On Our Shelves Now
Theologian Erin S. Lane overturns dominant narratives about motherhood and inspires women to write their own stories.
Is it possible to do something more meaningful than mothering?
As a young Catholic girl who grew up in the American Midwest on white bread and Jesus, Erin S. Lane was given two options for a life well-lived: Mother or Mother Superior. She could marry a man and mother her own children, or she could marry God, so to speak, and mother the world’s children. Both were good outcomes for someone else’s life. Neither would fit the shape of hers.
Interweaving Lane’s story with those of other women—including singles and couples, stepparents and foster parents, the infertile and the ambivalent—Someone Other Than a Mother challenges the social scripts that put moms on an impossible pedestal and shame childless women and nontraditional families for not measuring up. You may have heard these lines before:
• “Motherhood is the toughest job.” This script diminishes the work of non-moms and pressures moms to make parenting their full-time gig.
• “It’ll be different with your own.” This script underestimates the love of nonbiological kin and pushes unfair expectations onto nuclear families.
• “Family is the greatest legacy.” This script turns children into the ultimate sign of a woman’s worth and discounts the quieter ways we leave our mark.
With candor and verve, Someone Other Than a Mother tears up the shaming social scripts that are bad for moms and non-moms alike and rewrites the story of a life well-lived, one in which purpose is bigger than body parts, identity is fuller than offspring, and legacy is so much more than DNA.
About the Author
Erin S. Lane is a writer, theologian, and someone other than a mother. She is most recently the author of Lessons in Belonging from a Church-Going Commitment Phobe. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Davidson College and a master’s degree from Duke Divinity School, both with a focus on gender studies. Mentored by Parker J. Palmer and the Center for Courage & Renewal, she works as a vocational retreat facilitator, helping people discern their wildest questions of purpose. She resides in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her improbable kin.
“Beautiful and clear-eyed, this book clears out the rubble of our culture’s baggage about motherhood to make room for a kinder, more honest account of love in all its forms.”
—Kate Bowler, New York Times bestselling author of No Cure for Being Human
“Smart, witty, and moving, Lane’s deft blend of history and memory forces us to reconsider the cost of conflating womanhood and motherhood. She reminds us that love is not defined by biology, and—through the raw honesty of her own story—shows us the value of making parenthood a choice for women rather than a destiny.”
—Beth Allison Barr, author of The Making of Biblical Womanhood
"Erin Lane is a guide of uncommon revelry and reverence. Think Elizabeth Gilbert with a theology degree—curious, clever, and ever-evolving. Feminists of many faiths—and those in the making—will feel deeply seen in this story of finding contentment and conviction in a purpose other than procreation—and motherhood writ large."
—Melody Moezzi, author of The Rumi Prescription
“Erin Lane has written an important book that gently and courageously addresses an often unvoiced question women ask themselves: can I be a whole person if I choose not to be a mother? She draws insight from her spiritual heritage and shares meaningfully from her own life. I consider her work essential reading to remind all of us that our choices are both holy and our own.”
—Julie Bogart, author of Raising Critical Thinkers
“With humanity, vulnerability, and humor, Lane boldly and astutely rewrites the scripts of motherhood so that all women might have the opportunity to choose what a life well-lived means to them. This book is a whole-hearted healing balm for everyone who has struggled with the absolute messages she has received about motherhood and the truth she feels in her heart.”
—Rosie Molinary, author of Beautiful You
“As a woman of color, a mother, and a clergy person, I found Someone Other Than a Mother deeply true and resonating. By rewriting the social scripts around motherhood, Erin Lane affirms those of us who feel outside the acceptable spectrum of womanhood and makes room for something more capacious, joy-filled, and humanizing for all."
—Mihee Kim-Kort, author of Outside the Lines
“This book is an invitation to all of us, mothers and non-mothers alike, to refuse to be categorized and to embrace our God-given wholeness. The wisdom here is a gift.”
—Micha Boyett, author of Found
"I cannot get enough of Erin Lane's words. Readers of Someone Other Than a Mother will relish in her pleasurable, disruptive, and inclusive invitation to be free of the archaic mother scripts and thrive as 'bare-faced human souls together.'"
—Cara Meredith, author of The Color of Life