On Motherhood & Sanity


Crossing the River

“CROSSING THE RIVER,
A letter to my daughter on becoming a mother”
a memoir






What’s it about?
This book is about identity. The metamorphosis a woman must go through as a result of entering into  motherhood. The process of becoming a mother. Of choosing what will change and what will remain.


It's about contradictions and choices. 

CROSSING THE RIVER talks about my expectations and the ones society tried to impose on me. The impact motherhood had on my career and my marriage. How everything was transformed, and how I had to decide what it was going to look like on the other side. What I was going to look like on the other side. It talks about juggling and making hard decisions, while trying to stay honest to myself.


I wrote this book so that my daughter would know it is ok, it is all ok: the ambivalence, the anger and the disappointment are as intrinsic to the task of becoming a mother as are the overwhelming joys we are raised to expect.  I wrote it so that she would not be as shocked as I was during the transition. As most of my  friends were, confessing to it only  later. So that she would know it is common to feel lost or confused, and that this  does not make you a bad mother. 


The fact that I decided to quit my job and move to Cambodia at the start of the journey. That I chose to move thousands of miles away from home, friends and family, and start this journey surrounded by strangers that could barely speak my language… icing on the cake.

Who am I?
I’m a clinical psychologist and have worked as an aid worker in conflict countries for the last nine years. I’ve done the boat trip in the Colombian jungle stopping at guerilla and paramilitary checkpoints; the truck ride with tribesmen and their AK-47s in the Somali dessert. I’ve seen poverty and misery. I’ve had to bear witness to starvation and broken spirits. In short, I considered myself a tough cookie. Little did I know that becoming a mother would be hands down the hardest thing I’d ever do.


Why does the world need another book on motherhood?
The market is filled with what I call “pink and blue books” on motherhood. There are pink books on how wonderful it  is to have a child, blue books on depression and loss, funny books mostly by celebrities  and “best friends”, as well as angry books (mostly hidden from site in the feminist section). I had a really hard time finding anything in between, and as it turned out, motherhood was full of “in betweens.” I found few if any that look into the profound transformation that women have to go through. At a time when we are allowed to expect it all, but constrained by rules stemming from the past, we have more freedom than ever, but little honest discussion about what these choices entail. In this context, there is room for a personal story  about trying to work your way through the maze.

So the book is sometimes happy, others full of expectation. At times it is sad, or even angry, filled to the brim with disappointment. It can be hilarious, because that is inevitably part of the bargain. But mostly, it is a book about hope, courage and a love so strong it makes every bit of the journey worth while. 


* * *


The following excerpts from the book have been published through my blog


Introduction
The house is built on the woman
The long journey home