A Changing Marriage (Kensington, February) is a Valentine’s Day card for stay-at-home mothers. In Susan Kietzman’s new book, she describes in detail the work that goes into being the underappreciated mother of two and the wife of a work-obsessed husband.
Karen and Bob Parsons were college sweethearts. The first flush of love lasted from their meeting in college to their perfect wedding to when Karen became pregnant with their first child, Rebecca. That is where the romance stopped and, in Karen’s mind, the drudgery began. She loves her children — son Robert joined the family a few years later — but the first word she thought about when her children were finally in elementary school was “freedom.”
It wouldn’t have been so bad, Karen thought, if Bob had helped around the house and with the kids. He, however, was hell-bent on making his mark in the paper products business. He traveled and traveled and traveled some more, put in long hours at the office, and entertained a constant stream of clients. When he was home, he was tired. As was Karen. (It’s hard to think poor Karen without also thinking poor Rebecca and Robert.)
After Keitzman meticulously details the relationship from college to thirteen years later, she asks what kind of a marriage do Karen and Bob now have? Have they grown so far apart that there is no possibility of finding their way back to the infatuation they first felt? Who is to blame for the alienation, and how do they stop it from growing out of control? Not only is their love elusive but so is their sense of humor.
Every once in a while, the calculation surfaces on the Internet of what a stay-at-home mom is worth. She is a part-time chauffeur, chef, laundress, maid, teacher, nurse, etc., and that adds up to a pretty penny. But like the question of whether a tree falling in the forest makes a sound if there is no one around to hear it, is Karen worth anything if there is no one around to appreciate her?
This is not the typical romantic story of boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy and girl fight, and everything ends with sighs and giddy romps by the last page. Keitzman fastidiously depicts the melancholic disintegration of a marriage and a woman’s yearning for identity.
Cover Image: http://www.pacificresort.com/aitutaki-special-offers#
Frustrated Mom: http://hecticparents.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/mom-frustrated-by-depressed-daughter.jpg
Parents and kids: http://beginnersinvest.about.com/b/2011/12/15/the-press-and-government-now-consider-a-family-earning-45000-to-be-low-income.htm
Wedding Rings: http://www.healthforthewholeself.com/2011/04/one-thousand-days-of-wedded-bliss/