Ross Douthat ("When I became a father, I expected to change in all the predictable ways ... What I didn’t expect is that parenthood would make me such a whiner") or Slate's Ruth Graham ("My Facebook feed is an endless stream of blog posts and status updates depicting the messy, tedious, nightmarishly life-destroying aspects of parenting"). Raising kids in our contemporary world is, as Jennifer Senior's new book puts it, All Joy and No Fun -- and, as Lori Gottleib recently told us, no sex.
2013 was the year I had to decide how much it meant to me to be a writer. When the year began, I had a steady office job, a stressed-out husband, an apartment, and a baby, which meant that 26 hours out of every day were accounted for. How was I supposed to work on the novel that had been pacing back and forth inside my head, knocking occasionally on the floorboards, for years?
Tracy Moore accidentally got pregnant and wrote a book about how she dealt with it.
In The Chronicle of Higher Education, Berkeley professor Mary Ann Mason discusses why so many women don't make it to the "top of the Ivory Tower as tenured professors, deans, and presidents," and points to research showing how having babies penalizes women in academia.
I had this date with a guy I was really excited about (he was a social justice law student!).
Do you enjoy crying? Or reading really strong women reflect on the most painful moments of their lives? Here are some things to read: Ariel Levy on miscarrying in Mongolia in the New Yorker; Kate Suddes on grieving her stillborn baby at Cup of Jo; women on the stories of their abortions in New York—some women regret it; some women are thankful for it; some women were unfazed by it; many women faced incredible obstacles and incredible costs. ("The public university where we teach offers insurance affiliated with a Catholic hospital. We had to submit our case before an ethics committee of priests who would decide if insurance would pay. Otherwise, the procedure would cost us $25,000. The priests decided I had to deliver the baby. I was so upset I couldn’t talk. Later it turned out the state would cover it.")
Surrogacy usually costs more than six figures, but what is it like to be an actual surrogate? In The Washingtonian, Alexandra Robbins and Ali Eaves talked to women who advertised themselves on surrogacy sites, including 40-year-old Kathy Powers, who said she "craved pregnancy but not another child," which made her an ideal surrogate. Their story addresses other things like, what kind of relationship will the surrogate have with the child after birth (none for some, while others visit and send birthday and holiday gifts), and difficult questions parents using surrogates face, like how they would feel if they discovered that the baby would have genetic defects (in one case, the couple asked the surrogate to have an abortion, and the surrogate refused).
Adam Davidson's column on organic super magical natural health baby supplies is a fun little read. Feel happy! Feel smug! Be reminded that buying the cheapest possible shit for your spawn is not only okay it's good business sense. After all: "It’s easy to feel like a sucker once you realize that nearly every dollar you’ve paid over the commodity price is probably wasted."
Audrey Ference lives in New York.
Mark Oppenheimer has a lovely piece up on Medium called "Forty Thoughts on a Fourth Daughter," about how and why he and his wife decided to have four entire children (all lady children, too). He mentions that if you have more than a couple of kids people assume you are either very religious or not very intelligent, which, yes. But apparently they just love kids a lot.
A recent episode of the Freakonomics podcast looked at the following question: Does having a baby girl or baby boy influence whether or not a couple decides to get a divorce or stay together for the kids? Some research says yes, families with first-born girls are likelier to get a divorce, though it all seems dubious to me since divorces are hyper personal and are caused by so many different things.