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Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence
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Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence

3.27 of 5 stars 3.27  ·  rating details  ·  716 ratings  ·  162 reviews
From the bestselling author whom Time magazine hails as one of the leaders of her generation, an insightful, moving, and entertaining memoir of pregnancy and the decision to conceive a child after years of uncertainty.

Like many women her age, Rebecca Walker was brought up to be skeptical of motherhood. A young woman's future was limitless, their mothers' generation told
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 22nd 2007 by Riverhead Hardcover (first published 2007)
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This book is almost unbearable. Rebecca Walker tries to be honest and funny, but comes off as whiny, self-indulgent, bitchy, and stereotypically Berkeley (affluent, privileged, obsessed with organic food, alternative medicine, and Tibetan Buddhism). She claims to value motherhood, but she flames her own mother, the author Alice Walker, at every possible opportunity. She claims to be a feminist, but rants that every woman should become a mother. She claims that her rather intense experience of mo ...more
Nov 12, 2007 Lauren rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: mothers-to-be
So I have to say upfront that I was disappointed with Baby Love. The subtitle ("choosing motherhood after a lifetime of ambivalence") is a little misleading, for starters, since Walker says on page 1 that, "For the last fifteen years I have told everyone...that I wanted a baby." That, to me, does not spell ambivalence. It becomes clear as the book goes along that Walker has in fact known and tried several times in the past few years to get pregnant, so while I was initially very interested in th ...more
To be totally honest I came to this book with some preconceived notions after reading several reviews of it. Overall I found it to be a little whiny and very self-absorbed. I was kind of fascinated to see her react to different peoples' take on things and opinions, about her life, about parenthood in general, etc. in a very knee-jerk way - a difference of opinion almost always seems to be taken as a challenge. She'll speak of the truth of others but utterly fail to recognize any kind of relativi ...more
I came to this book with big plans of loving it, but as I began turning pages I realized that big love wasn't going to happen. I was expecting insight and revelation, but instead I found a narrow perspective and underwhelming narrative. A disappointing read, overall.

I fully agree with my fellow readers who note the author's incredible self-absorption. Granted, when you're pregnant, you should be allowed to think about yourself a great deal, but if you're writing a book with the subline "Choosing
Dec 28, 2010 Kate rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: babies
The sub-title to this book, "Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence" sounded really different and interesting to me. So many books on motherhood come from women who always wanted to be mothers, I was excited to read about another point of view and how it turned out. Unfortunately, I found it hard to identify with Walker as the book progressed, and found it hard to connect with her story.
I am familiar with Rebecca Walker's "Third Wave" feminist anthologies, however I didn't realize
another kind of weird parenting/pregnancy memoir. this one is by rebecca walker, who wrote the memoir black, white, & jewish, which i really liked. rebecca also coined the term "third wave feminism" & has written a lot of interesting things about feminism in the last twenty years. her mother is the writer alice walker, & in the last couple of years, i have read several bizarre essays that rebecca has written about her terrible relationship with her mother. there is a lot of that in t ...more
Feb 28, 2008 Jessica rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who really do want kids...or think they do
I think the subtitle of this book was a little misleading, the whole title is Baby Love: choosing motherhood after a lifetime of ambivalence. The subtitle made me think that basically after a lifetime of NOT wanting children the author suddenly changed her mind and did have a child. But, basically she always wanted children, but felt like she was not equipped to be a good mother and/or felt like she couldn't successfully "have it all".

I have always felt like I didn't want to have kids, but occa
This is really more like 2.5 stars, because while it was thought-provoking at times, it was also incredibly annoying. Major Annoyance #1 is that the "ambivalent" author tells us she has been obsessing about having a baby for 10-15 years. I don't think that word means what you think it means...

Major Annoyance #2 is that the blurbs promised an exploration of the transformation from daughter to mother, and yet Walker and her mother aren't speaking for most of the book and by the end have written ea
This is a very sweet journal of Rebecca Walker's journey of first time pregnancy. The reality of becoming a mother for the first time forces the author to take a long look at her own relationship with her mother, famous author, Alice Walker. She discusses in depth the pain and anguish her own mother caused her during her life and how she will not make those same mistakes. Ms. Walker came under fire in this book after making the statement that one cannot possibly love an adoptive child more than ...more
Régine Michelle
Jul 07, 2007 Régine Michelle rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: unconventional expectant mothers
I enjoyed this book and appreciated the perspective on pregnancy offered through the Third Wave Feminist lens moments such as when she worries about loss of her life and former self. I also enjoyed her point of view as a writer dealing w/ daily tasks of writing and fulfilling assignments while "ding pregnancy". She says at one point she says something like "My mind doesn't sparkle today, which is hard when you are in a profession that demands sparkle"--> exactly how I feel a lot of these days ...more
I just read about this book at .

Rebecca Walker is the daughter of author Alice Walker, who wrote "The Color Purple". The article teaser is what made me interested in reading this book.

"She's revered as a trail-blazing feminist and author Alice Walker touched the lives of a generation of women. A champion of women's rights, she has always argued that motherhood is a form of servitude. But one woman didn't buy in to Alice's beliefs - her daughter, Rebecca,
I think the ambivalence part comes from her but also from her own mother and her fear of how that would affect her parenting skills. I did not like this book and did not finish it so I'm not going to claim to be the best judge of it. But, I know how hard it is to ask for money from your parents. I know how hard it is to stand on your own two feet and not accept or ask help from anyone. I did not suspect she was not in that type of position. She has a partner. She has a job, an education and is i ...more
Not as good as I expected. I actually found it pretty depressing. For a book with "love" in the title, there was almost no exploration of actual love. While there were some passages I found very validating, this book spent a lot of time on her anxieties about pregnancy and motherhood, the tragic falling-out with her mother and consumer choices. I enjoyed her realizations about her relationship with her partner and the little she wrote about her buddhist faith. I can't recommend this one--which i ...more
every detail of this woman having a baby from the point at which she can't imagine ever having a child, through every month of pregnancy, the birth (in detail, i cannot imagine how she can remember each hour...) and the months afterwards where she dealt with the baby's problems resulting from the birth (and probably the fact that she decided against a top notch medical facility for a homier alternative clinic). interesting to read someone's account but for some reason it was not as good as i thi ...more
Sonya Feher
I realize the publishers may have added the subtitle to Baby Love but "Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence" is totally misleading. Rebecca Walker always wanted children. She had the same fears we all have: Who will I have a child with? How will we pay for it? Will the baby be healthy? What kind of parent will I be? She's not really ambivalent about choosing motherhood.

The core issue is that Walker has a stormy relationship with her mother, Alice Walker. If you're curious about
This book was both better and worse than I thought it would be. Better because I thought her ambivalence would be some kind of unplanned pregnancy/never-wanted-to-be-a-mom kind of thing, and instead the ambivalence referred to doing the balancing between the feminist principles of choice and autonomy, and the fact that parenthood means another person is beholden to your constant attention for survival. I kind of appreciated that analysis, though there was so much other crap floating around it (i ...more
I love Rebecca Walker. Love her! I love that she's ambivalent and obsessive about all the same things I would be ambivalent and obsessive least when it comes to having a baby.

Since she wrote this journal-style, at times it feels a little too close to reading your own diary, which makes it fun to read (as in, what would I write if I were Rebecca Walker?), but also makes me wonder how much she edited and re-wrote. Perhaps there is pride in using raw material? Or perhaps I loved it beca
Like many others the title was definitely misleading. I thought this would be about how a woman went from not knowing if she ever wanted children to choosing to be a mother and her journey with that. But it was clear this woman always wanted children so I'm not sure why she wrote that as the title.

Still it was an interesting read. It reminded me of Anne Lamott's book though which personally I thought was way more interesting and written much better.

All of her descriptions of her husband just an
Picked this book up based on the tag line, Choosing Motherhood after a Lifetime of Ambivalence and also because my very good friend was thinking about having a baby. Well I've finally read the book (didn't want to give it out only to hear it was horrible). As usual when picking a book (anything) with the thought 'oh, soandso, may like/need/enjoy this book', I'm the one that needs to read it. For one this book finally has me ceding the point that ambivalence is not about not caring but more being ...more
Rebecca Dougherty
Having recently read this book I hardly remember it other than Rebecca Walker's seemingly lucky find in a partner to conceive with and her harsh assessment of her mother. She comes across as unbelievably privileged ala Eat, Pray, Love, which I HATED. I really don't understand what her struggle is. She loved a woman who had a son to whom she became a surrogate parent and they wanted to have a child of their own, her relationship with the woman ended but she still is part of the young man's life, ...more
This book was not at all what I anticipated it would be. I think the subtitle "choosing motherhood after a lifetime of ambivalence" is quite misleading given that the author acknowledges in the first chapter that she has always wanted a child, that she's wanted a baby for 15 years. What follows is her account of choosing a partner and the experience of being pregnant and giving birth. I expected, because of what I know of her background, for Walker to make different choices regarding the birth e ...more
I read this book after having my kid. I was interested in what this woman had to say having been 'ambivalent'- as I was -about the whole baby making thing.
Turns out, its just the journal of another yuppie-buddhist. She actually has to name drop her associations with the Dalai Lama! But that could be a sympton of her journalist backround too. In this context it just seems like ridiculous 'foreshadowing' for her choice of naming her child.
Only consider this book if you want to feel better about
Almost as boring as the Andy Warhol diaries, just more neurotic in its self-analysis. Add Sex and the City references and tedious descriptions of a privileged yuppie lifestyle, and I am officially left cold. My initial interest in this book was based on the subtitle: "Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence," but I had to double check the definition of "ambivalence" when, on the very first page, Walker claims that she's wanted to have a baby since she was a teenager. I guess this is ...more
Danise Elijah
I came to this book with absolutely no expectations or knowledge of Rebecca Walker. What I found was a deeply personal reflection on motherhood and what it means to a self actualized, creative, working woman to choose motherhood. People quibble over the title. I understood the ambivalence relating to how she was raised. She has a perspective on the values she was taught by her mother. Like all new parents do as they sit sniffing the smell of a newborns little head on their chest, she ponders wha ...more
Jen Chau
I love the simplicity and honesty of Rebecca Walker's writing. I see that a lot of people here are bothered by her "assertions." That she is making judgments about all women who do this or do that. I didn't see that. And maybe I'm biased because I just met her - she is merely telling her story. What she sees, feels, thinks. That's all. I never saw her say in the book: and this is what you should think too. Just one woman's story of pregnancy through birth.
Sara Cat
Hmm. Torn on this one. Really well written, lots of interesting stuff about Alice Walker (the author's mother, and one of my first literary heroes), but on the other hand, got annoyed at how very narcissistic it was. But on yet another hand, that's how most books written by my generation, the generation raised by the generation that grew up in the 1960s, are. See the review by Inder. It probably accurately captures this time period and the obsessions of American women during it. (Going on and on ...more
So much of what she has to say resonates with me.

"And I thought that really, when it comes down to it, that's what life is all about: showing up for the people you love, again and again, until you can't show up anymore."
Not really ambivalent. She says in the first pages she's always wanted a baby. I was also disappointed this was the story of her pregnancy and birth, not her experience post-birth which seems much harder.
A major problem with the author was her statement "the love you have for your nonbiological child isn't the same as the love you have for your own flesh and blood". As an adopted child and as someone who has taken care of people who were not my blood relatives, I found this extremely arrogant and belittling to the relationship of parent and child. Maybe some people, maybe even most, don't have the ability to love someone unconditionally by choice. But it's been done. She had some interesting vie ...more
Meghan Krogh
This is the perfect motherhood memoir and I feel so reassured and yet terrified having read it. I can't get over this piece. It's gorgeous and exactly what I would have hoped.
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“. . . when it comes down to it, that’s what life is all about: showing up for the people you love, again and again, until you can’t show up anymore.” 2228 likes
“Because mothers make us, because they map our emotional terrain before we even know we are capable of having an emotional terrain, they know just where to stick the dynamite. With a few small power plays - a skeptical comment, the withholding of approval or praise - a mother can devastate a daughter. Decades of subtle undermining can stunt a daughter, or so monopolize her energy that she in effect stunts herself. Muted, fearful, riddled with self-doubt, she can remain trapped in daughterhood forever, the one place she feels confident she knows the rules.” 8 likes
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