don't want to be the judge of other women who go back to work and have careers while their babies are small. I'm not knocking them. When an author spends several pages detailing how she was all ready to quit her job to be a stay at home mom, but then right when she was going to tell her boss she was quitting, her boss told her she was getting a huge raise, so she decided to stay - I don't know. It invites judgment. I wonder, "What would I have done?" Well, I'd like to think that if I felt the inspiration (which I know to be from God) to stay home and mother my own children instead of handing them off to the system, I would do it no matter what the cost.

But I really enjoyed the first two or so chapters of the book; she was able to articulate something that I had felt very strongly as a brand new mother. Actually, I think it was one of the moms she interviewed. They said they kept imagining horrible things happening to their baby, kind of "what if..." scenarios, always really violent and gruesome. I had always been afraid to admit those feelings to myself, because of all the warnings given about having violent thoughts towards your baby and needing to get psychiatric help. But I knew that I wasn't desiring to hurt her, it was just she was so tiny and helpless, and all of these thoughts just came to my head. The way these thoughts were explained in the book were as fears, which I had never considered but is totally true and dead on accurate. I was really glad to know somebody else had feelings like that. Honestly, the first time Jane started to choke on something was a vivid memory for me because it was so terrifying, and then later I felt so relieved that when something horrible happened to Jane my reaction was to freak out and not goad it on. Of course it wouldn't have been, but not having realized that those thoughts were my fears, I was a little worried.

I'm not entering the "mommy wars" debate of stay home vs. go to work. I just didn't feel like I could relate to the author, so I put the book down. And you have to admit, it's pretty sad that she decided to keep working just because she got a huge promotion. Ironically, it was to work at "Parenting" magazine.

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