How deep is our desire to do better than our mothers--to bring daughters into adulthood strong and fierce yet loving and gentle, adventurous and competitive but still nurturing and friendly, sweet yet sharp. We know as working women that we can't quite have it all, but that hasn't stopped us from wanting it all for them.
We were not always 70, or rather our 70 is an accumulation of all the other ways we were. Our 5-year-old selves became our 10-year-old selves, and so on and on; and if we unpack our selves, the full album appears. Every moment is a part of the following moment, and we are all a continuum.
I think that certainly the artists of the '40s, '50s and '60s were fighting a very conformist society, which didn't give them enough space to live or create, and they were bucking all kinds of spoken and unspoken rules.
There is cruelty in divorce. There is cruelty in forced or unfortunate marriage. We will continue to cry at weddings because we know how bittersweet, how fragile is the truth. We will always need legal divorce just as an emergency escape hatch is crucial in every submarine. No sense, however, in denying that after every divorce someone will be running like a cat, tin cans tied to its tail: spooked and slowed down.
I believe that it is our human right to be parents and women. And there's no contradiction between feminism, which means women should have all that they are entitled to, all that they can do, all the opportunities that they can take advantage of they should have.
We have to recognize that it is a very, very painful thing for people to be exposed to their social community, to be exposed in the world, as not what they would have wanted to be seen as. This is very painful and difficult for people.
Most of us don't have mothers who blazed a trail for us--at least, not all the way. Coming of age before or during the inception of the women's movement, whether as working parents or homemakers, whether married or divorced, our mothers faced conundrums--what should they be? how should they act?--that became our uncertainties.
Everybody is bound by some social rules. But I think that artists need some kind of freedom to explore their minds and that some of them tend to take that freedom to live a little more openly or a little more dangerously, sometimes a lot more self-destructively, than other people.
We also have to make sure our children know the history of women. Tell them the rotten truth: It wasn't always possible for women to become doctors or managers or insurance people. Let them be armed with a true picture of the way we want it to be.
However, there probably is a slight connection between the high-wire, super sensitivity, open to everything and too much, and slightly fragile soul of the artist and the need to self-medicate, which can lead to bad trouble either in drugs, or alcohol. So it's not that there's no connection, it's just that we can't make too much of it because it isn't the addiction that's the issue, it's the fragility of some people who do artistic work, who end up in rehab somewhere or other.
You have to have a certain kind of thickening of the hide. I mean, I'm not particularly worried about what other people think. If other people think that I was not the world's most perfect mother, they are completely right.
My mother had died when I wrote my first book. I was twenty-seven, so it was right at the beginning of my writing life. I don't know if she had lived, if I would have done it, certainly not quite like I did. But, you can't rethink it. You wrote what you wrote, it meant something to other people, and that's your good.
They want to play at being mothers. So let them. Expressing tenderness in their own way will not prevent girls from enjoying a successful career in the future; indeed, the ability to nurture is as valuable a skill in the workplace as the ability to lead.
You need your freedom. You need to be able to do what you want to do as a journalist, as a person who's speaking for other women as you speak for yourself, and you make a choice. You have to be tough enough to take the consequences of that choice.
I don't really think it comes as a shock to every writer if somebody in their family is mad at them. Yes, it's very upsetting. But it's inherent in the process of trying to make sense of one's life, which is what I think is perhaps at the bottom of writing at all.
I think it is a good thing to have woman friends at every stage of life. We confide in each other, we support each other, we understand each other most of the time. Of course, sometimes we are competitive or angry or distant, too. But I do think it is important not to let the main friendships slip away in the sweep of the days.
Sometimes what we call love is just a settling of old scores, or a seeking of forbidden pain, or a circuitous path to the kingdom of cruelty, or she may simply have confused lack of capital with heroism while searching for rescue without knowing from what.
I have always been fascinated by the human mind, conscious and unconscious - that is what writing and reading is about, too. The why of your life and the why of your choices and the what has happened that you know and the what that you don't know is really riveting, and psychoanalysts share my wonder at how it all unfolds.