We need stories from older mothers – and from women who don’t want children too | Letters

Monica Cardenas advocates a move away from a culture that tends to see all women of child-bearing age as potential parents, and Claire Flood-Page and another reader write about the experiences of those who have been mothers for longer

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett’s column on the importance of telling stories of motherhood focused on Rachel Cusk’s A Life’s Work, which Cosslett notes was criticised on publication, mainly by mothers (Writing honestly about motherhood still provokes anger, but we must tell our stories, 6 June). Cusk noted in 2008 that many of her critics exhibited a “hunger to express themselves not as women, not as commentators or intellectuals, but as mothers”.

Honest stories of motherhood are essential, but so too are identities beyond the maternal, for both mothers and non-mothers. We must come to know women as more than nurturing caregivers. Although truthful stories of motherhood are gaining traction, our culture tends to see all women of child-bearing age as potential mothers. Any thirtysomething can tell you about a time they were asked when they would have children, told they’d make a wonderful mother, or condescendingly advised that they would change their mind about not having children.

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