A few weeks ago I was thrilled to receive an email from Hanna Rosin that Slate’s Double X was interested in a piece I was working on about a variety of former Miss America contestants running for political office. Today it’s a feature at the online magazine, focusing on the history of the Pageant and the politics of its contestants.
Double X has been providing some of the best commentary on Anne-Marie Slaughter’s much-talked about Atlantic piece, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” which you almost certainly have read by now. Rosin is a co-founder of Double X and she’s a Contributing Editor at the Atlantic. You know who she is if you watched the video interview embedded in the online version of Slaughter’s story because she’s the interviewer.
Many people have asked me what I think about Slaughter’s piece. But after reading what feels like hundreds of articles, Facebook comments, Tweets, and blog entries about it, I’ve been hesitant only because I’m not sure I have anything particularly new to say about it. (Has anyone mentioned how cute the toddler in the briefcase is before? More compelling than the breastfeeding boy on the cover of Time, right?)
In all seriousness though when I read Slaughter’s story last Thursday I felt it so keenly that I started to cry. This isn’t an unusual reaction among many highly credentialed moms I know.
But then I realized how lucky I am. Lucky to have a flexible job, lucky to have a husband who is a highly committed father. (Then, because I’m a new mommy who grew up with Catholic and Jewish parents, I started to feel guilty that in my early 30s I can make choices that hopefully help make all family members happy. And so it goes on and on…)
One topic I was surprised Slaughter didn’t cover is breastfeeding. It’s a hot topic, as the Time cover showed, and Rosin knows well having written one of the other most controversial Atlantic stories, The Case Against Breast-Feeding. While I was doing research and writing the Slate piece I had to carefully time things between nursing sessions for five-month-old Carston. One night, when my phone rang unexpectedly to do an interview right after his dinner, my husband (who I should mention is a professor with a flexible work schedule) happily and willingly took charge. But the reality is that when you’re breastfeeding, even if you pump sometimes (which I do), no matter how helpful your partner is, the weight is squarely on your shoulders all the time.
When I had to shift interview times around to accommodate my son’s needs I didn’t really specify why. After reading Rosin’s article on Double X last week making the case that women shouldn’t be ashamed to say when we are doing things for our kids, I realized she was right. So when I had to take a break while corresponding with the editor at Double X to nurse my son I decided to explain my slight delay in replying to emails. She replied that she had to leave soon to take care of a sick child. Life happens, family matters, and we still got our work done.
For the moment that’s having it all– and more– for me (and this little guy, who got to enjoy the ocean and the beach for the first time over the weekend). We also started weaning a week ago and he seems to be doing just fine, don’t you think?