I received an advance copy of Megan Stack’s stunning new book Women’s Work back in February and I have been dying to tell you all about it ever since.
This was a finish-in-a-weekend, couldn’t put it down kind of read. I almost never feel that way about non-fiction, but Stack writes so beautifully and immersively about her life abroad, as a foreign correspondent who quits her day job to have a baby and write a book… and then realizes its impossible to do both of those things without help. Stack explores her own postpartum depression and increasing isolation — as her husband’s professional life remains virtually unchanged by parenthood — and then, becomes absorbed in the lives of the migrant women she hires to take care of her children and home while she reclaims her career.
Hiring in-home help makes Stack complicit in an often exploitative system. She’s honest about her failings in this role and looks unflinchingly at the brutal reality of her employees’ lives; most have left their own children far behind in order to care for Stack’s. It’s a story that will feel uncomfortably familiar to any working mother, and I’m so grateful that Stack is instigating this conversation and asking tough questions — but without fueling any kind of Mommy Wars guilt. We all have a personal responsibility to behave ethically towards anyone we ask to care for our kids and home. But the real solution is for childcare and domestic work to stop being “women’s work,” and become society’s responsibility.
If you liked Stephanie Land’s Maid, this is an essential companion read.
For more, check out my interview with Stack up on Bitch Media.