Expectations and Realities: Motherhood and the Female ‘Choice’ Biography

  • Rachel Thomson
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life book series (PSFL)


Becoming a mother can be seen as a profound moment of personal change that ties women to the past, the future and each other. Yet what it means to be a mother is shape-shifting in line with women’s increased participation in work and education. The general trend is towards later motherhood, delaying the birth of a first child until education is completed and a career is well established. Emotional stability, financial security and the ‘right’ relationship are expected to fall in line with this life trajectory, making birth the apex of achievement for grown-up girls living the success story narrative of contemporary times. Yet for some young women first pregnancy comes early. Marked by disaffection from education, lack of opportunity and poor socio-economic circumstances, young motherhood may be the first act of adulthood rather than the highly prized goal of deferred gratification. Could it be that motherhood is becoming the site of a new social division between women?


Family Life Female Employment Maternity Leave Young Mother Social Division 
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© Rachel Thomson 2014

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  • Rachel Thomson

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