Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Title Change and Maternal Infanticide

As you can see above, the blog has a title change. Afrogeek Dad (known to some as Brian) has decided to jump on the blog bandwagon. Apparently the response to Walter's question from the last post is quite long-winded and requires it's own post. Alas, Brian's fallen asleep before getting around to posting. Maybe tomorrow.

On tonight's local newscast, a story ran about a black mother smothering her newborn twins and then going to sleep next to them. When questioned by police, she confessed, saying that she smothered them because they were crying and she was sleepy. Now, when I heard this, I thought, "classic post-partum." Apaprently, though, I'm mistaken. The expert from MUSC informed the viewing audience that mothers often kill out of "resentment." They resent that, because of the pregnancy and childbirth and the kids, they can't live the life they want to, so they kill.

It's staggering the number of things wrong with that statement. First, isn't not getting to live the life you want the very definition of parenting? Would anyone really, without kids, choose to spend their Saturday mornings at pee wee soccer games or playing endless, repetitive games of Disney Princesses Monopoly of Dora Candyland? Am I the only who can think of other things to do with my Saturday mornings? Second, pinning this woman's actions on resentment, without even considering the deep ambivalence many women feel about their newborn babies is damaging for all women. Everyone expects you to be immediately and wholly in love with your infant as soon as you lay eyes on them, to want to spend every waking moment simply staring at them, to be all aglow with the wonders and mysteries of motherhood. (While some women do indeed lay claim to these feelings, I'm convinced they're lying or still loopy from the epidural. Is that harsh?) If you dare express anything else, any trepidation, any fear or anxiety or ambivalence, then you're "resentful" or unfit or unnatural.

I don't know this women who killed her kids. I have no idea why she did it. But she deserves better than to be written off as "resentful."


claire said...

she deserves more than to be described as "resentful" and the whole country (world??) needs to wake up and smell the maternal ambivalence in the air. if we could deal with it publically, if we did not live by some insane myth of happy baby-talking moms (my mother admits to having little memory, opther than tears and exhaustion, of the first 12 years (5 kids) of her life as a mother) then might we not actually accomplish something? And why is that MUSC guy some sort of expert? An expert in what? obnoxious misogyny?

Heather said...

My first son was colicky. One on level I loved him, but in the beginning it was the duty kind of love. I love you because I created, I just didn't like him. Who can like a screaming machine? Of course in public I pretended. That will always be the darkest winter of my life. We lived in a drafty house, winter was dragging on and it just kept snowing.

I've grown in mothering and as a person over the past few years, I make it a point to tell new moms that "this job is hard." I try not to pretend like I'm a perfect mom; I am far from it. I try to let others know that it's OK to not be 'giddy' with motherhood when the kids are screaming, dinner isn't cooking itself, and your husband/partner/whatever has been working overtime for what feels like the millionth night in a row.

This tragedy occured about a mile from my house. I think back on those first months with my colicky child and think, "There but by the grace of God I go." I still wonder how I made it. I just hope I make it a little easier for someone else, either by letting them know their feelings are normal or if they need to get away for a couple of hours, I'll hold their screaming baby. I've done it before; I can handle a few hours again.

PS Welcome to the Lowcountry Blog Roll.

Anonymous said...

Stumbled on your, resentful, huh? Makes my head reel with memories of being just that tired, days and nights and weeks worth of tired, and trying to barter with the baby to please please please sleep. Or let me sleep. Three children and upteen years later, I wonder when are we ever going to have some sort of support system for women...oops, feel a rant coming on, better stop. Nice blog, by the way.