A few weeks after giving birth to a healthy son in hospital, I became increasingly angry. Anger resides in my body. She is a brave woman who will not budge and lies silently under the surface waiting to escape from me. The ventricles are made of sandpaper and rubbed together. But most of all she knew my ratio and let me scream, being unreasonable and demanding. It’s in every fiber of my shaky body, in my still distended stomach and in my pelvis. In the weary arms with which I carry my child night after night. I got angry with my friend when he forgot to pour vinegar into the bottles that had to be boiled, so that now they come out of the water with a layer of lime – and I myself regularly forget it. For teens who don’t make room on the tram when I bring the pram. Other people who have kids bragged about how well their kids slept. The little things that aren’t really crazy in themselves.
Perhaps anger because of my birth. A five-hour hiccup in which I lose all sense of time and feel like I’m jumping on the edge of death. Before my birth, they said in my pregnancy cycle that I would know if I had a “real” contraction, but because my labor started with a contraction, I had no idea. When my son is almost there, at the end of those five hours that I’ve been taken twice, first to the birth center and then to the hospital, where I’m naked under a fluorescent light and can’t tell I want to wear a T-shirt, after I’ve had contractions and my son has a rate monitor The heart beats on his skull in the womb, his head is born but his body is not yet born. He has shoulder dystocia, which means he is stuck. In a panic, the midwife hits the alarm and countless people rushed into the room where I was pushed naked on my hands and knees so my baby could be removed from me. He limps when he’s born. Nobody says anything. We don’t know if he’s alive until he starts crying after what seems like an eternity.
Probably because my son started crying after a few weeks. No one told me about the hours of crying. It’s not hours, but long and painful hours, during which I panic and don’t know what to do to help him.
Maybe it’s the pain I feel and still feel in my body for that first year after giving birth. A stiff and bad feeling all over my extremities every time I have to get out of bed at night because my son is crying, and every morning when I wake up.
In the first months I get really angry, I expect this anger to subside, but it didn’t happen in my early years as a mother. Whenever I try to find something on the internet about postpartum anger, I turn towards postpartum depression. He asks the people I tell about her if I’m sure I’m not depressed. But I’m not depressed, I’m angry. I don’t want my anger to end in a medical range and you can solve my drug. It is remarkable how people try to change what I feel into a socially acceptable alternative. They want me not to be angry, but rather gloomy. They want to replace aggression with sadness. But the anger is there for a reason, I think.
The legend of the pink cloud has now been somewhat shattered. Having become clear that for many women there can be thunder and lightning in the clouds after childbirth, grief in the postpartum period is somewhat permissible. Sadness, disappointment, guilt, grief for not being able to meet expectations, for example. We have come to appreciate mothers sometimes expressing grief, especially when tears are shed on the child rather than on oneself. When sadness does not come out of hysterical hyperventilation, but in beautiful tears drooping on the cheeks. Tears that can be shared on social media, tears in which people think they can distinguish authenticity.
angry and bitter
However, anger remains totally out of the question as an affection for women, especially mothers. This is also what Soraya Shamali found in her book shining with anger. She writes about women who come to her and ask how they can defend themselves without appearing angry or bitter. She writes how anger is reprehensible in women, and how women are taught from an early age not to express their negative feelings. Once a woman is described as an “angry woman,” she knows that people don’t think she can think objectively and clearly.
According to Schmale, motherhood and the response to anger are linked: “Motherhood is central to society’s image of women, and our ideas of mothers—as beings of care, tolerance, and sacrifice—play a key role in how women react to anger.” She also points out that many women are actually surprised during pregnancy by the intense anger caused by their changing relationship with a spouse or partner, by their environment or by the realization that there is a double standard that sets them behind.
I’m aware of the latter, because although I’ve been immersed in feminism and inequality since puberty, I haven’t been affected by it since I was a mother. From the moment I had a baby, my independence completely changed. Until my mother became a somewhat independent person, I did my best to become one. As a mother to a young child, I seem to depend on everything and everyone. Something has changed irrevocably between me and the others. This really started during childbirth, when I was completely dependent on midwives and doctors. But even now I always need help. I became more dependent on my friend, of course, but also on colleagues, who sometimes had to take over work, or on strangers, if I wanted to take the bus with the pram, or worse, had to pee while we were out. From the nursery and other people who take care of my child. I am less individual and more part of a collective system formed around my son.
According to anthropologist and primate zoologist Sarah Blaver-Herdy, this clustering is one of the reasons we’ve made progress as a species. call it cooperative breedingRaising children together. The image of a mother who cares and takes care of herself is inconsistent with what we know about humanity. So my increased dependence on others is very common. It takes a village to raise a child A common saying but it depends on it village Satisfies Not me at all.
First of all, it’s not because help is not an option – without help you simply can’t survive as a full-time working mom – but on top of that, the people you depend on hold a certain view with them. A visualization of how it should be and how it should not be, in which mothers are still seen as nurturing, tolerant and self-sacrificing beings. A view that is often much more traditional than mine. 80% of the Dutch still believe that the ideal working week for a mother with young children is no more than three days. Of course I shouldn’t care about that, but it’s not that easy, because these ideas of how things should be, are in me too. I’m in a constant battle with myself over wanting to live up to standards and not wanting to live up to standards. This is partly due to the fact that the image of a caring, tolerant and self-sacrificing mother is still considered normal. And that’s harder than not meeting standards: being seen as abnormal.
Adrienne Rich Subscriptions On the woman born: motherhood is an experience and an institution That the problem with motherhood is that it is not seen as an institution, when it is. The institute publishes norms, values, norms, traditions, and structures, but according to Rich, these are largely invisible: “When we think of the institution of maternity, no symbolic structure comes to mind, there is no visible embodiment of power, authority, the possible, the possible, or. real violence. When you think of motherhood, you think of home and we see home as a private sphere.
Wine and breastfeeding
The institute promotes the mother who loves always and unconditionally. Instead of criticizing the institute’s standards, and the myths of unsatisfactory motherhood, especially now that a mother is transitioning into a profession and still takes on the bulk of caring responsibilities at home, mothers are blaming themselves for what’s going on. I argue about my family and blame myself for wanting too much. It is easier to fight a recognizable villain than an invisible enemy. And the institution of maternity is an invisible enemy. There are many situations in which people end up not merely blaming our responsibility, situations in which we see circumstances as having an effect. In motherhood, there are still very few circumstances to consider. Rich writes, “In our long history, we have accepted the stresses of motherhood as if it were a law of nature.” You blame yourself for failing as a mother. Fathers are also not taken for granted in the maternity institution, which is unfavorable for fathers and mothers.
At the institute, mothers also take care of each other. I share a picture of myself with a glass of wine in my hand and my baby in the carrier on social media and someone I don’t know writes under my message that she hopes I don’t breastfeed. Motherhood means that I am less able to withdraw from the judgment of others. As a mother on the outside and with her child, you always get attention and lose the freedom to think that you are invisible. You become visible as a mother and invisible as something else. This is to be angry.
If you want to be anything other than a mother, you have to claim it and resist that establishment. Against other people’s ideas and yours and perhaps that’s why I don’t want my anger to be seen as depression, because anger forces me to resist. I need anger to bring about change on a personal level. To know what I want, which I haven’t done much yet. Often I would let others take advantage of my time, but this is no longer possible with children, because it is already impossible to combine work and care. Anger forces me to stand up for myself like I’ve never done before. As Soraya Shamali writes, “Although there is a perception that anger floods the mind, when you truly understand it, anger is an amazingly illuminating emotion.” And more than personally, I think we need this outrage in society to change the institution of motherhood with its ingrained standards. It’s really time for that.
Ianthe Mosselman (32 years old) is a software maker at the De Balie Center for Dialogue and Culture in Amsterdam and a writer. This article is an editorial portion of its first appearance All that love and anger. Becoming a Mother, Memoirs. On Saturday 2 April, a program on Motherhood will be held today in De Bali, with Moselman as one of the speakers. Tickets via debalie.nl.