Monday, March 24, 2008

A novel idea

This morning I caught an interview with Meg Wolitzer on NPR. Wolitzer recently published “The Ten-Year Nap.” I haven’t read it, nor do I plan to. The book is about a group of stay-at-home mothers who grapple with the fact that they have chosen to be stay-at-home mothers.

Wow.

Look, we all understand that motherhood brings about complex issues of identity. That legions of women forged their way into the workforce only to find that their very own daughters are running back to the role they as mothers eschewed. But at least these financially secure women have the option of choosing.

As a stay-at-home mother who is barely scraping by and will soon have to return to work, I’d like to suggest a new idea for a novel. This one is about a not-so-lucky-mommy. This mommy doesn’t have time to sit around struggling with issues like, “Is it wrong to just enjoy my cushy life?” and “Is Bikram Yoga really better?”

Let’s call the main character Screwed. She gets eight weeks maternity leave. Her husband’s paycheck barely covers the bills. Every night at three in the morning she wakes up in a cold sweat because she can’t bare the thought of having someone else raise her child. She racks her brain trying to think of creative ways to bring in money: crafts, baking, consulting, prostitution. Her husband tells her they’ll make ends meet but they can’t. Back to work she goes.

The novel can include the happy scene where she drops her kid off at daycare the first day and cries the whole way to work. Readers get to listen in as she tells people fluffy things like, “I cherish every moment more,” all the while knowing it’s a saccharin Disney lube job for the hellish ache she feels every morning.

If readers need further evidence of the gut wrenching guilt and anguish she feels every day, the novel can have an appendix with articles like CNN’s “Study: Day care slightly weakens child-mother bond.”

What I want to know is, where the hell is this woman in modern-day discourse? Where is the woman who doesn’t have the luxury of choice? Oh shit, she's me and many of my friends. And yes, we have considered prostitution. But that's just a whole' nother diatribe now isn't it?

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