The Motherhood edited by Jamila Rizvi

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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The Motherhood

The Motherhood

Jamila Rizvi

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