Dedicated to the support and understanding of the family
and its members in their cultural context
for Mothers' Stories about "Unexpected Mothering"
© 2004-2005 Cynthia Good Mojab*
Dear colleagues and fellow mothers:
Some time ago, I wrote an essay on the topic of "Unexpected Mothering." Since then, I've been wanting to write more about the role of expectations in mothering. To help me do so, I'm looking for examples of times when mothering didn't go as expected.
Mothering is such a broad experience that there are many kinds of situations in which our expectations might not match real life experience. That mismatch can be the source of many emotions--from frustration and grief to ambivalence and confusion to joy and satisfaction. Times that mothering didn't go as expected could be related to conceiving, pregnancy, labor, birth, adoption, breastfeeding, sleeping (yours and/or your child[ren]'s), eating, development (yours, your child's and/or your family's), learning (including schooling, homeschooling), traveling, relocating, playing, loving guidance, health (yours and/or your child[ren]'s), relationships (between you and your child, between you and other people), taking care of other things while trying to mother (e.g., housekeeping, employment, partner, non-mothering life, ...), dealing with criticism, legal issues, social issues, economic issues, grieving losses, the impact of your own upbringing on mothering, etc. Situations can involve any aspect of mothering whatsoever that involved a clash between expectations and reality: "I thought it would be like this, but instead, I experienced this."
If you are interested in sharing your experience, please think about the possible topics and select a situation (you can submit more than one situation if you like). Then, please write your story in any way you like (e.g., in the form of a story, in question and answer format, etc.) while including--for each situation you describe--the following information and any other details you feel might be useful to me or other mothers. If your story is quoted or described in a future publication by me, it will be quoted or described anonymously.
If you have time and interest to share your experiences, please submit your story by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it by post to Cynthia Good Mojab, PO Box 5803, Aloha, Oregon, 97006. The postal option would permit you to share your experiences completely anonymously if you wanted. That is, I don't have to know who you are. By the act of submitting your situation to me you will be granting me permission to quote and/or describe your situation anonymously in one or more future publications. Whether I include your particular story in a future publication or not, it will still have helped me to understand the issues better and to write a more helpful publication because of it. If you know of another mother who might be interested in sharing her story, please feel free to direct her to the "Current Research" link at the top of the main page of my website, Ammawell (http://home.comcast.net/~ammawell).
- What was the situation? Please describe it in enough detail that someone who doesn't know you would have a basic understanding of what was going on.
- How did you feel?
- What did you do when you recognized the mismatch between your expectations and what was actually happening?
- What did you learn from experiencing that unexpected mismatch?
- Where do you think your expectations came from?
- If the conflict between what you expected and what actually happened was challenging, how did you resolve the conflict? How did you cope? Or if you haven't resolved it, how are you managing to live with the conflict?
- How many children do you have now?
- How many children did you have during the time of the situation you describe?
- Did you adopt or physically birth (or a little of both) the child(ren) in the situation you describe?
- What is your age now?
- What was your age and your child(ren)'s age(s) during the time of the situation you describe?
- How would you describe yourself in terms of nationality, cultural heritage, ethnicity, religion, and/or language(s) (e.g., American, German, Vietnamese-American, a combination of several cultural heritages [name each], Spanish- and English-speaking, etc.).
- What State/Province and country do you live in now? If your current residence is different from where you were living during the situation you describe, where were you living then?
- Do you have any words of wisdom for new mothers who may not expect to have a conflict between their expectations and their actual experience and who might not anticipate what "real mothering" might be like?
Thank you very much in advance,
Cynthia Good Mojab, MS clinical psychology, IBCLC, RLC, CATSM
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