Martin Amis’ daughter from Stoke Newington launches website for mums
A Stoke Newington woman, who discovered her real father was illustrious novelist Martin Amis on her 18th birthday, talks to the Gazette about becoming a mother herself, and the video website for mums she’s helping to launch.
Delilah Jeary has found fulfilment in family life, after a rather unconventional upbringing.
The 34-year old who lives in Lordship Road had only known Matthew, who is now her husband, for a few weeks, before she became pregnant with Isaac, now two.
“I was really keen to jump right into it,” said Delilah.
“I didn’t have a mother and didn’t have a traditional family, so for me it was like, “Wow, a family of my own, that’s exactly what I want.””
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She discovered a niche in motherhood and has never looked back - with the birth last month of baby Eleanor.
Delilah was conceived after her mother, author Lamorna Heath, had a brief but intense affair with Martin Amis.
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Lamorna was separated at the time from her husband, acclaimed Middle Eastern journalist Patrick Seale - but the couple, who already had a son Orlando, got back together while Lamorna was still pregnant.
Sadly, Lamorna, who suffered from manic depression, committed suicide when Delilah was two, but Patrick brought Delilah up as his own child.
She was about to begin studies at Oxford University, when Patrick broke the “shattering” news that her biological father was in fact Amis - a writer she studied for her A-levels, and who is credited with inspiring a generation of writers with his distinctive style, including Will Self and Zadie Smith.
Patrick gave Delilah all of Martin’s books to read, and arranged for her to meet him a few months later, in a nerve racking encounter which Amis describes in his autobiography Experience.
“It was really traumatic to find out, because all of a sudden you have no parents,” said Delilah.
“It made me feel like I didn’t really belong to either family - it’s like the family is a Venn diagram, and you are in your own little section.
“You will always be in a different part of the Venn diagram - but then you get your own circle when you have your own family, and I get a lot of pleasure from being a mum and being at the centre of a nuclear family.”
Delilah gradually came to terms with the revelation: “Slowly over the years, you develop your relationships, and you realise loving one father doesn’t make you love the other less, you can love them both in different ways,” she explained.
“Patrick is my ‘daddy’, and that’s the ‘daddy’ relationship that everyone has, and Martin is my ‘dad’ and we are really close in different ways, we are really similar and there’s that genetic connection.
“I’m really lucky because I have no mother, but I got an extra family,” she added.
Her privileged upbringing has made her clear about what she wants from her own family, and she strives to build a warm home.
“I didn’t have the sense of a family life that was organised in the way a mother organises a life,” she explained.
“But this is my family, I get to organise it how I want, and I have really strong ideas about what atmosphere I want to create, like about eating together - I want it to be a ‘round the kitchen table kind of family’, not everyone in separate rooms on their own.
“I want it to be a house where you live, not where there are telephone lines between floors, I want to know where my kids are and what they are doing – they probably don’t want me to know that, so we can deal with that later,” joked Delilah.
“It’s a lovely thing to have children and sit in a room and to interact as a family and roll around on the floor together.”
She regards parenting as an incredible joint adventure: “The thing about it is, even if you have similar values and you agree on things like religion, you will still come up against conflict, like ‘you shout too much ‘or ‘you are too lax’.
“You know those are the arguments that are coming up in every house in the country,” she said.
“Matthew’s a dad, so he’s a bit stricter than I am, but I think that’s the point - you get cuddles from a mummy and she’s softer.”
Delilah directed TV programmes before Isaac was born, and now works as a senior content producer on a new video website for mothers, imama.tv.
“The site is a way of accessing a support network of friendship and advice, and you can ask questions like, “My baby’s doing this, is it normal, is it right?””” she enthused.
It also has a forum of topical debates, like ‘how much is too much at Christmas?’ or ‘should mums work?’ as well as videos on how to breastfeed and change a nappy.
“If you want to find out about baby led weaning it can be off putting if people are fanatic, but the idea is to provide people with information and balance,” explained Delilah.
“Sometimes if you are tired, you don’t’ want to read, so you can watch something and just sit back.”
Delilah has been filmed throughout her latest pregnancy for a ‘modern parent’ video diary, and although the site is baby-focused, the plan is to roll it through to teenage years.
“In the future every website in the world will have video on it, but for the moment it’s a kind of completely new area,” she said.
To view the site, go to www.imama.tv