Both the novels Red Clocks by Leni Zumas and Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi toy with the concept of using a child in some way to make up for a gap in another part of your life.
Ro’s desire in Red Clocks to become a mother stems from her unresolved issues regarding her brother’s overdose. She considers herself to be a failure, having believed it her duty to keep him alive. To find some sort of redemption, Ro desperately tries to have a baby she can name after her late brother and take care of in his stead. However, just like trying to (single-handedly) save her brother from his vices was futile, becoming a mother is not in Ro’s cards. The idea of having a child filled a hole that existed in Ro for a very long time and that possibility being taken away from her forces her to confront the other issues she had been ignoring in her life. This pushes her to plan different ways to take action instead of remaining passive about her situation and the world itself.
The character of Snow in Boy, Snow, Bird represents what happens to a child when they exist to fulfill something missing in an adult’s life. Snow is doted upon not for her happiness, but for that of the grownups around her. The adults delight in her beauty and view her like a little doll. Olivia in particular seems to live vicariously through Snow, as though wishing the same childhood upon herself retroactively.
While Ro in Red Clocks wanted a baby as a sort of redemption for herself, the Whitman family in Boy, Snow, Bird use Snow as a pillar on which they can uphold their status as a white-passing family. Both novels present the idea of filling some type of void with a kid, and both seem to come to the conclusion that this benefits no one. Snow was clearly better off living with her aunt than being in the toxic atmosphere of Flax Hill. Ro really questions why she wanted to be a mother in the first place which leads her to a place beyond being the biographer and into her own exploration of passions and purposes.