Friday, January 18, 2008

The Cult of Perfection

I did not know this young lady. As the article states, officials may never know what happened.

So it is with pure speculation that I take this opportunity to address what is still a huge problem in our culture.

The perfect mother.

The perfect mother is always overjoyed 100% of the time with her child(ren). A perfect mother needs no assistance with her baby. A perfect mother never makes a parenting mistake. A perfect mother keeps her house sparkling clean, cooks delicious and nutritious meals, keeps her husband sexually satisfied. A perfect mother loses her pregnancy weight within weeks of giving birth.

A perfect mother only breastfeeds and never, ever, ever gives her infant formula. A perfect mother's children are always clean, always dressed perfectly, always polite and always developmentally ahead of other children.

Or at least that is what many new mothers believe they are supposed to achieve. So they walk around pretending, a smile on their faces, pretending to their families and friends that they are okay.

We still equate post-partum depression with failure and being a "bad mother". So new mothers ignore their symptoms, are embarrassed to bring it up with their doctors, ashamed to admit it to friends and family.

We need to make post-partum depression as easy to talk about as smelly diapers or sore nipples. We need to be able to admit that we have bad days, that constantly caring for children is not always the glowing portrait of Madonna and child.

We need to be able to say that we are scared. Or frustrated. Or sad. Or feel like a bad parent. Or angry. Or mourning our child-free days.

We need it. Our babies need it.

Loki sez: I'm just going to sit in my basket and be sad for a little while.


Pat said...

I wonder - do we talk about postpartum depression in our childbirth classes?

JanetLee said...

Pat - IIRC, yes the basics are covered - PPD vs the "baby blues". When you should call your doctor. But it (along with most "mental illnesses") is denied or ignored as being weak or shameful.

Heather said...

JanetLee, she was a friend of mine and we attended the same church. It has been a very sad and very hard week. The funeral is on Monday.

JanetLee said...

Heather - I am so sorry. I can't even begin to imagine the pain her friends and family must be enduring.