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Archive for the ‘motherhood sux’ Category

See The Babadook because it is really about the claustrophobia of single parenthood.

The Babadook

See Actress because it is really about the sexuality of mothers.

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Quotes/evidence from Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill. My favourite novel in a long while.

But now it seems possible that the truth about getting older is that there are fewer and fewer things to make fun of until finally there is nothing you are sure you will never be.

The baby’s eyes were dark, almost black, and when I nursed her in the middle of the night, she’d stare at me with a stunned, shipwrecked look as if my body were the island she’d washed up on.

What did you do today, you’d say when you got home from work, and I’d try my best to craft an anecdote for you out of nothing.

But my agent has a theory. She says every marriage is jerry-rigged. Even the ones that look reasonable from the outside are held together inside with chewing gum and wire and string.

Is she a good baby? People would ask me. Well, no, I’d say.
Also because I’m always saying he could quit his job if he wanted and we’ll go somewhere cheap and live on rice and beans with our kid. My husband doesn’t believe me about that last bit. And why should he? Once I spent $13 on a piece of cheese.
..get a job writing fortune cookies instead. I could try to write really American ones. Already, I’ve jotted down a few of them. Objects create happiness. The animals are pleased to be of use. Your cities will shine forever. Death will not touch you.
At night, they lie in bed holding hands. It is possible if she is stealthy enough that the wife can do this while secretly giving the husband the finger.

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This is so, so good.

I remembered the time that I asked him to watch the kids and I came back to find that he had traded them for remote control cars. When I shrilly demanded to know where the kids were he hid under a blanket and whispered, “Kids are hard.” I yelled that he was a bad parent, and that only a moron would trade the kids in for remote control cars. This is why I had never left him alone with the kids before. But now I realize that he was never going to learn to not trade the kids in for toys if I never trusted him enough to figure it out for himself. In this society that constantly tells men that women are better at not selling kids for toys, is it no wonder that my husband sold our kids for toys?

And then I thought about all of the times that I have messed up and he didn’t yell at me. What about the time he asked me to get the tires changed on the truck and I had them replaced with milk crates? Did he yell then? No, he just smiled and said, “Silly woman.”

From Ijeoma Oluo, who is wonderful and if you don’t already follow her writing you must, with “Another woman discovers she’s been abusing her husband” in Medium.

Me, on this topic:

Before we call a truce on The Chore War.

Why don’t women just stop doing everything?

Sorry, is our struggle stifling your productivity?

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And the same message underpins private school scholarships; the idea that only the very gifted can attend such schools for free has the paradoxical logic of both validating the high fees and creating an illusion of meritocracy or superior moral worth. Still, if I had a dollar for every parent I know sweating on the outcome of their child’s scholarship exam, I’d be as rich as the elite schools themselves. Interestingly, the private school lobby likes to say that parents choose these schools  for their “values.” I’m not sure what values are at work in the scholarship system. The private schools would say they’re bequeathing opportunities to less advantaged kids. But these schools cherry-pick kids whose achievements will advantage the institution by attracting yet more fee-paying students. The only “value” exemplified is the value of commerce, with students analogous to high-yield investments.

These schools are in the business of sowing doubt, gutting state high schools of aspirational families and shredding egalitarianism. That’s not surprising; most businesses are driven by self-interest. But where Australia takes the cake for stupidity is paying these businesses for the privilege of undermining educational equity, and by extension, our nation’s economic growth.

We’ve heard time and again private schools claim an entitlement to public funds on the basis they’re “taking pressure off the public system.” In truth, they’re doing precisely the opposite. Luring high-performing students from the public system – whether by scholarship, other inducements or guilt-laced promotion – weakens the cultural mix at government schools, lowering expectations of the remaining students and transforming these schools into options of last resort.  And these “residual schools” are punishing on the public purse, requiring more equity funding to compensate for the concentration of kids from low socio-economic backgrounds, and more money for remedial and other interventions.

From Julie Szego’s “Private schools and their bankrupt propaganda” in The Age.

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There was only one group of unmarried women for whom the birthrate increased in recent years: those 35 and older. In many cases, they are having babies outside of marriage by choice, with more resources and education than the typical single mother.

They are still a small minority. But if these trends continue, single motherhood could become less of a sign of family instability. It could increasingly become one of the new ways people are choosing to form families, in an era when both marriage and divorce are declining.

From Claire Cain Miller’s “Single motherhood, in decline over all, rises for women 25 and older” in The New York Times.

I just want to say… single motherhood has always been a sign of “the ways people are choosing to form families”.

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In my opinion, we do an enormous “let them eat cake” disservice to our community when we obfuscate the circumstances that help us write, publish and in some way succeed. I can’t claim the wealth of the first author (not even close); nor do I have the connections of the second. I don’t have their fame either. But I do have a huge advantage over the writer who is living paycheck to paycheck, or lonely and isolated, or dealing with a medical condition, or working a full-time job.

How can I be so sure? Because I used to be poor, overworked and overwhelmed. And I produced zero books during that time. Throughout my 20s, I was married to an addict who tried valiantly (but failed, over and over) to stay straight. We had three children, one with autism, and lived in poverty for a long, wretched time. In my 30s I divorced the man because it was the only way out of constant crisis. For the next 10 years, I worked two jobs and raised my three kids alone, without child support or the involvement of their dad.

I published my first novel at 39, but only after a teaching stint where I met some influential writers and three months living with my parents while I completed the first draft. After turning in that manuscript, I landed a pretty cushy magazine editor’s job. A year later, I met my second husband. For the first time I had a true partner, someone I could rely on who was there in every way for me and our kids. Life got easier. I produced a nonfiction book, a second novel and about 30 essays within a relatively short time.

From Ann Bauer’s “”Sponsored” by my husband; Why it’s a problem that writers never talk about where their money comes from” in Salon.

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From Alice Robinson’s “Aching for Apocalypse” in The Lifted Brow:

I was five when my parents separated, divorced. A series of rented houses followed. I became aware of (then tried not to see) the admirable, painful capacity for carrying on in the face of adversity that some adults possess. My good folks were unflinchingly diligent in their efforts to position themselves equally in my life. For thirteen years I swung like a pendulum between homes and rooms and rules, coming to understand that if there were two different ways of going about domestic life – different foods, different furniture, different ideas about health and wealth and leisure – there must be more. An infinite amount.

I was only ever intermittently with each of my parents, but I guessed that their lives continued when I wasn’t there, unfolding in the private spaces I knew intimately but only sometimes inhabited. I imagined what my distant mother or father might be up to, alone in their home. I grew curious about the things that went on when I wasn’t looking. But there was always some doubt in my mind when I pictured the house I was absent from. The knowledge: anything could be happening.

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