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Mama the film - Updates - Givealittle

  • MAMA at Burning Man     16 August 2017
    Posted by: Sonia Troiani
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    Dear all, Mama is going to Burning Man! Woohoo! Filming will resume on the playa in less than 2 weeks. I'll have an excellent cameraman for the shoot and the most beautiful of landscapes. I'll also be a guest speaker at Burning Man with my talk: "Breaking the frame of motherhood". I am very excited and always grateful for all the support and rewarding feedback you give me. Please help me to promote the project by inviting your friends to like the FB page. With much love and gratitude :)

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  • MAMA filming in India     3 May 2017
    Posted by: Sonia Troiani
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    Dearest MAMA community, your support makes a difference! A big thank you to each and everyone of you who's donated for MAMA so far. One of you generous donors has been organising for me to go and film in an indigenous village in the North-East of India and interview some women and experts in Delhi. I will be looking at how matrilineal societies, cast system, religious identity etc. shape the experience of motherhood in India. I've always been interested in the cultural differences that exist within the concepts of womanhood and motherhood and India seems to be the perfect place to explore such differences. Please keep sharing the project with your friends, invite them to donate, like the FB page, follow the weekly MAMA live chats on FB. This is a self-produced project and I need all your commitment to the cause of mothers' wellbeing to bring this film to fruition. With love and gratitude, Sonia

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  • MAMA goes to India <3      2 May 2017
    Posted by: Sonia Troiani
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    Mama will be filming in India from May 15th. Woohoo! How exciting is that?? Thank you to everyone for all the love and support you're giving this project :)

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  • excerpts from mums' interviews 3     10 January 2017
    Posted by: Sonia Troiani

    My mate and I always talk about how it’s a love hate relationship with kids. You love them deeply and are fiercely protective but they test every bit of your patience, resilience and love.

    I regret the way my teens (twin boys) can still bring me to anger even after raising them for 14 years. One of them has been so challenging and rude I have seriously hated his behaviour and have wanted to grab him and shake him in fact I could have happily punched him. That isn’t a glib comment. He has pushed and pushed and it’s taken every ounce of resistance not to do so.

    Also with the teenagers with repeated efforts to get them to focus on their education there are momentary feelings of ‘sod you then’ I’ve done everything I can - you’ll have to learn it the hard way. But I just can’t actually give up on them it’s a dichotomy…

    I also remember how with my twin boys were babies I was hugely sleep deprived – On occasions I would reach breaking point. I felt like I just wanted to throw them down into the cot – It was a very strange feeling – as my whole body felt aggressive but the actual act of putting them down hard into the cot ceased at the point of contact. It was as though something primitive kicked in to stop me from physically harming them

    With my 3-year-old boy, he is constantly touching things or me and falling over, bashing into things climbing, flopping around etc. Although my primary concern is to help him I can get very frustrated by him, almost claustrophobic and don’t want him anywhere near me as he tries to put his hand up my jumper for the thousandth time.

    Also as a baby he would not take a bottle so I was the only person who could feed him. He was VERY hungry as he is a big boy and always wanting to be near me. A year of breast-feeding was a big mixture of pleasure and pain for me. You know it’s the best for baby but it felt like a term of hard labour at times and a great sacrifice. One that I had resentful feelings towards him for - but again I knew it wasn't his fault so I couldn't deprive him of food and contact.

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  • Excerpts from mums' interviews 2     10 January 2017
    Posted by: Sonia Troiani

    I have to say during the first year of being a mother I felt nothing but despair over the massive change in my life. I left having children until my 40's so had had a very free life up to then enjoying the flexibility, money and social life that really allowed me to do most things I wanted.

    Then wham, along came children (a planned pregnancy but not expecting two). The first 12 weeks we survived simply by knowing we needed to but after that everything went downhill. I spent most of my time crying and didn't want the babies at all. I don't know how many times I picked the phone up to call social services to see if they would take the babies. I can only describe what I felt as despair at the complete lack of control I had over anything. No sleep, no time, no healthy eating, no exercise, no cleaning or tidying, no socialising. I think it was more than doubly hard having two children.

    I ended up with PND, taking prozac and having counselling for over a year and now 2.5 years on from the birth, I'm slowly getting over it but I remain desperately disappointed that I hated the first year and didn't have all those lovely motherly feelings. Every time the boys cried I used to think they were punishing me for something (irrational now but seemed all too real then).

    I am really keen in the future to find time to help other mums of twins or mums of singletons who are having a really tough time as I can't bear the thought of someone going through what I went through.

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  • Excerpts from mums' interviews 1     10 January 2017
    Posted by: Sonia Troiani

    I love my kids to bits and put them first every time. I feel that I am a very good mum. However, that is at a sacrifice to me. Life changes ENORMOUSLY when you have kids. People certainly don't talk fully about that. Certainly I had many friends that had kids a few years before me but none of them really spoke about the changes- except for the broken nights.

    Adjusting to being a parent was a huge change. In a career, you can have a large work load, deadlines and demands but you can sit down and plan how best to tackle this. As the parent of a newborn (breastfeeding) life is completely unpredictable; you can't schedule a way to try to fit everything in! You spend hours pinned to the sofa breastfeeding or jiggling around a fractious baby! It took me a few weeks to stop trying to do my 'to do list’ and to plan to do nothing and feel a great sense of achievement if I did actually manage to do anything other than care for the baby!

    Those early days are really hard and it gets easier eventually and when the 2nd child comes along you've made the transition and wonder why you found it so hard the 1st time. I wished I could have had no 2 with the experience of no 1 but without the toddler to deal with! I could then have really enjoyed it! Certainly the 2nd time I relished the fact that I had to spend hours each day sat on the sofa feeding (as I'd long since had the chance to sit!).

    Now they are both past the baby stage it is still difficult, but in different ways. They feed themselves, take themselves to the toilet etc but they don't sleep in the day and neither are they both at school- so there is very little respite form the constant interruption/demands. I can't even concentrate on washing up for more than 2 mins without someone wanting their bum wiped/banging their head,/getting upset because brother has wrecked his lego etc etc etc. I once read that 'for psychological wellbeing one needs to experience 'flow'', with 'flow' being defined as that state one is in when you are totally absorbed in something such that time flies by really quickly. Well, that NEVER occurs when you are a full time mum! You do start to feel slightly mad- craving just 20 mins peace to be able to think! Evenings are spent doing the not-so-exciting things you can't do when they are around like folding washing, online banking.. and before you know it it's bedtime (to get in enough sleep before the 6am awakening!) I dream of the time my husband and I had before with theatre trips, long walks at weekends, cooking new recipes! If I had my time again, would I have kids? I think probably not! That sounds a terrible thing to say- and I certainly would dread for anything to happen to them, but I think I would enjoy life more, at present, if I was childless.

    I think parents need to get the balance right. Certainly at present I don't get enough time to myself- and I don't necessarily mean a day at a health spa, but just time where I can get something done, even if it’s domestic stuff, without interruption or without my eye on the clock for a school pick up or need to cook a meal. I never get to relax as I am always expecting an interruption or am trying to do something really quickly before a school pick up or such like.

    I sometimes, or, if I am honest, often, I feel myself begrudging my kids. But actually its not them I begrudge- they are gorgeous, but the position I am in. I am frustrated much of the time! Going back to work would be a far easier job- but I don't think it would be good for the kids. I am in the fortunate position that I don't have to work and I choose to do what I think is best for the kids. The time will come in a few more years when they are both at school and I can restart my career.

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  • Article on maternal ambivalence for the NCT magazine UK, 2009     10 January 2017
    Posted by: Sonia Troiani

    Published in the NCT (National Childbirth Trust) magazine, UK in 2009.

    GOOD MOTHERS AND BAD MOTHERS

    Sonia Doulton – 2009

    What is maternal ambivalence? How near do hate and aggression lie to love?

    The Ik is a tribe living in the mountains of the northern border of Uganda. They were displaced from their land to create a national park and consequently suffered extreme famine. Starvation caused a disintegration of their social organization and the family as an institution ceased to exist. Children by age three are expelled from the household and form groups consisting of those of the same age. No adults look after the children, who teach each other the basics of survival. Children are seen as annoying competitors in the hunt for food and sentiments of love between parents and child find no place. The Ik are not an isolated case. A dislike for children can be found in the culture of other primitive societies too.

    What about our civilized Western society? Are we different? High is the number of children annually taken into public care in the Western world and many are the accounts of parental cruelty, neglect or desertion. Filicide is increasingly common. According to the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) every ten days in England and Wales one child is killed at the hands of their parent. In half (52%) of all cases of children killed at the hands of another person, the parent is the principal suspect.

    Being a mother means to subordinate your needs to those of your children. It’s a hard job, exhausting, lonely and mind-numbingly boring, nothing to do with the idyll that some women expect. Many women experience mixed feelings about motherhood but few express them. This culture is reluctant to acknowledge the complexity of maternal experience and divides women into bad mothers who abuse children and leave them alone (the witch hunt involving Madeleine McCann’s mother is an example), and good mothers, the perfect housewives and domestic goddesses.

    Maternal love is often regarded as an instinct, a spontaneous and simple consequence of having a child, as opposed to maternal neglect and cruelty usually judged as rare aberrations. In reality there is nothing simple or straightforward about motherhood. The personality development of a mother is deeply ingrained in the societal expectation that women are the primary caretakers of children. This role defines how women develop their sense of self and morality and their function of being responsible for those around them.

    The role of women in society has changed a lot since feminism, yet the social construct of motherhood is still quite rigid and polarised. Motherhood is either denigrated or idealised. We ignore most mothers’ emotional reality, because to acknowledge the complexity of the maternal experience is too threatening to our cultural stability.

    A lot of pressure is put on mothers to live up to a certain maternal ideal. Mothers consequently learn to repudiate their negative feelings towards their children and imprison them in depression. An understanding of maternal ambivalence is difficult in our culture because the general perception is that negative feelings towards our children are unacceptable and potentially dangerous. The result is that these feelings are internalised and become persecutory guilt and depression.

    According to the Royal College of Midwives 20% of women suffer from Post Natal Depression and 44% of them will pretend with their health visitors that everything is fine. In many cases depression can be triggered by the inability to live up to the myth of perfect mothering, which is an unachievable ideal.

    The world of mothers is a very competitive one. It’s rare to hear a mother complaining about her role because motherhood is portrayed as a natural state for a woman and the “natural” is associated with maternal love and not with maternal hate. Mothers feel judged by society as well as judging themselves harshly and feel shame for not measuring up. The natural mothering is a land of perfection where even the odd bottle-feed is a source of shame. The prevalence of how-to mothering programmes, like “Supernanny”, just add more pressure.

    Female aggression is a component of maternal ambivalence. Because of the taboo that surrounds it mothers easily distance themselves from their own destructiveness and as a consequence, from the creative potential of their own ambivalence. The rejection of the aggression negatively affects both the mother’s development and her relationship with the child. When aggressive feelings are split-off instead of being experienced consciously and thought about, they can be acted-out. The risk of abuse could be avoided if our culture allowed mothers to have their ambivalent feelings without instilling shame and guilt in them. Mothers would be able to think about what is happening in their relationship with their children, and use their ambivalence creatively.

    Negative feelings are a valuable source of information about our environment and our lives. They alert us when our needs are not being met. Being aware of them increases the wellbeing of those around us and increases our capacities for collegiality and growth.

    Our culture’s deep ambivalence about maternal ambivalence is rooted in our infantile terror that a mother’s hate will destroy her love and concern, leading to a child’s isolation and abandonment.

    The cultural fantasy of the ‘at-oneness’ of mother and child fortifies an idealised conception of motherhood in which separateness and differences are not promoted and in which a mother’s capacity for creative thinking is undermined. The majority of mothers respond to this deeply established cultural imperative and disallow themselves to experience consciously both positive and negative feelings towards their children. The denial of these feelings estranges mothers from their emotional reality and makes them emotionally inaccessible to the developing child.

    The psychological conflicts and difficulties confronted by women when becoming mothers are enormous: women don’t find the expected, stereotyped rewards of motherhood and experience a sense of inadequacy, which can lead to hostility against those who they love the most: their own children. The child is perceived, as a narcissistic extension of themselves and the cruelty inflicted on the child is in fact a self-punishment. The clichéd motherhood ideal that exists in our society inhibits mothers from sharing the unthinkable truth of their hatred and unable to confide those horrid feelings to anyone, they find themselves in a condition of isolation where a negative spiral can get started.

    It’s important to subvert the tendency to define female identity with maternity, renounce the construct of women mothers that pervade our culture and instead develop a construct of women as full subjects. The rigid dichotomy of the denigrating/idealising maternal notion prevents women from experiencing their own aggressive potential in a conscious way, without persecutory guilt and self-loathing. By dismantling the taboo surrounding maternal ambivalence, a more creative, autonomous and subjective experience of femininity would be possible whether women choose to become mothers or not.

    A mother needs to know herself, to own up to the diverse, contradictory, often overwhelming feelings evoked by motherhood. Only a mother who can face her own inner turbulence can make sense of her child’s. It’s only by accepting that at times you are a bad mother, that you can ever be a good mother.

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