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Pru Goward, Lisa Wilkinson, and Jackie O: the debate about that photo

Sunday, April 3, 2011

So, I am sitting here gobsmacked, eyes glazed with tears.

I just heard Lisa Wilkinson from the Today show speak about these photos and this article, below (in particular the explosive quotes from politician Pru Goward):

Here is what Lisa said: "It's a comment that has deeply offended many mothers and is all the more surprising coming from a politician who, shortly afte taking office in 2007, was caught speeing in a schoolzone. We invited Ms Goward to appear on the show this morning to explain her comments. She declined because she, quote, had parliament this morning. An excuse we do find odd as Ms Goward is attending the Barnados' Mother of the Year Awards this morning. I know because I am hosting the event.

"Ms Goward, our offer for you to explain your comments stands. As I said last week, the truth is we know nothing of the circumstances behind the Jackie O photo, but we do know those first weeks of being a new mum are fraught. How we work it out is a deeply personal thing, and what none of us need is unpleasant sneering from the sidelines. And as incoming Family Services Minister, in a state with an unprecented number of children being abused and neglected, surely Ms Goward, you have more worthwhile issues to attend to."

Lisa - what can I say? You are the voice of all women. You said what many are thinking.

Yesterday, Pru was quoted saying: "We all were horrified when Michael Jackson dangled his baby out the window and this woman is crossing the road not just holding a baby but feeding a baby and I think it was unnecessarily cavalier," Ms Goward told The Sunday Telegraph.

"There would be no mother, no parent probably, or even a hardened feminist, in the country who would think that was a good way of feeding a baby, particularly a little tiny baby," she said.

Wow, Ms Goward. Bring on the onslaught. How dare you judge like this?

The first months, years even, of a new mother and baby's life together are fraught with trial and error, tears and disappointments, frustrations and sleep deprivation. Add a dollop of unsolicited advice and intense judgment and snide comments and you have a recipe for even more of the daily self-loathing and inadequacies we feel as new mothers.

How many times did I leave the house with my baby twins, desperate to be around people in some kind of social setting, head to my local Woolies supermarket, and cower in embarrassment as one or both of my twins screamed down the shop.

My elderly mother - bless her - really was no help, and so I felt so alone, so helpless, like such a failure.

Yes, I got those looks. The ones that say: "Can't you control your children? What is wrong with you? Sheesh, what's wrong with them?"

The turning point came for me one day when I'd had yet another day out from hell. I had to take my mother to the doctor's surgery. My twins screamed. I had to take my mum to the bank. My twins screamed there too.

I was in tears - actually a total mess - right there in the bank, and from behind an angel appeared: my hairdresser/family friend Alba. She scooped up my inconsolable son so quickly and without prompting; she comforted him instantly, and in that moment, I was just so grateful. She knew. She understood. Me.

The next time I saw my doctor's secretary, again in tears, she simply said: "Mothers understand. Nobody is judging you. Ignore everyone else. And this will all pass." I hugged her right there in the street, and cried some more. I cry as I write this as it takes me right back to the moment.

And I had tears as I heard Lisa Wilkinson's impassioned statement, straight down the barrel of the camera this morning.

The hazy first year of my life twins' life when I had two babies to raise, an elderly mum diagnosed with a life-threatening illness who moved in with us - and for whom I became full-time carer - were a mixture of intense emotions. There were plenty of beautiful times I will treasure forever. And there were some I'd rather forget. And with days and days filled with no help, hired, family or otherwise (I did/do have a heaven-sent/helpful husband and I did have the occasional visit from my Karitane volunteer), I felt incredibly isolated and deeply sad.

Add to that a paparazzi shot and judgement from an entire country, and, well... how do you think anyone would feel, famous or otherwise...?

What are your thoughts? Please share anything you'd like to say.

(Photos: news.com.au / Mode Media)

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