Picks and Pans Review: The Mom Book

updated 05/19/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/19/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Judith Jacklin, Anne Beatts and Deanne Stillman

If Mother's Day has put you in the mood for maternal wisdom, there's no shortage of new books on the subject of motherhood. Hirsch's (Warner Books, $8.95) bills itself as an almanac of hints to help working mothers juggle the demands of household, children and career, and it is. Hirsch, the mother of three and a partner in a book-packaging business, touches on a wide variety of subjects ranging from qualities to look for in a baby-sitter to handling sex questions (kids') and the care of tired, aching feet (Mom's). The organization of the book is at times baffling. (Why does the section "Working During Pregnancy" follow far behind "How to Breastfeed Your Baby and Go Back to Work"?) But limiting each topic to a page or two is a good way to earn the gratitude of busy mothers. Mothers Talking (St. Martin's, $15.95) requires larger blocks of uninterrupted time to savor. Burck, a mother of three, has organized the reflections of 42 women on how motherhood has altered their lives. Burck's mothers come from all backgrounds and distinctively cover the spectrum of emotions that the role elicits—love and hate, contentment and frustration. Carol Lauren, a high-powered executive, admits, "Guilt is the main emotion I feel," because she spends so little time with her young son. Lisa McMullin, who had to face the ultimate agony, the loss of her child, tells of what it took to recover. Mothers Talking is sometimes sad, sometimes anxiety provoking, but it is always human. Completely different in tone but utterly enjoyable is Overbeck's hilariously cynical Whole Birth Catalogue (Pocket Books, $6.95). It offers such items as the "maternity running suit." Shaped like a VW Bug, it promises "unobtrusive camouflage on country roads or city street." Irreverent fun is poked at all the child-bearing and child-rearing industries. The only regret is that none of the items is really available. What I (and my 2-year-old) wouldn't give right now for the "homing blanket" that "locates forgetful child master and flies to his or her side." A major disappointment for those who take their humor books seriously is The Mom Book (Dell, $3.95). Jacklin is a former National Lampoon writer, Beatts is a former Saturday Night Live writer, and Stillman wrote for CBS-TV's Square Pegs. But it's hard to figure out at whom this book of satirical reminiscences is aimed. When the authors write deprecatingly about the mom who uses such phrases as "Who do you think you are, Miss Smarty Pants?" and who serves Meatloaf Surprise with dismaying regularity, visions of little ladies enjoying the benefits of a senior citizen's discount card come to mind. Yet boring illustrations portray a woman who seems barely old enough to relate to the strained jokes in this book. As I turned the pages of The Mom Book, I kept hearing what my mom (who, by the way, can tuna noodle with the best of them) might say: "They want $4 for this?"

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