A warm, original, and observant book on mothering which, although it probably won't receive the professional acclaim of Fraiberg's Every Child's Birthright (1977), will almost certainly prove more popular among--and more helpful to--new mothers. Heffner contends that motherhood has been doubly burdened: first by the legacy of Freud, which put mothers on guard against budding neuroses without the means to forestall them; and lately by the women's movement, which has drained motherhood of its true distinctions and devalued its worth. Because mother is ""an imperfect human being with needs of her own,"" conflict is inherent in the mother-child relationship, and regular quandaries are part of the package. Heffner, a mother and director of a nursery-school treatment center, discusses the historical sources of certain expectations and demonstrates why such expectations are unrealistic--why a mother can't always stop a child from spitting or prevent tantrums. And her along-the-way observations are enormously perceptive. ""Every new step in development involves a period of added work or stress for a mother."" . . . ""Mothers are not prepared for the kinds of negative feelings they will have toward their children."" . . . ""Permissiveness as a concept is a little like obscenity--although we can't define it, we know it when we see it."" A fresh, unencumbered perspective which sees the forest and the trees.