From Amy Schumer’s Growing to Beyoncé’s Homecoming, at last we are talking about the messy reality of motherhood

When my daughter was born a few years ago, reading helped me make sense of becoming a mother. The baby books did my head in – I couldn’t find mine in any of them, and they all seemed to contradict one another on sleep routines and feeding. I needed stories that spoke to the weirdness of pregnancy and childbirth, the violence of sleep-deprivation, the confusion of a ruptured identity. I wanted to hear other people describe what it felt like. So instead, I pored over accounts by Adrienne Rich (1976), Rachel Cusk (2001) and Anne Enright (2004).

They made me feel normal. They made me feel less alone. Then I saw more women writing about the emotional impact of new motherhood, from Liz Berry to Rivka Galchen – too many to list. One writer described it as a bomb going off in her life, and I breathed. Another talked of the terror of bringing a death into the world as well as a life, and my shoulders unclenched.

Now, as my due date approaches for my second child, I’m struck by the rise in complex, taboo-busting narratives of motherhood. In the past few years, the canon has grown significantly, in various cultural mediums. Just this week, I’ve given Amy Schumer’s standup routine about pregnancy a go (Growing, meh) and watched the Canadian sitcom Working Moms (I preferred The Letdown and Tully). In the documentary Homecoming, Beyoncé revealed her struggle with balancing Coachella with 10-month old twins, how her mind “wanted to be with my children” and “there were days that I thought, you know, I’d never be the same”. I’ve dipped into podcasts from the comedian Josie Long and the reproductive psychiatrist Alexandra Sacks. I’ve been reading luminous, moving accounts of motherhood by Sinéad Gleeson (Constellations) and Francesca Segal (Mother Ship). 

We’ll tell you what’s true. You can form your own view.

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Beyonce discusses emergency cesarean in Netflix documentary Homecoming

Segal’s memoir is about her experience of giving birth to twin daughters prematurely, and the beginning of their lives in an Intensive Care Unit. It is not “normal motherhood”, for she is separated from her daughters each night, but it is still relatable. “When I am apart from my daughters, my physical pain becomes almost incapacitating,” she says. She tells it how it is: “the floor was slick with blood” and there is a “trail of vivid footprints as I back towards the sink”. Her descriptions are intimate and beautiful: “There is a hot frog on my chest, a handful of human.” It is the simple describing of it that feels so radical, as if a shroud has been lifted from this human experience.

Why this sudden rush of “mumoirs” now? What need are they fulfilling in our society in the late 2010s? Perhaps one purpose is an antidote to the pastel-hued fantasies of motherhood on Instagram, the impossible pressure to “have it all” and present an image of unflustered perfection. Perhaps we are tired of the strange silencing of the body horror pregnancy and childbirth can be for some, the trauma, the emotional riptide and the social pressure to keep shtum about the details. As maternal mental health problems increase, talking about, say, the trauma of birth, or miscarriage, or postpartum depression or psychosis, is even more necessary.

Perhaps it is a backlash against the unique misogyny reserved for mothers. Much media coverage at the moment is shaming Meghan Markle for her decision to break royal tradition, forgoing the post-partum photocall and choosing where she wants to give birth (how very dare she?!). Elsewhere, newspapers and magazines salivate over who has lost their baby weight quickly. Women are so often berated within the parenthood sphere, is it any wonder it’s taken a while for their voices to be heard?

So this rise in complex narratives is a cause for celebration. It’s often said that it takes a village to raise a child and, as Segal writes, “we as a culture have lost that village”. Instead of watching generations of family raise children, new mothers often spend much of their time alone, and are one of the loneliest groups in our society. We are not set up for the psychological and emotional turbulence, or matrescence, as Sacks calls it. Baby books and birth classes rarely mention it. We need stories to set us free.

Early motherhood was not sweet or beatific or rose tinted for me. It was feral and disorienting and frightening, with moments of raw joy. But, frankly, I unravelled for a while. The books and shows and films that told it how it is, that were honest about ambivalence and fear and confusion, were a tonic. Reading a poem by Sharon Olds, in a couple of spare minutes in the long days of baby care, would ground me.

I am grateful for this new canon of motherhood, but now other stories need to be told. As the New York Times’ book critic Parul Seghal writes, “so many of these books (almost all of them are by white, middle-class women) seem wary of, if not outright disinterested in, more deeply engaging with how race and class inflect the experience of motherhood.” Now it’s time for greater diversity in the voices that are published and broadcast. That way, all mothers can find themselves in words and stories, just like I did.

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EFL: Blades first of promotion contenders in action

EFL live: Championship, League One & League Two coverage – Live – BBC Sport



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Scotland: Kilmarnock boss Steve Clarke not contacted over manager’s job

Watch: Scotland fans react to McLeish exit

Steve Clarke says nobody from the Scottish FA has been in touch regarding the vacant Scotland manager’s job and he remains fully focused on Kilmarnock.

The 55-year-old is the bookmakers’ favourite to take over from Alex McLeish, who was sacked on Thursday.

Clarke said he would be interested in international management “at some stage”, but refused to be drawn on the vacancy, saying: “I don’t speculate.”

Scotland face Cyprus and Belgium in Euro 2020 qualifying in June.

Asked if he would be open to taking the job on an interim basis for those games, Clarke, who is under contract until 2020, said he was planning to go on holiday.

‘Mischief, handshakes & holidays’ – analysis

There was the hint of a mischievous glint in the eye as Clarke walked into the media room at Kilmarnock. He knew what was coming.

As he always does, he went around the whole room and shook every person there by the hand before the feeding frenzy began. A gesture of respect and an indicator of the sort of person he is. It was then straight into questions about the Scotland job. He had clearly prepared the stance he would take, and he stuck to his line – but there was no absolute ruling it out.

And there were interesting glimpses here and there. Yes, he would be interested in international management at some stage. But he also pointed out that the Scottish FA hadn’t got in touch last time round, so why should they this time. All of it done in a respectful, jovial tone.

By the end, talk had turned to the hypothetical situation of taking the Scotland reigns for the internationals at the end of the season. His reply was that holidays were the focus and his wife wouldn’t be too happy about changing plans. Along the way he scotched rumours he was off to Fulham at the end of the season – ‘lazy journalism’.

He could have corked the Scotland speculation by ruling it out completely. But he didn’t.

‘Scotland can’t look further than Clarke’

McLeish, in his second spell as national coach, left after a poor start to the current qualifying campaign and former Scotland midfielder Michael Stewart believes Clarke is the outstanding candidate.

Former Scotland and Chelsea full-back Clarke has been at Rugby Park since October 2017, steering Kilmarnock away from relegation worries to fifth place in his first season.

The Ayrshire side currently sit third in the Scottish Premiership, on course for European qualification for the first time since 2001.

He has been linked with a summer move to Fulham and recently spoke of feeling “unfulfilled in England” after spells in charge at West Bromwich Albion and Reading.

“You can’t look further than Steve Clarke,” Stewart told BBC Sportsound. “He has done an unbelievable job at Kilmarnock.

“I know there’s chat of Fulham being interested, but the national team is an attractive job and I think if you put a contract in front of him he’d take it.

“You can play on the emotional side of it and say, ‘if you are the man who takes Scotland to the Euros you will be a legend’.

“Leading Fulham back to the Premier League is not the same as being a legendary Scotland manager. Sell the vision to him. If he’s successful with Scotland, he’ll get a better job than Fulham.”

Can you name the past 10 Scotland managers?

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Why this season’s Champions League has been a thrilling riposte to super clubs over-reliant on wealth

As Pep Guardiola will now be so painfully ruminating, the Champions League really is a cup competition dictated by a large degree of randomness.

A few inches either way can make a huge difference to your historic legacy. And yet, for all the randomness and moments of VAR drama this week, it still feels as though this entire season – for the first time in a long while – conforms to a trend that is eminently explainable.

It feels like all four of the clubs still standing have got to that stage as part of a grander journey, as a result of bigger plans.

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There’s no greater example of this than Ajax, whose intelligence as a club has so spectacularly defied the economic intransigence of European football.

Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur are a grander version of this, while Jurgen Klopp has so calculatedly built his Liverpool side, in a way that has elevated them beyond a team merely capable of creating mayhem.

Then there is Barcelona, who have so dominated La Liga that the Champions League should have been the next step. They have waited a long time for that relative to their quality, let alone just making the semi-finals. Leo Messi is said to feel a personal obligation to win it, and fulfil this side’s potential.

That sense of quest, of the end point of a longer journey, is of course what used to define the European Cup for the majority of its history. The very fact you had to win the league first created this important threshold, this sense of milestone and progress.

The modern nature of the Champions League has completely disrupted this. The very fact it just collects all the wealthiest sides and smashes them together actually accentuates the effect of luck. It means the best team very rarely wins.

Real Madrid’s recent period of domination has been the culmination of this. A team that could barely be the best in their own country somehow kept succeeding in the most prestigious cup competition. Randomness prevailed, so long as it was randomness supported by a lot of resources.

This Champions League has been the natural swing back against this, as is always going to happen.

It does not feel entirely coincidental that all of the super-clubs who enjoy such a monopoly in their own countries – Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich – all went out. Some have got to the point where they have stopped planning in the way they used to, and in the way that got them ahead, that this Champions League was a harsh lesson.

Juventus just looking to stay solid and get it to Cristiano Ronaldo was no match for the joyously vibrant co-ordination of Ajax.

Ajax are this season’s underdogs (Getty)

It also feels entirely consequential, and so important, that the Dutch side did that at the very time when Juventus are one of the clubs leading the charge to change the Champions League so it is even more loaded towards the wealthy.

This season has been one grand riposte to just relying on that wealth.

Johan Cruyff’s famous comment that he’s never seen a bag of money score a goal has never been so relevant, and so repeated, even if there is a great irony that the great man might actually disapprove of some of the more specific interpretations of his philosophy.

He could still only be proud of what Ajax have done, and the greatest thing of all is that it would feel no freak consequence of random fortune if they won the competition. Nor are they one of those lesser-resourced sides who look to force fortune by playing reactive percentages football and just digging in.

Spurs have never reached the final four before (Getty)

They are that good. They are that invigorating.

They really shouldn’t be underestimated, even as it feels the Liverpool-Barcelona tie is “the true final”. The very league positions indicate they are the best sides left in the competition right now, but all four of these clubs left know well that can mean little when it gets to this point.

They know they have to plan around it.

This should be a grand lesson for the future of the Champions League, except is the very nature of the competition to swing back. It is that capricious.

Barcelona are the favourites (Getty)

Guardiola knows that well. All any side can do is seek to capture the moment.

All four now left will feel that sense of fate.

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SEC, Tesla CEO Elon Musk seek one-week delay to resolve contempt motion

Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., arrives at federal court in New York, on Thursday, April 4, 2019.

Natan Dvir | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., arrives at federal court in New York, on Thursday, April 4, 2019.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and the Securities and Exchange Commission have asked for a one-week delay to resolve their contempt of court dispute, the parties announced Thursday in a joint submission to a federal judge.

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“While we have not reached an agreement, counsel for the SEC, Mr. Musk, and counsel for Tesla met and conferred for over an hour by telephone earlier this week and are continuing to discuss potential resolution. Because our discussions are ongoing, we respectfully request to provide the Court with another joint submission on or before April 25, 2019, indicating whether we have reached an agreement in principle,” the submission says.

On April 4, a federal judge gave Musk and the SEC two weeks to work out their differences, punting a request from the agency to hold him in contempt of court for allegedly violating an October securities fraud settlement. U.S. Judge Alison Nathan said she had “serious concerns that no matter what I decide here, this issue won’t be resolved.” Nathan ordered both parties to “take a deep breath, put on your reasonableness pants” and work out a solution.

Now the parties are asking for one more week to figure it out.

The dispute stems from tweets Musk made in February that contained Tesla production forecasts. At first, Musk wrote to his millions of Twitter followers that the electric vehicle-maker would build around 500,000 cars in 2019. He followed up by tweeting that he meant to say that Tesla would reach a peak annualized production rate of 500,000, but still expected to make only about 400,000 cars this year.

The initial tweet was enough to convince the SEC to charge Musk with contempt for violating an October agreement. That agreement came about as a result of Musk’s tweet last year saying that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private at $420 per share. Musk and Tesla each paid $20 million fines as part of that settlement.

Former SEC prosecutor Elliot Lutzker told CNBC earlier this month that he does not expect the SEC to try and remove Musk from his CEO role, but believes the settlement will involve a fine larger than $20 million.

–CNBC’s
Ryan Ruggiero
contributed to this story.

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Con de Lange: Scotland all-rounder dies aged 38 after brain tumour

Con de Lange played 91 first-class matches, the majority in his native South Africa

Scotland all-rounder Con de Lange has died aged 38.

Cricket Scotland said last year that De Lange was being treated for a brain tumour.

Born in South Africa, he played 13 one-day internationals and eight Twenty20s for Scotland between 2015 and 2017 and spent two seasons with Northamptonshire in 2012 and 2013.

The Professional Cricketers’ Association said De Lange died on Thursday evening.

The slow left-armer and middle-order batsman was part of the Scotland side that beat Zimbabwe in 2017, their first ODI win against a full member nation.

Cricket Scotland described De Lange as “one of the country’s top international players in recent years and a great servant to the game at club and regional level”.

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