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May 29, 2021Liked by Edan Lepucki

Felt this one deeply. Last year, a fellow writer friend had a baby and we discussed the feeling we know very well that if you are paying the babysitter $x, you have to earn $x+1 to justify it. This discounts the partner's income entirely, but it's also false because she was never going to quit her job. That she would continue her career was never a question, so there is no need for justification. There are times when our nanny makes more than I do, and that is a privilege of mine, but it's also a crucial agreement with my partner going into parenting together: if we're doing this together, we're doing it all together, they money together, the time together, and i'm not giving up MY vocation so we can BOTH be parents.

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I feel every word of this so hard. This is so clear and also so nuanced. I espec. love the "—and yet" since I've always made this argument — childcare should be never be subtracted against what the mother "out earns" for that time. And yet — I'm right there with you with the further loss that my genre (I know you know :) has little no hope of ever making a dime unless I land some mythic TT position or write some doggerel that ends up a gift book next to the cash wrap (not sayin' no). It's gargantuan, Sisyphean in a million ways to keep rolling the rock uphill (ms. towards completion) when the reward — financial or otherwise — is so mythic, so far off — and yet, life without trying feels way worse. I squeeze all I can into the corners of the day, the evenings before I'm too tired to think straight, and what my time my (understanding and generous) hub can siphon from his demanding job, but it's not the same. I'm glad you have a camp plan ahead and ILS to help (and who are not staying with you!). Working on a plan here, but really, as we are three days away from the last day of school, I'm dreaming about the fall start when (fingers crossed) it's back to five days a week. I feel like parent-writers everywhere will weep with relief.

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PS: I understand why you used the term ‘fake’. But still it’s hard to hear from an aspiring writer. You’re an established, respected, published writer- by all means please take yourself seriously- at least for the sake of the rest of us.

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Well stated. This piece combined with Sunday’s NYT business section article ‘What Women Lost’ makes my chest tighten and shoulders tense in anger at the reality of creative/freelance working mothers. Your section about how both parents salaries need to be considered is key. The husband/dad could not do what he does without the outside support/help and that’s important to remember. The hardest part of this past year as a mom too was loosing the support- feeling trapped and at the whim of everyone else’s schedule. Not feeling I had ownership over my time or space. When I agreed to have children it was with the understanding I’d have support. In 2020, I found myself often thinking about the future when the kids would be off to college which is over a decade away. But I don’t want to put my life on hold- that only leads to resentment. In college I was told if you want to be taken seriously don’t have kids and I didn’t take that advice. Now I wonder with my own daughter if I’ll encourage her to have children. I tell her it’s a choice, not an expectation. She has no baby dolls as I’ve been clear to let her know there’s nothing cute about diapers or lack of sleep. At the same time I of course love my kids deeply- I just never liked the role of being a mother, the expectations, the either/or when it comes to either a full-time career where you have to outsource all childcare or staying home where you have nothing of your own. If there was more support in place then healthy balanced part-time work would be more viable.

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