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Jody said that the worst thing about being a woman is being judged so heavily on appearance, a truth so universally acknowledged and despised that we could have spent the rest of the evening expanding upon it. But then Christina brought up an idea that caught our attention even more forcefully—that the best and worst things about being a woman are the same: the way we feel drawn to caring for others, and the way this impulse becomes so much larger and stronger and more consuming once we have children. It's one of the truths at the center of my book: Motherhood brings with it a clear and compelling awareness of human vulnerability, and a sense of having been charged with the care of others. The dream that most women have—of having children someday, of being at the center of a family—is one of the most powerful impulses in the world, yet it is also a destroyer of dreams, of ambition, and that fact is a hard and sometimes bitter truth about being female. Fortunately, there was more than enough Chardonnay—not to mention some sensational crab cakes—to take the sting out of the human condition, and we shored ourselves up, as women always do.

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