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some of the comments on The Motherhood Delusion thread made me think...

(23 Posts)
Wisknit Mon 11-Aug-08 13:10:47

The ones about the differences between expectations/what we are lead to believe it will be like and Reality.

Does anyone think the demise of the latge extended family has anythignt o do with it?

For example, ds1 screamed all the time unless I was carrying him or he was on the boob. Nott a massive shock to me as I have cousins 11 + 13 years younger than me and saw what babies can be like and I just got on with it.
However if you've never been around babies as an older child/teenager/whatever and you are taken in by the romantic, wafting, image of motherhood where baby sleeps between feeds in crib etc you're in for a bit more of a shock surely?

moondog Mon 11-Aug-08 13:11:56

Definitely. So many women have never held anewbaby but their own.

EssieW Mon 11-Aug-08 13:13:08

think there's definitely something in that. Was going to add it to my post on the Motherhood Delusion thread but brain obviously gave out.

I had sme contact with friends children as babies - and yes that was a good introduction. We went on holidays with them etc so it wasn't just cuddle the baby and give them back. But didn't prepare me for the unrelenting nature of bringing up a child

moondog Mon 11-Aug-08 13:13:25

But also expectations are higher. Women expect more than years of shit (literally).

Cicatrice Mon 11-Aug-08 13:15:34

Yes. I had never held a baby till I held DS. Poor soul. Still he doesn't know any better.

Books aren't much help as they tend to describe the "average" and the range of normal behaviour is huge. It was a real worry that I was doing something wrong/there was something wrong with him. (DS also wanted to be carried all the time)

Didn't help that family insisted that I was making a rod for my own back by doing so (obviously no velcro babies in that family of 7!)

Wisknit Mon 11-Aug-08 13:18:37

Moodnog: the expectations bit is what I mean I suppose. If all those illusions/expectations were shattered when at 13 you walked your wailing cousin round the garden for hours cos she wouldn't sjut up, when you have to do the same for your own child it isn't a big deal It's just the norm.

appledumpling Mon 11-Aug-08 13:21:16

I held a baby for 10 mins when I was 6 months pregnant and that was the sum total of my experience with children before DS was born. We had no extended family and none of my friends had children.

That said, I was expecting motherhood to be so much harder than it actually is so, even though DS is a complete PITA most of the time sometimes, I'm happy.

moondog Mon 11-Aug-08 13:21:17

Yes. I think same goes for alot of stuff. For example, the way romance is marketed.

iloverosycheeks Mon 11-Aug-08 13:21:57

Actually I got more of a shock because I had been around babies loads and I thought I knew it all, ha.. ha.. weak laughter I quickly realised it is not the same ashaving your own and started feverishly speed reading books and trying to force memories out of my mum 'what did you do, tell me tell me tell me'

Wisknit Mon 11-Aug-08 13:23:05

Definitely. "the one" what crap. Romantic nonsense.

Overmydeadbody Mon 11-Aug-08 13:25:07

I tihnk there is something to it.

Also, our society isn'tr bery baby-friednly or child-friendly is it? So people can quite easily get to adulthood without any experience of even seeing babies or children very muhc.

I grew up in the middle east, and it was simply unheard of to have parties, big gatherings or dinner parties without the children. Children just came alone too if people had them. So even if you didn't have siblings or children of your own you got plenty of interaction with them.

Overmydeadbody Mon 11-Aug-08 13:25:56

Oh yes, couldn't agree more with the way romance is marketted. It has a lot to answer for.

ruddynorah Mon 11-Aug-08 13:27:19

yes totally. new mums are far more alone now.

i compare this to how i see my dad's side of the family in morocco. he has 7 sisters and 3 brothers over there. all live in the same area of the city, most of them living in the same block or the one next door. and most of them working in the family businesses. childcare and child rearing is shared. loads of cousins, all different ages. nothing comes as a shock to a new mum, they've all helped raise each other.

moondog Mon 11-Aug-08 13:32:29

I think other cultures have kidsphysically present more often but don;'t feel our guilt thing to constantly 'interact'.

ruddynorah Mon 11-Aug-08 13:35:04

yes. as a child growing up in morocco with all these aunts and cousins my mother didn't have to do interaction. my cousins amused me all day long. she went out to work part time while other aunties did the same and shared out the children. as they working within the family it was all very flexible.

Lazycow Mon 11-Aug-08 13:51:23

I agree that our expectations are much higher. On top of that we have also lost all sense of proportion where children are concerned. They have become a 'job' and we judge ourselves and others very harshly based on what we perceive as parenting skills and parental outcomes.

In combination with this we have a neurotic need to control everything, all risk and all of life. Most of us would not be able to cope with a true extended family format for taking care of children, because for all it is probably the best way for children to grow up it involves us relinquishing quite bit of control over the influences our children have.

Having children is no longer really just just part of life, it has become (for many people) a way of finding meaning and purpose in and of itself.

I always comments like 'children are beautiful, wonderful etc' perplexing. Children are just people really, albeit it ones with some special needs until they grow up (assuming there are no problems). They are just more people to have relationships with.

Nowadays almost everyone is part of a finite nuclear family. Even familes with a larger than averge number of children, don't often have an extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins constantly around.

On the OP, I'd say that having contact with babies would definitely help with the expectation/reality gap that some women experience on becoming mothers. TBH though for me I knew it would be b*dy hard work and as it happens it has turned out to be even harder than I would have imagined.

Wisknit Mon 11-Aug-08 13:52:03

It's a bit like that when we visit my Folks at weekends. I have 2 brothers, they and their girlfriends play with my boys. My parents and grandparents love seeing them and taking them off my hands for a bit.
I think that sort of family non-forced interaction is very important.

MrsPorty Mon 11-Aug-08 14:37:03

Do you think the 'expectations' (vs reality) also contribute to the incidence of PND? I know some people (probably mostly Drs) attribute it to hormones/brain chemistry but I think it also has a lot to do with the horror that is being home alone with small children. I don't know one mother in RL who hasn't at some point confided that she found it pretty grueling.

Lazycow Mon 11-Aug-08 15:46:45


I am completely unconvinced by the hormonal explantion to PND and I speak as someone who had it pretty badly after DS was born.

In my case I had pretty realistic expectations about it being hard to have a small baby but tbh all that did was make me more worried/apprehensive during the pregnancy. Knowing it would be hard, in no way prepared me for the reality of having a new baby.

I think my own mother struggled with us a babies. Not surprising as she had a typical old school husband and very little money. I think she stuggled to provide good mothering to us (though she tried very hard) especially as very small children. This means that I then in turn struggled to even want to be a mother as I saw how unhappy it made my mother despite all her protestations to the contrary . When I then eventually became a mother I found the whole experience in the early months close to intolerable.

I think a lot of PND is caused by a combination of, environment (obviously poverty makes things much worse) expectations of motherhood, the sheer relentlessness and lack of sleep of the early months and the experiences we have of being mothered ourselves.

All in all it is a bit depressing becasue it can be a difficult cycle to break

lizinthesticks Mon 11-Aug-08 20:18:04

Yes!! Totally agree, lazycow.

Also wholeheartedly agree that the demise of the extended family has made parenting fucking shitty.

Acinonyx Mon 11-Aug-08 21:50:30

Definitely - not only does it mean we don't experience the reality in advance it also means we don't have the support network when reality arrives.

TheProvincialLady Mon 11-Aug-08 22:02:48

I dunno though. It's not just the demise of the extended family, it's changing expectations of life - women's lives especially. I am part of a very close extended family but although there are plenty of people to offload a whinge onto, practical help is thin on the ground because everyone is out working. Years ago my mum wouldn't have been going out to work but she is currently busy running ICI (well not quite!) and although she dotes on DS, she hasn't the time to be here more than a couple of hours a fortnight. And there are so many more things that people can choose to do now - holidays, hobbies, swinging - that just being one of many aunts who might be around to entertain a small child doesn't seem so appealing does it? I mean if I hadn't had DS I certainly wouldn't be available.

Wisknit Tue 12-Aug-08 10:12:32

mrsporty, that is another of my theories. I think we also all beat ouselves up over stuff too much. My midwife commented that along with a baby we get handed a little box of guilt.

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