Mothers in the limelight

When photographer Barbra Walz and journalist Jill Barber were introduced at a dinner party, little did they know that the result would be a book. New mothers, they found themselves talking about the joys and struggles common to them both - balancing work and children. ``By the end of the evening we had decided to collaborate on a book about motherhood,'' they write. ``We would photograph and interview women in the public eye - mothers who had incredible stories to tell about the struggle of having it all and keeping it all together.''

From singer Carly Simon to Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder, ``Starring Mothers'' (Dolphin, $12.95) spans a wide range of women in a variety of careers - actresses, politicians, astronauts, writers, athletes, artists. Here are some of their comments:

``I'm probably the only person to be sworn into Congress with disposable diapers in my bag. Congress has had very distinguished single women and some who were widows, but virtually no congresswomen with young children.''

-Patricia Schroeder,

US representative from Colorado

``Every woman I know has said that my baby Jesse has been lucky for me. Since I no longer struggle to prove myself, I feel secure. I work more efficiently; I put in less effort for the same result. As a mother, your priorities change because you're burdened with less angst, less anger. I'm content simply because I can walk with Jesse and point out an airplane in the sky. The wonderment on her face is far greater than the audience's reaction to the best piece of journalism I'll ever produce.''

-Judy Licht, broadcast journalist

``Zuri was about five when we adopted our other two sons, Dodd and Stanley. Dodd moved in first. His mother, our neighbor ... had no idea when she was living that I would end up taking two of her sons if anything ever happened to her! When she died, I said to Dodd, `Bring over your clothes and bring your brother.' I wondered if we would love them as much as we did Zuri. I didn't want anyone to be in my house feeling that they weren't loved, and I didn't want them ever to feel we would do more for Zuri than we would for them. After they were with us for a while, we realized that we did love them as much and that it wasn't one-sided, we just had to give it a chance. We look like a family and we are a family.''

-Patti LaBelle, singer

``The baby ultimately led to my success. If there was no baby there would be no work. I didn't understand working, because I didn't understand work hours. Prior to her birth I was certainly in New York painting, but I was also going to movies, going to parties, meeting people. Maggie ended the visits for me. I had to be home with her, and I suffered a bit of an identity crisis about being someone's wife and someone's mother. I now wanted to create something and use my time well if I was stuck home all day.''

-Susan Rothenberg, painter

``When I was elected governor in 1983, we quickly moved into the governor's mansion in Frankfort, Kentucky. Our possessions were still in boxes as the legislature met for the new year. One one particularly busy day, as I stood before the state senate, a staff member ran up to me with a note. Was there a surprise parliamentary maneuver brewing down on the floor? I began to worry. I opened the note. It read, `Mom, where are my cheerleading shorts?'''

-Martha Layne Collins, Governor of Kentucky

``I don't feel a conflict between my work and my family. If anything, it's a nice blend. I remember having a lot of fun in the simulator trying to handle all the emergencies they were giving us and thinking that in a half hour I'd go home and see Kristen. It's a stimulating change of pace to share two ways of life, the technological and the nurturing. I stay busy; there's no time to sit around and worry about myself.''

-Dr. Anna Fisher, NASA astronaut

``When Jeffrey was two months old, the President bounced him on his knee. I had brought Jeffrey to visit the White House reporters and friends on the White House staff. The staff arranged for the President to see me and they secretly invited my husband. I had just finished feeding Jeffrey and I was about to burp him when someone said, `The President can see you now.' We walked into the Oval Office and the President immediately asked to hold Jeffrey. Al and I hoped he wouldn't make a mess of the President's suit. Ronald Reagan had a meeting with the President of Sudan next, and I couldn't see him walking in with a diaper held to his shoulder.''

-Judy Woodruff, broadcast journalist

``Both my children are very aware aurally and visually and they have a wonderful sense of style. From the time the babies were very small, I always wore bangles and great-colored earrings that they could look at. There were bright and colorful objects in their rooms, and I'd point out a sunset, a house, a color. I've tried to stimulate their senses in all ways. I learned this and so much from my mother. I always sang to my children because she sang to me.''

-Carly Simon, singer and songwriter

``Finally, simply, if I hadn't had a child, I'd never have known that most elemental, direct, true relationship. I don't know if I'd fully understand the values of society that I prize. I would have missed some of the mystery of life and death. Not to know how a child grows, the wonder of a newborn's hand ... I have been fortunate.''

-Dianne Feinstein, Mayor of San Francisco

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