Of course raising children is a lot of hard work, but I don't see why it's supposed to be so virtuous to do work that you created for yourself out of purely your own self interest. It's like someone who digs a big hole in the middle of a busy intersection, and then starts filling it up again, and proclaims 'Filling up this hole is the most important thing in the world I could be doing right now.'
I visited three of my former students in Boston last week. One of them is at Concord Academy, so I visited the always lovely Concord Bookshop.
I read Heti's first book, How Should a Person Be?, last summer. I enjoyed it enough that I bought her newest book, Motherhood (published in 2018). At the core of this book is the question of how one decides whether or not to become a parent. There is so much written about parenting, but perhaps not as much written about the decision to become a parent. My best friend told me that her parents made a pros/cons list. Heti's book is essentially an elaborate, 300 page pros/cons list. The 37 year old, female narrator in Motherhood struggles for years to make an ethical, informed choice about whether to have a child with her partner. Heti's new book is well written and thought-provoking in its philosophical meanderings about the extent to which children can/can't create meaning in life. I appreciate Heti's blatant disregard for the constraints of genre: like her first book, Motherhood is neither fiction nor non-fiction, but some strange world in between. There are annoying things about the book too: (1) I got tired of reading about the narrator's dreams all the time--there's a lot of self therapizing going on here, (2) this is basically 300 pages of privileged, well-educated, white woman angst. Goodreads users have called the book "navel gazing," "narcissistic," and "self involved" (and, for what it's worth, I don't disagree).
Heti decides not to have a child. I think this is part of the reason why I like the book. For married women of child bearing age, the decision not to have a child is infinitely more interesting than the decision to have a child (and perhaps more brave too).