I could laugh if I didn’t want to cry. I see the liberal arts intelligentsia is out in force to congratulate the 64-year-old former boss of the Serpentine Gallery, Dame Julia Peyton-Jones, on the birth of her first baby – a daughter with the delightful name of Pia – of Latin origin associated with devout religion.
Missing the irony, Julia’s secular chums went overboard in their feminist excitement at this achievement – as they see it: ‘Julia will be a wonderful mother and role model for her daughter’, one was quoted as saying. . A former employee tweeted gushingly: ‘Baby Pia will learn so much from her and I am sure will follow in her footsteps as a trailblazing woman and icon”.
A role model? A baby doesn’t need a role model. It needs a mother’s breast. How out of touch with motherhood have these modern ‘bien pensants’ become? I fear for humanity’s future if they stay in charge.
We have to assume that the birth (in California) that was the catalyst of this celebration was not actually, at the age of 64, all Ms Peyton-Jones’s own work. The great investigative but fearsomely political correct Guardian neither tells us, nor speculates. It is far too reverential in such matters of feminist agenda setting, however privileged those doing the ‘having it all’ are. A spokesman, according to the Telegraph, she did not want to share further details about the new arrival. You bet she didn’t. Who might have been paid for what or which poor woman’s eggs had been ‘eggsploited’ is a far less glamorous topic, as Philippa James, TCW’s medical research writer, explains here.
The odds were more than stacked against her for a natural birth – the oldest recorded birth without IVF was to a veritable ‘Elisabeth’, at the age 59. It came as an equal shock to her. Maria del Carmen Bousada de Lara is said to be the world’s oldest mother at 66 of twins born prematurely. She admitted lying to physicians about her age when she sought treatment at a clinic in California.
But this is beside the point. Deliberately planned – I am not talking about a child in need of adoption, which is hermeneutically a different matter – having a baby at 64 is an act of the utmost selfishness, hubris and vanity. Only because of modern science and ‘progressive’ cultural values is it not fanciful.
Ms Peyton-Jones, however beautiful and glamorous she is, in whatever sparkling good shape she is in, is in her mid-sixties and already quite old to be a grandma.
I know, I am around the same age and it worries me that I am doomed to this. I regret having my children at 36 and 38 which meant my children were deprived of two of their grandparents from birth, and lost another when they were still small. Their children will also be deprived from day one of some of their grandparents and will have make to do with the very elderly still surviving ones.
So neither baby Pia nor Baby Pia’s children, if she has them, will know the love of a grandparent or their benefit to the family.
No doubt Ms Peyton-Jones will employ a nanny – well she had better. I am fit and youthful for my age, but levering myself from a low anchored chair with my co-editor’s bouncing ten-month-old on my lap last year proved a challenge. It was salutary. I resolved to keep fit and strong for my grandchildren to be.
That aside, who in their right mind would wish such an old mother? At 14, she will have a 78-year-old mother? God knows, I wish them well, but despite the huge increase in the last century, life expectancy still sits at 81 in the UK. Who else will be there for her?
Of course, I sympathise with the career woman that finds that time has both overtaken her and run out for having a baby. It is awful and panicking and depressing. But can’t we learn from that instead of keeping on trying to fix it to make feminism work? This is where the ‘I must and deserve to have it all’ mindset has brought us – a blind indifference to children and babies other than as extension of ourselves.. Julia might have it all. Her child certainly won’t.
It is a bitter grief to realise too late that all that work ambition didn’t satisfy your needs and denied you your most basic instincts. But to wait to 64 is not the solution. Sometimes it is acceptance – we cannot all have it all. To demand this is as self-centred as the clichéd feminist adulation heaped on her is ignorant – ignorant of the sacrifice Pia must make on the altar of their misguided world view.