Thursday, October 9, 2008

Book Report: Baby Love by Rebecca Walker

This morning I finished Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence by Rebecca Walker.

This book has been maligned as narcissistic and insensitive to adoptive parents. I can't speak about adoption but can imagine that some of her comments could be hurtful. Because I don't have any first-hand experience with adoption I was focused on what ambivalence really meant in Walker's life and was hoping to learn that motherhood made her a confident, decisive person.

Walker's ambivalence and mine were really coming from different places, and the outward affects they had on our lives are very different, but I think the internal, the feelings, are the same. Walker was born to a biracial family deeply involved in the feminist movement. Her parents later divorced and she alternated living on both coasts to spend time with each parent. She is a traveler and a writer, she's biracial and bisexual. As for me, I was born in a small city to white middle class parents who are still married and still live less than 5 miles from where they grew up. I went straight from high school to college to career to marriage and family. I now live 5 miles from where I grew up.

So what do we have in common? Ambivalence. Self-doubt. Fear of making the wrong decision. A sense of responsibility to honor others by making the same decisions they did. Guilt when we choose something else. It is normal and healthy to weigh both side of a decision, but unhealthy to constantly doubt and question every move.

In the end, motherhood did not really make Walker (or myself or anyone else I know) supremely confident, but it did give her one thing that she would never ever question - her love for her son.

What I took away from Baby Love is that honoring my desire to be a mother was the right decision. 100%. And that if I can make that life-changing, irreversible decision and make it right, then I can and will trust myself to make choices in my life.

1 comment:

Rebecca Walker said...

Hey Deuce,

Thanks for the lovely words--I'm glad you got something valuable from the book. Contrary to the reactions of lots of folks (what's that saying about pleasing all of the people, all of the time?), many more took away what you did.

And I'm so glad. Because the book really was a labor of love (no pun intended); a love letter to me, my boy and his dad, to remember the why and the how of how we became a family.

Love your blog.

All best from one new mom to another,