Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Welcome, New York Times Motherlode blog readers!

Visits to this blog have spiked over the past day or so, no doubt thanks to the discussion on Motherlode, the parenting blog in the New York Times. A couple of weeks ago, writer Lisa Belkin launched an online book club, and chose as the inaugural book "TORN: True Stories of Kids, Career and the Conflict of Modern Motherhood," a collection of essays by mothers writing about working, caring for children, and a bunch of other subjects. One of them is an essay by me.

(By the way, it's obviously been, ahem, a while since I last posted here. I'd have probably managed to return from the lapse a bit more subtly had I not chosen to headline my previous post with a reference to, um, Mother's Day. Turns out that working at a new job, single parenting two teenagers, maintaining a house, doing a bunch of freelance projects and taking care of spring planting and lawn maintenance is more time consuming than you might think. I'm going to try to do better.)

Anyway, thanks for stopping by! The Motherlode discussion has generated some interesting comments, roughly half of them negative (approximately the same proportion I saw on Salon in response to my essay). The negative ones in particular share some common themes, and in the next few days, I'd like to consider at least a couple of those topics them in more depth. Meanwhile, I'd love to hear your opinions.

First up, the issue of "whining." Why are women so often charged with whining when they discuss the challenges and/or internal conflicts they face trying to balance career and motherhood? Is voicing any sort of complaint intrinsically whiny, or is it a matter of tone? Are there any situations when men are commonly accused of whining or, if not, why not? Why is the accusation of whining so often paired with a description of the supposed whiner as "privileged"? What exactly constitutes privilege, and is there some socioeconomic level at which negative thoughts about motherhood and career can be expressed without seeming to whine?

Let me have your thoughts, whiny or otherwise!


  1. I think women at any level of society can have dissatisfaction with their lives. Aspiring to a better life does not have any floor or ceiling. When women are speaking from a position of powerlessness and ignorance, then to me it becomes whining. Women have as much of a duty as men to do what it takes to improve their life quality and pursue their goals. You can ask for assistance and state your preferences without turning yourself into a helpless victim. That said, there is a time for everything and among us girls, a little whining is often therapeutic.

  2. The Salon article is very powerful. Thanks for sharing your insights. My research is on all the extra things moms do, besides work and maintaining the home, such as planning and coordinating family gatherings and making family time memorable. It all goes together! And it's all damaging to women.

    Looking forward to reading more from you.

  3. Begging for more posts! I mean, you can't be too busy, right? :P