Women, Life, and Work

Anonymous's picture

Meg Wolitzer describes the choices her characters have to make:

“Once you have children, and you leave the workforce for a while – the idea of going back to a job that maybe you never loved, or that never loved you, is much more complicated.”

After the roughly ten year period to which Wolitzer’s title refers has passed, and the children no longer need you because you’ve done your motherhood job right, the question is, now what?

Wolitzer says, “I think women, regardless of what they then decide to do, have to kind of take stock and think, do I want to return to something I once did? Do I have a passion to do something? Do I just like my life, and I can afford it, the way it is?”

Keeping in mind, as Wolitzer says, that she is not examining the issue of whether or not women should leave work to raise children – all of her characters have made that choice already – what do you think of how she frames the question facing her characters, and how, perhaps, has this scenario played out in your life?

Bill's picture

Great episode. First one I

Great episode. First one I have watched -- will get to the other ones soon. I think Wolitzer's question also applies to men. I retired after a long career in a profession which was demanding but also rewarding. Now, after several months of intentional laziness, I could easily drift into aimlessness. I am now starting to think about "do what you like, love what you do." but after slipping into a profession the day after I graduated college, I am finding the intellectual search for am encore career to be demanding work in itself.

gregoryknapp's picture

Bill: I am very glad you


I am very glad you weighed in.

Despite the title, which I would now rethink, this topic is open to men as well, and your experience, or a version of it, is shared by many men, I believe.

Thanks for your thoughts.


Phoebe's picture

A very interesting

A very interesting episode... I want to read all the books as usual!

I do believe that Wolitzer's question applies to both men and women. It is true as she says that many men just keep schlepping along. They don't give themselves the option of opting out and society is more disapproving of men who do. But that is changing. Women's liberation is men's liberation too. It makes sense to have many careers in our long lives. Raising children can be one career of many.

As a woman who is ending her 10 - year - nap soon (my children are entering their teen years), I find Wolitzer's description of her book both provocative and superficial. She says she is not disparaging the decision to leave the work place but the word "nap?' Any parent who takes care of their child more than 20 hours a week knows that it is more demanding than most jobs. For some people, parenthood is as much a vocation as writing or teaching and they can find ways to practice it all of their lives. For others (like myself), it is an intense phase of life that transitions into another phase. The transition can definately be tough!

I am also dubious about Wolitzer's statement that some people do not have strong callings. Or, rather, I am doubtful that the desire to write is more of a calling than other occupations. Finding an activity that we feel passionate about can be difficult and requres hard work. But we all have the potential to develop our abilities and talents and make our lives feel meaningful. Others may not recognize what we do as a calling but still if we look back we can see a thread of development, of self determination.