Initial Euphoria: Most people begin their new assignment with great expectations and a positive mind-set. If anything, they come with expectations that are too high and attitudes that are too positive toward the host country and toward their own prospective experiences in it.
- The University of Iowa’s Web site on culture shock.
Not since Ariel Gore’s The Mother Trip has a writer offered such a personal, honest, and revealing account of early motherhood as Andrea J. Buchanan’s Mother Shock: Loving Every (Other) Minute of It.
Likened to culture shock, “mother shock” refers to the chaotic, overwhelming, and utterly confusing state that accompanies the first years of motherhood. A compilation of hilarious and heartbreaking personal narratives, Buchanan weaves eloquent tales of the contradictory feelings inherent to her experiences as a mother—from excitement to ambivalence, grief to fulfillment, wonder to disillusionment, and community to isolation—feelings that we mothers are frequently too afraid to acknowledge let alone talk about.
My favorite essays were, “I’m An Idiot,” “Everything I Needed to Know I Learned In Playgroup,” and “The Invisible Woman.” In “Not Like Mozart,” I appreciated the comparison she drew between her “pre-mom” life as a pianist and her daily experiences as a mother.
My days are endless rituals of things continually done and undone, just as my experience of practicing piano was one of constant raveling and unraveling, constructing and deconstructing.
Anyone who has spent their days changing a diaper only to change it again five minutes later, or setting up for a craft knowing full well the clean-up takes three times as long as the project itself, or dressed and redressed a child five times in one day can appreciate her accounts of the cyclical, ritualized process of mothering. This process is not unlike that of a writer, an artist or a musician; creation and creativity share the same derivative, a fact easily forgotten when one is bogged down in the (sometimes) banal and mundane activities of everyday care of children.
A notch in the belt of feminist narrative, Mother Shock is a brave, funny, and surprisingly honest look at the early years of modern motherhood. Requisite reading for any new or expectant mom, it is divided into thirty short, readable essays which can be easily read during naptime, restless nights, or Teletubbies.
Krista Jacob, MS, is editor-in-chief and founder of Sexing the Political: A journal of third wave feminists on sexuality. She has a long history of involvement in women’s issues, including domestic violence, sexual assault, reproductive freedom, and women’s health and sexuality. She presents at state and national conferences on issues related to violence against women, third wave feminism, motherhood, images of women in the media, abortion, and adolescent women's issues. At present, she is a writer and lecturer.
Ms. Jacob’s written work has appeared in Just Sex: Students Rewrite the Rules on Sex, Violence, Activism, and Equality, (Rowman & Littlefield), The Minnesota Women's Press, and numerous feminist journals. She is the editor of Our Choices, Our Lives: Unapologetic Writings on Abortion.
Recently, Ms. Jacob was given the Humanitarian Award for Outstanding Alumni from Minnesota State University, Mankato.
If you would like to inquire about bringing Ms. Jacob to speak in your community or to set up an interview, please contact sexingthepolitical.