The Mask of Motherhood

How Becoming a Mother Changes Everything and Why We Pretend It Doesn't

Erma Bombeck meets Naomi Wolf—a funny, articulate, right-on-the-money look at being a new mother

“A gust of fresh air and an antidote to romantic notions of motherhood. Susan Maushart writes with terrific verve and style.” —Sheila Kitzinger

The Mask of Motherhood is the first book to take an honest look at the effects, in the 1990s, of having children on mothers. After endless talk of “juggling” work and family, and “having it all,” the first generation of born-and-bred feminists are actually becoming mommies—and they are learning firsthand about the great divide that separates the childless from parents. That smile frozen on their faces (Maushart’s “mask of motherhood”) is the pose they have adopted to disguise the mix of rage, elation, and confusion they feel about being so misled, so misinformed, so downright unprepared for motherhood. Nothing currently in print adequately prepares new mothers for the joy and the pain of motherhood. Why, Maushart asks, when we are so up front about everything from orgasms to liposuction, do we maintain such a conspiracy of silence about motherhood: about the impossibility of creating a “balanced” life and about the effect on marriages, friendships, relationships with our own parents, sex, self-esteem, and world view? The current generation of young mothers has been exposed to the most fervent rhetoric about women’s lives and the least firsthand experience of motherhood of any women in history. This diabolical combination is what Maushart, a social scientist by training and a mother of three young children by choice, explores with wit, candor, and passion in this groundbreaking, unforgettable work.