The Books

Missing In Action: How Mothers Lose, Grieve, and Retrieve Their Sense of Self is a must read for any mom who has ever felt as though her sense of self was fading in the long and hard days of motherhood. Aptly called MIA, it is the book on “Maternal Intrapersonal Anxiety,” the surprisingly common, but mostly overlooked side effect of motherhood that leaves women feeling tired, anxious, frustrated, overwhelmed, and “lost.” Author Anne M. Smollon, a social worker and mother of three, uses personal stories, interviews, and her professional perspective to describe similarities between grief as we know it and the myriad symptoms mothers describe when “in the thick of it.” After describing the ripple effect of MIA on all members of the family, she offers ten strategies to help moms turn things around so they can recapture their sense of self and journey through motherhood with greater confidence, joy, and presence.

Editor’s Choice Award

Missing In Action is interesting from the start. The author is in full command of the prose and of the ideas she is presenting. The author’s personal stories and the stories of the mothers she interviewed are intimate and moving. The author’s caring voice and passion for the subject matter come across strongly throughout. The content will appeal to a wide audience. Every mother will be able to relate to this material to some degree, and will know others who would benefit from reading it. This is one of the best nonfiction books I’ve evaluated in two years. It was a pleasure to read twice.”
- iUniverse independent editorial evaluator


From the author:

Every mom I meet understands what I mean when I say, “missing in action.” Each day, we lose ourselves in the endless To Do list of laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping, changing diapers, doing homework, carpooling, negotiating, arbitrating, disciplining, and more. Like the king in the Greek myth, we work all day to roll our stone up the mountain only to start at the bottom again when the sun rises the next day. And each day that we spend – however lovingly – focused only on others’ needs, our hold on our sense of self becomes a little more tenuous. We wake up one morning and find that we are missing from our own lives.

I experienced this myself when I first became a mom, and – through many interviews and research – discovered that it was something many moms went through. The loss of self can be a source of grief for moms, but we’re often unaware of it because no one talks about it in this way. I wrote Missing In Action so moms would understand the link between their feelings and the normal reaction to losing something of value. I also wrote it so that I could help women learn how to cope with these feelings.

The book is a journey through Maternal Intrapersonal Anxiety, told by many moms who have generously shared their stories and experiences. No mom should feel like she’s alone in this. I also made sure that the book is filled with real world advice on how moms can deal with these feelings and come back to a place of confidence, balance, and well-being.

Based on my experience as a social worker, grief counselor, and NLP practitioner, I developed a list of ten goals that help women process the feelings and thoughts that emerge as they devote themselves to motherhood. These goals focus on the elements that are central to feelings of loss associated with the many changes women experience when they become moms:

  1. Acknowledge change/loss associated with motherhood (changes in friendships, physique, financial independence, intimacy, self-esteem, autonomy, etc.)
  2. Express emotions related to your experience of motherhood and feelings of loss
  3. Identify your core values
  4. Create boundaries to secure your core values
  5. Modify relationships; adjust expectations of self/spouse
  6. Identify and recover what is still viable from your former self and lifestyle
  7. Regain coping capacities impaired by stress
  8. Recognize the dissonance that exists between life before and after children
  9. Relearn the world from your new perspective as mom
  10. Re-establish your “self” (create positive self-talk and a great self-image)

Writing Missing In Action was part of my personal journey, but I’m so pleased that it has become a tool other moms use to create smoother transitions into motherhood or find their way back from overwhelm.

Check out the book, or learn more about how you can work with me directly.  


What Experts Are Saying:

… talented writers like you have something to say and can say it with grace and intelligence. I liked your book and thought that you made a strong presentation of the beset mother dealing with multiple losses [around one’s self and sense of identity], experiences all mothers can relate to. I do believe that this discussion of loss is a valuable contribution to the story of motherhood.
– Judith Viorst, best-selling author of over seventeen books, including Necessary Losses and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Having a baby does change everything, and Anne M. Smollon does a wonderful job detailing these changes and the effect they can have on mothers. Anne and I have had a long, personal association and I have enjoyed every conversation we’ve had around her book. Missing In Action is great because it’s written in the colloquial voice of a mom but with the clarity and insightful nature of a seasoned therapist. Truly one of the best resources available for all women struggling to keep their sense of self amidst the chaos we happily know as motherhood.
– Val Corace, Talent Director at Johnson & Johnson Corporate Headquarters

Anne M. Smollon has charted unnamed territory in Missing In Action, making it a less frightening journey for women lost in that land. Her informative and accessible book assures that there are many of us who’ve been bewildered and burdened by unsettling feelings of loss after having children. More than just comfort, though, she offers solid advice about ways to deal with those feelings that erupt around losing one’s sense of self in the all-consuming nature of motherhood. As a mother, as a reader, I found this to be an invaluable book. Nora O’Dowd, Former Features Editor of the Times of  Trenton

We [colleagues] agree that a book on this subject is sadly lacking and long-overdue. This book has an appeal that extends far beyond the United States since I think MIA is a global (one could even say universal) problem. This book should be required reading for every mother – and every woman considering motherhood – it’s the equivalent to doing your homework.
– Dr. Jennifer Rae, Canada


A smart, readable account of the complexities of motherhood… Missing In Action is a notable contribution that resonates with Smollon’s wisdom, grace, and passion. Missing In Action offers essential information, reassurance, and hope for women and their families.
– Shari Munch, PhD, Associate Professor of Social Work, Rutgers University