A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace

In the tradition of recent hits like The Bitch in the House and Perfect Madness comes a hilarious and controversial book that every woman will have an opinion about, written by America’s most outrageous writer.

In our mothers’ day there were good mothers, neglectful mothers, and occasionally great mothers.

Today we have only Bad Mothers.

If you work, you’re neglectful; if you stay home, you’re smothering. If you discipline, you’re buying them a spot on the shrink’s couch; if you let them run wild, they will be into drugs by seventh grade. If you buy organic, you’re spending their college fund; if you don’t, you’re risking all sorts of allergies and illnesses.

Is it any wonder so many women refer to themselves at one time or another as “a bad mother”? Ayelet Waldman says it’s time for women to get over it and get on with it, in a book that is sure to spark the same level of controversy as her now legendary “Modern Love” piece, in which she confessed to loving her husband more than her children.

Covering topics as diverse as the hysteria of competitive parenting (Whose toddler can recite the planets in order from the sun?), the relentless pursuits of the Bad Mother police, balancing the work-family dynamic, and the bane of every mother’s existence (homework, that is), Bad Mother illuminates the anxieties that riddle motherhood today, while providing women with the encouragement they need to give themselves a break.

Praise for "Bad Mother"

"This is not only a wonderfully written book, but I think it may also be a book of great salvation for many women. Most of the mothers I know (the honest ones, the tired ones, the confused ones) will see themselves reflected in these wise pages, and will find long-overdue comfort here." —Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

"Ayelet Waldman writes cleanly and thoughtfully about motherhood as both an experience and a spectator sport. Bad Mother is blunt, wry, prescriptive and pleasurable." —Meg Wolitzer, author of The Ten-Year Nap

"Ayelet Waldman's sane perspective on the challenges of motherhood comes as a relief. I relished her graceful language, self-mocking humor, her clear, if sometimes painful, insight. And I admire her—deeply—for the bracing honesty that redeems it all." —Peggy Orenstein, author of Waiting for Daisy

"Ayelet Waldman writes about motherhood the way women live it: Not only as parents, but also as wives, professionals, and most touchingly, former children. Written with humor, insight, generosity, and unflinching honesty, Bad Mother is for anyone who has—or has been—a child." —Pamela Paul, author of Parenting, Inc. and The Starter Marriage

Reviews of "Bad Mother"

"Waldman is a courageous and talented writer. Her greatest accomplishment in this book is to take her experience — some of our worst fears —and make it something we can understand. She drags the scary boogeyman out from under the bed. She opens the door of that spooky closet and turns on the light. Isn't that a mother's real job?" —Susan Cheever, The Daily Beast, May 5, 2009 (Read the full review: "Who's a Bad Mother?")

"We're all out there struggling to balance our kids and their needs with ourselves and our needs. As much as we love those babies and want the world for them, we need to try and keep a little piece of it for ourselves. Waldman, in her writing, in her truth-telling, in her soul-baring, helps us do that. As we attempt to keep all our many many balls in the air we acknowledge, along with Waldman, that they will drop and drop again and again. But, as she tells us, "When they fall, all you need to do is pick them up and throw them back up in the air." That advice we can also live with." —Lisa Solod Warren, Huffington Post, May 4, 2009 (Read the full review: "Who's Your (Bad) Mother? Ayelet Waldman Takes On The Art of Mothering")

"And yet it's the same uncensored rawness that made me reluctant to speed through any of Waldman's essays, for fear I'd miss some of the more jolting zingers. "Let's all commit ourselves to the basic civility of minding our own business," she concludes in an essay exhorting mothers to stop scolding one another in public. "Failing that, let's just go back to a time when we were nasty and judgmental, but only behind one another's backs." —Susan Dominus, The New York Times Sunday Book Review, May 10, 2009 (Read the full review: "I Love You More")

"'Bad Mother' is full of blistering honesty and brutal self-assessment. For any woman who has questioned her maternal fitness — and if you haven't, may I be the first to welcome you to our planet? We have much to teach you — Waldman's book is nothing short of a revelation." —Christine Selk, The Oregonian, May 8, 2009 (Read the full review)

"Waldman is often an astute commentator on contemporary parenting. In "Sexy Witches and Cereal Boxes," she is nuanced and thoughtful about the perils of teenage sexuality and the importance of parental honesty. In "So Ready to Be the Mother of a Loser," she comes to terms with the fact that her children are different from her, and she needs to parent them as they are, not as the versions of herself she thought they would be. In the book's most beautiful and powerful essay, "Rocketship," she tells the story of aborting her third pregnancy after amniocentesis revealed a genetic defect, an event that caused her to rethink abortion, face her guilt, and, ultimately, heal. In each of these essays, and in others, women and mothers — friends, relatives, strangers — are supportive, thoughtful, funny, honest, even loving." —Rebecca Steinitz, Boston Globe, May 3, 2009 (Read the full review: "Can a Mother Get a Break?")