• Emma Palmer

'Other than Mother' is well and truly launched!

Updated: Aug 8, 2019


Thanks very much to all of you who came to the launch of 'Other than Mother: Choosing Childlessness with Life in Mind' here at the Station in Bristol last Friday. What a celebration! I was already excited, seeing the fruition of 17 years of work in the shape of my second book. Seeing friends, family and colleagues arrive from the different facets of my life added to the excitement and my sense of appreciation. I'm particularly grateful to those of you who came from out of town, and to my friend from school days, Vicky, who features in the Preface of the book. I was struck by the engagement with the theme. When I was doing my 20 minute book 'spiel' the audience listened intently as I told the story of how 'Other than Mother' came into being and introduced the main themes of the book, reading a passage from the book here and there. During the book signing I was touched by how open people were about their own relationship with the theme of childlessness.

What I'm realising in the process of 'birthing' 'Other than Mother' is that its content touches people in very different ways, eliciting their personal stories, whether that's as a parent, or childless by circumstance, or happily without child. There's something about the themes which touch the personal and the universal. When I was writing the book I had in mind women in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties who were struggling to decide whether or not to have children. I've been surprised that it's often women friends and colleagues in their fifties, their children leaving, or having recently left home, who are as interested in 'Other than Mother'. They are interested in reading it, they tell me, as a way of finding out why they had children (back in the day when it wasn't really seen as a choice) and in deciding how they want to spend the next 20 or 30 years of their lives.

As always, with writing and publishing (and life!) it's impossible to predict peoples' response to one's words and actions. The reviews are gradually arriving and so far they are appreciative and glad that these themes are being openly discussed, and in a way which opens up dialogue, rather than closes it down, hardening feelings and stereotypes. As I said in the closing part of my talk last Friday, I hope that we can bridge the differences between us, whether we're parents or not, whether we're a man, woman, or gender fluid, and whether we are without child through choice, circumstance or happenstance.