When your little bundle doesn’t bring joy
Posted Saturday, July 28 2012 at 01:00
- A mother’s love is expected to be natural, but for some, their children only stir up resentment. Joan Thatiah explores this tough topic
Babies are joyful additions to our lives. To most people, the idea that a mother can resent a baby is repulsive.
A woman carries a baby in her womb and gives it life so a mother’s love is expected to be natural. But the sad truth is that babies aren’t always bundles of joy.
As a young carefree university student four and a half years ago, *Violet Wendo couldn’t have imagined herself capable of this kind of resentment. That was until she got pregnant with her daughter, whom she refers to as ‘the bad timing baby’.
She wasn’t given any choices regarding the conception. A male friend forced himself on her during a drunken night out and after that she worked to put this incident behind her. She only found out that she was pregnant three months later.
Violet awaited the delivery date with a deep sense of foreboding. Having a baby meant putting her dreams on hold, not to mention the inescapable servitude that would become part of her life.
“I thought that I would feel connected to the child when she was born but I didn’t; the resentment prevailed. I take care of her because I’m expected to but I feel no particular attachment to her.
She represents a reckless time that I would like to forget,” she admits.
“I know that she is a blessing and that there are many people out there who cannot have a child but I cannot get past this feeling. I can’t help it.”
What she feels isn’t the occasional flash of anger that every parent has experienced; it is a deep running resentment. And the fact that her family has never forgiven her for having a child outside wedlock doesn’t make it any easier.
According to psychologist David Kinyanjui, resenting one’s own child isn’t alien, but because of societal expectations and the sensitivity of the issue, few women will admit it even to themselves.
A mother is expected to be loving and affectionate towards her offspring thus women who find themselves harbouring resentment experience guilt or depression.
The most common root of this predicament is a woman not being ready to be a parent. A child represents a huge change and an unplanned pregnancy may make a woman feel slowed down.
A woman who gets married because she is pregnant might blame the child for trapping her if the marriage is loveless.
Every person has an ideal of the son or daughter they hope to get. Sometimes a child will turn out to be markedly different from this perfect dream, thus fuelling resentment from the parent. In some instances, a mother becomes resentful because she is overwhelmed by her duties.
However, Kinyanjui emphasises that most times, a mother’s resentment has little to do with who the child is and is more about the effect of the child or parenting.
This anger and resentment is then misdirected at the child. Rather than deal with her own feelings of regret, guilt or anger, a mother will channel these destructive feelings towards her child.