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The 10 Year Nap

January 27, 2009

If you’ve had a conversation with me in the last 2 years, you’d know that I’ve been struggling with the whole “working mom” thing. I’ve been working, not enjoying it that much, and feeling guilty about not being at home with my kids. Fact is, I don’t particularly want to be home with them full time, but I feel like I should want to be. Anyway, I’ve got a new job, the kids are happy, and I’m a bit more comfortable with our situation these days. But I still wanted to read The 10 Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer. I didn’t expect a magic answer to the dilemma, but maybe a new twist or idea, and at least something interesting that I can relate to.

Here’s a description of the book from Publishers Weekly:
In her latest novel, Wolitzer (The Wife; etc.) takes a close look at the opt out generation: her cast of primary characters have all abandoned promising careers (in art, law and academia) in favor of full-time motherhood. When their children were babies, that decision was defensible to themselves and others; 10 years on, all of these women, whose interconnected stories merge during their regular breakfasts at a Manhattan restaurant, harbor hidden doubts. Do their mundane daily routines and ever-more tenuous connections to increasingly independent children compensate for all that lost promise? Wolitzer centers her narrative on comparisons between her smart but bored modern-day New York and suburban mommies and the women of the generation preceding them, who fought for women’s liberation and equality. Contemporary chapters, most of which focus on a single character in this small circle of friends, alternate with vignettes from earlier eras, placing her characters’ crises in the context of the women, famous and anonymous, who came before. Wolitzer’s novel offers a hopeful, if not exactly optimistic, vision of women’s (and men’s) capacity for reinvention and the discovery of new purpose.

What I ended up with here is another book about women living lives that I cannot identify with in any way. Several Manhattan moms whining over coffee while their kids attend private school is not exactly what I expected. Granted, some of these women are not living extravagent lives, one even uses financial aid at the kids’ school. But even that family lives in an apartment that was given to them… in Manhattan! Who does that? I won’t re-count the plot, but I will tell you I was disappointed. The book, the characters, the dilemmas… they’re just not that interesting. And this is coming from someone who has practically made a second job out of talking about/reading about/writing about my angst between home and work.

I will give Wolitzer this: there is a hilarious scene where one mom nurses another’s baby. The baby’s mother is furious, and everyone is uncomfortable. The mom doing the nursing doesn’t understand the big deal. I loved it because it speaks to a concept that I believe would actually solve this whole “working mom” problem. Call it “It Takes a Village,” or “Big Love,” or a “compound.” I think we all need help and that we should all admit it, and then we should shut up and help each other.

So, if you want to hear about working parents finding balance, getting help wherever they can, working at midnight instead of when their kids are awake, and answering questions like “Why do you have to go to work?” then just read some of the blogs linked here, and check in with me every once in awhile! I’ll tell you about a juggling act!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 28, 2009 12:39 am

    Ironically, I have this book on my night table AND the audiobook for the car. I wasn’t that impressed with Meg Wolitzer’s “The Position,” but like you I thought that “TTYN” might provide … something. Sounds like it is just “eh … ” which was my initial thought. Back to the library it goes. (I’m sure I will have a difficult time finding something in its place. 🙂

  2. January 28, 2009 6:11 pm

    i’m in the same boat. some days i desperately wish i could stay home with the kids; others, i love my job. it’s tough being so torn!

  3. jec permalink
    January 28, 2009 9:01 pm

    It is tough. But it’s like all choices–make a choice, and you let go of other things. But choosing to work doesn’t mean GIVING UP your kids–just being with them full time. It’s hard to find a balance because our culture doesn’t make it easy for parents. I admire all of you working moms–it takes a tremendous amount of energy, organization, and commitment. It’s good to see that this generation of dads, for the most part, contributes a lot to child rearing–good for dads and good for kids.
    Keep it up–you’re doing a great job!

  4. Robin permalink
    January 29, 2009 5:15 pm

    Moria,

    Right your own book….you can interview your friends, journal your feelings and make money from your second job. I guarantee people would buy it. You are that normal working mom and not the Manhattan coffee drinking mom (even though you do have some FAB purses) that other moms need to hear from to know it is ok!

  5. January 30, 2009 9:29 pm

    Work is for people who don’t know how to fish.

    Seriously though, be sure and check your page view stats. I bet this post will get some new readers to your blog through Google searches.

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