And in 2013 we have progressed to... debating if women are capable of balancing motherhood with work.
Oh—back here again? Author and journalist Lauren Sandler wrote in the Atlantic that perhaps one is the limit for mothers to stay literary and 'writersesque' in a piece titled "The Secret to Being Both a Successful Writer and Mother: Have Just One Kid." Not surprisingly, the slew of mothers with more than one kiddo in tow, including Zadie Smith and Aimee Phan, took issue.
Phan commented on Sandler's piece, saying "It seems to insinuate that a writer needs only one child to experience all that motherhood has to offer, and anything more risks becoming more mother than writer."
OK, we all know kids take up a lot of time, even if we don't have 'em. And perhaps some women writers find they can produce more content with less children. But how on earth is it anyone else's say how many children women can have while remaining a devoted and high-quality author? Perhaps some women want to stay childless like Virginia Woolf and devote themselves to their writing. Fine. And perhaps some want to have four children, like Ayelet Waldman, and still rock the literary world (not without being called a bad mother, of course). Why is the way women live their life or balance their work time, mom time, and home time still considered a matter of public debate?
I get that women stress about being good moms. And we feel like we have to do it all. (Or have it all... cue Anne-Marie Slaughter entrance.) But women get enough critique and instruction from the world on what they can or should handle. There is no recipe for being a good mom or being a good writer. So let's let writers, and women, figure out how they want to live and balance their lives. I'm sure they'll ask if they need our input.