Thursday, March 25, 2004

Maternal Desire

I've read the New York Times review of Maternal Desire: On Children, Love, and The Inner Life, a review in the San Francisco Chronicle, and an interview in Salon with the author, Daphne de Marneffe.

I have not read the book. Any self respecting writer would hold herself back from commenting on a book that she hasn't read. But I'm a blogger, not a writer. Clearly, I have no self respect.

I do think that de Marneffe makes some good points. Raising kids isn't well respected in society. Not like a fat bonus, a promotion, and a smart suit. Many women worry about the care of their kids and feel underappreciated for their work at home.

But I don't buy her argument that mothering it is only path towards self-fulfillment for women. I am not basking in a warm glow of bliss every minute that I'm with the kids. This morning, after repeated calls to a computer tech department, I finally got someone with a pulse. Just then, Ian walks into the room with a guilty look on his face, a sagging diaper, and a hand covered in fecal matter. Not a warm bliss kind of moment.

I also don't buy that only women have a need to care for their children. Men are increasingly willing to forgo their careers to take care of the family. And certainly many women have zero interest in having children and lead happy well adjusted lives.

Despite these flaws, it sounds like deMarneffe makes some good points about parenting; it is undervalued and it can be very rewarding. Worth a read. The New York Public Library should have it ready for me in a week.

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