Wednesday 1 February 2012

The Meaning Of Children: on Mother's Day and Abortion

Just listening once more to my interview with the lovely, charming, and whip smart Anne Lagacé Dowson, a wonderfully generous interviewer and person. And I came across this discussion near the end about motherhood, feminism, abortion, and mother's day that I'm really happy with...she made it so easy to talk with her and I'm really grateful to her and to everyone who took the time to help nurture my little here's a transcript of part of the interview, and I'll post the Youtube video below. 

Hope you enjoy and find some food for thought here. And, of course, in The Meaning Of Children!

Anne Lagacé Dowson

BA: ...As feminists coming of age in the ‘60s and ‘70s, we were so keen on making the best of all the opportunities that had been denied us for generations that I think we bought into the idea that teaching and nursing and mothering and care giving are lesser occupations. And of course they aren’t. They’re very, very important to all of us, especially as we age and become more and more dependent on caregivers. So I just am hoping partly to honour that fact of women’s lives.

ALD: In time for mother’s day. So if you are casting about for the perfect mother’s day gift, this might be it. The book is called The Meaning Of Children by Montreal author Beverly Akerman and it’s a collection of 14 short stories which sort of covers the range of experience from the point of view of children, Mums, and also aging parents as well. It’s all there in this lovely little book…short stories about life in a family that might just resemble yours…

You do make a lot of Montreal references in some the stories…and it’s very fun to read stories based and rooted in Montreal…lots of references to the Jewish community and family practices and so on…

What’s your sense of how your feminism has coloured the stories?

BA: I think it definitely has coloured the stories. There’s a story about abortion…I’m a prochoice feminist. It’s a very hard decision for a lot of people but I’m still glad that it’s a decision that is ours to make and not some external group trying to run our lives…

ALD: I thought that was a very brave story, actually, that you wrote. Because I think you’re writing about something that a lot of people have experienced but still feel very badly about talking about. It’s not out there in the civil discourse or in the public discussions of what family life is about.

BA:  I don’t think people feel comfortable acknowledging that they have had an abortion or that they’re related to someone who has. It’s still a very private family matter…

We’re very, very lucky to have grown up in the era in which we have where we do have so many more options than our mothers and grandmothers had. And we have to protect those options for the future generations. I think that’s very important too.

ALD: What will you be doing on mother’s day?

BA: I guess going to brunch with my parents! I’m lucky enough to have both my parents so…and getting cards and kisses from my kids.

ALD: And flowers, hopefully. That’s always a nice feature of mother’s day. But really, mother’s day should be each of our respective birthdays in some sense. You were speaking about some family member…

BA: My father-in-law thought on your birthday you should go and honour your mother because she went through so much. And he would know, he put his parents through a lot.

ALD: Well, we all do. Anyway, I wanted to congratulate you on the publication of this book and I hope it goes far, far afield for you.

BA: Thank you very much. I hope people enjoy it.

ALD: A wonderful gift for mother’s day, perhaps more long lived than the usual cut flowers...

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