I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood

The biggest problem with Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile’s book is not lack of scientific rigor (though they make sweeping generalizations after interviewing “[m]ore than one hundred moms” found through friends – talk about sample size deficiency and selection bias), the subpar writing (including painfully unsuccessful attempts at humor like a list of terrible “comebacks” to common statements that rub moms the wrong way), or the melodrama characteristic of the “bad mom” sub-genre of parenting books (e.g., “[W]e live in our shortcomings, in a state of constant regret.”). The primary issue is related to audience: I can’t think of a single friend who would benefit from reading “I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids.” Stuffed with quotes about how overwhelmed, guilty, and alone the mothers of “[o]ur generation” feel, the book is likely to make a reader who’s fairly satisfied with her life react with either smugness (“I am waaaaaaaay more put together than these wackjobs.”) or self-doubt (“Wait a minute! Am I supposed to be freaked out? Am I not taking on enough?!?!”) – neither of which would be terribly beneficial. For potential readers who are feeling miserable, learning strategies like “7 ways to enjoy the here and now” would be like slapping a band-aid on a bullet wound. I’m sure there is a group of women who have a deep-seated faith in themselves as mothers but benefit from commiseration over daily struggles and minor failures; for them, this book could work, but something like “Confessions of a Scary Mommy” would be better.

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