Introduction
Maureen T. Reddy
Reading
The Mother Knot
more than twenty years after its first publication,
I am struck by how contemporary this terrific book seems. The strug-
gles that Jane Lazarre details-to hold on to her inner self while caught
up in the exhausting, consuming work of mothering; to forge a new
kind ofrelationship with her husband; to reconcile her past as a daugh-
ter with her present as a mother-are at once intensely individual and
widely shared by new mothers. The kind of truth-telling about mother-
hood as a daily reality that Jane attempts with other mothers, and of
which
The Mother Knot
is itself a triumphant example, continues to be rare
indeed. Jane Lazarre remains one of the few writers to take as her central
theme maternal subjectivity, a mother viewed from a maternal perspec-
tive, as opposed to a child's.
I originally read
The Mother Knot
when my first child was two years old
and just beginning to sleep through the night reliably. My husband and
I had recently moved from Minneapolis, where we had a large circle of
friends, to a suburb outside Philadelphia, where we knew almost no
one and where it sometimes seemed we would never know anyone,
worn out as we were by the demands of new jobs and parenthood.
Worse, I was so caught up in the minutiae of daily life with a tod-
dler that I found it nearly impossible to carryon a fully "adult," non-
parental discussion with the people I did meet. What I wanted to talk
about-my son, incessantly, endlessly-seemed unlikely to hold much
interest for anyone else; what
they
wanted to talk about often held little
interest for me, although it would have fully absorbed me just two years
earlier. And then a new friend, the feminist philosopher Sara Ruddick,
threw me a lifeline in the form of Jane Lazarre's book, for which she
had just written a new introduction.
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