File:Old couple in love.jpg

 

At the moment the press is covering the release of a new book for mothers by a popular parenting ‘guru.’  According to the press reports, the author encourages mothers to have a date night out or an afternoon together within four to six weeks after the birth of their baby.  Leave the baby with someone else, she says.  Moreover, when it comes to sex, she says parents should resume sexual relations as soon as possible after baby’s birth, even to the point of grinning and bearing it.

It is astounding to me that this self-proclaimed expert has found yet another way to make parents feel inadequate.  Not only does she want our babies sleeping in a black-out-blinded room all by themselves straight after birth, she wants us to be doing the business in the next room?  Oh, the pressure!  Not only must I have the perfect baby and be the perfect mother, I must also have a limitless libido and abundant energy.  Is this her definition of woman?  Is it the pinnacle of femininity to produce compliant children and satisfied husbands?  Should I be wearing high heels and a dress to produce my husband’s dinner as well, kiss him as he comes through the door and present him with a clean house?

When I set out on this journey of motherhood, I had no idea that I would come to see myself as a woman in a completely different way; that my interpretation of feminism would not be the traditional ‘same and equal’ model, but ‘different and respected for it.’  I see no need to ‘please’ my husband.  In fact the idea that I would have sex with him to please him, even if I don’t want to, runs so counter to the trust and love that is the basis of our relationship he cringes at the thought (I know, because I asked him!).

When my first child was born I read this author’s book on how to have a contented baby.  I found out that in order to succeed, I must always watch the clock, ignore my child’s requests for feeds if they aren’t in the proscribed routine, and frame my life around naps.  I threw the book away in disgust when she told me what to have for breakfast!  Thank you, but I don’t need culinary advice.  It took me a while to figure it out, but I actually don’t need anyone else’s advice.  What I needed was to listen to my own baby and my own instincts.

And that is what gets lost in this scene: the needs of the baby.  Inflexible routines and demands on mothers to leave their babies fail to recognise a baby’s very real need to be with his mother.  Our society focusses so much on the needs of the parents: time alone, the need for intimacy, getting women back into work, free childcare so they can do so, tax credits for those who do… but what about the needs of the babies?  Who sticks up for the infants?

Most mothers I know carry a heavy burden of guilt about anything and everything.  We blame ourselves for our children’s behaviour, personality traits and mistakes.  When I read William Golding’s Lord of the Flies in 7th grade I had little idea that the nature/nurture argument would be so poignant in my life nearly 30 years later.  But after reading this news story, I wonder– is it really mothers who should be feeling inadequate in the face of such unrealistic pressure?  Or rather, should society be held to account for its unreasonable expectations of mothers and infants?  Leave me to mother my baby in the way I decide is best.  Let me listen to the call of my own body and heart… and my husband will understand, because I am after all, his wife, and this baby is his too.  We are adults: our needs can wait.  My baby’s needs simply cannot.

© Copyright 2012 Lisa Hassan Scott.  For reprint permission contact the copyright holder.

 

 

Photo credit: Flickr, Ian McKenzie.

 

 

 

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Another reason to feel inadequate
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20 thoughts on “Another reason to feel inadequate

  • 08/03/2012 at 1:13 pm
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    I have very little say other than “hear hear” or is it “here here” ?? Not sure but I am sure you get thte idea!

    • 09/03/2012 at 2:16 pm
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      I suppose both are acceptable because I get the idea! Thank you! Hope all is well with you and the family, and can’t wait to meet your new edition!
      Love,
      Lisa

  • 08/03/2012 at 1:15 pm
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    I like this post very much:)

    • 09/03/2012 at 2:15 pm
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      Thanks Em!
      xx Lisa

  • 08/03/2012 at 1:22 pm
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    Have shared on my fb page – hopefully everyone will wake up now and recognise what nonsense she writes. She has gone too far – hopefully this is now self destruct mode. 🙂

    • 09/03/2012 at 2:15 pm
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      Hi Emma,
      Thank you for sharing it on your FB page. Let’s all speak up for babies!
      Love,
      Lisa

  • 08/03/2012 at 1:30 pm
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    Me too! I cannot bear that woman! I think the fact that she is divorced and has no children says it all – we should not be taking her advice about either childcare or relationships! I did hear a discussion on Woman’s Hour a while back, though, where one of the women said that just as her husband sometimes did things for her that he didn’t particularly want to do (going out socialising with her friends, for example), sometimes she would have sex with him even though she didn’t particularly feel like it, and that that kind of give and take was all part of their “contract”. It’s an interesting way of looking at it…

    But I digress … Yes, I think that the needs of the baby has somehow got lost somewhere, and that these books succeed only in making us ignore our instincts to put our babies first – which would probably make us all a lot more relaxed and happy!

    Thanks for another great post, Lisa!

    • 09/03/2012 at 2:14 pm
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      Hi Kirsten,
      That is an interesting scenario from Woman’s Hour (isn’t that a brilliant programme?!), though it’s not what I personally would choose. Interesting that it worked for that couple, though.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting, always love to see you here!
      Lisa

  • 08/03/2012 at 1:57 pm
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    Great article Lisa. I picked up one of the expert’s books on potty training and put it straight down when I realised I had to give my child drinks at precise times – my life just isn’t like that! It also amazes me how people get so obsessed about routines, sleep etc for babies, babyhood goes so fast. Mind you I did get obsessed about getting them to sleep better as they got older (around a year) and I’m glad I did, but I did do it my (very unorthodox) way! I know they sleep better now that many of those who were perfect at 3 months!

    • 09/03/2012 at 2:12 pm
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      Thanks Hilary,
      I certainly don’t eat and drink to a routine… the number of times I flick on the kettle or pop a snack into my mouth during the day is pretty astounding when I think about it! Thanks for making some great points and for taking the time to comment,
      Lisa

  • 08/03/2012 at 2:31 pm
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    Very well said Lisa! I bitterly regret spending seven quid of my own hard-earned cash on her first book and then wasting a few of those precious early days trying to get Sam to fit into her idea of what a newborn should be… all the while feeling more and more useless and losing touch with my own instincts 🙁 Only a society that sidelines babies’ and mothers’ needs can hold in such regard an “expert” with no actual experience in her “specialist” subject!

    • 09/03/2012 at 2:11 pm
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      Consider it 7 pounds spent finding out what you didn’t want to do! Sometimes we have to go through these rough times to come out the other side as a stronger person and a more confident mother. Give yourself credit for settling on a way that was more in tune with yourself, rather than following something that made you unhappy.

      Thanks for your comments,
      Lisa

  • 08/03/2012 at 4:02 pm
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    totally agree! It’s all supposedly about getting your life back. Well, this is my life now and why does that concern everyone else so much?

    • 09/03/2012 at 2:09 pm
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      I really like what you say about this. That phrase ‘getting my life back’ is a perplexing one– as though having a baby is a hiatus from the rest of life– when actually this is life now. Perhaps what people mean is that they are getting time for themselves again, which is fair enough and will come in time. Adults can wait, but babies don’t!
      Thanks for reading and commenting.
      Lisa

  • 08/03/2012 at 7:23 pm
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    Hallelulia! (sp?) thank you Lisa. Your blogs help Keep me sane! It does seem in our society where women are more likely to take the advice of so called ‘experts’ than listen to their own instincts that the voices of people speaking on behalf of the children are drowned out. I am fed up of being made to feel defensive about my family’s priorities. The children come first and as parents we can adjust to that because we love one another and made those children together.

    • 09/03/2012 at 2:08 pm
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      Yes Emma, it’s insulting to men that many people think that the children are a woman’s responsibility and all he has on his mind is sex! Many fathers want to put their children first and respect a mother’s desire to mother her baby.

      Thank you for reading and commenting. xx Lisa

  • 09/03/2012 at 3:20 pm
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    Hi, Lisa

    I love your blog but do have a couple of comments to make. Maybe a little food for thought?

    First, I agree with you on this woman’s writings. I suppose the point of her getting published is because she is controversial. Otherwise, no one would pay buy her books. That is unfortunate for those who do follow her advice believing that she knows best.

    Also as you know, parents are sometimes unable to put their children first, although I agree that this is the ideal. But unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. For example, some mothers are forced to have to work because of low incomes. They come home from work feeling tired and stressed and are physically unable to meet all of the demands of their children. They have to deal with the pressures of having to make dinner, deal with homework, and get their kids to bed only to have to start all over again the next day. They have to pay their bills yet have little left over to meet their family’s needs.

    You are a wonderful mother with three beautiful children! They are so lucky to have you! But I wonder if you are setting up a new paradigm for mothers who have so little left to give over at the end of the day. Are you creating but another of life’s stressors?

    As to your remarks about sex – I agree that it is ridiculous to expect a woman to start having sex so soon after the baby is born. But I also agree with the concept that sometimes we do things to please our spouse because we love them, even when we aren’t in the mood. Consideration goes both ways in a marriage. (I know you know this). I think that when we do things to please the other, our marriages become richer and there is more understanding between each other during those times when we just don’t feel up to it. I don’t think that means resorting to a house dress and heels although if that is your thing and you go sans underwear, it might make for an interesting meal. 🙂

    As always, love your blog!
    mom

    • 15/03/2012 at 8:47 pm
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      And this, ladies and gentlemen, is where I have inherited the provocative gene from!
      Thanks mom for the food for thought!
      Love,
      Lisa

  • 09/03/2012 at 9:13 pm
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    Fantastic article Lisa.
    This so called parenting “Guru” should maybe stick to culinary advice rather than parenting advice. As I understand it, she has no children of her own. It must be easy to tell someone else how to bring up their children.

    • 10/03/2012 at 7:56 pm
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      She specifies cornflakes as breakfast food, if I remember rightly.
      Thanks for commenting Rhiannon!
      Lisa

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