Motherhood - Philosophy for Everyone: The Birth of Wisdom
March 2011, Wiley-Blackwell
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Does mother always know best? What makes a “good” or a “bad” mother? Are mothers able to assess their babies’ beauty? Without a single nag, Motherhood: The Birth of Wisdom addresses these and many more significant questions. The essays explore the following themes and more: how the anticipation of parenthood never truly compares with the reality, the multifarious challenges of being a mother, what it means to lie to a child, the commom (and perhaps morose) desire to “turn off” our children, coming to know a child, and honest reflections on the experience of mothering, including lesbian and adoptive mothering
Everyone has an opinion on how to mother most effectively, but ultimately it is up to the mother to figure out what is best for her child. As Judith Warner, New York Times columnist (“Domestic Disturbances”) and author of Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety writes in her introduction, “Breast or bottle, co-sleep or cry it out, home school or preschool, two percent or skim, opt-in or opt-out—all of these things are discussed and debated, argued over, made obsessions, with a sense of urgency that is all but university among mothers in our time.” The essays give the skinny on day to day issues related to pregnancy, birth, baby care, and raising a child to be a “small adult.”
The book is presented in four parts that move beyond what editor Sheila Lintott calls “navel gazing” philosophy. Part I: Mommy Brain: Truth, Knowledge, and Belief in Mothering gets to the heart of what it means to be an intuitive and responsible mother, featuring essays such as “Creative Mothering: Lies and the Lying Mothers Who Tell Them,” and “How Many Experts Does It Take to Raise a Child?” Part II: Labor Pains: The Work and Wonder of Being a Mom is a chapter to pass the time with when the baby wakes up at 4am crying, featuring essays such as, “Days and Nights of a New Mother: Existentialism in the Nursery.” Part III: Mom’s Morality: Ethical Issues in Mothering presents the philosophical arguments behind common pregnancy and child-rearing choices, featuring essays such as “Natural Childbirth Is for the Birds.” Part IV: Is Motherhood Everything You Thought It Would Be?: Fantasy Meets Reality presents the cultural zeitgeist of motherhood, with essays such as “The Media Proudly Present: ‘Lessons’ From Celebrity Moms.”
Motherhood: The Birth of Wisdom offers insightful, practical, and often humorous essays that contain more than a grain of truth for fathers and caretakers as well. Each essay is featured with a photo of the contributor with his or her own family. The contributors draw from their experiences as stay-at-home mothers, nurses, and academics working in the areas of economics, psychology, sociology, women’s studies, education, literature, and theological studies.
The volume finishes up with quotes from contrubitors’ kids answering questions about motherhood and philosophy such as “What Does Your Mom Do?” (Answer: “Does she work? Who pays her money?”), and “What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?” (Answer: “A philosopher … or … um … maybe a neighbor”).
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