Sunday, August 19, 2001

‘Paradise, Piece by Piece’ by Molly Peacock

Encountering an uncorrected proof of this book at a local Friends of the Library book sale, the selling point for me was the author's statement that she began writing this book because she wanted to tell the story of why she decided not to have children.

Being a member of what feels like a definite minority -- men and women who have chosen to remain childfree -- I welcome the viewpoint of anyone who affirms this choice as a valid one. Too often, society inflicts a completely different viewpoint upon me.

People who don't know about the decision my husband and I have made, assume unthinkingly that we will have children at some point in our lives.

When people do find out about our choice, many of them tell us our lives are incomplete, that we are being selfish, that we don't really mean it. One woman, apparently believing that our stated decision was a cover-up for inability, asked me if I am able to have children. A male gynecologist, not content to merely warn me that if I change my mind, I should have children before I turn 35, waxed poetic for several minutes about how choosing to have a child is an "affirmation of life."

Again and again, our choice is reacted to with extreme negativity and so, a book like Ms. Peacock's is a much-needed antidote.

Of course, her book is much more than a first-hand account of the decision to remain childfree. It is a poetic account of her life, of her development as a poet and as a woman.

This intimate and moving memoir is an outstanding work of literature. Yes, it holds special meaning for me because I am a kindred spirit -- another woman who has chosen to remain childfree -- but the book can also be enjoyed on other levels by people who have made a different decision. Ms. Peacock's story of her life is a tapestry with many threads, each of which has the potential to resonate with someone who has been there.

Posted Aug. 19, 2001 to

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