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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Mommy Madness, the Finale (I think)

Manifestoes blast their way into the popular consciousness on two kinds of fuel: recognition (we see ourselves in them) and rage (we can no longer tolerate the injustice they describe).

And so begins Judith Shulevitz’s review of “Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety” in this week’s NYT Book Review, which Newsweek excerpted in last week’s cover story.

Shulevitz contends in a huge cover piece that Warner’s book is brimming with both recognition and rage. Though her review is a mix of “thank God someone wrote MY experience” and frustration at the limited viewpoint of largely upper-middle-class women, Shulevitz makes a point at the end that, “Overparenting has a lot in common with overwork.”

According to her both:
• make economists happy because it leads us to buy more stuff
• are powered by fear of loss of face

She stops short of shouting “revolution!” since, as she admits, “revolutions tend to end badly.” Instead she offers this sage bit of advice:

But insofar as mothers with jobs and mothers without them could conceivably band together to form a very large interest group, we do represent a whopping opportunity for change. Whether we take that opportunity depends on whether we can pull ourselves out of our mess long enough to persuade those around us to clean up theirs.

Return from the woods
Every person should have access to a refuge. I found mine this weekend at my sister’s in-laws’ cabin in Hocking Hills. Spent four days running over declivitous hills and through sweeping meadows with my yellow lab, Riley and her two canine cousins, Mike and Grace. There’s a certain peace and comfort that comes from running with the dogs in the woods. My Riley, the pup in the trio, bound ahead but always paused to make sure I was coming before running on.

Though I spent the weekend with my extended family, it was a large enough place to allow a tinge of solitude. It will be even better when Jen and I go there alone.

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