Wednesday, November 22, 2006

NOBODY'S MOTHER Life Without Kids

I was crossing the Strait of Georgia in the Queen of Oak Bay - in gale force winds. The ship slamming about, most of the passengers feeling mildly seasick and boredom led me to pick up a BC Books magazine covering the latest offerings from BC authors.

I came across the full foreword Shelagh Rogers had written as her contribution to a new book edited by Lynne Van Luven: NOBODY'S MOTHER Life Without Kids.

Rogers forward was gripping. I can't normally say that about forwards to books because I rarely actually read them. In this instance, however, I had the foreword and no book. This excerpt provides the flavour of Shelagh's contribution:

“There are a lot of things I feel I am grasping at last: being comfortable in my own skin, beginning to feel oddly sexy at a time when Germaine Greer says women become invisible to society. I am excited about what the next act will bring. There's some mystery to it. But one thing I know for sure: it will not bring children I bear myself. And finally, I am happy with that."
The next day, driving south on Vancouver Island, I was listening to Shelagh Rogers' program on CBC. By coincidence she was interviewing the author and some of the contributors to the book. The whole program was fascinating.

Three women who, for reasons of their own, had each made a conscious decision not to have children. And, the social assault they each endured because they had not lived up to a "family model" or a "woman's purpose" laid out for them - by others. They described the questions:

- So, when are you going to have kids?
- Don’t leave it too long; it gets harder after 30.
- Can I expect a grandchild any time soon?
All the same questions. And, yes, I'm familiar with them.

Today’s young women are better educated and more independent than they have ever been; yet many of them still grapple with questions about society and their role within it. They wonder how best to combine their careers with satisfactory private lives. They are skeptical about feminism and unsure about their futures. Popular media has inundated them with a conflicting miscellany of terms: the Glass Ceiling; the Mommy Track; Double Income No Kids (DINK); and perhaps most unnerving of all, the Yummy Mummy.

In Nobody's Mother: Life Without Kids, editor Lynne Van Luven has brought together a thoughtful group of 21 women of various ages and backgrounds whose frank essays about being childless are probing, provocative and entertaining. Some of the essayists are child-free intentionally, some by circumstance, some by a simple twist of fate. But all the contributors to this lively anthology have one thing in common: they are content with their lives and do not view themselves as freaks or failures because they have not had children.
I haven't read the book yet, but after Shelagh Rogers' foreword and listening to the books contributors and editor on her show, I'll be looking forward to it.

Perhaps I can get Cheryl to do a report on it... since she could have been a very determined contributor.

Note: Error in the spelling of "foreword" corrected. All other grammatical errors will remain for aesthetic purposes.

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