AMY SOHN Dispatches from the motherland.

Photo by Charles Miller.

AGE   38

HOMETOWN   Brooklyn, NY

@TWITTER   @amysohn



DAY JOB   Author

(Don’t miss our give away of Amy’s latest book, Motherland: A Novel.)


FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK   What children’s book is a favorite in your house and why? 

I loved The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. It’s a trick book, with lots of clever word play and codes. I started it with my daughter but she’s a little young. I can’t wait till this year when she’ll be old enough for it.

HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY? How have you, or you and your partner, arranged your life/schedule to provide the daily care for your kid(s)?

I am the primary breadwinner most years — my husband is an artist. Because of this, for the past four years (since my daughter started nursery school) he has been the one to pick her up and take care of her in the afternoons. I’d say 80-90% of the time. For drop-off we switch off or take her together. On weekends we sometimes switch off since that’s his time to get in his studio and work. Before she was in nursery school, we had a part-time nanny (two days a week), but when she was in school it was too expensive. One of many wonderful things about having an only child is that child care costs peak and then rapidly decrease.

HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL? For instance are you now careful, when pre-children you led bungee jumping and sky diving expeditions?

I am much more cautious crossing the street, both when I am with her and alone. Same thing with rushing for subways or down subway stairs. I worry a thousand percent more, everything from specific worries to generalized “Will she always be OK?” worries. I worry far more about her than I ever worried about myself and that’s saying a lot because I’m neurotic.

My sleep has never returned to pre-parenthood levels of rest, though I have learned a new skill, which is the ability to fall back asleep after waking up. I worried I wouldn’t know how to do it but it was natural.

IF PARTNERED, HOW HAS PARENTING AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP? How often do you have sex? Is it enough? How do you communicate differently (if at all)?

I am in awe of what an amazing parent my husband is. I watch the way he navigates and I learn from him as a co-parent. I feel extremely grateful to him for allowing me to do my work and being such an attentive caregiver. It’s definitely harder to be romantic and spend time alone but we’re not self-sacrificing (not usually) and try to get out at least a couple times a month when money allows.


I try to pretend I am a babysitter when I’m with my daughter. What I mean by that is that even though my babysitting years were two decades ago plus, I feel in tune with the spirit of fun I had as a teenaged au pair and sitter. When I’m with her I try to be that person, whether playing a game or taking a walk or doing rubber-band games or cat’s cradle. I love the wonder she gets on her face when I teach her these new things. I try not to stick to the same routine of playground, bookstore, lunch even if it’s more trouble for me to plan more. We leave the neighborhood and take buses and subways so that “how we get there” is part of it. I also love going to the theater with her.

My weaknesses are I get frustrated easily, particularly when she’s being difficult. I am not assertive enough, and I don’t know what effective punishments are. I give in easily and feel demoralized when she doesn’t listen.

WHO ELSE PROVIDES CHILDCARE FOR YOUR CHILDREN? Do you have unpaid family or friends providing help or do you have paid nannies/babysitters/au pairs?

My parents babysit about once a week, sometimes less. We have one regular babysitter who is usually available when we need her. We are going to start working some other ones into the rotation. My daughter also goes over to friends’ houses for play dates or sleepovers.


I have so many, hard to choose. Probably when I do name-calling because she’s frustrating me. “You’re being a brat!” isn’t as productive as “You’re acting bratty.” I try to be conscious of it and describe the behavior when I can.


We like to go on adventures. Just trying to set a little goal like “We’ll buy popsicles and I’ll teach you how to play Ms. Pacman at People’s Pops”, to make a walk to the Food Coop less of a chore.

Lisa Duggan

Lisa Duggan is the Founder and CEO of The Modern Village, and publisher of and

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