Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety

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9780091907167: Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety

Manic cake-baking at midnight. After-school activities and young social lives that require dedicated and complex organisation. Mother-of-the-birthday-boy meltdowns. No Sex. No Nights out. No Sleep. Ever. What's wrong with this picture? That's the question Judith Warner asked herself after taking a good, hard look at the world of modern motherhood, at anxious women at work and in bed with unhappy husbands. By moving personally between the worlds of stay-at-home and working motherhood, interviewing numerous women and reading and seeing what our popular culture and politicians had to offer on the subject of motherhood in our time, Warner comes to a stark conclusion: that what is now happening in the culture of motherhood is nothing less that perfect madness. Written in a lively, accessible and often amusing tone, this is a book that all mothers will be able to relate to.

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Review:

The old adage is especially true for Perfect Madness: don't judge this eminently readable book by its stern and academic-looking cover. Judith Warner's missive on the "Mommy Mystique" can be read in a weekend, if readers have the time. Of course--according to the book--many would-be readers will have to carve out the hours in between an endless sea of child-enriching activities, a soul-sucking swirl that leads many mothers into a well of despair. Warner's book seeks to answer the question, "Why are today's young mothers so stressed out?" Whether shuttling kids to "enriching" after-school activities or worrying about the quality of available child care, the women of Perfect Madness describe a life far out of balance. Warner spends most of the book explaining how things got to this point, and what can be done to restore some sanity to the parenting process.

Warner draws her research from a group of 20- to 40-year-old, upper-middle-class, college-educated women living in the East Coast corridor. In other words, mirror images of Warner herself. Her limited scope has caused controversy and criticism, as have some of her more sweeping statements. (For example, Warner blames second-wave feminism--rather than corporate culture--for the many limitations women still experience as they try to balance the work-family dynamic.) Other favorite targets include the mainstream media, detached fathers, and controlling, "hyperactive" mothers who create impossible standards for themselves, their children, and the community of other parents around them. Warner begins and ends the book with a compelling argument for the need for more societal support of mothers--quality-of-life government "entitlements" such as those found in France. It's these big-picture issues that will provide the solution, she says, even if most mothers don't want to discuss them because they consider the topic "tacky, strident-sounding, not the point." In these sections on governmental policy, and also when she steps back, encouraging women to be kinder to each other, the author's warmth comes across easily on the page. Pilloried by some readers and supported by others, Warner should at least be applauded for opening up the Pandora's Box of American motherhood for a new generation. And if readers are of two minds about the issues raised Perfect Madness, as Warner sometimes seems to be herself, it's a fitting reaction to a topic with few easy answers. --Jennifer Buckendorff END

About the Author:

Judith Warner is the author of a range of non-fiction books including the bestselling Hillary Clinton: The Inside Story. A former special correspondent for Newsweek in Paris, she now lives with her husband and their two daughters in Washington DC.

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Warner, Judith
Published by 2006-03-02. (2006)
ISBN 10: 0091907160 ISBN 13: 9780091907167
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Book Description Ebury Press, 2006. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. 336 pages. 8.46x5.28x0.98 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # __0091907160

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