Book review: The Panic Years, Nell Frizzel

The Panic Years and the mother of all decisions, by Nell Frizzell

The Panic Years are the countdown to the end of a female’s fertility, felt acutely around her 30th birthday, or as friends and relatives start to reproduce.

If you’ve been through the panic years and come out the other side with a baby, then this book is a good read.

If, like me, you’ve been through the panic years and still don’t have the reward of a child of your own, despite, as Frizzell accurately describes it; going through all the fucking shit of trying to plan a pregnancy while you’re a single, non-home-owning, freelancer and just about earning enough that would cover childcare and not much else, plus the mental gymnastics of if you start a relationship at 34, etc.

As I say, if you’ve been through all that and still don’t have a child, this book is at times a painful read, like picking at a wound instead of letting it heal over.

Warts and all

Nell Frizzell is spot on about the frenzy that can hit you as you turn 30 and realise all your friends are getting hitched and multiplying. I liken it to one of the circles of Dante’s Inferno. The one where you have to pretend everything is fine on the surface, but inside you’re screaming “give me a fucking child”.

These days I don’t feel that panic anymore. Hours of yoga and meditation, walking outdoors, giving up cigarettes and alcohol because I would often feel depressed, I’m doing alright without a child, but I still remember the panic years and this book is a nice way to look at how far I’ve come.

Luck of the draw

What I’ve realised is that I could not control whether I conceived or not because there is so much out of your control when it comes to whether you become a biological parent or not, fate, luck, depending on your point of view.

My outlook on life now is miles away from the panic stricken 30 year old who was desperate to start a family, so desperate she tolerated nonsense from unsuitable men she didn’t even like that much. That’s internet dating for you, and Nell writes about it humourously.

Unique time in an adult woman’s life

An jpeg in an email titled “Women in their 30s” I wonder if it’s a stock image?

I’m grateful to Nell Frizzell for writing accurately and openly about this time in women’s lives, even if I do feel slightly exposed. Then she realised she was naked so she bought some yoga pants….

I mean Nell really lifts the lid on Pandora’s Box here, like the green-eyed dagger stares between the mums on Facebook and the carefree single types who globe trot on a whim.

The unique hell of feigning a smile when your friend tells you she’s pregnant, and that even though you’re happy for her, it only highlights your own lack of a child despite what is often, a Herculean effort to find a suitable co-pilot for the baby flight.

Nell’s writing is funny and insightful, but for me, her writing is so incisive, it cut a little close to the bone.

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From tiny acorns mighty oaks grow.

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