Zibby Mag

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Author Snapshot: Jessica Grose

Friday, December 09, 2022

Book jacket biographies don’t tell us nearly enough about the authors we love. That’s why Zibby Mag launched the Author Snapshot, giving readers an inside look at the lives and work of our favorite writers.

This week we’re spotlighting Jessica Grose, an opinion writer at the New York Times whose new book, Screaming on the Inside: The Unsustainability of American Motherhood, released this past week. Read an excerpt of the book here!

What inspired you to write Screaming on the Inside? How did you know it was the right time for this book?

I have been thinking about these ideas since I had my older daughter, who is about to turn ten. I had a very difficult pregnancy with her, and I saw firsthand how American society is not built for modern caregivers. The pandemic really crystallized my ideas, because so many more people realized that when institutions fell apart, mothers were often the ones expected to pick up the pieces without complaint. I wrote the proposal in the summer of 2020, because I was so heartbroken and infuriated.

Did your writing process for Screaming on the Inside change at all from your first few books?

There were some similarities and some differences. When I am in writing mode on any book project, I give myself a word-count goal each day. It’s usually either 1,000 or 2,000 words. But this book required a ton of research, so I read and did a bunch of reporting before writing. The process was still chapter by chapter, and I had sketched out the basic structure when I wrote the proposal, which I mostly stuck to. For example, I would do research for the pregnancy chapter and then write that chapter. If there were bits and pieces that fit better in other chapters, I would save those ideas.

Do you prefer to write essays/articles or books and why?

I enjoy immediate gratification so essays are more satisfying. The stakes are much higher with a book, which is scarier!

Why do you think unrealistic parenting expectations land more on mothers than fathers? What would it take for that to change?

Mothers have been considered the primary parent for eons, and we have so many preconceived notions of what a mother “should be.” There are fewer fixed expectations on dads, and so their parenting behaviors are much less scrutinized. A lot would need to change politically, at work, and culturally for that perception to change.

What is the main thing you’d love to change about parenting in America?

I would give all parents paid leave when they welcome a new child into their home. Everyone deserves time to bond with a new family member without the anxiety that they will not be able to pay their bills.

What hope can you offer parents on how to move past the unsustainability in parenting to something better?

Every day I am inspired by changes I see. There is so much happening politically on the state level, and by parents who are banding together in their workplaces and communities to change those systems for the better. It can seem like nothing ever changes when you’re struggling to get through the day with young kids, but I have so much hope for the future.