Mothering, Media, and Precarity
“It’s been brutal,” Carly told us when we met her at a neighborhood barbe-
cue joint to talk about her everyday life as a mother of three girls.1 Friendly
and pragmatic, Carly ordered a salad and beer and chatted with us for
over two hours, laughing easily as she detailed the day- to-day frustrations
of parenthood and candidly describing her family’s financial trou bles. In
just three short years, this thirty-four-year-old had married her husband,
become a stepmother, had two daughters of her own, abandoned her
“dream career,” found (and lost) a job as a marketer, weathered her hus-
band’s two layoffs, and taken on three young baby sitting charges to make
ends meet. In the meantime, Carly’s father, with whom she used to talk
for an hour daily, had passed away suddenly, and her mother had suffered
a small stroke.
Carly’s eve ning out with us was a temporary break from her normal day
of caretaking and, more broadly, from a life shaped by seemingly impossible
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