Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by author of Eat, Pray, Love's Elizabeth Gilbert - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 02-14-2010, 11:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I recently read the book "Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage" by Elizabeth Gilbert, the same author who wrote "Eat, Pray, Love."

http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/

Has anyone else read this book and care to share their thoughts about marriage, family, staying at home for the children, or building a career, or trying to do both?

I am personally very conflicted, more than usual, as I've posted about my struggle and journey in the past, but after reading Elizabeth Gilbert's advice, more or less, I just feel like I've got some more thinking to do on this topic.

OK, so anyone who reads Ms. Gilbert's work (or looks at the title of the book, really) sees that she is a skeptic about marriage, but that she makes peace with it and that she eventually ends up finding love and marrying a second time after a nasty divorce and lots of self-reflection and self-exploration which is written about in "Eat, Pray, Love."

Elizabeth seems to have, in my opinion, fairly solid advice for teen and 20-something women. Don't go boy crazy, find yourself, finish your education, build a career. Then think about marriage and family. She cites many statistics about men benefiting more from marriage financially and with regard to health and living longer lives. Women on the other hand, her stats and studies show, are happier, wealthier, more fit, and live longer the longer they wait to get married.

OK, I was pretty much nodding my head on this part because I see where she is coming from. I get it. I did those things. College? Check. Career before baby? Check. Trying to juggle career and baby? Check.

But then, sort of out of nowhere, Elizabeth drops the story about her own mother (a part time nurse for Planned Parenthood in the 70s) who gave up her career when Elizabeth and her sister got the chicken pox at a young age and caring for her children conflicted with her work schedule of an out of town conference. And Elizabeth Gilbert says that her mother's sacrifice of career for family really benefited her sister and herself when they were kids. She goes on to say that her childhood was much better after her mother quit working, and her mother always being home to greet them at the door after school allowed her the stability to study hard, do well in school, and become the accomplished person she is today.

Whoa. What the??????

I read this section of the book and felt my sinking heart and panic.

I work. I work part time. It's hard. It's hard because I miss A LOT of my pre-school age child's activities. ALL THE TIME. My job causes a lot of stress for me, for my child, for my husband. I have meetings and my husband has to take time off from his job to fill in the gaps of childcare. We spend boat loads of our money on child care from other people. It was our second largest expense last year.

Yes, some days my child likes day care, but after several days of it, there are the pleas that we have a "stay-at-home day." We never get to do anything except on weekends, and then it's usually just catching up on laundry, dishes, groceries, all that stuff. I am too exhausted at the end of the day after working to really read a story to my child, or teach anything. I fall asleep at 8 p.m. and it's a major accomplishment if I go to work AND do a load of laundry in a single day or go to work AND manage a quick run to the grocery store. We constantly are out of clean clothes, food, and my house is a mess.

There just isn't enough time.

But, on the other hand, I like that my child can go to a really good day care, something that just wouldn't happen financially if I weren't working. We are not a family that could afford a stay-at-home mother and preschool. I like that I earn my own money and I could support this family through some sort of crisis if need be, and I like that once a year I see my retirement statement and it looks pretty good.

And every once in a while, I love my job and the things I work on, and have good days. Most days are tedious and I'm tired, but some days I think, "OK, this is why I am doing this. I see the end goal." Of course, I had those sort of conclusive days as a stay-at-home mom, too.

Everyone says it gets so much easier when your children are school aged, but kindergarten is looming for us, and you know what? I don't think it will get any easier. Not schedule wise. My child now already goes to day care the same schedule as the regular kindergarten and grade school schedule, and I have to work part time, not full time, to accommodate this. To drop a child off at school at 8:00 a.m. and pick up by 3:30 p.m. - well, that just isn't a 40 hour work week. It doesn't line up. Yes, before and after school care is available, but then my child is very cranky, and we are rushed 5 days a week out of 7.

I am feeling very, very, very unnerved by this book, and by my doubts that I made the right choices.

Maybe what Elizabeth is saying is prepare yourself to be yourself and find out what you want. To do that, get an education and your own career before marriage and children. Then do what you want. But she didn't really say that. I just interpreting her meaning to try to make sense out of the conflicting stories she gave.

And if there is no resolution of those conflicts, well, than that is just unfair to women and to mothers. And it's unnerving to me personally.

Please share your thoughts about this, especially if you have also read her book.

Thank you.
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#2 of 9 Old 02-14-2010, 11:32 AM
 
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I just bought this book on Kindle so I will chime in again after I've read it.

I am conflicted after 5 years of SAHParenthood and now going back to Grad School for a job I want. I think no matter what we choose as mothers we end up conflicted, it's part and parcel fo the job.

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#3 of 9 Old 02-14-2010, 11:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I just bought this book on Kindle so I will chime in again after I've read it.

I am conflicted after 5 years of SAHParenthood and now going back to Grad School for a job I want. I think no matter what we choose as mothers we end up conflicted, it's part and parcel fo the job.
Thank you. I look forward to hearing your thoughts when you have finished the book.

Yes, it really does seem that the question of career and family, and the underlying issues of independence, financial and otherwise, is inherently more difficult for women/mothers than for men/fathers.

I wish that weren't the case, but certainly, personally, I see that having a child has had less impact on my husband than on me.
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#4 of 9 Old 02-14-2010, 10:36 PM
 
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I just finished the book and felt that although she did "make peace" with marriage, she still didn't seem that convinced. Yes she made peace with the idea but there's a large stretch between being at peace with something and embracing it as something you want to do. She's trying to convinced herself and somewhat manages to.

In the end, it's not like she really had a choice anyway (as long as she wanted to live in the US that is).

After over 10 years and three kids together, "dh" and I still haven't gotten married. I was sort of hoping she'd convince me that it was the best idea in the world, prompting me to start planning... I know we'll get married someday, it's just never been a priority.

Having never had any example of what a successful marriage can look like (my parents are divorced, granparents on each side got divorced before I was even born, all my aunts and uncles are not with whoever they had kids with), I used to be really opposed to getting married, I've changed opinion over the years since we actually ourselves are a great example of a good marriage. Just without the paper.
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#5 of 9 Old 02-15-2010, 06:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I just finished the book and felt that although she did "make peace" with marriage, she still didn't seem that convinced. Yes she made peace with the idea but there's a large stretch between being at peace with something and embracing it as something you want to do. She's trying to convinced herself and somewhat manages to.
You are right, I think. She had so much doubt about marriage and then, suddenly, abrubtly she is OK with marriage to end the book.

One review I read of the book actually said that the conclusion was too abrubt and that there really was no explained resolution or coming to terms.
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#6 of 9 Old 01-16-2011, 08:13 AM
 
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I enjoyed the book a lot because of the exciting context surounding her inquiry into marriage.  I had a hard time relating to the author and her experiences because she is not and never plans on becoming a mother.  I feel that being a mother and having a father as a partner adds a dynamic to marriage and life that really cannot be addressed by someone who does not personally experience that dynamic.  I also had a hard time relating to her 'typical upper-class jaded 30-something divorcee' attitude.

 

I did relate to her experiences of her own mother.  When my mom went back to work when I was school-aged I was devastated.  My own quality of life greatly decreased as did my sisters.'  While in retrospect I see and support her decision to build her career so she could eventually leave a love-less marriage, as a child it was very hard for me to understand why my mother was spending 12 hours a day at work only to come home exhausted and seemingly uninterested in me.  Of course it was her working so hard that allowed for me to go to out-of-state school completely paid for, but could she have helped me through years of severe depression followed by years of drug use and irresponsible sexual behavior (all before age 18)? I probably would have been a lot better off had she been more involved in my life instead of building her career.  FWIW we have a great relationship now.

 

The statistics and cultural research aspect of the book I found very interesting, even though according to the stats my hubby and I are not in that 'ideal' range in terms of probability of a successful marriage.  I was young when we married and young when we started having children.  But honestly, the people that I see having the hardest time in marriage ARE those people who wait until later in life to have children.  It just seems harder when your older and 'use to' to a certain dynamic with your partner.


Julia, mama to Bumpa 2008, and The Mole 2011

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#7 of 9 Old 01-16-2011, 11:15 AM
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But then, sort of out of nowhere, Elizabeth drops the story about her own mother (a part time nurse for Planned Parenthood in the 70s) who gave up her career when Elizabeth and her sister got the chicken pox at a young age and caring for her children conflicted with her work schedule of an out of town conference. And Elizabeth Gilbert says that her mother's sacrifice of career for family really benefited her sister and herself when they were kids. She goes on to say that her childhood was much better after her mother quit working, and her mother always being home to greet them at the door after school allowed her the stability to study hard, do well in school, and become the accomplished person she is today.

Whoa. What the??????

I read this section of the book and felt my sinking heart and panic.

 


I think you got the wrong message out of this story.  (And I'm a full-time WOHM, so I can see your point of view.) 

It wasn't her mom's being a SAHM that benefited her life so much, per se; it was the fact that her mom didn't divorce her dad after her dad was such a @#%&*.  I saw it as much more a condemnation of divorce than working outside the home. 

AND she did say that the arrangement came at a huge psychic cost to her mom--so she's completely acknowledging the tough choices women (especially mothers) have to make. 


"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#8 of 9 Old 03-24-2011, 01:41 PM
 
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I haven't read the book yet (about to, just checked the e-book out from my library...yay for modern technology!), but the OP's issue with Gilbert saying her life was better after her mom became a SAHM?  I can relate to that. 

 

Not sure of the context, since I haven't read it yet, but my mom was a WOHM til I was 8, then a SAHM.  While giving up her career was in the end a disastrous choice for my mother's mental and emotional health, I preferred the SAHM dynamic to the WOHM dynamic from a child's perspective.  Seeing the difference as a child helped me make the decision in high school to definitely be a SAHM.  I have been both, now, and I still prefer SAHM.  I think that is a personal decision.  My mother, for example, should have never become a SAHM.  She's much happier working and she needs the socialization and drama that comes with being around other people all day.  I did not like or need that, so SAHM goes better with my personality. 

 

We just have to find what works for us and fits us as people.  Right now, I'm a SAHM (and very poor, since I'm single and in school and still forging my career path) trying to form that into an entrepreneurial WAHM sitch.  I do not do well as someone else's employee. 

 

We each have our path and I hope, OP, you can find something that leaves you in greater inner peace about how you parent. 


Yes, yes.  I'm fabulous. loveeyes.gif  Moving on...

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#9 of 9 Old 07-01-2011, 06:48 PM
 
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I'm reading this now, almost at the end.  I think what Gilbert is trying to puzzle out in the scene the OP describes is the fact that it was much better FOR THE KIDS that her mom stayed home, but would have been much better FOR HER MOM to keep working-hence, women are constantly pulled in two different directions, to do what is best for them OR what is best for kids, because rarely are those the same thing.  That, at least, is what I took from it and seems to play a large role in why the author is not interested in having children, because she does not want to have to make that choice. 

 

I'm a WAHM, mostly a SAHM who works part-time from home. Personally, I love staying at home and don't feel pulled to work outside the home at this point, so I found myself getting annoyed at the implication that women must WOH in order to feel fulfilled, but I do agree that too often women feel like they have to give up their whole selves to be a good mother. 

 

Very interesting read, I am enjoying it!  I was actually really worried that Felipe was going to be portrayed as this perfect, romantic man, so I really like that she expounded upon some of his faults and some of their difficulties to make the relationship a little more realistic.


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