When Salon.com published Faulkner Fox’s article on motherhood, “What I Learned from Losing My Mind,” the response was so overwhelming that Salon reran the piece twice. The experience made Faulkner realize that she was not alone—that the country is full of women who are anxious and conflicted about their roles as mothers and wives.
In Dispatches from a Not-So-Perfect Life, her provocative, brutally honest, and often hilarious memoir of motherhood, Faulkner explores the causes of her unhappiness, as well as the societal and cultural forces that American mothers have to contend with. From the time of her first pregnancy, Faulkner found herself—and her body—scrutinized by doctors, friends, strangers, and, perhaps most of all, herself. In addition to the significant social pressures of raising the perfect child and being the perfect mom, Faulkner also found herself increasingly incensed by the unequal distribution of household labor and infuriated by the gender inequity in both her home and others’. And though she loves her children and her husband passionately, is thankful for her bountiful middle-class life, and feels wracked with guilt for being unhappy, she just can’t seem to experience the sense of satisfaction that she thought would come with the package. She’s finally got it all—the husband, the house, the kids, an interesting part-time job, even a few hours a week to write—so why does she feel so conflicted?
Faulkner sheds light on the fear, confusion, and isolation experienced by many new mothers, mapping the terrain of contemporary domesticity, marriage, and motherhood in a voice that is candid, irreverent, and deeply personal, while always chronicling the unparalleled joy she and other mothers take in their children.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of History eBook: Dispatches from a Not-So-Perfect Life|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
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|Publisher: Crown Publishing Group|
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Dispatches from a Not-So-Perfect Life
House, Man, Child
I began to fantasize about being in a house with a man and a child when I was twenty-three. It was an ambivalent fantasy, in terms of motherhood; I wasn't sure if I was the child's mother. I was the man's lover, that much was clear, and the child looked like him. Maybe I was the live-in mother, or maybe I was a frequent guest and sex partner who went home to her own bachelorette pad in the city.
The fantasy opens with me in the foreground, working at a computer beside a large glass window. It's dusk and a purplish blue tinges the sky. I can see the ocean just outside the window and over a cliff-wild, angry, gorgeous. To my right at an open kitchen area, an attractive blond man is deveining shrimp for the paella he's preparing while listening to Miles Davis. The music is low (out of respect for me), and as the man has anticipated, it doesn't bother me. I like the sad and lovely trumpet drifting my way. At once, I feel relaxed and incredibly focused on work I love doing.
Between the man and me on a clean and bare floor, a blond four-year-old plays with wooden trucks. He loads tiny logs into the truck beds, then takes them out and splays them on the floor like a fan. He's happy without ever being loud, and he doesn't get up. He simply sits and plays.
Meanwhile, I keep working. There's no reason for me to stop. My work is going well, and paella takes a long time to cook. Eventually, when the sky is dark, I do stop, and we-meaning the man and I-eat at a table beside huge windows that face the sea. We drink red wine, and there are candles on the table, the kind that bob in oil inside clear glass cylinders.
I never see the child when I imag