It’s a question that leads to a chapter about work which highlights the impossible juggle of maintaining a career while having children, because workplace structures are not exactly supportive of both. Then women are burdened with more unpaid labour in the home. Which begs the question: are women destined to a lifetime of labour if they choose to have children?
“We know the data says that women come home [from work] and perform a second shift of unpaid labour. It’s not a very happy story. We all know people that are trying to manage kids and a career, and it’s really hard. And I make the case that if we value the unpaid labour and recognise and compensate it, then that is one step in the right direction,” Rushton said.
Then there’s the emotional labour, a chapter that explores whether a woman wants to manage the feelings and fulfil the emotional requirements of being both a partner and a parent. It’s an important thing to consider how a heterosexual couple, under the pressures and influences of the patriarchy, might equally carry the emotional load of becoming a parent.
“In some ways it [emotional labour] might seem irrelevant in a book about deciding whether to have a kid, but if you have a person in the relationship who feels like they are already mothering, it’s a big decision to consider actually mothering [a child],” Rushton said.
Many other topics are explored in the book, all equally thought-provoking and challenging, and after compiling this body of work, is Rushton herself any more decided on whether to have children?
“I think that I feel less panic about it, which is probably at odds with how you’re supposed to be feeling as you’re getting older and less fertile. But I think I feel a lot calmer because no matter what decision I make, I’ve really thought quite deeply about it,” she said.
It’s a feeling Rushton hopes many of her readers will also experience after reading the book, alongside feeling validated if the question whether to have children is fraught for them.
“I hope that people feel that it’s okay if it’s a complicated question. It’s a book that raises more questions than answers, but I hope that it encourages people to ask better questions of themselves,” she said.
You can purchase a copy of The Most Important Job in the World by Gina Rushton here.