When I wrote my Sunday blog about Holly Willoughby on 17th November last year, I never imagined for a moment that four months later I’d be sitting with her (and Philip the silver fox) on the This Morning sofa. But, call me psychic, I did predict that she’d soon be ‘blooming’. For those of you who don’t follow celebrity news, Holly announced last week that she’s pregnant with baby number 3. And for those of you who don’t watch This Morning, I went on the show this week to talk about my book.
Afterwards someone tweeted how hard it must have been for me to be interviewed by Holly knowing her news. Like me, that person, has probably experienced how crippling other people’s baby announcements can be. The familiar crumpling in your chest when another friend tells you that they’re pregnant. The sense of injustice that everyone else seems to find it so easy.
But although it was hard, I also want to say that Holly was lovely. She really was. I was there to chat about my so called ‘IVF addiction’: the hit of hope I can’t give up that has caused nothing but debt and disappointment. But before the cameras rolled she leaned across and said to me: ‘I’d do what you’ve done if I couldn’t have a baby. I really would’. And in that moment a mother and a non-mother were united in how important the pursuit of motherhood could be.
So this week’s question is a conundrum. Why is it so important? Is that the way it has to be?
Well done on the show!! Is there anyway to watch this online? I don’t have British TV so I couldn’t watch it..
As for your question, there are probably entire sociology books about it. I think the pursuit of motherhood is so important partly because that’s what we are expected to do as women. There is lots of pressure on women to become mothers, and we grow with the idea that we’ll be mothers one day. So we do all we can to match that image. But that’s not enough to justify all the energy and time we put into pursuing motherhood. There is more and that’s – at least in my case – a huge desire to have a child and a family. I want to be the person a child runs towards when lost, the person who will take care of them etc. That is my biggest dream and I will fight for it not caring if people call me addicted or crazy or whatever!
I should have the interview up on my website soon. I’ll let you know as soon as it is so you can watch it there. I think you’re so right about what we, as women, expect from our lives and the pressure there is to fulfil that. But like you I also desperately want to feel that bond that I imagine only exists between parents and their children. The image I can’t give up is sitting round a big table eating, drinking, laughing (and if that table could be in Italy even better!) Jessica x
I wonder if it was different before the infertility treatment boom (no treatments) — and when extended families were tighter — when it was far more common for the extended family to have a number of childless people/families who were very involved in the raising the children of siblings, etc. (My father in law grew up as the only child in an extended family who all lived around the stairwell of a classic Edinburgh tenement. He was raised by a loving, generous mob). And it was probably different back when women knew that childbirth was very likely to kill them, or that pursuing certain careers ruled out family. Which is to say that if women in the past found rich, fulfilling ways to live without bearing children, women today who have been through that difficult journey can also find ways to bond with children, to nurture, and to triumph in other avenues in life. But this is all very intellectual–on a visceral level, I dearly want this experience for my friends, and for my children. And that’s why your book is so important, Jessica. Congrats on taking the world by storm, and overtaking JKR on the Amazon list!!
I know who’d have thought it. Me and JKR and Bob the cat! Everything you say is so true. I’m looking forward to meeting and talking much more later today. Jessica x