Do women really need to choose between motherhood and art?

If a woman feels she can’t do her work and be a mother, the problem is not motherhood: it’s her partner

The long mulled-over questions of whether a woman can be an artist, or funny, or even a human being, have been, I am happy to confirm, decidedly settled by this point in time. But what about mothers: can they be artists? This still seems a debatable issue.

In Sheila Heti’s new book, Motherhood, the narrator is a Canadian writer in her mid-30s who is ambivalent about having children: she worries that motherhood would affect her writing vocation. (Heti, as it happens, was a Canadian writer in her mid-30s when she wrote the book.) A review in the New Yorker appeared to agree with this thesis: “Writing depends on hoarding time, on putting up a boundary (often at home) between oneself and the immediate world around in order to visit a separate one in the mind. A mother must make herself always available. A writer needs to shut the door.”

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