This is what a mother looks like

Our own Jessica Valenti wrote an incredibly brave and powerful piece for the Guardian on the premature birth of her daughter (and my niece) Layla Sorella, and the complex emotional journey that followed.

While personal, it’s one that any mother or parent could relate to around the societal pressures to love your child completely and unconditionally, when it’s just not always that simple. She says:

The truth is that relationships are nuanced. There’s no “natural” way to love a child. There’s no measurement of adoration that will gauge what’s in our hearts and minds. And yet, the expectation looms large. Even today, with Layla pudgy and happy and starting to say words such as “kitty” and “baby”, I worry about her health constantly and, at times, can feel myself starting to drift away from her. It takes work, more than I’d like to admit. If we really value parenting, if we value mothers and children, then we’ll lose the notion that there’s a proper way to love a baby.

Whether you’re a parent or not, go read it. Now.

Join the Conversation

  • Jane Osmond

    I read this earlier today and thought is was very good indeed. I too did not fall in love with my son, but I loved him fiercely and I also felt like that this was not the way ‘real’ mothers felt. However, 22 years later, I have realised that it is indeed how most mothers feel; also that there were times when i disliked my son for his behaviour but carried on loving him anyway. This is what true parenting is about for me – it is finding it incredibly hard, but doing it anyway.

  • Julia

    This is a badass article. Many of the women that I love are new, or imminent mothers. They have all in one way or another, expressed guilt about the gap between their feelings and the expectations of what they are ‘supposed’ to feel. This discussion that Jessica is starting is so important. The way that we construct motherhood in this culture is so toxic and leads to a culture of silence. Women are so terrified of being hit with the “bad mother” label that they can’t discuss these ambivalent feelings, and ultimately challenge these rigid feeling rules. Only when these are challenged do women actually have a chance of experiencing motherhood authentically and positively

  • toongrrl

    Aaaahhh…..Layla is so lucky to have Jessica as her mommy. My grandmother and several aunts have dealt with the problem of mortality with infants. Course when you are in impoverished Mexico in the 50s and 60s giving birth to 13 children and your husband is away a lot working. It was tough. Also for my cousin who when she was a baby, had surgery to remove a stomach tumor. Plus when I was born, I got a nasty case of jaundice, thank God we live in Cali. My point is that most of the Mothers in the family just loved their kids no matter what the risk and that as humans we are the only species that weren’t born with an inherent maternal or paternal bond with our children. Our species had to learn to take care of their children first. Someone should put it out there that Parenthood is not like on the media