Summer 2014 • Vol. XXXVI No. 3 Nonfiction |

On Being a Mother

After you acclimate to the sleep deprivation and the constant monitoring, the self-control to deny your own inherited impulses, the gentle management of some kind of hierarchy of development (create a space in which they feel safe, then teach them boundaries, then sensitivity to others, then how to delay gratification, and so on), you realize what you have done is bring another human being into a world of intractable cruelty. You prepare this child to become an adult, to somehow become capable of giving more than he takes from others, but realize, in the end, the purity of your intentions is in its own way unforgiving. And so then you try to raise a child who can somehow live at peace with himself. And then you realize this also may be impossible.   Not quite three months after my first son was born, I went to New York to help a scholar develop his book manuscript. It was the first year of an annual fellowship in which scholars were paired with editors in writing their firs

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