When Will It Be Time’s Up for Motherhood and Marriage?

We’re apparently reliable enough to raise the next generation, but not to articulate our own experiences

Kimberly Harrington

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Jodi Kantor, The New York Times reporter who, along with Megan Twohey, broke the Harvey Weinstein story, spoke here in Vermont back in February. Of all the ground she covered, one anecdote in particular snagged my attention. She remarked that doing something as simple as watching an old movie with her eldest daughter now meant having to constantly press pause in order to provide context for what was unfolding, and why it was problematic.

Would that have happened 10 years ago? Or even two?

These are our homes, our marriages; this is our mothering now. Mothers and wives are at the forefront of reshaping, recontextualizing, reminding, and not a small amount of revisionist history. As with gun violence, everyone seems all too ready to put their faith in the next generation to fix it, adding a whole new level of labor to the sandwich generation we already are : one whiplashed between the gender dynamics of our mothers’ Mad Men reality and our daughters’ March For Our Lives urgency. Which is perfect, really, because we didn’t have too much on our plates already.

#Metoo, Time’s Up, and industry-specific groups like Diet Madison Avenue are shifting interpersonal dynamics in ways both profound and mundane. The primary focus has been on the workplace, but working through these shifts is happening at home. For those of us who are partnered and have children, the impact comes in waves, like grief. We’re not only struggling with our own realities; we also need to wrestle with ingrained gender and power expectations in our marriages while attempting to raise our children in a way that will undo deeply entrenched beliefs around those same things.

Hey, no pressure.

Fathers have come a long way, but not nearly far enough. While men now spend more time on childcare, food preparation, and household chores than their fathers did, it’s still far less time than women spend on those same responsibilities (nearly half as much, in fact). Of course those statistics don’t take into account the ever-present mental whirring of emotional labor — a meter that is…

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Kimberly Harrington

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