Today is Mother’s Day (in the UK). It would be churlish not to mention it and if you fancy reading my take on the subject do have a look at my inaugural article on Huffington Post.
But for my regular Sunday blog instead of focusing on the card I didn’t get, I want to try and answer the question I posed last week – why is the pursuit of motherhood so important for so many women?
Last year, I read Hilary Mantel’s memoir Giving Up the Ghost in which she writes movingly about her own struggle with infertility. And because retweeting is the highest form of flattery, I want to share a bit with you here.
‘People romance about their children long before they are born – long before and long after. They name and rename them. They see them as their second chances ‘a chance to get it right this time’, as if they were able to give birth to themselves. They have children to compensate themselves for the things they didn’t do or didn’t get in their own early life. They conceive because they feel impelled to make up, to a non-existent person, for a loss they themselves have suffered. Children are born because their parents feel the defects in themselves, and want to mend them; or because they are bored; or because they feel in some mysterious way it is time to have children, and that if they don’t have them their lives will begin to leak meaning away. Some women have babies to give a present to their own mother, or prove themselves her equal. Motives are seldom simple and never pure.’
Hilary – I high five you. Our longing to have children is complex. We’re not animals or ticking clocks. It’s as much about our psychology as it is about our biology. It’s about us, not them.
So this week’s question – at the end of Mother’s Day 2014 – is what are we celebrating? Is it what our mothers have given us? Or what we have given them?