Continuing on with posting excerpts from my upcoming book... This part of the Introduction sets the stage for Part Two, which shares the stories of the 54 women I surveyed.
As I prepared to write this book, I decided to survey women I know who are members of my generation about the directions their lives took when they became mothers. My intention at that time was twofold. I wanted to see how my own personal network of women compared to the national data I was uncovering in my research. I also wanted to gauge whether or not I had a decent idea for a book before I put my heart and soul in to writing one. I sent an email to the women in my personal network explaining I was working on “a project.” It asked them to select the description from a list I had created that best illustrated their status since becoming a mom.
An amazing thing happened. Instead of merely answering my one question “survey,” women began to open up to me. They shared their feelings, experiences and philosophies on motherhood. The issues they had wrestled with when they became moms. I received many long emails explaining their situations and/or why they had made certain decisions. I found what they had to say to be fascinating, candid and provocative. And it was interesting to me that they responded in such a way when all I had asked was that they send back a one-line reply.
It was as if many of the women felt the need to justify their choices. Or I had asked a question they were eager to answer. Either way, it was apparent I had touched a nerve. I was inspired to delve deeper. I divided the women into categories based on their initial responses, and began to ask more questions. Then I stood back and allowed the dialogue to unfold.
My book idea morphed into something entirely different, and I changed direction. I had been planning to focus solely on my own experience. My casual, unscientific poll was meant for nothing more than a file marked “Book Research.” But I realized these women had many compelling stories to tell; I had to share their viewpoints. In the end I believe they took my book in a much better direction than I had originally intended.
Yes, all women have stories to tell. And plenty of other writers before me have compiled narratives and published books. But it always seemed to be in the context of the dreaded “Mommy Wars.” The tales – and titles - were tailor-made to inflame. Pit mom against mom. The theme was always the same; I wanted to do something different.