Thursday, 21 January 2010
So much 'mummy blogging' (the term itself actually proving my point to an extent) is anodyne, sugary, insipid, and well... a bit crap really.
I'm ducking the rotten tomatoes as I type.
But I can't hold back anymore. What I want to know is this: Are there really women out there for whom motherhood is always such a dewy eyed, sentimental, fluffy experience (because I'll have whatever they're having) full of foetuses with cute nicknames, and toddlers who never scream 'I hate you!' in the middle of the supermarket? I suppose there must be. But I've never met one. Not for real. Not if she was being honest.
Where is the perfectly natural and healthy ambivalence towards impending motherhood? Where are the other mothers who looked at their newborns in the cold light of day and thought for a fleeting moment that they might be the devil, because I know I can't have been the only one.
Now. I realise that not everyone would wish to emulate my particular style of 'over sharing' on the internet. Some blogs are set up just as a way to let families separated by long distance know how loved ones are doing - I understand that. And I also know that I have no right to tell women what they should and should not feel, or write on their blogs.
But I have a lot to say about the romanticising of motherhood. A lot. Because I believe it does women and their children such a huge disservice. I think it should be called up and held to account for creating so many unrealistic expectations, shattered dreams, confusion, and guilt. I blame the bible. Not exclusively you understand, but I think the holy pedestal upon which 'gentle mother' Mary was placed, is perhaps where it all originated. If we could have had just one story about Mary feeling like chucking Jesus out of the stable window because it was three in the morning and he wouldn't stop crying, then perhaps centuries of women might have been spared a creeping sense of fear and guilt arising from their own suspected 'inadequacies' in failing to live up to a mythological ideal. Just a thought.
I like children. And I love my own just as fiercely and passionately as any mother, but it's a love I grew into. It took a long time, certainly with my first. It crept up on me almost. It was no instant thunderbolt crashing dramatically down as my baby left my body, but more of a slow, painful, learning process. It was hard won, and I wear my love for my children all the more proudly for that. Whilst pregnant with my first child I bought a copy of Kate Figes 'Life After Birth'. I couldn't bear to read it. I read the first chapter or so and then put it down for fear of jinxing myself. The things I was reading frightened me, they seemed so dark. Motherhood was nothing like that I was sure. Then when my baby was one I read it again, cover to cover. And then again when he was three - and both times found it so immensely comforting that I wolfed it down in about a day and a half. Finally, I wasn't the only one.
It is 2010, and yet still there is such a huge amount of pressure on women to collude with the lie that motherhood is all pastel colours and fluffy kittens. I think we owe each other more than that. I truly believe that the most supportive gift we can give to each other as parents and parents to be, is real honesty about what it's really like. The joy and the despair, the love and the resentment, all laid bare with compassion, so that we can take that leap with our eyes wide open. And not feel as though we have failed if we sometimes land on our arses.