The Most Important Job in the World

Gina Rushton

The Most Important Job in the World
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The Most Important Job in the World

Gina Rushton

Should we become parents? It’s a question that forces us to reckon with what we love and fear most in ourselves, in our relationships, and in the world as it is now and as it will be.

When Gina Rushton admitted she had little time left to make the decision for herself, the magnitude of the choice overwhelmed her. Her search for her own ‘yes’ or ‘no’ only uncovered more questions to be answered.

How do we clearly consider creating a new life on a planet facing catastrophic climate change? How do we reassess the gender roles we have been assigned? How do we balance ascending careers with declining fertility? How do we know if we’ve found the right co-parent, or if we want to go it alone, or if we don’t want to do it at all?

Drawing on the depth of knowledge afforded by her body of work as an award-winning journalist, Rushton wrote the book that she needed, and others need, to stop a panicked internal monologue and start a genuine dialogue about what we want from our lives and why. The Most Important Job in the World is a powerful, compelling and forensic analysis of the role of motherhood in society today, and the competing forces that draw us towards and away from it.

Review

‘Should I have children?’ This deceptively simple and universally common question is what inspired journalist Gina Rushton to investigate the complex ecosystem of ‘motherhood’ in our uncertain present. In 2019, Rushton received a diagnosis that doctors told her would likely affect her fertility. Approaching 30, and suddenly aware she may not have the luxury of time, Rushton knew she had to face the question head on. So, she gave herself nine months to read, interview, think and write through the process. This phenomenal book is the result.

Over seven electrifying chapters (bookended by an introduction and an outgoing reflection), Rushton gives voice to all the serious, complex issues a generation reconcile bringing a life into a world beset by climate crisis? How does motherhood relate to our increasingly toxic relationship to work? How do we balance emotional labour in a relationship? Who are the communities that aren’t being represented in discussions around reproductive justice? Rushton isn’t interested in easy answers: ‘I am trying to legitimise the questions we are striving to answer and identify those that have been thrust upon us and from which we could liberate ourselves. I am trying to get more comfortable with the questions, curious not craving, calm about what I don’t know.’

There are so many impressive things about this book, it’s hard to isolate just a few. It’s richly dense with ideas and research, yet its prose feels light and effortless. Rushton has a journalist’s instinct for the most potent anecdote or image from a story, and an analyst’s ability to untangle complex systems. Some books appear in the publishing landscape like comets: a bright, shining arc of glowing reviews, powerful word of mouth, writers festivals, television spots and award shortlistings well into the subsequent year. I have no doubt The Most Important Job in the World will launch along the same trajectory with its release this month. But what I really hope is that it will launch itself into the hands of readers everywhere, of every age and gender, because it deserves to be read and read widely.


Jackie Tang is the editor of Readings Monthly.

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