On mothers, and mothering ...
(CNN) -- Need advice on mothering and motherhood? Looking for a great gift for a marvelous mother?
A book is a great place to start.
Perhaps the key question is, what is motherhood, and how does it change a woman and the people around her?
A new book from Dr. Harriet Lerner, a psychologist and mother, puts the spotlight on how a woman is changed when she becomes a mother. "The Mother Dance: How Children Change Your Life" (HarperCollins, $25) spells out what happens to a woman when two become three ... and four. We see why her new life is so different from his -- and how children inevitably help us to discover things about ourselves and our partners that we would otherwise not know. Lerner shows us how kids call on us to grow up and are the best teachers of life's most profound spiritual lessons.
Another book addressing motherhood and womanhood has been embraced by women worldwide. "Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom" (Bantam, $18) has been completely revised and published this year, with new approaches to menopause and nutrition. Author Christiane Northrup, M.D., is assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine.
In "Mothers Are Like Miracles: They Make Everything Possible" (Fireside, $10), Janet Lanese offers observations of mothers and motherhood from such famous names as Oprah Winfrey, Nora Ephron, and Agatha Christie. From the touching: "Whenever a mother feels depressed about how life has treated her, all she has to do is glance at the family album to see all the wonderful things she has accomplished." -- Mother Janet, to the humorous: "I want to marry a girl just like Mom, except a little thinner and minus the crow's feet" -- Jacob, age eleven, the book offers words of advice from kids of all ages.
More humor can be found in "Morning Glory Mother" (St. Martin's Press, $14) by Carol Lynn Pearson. The story tells how Alison Andrews, a divorced mother of two teen-agers, is frustrated with her kids. They don't follow directions and have to be bribed to attend her church's Mother's Day pageant. So, on Mother's Day weekend, Alison packs a bag and heads out to a hotel to be alone. But when mom runs away, the kids are forced into action to get her back.
Claudia O'Keefe's book "Mother" (Pocket, $12) brings some of today's most gifted writers together to share their personal reflections on motherhood. From a woman's choice to become a mother to the intimate inner workings of a mother's relationship with her children, the full, rich cycle of motherhood is brought exquisitely to life. These stories, poems, and essays -- some never before published -- are both real and imagined, and penned by daughters, sons and mothers.
In "Heart of a Woman" (Random, $27) -- the fourth volume of her autobiography -- Maya Angelou tells how she began her writing career and first became politically active. Most important, perhaps, is the story of her relationship with her son, as she chronicles the joys and the burdens of a black mother in America.
"A Mother's Place" (HarperCollins, $25) evolved from a series of front-page articles Susan Chira wrote for "The New York Times". Drawing on her own experience as a mother and worker, and on interviews with dozens of mothers across the country, Chira addressed motherhood in the nineties. She offers an engaging personal account of how women can rewrite the rules of motherhood, and exposes distortions that have convinced many women that good mothers stay at home.
Constance Warloe's "From Daughters To Mothers: I've Always Meant To Tell You" (Pocket, $14) is a collection of letters from more than 75 distinguished daughters -- novelists, poets, essayists, cartoonists, journalists -- to their mothers, both living and deceased. Here are authors of different ages and cultures, many of them mothers and grandmothers themselves, each writing in her own distinctive voice, sharing her secret sorrows, joys, hurt, anger, and understanding. "What do I tell her? What do I not tell her? What do I wish I had said?"
"Mama Drama" (St. Martin's Press, $22), by award-winning speaker Denise McGregor, empowers women with a love/hate relationship with their mother to break debilitating patterns and to move forward into a supportive and harmonious kinship.
"Mothers & Daughters: An anthology" (Chronicle, $16) Compiled by Alberto Manguel, the collection offers 20 evocative and memorable short stories from a diverse group of modern writers from Edith Wharton to Dorothy Allison.
"Mothers & Daughters" (Doubleday, $25), from Carol Saline and Sharon J. Wohlmuth, offers the stories of mothers and daughters, famous and not. By the authors of the highly successful book "Sisters", this work celebrates the intense and deep connection between mothers and daughters.
"Mothers & Daughters: Celebrating the gift of love with 12 new stories" (Signet, $15) is an anthology of stories by popular female authors that explores and reveals the dynamics of family, and the sometimes turbulent but enduring relationships that exist between mothers and daughters.
Writer Laurie Wagner and photographer Anne Hamersky explore the joys and hardships of motherhood in "Expectations" (Chronicle, $23). The interviews and images tell the stories of 30 women and their thoughts of becoming a mother.