Motherhood Deferred

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Ann Taylor Bradford’s life seemed perfect: She had a successful career—first as writer for THE NEW YORK TIMES and later for THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE and an essayist for THE MACNEIL/LEHRER NEWSHOUR—and was a happily married woman. MOTHERHOOD DEFERRED explores what it meant to come to womanhood during the 1960’s and 1970’s when women believed that they could have it all: career, marriage, family. Bradford’s story reflects what happened to her when she tried to do exactly that: start her family after first having established herself in her career.

MOTHERHOOD DEFERRED follows Bradford as she tries, unsuccessfully, to become pregnant, finally resorting to invasive, expensive, and overwhelming medical procedures. The emotional depth of her need to conceive, coupled with the physical constraints of her biological clock, highlights the poignancy of her memoir. Bradford expresses her frustration and sense of betrayal at having waited too long to start her family. She blames the feminist movement, which she contends encouraged her to postpone motherhood in favor of a career. Her dismay is obvious, as is her confusion over what would have been the “right” thing to do have done.

As compelling as Bradford’s personal story is, perhaps what makes MOTHERHOOD DEFERRED interesting reading is its interweaving of this personal story with the larger picture she offers of the American Women’s Movement. The book implicitly shows the double bind in which capable, talented women have found themselves in the last decades of the twentieth century.