This is a brilliant and true piece. I’m standing on the other side of the story. Children who endlessly needed me, are growing up. They are now are 17 and 21 and I can attest that life is long. I’m so glad I was home with them when they were little, and I’m glad I figured out a way to keep working when they got a little older. I was the toothpaste tube and my career was what I thought about second, after half-days, $10 checks, schedules and the social life of a young family. My life work was really their lives, and I’m not sorry for this. Now, at 49, I still have a lot of work time left, and feel that my career has been long too. But, having my own children made me a more thoughtful and credible teacher (my career) and knowing the fullness life, including the struggles of domestic life makes you a writer I now want to read more from. Thank you for your piece.
GEMSTONE- I agree with you. I feel the grips of motherhood and the losing of one’s identity as well, but I also work full time with two younger children and felt her overbearing stress on other people watching your children to be insulting. No one will debate that there is no substitute for our children’s mothers, but many women work, for many different reasons. Sometimes its simply so they don’t get swallowed alive at home which she seems to imply happens to mothers anyway, whether they are at work, or at home. Sure, she’s a writer and every writer I’ve ever met and known, likes to stress the importance of their work above others. While I found her points to be valid in many ways, the truth is that mothering is not for the selfish or weak of heart- it is a sacrifice we make to raise the best children we can. She seems to forget that most married couples with children are not choosing to live with a parent and therefore reaping the benefits that come with that, benefits that could include not being forced to work outside the home, away from their children in order to pay the mortgage.
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According to Holmes, “the nature of legal language can obscure and hide the social interests and social advantages to some that a law promotes.” Holmes view about legal language is that law promotes social goodness for people but the manner in which the language of law is interpreted can be a block to providing equal justice to all human beings....
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Are you kidding? Her husband works all day so that she can afford to stay home with the kids, & that is your analysis? My goodness. She divorces him, she too will have to go out & get a regular job like the rest of the plebeians in the world. And might still have to depend on government hand-outs to make ends meet. She will never even get to think about writing, & her kids will be raised by others, which she already said she is grateful to be privileged to raise herself.
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As much as I want to be a good writer, I also want to be a good mother. I even want to be the one who cooks dinner. I may complain about being the only one who keeps track of the ornate minutiae of preschool (bring an egg carton by Friday! We need $10 for costumes for the play! Remember: Thursday is a half-day!), but I also don’t want anyone else taking over this sometimes loathsome task. Life with small children takes place in the minutiae. Everything is in the now, and so if you are not part of the now, you miss it. As Offill writes, “A thought experiment courtesy of the Stoics. If you are tired of everything you possess, imagine that you have lost all these things.”
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Lovely, raging essay, locating the source of that anger so succinctly (and I get the underwear pick-up thing–no judging, here) that many have responded as I might have done at that age, when I faced all those conflicts. But somewhere I read a line from a Famous Woman who said that the time frame for women is different for men, so why do we attempt to achieve on a male timeline? I only offer that up to say that perhaps that this reality is also a driver for this struggle–that feeling that we’ll miss out if we aren’t the cool, happening young writer/creator/singer/whatever, with the operative word being “young.”