Friday, March 6, 2009

Motherhood gone very wrong

A friend of mine had a baby and for about three years she went up in smoke. Just fell of the face of the earth. Was invisible. Gone.
I tried my best to stay in touch with her, left messages on her voice-mail, and so, and for a little while we had some kind of email-contact but even though we only lived ten minutes away from each other I only went over to her house for coffee once and I was left feeling that seeing me in person was just far too complicated for her.

From day one she read every baby-book she could find. She followed eating schedules, sleeping schedules, learning schedules and playing schedules. Although most of it was pretty insignificant, there was something happening every minute of the day and it made it impossible for her to reach out to the world outside her house. For most of the day she was at home, feeding, sleeping, doing all the things every other mother does, but with such refined finesse it left you wondering if there was anything left for herself.
There wasn't. Every night she was exhausted. She had fallen hard and deep in to the baby-bubble and couldn't get up again.
And more than anything, she made motherhood look so incredibly difficult that it would have put any woman planning to have a baby of for life.

She had an hour long window in the morning when she could do some shopping or go for a walk, any other time of the day and it would throw her schedule out of the window and she'd feel like she failed, and worry if it would upset the hard-set routines for ever.
She couldn't go for a walk with the stroller because the baby had to sleep in his crib. She couldn't go to the playground because it was dangerous. She couldn't have people in her house on certain times because it would upset the feeding.
She would also constantly worry. About whether the runny nose was the first sign of meningitis. About walking on sidewalks since they could get run over by a car. She'd worry about the baby missing the odd ounce of milk, or drinking one too many. When the baby started to pull herself up she'd try to stop her, saying she wasn't ready to stand up, she'd only fall and hurt herself.

Needless to say, she didn't enjoy motherhood very much and she went from being a happy, open-minded and fun person to being a scared, neurotic and fretting mother who always doubted herself and who could never relax, even for a second around her child.

I urge every new mother to take all the baby-books and experts advice with a huge grain of salt. Use your own judgement, find systems that work for you, and that cater for your baby's needs (all babies are different, and the only expert for your baby is yourself). Don't let the "experts" scare you in to stop functioning like a human being and prevent your child from discovering the world, as it is, right there outside our homes.


  1. I agree. There IS a happy place between complete negligence and totally neurotic parenting. I didn't drink when pregnant, ate better than I ever did for myself but let them go barefoot and fed them pintos and cheese when I had a Taco Bell craving. They generally make good decisions or at least recognize when they've made bad ones.

  2. Hi Beachcomber, you are right. A balance between the two extremes is a good place to be.