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The Mask of Motherhood: How Becoming a Mother Changes Our Lives and Why We Never Talk About It
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The Mask of Motherhood: How Becoming a Mother Changes Our Lives and Why We Never Talk About It

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  226 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
Becoming a mother is filled with the extremes of emotion --the highest highs and the lowest lows. But women are often reluctant to talk honestly about the experience for fear they'll be seen as bad mothers. With wit and candor, The Mask of Motherhood takes on the myths and the misinformation, helping women to prepare and deal with the depth of feeling that comes with the e ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 1st 2000 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1997)
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Feb 14, 2008 Jen rated it did not like it
I'm editing my initial review of this book. As someone who's currently struggling with going back to work full-time with a newborn at home, the introduction hit a nerve. It discusses the expectations we have for ourselves and our kids, though we might never examine or talk about them. I only got through about half this book. I was with her for a while, but after a few chapters I started to get the feeling that the author just has a bone to pick with the world. I'd find myself agreeing with some ...more
Oct 07, 2007 Elyssa rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
I was relieved when I found this book because it was one of the few resources that helped me navigate the sudden shift from being childless to being a mother. It's an honest look at the challenging feelings that can arise, including the complicated juxtaposition of loving your child and missing your independence simultaneously. It's unfortunate that there can't be more of an dialogue about the difficult changes that occur for new mothers.
Sep 05, 2007 Jen rated it it was amazing
I LOVE this book. I love all books like this. I just do. It's hard to describe why without quoting entire big chunks of the book.

The overwhelming concept in this book that I really relate to is that we're all so caught up in telling ourselves and telling other people that we're perfect as mothers and motherhood is so easy and just a walk in the park . . . Screw that! There are times when the JOB of motherhood sucks. Not BEING a mother, mind you. 'Cause being a mother is great. But the day to da
Julie Verner
Aug 28, 2009 Julie Verner rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mothering
I've read and reread this book. It is on my must-read list for moms. It is a bit denser read than some, due to its meaty content, but it is ooooh so good. The author is a sociologist as well as an excellent writer who provides insightful descriptions for mothering experiences that we all share but may not have been able to articulate. She explores pregnancy, childbirth, new motherhood, nursing, and ends with a couple chapters on work-life balance, and the parenting partnership.
Susan Bazzett-griffith
This book, written in 1999, is already showing signs of being outdated, at least in my experience. Maushart's thesis is that parents, mothers in particular, are not honest with the world, each other, and often even themselves about the hardships and downside of being a westernized mother. The chapters are divided into parts of motherhood that she believes are brushed under the rug in modern society- the pain of childbirth, the difficulty of breastfeeding, the chronic and years-long sleep depriva ...more
The Joy of Booking
Nov 03, 2011 The Joy of Booking rated it liked it
The Mask of Motherhood is a eyes-wide-open look at the wide-ranging and longterm effects of motherhood on women. It covers pregnancy, labor and delivery, relationship with spouse or partner, career prospects and societal recognition.

A lot of what The Mask of Motherhood has to say is not positive, and, frustratingly, there was little recommendation to change it. However, I feel that it's likely that much of what this book says is true - women are fed a pack of lies about what pregnancy and birth
Mar 26, 2010 Julie rated it really liked it
now this is a good book about the complexities of motherhood. it is bleak and that stands in contrast to our prevailing sentimentality when it comes to feelings about mothers and babies. so i think her contention may be shocking to some.

but i think this is such an important book because of its unique voice. her argument is basically that many realities of motherhood are far different from what pregnant women are led to expect and childless adults know. for example, pregnancy is not always wonde
Mary Mulliken
Mar 23, 2011 Mary Mulliken rated it it was amazing
This was one of those books for which I wish there were more stars than 5. It deserves 5 stars, but it also deserves an additional mention: "really -- I recommend you [women and men, but especially women] read this book." I think I'll put it on the shelves next to Omnivore's Dilemma -- another book that I want to add the additional comment to its very deserved 5 stars. Susan Maushart does an amazing job of articulating the true complexities of every facet of motherhood from pregnancy and childbi ...more
Jul 12, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: nifty-nonfiction
This is a discussion on motherhood from the perspective of a feminist mother. Maushart says there is a culture of silence around motherhood. People do not discuss what you truly give up to become a mother nor how rare true egalitarian marriages are (especially after children enter the picture). In addition, while many people have researched the effects of mothers on their children, very few people have studied the effects of children on their mothers.

I can imagine that many people would complain
This book was published in 2000, and while mostly well-written, there was a lot in it that I could not relate to. Is that because it's ten years "out of date" or because I'm not the type of woman who puts on the mask of motherhood? I don't know, but I'll just give public thanks here and now to Maushart and every feminist woman who came before me who has made my journey as a mother easier. I also give mad props to my partner 'cause he's a great dad and co-parent.

The chapters on pregnancy, labor,
Aug 12, 2008 Cheri rated it really liked it
A very revealing look at culture, motherhood, and the smiles women wear to hide the reality of being a mom today.

Well written, the author takes on the various stereotypes of mothers and observes how women without children are unprepared for the challenges of motherhood and women with children don't want to talk about these challenges.

A good book that speaks to both sides of the "great divide" of parenting. A must-read for not-yet-mothers and probably for moms who will find relief in knowing th
Jul 08, 2012 Crystal rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up-on
Quite possibly due to my line of work, I found parts of this book degrading to not just mothers, but women in general. I tried to keep reading, to give it a chance ... just couldn't do it, though.

I am always torn by the whole feminist movement ... 'we want to be equals, but when we are, we're going to find something else to whine about and most likely, it will be one of the things we fought for in the first place.'

Mar 12, 2009 Sara rated it did not like it
I couldn't get into this book at all. I wanted to like it but I didn't. I skimmed most of it & thought often "I really don't agree with that".....I can't even remember what I didn't agree with - blame it on mama brain!
Oct 15, 2007 Christina rated it liked it
Useful reading for anyone contemplating motherhood. A bit trite in parts, but good overall.
Melissa Wilkinson
Jul 15, 2011 Melissa Wilkinson marked it as to-read
Shelves: baby-stuff
I'm a bit skeptical about this book, but interested in skimming. I don't feel like I wear a mask in motherhood whatsoever, although I'm still at a really early stage in this part of my life. I'm sure as the family grows, so does that theory. Also, this book seems to purport that most couples' roles become extremely off balance, in the worst way, which is another thing that I currently don't relate to, since I fortunately have a pretty egalitarian relationship (sans the income, but especially wit ...more
Jen Simmons
Apr 17, 2016 Jen Simmons rated it really liked it
not a fan of the extreme feminist rhetoric, HOWEVER, i loved this book. reminds me of a favorite quote - "we read to know we are not alone." skipped chapters on childbirth and lactation so can't vouch for those.
Nov 10, 2014 Tracy added it
just skimmed this one
Aug 05, 2011 Louisa rated it liked it
This has been on my "reading now" list for many months and I have to face that I am not actually going to finish it. Luckily, it's not the kind of book you have to read to the end. I found myself getting quite upset, angry and feeling self-righteous while reading parts of this, so probably good I don't keep going. It was an important book for me and touched a lot of (raw) nerves, but I can't stay in that place ... time to move on.
Mrs. Schonour
Apr 29, 2013 Mrs. Schonour rated it it was ok
I felt like the content of this book could have been summed up more quickly. The big ideas are interesting to think about, but occasionally the book felt like a rambling soap box. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone considering having children, but the topics apply to everyone in modern society.
Apr 16, 2007 Frangipani rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those considering parenthood
That I was not alone in feeling that parenthood was scary uncharted territory. Maushart helped me come to terms and reach peace with the way I am. Toss that mother guilt thing. If more women read this book the birth rate could plummet!!!
Nov 30, 2013 Amy rated it really liked it
Unless you have an absolutely raw instinct to have children, I suggest you avoid this book. The more I read about how hard being a parent is and how much it changes a person, the more I do not want children for myself.
Oct 31, 2008 Sara rated it liked it
A meditation on the cultural silences cloaking the pain in childbirth and the necessary self-sacrifice for new mothers. Provocative but suffers from martyrdom, hyperbolic rhetoric, and lack of sociological analysis.
Apr 12, 2011 Cara rated it it was amazing
Powerful, sobering and the most candid book I've read to date on motherhood. Wome and men should read this book. My husband read a few chapters and our marriage is signficantly better as a result.
Meagan Church
Aug 14, 2010 Meagan Church rated it really liked it
Interesting theories and examination of the mask of motherhood. At times it was unrelatable or as if the author went too far to prove her point. Some material seemed a bit outdated.
Jun 15, 2016 Helena rated it really liked it
This book gives it to you straight, I recommend.
Apr 10, 2011 Anh rated it liked it
A few dubious assertions and 'interesting' generalisations, but overall, I thought it was an intriguing read, and why not, a different voice amongst all the other stuff.
Oct 04, 2012 Connie rated it it was amazing
An absolute must-read for any woman who is considering or preparing for motherhood. Blue Bookcase review to come.
Sunni Massey
Dec 28, 2012 Sunni Massey rated it really liked it
Shelves: cannot-finish
Very difficult to read if you are considering having children. Enlightening, honestly, terrifying.
Jun 28, 2012 Christina rated it really liked it
This was pretty comprehensive but the best book I read about the truth of motherhood.
Sep 15, 2013 Rachel rated it it was ok
I'm glad I'm not her husband. Or her daughter.
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Columnist, author and social commentator Dr. Susan Maushart is a mother of three teenagers. For over a decade, her weekly column has been part of a balanced breakfast for readers of the Weekend Australian Magazine. Maushart is heard regularly on ABC Radio's popular online series 'Multiple Choice', and is a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Western Australia. ...more
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