Saturday, July 03, 2004

To hell with it

The July 5 issue of The New Yorker finally hit the stands in these parts yesterday (believe me — I've been checking every day this week), though it seems our neighbours south of the border were privileged to see it a few days beforehand.

Helena was asleep in the stroller before we even hit the magazine store. She stayed asleep while I indulged in a cappuccino and burrowed into the comfy chair to read.

Caitlin Flanagan is still infuriating, but a little softer.

According to Rebel Dad:

She seems to have a harder time embracing the kind of all-consuming motherhood that she has sung the praises of in the Atlantic. . . And her transition from at-home mom to magazine superstar has softened her view of working parents, even as she retains fondness for traditional mothers.

See the press release for a summary of the article.

I find it hard to put a finger on what's wrong with the way Flanagan thinks. She's often illogical and her arguments are inconsistent. Like lot of people I know. Real and good people.

She's just so damn self-centred.

She writes:

In my childish apprehension of things, my father was happiest when he was sitting in his armchair reading a big, fat book, and my mother when she was standing at her ironing board transforming a chaotic basket of wash into a set of sleek and polished garments.

Well, it's a sign of maturity that she recognizes this picture-perfect memory as her childish apprehension of things. What freaky world does she think she grew up in?

It's hard to feel sorry for Flanagan. Twelve years old when her mother decides to put her professional training to good use. Now, I can't exactly relate — my mom stayed home. But the moms of many of my friends did not. None of them feel toward their mothers the kind of anger and resentment Flanagan relates. She comes across as a selfish, spoiled, unlikeable adolescent who refuses to make any effort in understanding anything that isn't going her way.

Obviously, there are no easy and universal answers. I'd like to believe that Flanagan has always known that. She's just had trouble expressing it. It's her snobby–preachy writing style that has wrought her so many enemies. The attitude in her writing is softening. With more real-life experience, she's more willing to admit her own shortcomings and hypocrisies.

Apartment 11D nicely sums up what I expect is going through the heads of most mothers reading the article, looking for answers no one can offer:

Are the kids better off with me rather than some professionals who would be making duckies and shit out of yarn and a soda can? With lots of other kids around them?

Duckie crafts and friends v. treats and kisses. I don't know. Maybe it's a draw.

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