Photo by Sarahlein on flickr.com
When I wrote Monday’s post I had little idea another article on motherhood, tucked within the light-weight confines of the Sydney’s Sun-Herald last Sunday, had attracted the wrath of many.
The article written by Jacinta Tynan, newsreader and mother to 9 month-old Jasper, kicks off with the opening line ‘There is one thing nobody warned me about when I became a mother: what a breeze it would be.’
She continues on in this fashion, explaining that after all the horror stories inflicted upon her whilst pregnant that she’s found this whole motherhood ‘lark’ is ‘a cinch’ and that she ‘can’t see what all the fuss is about’.
While admiting motherhood can be ‘tiring’ she asserts it isn’t ‘hard’ and that women these days have it easy compared to previous generations and that it’s just become ‘fashionable’ for women to play up the ‘bad parts’ of mothering.
She finished off with some examples of women trying to reel her into the martyrhood with warnings of ‘you’ll hate the night feeds’ and questions such as ‘don’t you hate the sound of their crying?’
It’s here where the smug tone of the piece becomes most evident, as it reaches its ‘riveting’ crescendo.
“Babies don’t cry to annoy us. They cry because they are hungry or tired and we are here to solve that.
“It’s just because you have an easy baby,” say mums when I confess (it feels like a confession) how much I love it.
We do have an easy baby. So far. He laughs a lot, loves his food and sleeps, well, like a baby. And I am blessed to have a stimulating part-time job and good childcare. Like most mums I have to “juggle” – just as I was warned – often presenting six hours of live TV news in a fog of sleeplessness. Until recently our baby woke at 4am. I also feel an overwhelming responsibility for our baby’s emotional well-being. But hard? No. Exhilarating and rewarding more like it.
I never knew I had such capacity to love. Nobody warned me about that.”
By the time I read the piece, the negative reactions were whirling around the blogoshere and Twitter. Mia Freedman had already posted a video interview with Jacinta on her blog where she justified the aim of the article.
I put all this out of my mind as I read the piece to see what my reaction was, purely based on my own experience as a mother to my own nine month-old son. I then listened to the video interview.
If her aim was to celebrate the joyfulness and rewards of motherhood I think she’s severely missed the mark.
My initiation into motherhood has been hard, difficult, tiring, frustrating, all of those things to varying degrees. It has also been incredibily joyful and rewarding. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I think that by only putting voice to the view that ‘motherhood is easy’ based on her own experience and then attempting to make generalisations on how a whole generation of mothers should be coping, Jacinta has missed an opportunity to truly celebrate motherhood and has instead perpetuated the competitive spite that can be part of a new mothers experience.
On listening to the clip, she does seem to be an intuitive mother with a great deal of love for her child and a realistic sense of what being a mother involves. I only wish that she could have found a way to portray her own joyful experience without seemingly negating the experience of many mothers who are legitimately struggling with their role, who are not just ‘having a whinge’.
I would have been more interested in a piece that explored why motherhood is a joyful experience for her, based on her own personal experience. But then perhaps a Sunday paper would not have run such a piece, without the requisite ‘mothers divided’ undertone. Maybe then she would have been praised, not pilloried.