Bibi Lynch is 46 and always thought she would have children. Her recent article in The Guardian, ‘Mother’s Stop Moaning’ is the guttural shout of a woman who knows that it is too late. It is one of the most honest and moving accounts of childlessness that I have read. Pain and grief lash out of the page in angry waves. It is unmadeup, uncombed, undressed, raw emotion. This article was written from the gut and it is all the better for it.
If Bibi Lynch had written this ten years ago when I was in a similar situation, she would have done me a great service. Back then there was no one to reflect the secrecy and shame, to share the dark and unkind feelings with. I fixed myself with a rictous smile and rarely did it slip.
She has been much criticised for the swipes she takes at ‘moaning mothers’ but such criticisms miss the point. Hers are not the polite considered musings of a mildly disappointed woman, they are the unreconstructed, uncooked ventings of the grief-stricken. And no matter how marginalised mothers feel, society views motherhood as the norm for women, from which all deviants are judged. Bibi’s howls may not be polite and ladylike and they are loaded with bile and hatred and frustration but they are unflinchingly honest.
Bibi Lynch both predicted and provoked the attacks her piece received, particularly by referencing Mumsnet. The resulting thread started off being well-balanced and considered before degenerating somewhat in the way these things do. She was accused of being ‘bitter’, an accusation she heaped upon herself anyway. She was also much blamed for her situation (having reached 46 without having met a partner with whom to have a family) which was deemed by some to have been her choice, as though life’s path is merely negotiated via a set of logical decisions, no random fluttering of butterfly wings involved. There was also much indignation that many are worse off than her, which goes without saying. Raw pain is not a logical, thoughtful emotion. Other writers were referenced, who were judged to be dealing with it all in a more acceptable, palatable grown-up and lady-like fashion. Maybe they are better women than Bibi, but infertility is a long old road and how you feel at the start is not how you feel in later years. One day is not necessarily the same as the next. In November you may be positive, by Christmas you may feel like strangling yourself with fairy lights.
Quite a few respondents pointed out that Bibi still has options; she could use egg donation, become a step-parent or adopt. Yes, just like that. Easy. The underlying message is shut up, go away and get on with it. It is no wonder that she had to scream to make herself heard but I am glad she did.