Life's Work is the story of one woman's search for balance -- and the realization that it can't be found. It is the story of modern motherhood, where true happiness is often reached when you finally give up and give in.
A few years ago, while trying to make sense of her own hectic world, award-winning journalist Lisa Belkin was asked to write a very personal column for The New York Times. She called it "Life's Work" because it was about the intersection -- or, more accurately, the collision -- of life and work.
Since then she's been inundated with stories of other people trying to catch their "balance": the CEO father-to-be who restructured his entire company so he would have time to see his baby, the divorced mom who thought she might have to give away the family iguana because the store that sold live food closed before she got home from work. But after hundreds of columns and thousands of reader e-mails, Belkin has yet to hear from a single person who has everything neatly under control. Finally, while trying to confer with her editor from a cell phone in her pediatrician's office, she reached an epiphany: No one can do it because it can't be done.
With natural wit and hard-won wisdom, Belkin takes on the myth of the Supermom. Fans of her "Life's Work" columns will find them at the heart of this book, but they will also find the life lived behind those columns -- stories of her husband, who really deserves more attention; of her two young sons, who might eat more vegetables and fewer chicken nuggets if she had more energy; of her editors, who expect her to fit some work into a day filled with school plays and science projects; and of her mother, who is always happy to offer advice about how things used to be. The book that results is a conversation between a columnist and her readership, between a work-from-home mom and her generation.
Lisa Belkin's Life's Work speaks to anyone trying to find meaning in a world where work has become life (and vice versa). Hers is the funny, poignant, and always dead-on story of trying to do it all...and learning that doing just some of it is enough.
Belkin, the New York Times's "Life's Work" columnist, has gathered some previously published pieces with some new material for a lighthearted look at many career moms' reality: juggling career, kids and personal needs. No one can give 100% to each, Belkin reassures, so "let's start by forgiving ourselves when we can't do it." To get readers in the mood, Belkin shares her own worst moments: potty training her son while on the phone with "Very Important Sources," having to finish work on some galleys at gasp! the pediatrician's office and her son's tantrums at discovering his work-at-home mom wasn't available for play. Tears at work, morning sickness, breast pumping, laptop addiction, work addiction Belkin at least mentions all the usual career-mom issues. But since the entries are only a few pages long, treatment can be disappointingly superficial: when stressed at work, eat a chocolate; consider buying a second computer for kids to channel them away from Mom's. Hidden in all the feel-better solidarity are some valuable nuggets. Describing the importance of the nanny/babysitter's happiness to her own mental health, Belkin identifies a feeling many women share, but rarely discuss. Also on target is her observation that her mother's generation "did it all," but serially first the family, then the career. Despite its old-hat thesis, Belkin's book will serve as a pick-me-up to some career mothers in need of sympathy.