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Generations of Expectations: Do Maternal Instincts Really Exist?

(5 Posts)
Zarn Sat 15-Aug-09 10:47:39


I just wanted to highlight an amazingly honest blog post on a blog site.

This article touches the truth behind becoming a parent, for me. It is honest, touching and I have to say I really enjoy reading it. It talks about Maternal Instincts and the expectations on women to magically transform into mothers the moment the baby arrives.

I think it is a great debate. I'd love to know what others think. What do other people think?


mathanxiety Tue 18-Aug-09 05:00:32

Well, I think what this blog tells me is that this woman surely had other messages drummed into her over the years besides the mothering instinct one. Somewhere along the line she was given the impression that she wasn't good enough, perhaps, or maybe she was told that she was the center of the universe and she never grew up past that. I think she's an overidealistic perfectionist, and also a bit self absorbed, but then she's blogging, so there has to be some focus to it... I was struck by the opening bit where she says she kept on starting, stopping, deleting, starting again. There's erfectionism there, a fear of not being perfect, living up to some ideal. But the description of the love she feels as the most mindblowing, intense love for every square inch of a baby that a mother has ever felt? That passage was a bit scary to me, to tell you the truth. I honestly thought that this woman might be capable of hurting the baby, because she seemed to be having this wonderful experience all up there in her head, but the baby was not obliging with her end of the fantasy as far as her behaviour went -- she pooped, she needed to be fed and bathed and taken care of 24/7: right from day one everything was going far too fast for Mother to process her precious emotions. I wanted to respond and tell her to grow up and get over herself. Am I a meanie? (This is why I am not a psychiatrist)

How is she doing all this writing and rewriting this with a 16 month old? I didn't have time to pick my nose when I had a 16 month old.

mathanxiety Tue 18-Aug-09 05:17:58

And in response to you original post (sorry got carried away), I think we bring to motherhood and our experience of the role whatever personality we bring to all other challenges in life, plus hormones and sleep deprivation. But in a magnified way, because we are tied by love, unless we are psychopaths, to our DCs. They bring out the best and the worst in us, sometimes before breakfast on a rainy Tuesday.

As far as mothering instincts, I really don't know what that means. We do our best. We muddle through. We are humbled by the reality of it. Most of us have grown up a lot by the time we bring baby home from the hospital, and that's just the start. Is it all Oxytocin? No, but that helps. If we didn't have some force inside to guide and help us and tie us to our own children the human race would have disappeared long ago.

I think one aspect of motherhood, or of myself as a mother that surprised me was that I could never again watch horror films, or any violent film (The Godfather, for instance). I couldn't stand to see wanton destruction, pain, or death. And when I heard of sweatshop labour by children, Afghan girls being deprived of an education, African children going blind for want of a few pennies worth of vitamins, I felt incensed to a degree I hadn't done before. I think it's commonplace, having talked to friends about this, but we are all so busy rocking our own individual cradles we haven't time to rule the world and make things right for the millions who could use some help. When you've been a mother for a while, you begin to think that women should and could rule the world.

Tee2072 Tue 18-Aug-09 07:30:45

I think this woman had severe PND from day one that was misdiagnosed, is what I think. If she felt this blinding love as she describes, she'd be changing nappies and so forth from day one. Because that should be part of the 'blinding love' and doing whatever needs to be done to protect and take care of your baby.

I think she is using this mothering instinct lack, or whatever, as an excuse because she refuses to admit she had a mental problem.

I do think there is a mothering instinct. But isn't some magic thing that tells you what each cry means. Its knowing that no matter what, what your baby needs comes first. And if it takes you 1000 times to figure out what your baby needs? You try each and every one of them until you find it.

And mathanxiety? We do rule the subtly that we've convinced men that they do because we don't need any more stress. wink

mathanxiety Fri 21-Aug-09 05:50:25

Yes, the thing that happens to you, even in the hospital, is that you put the baby first. Even if you're dying after a section, you're thinking about the baby, you're concerned about the baby while he or she is in the nursery, you wince when the nurses poke her or seem to be handling him roughly, you redo the nappy if the nurses change one to make sure they're comfortable. If motherhood is nothing else, it's 'doing', it's a verb, not a sublime emotion. It's padding up and down your sitting room for hour after hour holding and trying to comfort a baby with colic when you'd much rather be sleeping, and feeling sorry for the baby just as much as for yourself.

I thought the blogger came across as incredibly self centered and immature, and I was sorry both for her baby and for her DH that she wasn't diagnosed sooner with PPD. She seemed to have completely misunderstood what was really going to happen once the baby was born. How do you spend nine months of pregnancy, ante natal visits and possibly childcare and childbirth classes and still have no actual understanding of the physical work that will be involved when you and baby come home from the hospital. I think perhaps she was experiencing some sort of denial of her 'demotion' from the Number 1 attention-getter position, and was unwilling to accept the reality of the fact that from now on baby was Number 1 and she was never again going to be the star, except through the blog, where I think she doesn't come off as the sympathetic character she hoped she would, mostly because she didn't blog about suffering from PPD, but instead she tried to intellectualise it and gussy it up as the story of how one woman fell victim to some sort of myth of motherhood. I feel sorry for her as she is clearly suffering, but I think she needs to get real about what exactly she is suffering from -- I hope she got some ongoing counseling as well as whatever medication she may have been prescribed, because I think the tone and content of the blog indicate a tendency toward grandiosity, a refusal to fully accept reality -- I think what she had here was PPD and a personality crisis too.

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