This post is in response to the NaBloPoMoUK challenge: a blog post a day throughout November.
When I was pregnant with my son, friends with children would tell me how their relationship with their own mother was changing, how they were becoming closer, how they now understood one another more. People told me how much of a support my mother would be once my baby was born. Unfortunately, I don’t have a mother, and I wondered whether I was going to be seriously disadvantaged.
What kind of support do mothers generally give their daughters when the baby is born? The mothers of most of my friends came to stay with them for a few days, helping out with night feeds, nappy changes, all the extra washing. As time progressed, they were there to offer advice about illnesses, teething, weaning. They offered babysitting services to facilitate a well-deserved break and other practical help like shopping when it seemed impossible to leave the house. I didn’t have any of that, so I wondered which role models I could look towards in the absence of a mother of my own. As has happened so often in my life before, I looked to my friends and they were wonderful. Hubby and I managed the practical side of things between us without disaster and our wonderful friends shared the emotional joy of our little one with us.
I’m absolutely certain that I’m not the only mother in this situation. I wonder about daughters who are carers for their own mothers as well as their babies and those whose mothers are still in their lives but not to a consistent degree. There must be mothers with mental health or substance abuse issues who wouldn’t be able to offer support to their daughters. How do those daughters manage? At least I knew where I stood and had lived most of my life without maternal support and so was well used to it. What about those women whose mothers were less consistent?
When my child was first born, I did some research and found various support groups for motherless mothers but they were all based upon the assumption that they were motherless through bereavement. I wondered about new mothers who are estranged from their mothers. Would estranged daughters be welcome at such groups? Ultimately, I didn’t pursue it. I felt confident in my abilities despite my experience of not really having a mother since forever and the poor parenting I had received. Towards the birth I briefly wondered whether I was missing something, not missing my own mother but missing having a mother at all. The answer to that is yes, a little. I did miss having a mother with whom I could share my pregnancy, the birth of my lovely child, those first happy days and weeks that followed. But my own mother would not have been capable of sharing that with me so I can honestly say, as I have really known no different, I don’t think I missed much and I didn’t wonder about it for very long. Instead I have concentrated on being the best parent I can be to my son. I can’t change the past, but I can influence the future.
How much support do mothers provide their daughters? Could you have survived without her in those early days?