Drunk on Not Working

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Aug. 27 2009 3:03 PM

Drunk on Not Working

/blogs/xx_factor/2009/08/27/why_not_working_is_just_as_intoxicating_as_having_a_newborn/jcr:content/body/slate_image

Here’s one other take on Katie Roiphe’s addiction to her newborn: In addition to the mistake of assuming that all or most "feminists" think X , I think Roiphe has fallen prey to the error of conflating what happens when a woman stops working with the magical experience of having a baby. Which is just to say that the professional experience she’s describing here-of fearing the return to work, of the soggy cognitive skills, of cutting short professional commitments, and of her complete lack of enthusiasm for the impending return to "the great world where people talk and think and write" is precisely what I experienced on my own maternity leaves. But it’s also what I’ve just experienced in the days after my recent vacation to Israel.

Advertisement

Whether you take time off to have a baby, to undergo surgery, or to remodel your house, the act of dropping out of the work world for a while has very real consequences; chief among them being that you just stop caring about work so much. I can look at my own muzzy-headed disinclination to rejoin the world of Big Ideas this week as a consequence of "falling in love"-with the sunsets over Jerusalem; with my family there; with the experience of again caring, full-time, for my sons for a few weeks. And all those things really did happen. But what also happened is what happens to every woman to takes a time-out from a consuming career: perspective. Suddenly the deadlines and the bylines don’t feel all that important. And as mothers we have to learn somehow to toggle back and forth between thinking that work is the only thing that matters, and believing our babies are the only things that matter. On a good day, that only happens about 13 times per hour.

At the risk of suggesting that "feminism" means X , I always thought it meant balancing and juggling a life that may seem to have shrunk down to the size of a onesie, but which is actually much bigger than the life we knew before.

Photograph by Getty Images.

Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

The World

How Canada’s Shooting Tragedies Have Shaped Its Gun Control Politics

Where Ebola Lives Between Outbreaks

Gunman Killed Inside Canadian Parliament; Soldier Shot at National Monument Dies

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Paul Farmer: Up to 90 Percent of Ebola Patients Should Survive

Is he right?

Science

“I’m Not a Scientist” Is No Excuse

Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea 

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 10:39 PM Avengers: Age of Ultron Looks Like a Fun, Sprawling, and Extremely Satisfying Sequel
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.