Time to turn my attention from only-childhood to sisterhood.

I’ve been following the thread on TPC in response to Jessica Valenti’s “Feminist Sorority” and am struck once again by the way feminists are repeating the personal, political, ideological infighting of the past—only this time, with a generational veneer.

I salute Jessica for raising these issues, and I can’t wait for the release of her book (I’m with those who think the cover is savvy, though I understand the critique). It’s the response to her article that concerns me more than the article itself. So much pain, accusation, and hurt—on both sides. Where is this taking us?

Coming back from a talk I gave at Rowan University last week to kick off Women’s History Month, where the audience was part NOW founders, part undergraduates, and part faculty/staff, I’ve been thinking a lot about how young(er) women and veteran feminists can speak to each other in tones that enable their message to be heard. And the need for media-savvy feminists to forge bridges that steer the conversation away from intergenerational catfight and back to the issues we care about in common. I sincerely believe we have more in common than contradiction. And that the ever-widening age gap has the potential to diminish us all.

On March 22, the International Center in New York (a place where 2,500 newcomers to NYC come to each year to learn and practice English and become more familiar with American culture) is hosting a reading of Only Child. After the reading, Daphne and I and contributors Alysia Abbott and Alissa Quart will lead a discussion about growing up as an only child in America. The audience will be invited to share both their personal experiences and the cultural context of growing up as an only child here or in other parts of the world. Come one, come all!

Where: 50 West 23rd Street 7th Floor, ICNY Lounge
When: 7pm
(It’s free!)

Check out our nationally syndicated radio broadcast, Viewpoints

Daphne and I also did a podcast with Deborah Harper for PsychJourney – will post soon!

Two interesting pieces in the news last week pertaining to onlydom:

One on China:
China: Reining in the Rich on One-Child Policy

And one that reflects on work/family policy here in the US:
The Motherhood Experiment

Very clever the way this second piece, by Sharon Lerner, links women’s work/life issues, fertility rates, and national policy. Lerner notes that the U.S., with its largely hands-off approach to family policy, spends far less than other wealthy countries on child care while guaranteeing no paid parental leave–all of which leads women to feel that they must choose either work or motherhood. “As a result,” she concludes, “being an employed parent may be more difficult here than in countries now experiencing even the most severe baby droughts.”

Now here’s the part I love: Counter to the rhetoric of family-values champions, the promotion of larger families and the promotion of women’s careers may go hand in hand. Keep an eye out for Lerner’s book–it sounds smart.

Having survived the JetBlue fiasco of February 2007 (yep, I was one of those passengers stuck on the JFK tarmac ad infinitim), I am happily back in NYC. Only children may crave a crowd, but being holed up with 200 angry, hungry travelers was hardly this only’s idea of company. The best part was meeting Marco’s parents for the first time, when we finally landed in Tampa, even if a day later than planned. And the alligators at Silver Springs were pretty cool too. Oh – and the guy we met in line after our flight was cancelled, who flew biologists, environomentalists, and politicians into remote wildlife areas for an organization called Lighthawk and offered to charter a plane for a group of us. He was cooler than the alligators.

Two OC readings coming up next week:

Tuesday, Feb. 27 – KGB Tuesday Night Nonfiction Series
7pm
85 East 4th Street (betw 2nd and 3rd Ave)
New York City

Contribs Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn (“Becoming an Only Child”) and Janice Nimura (“Mother of Two”) will be joining Daph and me at this far-hipper-than-we-are LES locale. (Thank you, Kelly McMasters! We heart you very much!)

Wednesday, March 1 – Barnes and Noble, Upper West Side
7pm
2289 Broadway at 82nd St.
New York City

Contribs Kathyrn Harrison and Sara Reistad-Long will join us on this one. (Huge shout out to Jainee McCarroll here!)

Grab an only child — or come as a party of one — just come!

We’re in the Style Section of today’s paper. As you can imagine, Daphne and I are jumping up and down with delight.

From Leisl Schillinger’s “And Baby Makes Three”:

PITY the only child. Rattling around in a cavernous house like the last Tic Tac in a box, he (or she) has no brothers or sisters to play hide and seek with or to diffuse the high-beam glare of parental attention. What an unenviable fate! Or maybe not.

In “Only Child,” Deborah Siegel and Daphne Uviller gather the reflections of 21 writers and other creative types (including themselves) to demonstrate the ups and downs of “growing up solo.”…

Read the rest here.

This just in: There will be a mention of Only Child in the March 15 issue of American Way, the in-flight magazine of American Airlines.

Ted Rose’s essay in the anthology, “Air Only,” was prescient!


On Friday, Daphne, contributor Amy Richards, and I were guests on “The Judith Warner Show” (XM radio). I’m a fan of Judith’s book, Perfect Madness, and many of her feminist inklings dovetail with mine. Things I wished I had said but did not have a chance to on the air:

In the 1970s, the mother who chose to have ‘only one’ was sometimes stigmatized for selfishly privileging her desire to have a career over her desire to raise a brood. I wonder how the stigma Boomer women may have felt different from that experienced by today’s mother-of-one. *Is* there a strong stigma today, and if so, is it perhaps differently inflected? Parent friends who ask us about our experience as onlies often seem so anxious – is this related, I wonder, to the intensive parenting Judith writes about so eloquently in her book? That is, the imperative to do-what’s-best-for-your-kid at the expense of personal fulfillment, and the return of a new kind of feminine mystique.

I’d be curious to hear what others think.

PS. Check out Daphne’s new website!



I’m in Chicago — town of my roots — and had two very fun readings. One was at The BookStall, in Winnetka, and the other at Congregation Solel in Highland Park. I was touched that so many people I knew came out to show support, including childhood best friends and some of their siblings, tons of family friends, my grandmother, two great aunts, and my high school English teacher Sherry Medwin. Felt like a minor local celebrity – thanks, guys!! Some pix, including a mystery shot of me and Marco at the top of the John Hancock (guess who’s who), Marco and the lion, me at The BookStall.


Yesterday Daphne and I were guests on “The Wendy Williams Experience” on WBLS radio – and what an experience! After parking us in an office with hot pink walls decorated with life-size photos of dazzling Wendy (left), the producer, Nicole, shuttled us down a hallway, opened a door, gave us headphones, and there she was, behind the mike: The queen of radio, wearing Uggs and a tiara.

Daphne and I fielded calls from listeners, lots of moms asking for advice on how to keep their onlies from being lonely/spoiled. Wendy, herself mother to an only, brought up the “selfish woman” stigma. And the conversation also veered toward the subject of women “starting later,” as my friend Rachel Lehmann-Haupt calls it in her forthcoming book on the subject. Wendy has 12 million largely African American female listeners, and I wondered how the stigma of the only child seemed to them….

A serious shout out to Wendy for plugging our book so thoroughly and so graciously. (And for being, well, Wendy! I seriously wish I could be her when I grow up.)