Every once in a while, someone will send me an email to review a book. I have to confess. I don’t read anymore. I was starting to wonder if I even remembered HOW to read. But when I got an email from Marjorie at MotherTalk about The Ten Year Nap, by Meg Wolitzer, I’ll admit I was intrigued.
Amy and her friends went to good colleges and began careers as lawyers, film producers, bankers, and artists. But after they got married and had babies, they decided for a variety of reasons to stay home, temporarily, to raise them. Now, ten years later, at age 40, with their children older and no longer in need of their constant presence, and without professions through which to define themselves, the four friends wonder how they got there–in lives so different from the ones they were brought up to expect–and why they have chosen to stay so long.
Brilliantly written, I found myself reading passages out loud to The Husband.
Life with a baby was a primitive and powerful as life with a lover. You could never really tell where one body ended and another began; the lines were drawn as crudely as if they had been rendered by a child. When Shelly had nursed Joanne’s baby, they’d entered some strange territory of thought. They didn’t understand it, exactly, but they knew it was as bad as if Joanne had returned to the table and found another woman giving a @#$ * to Joanne’s husband.
(word intentionally omitted to avoid 900 spam comments)
Beyond the brilliant writing, I found myself having difficulty relating to the four upper middle class women who didn’t really find their identities until they all went back to jobs. After analyzing it to death, I realized that the real reason I couldn’t relate was a “stage of life” problem. They all got married in their mid-twenties. They had one child at 30 (except for the woman who had twins) and they never had any more kids. They were bored.
Where I did relate was how they found it difficult to explain who they were to anyone who was not a stay-at-home mom.
Just last week, as was describing my latest hairbrained scheme to a total stranger, the conversation of my law degree somehow arose.
“You are licensed and now you make tee shirts? You. Make. Tee. Shirts. And you are a lawyer.”
He laughed. I laughed too. Maybe I laughed because I never practiced law and didn’t identify myself as a lawyer (until I’m stuck in CLE classes every September). In retrospect I thought that maybe I didn’t think it was funny. Because it gets a little tiring having to explain that I never intended to practice law. That I just graduated 4 years ago. That I was using it as a resume builder for a worthless job I no longer have. That it is tiring that I feel like I HAVE to explain.
What did I love about the book? The moment of realization for the stay at home mom about the working mom during a discussion on raising boys.
“I obsess a lot about all of this too,” Amy said quietly, “and it becomes an exercise in self-flagellation.” Then she added, “In case you were wondering, that’s what I do with myself all day.”
“Self-flagellation.” When Penny just looked at her, still not understanding, Amy mumbled, “Just a joke. About what women like me do all day. You know, the ones who don’t work.”
Conclusively now, she knew that Penny Ramsey didn’t wonder about what women like Amy did all day without a job to go to. Maybe the idea of the supposed tension between working and nonworking mothers had been put out in the world just to cause divisiveness. Happiness didn’t seem to be determined primarily by whether or not you worked.
Refreshing. Cause I am SO over the SAHM/WM drama. Over it. I have made my bed, I’m lying in it and I get to live with the consequences of my choices. Your choices? Yours.