Trouble in paradise

I haven’t read this book, but it definitely piqued my interest when I heard an interview with the author on NPR. Motherland by Amy Sohn is about an affluent neighborhood in Brooklyn populated by have-it-all families.

“She (the typical mother) might wear a Baby Bjorn. She’s incredibly concerned about organic milk. You might see her walking down the street with a slightly expensive stroller, a kid inside it, and a dog kind of pulling them all half the way down the street,” author Amy Sohn told All Things Considered host Laura Sullivan.

Sound familiar, Durangoans?

Then there’s this: “Sohn is commenting on something very real. She believes parents of her generation, those in their late 30s and eary 40s, are putting too much pressure on themselves to have a perfect family.”

Some respond to this pressure by regressing, behaving like they were in their 20s with all the associated drama and partying.

The generation she refers to is my generation, and while I haven’t seen a lot of regression among my peers, I do think the existential turmoil is there. As young women we were raised to believe we could be anything and through our college years we imagined all the ways that we would conquer the world. But when it came to starting families, something we were told would be the last piece in the puzzle of our self actualization, we confronted choices that were far more complicated than we imagined.

Work vs. stay home; your job vs. his job; move vs. stay; sacrifice vs. self preservation.

I don’t think there’s anyway to untangle the complexity, but I do think we can do a better job of preparing women for these tough choices. Don’t lead them to believe they can have it all without giving up anything unless they happen to be Marissa Mayer, who announced she was pregnant shortly after being named Yahoo CEO. She can hire a nanny, a cook, maids, drivers, etc. to help her keep it together. But the rest of us have only our families and a finite amount of self to give. To deny this reality results in the ersatz utopia of Motherland.

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