Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Difficult Mothers

With Mother's Day just been and gone in Australia for another year, I thought this was an appropriate time to review this book.

I bought it online when Rory was just a few weeks old and I was in the midst of conflict with my own mum.  Having a child of your own kind of brings back difficult memories and magnifies present tensions.  This book contains very sensitive subject matter.  Not all of us are mothers, but all of us HAVE (or had) a mother.  It is as relevant to men with difficult mothers as much as women.  How we were mothered can affect our mothering.

Now that I'm a mother, I find the title of this book as daunting as it is intriguing.  Mothers are subject to enough criticism as it is.  The last thing they need is to be psychoanalysed and blamed for their offspring's every misdemeanour.  I would hate to find this book on Rory's bookshelf one day.  I'm far from perfect, but I don't want to be labelled 'difficult'.  For this reason, I'm giving this book away because I don't want my mum to see it in my possession.  Our relationship may not always be harmonious, but to see that book on my shelf would be hurtful to her.

I guess the logical question to ask is: what classes a mother as 'difficult'?  How difficult is difficult?  The book groups difficult mothers into the following categories:

The Angry Mother
The Controlling Mother
The Narcissistic Mother
The Envious Mother
The Emotionally Unavailable Mother

After reading this book I was relieved that although my mum displays some of these traits (except envious) and we have our differences, she is definitely not 'difficult'.  Our main issues stem from the fact we think very differently on many issues and my mum takes my disagreeing with her as a rejection of her parenting, when it's really the fact that we're just very different people.  I remember a huge argument when I was in high school; she wanted me to be a teacher and was so angry when I told her I didn't want to be one.  She wanted to be a teacher and never got to be one, so it felt like she was projecting her unfulfilled dreams onto me.  Then, of course, she doesn't really like the fact that I'm a Christian when the rest of my family isn't and that I don't vote Liberal when she has always voted Liberal.  There are some appalling mothers out there and it's no wonder some people have problems and then pass them on their children, and so the cycle of emotional and physical abuse continues.  This book is very much about educating yourself and being aware (there is a section called 'Am I a Difficult Mother?')  It's made me very aware what kind of mother I DON'T want to be.

Although this book is enlightening, there was one bit which left a bad taste in my mouth.  It was about depressed mothers and the effect that growing up with a depressed mother can have on a child.  I already wonder/worry what effect my PND could have on Rory or any future children, and I felt this section was rubbing guilt into still fresh wounds.

This is a book for anyone who's had a 'difficult' mother or even a strained relationship with their mother.  Even if you've had a great relationship with your mother, it's still good to realise what others go through.

If anyone would like to borrow/keep this book, let me know via the comments section and I'll arrange to get it to you.

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