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55. The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer...

March 21, 2009
I jumped when offered The Ten Year Nap for review. If you're a mom, you've heard of the mommy-wars, whether you work outside of, or stay at, home; whether you participate in the "wars" or not.

So, now the book's read, what did I think? The Ten Year Nap follows four women who've left behind promising careers to raise their children. Amy, whose voice is most prominent, was a lawyer who meant to go back to work but couldn't leave her baby. Karen is a brilliant mathematician who goes on interviews only to turn the job offers down. Jill was on the path to academia, never to return after adopting a child she cannot seem to bond with. And Roberta, who turned her passion for art into craft pursuits with her children.

There are a lot of the expected scenarios. Moms wondering if they should still stay home now that their children aren't really young anymore, and instead are in school for most of the day. Who fill their days with breakfast, gym-stops, volunteer-work... One of the families in Amy's apartment building loses the father (& breadwinner) to a heart-attack, and the family has to move out, because they can't afford rent. Amy herself wonders what would happen to her family if Leo (the hubby) is gone. But that's all she does - wonder.

*sigh* Personally, I don't care if you're a work-outside-the-home, stay-at-home, or work-at-home (i.e. getting paid for it), mom. I believe we all owe it to ourselves and to our families to know all the relevant financials. No, money doesn't make the world go round, but it sure does pay the bills. And rent/mortgage. Keeps the roof over our heads. Feeds the mouths in the household. Keep junior in private school if our public schools are iffy. And yet, too many women are too happy to leave all the boring financial details to someone else to take care of. But what if something happens to that "someone else"? Mothers are super-women! If we can function for a day after a slew of sleepless nights, we can figure out a bunch of numbers. And be able to stay afloat in any situation.

There's the how-does-she-do-it comparison with other moms. Only to find out that, duh, nobody's perfect. And there's the inevitable comparison of our kids against others. The "why doesn't my child do X when so-and-so's all do?" Do we love our children any less if they're not doing calculus at 10?

I liked The Ten Year Nap for its look at these four women's lives. It was all so ordinary - something I could imagine for my neighbor, for example. But it also delved into some of the issues we as a society haven't figured out yet. I didn't like it because I sometimes got frustrated with the four for not deciding. Not communicating. Not supporting each other enough. I think we as women can sometimes be too critical of the choices we all make. I wish we would be more supportive, not only of each other, but especially of our own choices. Why should we expect others to be alright with what we want when sometimes even we're not?

Title: The Ten Year Nap
Author: Meg Wolitzer
ISBN-10: 1-59448-354-X
ISBN-13: 978-1-59448-354-7
Paperback: 383 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Trade, 2009


Anonymous said...

Great review, Drey, I agree with being supportive, if only women would support each other more, it would become socially acceptable.
The problem, I think, is that women don't want to be seen as weak, needing support points to being weak, especially with monetarily successful women. I truthfully don't understand it.


bermudaonion said...

Great review. I do think women need to support each other rather than undermine each other.

Anonymous said...

Props for you, drey, for reading this - I probably would have hurled it across the room.

Lenore Appelhans said...

I was recently taking to my dad and I asked him why my stepmother still expected such expensive gifts even when we are in the middle of a financial crisis. He said that everytime he tried to dicuss finances with her, her eyes glazed over and she said, oh you handle that. That strikes me as really irresponsible!!

TexasRed said...

great review. i can see being frustrated with these same issues.

ANovelMenagerie said...

I almost did hurl it across the room.

Here is my post about it... didn't love it.

drey said...

Hi y'all!

I felt a little let down. Here's a chance to discuss some of the things that we could do better on. Instead, it only scratched the surface. And why is it a "nap"? Nap implies that the women who give up working to take care of their children, are not all there, not awake, not present. Even though I didn't make the same choice, I kinda resent that implication. Because it goes back to not supporting other women, regardless of the choice they make. Now, I'm not saying that we should support women in whatever choices they make. Sometimes tough love is required. But when it's motherhood, why can't we put aside the animosity to provide a life-line to each other? *sigh*

SueB said...

I agree - I don't try to compare too much to other kids (we all do a bit) - but I'm not too concerned it my kids can't do as much as your little boy (who is amazing). Mom's need to stick together - and we need to know our finances - just be better with them than me - ha ha!

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