The vacillation of love and hate that many women feel toward their children is an unspoken subject that feeds maternal shame. This is a thoughtful working through of that taboo, with a confident message that should reassure: hateful feelings are not only normal, but also important for good mothering.
Not just for new mothers, this is a sensitive and broadly researched reflection upon motherhood and its changing cultural influences. It offers comfort to those navigating a conflicting realm of difficult feelings, with a deference to – and clarity about – the reality of post-partum depression too.
Resting on the argument that a woman needs to be uncertain and confused to be able to adapt well to her new baby, Stadlen writes wisely and compassionately about the profoundly important – yet often ignored – tasks that mothers do, throughout day and night. This affirms and encourages without ever drifting into prescriptive mode.
I’ve yet to meet a mother struggling with her mental health who doesn’t berate herself. Research is mounting that self-compassion is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal; it is an antidote to self-criticism and also helps increase resilience and teaches us to care for others. This workbook has helped many of my clients water the seeds of self-compassion that lie within us all.
O’Connell’s unflinching and winningly wry chronicle of her pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood speaks of the tougher aspects of living with a new role and altered body and psyche. She writes of her visceral discomforts and urgent, competing and confusing feelings with an obvious wish to console kindred spirits rather than indulge in solipsism.
Julia Bueno is the author of The Brink of Being: Talking about Miscarriage