In her triptych presentation of how her life is, how it was, and how it will be, the mother/former lawyer/self-professed “big liar” at the story’s center seems to be telling us the truth. Remarkably, we are closer to her because of our distance as readers, part of an intimate circle to which she cannot tell lies. Through her wry and desperate confessions, propelled by the daily absurdities of motherhood, she is still slicing with words, but now her opponent is herself.
I am reminded of my years as an undergraduate at a women’s college, where I was inundated with workshops and lectures about balancing career and family, and the polarization of feminists regarding this issue. More often than not, these discussions concluded with the diplomatic sentiment, “Feminism is about the right to choose, not the choice.” Similarly, “How It Is” is about the choice that so many women make, and the isolation not of one path or the other, but of living with the choice, and living with oneself.