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Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  1,721 Ratings  ·  131 Reviews
A look at one of the toughest jobs on earth, from the woman who perfectly captures life's humor and heart
Anyone who thinks motherhood is easy has never had children. To care for children, a husband, and oneself is a superhuman task, and any woman who appears to be expert at doing all three simultaneously is not Supermom--she's a good actress. For three decades, Erma Bombe
177 pages
Published (first published 1983)
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Mike Hoffman
Jun 16, 2009 Mike Hoffman rated it really liked it
This book was a quick read. Very funny, as Bombeck always was to me. She also tells some sad and insightful things in this book. Of course there is special significance to me trying to get into the mind of a mother, and mothers everywhere, but this book felt a little dated. There are many more books from the more recent generation that tell these stories, but this one captures a moment in time, and what the interpretation was then. It was while I was growing up and my sisters were being born, so ...more
Oct 16, 2016 Cheryl rated it liked it
Yes, that (below) was a good essay, worth reading this short book for. But others in the collection are even more meaningful. And a lot are very dated. I remember liking Bombeck when I was very young, and am glad to know I still do... but I can't quite recommend this to people who don't already have a reason to read her.


> I am looking for the title of a fiction short story that I read in a used book many years ago -- perhaps around 1984-1988. I think the stories in the book wer
Mar 31, 2010 Amanda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: must-reads, satire
I have fond memories of seeing this book on my mother's night stand and decided to revisit it. Not having kids of my own did not in any way detract from the classic humor and endearing quality of Ms. Bombeck's stories. As a matter of fact I think that should I ever be blessed/cursed with motherhood I might actually feel a little better prepared having read a little Erma. At the very least it helps me understand what my (and every other) mother goes through in a deeply personal and absolutely hil ...more
Jan 13, 2009 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Any book that makes my husband shush me at 11:30 is worth at least four stars. I laughed, I cried, I hugged my kids.
Jan 13, 2010 Gail rated it liked it
Years ago I really liked Erma Bombeck's books. Don't know if my taste has changed or this book just isn't as good as the ones I remember. Guess I have to try another one to find out for sure! They don't take long to read.
Sarah Sammis
Oct 06, 2007 Sarah Sammis rated it it was ok
Shelves: released
I remember my parents watching Erma Bombeck on Good Morning America back in the 1980s. I remember think she was out of touch with how our family worked but lots of people my parents age thought she was funny.

Through BookCrossing I came across her sixth book: Just Wait Until You Have Children of Your Own which was illustrated by Bil Keane (of Family Circus). Having enjoyed that book, I got this book at last year's local BookCrossing meeting.

Motherhood, the Second Oldest Profession was Bombeck's 1
Alyce Wilson
Jan 07, 2012 Alyce Wilson rated it really liked it
Erma Bombeck, the beloved newspaper columnist who wrote about the foibles of motherhood, expanded upon her familiar territory in "Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession." The result is a work that, though familiar-sounding, delves deeper and sometimes darker than her newspaper columns did.

For example, Bombeck reruns one of her most popular columns, a paean to the mothers of disabled children, answering it with a new companion piece where the mother of a disabled child criticizes the original c
Nov 18, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-book
Bombeck has collected a series of essays and character profiles that made this mother feel like she was having coffee with some good friends. Written by someone who has undoubtedly been there, this work is funny with an undeniable grain of truth. A collection that shows the humor, hard work, insanity, love and joy that is involved in being the main caregiver for another person.

It should be noted that this was originally published in the early 1980's and is therefore a little dated in some of the
Apr 22, 2013 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I finished this book in two days. What a delightful read. So many of the stories in this book are timeless and will have you laughing out loud. The stories that are particularly poignant are the "Special Mother" and the Anonymous letter to Erma written by the mother of a criminal. Many have heard of the article Erma wrote on "Special Mothers." However, what many don't know is that Erma also wrote a follow up to that which shows one mom of a mentally disabled child's reaction to that article and ...more
Kathy Hiester
Nov 06, 2010 Kathy Hiester rated it it was amazing
With my daughter expecting her first child I decided to give her the book to read. After I found her laughing at the book I decided to reread the book. Erma Bombeck and her insights, she is what I consider to be part of the American scene, Mom, Apple Pie and Baseball.

This book, which I read in one day. It made me laugh, roll my eyes about how Erma got situations just right and cry. The one chapter that made me cry the hardest is the letter from a mom whose son is a criminal. I love the letter fr
Oct 30, 2009 Breanne rated it really liked it
This book was written from an era where more mothers stayed home, used starch and wrote hand written notes. Also, more stigma's about soap opera's must have circulated. With that said, though I didn't know some of the celebrities referenced, I can relate very much to the sarcasm and satire Erma Bombeck creates. Some comments truly made me laugh and surprisingly, I did have cause for reflection on others. For mothers who invest interest through the day to day trudging through kids, laundry and sa ...more
Feb 04, 2016 Jenny rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
I'd read several quotes and a few columns by Erma Bombeck, but never one of her books until today. I saw this cover in the library and obviously had to take it home. Bombeck is hilarious and poignant, sometimes a little sentimental. I love how she celebrates all kinds of mothers, and the petty condescension of the "right kind of mother" that I see and read so much of today in the media, particularly social media, finds no place here.
Jennifer Gibbons
Open Road is reissuing this book in ebook form and I was lucky to get it through NetGalley. It's classic Bombeck: she had the rare gift to make you laugh at one page,then cry the next.My favorite essay in this collection is an annymous letter Bombeck got from a reader about being a mother of a convict. Reading Bombeck's words makes me realize what a loss the world experienced when she died in 1996. Imagine what she would've thought of tiger mothers, attachment parenting....Erma, we miss you.
Jun 09, 2010 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I LOVE Erma Bombeck. I read this and all her others many, many years ago. Laughed then even when I wasn't even old enough to have kids and laughed even harder now that I do and can relate. Anyone else that writes about motherhood can't hold a candle to Erma, who is an original. Funny, funny stuff.

Jan 24, 2009 Karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help
Oh, every mom needs to read Erma Bombeck from time to time... This one was great. I think Bombeck's whole purpose was to make moms feel better about themselves! She makes you see that there are definitely worse moms out there than you, and gives you something to lift yourself up to as well. I'm a big fan :o)
Keisha McCollum
Erma Bombeck was a well known comedian of her time. She did have a knack of making motherhood refreshingly funny. I found the book to be funny at certain sections but overall I felt the book didn't fit the parenting of today's age. The book was a good one time read for me and would be more enjoyable for a fan of her work.
Apr 21, 2011 Joann rated it really liked it
It's funny because it's true. Erma Bombeck is great. Some of her stories made me laugh, some made me cry, some made me feel guilty, others removed all guilt whatsoever, all made me happy to be a mom and proud of the profession I have chosen.
Jul 22, 2009 Amy rated it really liked it
Another one that I read when I was much younger that I should read again as an adult/wife/mother. I bet I didn't even get half the jokes when I was 12! But I know I thought it was hilarious then, so it'll probably be twice as funny to me now.
Melissa Renwick
Jan 07, 2013 Melissa Renwick rated it it was amazing
the first 3 sentences and I am laughing my bum off. I think I struck gold!

This was one of the funniest books I ever read. It was also thoughtful, insightful, comforting and genuine. I found myself an author that I truly adore.
Dec 29, 2010 Kristi rated it really liked it
A quick, fun read that made my day! It is always nice to know you aren't alone - Mothering problems are timeless!
I grew up reading my Moms Erma Bombeck books, so when I saw this at a library book sale for 10 cents I snatched it up! Worth every penny! I will be keeping my eyes open for more!
Sep 09, 2009 Jaclyn rated it really liked it
I read this book about 12 years ago - way before I had a kid of my own - and even then I found it hilarious. It was my mom's book and I loved it so much that I haven't ever given it back to her and have bought more. I would love to read it again some day, now that I'm a mom too.
Kris Potratz
Feb 11, 2013 Kris Potratz rated it really liked it
This was such a sweet little collection of essays about the things that all us mommas go through but rarely talk about. It's a great book to read in little pieces as each chapter goes quickly. Some are touching, some are downright hilarious. Definitely one to pick up at some point along the way!
Feb 20, 2010 Kathy rated it really liked it
The title is reason enough to read and enjoy this offering from funny lady, Erma Bombeck.
Feb 06, 2011 Julianne rated it liked it
Meh. I had memories of her being hilarious. This was amusing, with some endearing stories.
Mar 30, 2010 Jen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious - even if you are like me and don't have children.
Nov 29, 2010 Marshaferz rated it really liked it
I miss Erma Bombeck. It's hard to believe that she kept up being this funny on a weekly basis for so long.
Oct 22, 2008 Heather rated it it was amazing
I have loved pretty much everything I've ever read by Erma Bombeck, and this book was hysterical. You don't even have to have kids to appreciate the humor!
Jun 06, 2013 Kirstin rated it really liked it
This book can seem depressing, if taken all at once, but I thought it was eye-opening and interesting. It tells stories of so many types of mothers.
Jun 06, 2010 Les rated it really liked it
I've always loved Ms. Bombeck. She's so funny, and such a storyteller.
Mar 16, 2009 Michele rated it really liked it
Another book-sale treasure - she truly has a gift for humorous writing. Very touching tribute to her own mother at the end.
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #23 Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession 1 2 May 16, 2017 08:07AM  
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Erma Louise Bombeck, born Erma Fiste, was an American humorist who achieved great popularity for a newspaper column that depicted suburban home life humorously, in the second half of the 20th century.

For 31 years since 1965, Erma Bombeck published 4,000 newspaper articles. Already in the 1970s, her witty columns were read, twice weekly, by thirty million readers of 900 newspapers of USA and Canada
More about Erma Bombeck...

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“Girls mature faster than boys, cost more to raise, and statistics show that the old saw about girls not knowing about money and figures is a myth. Girls start to outspend boys before puberty—and they manage to maintain this lead until death or an ugly credit manager, whichever comes first.

Males are born with a closed fist. Girls are born with the left hand cramped in a position the size of an American Express card. Whenever a girl sees a sign reading, “Sale, Going Out of Business, Liquidation,” saliva begins to form in her mouth, the palms of her hands perspire and the pituitary gland says, “Go, Mama.” In the male, it is quite a different story. He has a gland that follows a muscle from the right arm down to the base of his billfold pocket. It's called “cheap.”

Girls can slam a door louder, beg longer, turn tears on and off like a faucet, and invented the term, “You don't trust me.” So much for “sugar and spice and everything nice” and “snips and snails and puppydog tails.”
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