Sandra Tsing Loh confesses some more

sandratsingloh.jpgIn the December issue of The Atlantic, author Sandra Tsing Loh discusses two books about the concept of bad mothers and expands a little on her current situation. Remember, in July she confessed in a discussion of marriage in the same magazine that she had recently had an affair that ended her married life. This time she writes:

I myself am not just an imperfect mother, I am a bad mother. I am bad not in that fluttery, anxious, 21st-century way educated middle-class mothers consider themselves “failures” because they snap when they are tired, because they occasionally feed their kids McNuggets, because as they journal they soulfully question whether they’re mindfully attaining a proper daily work/life balance. No, I am bad because after a domestic partnership of 20 years, when my kids were still elementary-school-age, I fell in love, had an affair, admitted it, and quite deservedly got tossed out of the house on my ass. Currently between homes (my earthly belongings reside in a 10-by-10-foot windowless U-Haul storage unit whilst I alternately house-sit, pool-sit, and cat-sit), I furtively park at the curb of my former home for an extra few minutes after dropping my kids off and, with my laptop, I steal wireless. Approaching 50, I am living a life that is less sunlit Waldman/Chabon than tattered Charles Bukowski.

In short, I am truly bad, in a 1970s way—that decade when women really were bad!

She also talks about the reaction to her earlier confession:

I’d thought mine was a sad but not atypical tale to cite in The Atlantic as a jumping-off point for a discussion about the state of modern American marriage, but … No!!! Oh, the shock, the outrage, the vitriol, the tying to the bumpers of and being dragged behind blogs large and small all across our fair nation! Oh, the plasterings with a scarlet A, the media stonings. I fielded so many horrified condolence calls after one particularly savage L.A. Times profile of me that I found myself plaintively asking a friend, “Don’t you think the word crucifixion is overused nowadays? Do we have to keep using the word crucifixion?” But what particularly surprised me was the ire of some of my own sisters in the chattering class—college-educated, affluent NPR listeners/New York Times readers. In the old days, for better or worse, members of this privileged demographic would have been on female liberation’s front lines. Now they were among the most censorious. “YOU MUST GO BACK HOME!” one girlfriend of mine (56, married, Boomer professional, no kids) typed in block letters. “THINK OF THE CHILDREN!”

“It feels like we’re living in the ’50s,” said Janet. At which point she downed her prosecco and exclaimed: “For God’s sake! When did people get so timid? In the ’70s people wouldn’t give a damn! Doesn’t anyone read Germaine Greer any more?”

That's Janet Fitch, Loh's friend and the author of "White Oleander" and "Paint It Black."


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