An account of becoming and being a mother that reads like a novel and is as intimate as a poem. Books about motherhood abound, from the intellectual heights of writers like Adrienne Rich to the sentimental domestic dramas of Louisa May Alcott. But almost none capture the daily-ness of being a mom like this memoir from Canadian free-lance writer Jackson (Rolling Stone, Toronto Life, etc.). Jackson describes motherhood as ``not a separate, pastel wing of emotion, [but] a relationship as tricky and passionate as any other kind of love.'' The author's entry into motherhood began when she found her mate, a musician- turned-writer, and persuaded him of the importance of having a baby. Their son, Casey, was born when Jackson was 36. The boy is only nine years old now, and the writer still has a long way to go as a mother--but before ``amnesia sets in,'' she's tried to record what the experience has been like so far. With a gift for metaphor, good humor, and remarkable honesty, she calls up the feelings and the minutiae of motherhood: The erotic and spiritual satisfaction of melding her self with a tiny human being; the pain of trying to keep from losing that self; the loneliness and isolation; the ``Russian novel in progress'' that is the saga of raising children and establishing a family, with each day ``a series of improvisations.'' Though strongest in its earlier chapters, when Jackson's raw material is at its most dramatic, this wonderful self-portrait of emotional life in the mother zone provides solace and surprises from start to finish.