Do you want more information about the Being a Mother workshop? Here is a range of information for mums and professionals in the health and media industry.
This has been prepared for submission to journalists and editors
An informative letter for your GP, maternal health nurse, gynaecologist/ obstetrician, and other health professional
Books on Mother’s Experiences
- Twins: A practical and emotional guide to parenting twins, Katrina Bowman and Lousie Ryan, 2002
- The Mother Dance, Harriet Lerner
- Life After Birth, Kaye Figes
- Missing Voices, The Experience of Motherhood Stephanie Brown, Judith Lumley, Rhonda Small, Jill Astbury (out of print, in the Balwyn Library)
- The Mother Manual, Jenny Phillips
- Motherhood: Making it work for you, Jo Lamble and Sue Morris
- Babyproofing your marriage, Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O’Neill, and Julia Stone
- The Wonder of Boys, Michael Gurian
- Going home without going crazy: how to get along with your parents and family (even when they push your buttons),Andra Media
- The Mask of Motherhood, Susan Maushart
- Parenting by Heart, Pinky McKay
- Woman, Work, Child, Jodie Benveniste
- Beating the Blues, Susan Tanner, Jillian Ball
- Depression after Childbirth, Katrina Dalton with Wendy Holton
- Coping with Post Natal Depression, Dr. Bryanne Barnett
- Post Natal Depression, Lara Bishop
(Source: The Mother Dance , Harriet Lerner)
- Guilt is at the heart of Motherhood. Family therapist Rachel Hare-Mustin says “Show me a woman who doesn’t feel guilt and I’ll show you a man.” P 57
- I was shaken to find that the old gender roles could so powerfully shape what [we] each felt entitled to and responsible for. P 57
- I also wish I had allowed myself to experience a deeper emotional involvement with [my children] when I was at home with them during those early years. Keeping a part of myself removed felt like my only defense against the prescribed role of motherhood, a role too false and costly for me to accommodate. But I struggled so fiercely against the pressures to lose myself in motherhood – and felt so alone in the fight – that I probably swung a little too far in the opposite direction. P57.
- It’s absurd to assume that all mothers will be happy in the same way. The “real choice” may elude us, as we automatically react to invisible pressures from our past history and present context. P 58.
- “How wonderful…Gloria may be leaving us to do the most important job of all. She’s going to be a mother”. As an aside, I must confess that comments like these have always made me want to gag. Sure, raising children is an important and sacred task, far more appealing than say sitting on the board of General Motors, but the more motherhood is surrounded by flowery praise, the less it is truly valued. When nurturing children is truly valued, mothers who work at home will be economically protected and men will want to join us as equal partners in parenting. P59.
- “..to aim for a shared parenting arrangement…Both Mary and Greg took significant risks. In clarifying the values they wanted to live by, they decided to compromise on what society recognizes most: status, power, money, promotions, and all the other trappings of success. P64
- As sociologist Arlie Russell Hochchild notes, many people say they want more time with their families when in truth they’d rather be in the office, where they tend to feel more secure, competent, and relaxed. Her research suggests that women are discovering men’s secret: that “there’s no place like work” to escape the pressures of home and that often both parents prefer to “flee a world of unresolved quarrels and unwashed laundry for the orderliness, harmony and managed cheer of work.” BY carving out more family time than our work-driven culture encourages, Mary and Greg were true pioneers. P64
- At the start of therapy, Mary was so allergic to being like her mother – and she pushed so hard to be different – that she did not have the emotional space to consider what sort of mother she wanted to be. It was as if things had to be precisely equal in their marriage or Mary would feel in danger of repeating her mother’s history. Many hadn’t wanted to stop nursing Thomas after three months. Even at that time, she recognized her decision as an anxiety-driven response rather than a clear and heartfelt choice. P65
- When we become mothers ourselves, we have a new opportunity to revisit the past and find creative ways to elicit more authentic stories from our own mothers about what it was really like for them. Knowing our mothers as real people helps us to know ourselves better. It also makes it less likely that we will mindlessly follow or rebel against family patterns. P66
- She [family therapist Betty Carter] explains how couples backslide into traditional roles (he’s the primary breadwinner, she’s the primary nurturer) when children come along, and she emphasizes that today’s world calls for both men and women to earn and for both men and women to scale back at work and make career sacrifices to rear children. I couldn’t agree more. P 66
- The accumulated tensions and resentments produced by inequality make divorce more likely, and in the years following divorce, the costs of the old gender roles become all too clear: Mothers are likely to become poor, fathers lose their connections to their children, and children suffer deeply as a consequence. P 67.
- The politics of housework, an age-old feminist issue, rushes to the surface in previously egalitarian marriages after a baby arrives. Inequality affects others the most, but intimacy in the couple relationship ultimately suffers. As family therapist Marianne Ault-Riche points out, there’s going to be trouble in bed when men don’t notice or execute the countless jobs and menial tasks that need to be done after the first child arrives. Not only will the woman be too tired for sex, but she’ll also resent the unfairness of the situation, even if she denies to herself her resentment, because, after all, women are supposed to keep the home running smoothly. P 67
- Don’t let anybody tell you what to do. That’s the key. The challenge is to follow your own heart and mind when everyone around you will have opinions and advice. It’s useful to be open to what others think, together perspectives from others, but then you have to figure out what makes sense to you and what fits your particular situation. Following your heart is no simple matter. It’s not easy to distinguish between truly following your heart and being on automatic pilot. When you’re on automatic pilot, you take the path of least resistance. You make reactive choices that come out of the pain and pattern of your history, You reflexively fall back on old roles when you come to the fork in the road, meaning the father automatically sees parenthood as a signal to step up his role as wage-earner and you automatically roll up your sleeves to do the hands-on-nitty-gritty work that babies and running a home require. P70-71
- To get off automatic pilot, you have to see clearly the forces in your family and culture that are driving you. This allows you to think about them and to begin to define yourself as a mother and a human being who can operate from an authentic centre….In the short run, it may be very difficult to talk to your boss about more flexible hours or to your husband about picking up after the baby or noticing what needs to be done. But in the long run, it’s worth it to go the hard route. P71
- It’s especially difficult for mothers to go against the prevailing tide. What constitutes the prevailing tide depends on what group or tribe you happen to belong to at a particular time and place in history. It’s difficult to breastfeed when everyone is bottle-feeding. It’s difficult to value nurturing if society values production. It’s difficult to put your energy into producing if society says, “Mother, stay home!”. P71
- Babies don’t come with operating instructions, as writer Anne Lamott reminds us. Even if they did, the instructions would be outdated quickly. Motherhood doesn’t come with instructions either. You learn on the job, and you’ll find there are but a few resting places on this journey. P72
- One thing you will learn on the job in guilt. You may feel guilty about leaving your children for your work and guilty about leaving your work for your children. You will no doubt also feel guilty. But try to remember that our society encourages mothers to cultivate guilt like a little flower garden, because nothing blocks the awareness and expression of legitimate anger as effectively as this all-consuming emotion. P75
- Guilt keeps mothers narrowly focused on the question “What’s wrong with me?” and prevents us from becoming effective agents of personal and social change. P75
- But some mothers feel a continual tug of guilt as exhaustion, irritation or competing demands make it impossible for them to be consistently available, attentive, attuned, and at their best at all times. And we mothers may actually expect this impossible standard of ourselves. P76
- Mothers are especially vulnerable to ignoring our own strong inner voice when it conflicts with the voice of authority. And we make take the voice of authority all too seriously to begin with….Even today, most mothers feel guilty enough, and they should not pay money to any expert to be made to feel more guilty. P77
- We mothers are judged mot only by our behaviour, but also by our children’s behaviour, which we can influence but not control. P80
- Mothers know when their mothering is being judged and it is understandable that we can get paranoid about it. When the child becomes the focus of negative attention, the mother may experience a complex mix of feelings that are difficult to unravel: guilt for one’s actual parental shortcomings (we all have them), shame and embarrassment about how one’s mothering is being perceived, anger at the child for “causing” the mother to look bad, resentment at others who are being judgmental, and worry about the child’s problems. This confusing tangle of emotions blocks the mother from gathering her resources and approaching the problem in a calm, solution-oriented way. P81
- We may feel guilt about “causing” the very problem we a re worrying about. Or we may worry about feeling guilty because we know that guilt isn’t good for children. Or we may feel guilty about worrying for the same reason. P87
- …you cannot predict your children’s future. No matter how terrible or how ell they appear to be doing now, you don’t have a clue as to how they will turn out over the long haul. P88
- ..there is an inverse relationship between the intensity or worrying and the capacity for creative problem solving. P96.
- In sum, we won’t talk productively to kids about anything we haven’t processed ourselves with the relevant adults in our lives. If we don’t have a grip on our own emotionality, we will confuse our angry or anxiety-driven responses with “honesty”, and “open communication”. Often it’s better to keep quiet, at least in the short run. Only after we’ve calmed down can we make thoughtful decision about how and when to tell what to whom. P149
- It’s our job to calm down as best we can, which brings us back to our central theme. Our kids are the major benefactors of the work we do on our own selves. P149.