Dispatches from a Not-So-Perfect Life: Or How I Learned to Love the House, the Man, the Child

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When Salon.com published Faulkner Fox’s article on motherhood, “What I Learned from Losing My Mind,” the response was so overwhelming that Salon reran the piece twice. The experience made Faulkner realize that she was not alone—that the country is full of women who are anxious and conflicted about their roles as mothers and wives.

In Dispatches from a Not-So-Perfect Life, her provocative, brutally honest, and often hilarious memoir of motherhood, Faulkner explores the causes of her unhappiness, as well as the societal and cultural forces that American mothers have to contend with. From the time of her first pregnancy, Faulkner found herself—and her body—scrutinized by doctors, friends, strangers, and, perhaps most of all, herself. In addition to the significant social pressures of raising the perfect child and being the perfect mom, Faulkner also found herself increasingly incensed by the unequal distribution of household labor and infuriated by the gender inequity in both her home and others’. And though she loves her children and her husband passionately, is thankful for her bountiful middle-class life, and feels wracked with guilt for being unhappy, she just can’t seem to experience the sense of satisfaction that she thought would come with the package. She’s finally got it all—the husband, the house, the kids, an interesting part-time job, even a few hours a week to write—so why does she feel so conflicted?

Faulkner sheds light on the fear, confusion, and isolation experienced by many new mothers, mapping the terrain of contemporary domesticity, marriage, and motherhood in a voice that is candid, irreverent, and deeply personal, while always chronicling the unparalleled joy she and other mothers take in their children.
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About the author

FAULKNER FOX teaches creative writing at Duke University. She holds a BA in literature from Harvard, an MA in American Studies from Yale, and an MFA in poetry from Vermont College. She lives in Durham, North Carolina, with her husband and two sons. Visit her website at www.faulknerfox.com.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Crown
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Published on
Dec 18, 2007
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9780307420589
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Biography & Autobiography / Women
Family & Relationships / Parenting / Motherhood
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A touching and surprising memoir about one woman's journey to motherhood and family that illustrates the power of love and triumph of the human spirit.

After three heartbreaking losses, Adrienne Arieff thought her dreams of becoming a mother might never come true. She and her husband soon discovered, however, that parenthood was still possible, but it would require a gift from a perfect stranger, faith and determination.  Half a world away, in a small village in India, Vaina was happily married with three small children, but with little means to support her family or to build a better life.  

So Adrienne traveled to Anand, in a remote rural pocket of India near the Pakistani border, where the Akansksha clinic is located, to meet with Dr. Nayna Patel, an expert in surrogacy. There, Adrienne met Vaina, who courageously agreed to be a surrogate and carry Adrienne's child, an act which would, in turn, help Vaina to provide for her own children. After a course of IVF in India, Adrienne's role was just beginning in a process that as yet has no firm set of social mores.  Unlike many genetic moms who return to their homes and wait for their baby to be born, Adrienne couldn't bear to have this pregnancy progress without her.  She wanted to feel a connection both to her growing child and to Vaina, the woman who was offering this remarkable gift.  So Adrienne decided to go back to Anand, to be Vaina's partner for the last months of her pregnancy. This choice brought its own heartaches and revelations, chief among them, how do you develop a relationship when you don't share a language or culture? But somehow these two mothers, united by a shared goal, found that within weeks, they could say anything and everything with just one look, one squeeze of the hand, one smile.  

Poignant, eye-opening, and bittersweet, The Sacred Thread is a memoir of the astonishing journey these two young women took to create a family through international surrogacy.  It is the very personal story of embarking upon this process, and shedding light on a growing medical trend that is often shrouded in misconception and prejudice.  But, more importantly, The Sacred Thread is a tale of immersing oneself in a foreign culture and foreign land; becoming part of a group of expectant mothers, bonded by their hope for children, and following them on the euphoric highs and crushing lows of their journey; and the development of a deep bond between women who have absolutely nothing in common, except for a shared love of family and children.
Esteemed psychologist Daphne de Marneffe examines women’s desire to care for children in an updated reissue of her “fascinating analysis that’s a welcome addition to the dialogues about motherhood” (Publishers Weekly).

If a century ago it was women’s sexual desires that were unspeakable, today it is the female desire to mother that has become taboo. One hundred years of Freud and feminism have liberated women to acknowledge and explore their sexual selves, as well as their public and personal ambitions. What has remained inhibited is women’s thinking about motherhood.

Maternal Desire is the first book to treat women’s desire to mother as a legitimate focus of intellectual inquiry and personal exploration. Shedding new light on old debates, Daphne de Marneffe provides an emotional road map for mothers who work and mothers who are at home. De Marneffe both explores the enjoyment and anxieties of motherhood and offers mothers in all situations valuable ways to think through their self-doubts and connect to their capacity for pleasure.

Drawing on a rich tradition of writers, such as Simone de Beauvoir, Adrienne Rich, Carol Gilligan, and Susan Faludi, as well as her experience as a psychologist and mother of three, de Marneffe illuminates how we express our desire to care for children. By treating maternal desire as a central feature of women’s identity—rather than as an inconvenient or slightly embarrassing detail—we can look with fresh insight at controversial issues, such as childcare, fertility, abortion, and the role of fathers. An “absorbing look at the enormous personal pleasure that women derive from mothering….Maternal Desire is a stirring book that celebrates women’s love for their children and mothering while also supporting their interest in careers and other pursuits” (Booklist).
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