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

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3.28 of 5 stars 3.28  ·  rating details  ·  627 ratings  ·  150 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...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 22nd 2007 by Riverhead Hardcover (first published 2007)
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Lauren
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
sarah
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
LaDonna
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...more
Jennifer
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
Melinda
I just read about this book at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/art... .

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,...more
Jessica
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...more
Inder
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
Kate
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...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...more
Denise
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
Amy
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 about...at 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...more
stacy
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
Ruhegeist
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
Brynn
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
Jessica
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
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.
Becky
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."
Holly Klump
maybe I'm missing an alternate meaning of "ambivalent", because the author was far from it. she also waxed poetic about motherhood, and generally led a very privileged pregnancy, able to stay home, eat, obsess, buy unnecessary things for baby, and occasionally write. I think the book dropped a star when she tells a clerk, who is happily childfree, that she still has time to change her mind. how is this feminist? I did enjoy the few tidbits of feminism sprinkled throughout, but mostly this was mo...more
Ciara
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
Leseparatist
Baby Love was both more interesting than Black, White & Jewish, and more frustrating. Rebecca Walker's "honest and personal" writing about becoming a mother - or about making motherhood the centre of her identity - feels very much like an artistic and very self-conscious effort at the creation of the self. And there's nothing wrong with that, but in comparison to, say, Ayelet Waldman's Bad Mother what felt missing was a sense of humour, some self-deprecation, some distance. Walker at times s...more
Lovedy
Recommended by a friend, I devoured this book. I think I identify with her because we are in the same generation, both of advanced maternal age and both feminists. I thought it was honest and insightful. Yes, the subtitle "choosing motherhood after a lifetime of ambivalence" was misleading in the sense of a possible assumption that she was undecided and then suddenly wanted to be a mother. I think the statement is more relational to her complicated relationship with her mother and her journey is...more
Elizabeth Renton
Apr 21, 2007 Elizabeth Renton rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone considering having kids
This book caught my eye at Barnes and Noble for its title: Baby Love- choosing motherhood after a lifetime of ambivalence. Thinking that I certainly have been ambivalent about having kids, I cracked it open and devoured the first chapter. The author, whom I've never heard of before now, has a wonderful talent for memoir writing. She describes the events and circumstances leading up to her decision to have a baby, after spending a lifetime reveling in the feminist notion that children are optiona...more
Rosalie
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...more
Leonora
I couldn't help but think of "Operating Instructions" as I read this. In many ways, I think that is a better book. However, this one made having a baby sound more appealing.

The main flaw is it's obvious throughout that the author still has some major issues with her mother, Alice Walker. The drama between them was one of the things that kept me interested as I read. I wondered if this baby would fuse them together or drive them farther apart. When, at last, one of these things did happen, it was...more
Cindy
April's discussion for Mommy's Day Out Book Club.
Rebecca Walker's memoir - of before her pregnancy and throughout.

"Can I survive having a baby? Will I lose myself - my body, my mind, my options - and be left trapped, resentful, and irretrievably overwhelmed? If I have a baby, we wonder silently to ourselves, will I die?" (6).

"To compound matters, I had a tempestuous relationship with my mother, and feared the inevitable kick back sure to follow such a final and dramatic departure from daughterh...more
Kristen
This book was interesting and helpful as she unpacks a lot of complicated issues between motherhood and feminism. I enjoyed a lot of her story. In particular, I enjoyed reading about her struggles with choosing a parenting strategies.

But parts made me uncomfortable--mainly her seeming obsession with heterosexual parenting and her goal to wipe out ambivalence among women about motherhood. Once she became pregnant, she seemed to turn into a heterosexist, "motherhood is the only path for women" ma...more
Nina
Gosh, this was a self-indulgent train wreck, and in typical train wreck fashion, I couldn't stop reading. Someone recommended this book to me b/c of my ambivalence about having kids. I thought I was signing up for a book by someone else with similar issues. Absolutely not. It's clear that this woman has wanted to have kids for years and years. She was just ambivalent about her reasons and about her own experience as a daughter to a famous mother. Spoiler: her mother's Alice Walker, though she do...more
Jenn
I read this book because I wanted the dish on Rebecca Walker's break-up with her mother, Alice. It was less than satisfying. Why do so many memoirists (esp. mom-oirists) come off as petty, neurotic, and unlikeable?

If you do read this book, have fun looking for blanket statements designed to piss people off. For instance:

"It's not the same. I don't care how close you are to your adopted son or beloved stepdaughter, the love you have for your nonbiological child isn't the same as the love you ha...more
Amy Keyishian
I found this book to be a bit devastating, and months after finishing it I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I was one of Alice Walker's legion of fangirls, back in the day, and still felt fond of her work when I picked Rebecca Walker's two memoirs up. The first made me feel a bit sick; this finished the job. As self-absorbed as Rebecca can be, I still appreciated the many feelings, of both power and vulnerability, that she described. (didn't hurt that I was pregnant at the time, I'm sure)....more
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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.” 18 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.” 5 likes
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