Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I Am a Mother

By Jane Clayson Johnson

One day, I received a phone call from a friend I hadn’t seen in quite some time. This friend spent a few minutes telling me about her exciting career, then asked me the dreaded question: “So, what have you been up to?”

Frantically, I tried to think of something to tell her. Should I tell her about my potty-training woes? Our recent afternoon at the park? My daughter’s triumphs at Kindergarten? “Well,” I said lamely, “I’m a stay-at-home mom.”

There was a long pause. “Aren’t you lucky!” my friend finally said brightly.

The conversation pretty much died at that point, but it illustrates my point: mothers, especially full-time moms, don’t get the respect they deserve. To be honest, most days, I don’t even respect the job myself. It’s hard for me to find fulfillment in the endless rounds of diapers, tantrums and cleaning.

Jane Clayson Johnson is the former co-host of The Early Show on CBS. At ABC News, she covered national and international stories for World News Tonight with Peter Jennings and Good Morning America. She gave it all up to be a full-time mother. She wrote I Am a Mother to encourage mothers to be proud of their role, to stand up and say, with dignity, “I am a mother!”

Johnson uses numerous inspirational scriptures, quotes and stories as well as her own experiences to laud the importance of mothers. These serve as a great pep talk, but since I already know how important mothers are (thank you very much!), I found the most wisdom in a chapter titled “Walking in Each Other’s Shoes.” In that chapter, Johnson encourages women not to judge one another; an important reminder, I think, as battles rage over working vs. staying at home and breastfed vs. bottle-fed and the number of children to have. Sometimes we women are our own worst enemies, and it shouldn’t be that way.

I think it will be a long time before the world respects moms the same way it reveres doctors and lawyers and actors, but perhaps Johnson’s suggestion is a good place to start: stand up proudly and announce to the world that I am a mother! Maybe if we learn to respect ourselves, others will start to respect us, too. 3 stars

DISCLAIMER: Most everyone I know loves this book and gives it five stars. The only reason I didn’t is because I am a crusty, cynical, evil woman and I don’t enjoy inspirational books as much as most people.


Lula O said...

We've all heard the quiet of a long uncomfortable silence at one time or another in our lives. I love when people ask me if I work??? Yes, I work-for free, even though what I do could pull down a million at least in the real world. Doctor, psychic, teacher, lawyer, accountant, maid, chef, gardener, psychologist, hmm what else. We do a little bit of everything. Great review! I don't do great with inspiritional reads either. (I wonder if she sent Bryant Gumble a signed copy...)

Danielle and Jason said...

My mom gave me this book when I was pregnant with my son. I found it an interesting read since I was transitioning (although much younger than the author) from career to mom. When my son was first born, I occasionally leaned on some of the stuff she talked about and found it helpful with that whole identity-crisis thing that happens when your whole life changes and you lose control. It's a good read for someone who needs a little pick-me-up about life and being a woman and a mom.

Stephanie said...

I chose to be a SAHM and I know its the best decision, but it's a decision I still struggle with now and again. I want the recognition that can come from a "real job." Even though I didn't love this book, I'm keeping it around because maybe it will give me that pick-me-up you're talking about when I'm feeling low.

And Leslie, have you read The Price of Motherhood by Ann Crittenden? She talks about how much we'd make if we were actually paid for all those roles, and it comes to an astronomical figure!

Lula O said...

I'm rich in blessings...**insert choke and gasp here**

No really I am...sure.