October 28, 2007

The Other Mother

The Chicago Moms Blog and its sister blogs are discussing
The Other Mother, the newest novel by Gwendolen Gross. I found this book compelling and I literally could not put it down. I love when this happens with a book! Some may think The Other Mother is about the Mommy War between stay-at-home Moms and working Moms. I saw it more as a familiar story of two Moms and their very realistic feelings, actions, and emotions through Motherhood. I think in many ways both Mothers have something about them to which you can relate, and you'll find yourself saying I know that Mother or maybe even I am that Mother...

I have always been a stay-at-home Mom and have no idea what it would be like to work while my kids were taken care of by someone else. To be honest, just thinking about that makes my heart race and my palms sweat. I am a very attached Mama to my babies and like to keep them close under my wing. I do not desire to have anyone else caring for my children but me, so strongly do I feel this that I've made the choice to not work and instead stay at home. We do make sacrifices and have a small house, not many luxuries, and go without extravagant vacations. And still, I know many working moms that live in a small house, don't have many luxuries, and go without extravagant vacations. All Moms, working or stay-at-home, make sacrifices.

But, we're not the type of people to really care about that stuff anyway. The important things are taken care of- and that's what matters to us.
I know without a doubt that someday I will not look back on this time with regret. I personally am very proud of my decision to stay at home and parent my children full-time. I am thankful as a woman that I have this choice.

This is how I feel, and I don't know what it's like to be on that other side. But Gwendolen's story of two Mothers in The Other Mother sheds light and opened my eyes on an area I have never treaded upon. I have compassion for all Mothers- as we're doing the best we can. I don't want there to be a war, if there really is one going on between Moms. If anything, we need each other's support more than ever.

I think The Other Mother is also a good reminder that what appears so lovely and perfect on the outside is not always a true reflection of the inside of a person's heart or home. That is something I am often reminding my own self of. We are all that other Mother.


  1. This was said beautifully. I have had the experience of being both a working mother and now a SAHM. Each has it's own share of difficulties. I will be looking for this book at the library!! Thanks for sharing.

  2. I'm the working mom. I put my son in daycare when he was six weeks old. I know, that just made you shudder. You can't imagine what it did to me. I've always felt (mainly at church) that I was somewhat looked down upon because I worked and sent my son to public school. Our church is full of SAHM that homeschool their children. It's almost as if I was made to feel that I don't love my son as much as they do or I'd be at home. Well, I work because I have to. We have a small home. We've been on two real vacations (stay in a hotel and eat out all week) in the last 17 years. We don't have expensive cars, jewelry or clothes. I'm certainly not working because I care more about my career than my son. I'm working to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table.

    Thank you so much for not making me feel like less of a mom and realizing that we need to support each other rather than put each other down.

    Now, I'll have to read the book!

  3. Wow - that was perfect. I am a SAHM as well I wouldn't have it any other way! Great article!

  4. I always wanted to be a SAHM, it didn't work out like that.
    I don't know why some moms fight about the work and SAH thing. We really all should just be there for each other, were all moms!
    I'll have to get the book it sounds really good.

  5. I think that perhaps part of the problem between the "war" that is perceived between working moms and SAHM's is a true lack of understanding of what the other has to deal with and to a certain extent, feelings of jealousy or envy get conveyed in inappropriate words.

    We are lucky here in Canada to have the ability to take one year maternity leaves. For me, that gives me tremendous insight of what it is like to be a SAHM and it isn't easy some days. And, being a working mom, I can also understand what it is like from that perspective. Both jobs require moms to make sacrifices and both have their positive sides as well. For me, truthfully, I would give my eye teeth to remain home with my children but the reality of it is that I can't. I have to work to ensure that a roof remains over our heads and food on our table. I used to really struggle as everyone around me is a SAHM and like Mary, I was made whether directly or indirectly to feel like I didn't love my children enough. And, like you pointed out, I just wish that we as moms could learn to give each other unconditional love and support.

    Thanks for the tip on that book! I will be definitely checking it out.

  6. I've been hearing a lot about this book. I need to look for it the next time I'm at the library.

    I used to be the working mom, but it wasn't my real choice. I did what I had to do, but I'm so glad that my life turned around and allowed me the chance to do what I feel I was meant to do now.

    Looking over the other comments, I really feel for Mary. I'm in the opposite boat. At my church, I'm surrounded by working moms that think I'm nuts or something to stay home, have more than 1 or 2 children, and homeschool them. Sometimes it feels like they'd accept me more (not that they shun me, I'm just not quite part of the group so to speak) if I were still being the breadwinner like I was before they knew me. Sadly, they'll never know what those years were like for me, or the struggle I've dealt with not to go back to it to make ends meet.

    The point is, we're all women and mothers, and we should be using our energies to support and encourage one another in whatever situation our lives are in, not making the other feel "less than".

    And that's my two cents. Thanks, Steph, for letting me voice it.

  7. At first glance, I thought the book may have been about stepmothers. Why? Because I am one! Though it's not, your commentary is interesting. I think I'll be looking for it at my library.

  8. Looks like an interesting book! I've been a PT working mom, and now a stay at home mom. I'm glad to stay at home, but it does have its downsides. I wonder how many mothers love every aspect of the choice (or lack of choice) they've made.


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