WHO’S YOUR MAMA?: The Unsung Voices of Women and Mothers

by Jacquelyn Lewis

A look at motherhood through 28 essays from mostly non-traditional perspectives.

In an effort to open society’s eyes to “the diversity of ways that real American women—women of every hue and social strata—experience motherhood,” writer and political activist Yvonne Bynoe has assembled a wide-ranging collection of 28 essays, mostly written from non-traditional perspectives. Race, class, age, and gender are all addressed here. Lisa Chiu, Kim Green, and Lori L. Tharps consider the delights and difficulties of raising multicultural children, while Kelly Jeske, Kathy Bricetti, and Mary Warren Foulk explain the challenges of having a baby with a female partner. To breed or not to breed has become an increasingly fraught decision, and Bynoe has selected essays that reflect that ambivalence: Liz Prato writes with giddy relief about her decision to remain childfree while Martha Southgate guiltily confesses her fantasy of abandoning her role as a wife and mother, and Christine Murphy and Kersha Smith, both married without kids, weigh the pros and cons of parenthood. Robin Templeton’s essay, about her fears that she’ll take after her own damaged, destructive mother, stands out for its polished prose, but some of the most affecting work comes from previously unpublished writers Heather McCary and Tanika Feaster, who write with passion and candor about becoming mothers before they were quite ready for the job. With its anything-goes all-inclusiveness (Bynoe writes that “the only prerequisites were that the essays had to be personal narratives and they had to be interesting”), this anthology will offer welcome asylum to those who have not yet taken sides in the literary mommy wars.

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