The Years That Ask

I find myself disappointed when I learn that a woman I admire has kids. Like when I read Heidi Julavits’ memoir, “A Folded Clock,” I was excited when she describes an abortion. “Maybe she doesn’t have kids!” came a gleeful shout from somewhere inside me. She does, I discovered a few chapters later, and my heart sank a bit. Listening to an episode of Krista Tippett’s podcast, On Being, I had the same experience. “I wonder if she has kids?” She’s so wise and successful. I Googled for the answer. She does (two). Cue disappointment.

(read more…)

What Being a Very New Mother Feels Like

It feels like when I’m happy — even gleeful — to be apart, some little interior elf is also uneasily missing her. When I return to find her safe and happy, I’m momentarily thrilled before becoming frustrated at the unrelenting grind of her care.

It feels like trying to describe your “interesting” dream to someone. (read more…)

The Mother of All Questions

Hi! It’s been a minute.

This is just a quick post to say that we’re coming back, for a limited time, with a mini-season around a central theme: parenthood and children.

Why this theme? Two reasons. (read more…)

Goodbye for Now

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Today is the third birthday of this site. It started as an outgrowth of our career group, and turned into a place to talk about the personal backstories behind big life choices. We’ve devoted hundreds and hundreds of happy hours to it in that time, writing pieces, recruiting and editing guest authors, and making it into a site we were proud of. And now we have some news to share, which is that we’re going to stop publishing Small Answers (at least for now). (read more…)

ABCs for a Happy Life

ABCs_allAt the age of six, my sister told a stranger, “Don’t have a lugubrious day!” Even at a young age, she knew big words. She and my mom would practice vocabulary and would always stop to look up unfamiliar words when reading. They enjoyed distinguishing shades of meaning between similar words.

This was their thing; I didn’t bother. I read for plot, easily skipping over gaping, unfamiliar words. If I could understand the general meaning of the sentence, I wasn’t bothered by a quick skip over a missing word here or there. When it came time to study for the SATs, this attitude showed. I spent a bit of time with flash cards to make up for this. I learned the meaning of obdurate and lachrymose (words that my mom was shocked that I hadn’t known by then). Yet, even with new this new vocab, I didn’t fully understand the importance of words and their power to shape how we see ourselves and the world. (read more…)