What's This All About?

Check out The ABC's of Insecurity and learn more.

What's so great about the Ivy League anyway?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Are You Paying The Price?

Last night, I did something I haven't done in a while: I read for pleasure.  And, no, it wasn't a juicy novel or a trashy magazine or a blogger's guide.  It was Little Sister's college paper. Wherein she explored Darwin's attitudes on slavery and abolition.  And it was good.  And she is a smarty pants.  And reading the paper made me homesick for feverish intellectual debate and discovery.  And oddly, I even found myself missing footnotes. 

So, since the babes were napping and I was craving a bit of intellectual back-and-forth, I just stopped by one of my favorite cyberspace haunts - NYT's Motherlode - and jumped into the latest debate/discussion.  Today, Belkin, eloquent and straightforward as ever, raises a perennial and perennially provocative question: do we women pay a calculable economic price for becoming mothers?  And, to the extent that we do, is this society's problem or ultimately a matter of personal choice?

As you can imagine, things got feisty.  And fast.  

And as I read all of the comments, I felt my pulse quicken, and the ideas multiplying.  I got that old school adrenaline rush that I used to enjoy when riled up in a Yale seminar when I would shoot a sweaty palm up in the air and wait my turn.  And though there was no prof there to call on me, I made my comment.  I talked about something the other kids in the class seemed to be ignoring (and now that I think about it that something was a bit off topic, but oh well): biology.  That, like it or not, men and women are biologically different and that while these differences certainly do not justify the inequities inherent in this modern world, they at least inform them.  That we are so quick to point fingers at men and each other and economic systems, but that perhaps it would behoove us to look at our biological roots too.

Anyway, I think my brilliant sister and her well-crafted paper got me thinking.  About big ideas.  About Darwin.  About the fact that I can be both a harried/happy mother and a student of life.  About the unrivaled joys of impassioned democratic debate.  About the limitless and lingering questions we must continue to ask ourselves and each other. 

A few of these questions:

Do you feel like you have paid a price (economic and other) by becoming a mother?

Do you think that anything can be done to level that proverbial playing field?  To ensure that men and women reap equal economic rewards for their work? Or is this a pipe dream?

Do you think the gender debate has gotten so loud that it is falling on deaf ears these days?

Do you sometimes want to go back to college like I do?


  1. Hi Aidan,
    I couldn't tell if you actually wanted answers to your questions or not but here goes:

    1) I think that whatever the costs of becoming a mother, flabby body, life becoming endlessly hectic, less me time etc, they are entirely worth it. Is it possible I might be more successful at work, skinnier, more current in my reading, knowledge of the hottest restaurants/styles? Absolutely, but my life wouldn't be as rich. I would never know the sweet welcome home hugs and kisses from freshly bathed dd and ds, everyday at 6. I would (and did) trade fab abs for this any day.
    2)To me, the single thing that holds me back career wise is the fact that I have to manage the apt, the kids and my job. Men with kids just have to manage their careers. I think maybe, by the time our kids are parents, it will be "normal" for the daddies to schedule playdates, go to Costco and remember to send a check for school photos. Just as changing a diaper is normal for our dhes but wasn't for our dads, I think men will continue to evolve and the closer we get on these issues, the economic issues will resolve as well.
    3)I think the gender debate needs to stay loud, I think things are slowly getting better in part b/c the debate is at the forefront.
    4) Who doesn't want to go back to college? Especially armed with my 30 something confidence, it would be fabulous! Sigh, I guess there is always vicarious living through our kids!

  2. D,

    Yes, I was absolutely looking for answers to my questions! In my dream world, this site will become a place for true and honest (and even feisty) debate just like the debate I described in my post above. I agree completely with you. Of all things, my kids are the purest, most amusing, most incomparable source of joy imaginable. Does having kids mean not having all those hours in the day, or space in the brain, to do some other things? Of course. But in my opinion (and apparently in yours as well), it is all very much worth it. Don't be jealous but I am going back to college (kind of). My little sis is graduating at the end of the month and Husband and I are going sans kids. Could get interesting and I'm sure the weekend will be quite blogworthy.

    All the best,


Join the conversation. What do you think? Be honest. Be bold. Tell me I'm wrong. Tell me about that typo. Tell me I'm splendid. Or tell me I'm spoiled. But if you want your comment to be seen, keep it clean.

Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter