|In this encouraging book, Keller tells the stories of seven very different women. With all of them there came a moment - unplanned - when they decided to give up work and become fulltime mothers. Then, some time later, each of them decided it was time to start thinking about going back. These are not superwomen, they are everywoman. buy now »|
I was 32 when my first book was published in 1993. This is my second book. I haven’t been working on it for 15 years, but it does contain much of my experience from that time. To put it another way, if it wasn’t for those 15 years this particular book wouldn’t exist…. My first book – a biography of Winnie Mandela – took me three years to write. During that time I did nothing but work on the book. No vacations, no romances, not much social life. My work was my world and when it was published I felt a sense of loss as well as achievement. I used to tell people that handing in a book was my version of having a baby. I now had something concrete to show for all that gestation, but I was suffering from a little post partum depression. I forced the metaphor still further by describing my book party as the equivalent of a wedding celebration. I remember getting dressed for it in a little black dress, black tights and black heels and joking that it was cool to wear black instead of white. Instead of being married with children., I was celebrating being a successful single career woman. And that was fine. When you’re 32 years old, that is absolutely fine. When your work is your world and you fall in love things have to open up a little. When I fell in love with Bill Keller, who was at the time the foreign editor of the New York Times, I had to learn how to make room.
How do you make room for a relationship? How do you make room for a child? Every woman does it her own way. My way – my all or nothing way – was to get rid of work completely and concentrate all my energy on my family. I gave up the cottage. The cat made the altruistic move of running away by itself. I sold my convertible car and moved into the city to a large family size apartment a block from the park. Molly was born two weeks after we moved in.
Some decisions make themselves and some decisions aren’t even decisions. You turn down one piece of work because you don’t want to travel, then another because you’re tired. Then another because by now it all just feels like too much work, and before you know it three years have gone by and you know every child’s activity in your neighborhood, every kids TV show, every baby food product and clothing label and you’re telling people you think you should write for Sesame Street. You weigh about twenty pounds more than you ever imagined you could and people who are put next to you at dinner parties ask you what your husband’s opinions are.