Motherhood is Madness: Why I am writing this book

In celebration of International Women’s Day, here is the Preface of my new book. I am almost done writing and wanted to share some of it right now. I welcome your feedback and please pass along to your friends!


Preface: Why I wrote this book

I did not really respect my mother. It was not her fault. Although she was beautiful, smart and amazingly efficient at raising five children, I did not aspire to be like her. I saw her as a slave to our family – like an unhappy prisoner. She made all our meals, did all our washing, cleaned our house, did our laundry, helped us with homework, and ironed all our clothes. Rarely did she do anything for herself. When she wanted a new dress, she had to ask my father for money. Although outsiders saw her as happy, one day when I was eighteen years old, she packed her bags, left our family and never came back. And I do not blame her. Why would a brilliant light allow herself to get sucked dry in a family that did not appreciate her or even see her?

Although I did not realize it at the time, I know now that I contributed to forcing her out. Although I may not have done anything mean or cruel, I was part of a system that kept her trapped in a horrible life. I just did not see it.

It was not until twenty plus years later that I came to this realisation. I was a practicing full time lawyer and full time mother. I was also doing research for a book on raising strong girls. It was a perfect storm.

My research helped explain not just why I rejected my mother but why my life seemed so out of control. . Apparently during the teen years, most girls struggle against very strict societal expectations. Girls fight internally and externally against pressure to be nice, sexy, smart, and perfect. They despise the fact that they are not taken seriously and resent being manipulated. But unlike boys, girls shut down, develop eating disorders or do what I did and turn against their mothers.

But this was not the whole picture. The research also shows that girls are particularly hard on their mothers for two reasons. They know that mothers will tolerate this as part of their accepted role in life so daughters can abuse mothers with few consequences. But, more importantly, teen girls reject their mothers because mothers are exactly what they do not want to be: powerless. Mothers stand for failure. As daughters watch and listen to their mothers and other women they slowly come to understand the limited role of women in our society. They begin to see their mothers as trapped and with little control or influence. This causes girls to reject not just their mothers, but all women and in essence, the feminine part of themselves.

This is tragic on so many levels. Mothers sacrifice themselves and then daughters reject their mothers, and then themselves. And here is the kicker; even though teen girls think they are escaping the cycle by pushing their mothers away, a decade later they often find themselves in the exact same situation as their own mothers. Why? Because it is not our mothers fault. It is the system of motherhood, and this is what this book is about.

I wrote this book to shine a light on what was really happening to mothers today. At the same time I wanted to better understand why we treat mothers so badly, why we feel like slaves to our children, and why we reject our feminine side. I also wanted to prevent my own daughters from repeating the cycle and cutting off important parts of themselves. What really kept me writing though was my desire to help other mothers understand that they are not to blame for the bulk of their unhappiness and that there is a reason why they feel like they are going crazy. I believe that if mothers know the truth and join together, they can not only make the world better for themselves, and their daughters, but the whole world.

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