Nobody’s asking you to dance.

I read this article and The New Yorker interview upon which it’s based. The gist: People should stop asking women about work/life balance. Specifically, author Lauren Groff says:

…the questions I get most at readings or in interviews are about being a mother and writer, when I’m expected to do this this sort of tap dance of humility that I have no desire or ability to dance. I think people are mostly kind and don’t know that, when they ask these questions of women, they are asking us to perform a kind of ceremonial subjection—that we’re not allowed our achievements without first denigrating ourselves or saying, with a sigh, “Yes, that’s correct, I’m a writer and a mother, and it’s so hard, and, no, I don’t do it well.”

To which I say: What? Why, or how did she determine the manner in which she was supposed to answer? Where is this call for a “tap dance of humility?”

Imagine a woman answering like this: “Yes, that’s correct, I’m a writer and a mother. I have a really good gig, and I worked hard for it. You see, I am competent. Profoundly competent, actually. Sure, I’d love more sleep–who wouldn’t? And yeah, I think our domestic policies and our country’s large and small employers don’t yet do enough to support families. All families are different, but they all need support. But me? In my home right now? We’re doing our best and it’s pretty damn good. I wish everybody could do what we do.”

Ask me about work/life balance. I promise I won’t dance.

 

 

 

Sunday mornings

About 16 years ago, I’d spend Sunday mornings drinking coffee and reading the newspaper, maybe watching morning news shows. My then-boyfriend now-husband would be studying corporate finance.

And now, I’m in our (my?) office, working on my laptop, reading and watching the news on the desktop. My husband is on his laptop, writing a speech he has to deliver this week.

It just struck me, how little things change. How little he and I change.

Of course, there’s a huge dog whining to be taken to the park, or napping in protest. And soon two kids will clamber down the stairs.

But other than that, we, he and I, are the same.

I love Sunday mornings.

Simmer down and fire up

I just read about the resurgence of housewife novels. A couple of sentences hit me… hit me not so much in the face, or in the gut, but on the chest, with two open hands, kind of like Elaine Benes would do on Seinfeld when she’d exclaim, “Get OUT!”

A housewife whose income is not required: She’s lucky, and a bit trapped.

 To be so materially lucky that you’re not allowed to experience any discontent at all turns out to be just another way of being swallowed up by your social role.

The author of the piece–she reviews several works of housewife literature–concludes this:

A lady of the house, a woman of leisure— with all that anyone in their right mind wants—she’s still dissatisfied. So have been many housewives before her, and so are many housewives today. But before we condemn them for their perversity and their tedious complaints, it’s worth remembering this: That’s always been one of the reasons they read so many novels.

Dissatisfaction breeds… literary hunger. A demand for books. That’s lovely.

Last night I watched President Obama deliver his final State of the Union address. His parting words, describing Americans at their best:

Clear-eyed. Big-hearted. Optimistic that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. That’s what makes me so hopeful about our future. Because of you. I believe in you.

There’s gotta be some political scientist out there who’s studied the political activity of bored, angry, and/or depressed housewives–who are apparently rather well-read and, at least temporarily, perhaps underemployed.

This ennui, this sadness, this level of discontent that might be so rampant — all of it can be channeled into something far greater than say, helping your kids with their homework, or renovating a bathroom. Those are fine things, but there’s more to be done, right?

There are so many ways to make oneself both feel and be, measurably, valuable.

It’s 2016. Do something.

(Yeah, I’m talking to me.)