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Mummy Guilt

November 27th, 2014 | Blog

The following opinion piece featured in The Weekend Australian on 22/11/2014Baby newspaper

Ladies, drop the mummy guilt

YOU’VE all seen the announcement. “Little Johnny Horner was born today after a truly heroic performance by the Cathy Freeman of mothers. We now see we have never before truly known love. Our lives are now complete.” What exactly is it about childbirth that commands otherwise well-considered folk to spout such unmitigated tripe? Blame the birth announcement on cigars and oxytocin. But the tosh does not stop there. It is the Toorak mum’s version of a jihadi’s martyrdom, an energetic sacrifice at the altar of motherhood that now sustains an entire industry, chaining women to the home front, denying us true equality, undermining national productivity at every turn.

First, let us turn to the proclamation of many new parents the minute their wriggling bundle is held proudly in the air, loose newborn skin hanging from the pink body in floppy wrinkles, blotchy head resembling a character out of Coneheads. “I am in love”, the exhausted mother proclaims, after declaring her baby the instant winner of the Bonds baby competition. This is a fantastical statement that contains twin untruths: that you cannot know true love until you have given birth (how insulting to childless women!) and that falling in love with a newborn happens instantly.

Let’s be real. Newborns are ugly. And for most, bonding does not begin in pregnancy. Babies make you vomit, they give you acid reflux, hemorrhoids, cankles and a wallaby pouch forevermore. Relationships take time to develop. When I first held my daughter, yes I felt wonder and immense joy. But I was not “in love”. I didn’t even know her yet. Second, let’s deal with Mummy Guilt. This is a useless display of privileged self-indulgence. I don’t see Vietnamese parents at their street stalls in Hanoi, squatting in the gutter with the entire family making a living, banging on about how guilty they feel. Mummy Guilt is an invention of the middle class designed to keep women enslaved as domestic overachievers. Yes, you must be satisfied and confident in your choice of childcare. And if you decide to stay home to raise kids, all respect to you. But if you need to work, or God forbid want to, do not feel guilty. Your children will grow up to be proud of you. When I drop my girls at childcare and head to work, I do not feel guilty. Not for one second.

Now to the Mummy Juggle. Let’s be clear: this circus act is rarely the Daddy Juggle. Too often, the responsibility of “juggling” work and family falls at the feet of women (who have also spent half the night feeding). It’s time for women to drop some balls and let men pick them up. But it’s also time to stop whining about how hard it all is. Yes, managing work and family is challenging. But guess what happens when you build it up to seem insurmountable? Some benevolent boss gives you the easy job. The one that doesn’t utilise your formidable talents. He thought he was being kind, because this motherhood gig is so hard. Clearly you just need time out from “the hardest job in the world” of raising children. C’mon ladies. Let’s kill these myths. They’re keeping us in that very box we’ve been fighting so hard to get out of.

The Babysleep Doctor says:

It amazes us how many women come with low scores for self-confidence and joy in their parenting. Using validated scores for depression, anxiety and stress, we have found that up to 32% of women at their first visit have a positive result for some degree of depression. It can be tough being a mother and there is no place for anxiety and guilt in providing care to families with a new baby. Read my information sheet, Let’s talk about women.


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