It used to be a feminist mantra: you can do it all, successfully raise a family and have a career.

But Meg Wolitzer, the author of The Ten-Year Nap, a new novel about women who leave the workplace to care for their children, says the one-time noble goal doesn’t always work out in real life — and that is not a bad thing.

“Having everything is one of those cringe-worthy concepts that sound better than they actually are,” Wolitzer told Reuters.

“Is the point of life to amass a big jackpot? I think the point is the stuff that happens along the way.”

Wolitzer, 48, was brought up by a feminist mother, writer Hilma Wolitzer, who was adamant that women could have everything they wanted.

So she was fascinated by the number of women now opting to stay at home rather than pursue the career paths chiselled out by their feminist mothers and grandmothers, sparking the rise of the “mommy wars” between women who worked and those who stayed home.

Wolitzer herself wrote as she raised her two sons, now aged 17 and 13, and also taught creative writing.

The Ten-Year Nap, her eighth novel, focuses on some formerly high-achieving women from New York’s East Side who gave up their jobs to look after their children and 10 years later, with their children older, are deciding what to do with their lives and whether to return to work.

But these women face uncertainty over whether women can re-enter the workforce in a meaningful role after such a long break and raises questions over whether there has to be a choice between motherhood and career.

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