Monday, March 03, 2008

Regretting Motherhood, Not

I'm in the middle of Charlotte Mendelson's When We Were Bad, which I'm quite enjoying (radical female rabbi in North London and her supposedly-perfect-but-actually-not-so-much family--what's not to enjoy?!). One of the thing's that's most enjoyable is the portrayal of Frances, the rabbi's daughter, who is a failure as a mother. Not sure why it's so enjoyable, I think maybe because the writing is just so confident: Frances is what she is, and what she is is a disastrous mother who wonders how the hell this happened to her. Anyway, my reading matter turns out to be topical: from Jezebel, links to articles on mothers who regret it in the Times (London) and Salon.

This is actually one problem I don't have at all: much as my children drive me mad and interfere with my life, I always knew I would be a mother, have never regretted it, and really do feel like it is one of the things I'm best at (except, of course, when I'm not). I remember my (childless) sister-in-law saying once that most of her friends regretted having children, and I felt so bad for them. In fact, cliched though it probably sounds (except maybe not, in these days of embracing the bad mother within), the weeks after each of my children were born were peak experiences in my life (I'd say happiest times, but for some reason the superlative scares me in this case, prone though I usually am to superlatives). Maybe it's just intriguing to explore the alternative--though the novel is much better than either article, suggesting that the intrigue is as much about fiction as alternative.

1 comment:

Libby said...

Hmm, the Salon mom seems to be a textbook case of PPD, while the Times article may actually be chronicling its after-effects. I can certainly relate, though I didn't so much have PPD as a shared case of colic, I think. There were certainly moments in those early months when I thought we'd made a terrible mistake--but regret didn't really enter into it, even so, if that makes sense. The novel does sound more interesting than the articles.