Yes it is tiring, and yes it is time consuming with showers and emails a sudden extravagance. But it is not hard. Hard is being tied to a soulless job for 80% of your waking hours. Hard is fighting cancer, or having a child who is. Or not being able to conceive a child when you ache for nothing more. Soothing a crying baby who won’t sleep for love nor money is a privilege not a hardship. Wiping spew off your jacket before bolting out the door to a meeting is funny, not a drama.
Mia Freedman interviewed Jacinta where she clarified her position. You can also read Jacinta's article in full via the link.
My initial reaction was close to Mia's friend. Having thought about it a bit more, these are some of my observations:
- Sleep deprived new mothers may (over-)emphasise the difficult aspects of motherhood when talking to others but I am yet to come across one mother who isn't thankful and appreciative of the overall experience. Talking about the difficulties is a way of coping, especially when you find other mothers having the same experience. That's why mothers' group is so helpful.
- On the other hand I can see why some mothers feel the need to "hide" their joy because of judgment from others. One of the mums in my mothers' group had a smooth birth which she enjoyed. She told us that she became reluctant sharing her story with others because of other people's reactions such as "well, aren't you lucky?", "oh you had it too easy". I suspect Jacinta may have had a similar experience.
- Jacinta said "My mum had six children, no help and, on occasions, a job. Yet she gave it her all with grace and joy. Our generation acts as if we deserve a medal." Most women in earlier generation would have much less support on child rearing from their partners, so is the current generation too "soft"? I don't know the answer but here are two thoughts:
- I suspect if we travel back in time and talk to mothers from the previous generation when they were raising their newborns, their stories will not be all coming up roses. And if we travel to the future and ask mothers with adult children to recall the early years of motherhood, they'll mostly recall a joyful and fulfilling experience instead of their hardship.
- I have a feeling that mothers in earlier generations face less pressure to be a "super mum". Mothers nowadays are not only expected to fulfil the basic needs of a baby (food, warmth, security) but they must make sure everything is "optimised". We should master every step of the baby's physical and mental developments or else we're not being a good mum. Babies must have the optimal amount of tummy time, visual/aural/sensual stimulation, physical movement, exposure to music and art, nutritional mix (all home made of course) etc etc. I venture to guess that mothers in previous generations were more pragmatic in their approach, and therefore were less stressed.
What do you think?