A Canadian anesthesiologist and mother argues in this memoir that it’s impossible for women to combine an ambitious career and a family without making sacrifices.
Sylwestrowicz, 48, has been an anesthesiologist with a subspecialty in trauma for more than 20 years, and she has three children from her first marriage and two stepchildren from her current one. In her debut memoir, she describes growing up as the only child of Polish immigrants, an obstetrician father and a chemical engineer mother who was completely devoted to her while working full-time and running the household. Though the author grew up believing she could do anything she wanted to do and succeeded in a male-dominated field while raising children, she makes the case, through her own story and interviews with friends, that “in reality, there is no such thing as balance for a woman who is trying to be a working professional and raise a family.” Young women, particularly those considering demanding medical careers, will end up shouldering most of the caregiving, she says, and she recommends more flexible employment options, such as job sharing. She also admits to her own stubbornness and perfectionism, which have created problems in her life. Sylwestrowicz tends to point out obvious truths, such as that child care is demanding and that one must still co-parent after a divorce, and her book suffers from repetition. It also seems tone-deaf to matters of privilege, conceding that a $200,000 yearly salary “sounds like a great deal of money” and that spending $60,000 a year on private school “is a complete luxury,” but also noting that “you are not left with much savings” after expenses; many working families would be happy to have any money left over to put in savings, and can’t afford a nanny to help. However, the author does offer a valuable Canadian perspective, as most other books on this subject assume an American audience and legal system.
The best points are the most obvious ones in this flawed, repetitive work.