The Motherhood

Jamila Rizvi

The Motherhood
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The Motherhood

Jamila Rizvi

‘Welcome to The Motherhood, my dear.’

After her son was born, Jamila Rizvi felt isolated, exhausted and confused. While desperately in love with her new baby, the world she’d known had disappeared overnight and so had her sense of self.

Jamila’s salvation came in the form of a letter. A dear friend, Clare Bowditch - who had been there herself - wrote to tell Jamila she would get through this. Her comforting words reassured Jamila that she was seen, that she was supported and that she was not alone.

Now Jamila wants to pay it forward to the next generation of new mothers. The Motherhood is a collection of letters from some of Australia’s favourite women, sharing what they wish they’d known about life with a newborn. Coming from writers with a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences, no two stories are alike - but all are generous, compassionate and deeply honest.

As the old adage goes, ‘It takes a village to raise a child' - and it also takes a village to properly support a new mother. Here is your village. These sisters (with babes) in arms are here to share the joy, the fear, the love, the laughter, the tears and the frustration, and to hold your hand in the dark.

Together, they will give you the strength and courage to find your feet as a new mum.


In The Motherhood, Jamila Rizvi has compiled a collection of letters all written by women to earlier versions of themselves in a bid to offer guidance and reassurance for those frightful, incredibly heightened first few weeks of being a new mother. Everyone has a different story to tell, but there are plenty of common threads to be found here, including loneliness, bewilderment, and love. Collectively, the stories define those early days of motherhood as truly, simultaneously, the best and the worst of times – and I will add that vast quantities of bad-television viewing seems to be essential.

In Rizvi’s introduction to the anthology, she describes how her life was turned completely upside down by the arrival of her baby. She recalls crying and feeling very isolated. Of course, being Jamila Rizvi (author, presenter, political commentator, and former political advisors) the experience propelled her to take action. In the past two years since her child’s birth, she has created this book with the aim of ensuring that other new mums do not need to feel so alone.

Contributors to the book are varied. Readers will hear from activists, journalists, politicians, gardeners, musicians, TV hosts, comedians, and more. Many well-known Australian figures are here, including Zoë Foster Blake, Jo Stanley, Clementine Ford, Kara Keys and Holly Wainwright. And every one of them has demonstrated a generosity in sharing their experiences. Together they have lifted the curtain on the great mythology surrounding the early days of mothering. The book would make a wonderful gift for new parents, soon-to-be parents, and really anyone who wants to see an authentic and relatable portrait of life with a newborn.

The Motherhood is not a manual. It’s not a collection of advice on breasts, sleep, nappies and dealing with annoying family members, but, rather, it is a collection of acknowledgments of how things really are during that strangely short-yet-long time, and of how temporary it is. And sometimes that is exactly what is needed.

Chris Gordon is the events manager for Readings.

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