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Archive for the ‘fatherhood’ Category

I don’t want this to sound like a gendered question, but you keep mentioning your kids, and so I was wondering if you felt that motherhood changed you as a writer.

I think it’s superuseful. I remember when I was pregnant with my first child: I was at a book festival and a writer of my own age, who will remain nameless, sat opposite me and said, “God you’re having a kid huh?” It was a man. He said, “I guess you’re going to lose a lot of time and you must be worried about falling behind.” I was about seven months pregnant, and I just had a sudden inspiration. I said, “Yeah I guess so” and then, “You must be worried about just a complete lack of human experience that you’re now going to be 40 and then 50.” His face went so pale. It was a wonderful way to frighten him back.

The honest truth is that Eliot wrote without children, Woolf wrote without children, Gertrude Stein, loads of people write extraordinary things without children so it’s not any answer. Every life that you live will give material for fiction. But given that I do have children, it is that experience of just the simple thing of seeing life in the round. It’s so dull to say that, but it is extraordinary to see your childhood replayed, refracted, to see yourself saying things your parents said, to be in this new relation to death.

When I think of writers, I really love someone like Ursula Le Guin, who had three kids and lived an entirely domestic life. I feel her children in those books, I feel that the weight of it, her experience of being a girl, a woman, a mother, an old woman, it’s almost overwhelming when you read her. I don’t know, when I read Woolf, I love Woolf and I love Eliot, but they remained young women their whole lives. That’s part of their genius. They had that pointed, critical perspective, which never faded. What I get from Le Guin, maybe because I’m now heading in the same way, is something I appreciate particularly.

From Zadie Smith in Salon with “Zadie Smith on male critics, appropriation, and what interests her novestically about Trump” by Isaac Chotiner. This is so, so good.

You said your concern was people, not politics. Does anything interest you about Trump, novelistically?

What interests me, which probably doesn’t interest other people, is the children. I’m going to talk in a generalization. When people are children of narcissists, and there are multiple children, they usually bond together against the narcissist. But when you have a lot of money, as Trump does, that seems to skew the whole thing. What I find so painful is the idea of children competing for the affection of a narcissist, whose affection they will never receive. That seems to me just excruciating. That’s what boggles my mind: Reading interviews with them where they boast about who gets to call him in his office more regularly or who saw him more than four times during their childhood. It’s so sad, that part. It’s slightly unbearable. Also because if the children don’t correct the narcissist, he goes to his grave never knowing. I think that’s the kind of man he is, right? He’ll never know.

I imagine Saddam’s kids, or Qaddafi’s, being the same.

But even with the children of a dictator there’s usually one who turns. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this. Maybe just to be told you are the prettiest is enough from this kind of parent.

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We are finally coming to a time when we understand that work life balance is vital (not just some soft issue mothers bang on about) and that workaholics are by and large a liability.. This is very good from Katharine Murphy with “The political life is no Life at all” in Meanjin. 

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The biggest problem with masculinity, Perry proffers, is that it’s based on a model that’s several thousands of years old, when survival depended on physical strength and male power. Or, as he puts it, “masculinity is to chase things and fight things and to fuck. Everything else is a bit of a mismatch.” This framework for men has remained remarkably persistent even as society has evolved past it, with modern jobs and relationships requiring a very different set of skills.

And what should masculinity evolve towards?

But simply by framing a repositioning of masculinity as a boon for men rather than a loss, Perry is doing something novel. “An emergent masculinity may be one that prizes tolerance, flexibility, plurality, and emotional literacy in the same way that strength, certainty, stoicism have been celebrated in the past,” he writes.

From Sophie Gilbert’s “The tragedy of men: In a pithy and insightful new book, the British artist Grayson Perry laments how ill-suited masculinity is for modern life” in The Atlantic. 

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Homeless fathers, fathers in incarceration…

“Fathers are important. I never had mine in my life,” he says. “I try my best to make sure she’s happy, well fed, and has somewhere to sleep until I get it all sorted out.”

 

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From “The secret to work-life balance: less work” in The Atlantic by Jenny Anderson:

One in five working moms say it’s not just difficult, but very difficult, versus 12 percent of working dads. And mothers are twice as likely as fathers to say parenthood has hurt their career.

But one group in the study appeared to emerge at least moderately content: moms who work part time. They’re more likely to take the juggling act in stride (only 11 percent of them say it’s “very difficult” to balance work life and home life) and they’re also more likely to be satisfied with the amount of time they spend with their children.

There’s only one problem with part-time work, in my experience, and that was the way in which my career completely stalled during that phase. In some ways this wasn’t a problem at the time because I had other priorities and I also managed to launch a writing career on the side during it all. But inevitably, I grew bored with the career dormancy and that boredom became a little damaging for me in the end.

Being back at work full-time I am well aware that work-life balance is out the window. And instead, I am running on the adrenaline of a challenging new role as well as the sudden thrill of being taken seriously again.

 

 

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Before my son was born, I did not cry much. For instance, I was able to successfully navigate the untimely demise of both Rickey and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas without so much as shedding a tear.

This was partly because I was raised by single mother, so my uncles, afraid I might turn out to be a ‘momma’s boy,’ drilled into me their understanding of the emotional life of a Black man. That is, I was to be quiet, strong and angry about the inequality of Black life. This anger, however, could be channeled constructively with sports or drowned with alcohol, but it was to be never, ever be expressed with tears.

Therefore, for the first 25 years of my life, I seldom cried. When I graduated from undergrad and grad school, I barely smiled. When Bambi’s mom caught an L, I didn’t feel a thing. I even made through Will asking uncle Phil, “How come he don’t want me” without feeling much.

I was, for all intents and purposes, the opposite of a sensitive thug—then something strange happened. On April 17, 2008, my son was born…and the floodgates opened. Now, I rarely get through a day without something messing with my allergies.

From “I never cried until my son was born (because patriarchy), but now I cry at every damn thing” by Lawrence Ware at Very Smart Brothas.

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‘Work and family’ writing, if it is without radical feminism, has become vanity writing for successful, entitled women.

As was true of her previous book, there’s very little advice in “Women Who Work” that is specific to women. A reading list at the back contains fifty-three books and ted Talk recommendations—thirty-nine of which were authored by men. There’s no shortage of woman-targeted branding throughout the book—“You are a woman who works,” Ivanka writes, over and over again—but the first actual mention of a gendered situation occurs on page ninety-four, when she notes that women, more than men, can face negative repercussions when they try to negotiate a raise. Her counsel, though, is entirely general: do your research; prove your worth. On page one hundred and four, she finally lays out a woman-specific suggestion: we should be more like men and apply for jobs for which we’re not completely qualified. Given the circumstances, it’s almost funny. In a later section on work/life balance—a “myth,” according to Ivanka, who nonetheless advocates finding a “work/life rhythm that’s optimal for you”—there’s quite a bit of advice about working through and around pregnancy and motherhood, mostly in the form of quotes from Rosie Pope, an entrepreneur who briefly had her own Bravo show called “Pregnant in Heels.”

The other quoted experts—and there are hundreds—are all over the map. There’s Stephen Covey, the business consultant and teacher who wrote “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” There’s Socrates. There’s Toni Morrison, who is quoted as saying, “Bit by bit, she had claimed herself. Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” (Ivanka does not note that those lines are from the novel “Beloved” and refer to freedom from actual slavery; in this context, they are used as the chapter divider before a section on time management, in which she asks women, “Are you a slave to your time or the master of it?”) There’s Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the feminist author and activist who once wrote, Ivanka has learned, “Life is a verb, not a noun.” There’s a woman with a food blog “dedicated to turning veggies and fruit into spiralized noodles” who appears to offer advice on resilience.

From a thrillingly irritable book review by Jia Tolentino in The New York Post – “Ivanka Trump wrote a painfully oblivious book for basically no one”. 

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