Wendy Hollway is an Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the Open University, UK. Following a study funded by the British Economic and Social Research Council, 'Identities in Process: Becoming Mothers in East London', she was awarded a grant, by the same body, to take further the analysis of data and theorisation of maternal 'becoming' ('Maternal Identities, Care and Intersubjectivity: Psycho-Social Approach'). Her most recent publications are The Capacity to Care: Gender and Ethical Subjectivity (2006), London: Routledge and Doing Qualitative Research Differently: Free Association, Narrative and the Interview Method (2013, 2nd ed.) (with Tony Jefferson), London: Sage. She has written numerous articles [http://oro.open.ac.uk/cgi/search] using the 'becoming a mother' study and is currently writing a book, Knowing Mothers, to be published by Palgrave.
I am of the generation when my daughter, now in her late twenties and soon to marry, talks with me about what it might be like for her to become a mother for the first time. She knows that I think it is a life changing, profound and contradictory experience – an identity upheaval – for which no words nor training can prepare us. Yet becoming a mother is also commonplace (including high levels of post-natal depression) and women are expected just to get on with it, preferably with others’ support, especially that of the new mothers’ mothers, whose own maternal experience runs like a thread through the generations, whether recognised or not.