I know a lot about what it feels like to be childless at 43. I also know what it feels like at 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41 and 42 which are all the years I’ve been trying to have a baby. But I don’t know what it feels like not to be a mother at 59 (and three-quarters). The novelist Paula Coston does and I’m delighted that this month she has agreed to answer my Fertility Proust Questionnaire.
Paula featured alongside me and Jody Day (the inspirational founder of Gateway Women as well as author of the fantastic book Rocking the Life Unexpected) in the BBC Radio 4 documentary A Family Without A Child. Like me and Jody, Paula has also channelled her motherlessness into writing, recently publishing the novel On The Far Side, There’s A Boy about a childless woman who lives in London who starts to write to a little boy in Sri Lanka and then goes on a journey to try and find him.
When I read Paula’s beautifully crafted answers to my questions, I not only thought she was a great writer, but I also thought what a great mother she was too. Of course I shouldn’t say ‘was’ because that implies she ‘is’ and the verb here should really be: ‘would have been’. But today I want to say something on behalf of women who would have, could have, should have been mothers. Like Gwyneth Paltrow in the film, Sliding Doors, their lives might have been so different if they’d caught that train. But just because they missed it, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t mothers all the same.
Read Paula’s answers to my Fertility Proust Questionnaire here.