Thursday, April 23, 2009

What Mothers Do (Especially When It Looks Like Nothing) - Naomi Stadlen

Do you know that feeling of relief when you meet another mum whose baby wakes as often in the night as yours, or fights sleep as hard as yours, or eats as pickily as yours, or [insert own baby's difficult trait] as yours. No amount of reassurance from friends and family can come close to the relief of meeting someone who shares your problems. At last you know for sure that you are not alone, and that your baby is normal after all.

Reading this book is like having one long conversation with someone who understands and shares all the difficulties you have faced with your own child. It is not a book to read if you are looking for facts, advice, evidence or referenced research but it is full of the valuable anecdotes and insights that you can only gain from talking to real individuals rather than reading statistics. The author makes it a priority to declare that she is not trying to dictate any particular childcare ethos, though she obviously leans towards a gently attached style. But the quotes from real women that pepper the book, and indeed are its focus, represent a full spectrum of mothers' experiences on such subjects as exhaustion, the loss of the self following birth, the development of a relationship with a new baby and the nature of a mother's love for her child.

I had numerous moments of relief when I read of sentiments that I have thought or felt, but have dismissed as wrong, invalid or hormonal. I learned that other mothers sometimes lose their temper around their baby and can't help themselves shouting to relieve their frustration, but they apologise to their baby and it is OK. And some mothers find that they don't really care about their career after a baby arrives, and that is a real feeling, not just hormones, and that's OK as well. Some feel that motherhood is the first thing that they have been really good at, like this is the job that they have been waiting for all their life. Other mothers sometimes feel bent double under the weight of responsibility when they are the only one that their baby wants, all the time. Many mothers feel guilty that they will be wasting their educations if they give all their time to raising their children, even though a mother's time is exactly what the children need. And probably all mothers feel a bit embarrassed at the end of the day when their partners are telling them about their fast and eventful work days whilst their best story is about the consistency of their baby's poo that day (and they genuinely think that the poo story is really interesting).

Finally, I enjoyed the book's non-judgmental attitude towards other people's opinions and mothering styles. I can be too quick to draw conclusions about other mothers who follow different styles to my own: this is wrong, and in fact I am always proven wrong when I talk to them.

Read this book when you are feeling a little vulnerable, perhaps a little unsure if you have been doing the right thing, or even if you are worried that you have been doing everything wrong. You will find that someone quoted in this book has been feeling exactly the same as you. For me, that is the best therapy and I will certainly be turning back to its pages in my weaker moments. Thanks to Earthenwitch and various other people on messageboards who have recommended this book to me.


Mon said...

That sounds like a really helpful book, just in the feeling of 'not feeling alone' as you say.

Of all the stuff I've had to deal with and work trough, this is one area I'm lucky in. Whilst other mothers' support is pure gold, I feel ok with whatever happens. I take the baby as she comes. Perhaps it's the loner in me?

I need the book titled - '110% Guaranteed Method on Getting Baby to Sleep More Than 2 hrs Straight', lol. *yawn*

Thanks for sharing. I'll feed share this post. I think a lot of mamas will find use from this book.

Cave Mother said...

Thanks Mon. Thst's a really nice comment :-)

Earthenwitch said...

I love love love that book; I'm so glad you found it helpful, and I agree most strongly about the sense of finding someone else who's in the same boat - I long for 'Mothers Talking' here in Devon!

willow81 said...

Hear, hear! I think this book should be given to every mother-to-be instead of those blasted Bounty packs.

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