When I passed from pregnant to mum the first time, what struck me was how much I remained the same.
I read with interest our editor in chief Jamila Rizvi’s moving post on how her baby boy has changed her world.
I read it with interest but I couldn’t relate much to the sentiments expressed. Her experience was not mine.
Before my first child was born, I expected everything about my life and my identity to be transformed. When it wasn’t, when I passed from pregnant to mum the first time, what struck me was how much I remained the same. A parent, of course, with new perspectives, new sensitivities and perhaps a bit more food on my shirt than usual, but still me.
Perhaps it would be different the second time around? The second time was twins. Again, I thought it would be like stepping on a landmine. Boom. Changed forever. And again, despite the usual alterations to sleep patterns and plans for Friday night, I was struck again about how much remained the same. A parent of three. But not much else had shifted (except the waistline of my pants).
Then Mia Freedman sent me a response to Jamila’s post, a woman who chastised our beloved editor in chief for what she saw as the negativity of her story as a first time mum. Stop complaining. If you were just energetic and organised you wouldn’t be having all these problems.
This feedback is not uncommon when women choose to be honest about their lives as mothers, the challenges and the difficulties among all the joy and fulfilment. Stop complaining. You are ungrateful. You are giving parenthood a bad name. Get your act together.
When I read Jamila’s post, even though I couldn’t relate, I could respect what she was going through. Because – and this is the key – I make no assumptions and have no expectations that women will all experience motherhood the same way.
Jamila’s experience is not the ‘wrong’ way to be a mum and my experience is not the ‘right’ way. Perhaps she could learn a bit from me, the anal retentive neat freak that I am, about organisation. Perhaps I, an anal retentive neat freak, could learn something from her about relaxing enough to spend an hour gazing at my baby. But in the end, different women approach motherhood differently.
This sounds like a nomination for a 2015 Bleeding Obvious Award but it does surprise me how often we forget this. It seems to be the motivating force behind so much mothers group and school yard bitchiness, malevolent newspaper columns and snarky social media comments.
As a Gen Xer I grew up with women who were schooled in a respect for difference. Different tastes in clothes and music, sexual choices and career aspirations. Dye your hair orange? Go ahead! Dump your boyfriend for a girlfriend? You go sister! Did we forget all this in the maternity ward?
I repeat. Different women approach motherhood differently.
This respect for difference, the different lives, views and experiences of women is at the heart of what Mamamia – and its sister sites The Motherish, Debrief Daily and The Glow – is about. We’ve taken firm positions on certain political and public policy issues like immunisation, asylum seekers, domestic violence and marriage equality. But beyond that we are open to listening and providing a platform for the great range of women’s opinion and experience. We know women aren’t a target market, an interest group or a homogenous voting block. We are over half the population.
Some of us have vomit on our pants, some of us don’t.
It’s that simple.
What was your experience of becoming a parent?
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