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Oy, it's still this bad?

Both fathers and mothers pay dearly for the miracle of parenthood, but in most cases, it’s women who pony up for the bulk of those costs, even fifty years after Betty Friedan lambasted what she titled The Feminine Mystique.  I often think of a Census Bureau report released last yearon who provides care for our children. Suzanne Bianchi, who clocked in sixteen years as a Census demographer, discovered, stunningly, that mothers actually spend more time caring for a child today than they did in 1965, back when sixty percent of them stayed at home full-time.  In her book Changing Rhythms of American Family Life, Bianchi reports that married mothers devote about thirteen hours a week to childcare, up from about …

Otis reading my Time article on only children.

From the when things start getting real files: I wanted to share an email exchange I had with my dear friend Julia this morning. Julia is a psychologist in Santa Cruz, married to a singer-songwriter named Nels, raising an awesome kid names Otis.  We met in pre-natal yoga in Brooklyn (still the only yoga class I’ve taken—I think I have 9 sessions left on a 10 pack if anyone in Brooklyn wants it).  The six of us, would have dinner on Friday nights, a little chosen family, until Julia’s work moved them across the country.  We are sisters in angst. Today, Julia more than myself (I have dibs on tomorrow).  I thought these angsty missives might be relatable.  Lord knows …

How liberating!

This month, the Center for Disease Control reported that birth rates had dropped again, for the fourth year in a row, bottoming out under 4 million babies born for the first time since 1998.  Commentators immediately rushed to their laptop, ringing the alarm bells to fault the economy for our flaccid national desire to procreate. To be sure, low fertility accompanies a weak economy without fail. But to blame the markets for what happens in our bedrooms misses a radical reshaping of our worldview. It’s not just the economy, it’s liberation. The pursuit of happiness has emerged as our new national ideology, trumping the age-old belief that parental duty is the very definition, of adulthood.  Some think it’s the height …

13093000

I recently picked up Nell Freudenberger’s new novel, The Newlyweds, unaware it’s a story about only children.  (Is she one herself?  I wonder.) Amina, the protagonist, is Bangladeshi, the new bride of a Rochester engineer she met online. She is dutiful to her parents (who are a third world mess), with a single-mindedness that could be explained as cultural—or, to some, typically like an only child. The there’s Kim, the groom’s cousin, a yoga instructor who barrels through a rootless life with an desperate need for intimate connection, ultimately to satisfy her own needs, not others’.  Another quintessential only, you might say.  (Isn’t it interesting how we have such warring types heaped upon us?)

Amina finds she is an outsider …

7/19/12
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