User Profile

Joan Garvan

About Me:

The decision for me to have a baby was the hardest of any I've contemplated. I thought about it, off and on, over a ten year period and eventually at the age of 40 my partner and I decided to make the leap. I understand why it was tricky, my parents had six children to raise, in post-war Australia. They struggled right through to do their best by their kids, a struggle that meant much personal sacrifice and difficulty. I was a child of the '60s. I had traveled, studied and found interesting work and even at the age of 40 could well have filled in another ten years. The options were many, the prospects unknown. And yet we took the plunge. I say we because it was, and still is, important to me that if I were to have children it would have to be a shared experience and commitment, otherwise no way.

I loved being pregnant, the birth was an incredible experience, both good and bad, and here we were with a baby. I had entered Motherland and was 'rapt.

The experience of being a mother, however, wasn't quite what I had thought it would be. To be honest I felt my life was a whole new ball game and I needed to reset the boundaries, learn the terrain and do a whole lot of adapting. As it turned out, more by circumstance than design, I discovered numerous books that talked about so many others who had gone before me. I was totally engaged and if you asked anyone who knows me the topic of motherhood became a recurring reference point in my conversations.

I eventually put together a bibliography to circulate with others who may become similarly ensnared. I was continually surprised by the breadth and depth of books that are available on mothering, which is great, but there's a long way to for the work to be done on fathering. All that education is paying off, in more ways than one, for women.

I am now in the third year of a Phd, essentially asking why is it that many women grapple with issues related to identity when they become first time mothers. Why is it that a substantial proportion of couples who set out to achieve equal, or egalitarian, caring routines have been unable to do so. These questions have lead me to explore maternal subjectivity and the social structuring of women within families.

It seems to me that modern women, and men, are pioneering new ways of being, and new ways of bringing up children, if only the social system could catch up and accommodate, rather than hamper, our efforts.

In the spirit of the poem that I wrote for my daughter, Hannah, this work is a stepping out for me on a path of exploration into what it means in the modern world to be a mother.

I bless the day that you were born a daugher unto me. I love you so I do not know if you will once be free.

I hug and kiss and hug again and wonder from where this comes.

I look into your face and hope your life will be the one that you most want to be.

I wonder, wonder, wonder, wonder just how can this be so. I can only come to this I first must tread the road.

So out I step into my life afraid of what might come. I must confront my battles if they are the ones - to be won.

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