Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The missing maternal link

I was reading an article in the Sydney Morning Herald today about maternal ambivalence, and what causes a mother to spurn her own child.  But it is actually about a lot more than that.

It starts off talking about a movie coming out where the mother is examining the relationship between her and her 15 year old son after he's gone and slaughtered his school mates.  How it was difficult to connect with him as a child, and whether that led to his sociopathic behaviour.  Then it talks about how difficult it must be for parents who don't immediately love their child and how difficult it can be to talk about it because of reactions like "You must be a bad mother, what's wrong with you" as you, the new mother don't perform like the stereotypical happy-I'm-so-thrilled mother that you're supposed to be.

This quote from the article is an example:
Edwina, 40, remembers the horror on a colleague's face when she joked that she would probably be "cheering at the gate" when it came time for her two children to start school.

"This woman told me, 'Well, that's disgusting. Those children should be everything to you,' " Edwina recalls. "She just looked at me and walked away."
I don't think I had baby blues or post natal depression, but I know that new mother life was not all about roses and cherubs.  I think most people accept that now.  But though complaining about the lack of sleep and constant work that a new baby generates is ok, it is the depression symptoms that people don't tolerate.  People who resent their child taking away their free time.  People who get angry and want to hurt their baby for crying and you don't know why.  People who secretly wish to kill their baby - people think OMG horror what a bad parent, but post natal depression is a real problem, and these parents need support because I'm sure inside they think "What is wrong with me, why can't I love my baby like I'm supposed to?" and feelings of guilt and self loathing perpetuate the depression.  Those people need support, reassurance, counselling and perhaps medication - not "You should be happy to be lucky to have such a sweet baby, shame on you."

It is amazing what people will say about your parenting choices.  I am not a stay at home mother, I work a full career and my kids have nannies 3 days a week for 10 hours a day and spend almost 4 hours in the car 2 of those days getting back and forth from nannies/work.  But at the end of the day, the kids love to see mummy, mummy is still their main source of comfort, and I do get satisfaction from that.  Who says you can't have a career and a family too?  It is just a balance of priorities.  When you come home and the kids want to be all over you, spend time with them!  In the morning, make sure you get up early and spend time with the kids before you go to work, no matter how early it is.  I am up at 530 with Julian, and then Erika wakes up and I try to get them fed before 7am so I can get to work.  So I do see them, even though I'm off early, and I like to put them to bed when I get home.  My kids accept that mummy has to go to work.  So putting in those extra hours always pays off, I think.  I am just lucky I don't need much sleep.

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