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`Flux' holds a mirror up to women's lives

May 30, 2000|By Susan Reimer

Whether she continues to work full-time, part-time or stays at home, a woman will over-invest in her kids, Orenstein writes, to defend herself against the dreaded "Bad Mother" accusa- tions and, in doing so, she will cut her husband further and further out of daily life and out of the family's emotional heart.

Can you guess the result?

A woman is stressed and pressed and half nuts, but she blames only herself. "If I had more energy ..." "If I were more organized ..."

The distance between her and her husband grows. She is irritated by his lack of participation but ultimately she excuses him because he is a better father than hers was.

"The Flux," ends with the reexamination that comes to men and women at mid-life. Orenstein concludes that women, out of ne- cessity, form a different definition of fulfillment than men do. Women find their sustenance in commun- ity involvement, personal growth and spirituality -- a path that might prove healthy for men.

Women of our generation started our adult lives with the promise that we would have all the choices. We don't. And the choices we have seem more like default settings. But maybe, as Orenstein suggests, we have the one choice that matters.

We can decide for ourselves what is success and what is failure.

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