‘Young Mothers’ by Joanna Walsh

Like much of Walsh’s Vertigo, this story lays out bare units of the quotidian under our noses, bringing taken-for-granted things into question by positioning them baldly outside of a “normal” narrative. This time it’s the mothers of young children who are under the Walsh heat-lamp. ”Our children gave birth to our function”, state the young mothers, their identities subsumed as soon as their child is born. They’re infantilised through the clothes they’re expected to wear and the round-edged objects they handle all day. And, at last, here’s a mention of the way young women so often become “X’s mum” – not only at nursery-gates introductions, but also in those deliberately-non-threatening online handles women feel obliged to use. Seeing Walsh record this so directly and plainly is such a relief, like a thirst has been quenched.

From the collection Vertigo, And Other Stories, 2016

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