WITH CHILD: A Diary of Motherhood by Phyllis Chesler
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WITH CHILD: A Diary of Motherhood

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The Feminist has a baby--a son--and her evocation of that double-edged experience is candid and lively but limited by its elitist orientation. During pregnancy, she whines about her own mother, wonders where help will come from, and spots enemies at work (""The men at my university are displeased. My belly, my brain, offend their flatness""). During childbirth, she endures a long siege, then rallies and delivers ""Ariel, faery spirit of my tempest."" Motherhood, however, almost does her in, for Chesler at age 37 wants it all: younger husband David, a student, will act as primary caretaker but she will breastfeed and continue as breadwinner--her writing career supports the family. Within days, of course, things fall apart. ""Never have I known such exhaustion. . . . A Mother is a woman alone."" Her astonishingly accommodating husband feels the strain (""The Israeli Army was easier"") and a friend, witness to their tension and fatigue, suggests, ""Maybe you two should have bought a hamster."" Friends share with her their more difficult times, her mother seems to mellow, and Chesler, in between book-promotion appearances, interviews prospective housekeepers. She perseveres (""I'm not the kind of woman who deserts my ideas because I have a child"") and as she struggles to comprehend the responsibility she has undertaken, she comes to enjoy her golden boy--satin palms, ""sexy first teeth,"" giggles and deep laughs. Her experience--romantic exuberance facing up to diaper realities--is hardly novel and her privileged situation may turn some readers away. Although some key issues are never explored (was a daughter more desirable?) and her self-centered focus can be troubling, these journal entries are intimate and oddly involving.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1979
Publisher: T. Y. Crowell