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To the Best of Our Knowledge: Mother Issues | [Jim Fleming]

To the Best of Our Knowledge: Mother Issues

It seems everyone has something to say about motherhood. A lot of people have advice. Others just have... issues. In this hour, the tricky topic of motherhood - Linda Gray Sexton remembers her mother, the troubled poet Anne Sexton. Jeannette Walls talks about growing up homeless. And Ayelet Waldman explains how being a bad mother, isn't really all that bad.
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Publisher's Summary

In this hour, Motherhood can be a controversial subject. People often disagree about how to be a GOOD mother. And even personal memoirs can trigger passionate criticism and debate. Jeannette Walls worked as a journalist in New York City for twenty years. Then she published her best-selling memoir, The Glass Castle, which recounted her lifelong struggle to overcome her dysfunctional and highly unusual childhood. As she told Steve Paulson, one of the things she struggled with most was keeping her past a secret… from just about everyone.

Next, Linda Gray Sexton's struggle was to avoid repeating her mother's tragic mistakes. Sexton is the daughter of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Anne Sexton, who killed herself at the age of 45. In her memoir, Half In Love, Linda Gray Sexton describes in vivid detail her own, lifelong battle against depression and suicide. She tells Jim Fleming how her suicidal impulse arose in no small part from her complex relationship with her mother.

Then, Historian Margaret Jacobs studies the history of women and gender. Her latest book – White Mother to a Dark Race -- looks at early 20th century policies in both the U.S. and Australia that removed indigenous children from their homes. Jacobs told Steve Paulson that for aboriginal children, these removal policies meant growing up in constant fear.

After that, mother issues are all over the media nowadays, where it seems someone is always poised to offer an opposing viewpoint. Commentator Erin Clune says that for regular moms like her, it's a struggle just to stay on top of the latest self-help trend.

And finally, writer Ayelet Waldman knows all about the trouble you can get into, writing about mother issues. In an essay for the New York Times' Modern Love column, she confessed to loving her husband more than her children. In her book, titled Bad Mother, Waldman recounts many stories about what she calls "the perils and joys of trying to be a decent mother in a world intent on making you feel like a bad one." As she told Anne Strainchamps, that Modern Love controversy was a perfect example. [Broadcast Date: March 30, 2011]

Listen to:

  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  • Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman
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    (P) and ©2011 Wisconsin Public Radio

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