Conclusion

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Over time, and with practice, a social self as a mother is gradually developed

and eventually incorporated ‘into an overall schema of selfunders

tandi ng’ (La wler, 2000:57–8 ). Mov ement s in and out of the practised

worlds of work, less anxiety about meeting a child’s needs, and

coping both within and outside the home, together with interaction

with an increasingly responsive child, all contribute to the development

of a sense of self – a social rather than essentialist self – as amother. Yet for

some women concerns remain about their abilities to mother and their

responses to their children. The trajectory of a return to normal is differently

experienced, and professional practices, including monitoring and

measurement, often do not fit with experiential time. This leads some to

challenge once sought and accepted authoritative, expert knowledge and

to reassess perceptions of risk. Becoming more practised leads to disclosure

of earlier experiences previously withheld. Reflexivity is now engaged

with from a position of greater ontological security in relation to being a

mother. For some, this is in the context of having also regained a sense of

a recognised, practised selfhood as workers outside the home. For most, a

schema of self-understanding is eventually enriched through becoming

mothers and managing ‘good enough’ mothering, but not for all. Claims

made in relation to late modernity, that individuals ‘are increasingly free

from rules, expe ctations and form s of authori ty’ (Adkins, 2002 ) do not

hold good in relation to mothering and motherhood. This is because at

the core of these relationships is an imperative to meet the needs of

a dependent child and be seen to do so, responsibly. This morally circumscribed

context is hard to escape in relation to making sense and

performing an individualised biography through narrative construction as

a new mother. Self-reflexivity and being a mother is, then, always more

than playing a part and performing an individualised biography. This is

because of the materiality and real fleshy bodies and conventional expectations

of ‘being there for others’ that shape women’s lives as mothers. In

the following chapter we return to the arguments raised across this book,

questioning and theorising dimensions of reflexivity in relation to selves,

agency and mothering in late modernity. How are the contours of reflexivity

constituted, gendered and (unevenly) realised?