Mother Love

Ok, Ok, I am trying to deep-breathe my way through this next blog post but so far it’s not working. In fact I’ve turned a fetching shade of puce and if you’re lucky I may actually pass out before I reach the end. You see in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook killings there are a thousand things for us to debate including gun laws and mental health provision but there’s one thing that I really do not want to hear any more about and it is this: the demonisation of mothers.

You see every time there is an event of this kind the media performs some sort of autopsy on the killer’s family. In this case the world is trying to understand the hideous actions of the killer, Adam Lanza, by peering into the life of his mother, Nancy. It is said that she was a survivalist, that she collected the guns that her son used to kill her and his other victims and that upon divorcing Adam’s father was granted the authority to make all the decisions about her son’s upbringing.

Cue her demonisation. You see, we’ve seen it all before with the disappearance of little April Jones from Machynlleth in October this year and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in 2007. The questions about their mothering skills were endless and hateful. How could she let her child play outside? How could she look so cold? And now, how could she have kept guns?

See, over and over again what society seems to forget at times like this is that parenting isn’t just about the mother. It’s about the father too. So why do we so rarely see fathers being blamed for what becomes of their kids? I don’t recall April Jones’ father being hounded by the press when his daughter went missing and I don’t recall Maddy McCann’s dad getting even half of the kicking that her mother received. And now that we’re turning our attention to Nancy Lanza I don’t suppose we’ll hear anything much about Adam’s dad either.

It always comes back to the mother and for some reason we all love nothing more than to pull them apart. When apportioning blame we are all over the mothers like a bad fucking rash. We suddenly forget that mothers are not the only determinant in their child’s lives.

We conveniently ignore the fathers who could have had an impact, the teachers who could have made a difference or the social services who could have offered better provision. Suddenly it’s as if mothers work in splendid isolation, being the sole influence upon their kids’ lives and actions. We also forget, in cases such as the Sandy Hook killings, that perpetrators also have minds of their own, minds that work outside the influence of their mothers. Yet mothers are somehow expected to override all of this and take control of events that are so much bigger than them.

Why? What in the fuck have women done to deserve this. You see, if you expect mothers to be the sole factor in the outcome of their children then you also expect mothers to be superhuman. Just how wildly unrealistic is that?

Worse, this notion that mothers are omnipresent and that they should have total and complete control over their children means that mothers will always fail. Always. After all, what else would result from this laughably unrealistic expectation? When the bar becomes so high that no mother can ever reach it, failure is the only option.

Yes, there are times when mothers completely fuck up, yet there are also times when fathers completely fuck up. Then there are those parents to whom shit simply happens. Real, life-changing, soul-crushing, stinking shit regardless of how perfectly they have tried to raise their kids or how well intentioned their actions.

So in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook murders perhaps we could spare a thought for how the media portrays mothers, regardless of how you feel about Nancy Lanza’s beliefs. By blaming the mother and only the mother we take the focus off the role that every member of society plays in how our kids turn out and that would be one of the greatest crimes of all.

So what do you reckon? Do I have a point or have I got it all wrong. Oh go on, you know I am dying to know.

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6 Responses to Mother Love

  1. Andy says:

    You are right to point out how prevalent this kind of crap is. With all the horror surrounding these awful events it is easy for certain attitudes to slip by unnoticed. I don’t think we should shy away from talking about any uncomfortable subjects if we actually want to see change.

    I have a question though. When April Jones was abducted the majority of the comments I was most shocked by came from other Mothers who displayed a stunning lack of empathy. Why is this? I really don’t understand and I would love to hear your views.

    • Lucy says:

      Part of the reason there appears to be a stunning lack of empathy on the part of other mothers, I feel, is that motherhood in this modern age can be a complete catfight. We are all desperate to prove to the outside world that we can do this, we can bring up our children perfectly, we can be the best mother ever to our offspring – and sadly it’s become part of that strive for perfection to sneer at those who do not match up to your own ideals. People will go for the negatives in any situation like this, rather than the positives, as they are easier targets to pick on and they’ll get more support from the world at large if they do.
      And this happens across the board – not just about motherhood. One of the reasons I stopped living in Wales was because I heard endless negativity about the English, and that dislike (I wouldn’t quite say hate, but it wasn’t far from it) was becoming a bigger and bigger part of the Welsh national identity. I always felt that a national identity and culture should be based upon positive reasoning and the great things about a nation – and there are many in and about Wales – but all I heard was this focus on negatives and what Wales wasn’t. And it’s that same thing. It is easier to focus on bad things that to find the positives.

    • The Kraken says:

      Thanks Andy. With the April Jones thing I too was astounded at why so many mothers were quick to demonise another mother. I still can’t fully understand it. Perhaps it was about some women rationalising what had happened by apportioning blame to the mother in an effort to understand why the abduction happened (simply because it is too horrific to imagine that perverts on every street corner so it is easier to blame the actions of one mum). Saying that, competitive mothering seems to be the norm these days and you see this slagging off of each other in every playground in the land. My cod psychology is that when you are slagging off another mum you are actually trying to make yourself sound better than them because in reality you are riddled with insecurities about how you are raising your own kids. Perhaps it’s about making yourself look better by making others look shit. Heh, bet you wish you hadn’t asked now.

      • Lucy says:

        “My cod psychology is that when you are slagging off another mum you are actually trying to make yourself sound better than them because in reality you are riddled with insecurities about how you are raising your own kids. Perhaps it’s about making yourself look better by making others look shit.”

        Abso-bloody-lutely. That is exactly what is happening.

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