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I was re-reading today Maria Pranzo’s beautiful letter published on this blog entitled “a woman premier.” An unfortunately predictive letter… after all, there was no doubt that it was, to quote a very famous movie, the Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

In the letter the author, evoking the possible victory – then punctually verified – of Giorgia Meloni and her likely rise to be the first female premier in Italy, questioned what it actually meant to be a woman, if it could really mean, just being a mother and wife.

Of course, I subscribe to Mary’s every word and thank her for the beautiful image of a woman who is fulfilled and in search of her human and feminine identity first, proposed as opposed to a rabid, violent and reactionary image. Mary, who seeks motherhood without renouncing her identity as a woman and indeed, claims that before one can be a mother one must be a woman, fulfilled and complete and not make motherhood one’s identity.

It made me think a lot, however, that she told, almost “justifying” herself in some way, that she is trying at the age of 40 to become a mother and is doing so by going through a process of IVF: <<“If I had tried to have a child when I was younger maybe I wouldn’t have needed to be helped” … it is a thought that many people have when I tell about my vicissitudes between hormone shots and bombs, but I couldn’t afford it before!>>.

I have been thinking a lot about those words, about the fact that not in her, but in some people to whom she tells her experience and her beautiful, painful and very difficult adventure, made of great obstacles, uncertainties and material and psychic sacrifices, there is that horrendous thought that somehow “punishes” you for taking the liberty of not having the famous innate “maternal instinct” despite everything. The gratuitous, “ignorant” criticisms, in the very sense that they ignore what it means to face a map or at any rate, the “conflicts” of a “late” motherhood, behind the most trivial excuses hide only anger because you wanted to allow yourself to be a mother, you wanted to be a woman, fulfilled in your human identity and affirmed in your social or professional identity, you wanted first to feel that fulfillment arise in the relationship with a man, as a fulfillment of both of you, of the relationship and not as a “dutiful” predetermined path, with the risk that that desire might never even have been born, knowing that this would not, however, take away anything from the truth and depth of the relationship and above all, from your being a woman, fulfilled, fascinating and free to love and be loved by your man without necessarily having to be a mother.

Moreover, one only has to look around, without even resorting to statistics, to see how many moms over 40 are around. I personally, just to make a do-it-yourself statistic, know at least 7 new moms between the ages of 40 and 49 and even two who are 51 and 54; and on social media, groups of moms over 40 and over are proliferating. Without bothering the so-called VIP moms over 50, we are reading more and more reports of ordinary women giving birth at a very advanced age, either naturally or, for the most part, with the help of assisted reproductive techniques; most recently this summer in Brindisi, where a 53-year-old woman and a 58-year-old woman gave birth as primiparae. And these are growing phenomena; statistics, not even very recent, (Eurostat Report 2018) say that “about 4.25 million new babies were born in 2018 in the European Union, with an average age of mothers of 30.8. This is certified by the Eurostat report “Childbirth at older age,” which also confirms how 5.2 percent of new births in Europe had mothers aged 40 or older. The Eurostat report compares all EU regions to determine in which regions there is the highest percentage of women mothers over 40. Italy, Ireland and Spain have the highest shares (over 7.5 percent)….” 

So, I wonder, why the need to emphasize age and more importantly, the fact of having resorted to assisted reproduction? Nothing takes away from my mind that if the search for pregnancy had been natural, this need would not have arisen. Our grandmothers were quietly having children even at 45 or 50 and it was not a scandal or news. Not to mention men, fathers even in their 60s and beyond without this being the subject of “gossip” or even fierce prejudice, as is sometimes the case today in comments on social media to news of women giving birth at an advanced age. And the explanation I give myself is because unfortunately in Italy, but not only there, the discourse of medically assisted procreation is still a taboo (and probably will be more and more so with this icy wind that has arrived from the east, just to use a metaphor). So we obey without realizing it a religious thought that justifies motherhood, at any age, as long as it is natural. A thought that punishes the woman (and never the man) if before being a mother she wants to be a woman. And therefore one feels the need to justify taking the freedom to use the possibilities that science offers you and “allying” oneself with science to fulfill this need to be a woman, and a mother if and when one is ready to be one. 

Women and Science, a scary combination. So a flower, a bouquet of colorful and fragrant flowers to Mary, and all those who are not afraid to challenge nature, to rely on science and tell their adventure. And why not, a beautiful daisy let’s also give it to the companions of these brave women, who take them by the hand and, in love, dive in with them, inventing together the colors of freedom and the new identity of women.

Luigia Lazzaro


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