Sunday, February 19, 2006


My husband was told my son's basketball game was at 4 pm yesterday (actually I suspect he was told the Friday schedule, not the Saturday schedule). My daughter and I showed up in Greenville at 4 only to learn that the game was at 7 pm. Since it would have taken us almost an hour to drive home, we went and hung out at a bookstore. I started reading Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety by Judith Warner, and ended up buying it.

I wouldn't have bought the book if I hadn't spent some time reading it, as it is about the kind of mothering I feel vaguely guilty about not doing, such as trying to plan the perfect birthday party (in our house the key rule was no home birthday parties because we can't clean up the house in time). It turns out it is very reassuring to read a book about what is wrong with the model I felt guilty for not following. The author's analysis (at least as I see it 60 pages into the book) is that women who grew up believing the feminist battles were already won assumed that everything depended not on social change but on making the right private choices for themselves and their families and therefore gave those choices unbearable weight.

Saved by feminism yet again. When I began to read feminist writings in college I realized that I was trying to be one of the guys and I needed to learn to think more positively about women and about being a woman. I was on the tail end of activist feminism but I was very aware of the battles fought and of the danger of internalizing discrimination. I haven't participated in the social culture of parents mostly because I had too much else to deal with, both externally and internally. But feminism at least kept me from feeling guilty that I was happy to go back to work, didn't want to stay home with my children.

1 comment:

Isis said...

Good post; I followed some of those same paths in college, and I enjoy reading your comments about feminism and motherhood.