The non-fiction narrative on motherhood is filled with cultural and classist archetypes that centre more on the physical aspects of having a child ending each day with the usual battle over bedtime and frazzled mums collapsing onto the sofa with a glass of wine and/or chocolate. Reflecting a reality for a small group, you’ll be hard pushed to find a book that truly sums up different experiences of the challenges of mothering from pre-conception till you’re old and grey. Fortunately, such a book exists.
Walking women through thinking about being ready to be a mother, to conceiving or adopting, pregnancy, and so on and so forth, Milestones of Motherhood’s premise is to put us in touch with the different aspects of parenting, motherhood specifically, and how this features in varying ways in a woman’s life. With quotes and contributions from mothers at every stage of the journey, the book is sharing experiences and feelings that will relate pretty universally for most women.
Mothering is an immense investment – one not to be taken lightly – and whichever way a woman becomes a mother, Milestones of Motherhood elucidates it as one of the greatest learning experiences of our lives. Few books strike me so deeply as to force me to change and evaluate my approach to parenting; I’ve always struggled with it internally and it’s taken me years to finally get into a good flow. Yet, the compassion that Clare Cooper exudes in her writing coupled with touching anecdotes will trigger an introspection into how we feel about ourselves as mothers, while also opening our eyes that the myriad of emotions we undergo isn’t new or unique, but one that every one of us will experience throughout our lives.
So great was the impact of this book that when I mentioned the very simple notion to another mum that being a mother, and in general a parent, is often being in the moment with our kids as opposed to the neverending task list we’re ticking off, it also changed her approach, at least for that day. What struck me most with the book was that it honed in on the parts of motherhood that apply only to women, as opposed to wrapping up motherhood with the mental load of family dynamics and logistics which, in reality, can and should be shared equally with partners. Popular cultural norms surrounding middle-class motherhood are generally quite narrow-minded and sexist applying only to a select few, yet seem to have sadly become the aspiring definers for many women with children.
Milestones of Motherhood is more focused on women who want or have children to get in touch with the mental and emotional side of motherhood, to not let ourselves be defined by the external pressures placed on women and that successful parenting is more about the mindset than anything else. Clare Cooper’s message here is that women are celebrated in the various stages of this life-changing journey.
- I had the chance to read and proofread Milestones of Motherhood from Nottingham-based publisher, Mother’s Milk Books, run by Teika Bellamy. The book can be purchased here for £14.99.
- Publisher: Mother’s Milk Books
- ISBN: 9781916243712
- Number of pages: 358