I was sad to hear of the premature death of Rozsika Parker, the writer and psychotherapist, author of the important feminist book, ‘Torn in two: the experience of maternal ambivalence’ published by Virago. I first spied Rosie when I was a rather serious young student revising for my finals and swimming very early every morning in the local swimming pool. There was Rosie, across the lanes from me, gliding back and forth, as graceful as a swan, in a pristine white swimming hat. I knew nothing about her except that she worked for Spare Rib ( to me, then, the most honourable, interesting and exciting of jobs) and that she was film star beautiful. My boyfriend of the time, who came swimming with me most days, knew of my admiration – and no doubt shared it himself! – so he rather bravely struck up a conversation with Rosie in the shallow end one morning. She was friendly and approachable and very kind to me about my ambitions and wish – maybe one far off day! – to contribute to Spare Rib, become a writer etc
I got to know Rosie a little better later on, although never well, but I knew she had trained as an analytic psychotherapist ( by this time, I was living with one myself ) and I knew of her book on motherhood which I devoured once my own children were born.
I was pleased to be able to interview her for Guardian Family in 2006 – was it really that long ago? – about her work on maternal ambivalence. The interview and the things she said still strike a chord and move me, even more so now. It was clear that her children meant so much to her ( she had been resigned to childlessness, and then had two children at 40 and 41) but also that she had the bravery and intelligence to talk about the many difficult emotions that children arouse in even the most loving mother and to use the word ‘ hate’ about some of those most difficult feelings, rather than pussyfooting around with labels like ‘irritation’ or ‘negativity’ etc.
Anyway, here is the interview with Rosie for anyone who wants to read it. I remain very sad that she is no longer here.