Thursday, January 18, 2007

Dr. Helen: The Delusion of the "Perfect" Mother

Dr. Helen: The Delusion of the "Perfect" Mother
I have never understood the machismo that women put themselves, or worse, others, through to try to live up to some non-reachable standard regarding mothering and childbirth--but have you noticed all the while, these same women are the ones complaining bitterly about how some men are too macho. What's the difference?

And for women who tend to suffer from depression or mood disorders, the delusion of the perfect mother is more devastating, because the dichotomy between what they are able to do as a mother and what they perceive they should be doing is usually greater than for those women not suffering from these disorders. Therefore, their wish to be the perfect mom is more likely to come crashing down around them and result in an exacerbation of their postpartum depression.

As a psychologist, I have seen many more children in treatment because their mother was depressed and stressed out then I have seen kids who missed out on breastfeeding until college. Adrienne finally discovers this by the end of the book: Her daughter now "watches TV. She eats red dye and French fries and nonorganic produce, but generally not at the same time. The holier-than-thou mommy patrol, who believe in breastfeeding until college and growing their own organic flax, would be appalled. Which is fine, really, because they aren't much fun to hang out with in the first place. I can be perfect and completely insane or good enough and sane enough." Sometimes good enough is....enough.


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