Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Her Blighted World

A couple days ago, I came across this piece about mid-life crises among women called "The 40-Year-Old Reversion." The author, Amy Sohn, writes:
Why do moms in my generation regress, whether by drugging, cheating, or going out too late and too often? Because everything our children thrive on—stability, routine, lack of flux, love, well-paired parents—feels like death to those entrusted with their care. This is why they start drinking at wine o’clock, which is so dubbed not only because it coincides with whine o’clock but because it can begin at six p.m., or five, or even four. (Though the four o’clock mothers wind up in A.A.) I know a mom who drinks only on the weekends because she thinks it’s more responsible… but she starts with a mimosa at brunch on Saturday at eleven, and doesn’t stop until her Sunday night television shows are over.

My new novel, Motherland, is about five New York City parents who act out mid-life through adultery, marijuana or Grindr. The characters are inspired by my neighbors, who seek liberation not through consciousness-raising and EST the way their mothers did, but through Fifty Shades of Grey and body shots. They arrive home from girls' nights at three a.m. on a weeknight and then complain about hangovers at school dropoff. (And this regression is not confined to upscale neighborhoods in New York City—I hear similar stories from friends in Los Feliz, Montclair and Rye.) In flux, jaded by parenthood, confused about work and life, mothers are bored. So we rebel, just like bored adolescents—except adolescents, at least, can say they are acting their age.
 She adds:
About a quarter of the married moms I know have cheated in some form. If anyone says, “I have a great marriage but it takes a lot of work” it means they’ve cheated.

Yes, there are Brooklyn parents who have actual intercourse with their spouses, but it’s usually because one of them is on Wellbutrin, or French. Ninety percent of the sex being had in brownstone Brooklyn is by French ex-pats, and you can’t count that because they all have lovers back in Paris and it makes them generous. 
* * *

If married parents sound like they are misbehaving, they are chaste in comparison to divorced parents, the biggest Regressives of all. The divorced regressed themselves right out of their marriages and now they’re playing the field. Nothing wrong with that, except they want to tell you all about it. Divorced mothers have the sex drive of fifteen-year-old boys. They go all the way on the first date, because they still have IUDs left inside from their marriages, and then they corner you at parties to ask advice about eHarmony.
Maybe it is my own bias, but when I read the article, I had a mental image of a group of liberals, bitterly clinging to their drugs and sex, that wouldn't be caught dead in "flyover country." It also brought to mind this op-ed on the declining morality of our public and financial leaders, except describing it on a more personal level. I also found it disturbing that the author seemed to regard this behavior as normal and typical. But, then again, perhaps it is among her circle of friends.

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