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Dancing with the Maternal Bond

by Thea Calzoni

Seven years ago I had to clear a bedroom for Eugene my nephew who is a colourful painter with a sense of order. Later I would have to find make space for Andrew, our musician-become-handyman family friend. In the process of sorting through stuff, I revisited twenty-five years of the life of my son, Julian, in dozens of diaries and communication books. I uncovered and re-read my journals of family life. So many boxes of yellow-leaved books and papers, I couldn’t keep. I decided to declutter it into a book about being a mother, a carer and a keeper of dreams. 


I used to worry about losing my identity if I were to become a mother. All that became consumed by the birth of Julian, developmentally delayed and challenging. My memoir follows our struggles to find acceptance, and mirrors my internal battles with the realities of having a child with a disability, and the effects it has had on my marriage and my sense of self. It ends with embracing him as an adult with the hope that Julian will be able to find love like everyone else. 

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People I respect have said nice things about the book.

‘Thea Calzoni writes with clarity and wisdom about marriage and motherhood, opening our eyes to the intimate needs and rights of young people living with disability. This book will resonate with anyone who has been confronted by unexpected challenges and had to dig deep for the courage to face them.’  

Sian Prior, author of Shy: A memoir  

‘This chronicles the experience of a young mother coming to terms with the reality of her child’s disability and explores a range of controversial issues, including the right of people with a disability to sexual expression, with deep understanding and profound humanity. This is neither an academic treatise nor a moralising sermon. It is a mother talking about her very personal parenthood journey, and sharing with us what she has learned along the way.’

Kevin Stone AM CEO VALID - Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with a Disability

‘Thea Calzoni shares an honest journey of embracing motherhood and the challenges of parenting a child with disability. So many parents will relate on some level to what Thea experienced; the denial, the grief and the warrior parent instinct we so often witness within our disability tribe.’

Heather Renton, CEO and Founder of Syndromes Without A Name (SWAN) Australia.

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