Mama w/ Pen

Ask me five years ago and I’d have told you I’d be first in line to challenge gender stereotypes if ever I had kids myself.  I minored in feminist cultural studies!  I believe boys and girls are made, not just born!  But sixteen months into parenting my boy/girl twins, I’m starting to wonder how I’ll ever ensure that my boy grows up sensitive and my girl stays, as one of my favorite organizations has trained me to say, strong, brave, and bold.

It’s an unfortunate moment for complacency.  Children are boxed into hyper-gendered categories at ages younger than ever before.  Just last month, Disney infiltrated the delivery room.  New research shows that girls as young as three are internalizing the thin ideal.  As blogger Pigtail Pals reports, a study by Dr. Jennifer Harriger, published in 2010 finds that preschoolers are attributing stereotypes to others because of their weight.  The news is distressing.  Gender-aware parents can cleanse our daughters’ bedrooms of pale pink and defend a love for Tinkerbelle in our sons, yet the clutch of our pink-vs.-blue culture seems only to tighten its hold.  Why, we’re all asking, is this so?

There’s ample proof that since the utopian hope of “Free to Be You and Me” in the 1970s, as a culture we’ve slid backwards. As Peggy Orenstein documents so thoroughly and well in Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie Girl Culture (reviewed here this week by Elline!), things are far worse than they were when we grew up.  The hyper-marketing of gendered purchases target kids at an increasingly vulnerable age, and it’s enough to make any parent tired.

We can blame Disney and we can fight the princesses, but perhaps two additional reasons that a generation of parents raised on feminism feels like we’re losing the war is that 1) we’re confused and 2) we’re alone.

We’re confused by “science.” Fighting gender-based discrimination has morphed into dealing with science, which carries boldfaced authority—and many feminist scientists themselves are now fighting this fight too.  Sometimes I wonder about the effects.  Have Gen X parents grown convinced of children’s innate gender sensibilities?  Decades of media stories hawking the latest in neuroscience have emphasized the nature side of the nurture debate that second-wave feminism famously upstaged.  Have the things we’ve heard about gender affected a new generation’s parenting behavior?  “The more we parents hear about hard-wiring and biological programming, the less we bother tempering our pink or blue fantasies, and start attributing every skill or deficit to innate sex differences,” suggests neuroscientist Lise Eliot in her book Pink Brain, Blue Brain, (which argues, by the way, that social expectations—not biological differences—have the upper hand in shaping who our children become.)  Sensational, whiplash-inducing headlines tell us gender is inborn—no, wait, made—no, born.  Unless you’re steeped in this research, it’s often hard to know what’s what anymore.

But our biggest problem, I fear, is that when it comes to resisting the hyper-genderfication of childhood, we’re largely fighting it alone.

Over the past sixteen months, as my babies have progressed from a crawl to a walk and now to words, it’s slowly dawned on me how much the premise of my previous book, Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild, applies to my new situation: As parents, and especially as new parents, we don’t always feel plugged into a movement to change the larger culture in which we raise our kids.  Instead, we’re left to focus on ourselves—in this case, our familial microcosms—on our own.

To be sure, there’s a burgeoning movement out there. I’m a huge fan of initiatives like SPARK and the Geena Davis Institute and efforts to redefine girly like Pigtail Pals and of course the longstanding work of Girls Inc.  I voraciously consume every new book by educators like Lyn Mikel Brown to learn what we can do to resist (See Packaging Girlhood, Packaging Boyhood, and also the resource page at the wonderful Peggy Orenstein’s site.) But these initiatives aren’t as mainstreamed as they might be.  I can control my growing babies’ media consumption and control what comes in the house, but control only goes so far.  I fear that as a new mother, I’m long on feminist parenting ideals, short on ways to make them stick in the world outside my home.

I hear that change feels more possible once your kids hit kindergarten.  My friends there tell me that they feel successful in their attempts to provide a larger context in which it’s natural for their girl to love Star Wars and their boy to take ballet.  They feel effective.  They feel their actions span far.

In the meantime, we mothers of babes continue our preparations for the good fight by lining our children’s bookshelves with The Sissy Duckling and No I Will NOT Wear a Dress and painting our nurseries sage.  But short of a massive and visible movement—you know, like the political ones we see right now on tv—sometimes I worry.  Are we all just focusing on the equivalent of wardrobes and walls?

What do YOU think?  Do you see a new generation of parents taking on the battle against the hyper-genderfication of childhood in spades?  Is there a movement?  Or are we all basically out here on our own?  If you have strong thoughts on this either way, for a writing/blogging/thinking project I’m working on (The Pink and Blue Diaries), I’d love to hear from you.  Please email me at

This is the fifth and final in a series this week from Girlw/Pen writers on Stephanie Coontz‘s new book, A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s, which is a biography of Betty Friedan’s iconic book.

I’m obsessed, you could say, with second-wave feminism’s legacy.   Questions like “How has feminism’s past shaped its future?” and “Why are battles begun 40 years ago so damn difficult, still, to win?” keep me up at night.  So when I first heard that Stephanie Coontz—a pre-eminent social historian, and one tremendously adept at translating feminist research for popular audiences via the New York Times op-ed page no less—was writing a cultural history of The Feminine Mystique, I nearly peed in my pants.

Foremost on my mind was the question I hoped would be addressed: “What’s the relevance of The Feminine Mystique—book and concept—today?” Coontz’s book, A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s, did not let me down.  But I’m finding that in the wake of finishing it, I’m more than a little depressed.

As ever, the personal is political.  And vise versa.  I can’t help but read this social history through personal history—my own.  Last week, after a year and a half of equally shared parenting with both of us working part-time from home, my paid hours were cut back and my husband Marco, who got an unexpected offer, went back to a full-time, on-site job.  Overnight, I became Primary Parent, Emergency Contact, and Master Coordinator for our beloved 15-month old twins.  I wrote—bitterly, I now confess—about the first day of the new arrangement at my other blog.  The source of my knee-jerk bitterness?  Though still a working woman, I feared being swallowed by the feminine mystique.  Is this feminism unfinished, or undone?

The feminine mystique.  I’m here to report that its ghost is alive and kicking in the psyches of a generation whose mothers knocked down doors so that we could walk through them. I won’t go so far as to say we’re haunted the way children of Holocaust survivors are (Betty Friedan wrote about the home as a “comfortable concentration camp”–she also, of course, and as Coontz expertly rehearses, wrote SO much more), but let’s just say that the term “feminine mystique” conjures up a vortex that women like me—highly educated, high-earning potential—dread.

Granted, to cut back momentarily (and temporarily) on paid work is not exactly the same as embracing the feminine mystique, but mentally it’s a slippery slope. I think back to Charlotte from Sex and the City at the very moment she quits her job at the art gallery to stay home: “I choose my choice! I choose my choice!” she doth protest–too much.  That first shakey day at home, I spewed the opposite: “I didn’t sign up for this.”

After whining to my mother and counting my many blessings–battling the feminine mystique mirage in my head is a luxury compared to the real and punishing demons many single women with kids, for instance, face–I  came to my senses and realized that not much in my life had changed from the one day to this next.  Except that it had.  Because I had this revelation: it only took one day as Primary Parent for me to realize how tenuous the so-called battle lines between “Stay-at-Homes” and “Working Moms” really are.  At one point or another, we are each other.  And the reason for our resentment-filled (and highly media-fueled, let’s face it) fighting, apparently, is that we are largely unsatisfied ourselves.

As Coontz notes in the final chapter (“Women, Men, Marriage, and Work Today: Is the Feminine Mystique Dead?”), a chapter in which I found myself underlining every other word, wives who work paid jobs and those who don’t say they’d like to switch roles (according to a study conducted 10 years ago that is).  “In 2000 25% of the wives who worked full-time said they would prefer to be homemakers.  On the other hand, 40 percent of all wives without paying jobs said they would rather be employed.”  Those who work wish they could be working less—and that applies to men as well as women.

Why are so many men and women with families unhappy with their lot?

Because the job of feminism is far from done. Blinded, now, by the workforce ideal that “defines the ideal employee—male or female—as having no familial or caregiving obligations that compete with work” (some call it, as Coontz points out, the “career mystique”), our culture replaced one mystique with the next.  And no one, so far, has had the power to take this new mystique down.

The moment for Career Mystique warriors has come.  They are out there already, rattling our collective cage. Conversations at places like Role/Reboot and Daddy Dialectic and The Council on Contemporary Families and work+life fit and Viva la Feminista and Pundit Mom and The Motherlode lead us in the charge.  And in the meantime, books like The Feminine Mystique remain relevant—all the more so—because their missions remain incomplete.

*Title inspired by the last line of Lisa Belkin’s recent post, “New Fears of Flying” over at The Motherlode.

The other week, Science Daily and then The New York Times reported on the growing evidence of a biological basis for gender-specific play in humans.  I’ve been watching my 15 month old b/g twins for signs of gender and while I’m thoroughly convinced by the science that shows differences in the way boys and girls develop fine and gross motor coordination at this age, I hate where the larger thread of cliché-ridden thinking—boys do this, girls do that—commonly goes.

I also find it confusing.

Haven’t our feminist foremothers, and now my own generation, been working tirelessly at leveling the playing field so that things between the sexes could be fair? What good is all that talk about equity and equality if we’re all just programmed gender bots from the start?

According to a new study appearing in the journal Current Biology, scientists at Harvard University and Bates College have reported some of the first evidence that young, wild chimpanzees “may tend to play differently depending on their sex, just as human children around the world do.”  Biology, it seems, has a larger role to play in the gendering of childhood than we’d known—or cared to admit.  While the evidence is called “suggestive,” it’s based on 14 years of data gathered on chimpanzee behavior at the Kibale National Park in Uganda and is being heralded as proof of “the first known sex difference in a wild animal’s choice of playthings.”  This work adds to a growing body of evidence that human children are most likely born with their own ideas of how they want to behave, rather than simply mirroring other girls who play with dolls and boys who play with trucks.

In one swoop, the news reifies what some of us might wish to think of as retired gender codes of yore and scrambles feminist expectation.

So what, precisely, did the researchers find?  Young female chimpanzees were treating sticks as dolls, carrying them around and treating them like infants until they had offspring of their own.  They slept with the sticks.  Some built the sticks a nest.  Some even played a chimp version of the “airplane game,” lying on their backs with their “offspring” balanced across their upraised hands.  The young males?  Not so much.

Previously, toy selection among humans was thought to be due largely to socialization.  Researchers have recorded robust sex differences in children’s toy play around the world, yet there’s been remarkable cross-cultural consistency in the choices boys and girls tend to make. The prior thinking was that this behavioral difference was due to the influence of peers, parents, and others in modeling gender-specific behavior.  If you’re a girl and you see your mother, sister, and best girlfriend cuddling and making nest for sticks, chances are you will too.

But not so, according to the new evidence.  Adult chimps use sticks for foraging or fighting. So the young females’ behavior in the Kibale National Park, it seemed, was not learned.  Once the female chimps bore their first offspring, they stopped carrying sticks.  The new findings clearly link juvenile play to adult behavior, since female chimpanzees, not males, carry infants more than 99 percent of the time.

Parlay the assumption to humans and you end up with the speculation that girls are biologically programmed to play with dolls.

Pretty convincing.  But here’s the catch: researchers hadn’t seen anything like this in other chimpanzee communities outside the Kibale National Park, which raises the possibility that the Kibale chimps were copying a local behavioral tradition.  “[T]his may be a lovely case of biological and social influences being intertwined,” one of the researchers said.

If you ask me, the conclusion that girls are doll-wielding gender bots seems a little premature.  There’s a lot we simply don’t know.

(I’ve started to gather thoughts about the gendering of childhood and how it’s playing out in my own petrie dish at the Tumblr I created called The Pink and Blue Diaries.  Come visit if interested!  I’m still mostly just checking the whole Tumblr thing out.)

When Baby X and Baby Y turned one a few weeks ago, something changed in my brain. A window opened just a crack, enough to let in the crisp air that tells me a change of seasons has transpired. I started tweeting. I refreshed my Google Reader to incorporate my new focus on all things writerly and She Writes-y. I started playing around with a Tumblr (not really public yet, but maybe soon!). And last Friday night, I went on a date with myself—my first since my twins were born.

Give a girl some moules frites, a glass of Shiraz, a notebook as a companion, and later in the evening, an old friend and a book party with some fabulous feminists (Gloria Steinem! Eve Ensler! Shelby Knox!) and suddenly she remembers who she is: A thinker. A writer. Ah yes, that.

It’s not that I haven’t been thinking lo these past twelve months. It’s that my brain has been, as they say, differently occupied. Taking care of twins in their first year of life, along with a new start up that’s all about (did I mention?!) supporting women who write, takes a lot of brain cells. It made sense that parts of me went on hold to grow new things. It’s all necessary and right and true. But here’s how I know that the sleeping parts of me are once again alive and kicking:

1. When last week’s snarky New York Magazine cover story about a generation of women who naively “woke up” from the pill to find themselves too old to reproduce, I plugged back in to good ole gut-busting outrage. (See Jill at Femiste’s most excellent response, “Oops! I Forgot to Have Babies”).  And I also started compiling news round ups at She Writes, to merge my worlds–like this one, today.

2. I made a batch of Tollhouse cookies on the weekend just for kicks. I used to make them all the time (those who know me know that I have a penchant for cookie dough). I hadn’t made them in, like, a year.

3. I’m following TEDWomen via the shiny new TweetDeck app on my iPhone. My buddy Courtney Martin is there, and so is dear friend Jacki Zehner, and I’m feeling vicariously hooked in to the thought leading femme-o-sphere.

4. In the space between things, I finished a second draft of a personal essay for an anthology. The essay is called “Genderfication Starts Here” and is about, guess what, the first year of raising boy/girl twins.

5. I’m moisturizing again. And taking baths on the weekend with my favorite lavender gel. And lighting candles. And browsing Levenger catalogues before falling asleep. All things I did NONE of lo this past year.

I’m curious to hear. When a part of YOU goes on mental hiatus for a while and then resurfaces, what are the signs to yourself that you’ve returned?

Photo cred: Tayari Jones

Last week baby name expert Pamela Redmond Satran, co-author of Beyond Ava & Aiden, published a piece at The Daily Beast about how more and more parents are choosing gender-neutral boys’ names, reflecting a different ideal of masculinity (Boy Baby Names: Gender Neutral Trend, from Cullen to Cameron).  I’m quoted at the end:

“Among my generation of parents, our nontraditional boys’ names—vaguely androgynous, nonmacho, or just plain unique—reflect our own desire to raise sons who will be as comfortable pushing dolls in strollers as pushing trucks,” said Deborah Siegel, Ph.D., author of Sisterhood, Interrupted and founding partner of SheWrites….“But what I wonder is this: Will a boy by a different name really be that much more sweet?”

It got me thinking.  Offspring of a generation that believed boys and girls were made, not just born, I know better.  But the nature/nurture debate rages on.  And sometimes I wonder whether social expectation has replaced biology as destiny.

I mean, if social expectation, and not biology, shapes who children become, does that somehow put an unfair burden on us to create the self-confident, athletic, truck-loving girls and sensitive, doll-hugging boys we were raised to achieve?

Clearly, I’m in a bit of a knot about it all.  Probably just because I just haven’t had much sleep.

Would love to hear what YOU think.

Well, my little dragon v. bee dilemma got nothin’ on this adorable, brave, and wonderfully-supported-by-his-mama five-year-old little boy from Kansas City who decided he wanted to be Daphne from Scooby Doo for Halloween.  Heartfelt kudos to that mama, who defended his — and her — choice at her blog, Nerdy Apple Bottom, and on CNN. The photo she took of her soon went viral, generating at least a million hits and more than 26,000 comments. Tara Parker-Pope wrote about it all yesterday in the NYTimes (“When Boys Dress Like Girls”).

Some spot-on, fierce words from the boy’s mama, to the moms who gave her — and him — trouble:

If you think that me allowing my son to be a female character for Halloween is somehow going to ‘make’ him gay then you are an idiot. Firstly, what a ridiculous concept. Secondly, if my son is gay, O.K., I will love him no less. Thirdly, I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off.

Back off indeed.

My twins turned one last week. She Writes, the start-up I’ve been nurturing, turned 1.25. Needless to say, this is the year Halloween nearly blew me by.

I bah-humbugged it all the way to Tuesday. While shopping for diaper wipes online on Wednesday, a neon orange tagline from the crypt—“Last minute deals on Halloween costumes!”—caught my eye. Who in their right mind could resist images of cuddly babies in bear suits? I landed on a bee costume for Baby Girl (just $12!) and a dragon suit for Baby Boy ($18). The joy of these purchases? Priceless. And that’s how it hit me: At one year old, my babies were people. People who wouldn’t remember what they wore for their first real Halloween, but people who would newly experience the magic of disguise.

So what do the disguises I chose for these here babies say to them, to you, to me? Bees are busier and daintier than dragons, and they make honey, though let’s not forget: they sting. Dragons lope, and breathe fire. I thought about a ladybug for my son, to match my daughter’s bee, then vetoed it. He’s really more a dragon-y type of guy. And so it goes. Gendering—imposed by even the feminist among us—begins.

“Babies are born to parents who have a host of assumptions and expectations about gender, whether or not they consciously endorse those expectations. Studies have shown that parents have a tendency to see boys as more boyish and girls as more girlish than they actually are,” says Cordelia Fine, author of the new book Delusions of Gender, in a recent interview at Salon. Until they reach age two, my babies apparently won’t know which side of the gender divide they’re on. Gender, at this early stage, is what we heap on.

So why all this fuss around costumes and kids? Because eventually, it matters (and stay tuned, Penners, for Peggy Orenstein’s Cinderella Ate My Daughter, coming soon!). Though my babies are only one, in an era when pre-packaged girl costumes are sluttier-than-thou and boy costumes are more violent than ever and make Freddy Krueger look quaint, masquerade is rarely the innocent thing it seemed in the days when my friends and I dressed as a bunch of grapes.

Dressing up—whether it unleashes a hidden identity or helps us try on a role—makes us feel, deepens our sense of play, enlargens our sense of who and what we are. And dressing up the way a sexist culture tells us to makes us small, current articles in defense of Slutoween aside.

To be sure, at this stage in my children’s life, this whole debate is a lot less about them and a lot more about me.  But here’s my question: at what age do new parents like me need to start to care?  At my babies’ pre-linguistic stage, can’t Halloween be just what it’s supposed to be…light and silly and fun?  Or are costumes–like gender, perhaps, itself–always already predetermined scripts, coded so heavily with trickery that we can’t enjoy the treat?

Can a dragon and a bee ever just be…a dragon and a bee?


(For a fellow traveler’s internal dilemma on it all, see Lynn Harris’ “Raising Girls in Princess Culture: Does it really affect girls’ gender roles?” over at Babble last week.)

I posted a partial version of this post on Friday at, and used the photo of my twins to kick off a caption contest. Got a caption for it?  Do share by posting it there!

Yes, I’m still here!  The twins turned 1 last week and it’s time for me to re-enter.

A quick list of what’s been catching my attention of late:

Rita Aren’s blog, Surrender Dorothy (I’m way hooked)

Stephanie Coontz’s commentary, “Why Mad Men is TV’s Most Feminist Show”, in the Washington Post

The SPARK Summit and social media extravaganza, where I signed books sitting next to Jean Kilbourne, author most recently of So Sexy So Soon and one of my all-time feminist heroines, met her daughter the fabulous Claudia Lux (hire her, people!), and got to catch up with organizer Deb Tolman, who is a one-woman powerhouse herself

Robyn Silverman’s Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession is Messing Up Our Girls and How We can Help Them Thrive Despite It

Girls Write Now.  Always.

Responses to She Writes’ Domestic Violence Awareness Month writing prompt

What’s been catching yours?

Mama lost her pen today, but she’s working on a post about her current configuration of childcare and work and how things are shifting…soon. Please stay tuned.

In the meantime, I wanted to share news of the next hour-long She Writes webinar with the GwP community, because it holds a special place in my heart.

My editor from Sisterhood, Interrupted and Kamy’s agent from I Do But I Don’t: Why the Way We Marry Matters are teaming up to offer a candid conversation about what happens INSIDE PUBLISHING. It’s a 2-part series, though you can just take part 1 (From Submission to Sale) or part 2 (From Sale to Publication). The webinar will be offered both live and as a download, after the fact.

It’s the kind of thing I SO could have used when I was a graduate student in Madison, WI harboring dreams of publishing a book, when the world of publishing was still utterly foreign to me and I pretty much had no clue. Or the kind of thing I could have used mid-book, when I was in the dark about what would be happening around the bend. I learned as I went and will be forever grateful to Amanda for showing me the ropes. So I love that Amanda and Erin are now pulling back the curtain and letting others in, too.

Here are deets:

INSIDE PUBLISHING: Your Book, from Submission to Publication (a 2-part series)

With Erin Hosier and Amanda Johnson Moon

***INSIDE PUBLISHING Part 1: From Submission to Sale -May 7, 1-2pm ET***

***INSIDE PUBLISHING Part 2: From Sale to Publication – Aug 11, 1-2pm ET***

Want the inside scoop on what happens when your book proposal gets submitted to editors? Have a proposal ready to go, but want to know more about the publishing process and timeline before you jump in? Or do you have a book deal, but you’re still confused about what happens next? And how about several months after publication? What happens inside your house then?

In this revealing webinar, the first in a two part series, literary agent Erin Hosier and editor Amanda Moon pull back the curtains to shed light on what goes on in a major publishing house once an editor receives your book proposal, how the editor and agent work together on a project, and what the heck a ìP & Lî is. Find out why working with a freelance editor might be the best investment you’ve ever made for your book proposal, and how you can feel empowered and prepared with answers going into a process that’s often shrouded in secrecy.

Through a lively exchange, Erin and Amanda will speak candidly about what you need to know to be a savvy and informed author in today’s marketplace. Takeaways include:

• A glossary of important terms and lingo you need to know when your proposal is being submitted to editors

• A timeline that walks you through a typical day in the life of your editor and your manuscript, and what really happens behind closed doors, from editorial meeting to publicity and more

Erin Hosier has been an agent for 10 years at The Gernert Company and Dunow Carlson & Lerner, where she has sold both fiction and a variety of narrative, practical, and illustrated nonfiction to major publishing houses in NYC and around the world. She is especially interested in the following categories: memoir, sociology, biography, art, the performing arts, pop culture, health, science, and humor. Before becoming an agent, Erin grew up in rural Ohio, attended Kent State University while studying Public Health, and completed internships at Planned Parenthood in Cleveland and Ms. magazine in NYC. She currently cohosts the monthly reading series “The Literary Death Match” in NYC at the Bowery Poetry Club.

Amanda Johnson Moon has worked as an editor in the publishing industry for over ten years. She began her career as an intern at Yale University Press and Writers House. She has served as an editor at Palgrave Macmillan and Basic Books. She has worked with authors including Deborah Siegel, Alice Miller, Tony Wagner, Mary Daly, John Merrow, Henry Giroux, Leonard Sax, Malina Saval, Nancy Rappaport, Sue Barry, and Andrea Tone. She has acquired, edited, and managed many award-winning and positively reviewed books for the trade and academic markets in psychology, women’s studies, education, science, memoir, and more.

To register and reserve a spot, click here.

I never thought I’d find myself saying something this banal here on Girl w/Pen, but a certain double stroller has changed my life. A stylish red and black jogging stroller came into my life three weeks ago as a gift from my parents. It was a mercy gift, intended to replace the clunky Double Snap N Go babytrain I had lugged through snow and ice. Now, I can venture into stores without knocking clothing racks down! Now, I can exercise in the park! I feel giddy, the way one might when one unexpectedly finds herself the owner of a shiny red Ferrari. After all that time spent immobile, Mama’s got wheels.

But I think I’m moving too fast. Like many new mothers my generation who’ve found themselves quickly back at work, both because the work is compelling and because Daddy’s been downsized, I’m always in a rush.

The other day, while pushing the jog stroller with one hand I dropped (and shattered) my iPhone. I’ve been nagging my husband and fighting with my mother. I’ve choked more than a few times on food. Starting a company at the same time that I’ve started motherhood, I’ve been racing, a bit, through my life.

The new stroller liberated me from a prolonged state of physical frozenness. But now I want to liberate me from myself. This perpetual feeling of precarious haste–like I’m sure to get smacked by a bus if I don’t look both ways when rushing across the street–is exhausting. I thought motherhood might be a vacation from my own professional intensity or rather, my intensity as a professional. Instead, it’s only intensified the race.

So here I am, turning to this column, and to my She Writes on Fridays column over at She Writes, as a way to slow it all down. I want to savor motherhood. I want to savor the process of starting a wonderful company with a fellow mother of two little ones who is genuinely sympathetic but who is also my sister in ambition and drive. We want to do our company differently. The question is, given our own intensity, given the needs of the marketplace, will we be able to live that different dream?

Obviously, I’m not alone. As Judith Warner wrote recently in a forum about motherhood at the New York Times, my generation doesn’t revel in the new possibilities of motherhood today, largely because the promises of feminism have time and again come up against a wall of political impossibility.  In an absence of family-friendly social policies, she rightly insists, “[o]ur much-vaunted ‘choices’…have largely proven hollow.” This past month, a hard-charging woman I hold dear, someone who needs to work, quit a job she loved rather than keep her baby in daycare. It broke my heart to hear it. But truly, what choice did she have?

We have a remarkable choice and opportunity, with She Writes, a woman-owned company, to live a more manageable work/life equation. Eventually, we will get there. But in the meantime, I will bet you my new stroller that my partner and I will continue to rev it up even as we work toward slowing it all down.