So­ci­ety ex­pects women to trans­form into coo­ing mothers

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Best Weekend - - FRONT PAGE -

Jo Martin is mum to Juliet, 2, (pic­tured left) and new­born Eleanora. The English teacher found her first ma­ter­nity leave iso­lat­ing and says this time she will take time out for her­self. She says: “It was a hor­ren­dous tran­si­tion to ma­ter­nity leave for me the first time. I found it very dif­fi­cult go­ing from an in­cred­i­bly stim­u­lat­ing adult en­vi­ron­ment to the iso­la­tion of be­ing at home with a scream­ing baby.

I tried to counter that by throw­ing my­self into the mum cul­ture and mak­ing or­ganic purees and go­ing along to rhyme time and all the stuff you’re sup­posed to do, which I found did make the days go quicker but it of­fered noth­ing in terms of meet­ing my needs for adult stim­u­la­tion and con­ver­sa­tion and to be in­tel­lec­tu­ally chal­lenged.

I think so­ci­ety ex­pects women, and other car­ers, who are used to be­ing chal­lenged and cre­ative to just trans­form from thriv­ing in pro­duc­tive ca­reers to be­com­ing smil­ing, coo­ing mothers who are con­tent with hav­ing lit­tle to do.

I just felt so iso­lated. Even some­thing as sim­ple as the news be­comes a lux­ury. When you’re at work, even if you don’t have time to read the pa­pers, peo­ple will be chat­ting about the big news items of the day, whereas on ma­ter­nity leave, you’re cut off from a lot of those ca­sual adult con­ver­sa­tions. I think groups that of­fer the chance for mums to fol­low their in­ter­ests while their chil­dren are looked af­ter in the room next door are re­ally promis­ing, be­cause they try very hard to give women the op­por­tu­nity to go beyond the baby con­ver­sa­tions.

And hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to hand the re­spon­si­bil­ity of your baby over to a nanny for an hour is like a breath of fresh air, I guess it’s putting down a bit of a weight for a bit. For me it’s get­ting the chance to stretch and re­lax and find a way back to my pre­mother self.”

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