never married, over forty, a little bitter

Month: February, 2013

kodak moments

And instead of pretending that everything is hunky-freaking-dory, let’s be real: Parenting is ridiculously hard. And all of us do ourselves and each other a huge disservice when we pretend otherwise. Sure, there are great times that should be celebrated. Sure, when our kids do awesome things, by all means, let’s get our brag on. But let’s also not tell each other so many lies by omission.

My life on Facebook is an airbrushed and Instagrammed image of my real life. I edit the suckage because I want people to think I have my shit together. I give everything a hipstacular filter to make the drudgery look interesting. Most of the time, I think I’m a decent mom, and I think I’m giving my kids a pretty good life. But I also think I’d be a better mom if I stopped pretending, and making friends on Facebook feel like they have to pretend as well.

the wicked

It will not shock anyone reading this that the realm over which Marissa Mayer presides is often more oriented toward images of women than the needs of women, and that a particularly sexist work realm is very happy to promote female CEOs as representative of its enlightened future. Cutting edge technologies, instead of being designed to make the grunt work of life easier, are merely commodifying increasingly intimate parts of our existence. Technology hasn’t been oriented toward letting us sleep eight hours and still make a living, but has served to make an inhumane work ethic look progressive, innovative, feminist. Silicon Valley culture and the cult of the CEO encourage the belief that everyone’s realm of empowerment is in the unsleeping pursuit of success, bonus if your baby proves that nothing will stop you.

Do you buy it? Mayer won’t sleep until you do.

the joke

Television would have us believe that, in order to lead independent and successful lives, we must live in New York City. And while that works out well for privileged Carrie and—while she had an allowance—Hannah, it’s sometimes devastating for working class girls like Peggy and Betty. Television entices us to pawn our financial security for a dream job and a dream lifestyle. But in both television and in real life, it’s not a level playing field. There’s a price tag for Manhattan ambitions, and the growing wealth disparity in America has made those dreams even more elusive for women of the 99%.

Author John Updike once said, “The true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding.” While this makes for excellent comedy on TV, for ambitious women who struggle in real life, trying to fund a career in New York is truly no joke.

plot twists

Now that we don’t really have to live with our marriages, or enter them in the first place, the choice of whom, if anyone, to settle down with is not a great subject but a middling one—about sitcom-sized, it turns out. And the grown-up questions we ask ourselves when deciding whether to stay or go, to marry or not, don’t hinge quite as much on the idea of a right or wrong choice as on a rough sense of timing: when, if ever, is the right time to write the marriage into our lives? How much felicity can we plausibly expect from a partnership entered in our youth? Would we lose too many potentially interesting plot twists if we committed to one person right now? And if we end up disappointed by marriage, will it have been because we chose the wrong man, or simply that we chose him when we were only about a third of the way through our own personal comedies?

halfway points

(The last sentence needed copy editing, but I agree with the drift)—_and_lost/

Ms. co-founder Letty Cottin Pogrebin and her daughter Robin are presented as the archetype of semi-ungrateful younger women finding their mother’s feminism to be incomplete. Of the younger Pogrebin’s work-life conflict, narrator Meryl Streep intones, “Pogrebin quit her all-consuming television job. Instead, she worked shorter hours from home as a writer, relying more on her husband to support the family.” Somehow, this problem, which is given a lot of airtime considering that just critique of the limits of Friedan, is posited as the problem of too much feminism, as opposed to not enough of it informing policies and norms.

happy endings

“That Girl” remained popular throughout its run. During its time, did anybody ask, Why doesn’t she get married?

Oh, yeah. I wanted to quit after five years. I’d done it for five years and I felt I wasn’t a girl; I was more of a woman. I was approaching 30 and it was like: OK, I’m out of here. I just felt I couldn’t do the same thing anymore. So they said, if we’re going to end the show, let’s end it with a wedding. And I wouldn’t do that. I had talked on so many shows about her independence and for so many shows not getting married, and having a job and having her own life. “I want my own life” — I must have said that like 100 times. That the idea of suggesting to the girls who loved “That Girl,” to say that the only happy ending is a wedding, I just couldn’t do it.

reduced hours

Shorter hours, too, is inherently a feminist demand. The proletarian of the Left’s romantic imagination has always been implicitly a male figure, the full time worker relying on the reproductive labor of a woman in the home. However, Weeks is careful to reject calls for work time reduction premised on making more time for the family. Such arguments may contest the work ethic, but they do so only by reinforcing an equally pernicious family ethic. Time in the home comes to be portrayed as inherently better or less alienated than time in the workplace, and the need for such time becomes naturalized. This ignores the alienating and oppressive qualities of the family, which led an earlier generation of feminists to seek the relative freedom and autonomy of wage labor. What’s more, the self-denying asceticism of the work ethic has not been overcome but merely displaced, from the workplace to the home. Shorter hours, asserts Weeks, should be offered not as a prop to the traditional family but as “a means of securing the time and space to forge alternatives to the present ideals and conditions of work and family life.”


I think the issue is more that for some women, women like me — with a history of depression and a hereditary predisposition toward emotional instability — motherhood and sanity just aren’t 100 percent compatible. This is a hard thing to accept about oneself, and harder to admit. But it became easier when I broached the subject with friends, many of whom revealed similar struggles. For some, the depression or anxiety or moodiness began postpartum. But for many like me, the problem didn’t resolve once their hormone levels fell into check and they’d gotten through those first bewildering months.


And a third friend, Gallaudet, who has two school-age sons, wondered if all these insecurities aren’t societally driven. She wrote to me, “In this time and place, it seems … like it might actually be possible to ‘get it right’ with children, so I often feel like I have to do just that. I forget that throughout most of history, keeping them ALIVE was the goal.” She goes on to explain how in addition to this desire for perfection, “many of us are parenting away from our families of origin, but under the scrutinizing gaze of those we hardly know. If I were to judge my friends’ parenting by Facebook and blog posts, I’d assume their lives were sunshine and organic flowers all the freaking time. When I actually talk to my friends, honestly, I feel much better and less anxious and stressed, because the same shit goes down in every household. But because so much of what I see and hear is prepackaged — marketed, in a sense — I can quickly forget not to judge my own family’s insides based on other people’s families’ outsides.”

the epidemic

Tiina • 3 years ago
This goes beyond the debate between public, private or otherwise. Research is repeatedly showing alarming statistics about stress and burnout across ALL sectors. The research is almost becoming redundant. We already know that stress, depression, anxiety, etc. have come to epidemic proportions–the funding now needs to be directed toward increasing access to mental health resources, not more research that keeps giving us the same information over and over again while the numbers continue to climb.

While sweeping organizational change may make for a healthier workplace–which should be a focus–there needs to also be a focus on resources available to individuals. We are living in a brave new world, dealing with a pace of constant change greater than perhaps any generation before us. Perhaps coping mechanisms have not kept stride. Whatever the cause, we cannot continue to stigmatize these mental health issues, we need to make them a focus.

I began teaching stress-reduction workshops in an effort to reach more people and meet the obviously increasing need for such work (I have been an RMT for over 12 years). I have recently teamed up with my colleague, an MD-Psychotherapist, to facilitate a one-day retreat based on a model of attainable self-care, received exceptionally well this year among Family Physicians around Ontario, another group with alarming statistics with regard to stress and burnout.

Workshops and programs like this and others need to be funded, there needs to be more access to OHIP-covered individual therapy and counseling, companies with EAP programs may wish to review them for their efficacy in dealing with the growing epidemic of workplace stress. Such proactive measures will certainly make a dent in curbing the otherwise inevitable increase in mental-health-related disability claims.

female penalties

So perhaps men should spring for dinner (at least until 2014):

I don’t know about you, but I’m not comfortable being considered an “exception” to a “standard” that means I’m paying more for insurance because my biologically-based healthcare needs are considered a “pre-existing condition.” Women pay more for insurance for no other reason than because they are not men.