I recently finished reading Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman, who is married to Michael Chabon. While reading his book of essays on what it means to be a man, a husband and a father, I found out that she had her own book of essays recently published. I'd never read any of her work before; I'd sort of assumed that her "Mommy-track mysteries" were the work of someone who was trying a new, easier profession and with her husband's connections, they didn't have to be very good and she could still get published.
But in his book, he talked enough about her and her life, and how she was as a partner and a mother that I became curious and decided to give it a try. True, she's nowhere in the same league as he is as a writer. She's certainly intelligent enough (I would hope a Harvard educated attorney, her previous profession, would be a smartie) and she's had her fair share of fodder for essays so the subject matter was fascinating and her honesty was inspiring. He, however, has spent years perfecting his craft and it shows. The intricasies of his language, the depth of detail, the spiraling sentences that envelope you in the story are the work of a true wordsmith.
So I don't know if I related to her book better simply because we're both women, and there's some common experience or not, but I found myself shocked and awed over and over at how familiar the essays were. The stories about self esteem, of impatience with the narrow-mindedness of others, the expectations you have for your children, the freedom you give your children, the instantaneous knowledge that you have finally found your partner, the desire to be home with your child and then the rude awakening that it's not everything you thought it would be, and then the guilt over not being satisfied that you're home with your child, the boredom, the need to connect with others but still maintain your space. So, so many things. I have never, ever wanted to contact a writer before and say "You were writing about ME!" but this time, I had to resist trying to find her e-mail address.
If you're reading this and you're a woman, check it out from the library. I think you might find some common ground and the strength to admit some things about yourself.