Jennifer's Reviews > The Seven Stages of Motherhood: Making the Most of Your Life as a Mum

The Seven Stages of Motherhood by Ann Pleshette Murphy
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bookshelves: professional, read-2014, non-fiction

The best thing about this book is that the idea of writing it is what enabled Murphy's children to have a parent around more of the time. That's not me being snippy - towards the end of the book she talks about how we are judged on our parenting and yes I'd agree that is mostly a bad thing with an overfocus on outcomes rather than process. But I do believe there is a lot in the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis quotation that if you bungle raising your children nothing else you do well really matters very much. I had to step back at various points and reflect how all the experiences she relates were actually coming out of very short periods of time with her children - neither parent home until after 7pm at least on weekdays. (Of course a good deal of the work of parenthood may not be done with them right there, and she shows that well... but still....)

Anyway, unlike other journalists who write books about parenting, Pleshette Murphy didn't do it as an extended maternity leave, nor did she go back to work and quickly decide it was a terrible mistake. A strength of this book is that she writes about how children and mothers (not much about fathers here) evolve together and showing how it isn't a steady process of increasing independence, that your children merely need you in different ways. I admire her for recognising at a point where the expectation is often that mothers move further away from their parenting role, that the right thing for her family was to focus on it.

I almost gave up on this book early on. She is offensive about a particular breastfeeding support organisation yet does it in a sneaky way so she can claim she's only quoting... but her endorsement of the opinion is clear (even if the evidence for it is not) It ill behoves someone who has made a good living almost certainly based on formula advertising revenues to trash breastfeeding support volunteers in this way... and does nothing to help mothers.

Elsewhere she doesn't do this delineation of tribes or label styles of parenting which is so tediously prevalent now, and this contributes a good deal to the book's readability. She's chatted to a few friends, some of them in the UK... and I rather like the number of therapists-as-parents who share their own challenges. She also, unintentionally I think, shows just how many people are writing books about how to parent which is thought-provoking.

The narrowness of experience does show up when the final stage of motherhood is when the children fly the nest to college - this seems to be because that's the stage she's at with her own family rather than because that really is it, job done, game over. I suppose it is an example of taking one day at a time! I don't think the book is about making the most of your life as a Mum, despite the title, but it does depict some of the themes.

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Reading Progress

January 25, 2014 – Shelved as: waiting
January 25, 2014 – Shelved
January 25, 2014 – Shelved as: waiting-professional
April 29, 2014 – Started Reading
May 12, 2014 – Shelved as: professional
May 12, 2014 – Shelved as: read-2014
May 12, 2014 – Shelved as: non-fiction
May 12, 2014 – Finished Reading

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