Last week I had the opportunity to listen to an amazing interview on my NPR affiliate, WHYY, Robin Young from Here and Now interviewed psychiatrist Dr. Barbara Almond
about Dr. Almond’s new book called The Monster Within: The Hidden Side Of Motherhood.
Good Golly Miss Molly!
I swear I could have written this book or at least served as material for several chapters! Washing up the dishes I hung on to every word thinking about just how this interview and book spoke to me. I felt myself getting weepy thinking of how someone, somewhere FINALLY heard the cry of women and whether or not Dr. Almond will ever know my feelings about that term MOTHERHOOD: ambivalent, conflicted, overjoyed and overwhelmed were being validated by a complete stranger.
When The Dad and I found out I was pregnant* we we overjoyed. There was a small sliver of me that felt totally overwhelmed and frightened but knew that there was no turning around. Once The Bee was born I was excited, ecstatic as I realized that there was a little person that I would nurture and care. Someone that I was going to help mold and shape to be a productive person. However many sleepless nights would find me near tears as I worried about this little person who was trusting me to take care of her. Buffy gave me a copy of a book of essays called Child of Mine and I read each essay voraciously devouring the words of these women who spoke honestly about how their lives had changed with the introduction of a child, someone who demanded all of their time and attention. The Bee was a relatively ‘easy’ baby but the sudden violent change in my life caused me to wonder if I was doing motherhood all wrong. Exhausted and hungry (cause God knows kids seem to sense when you are going to sit down for a hot meal) I worried that I was doing ‘being a mother’ wrong and reached out to family and friends. When I spoke to The Dad about these things but he would blow me off instructing me to get over myself and do what I had to do. My mom was equally unsympathetic. She would ply me with stories of having two babies at once and let me know that she was younger and did it so I should be happy with one and settle in. Friends were more empathetic, sharing their own tales of Mommy woes but no one seemed to share my fears.
Feeling guilty (shocker!) that I dared feel this way I threw myself into making myself uber mom. I pushed any feelings about me aside and concentrated all on The Bee**. The Bee was my partner as we traveled the world around, we visited museums, libraries and other places to make sure she was enriched and immersed. I scoured thrift shops and consignment stores so that I could get books to fill her book shelves. Anything to counter any negative motherhood feelings that I had. So years later, thinking I had made peace with motherhood and that I had found a balance I held my breath while I listened to Dr. Almond calmly but confidently tell Robin that yes indeed, mothers feel conflicted, it’s normal and SHOULD be expressed and that these thoughts would not make me a bad mother.
Jokingly I always bitch that babies don’t come with an instruction booklet stapled to their butts and the books that are there to help do nothing but make women feel insecure. Well at least they made me feel insecure. It wasn’t until my library gig that a mom told me that motherhood was a hard job and that it does indeed suck at times. How I handled the feelings that I had was what helped me survive.
I’m waiting for my book to arrive so that I can actually read more of Dr. Almonds findings and I encourage anyone who is a mother to listen to the interview. Ten minutes can possibly change your perspective It changed mine.
Loving my kid while wanting to chin check her at times,
* I refuse to say that ‘We got pregnant’ as i was the one who got sick.
**This lasted for a while but eventually I found a balance