Tuesday 2 May 2006

my 15 minutes

'A child has to benefit from having parents who waited'

Tuesday May 2, 2006
The Guardian

Lisa Durbin became a mother at 36 when she gave birth to Jack, now 14 months. She is Canadian, a technical author and lives in Cambridgeshire with her husband, Paul, a software test manager

When I was in my 20s, the longest relationship I had lasted eight years - and that was with a man who didn't want children. It wasn't a serious issue; I didn't feel ready to have kids, but couldn't say that I never wanted them.

My 30th birthday came and went and I was single. I met my husband when I was 33 and when things started to get serious, I was pleased - and relieved - to learn that he wanted kids. I still wasn't sure that I was ready to be a mum, but at least it was an option in this relationship. It wasn't until various things fell into place that I became certain I wanted to have a child. We got engaged, I had a job I thoroughly enjoyed, I bought my first car and house, but most importantly, I felt secure about my life for the first time.

In my 20s, I was in no way prepared to have a baby. I barely took care of myself - I smoked a packet of cigarettes a day and was four and a half stone overweight - how could I possibly be responsible for the welfare of another human being? I made a meagre hourly wage at a bookshop and my partner only worked part-time. I had two pet turtles; they both died from neglect. Now I can afford to take time off work to care for my son, and I am in an amazingly strong relationship that has endured the many stresses of pregnancy, birth, and parenthood. Almost all of my friends didn't become mothers until their 30s for various reasons. Mostly they didn't meet their current partners until later and that had a big role to play in their decision to wait.

I am the daughter of young parents (my mother was 19 and my father 21), but this is a different era. How can children not benefit from having parents who waited until they were ready to have a baby, rather than women getting pregnant simply because they are a certain age? It boggles the mind. [source]

I got an email last week from Audrey Gillan, who identified herself as a journalist from The Guardian and was interested in what I had to say about being a mother in my thirties. She came across my blog (specifically, the ranty post I made in response to an article about "older" mothers "defying nature" by waiting to have children) and liked what I wrote - which I thought was a great compliment. It was all terribly exciting, especially when the photographer, David Rose, arrived unexpectedly and I looked like a dog's dinner and Jack was covered in a layer of yoghurt from supper. I said "Could I have five minutes, please?" and I dashed upstairs to slap on some makeup, comb my hair, and hose Jack down. Some 200 plus snaps later, David took some great shots and was absolutely lovely with Jack.

The whole experience was fantastic and Audrey is a hoot. I'm pleased that the blurb I wrote for the article is there in its entirety and wasn't edited down to three buzzwords. How wonderful that blogging can lead to something like this; allowing the opinions of an average person into a national newspaper. I never thought that I'd end up in a newspaper without the headline "Have You Seen This Woman" and accompanying article about the horrible crime I'd committed. My mother will be so proud.

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