Streams

Mothers in the City

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Meg Wolitzer, author of The Ten-Year Nap, talks about her new novel, which looks at the lives of four stay-at-home-mothers struggling with their identities, marriages, and sense of purpose.

Event
Meg Wolitzer will be reading from her new novel on Wednesday, April 2nd at 7:00 PM at the McNally Robinson bookstore, 50 Prince Street.

Guests:

Meg Wolitzer

Comments [32]

Lisa from Great Neck, N.Y.

Also, "Stay at Home Moms" tend to be young women living some kind of parasitic lifestyle in which they barter sex for ongoing economic support. This particular kind of bartering is apparently an acceptable and normative practice within our culture.

Apr. 02 2008 11:54 AM
Bob from New Haven CT

Brian:
Do you thik you would have had the career in radio that you have now if you had left radio journalism for 8 years.

Apr. 01 2008 05:55 PM
Lisa from Great Neck, N.Y.

On moms - stay at home and or working: It's nice that these women have volunteered to continue the species, even if it's due to some kind of societal/biological pressure. Unfortunately,very few of these children that these women are sacrificing great chunks of their time for will reciprocate when the parent ages significantly, because as our society dictates that pregnancy and childbirth and child rearing are necessary rituals, in terms of societal status, it also dictates that the elderly are burdensome and should be left in an institution or with a hired caregiver.

Apr. 01 2008 05:07 PM
Judith from Montclair

Brian,

I'm responding to the woman who called in and has a dyslexic child. I focused on this because I know Lynn, who responded above, who is a facilitator for learners with dyslexia.

For mothers (and fathers) with children who have learning disabilities, we cannot appreciate the amount of time and frustration a family experiences. It makes the "Ten-Year Nap" seem like a walk through a park (not to underestimate this either).

Please consider a discussion on dyslexia as a segment on your show. As an experienced facilitator with dyslexic children and adults, Lynn is the ideal candidate to speak on this topic. I cannot make a stronger recommendation for an upcoming segment.

I have no children, have no economic gain. However, I personally know too many individuals with dyslexia who can only gain a lifetime of invaluable learning techniques from a discussion on the topic. This can only improve their quality of life.

Thank you.

Apr. 01 2008 12:50 PM
Lynn from Montclair, NJ

In response to the woman with a dyslexic child, and any parent who has a child struggling with learning in school, there is help. I work with children and adults with dyslexia to correct the negative symptoms using their natural creative talents. Most dyslexics are visual learners who need methods that honor their thinking style. I suggest you read the book, "The Gift of Dyslexia", by Ronald D. Davis, and/or log on to www.dyslexia.com for more information about this creative thinking/learning style and ways to correct the symptoms that make learning difficult.

Apr. 01 2008 12:12 PM
Eileen Tomarchio from Mountain Lakes, NJ

I'm a semi-stay-at-home mom of a 13 year-old girl and have always bristled at the whole mommy wars thing, which always smacks to me of self-indulgence, narrow-mindedness and defensiveness. Life has many separate and distinctive parts and stages; no single one defines mothers or fathers. I have an MFA from NYU, live in a pleasant NJ suburb and work part time (for peanuts) at a local library (our family foregoes a lot to get by on basically one income--my husband's). I'm home most days for my girl from 3 to 6. I also write when I can (screenplays and a first novel), get occasional time to socialize with pals in town, attend to the dust bunnies and toilet scrubbing when I can, stay involved in my town's chapter of the League of Women Voters, try to cook every night, take in occasional tutoring work... Okay, how would one categorize me? If everyone is preoccupied with how dazzling and tidy their self-descriptions come off at parties or other gatherings, then this isn't a mommy war, it's a mommy sandbox squabble.

Apr. 01 2008 11:59 AM
Lucy Anderson from Newark ~ the Brick City

As is so often the case, you can find a great line from Ab Fab to describe this situation. The line is "Industry Fodder, darling!"

I don't work full-time and I have NO kids. I like to spend less and live more.

The fact that these women feel guilty about not working - says to me that they are hanging out with the wrong people.

Still, I'm misunderstood. It seems that modern society only loves philosophers and artists if they get a grant (a/k/a a job!)

Apr. 01 2008 11:57 AM
Rhonda Himes from Hillsdale, NJ

I have been a stay at home for eleven years. Before that, I was an attorney for ten years. I have never felt my identity was "Nathaniel and Ethan's mom" or "an attorney." I have always felt that I am more than the labels and that I have interests outside those two careers. I feel badly for the caller who needed to go back to work so that she could identify herself as a worker.

Apr. 01 2008 11:50 AM
Anonymous from Somers

My husband and I are enormously lucky and privileged to be able to work from home full time. Not only can both of us be there for our two kids (4 and 7, both in school), but it is good for our marriage. I feel that working from home makes me a better mother, but also because I am not stressing about homelife, it makes me a better worker.

Apr. 01 2008 11:43 AM
Libby from UWS

I hear this debate constantly. I have an 11 mo. and have gone back to work, but many of my new mom friends have not gone back yet and there is an underlying competitive thing whenever we get together.

Apr. 01 2008 11:43 AM
Julian Palmer from Nyack, NY

I'm a dad who works from a home office and tries to talk with my 13 and 17 year old daughters each day when they get home from school. It's very tough balancing work, family and teenage crises but I love it. My career choice led to a job as executive director of Dads & Daughters, a non-profit devoted to making the world safe and fair for our daughters. The issues you're talking about today are very important to me as a dad and I want to make common cause with women and other men who want to create my work-family balance in our stressed out contemporary culture.

Apr. 01 2008 11:41 AM
devorah from New York City

I fully intend to read this if for no other reason than to make sure I am not making a prejudice judgement. As a divorced parent of two grown children who had the education and agency to work freelance while my children were growing up, I am turned off some what by the conversation. The dialogue is so succinctly classis. There are trainloads of women who would want to stay at home and cannot. There are women who’s household incomes leave them on the brink of poverty in order to be with their children. There are working class women who can’t be with their children because they are the caretakers of women who are wake from their long nap. They don’t feel fulfilled by their work.

If this book has no Socratic insight as to the class dynamic of the narrative then all I can say is BLAH. This is not an insightful discourse

Apr. 01 2008 11:41 AM
Christina from Manhattan


I travel through the wealthy metro suburbs for my business and I always see stay at home moms picking their children up at the bus stop in their huge Suburbans, and it is not a source of anguish but rather, a source of great satisfaction but most especially a status symbol.
It is a function and characteristic of today's society that the 'questions' of having children and how to raise them, is more about the parents and their self fulfillment, and less about the children themselves.

Apr. 01 2008 11:39 AM
Working Woman from Manhattan

I have a response to the fellow whose marriage broke down because she refused to work. Understanding that I do not know that particular couple, I have seen at close hand similar disputes in my own family. I find that some women become incredibly self and child abosrbed, and cloak a whole host of selfish and arrogant behaviors with the notion of good motherhood.

Women through the ages have worked to support their families, on the farm, in factories, taking in laundry, etc. Refusing to work when a family faces harsh financial conditions is selfish and destructive to families, anti-feminists, and ought to be condemned as such.

Apr. 01 2008 11:37 AM
Tammy from Brooklyn

My only problem with the title of the book is that with two kids (a 4 yo and a 1 yo) and a part time job, the idea of a 10 year nap is a little too delicious! I'd say that for many people the nap ends much sooner than at 10 years but that women aren't sure how to re-enter the workforce and with the price that many women have paid for "off ramping" from the workforce, it can be very tough. I was lucky to have found a good part time job in my field right in my neighborhood, which has kept my foot in my field and allowed me to remain sane - I always tell my co-workers that no matter how challenging a day I may be having at work, its like a vacation day compared sometimes to having two cranky kids stuck inside on a rainy day!

Apr. 01 2008 11:36 AM
LVK from NJ

Come to the toney areas of NJ where nuevo-riche society women always seem to be suprised that my wife works and has a career. How about that?

Apr. 01 2008 11:36 AM
sg from ny

It's not entirely an individual family choice of the current times -- between my husband and me he always preferred staying home with the kid, but he made more money and could get jobs more easily. But he also stayed home with our daughter for two years when she was little.

Apr. 01 2008 11:36 AM
dds

First 3-6 years most important -- they're pretty much programmed after that.

Apr. 01 2008 11:35 AM
clare from norwalk ct

I agree with Ellen that it is more important to have time and attention for the middle school and high school kids. My kids are 8 and 11, two boys, I am 47. I work full time, I have had a 22 year career, but am looking to leave. Not only do I need the 3 - 6 time to walk with my boys home from school and really LISTEN, but I need the morning time to pay attention to them, rather than hustling to get out of the house so I can get to work. I have had great day and after school care, which have enriched my childrens life, teaching basic skills and values, but I want to be the one talking to my son about girls, drugs, sex - the complicated values beyond "don't hit".

Apr. 01 2008 11:35 AM
Eileen Silberstein from NY NY (Upper Westside what else?)

MEG graduated from High School with my daughter and I knew her Mother.
What she is talking about is not new. I can remember feeling the same way. When my children started going to school, I said is this all there is.
Eileen Silberstein

Apr. 01 2008 11:34 AM
elizabeth ellis from brooklyn

Working or not working comes down to what make the parents happy, a happy, fulfilled parent is a good parent. A frustrated person does not make for a good parent.

Apr. 01 2008 11:33 AM
Richard E from long island/nyc

I am a man my youngest daughter is 20. I sayed at home with her the first two years and it was the best thing for both of us. we have a special bond.

Apr. 01 2008 11:33 AM
Andrew from Manhattan

We have a 9 year old and an 8 year old. Now we have a 8 month old. I have been begging my wife, who has been home for 10 years, to switch roles. It is not going to happen. I feel like I am being cheated of this time at home with our new baby.

Apr. 01 2008 11:32 AM
Katie from Forest Hills

Like we care!!!! Everyone has problems!

Most people both have to work because they can't afford one to stay home!

Apr. 01 2008 11:30 AM
hnr from brooklyn

My girlfriend was raised by nannies. Her parents work all those years. Now they have money and have a great relationship with their kids. And yes she did try drugs and alcohol but she works and is very on top of her life. Why do mothers think they have to be all the time around their children? Another example is Germany, people there send their children since they are born to day care. That helps babies among other things to socialize.

Apr. 01 2008 11:30 AM
Amy from Somerset, NJ

For me, it's not just 3 to 6. I have 2 school age children, and I'm extremely involved in their school.
I'm feverishly working on putting together their school yearbook right now!
I volunteer in their elementary school in many ways. I am grateful (as are their teachers) that I get to go on field trips and help in the classroom in many ways. I help in science lab, computer lab, library class, writing workshops, and other school activities.
With school budgets being cut all the time, schools actually need the help of involved parents. It also helps to create a real community to have parents involved in their kids' school lives.

Apr. 01 2008 11:29 AM
Mike from Northern Manhattan

Hi Brian,

Once again, another great point about saying kids with learning disabilities are productive etc.

Mike

Apr. 01 2008 11:25 AM
inquisigal from Brooklyn

Given that I know 2 men of my generation (x) who plan on being "stay-at-home Dad's," it will be intersting to hear how this debate might evolve.
I, as the mate of one of those men, am happy that I will not have to leave my career behind, because I love what I do. As a kid, I did not daydream about being a mommy, but daydreamed of being known for my own accomplishments. Until men get involved in caregiving, I don't expect that more choice will be available to women in terms of parenting/work.

Apr. 01 2008 11:25 AM
Dorian from Manhattan

Why is this all about mothers, women? what about men who want a chance to be productive professionally but also have a role in their children's lives?

Apr. 01 2008 11:24 AM
Jim Harwood from brooklyn

Why do you feel this discussion is specific to mothers? what about fathers-we go through the same dilemma

Apr. 01 2008 11:21 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

Well, I think if all you have is a job, then that might be true... but for women with careers or who want careers, they probably want to be defined as something more than just being Billy's mom. Women may want to be doing something for themselves rather than being solely there for the service of a child. It's dependent on a person's priorities I suppose. I would not say though that if a woman can afford to stay home that she should. Why not have the man stay home then if there's potentially enough money being made from one of them?

Apr. 01 2008 11:16 AM
Stephanie from Manhattan

It is okay to stay at home to nurture the child. Why is a job considered more valuable?

The real issue should be one of affordability. If the mother is able to afford to stay at home, more power to her.

Apr. 01 2008 09:29 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The Morning Brief

Enter your email address and we’ll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.