Literary Mama's own Rebecca Kaminsky interviews Marrit Ingman about her forthcoming memoir, Inconsolable, due out from Seal Press in October. In talking about the book, which explores Ingman's experience with post-partum depression, they hit upon what's turned out to be a fruitful topic among mothers: judgement.
- RK: In the book you talk about the judgment mothers have of one another's parenting. Did your perceived judgment by other mothers at the time of your depression affect your recovery from PPD? Do you think that these judgments affect how we perceive ourselves?
MI: A hundred times yes. I went into labor as a very judgmental person, and I came out of it with a surgical birth, and in my community that's considered a failure. I'm a middle-class white person living in a politically progressive community, more or less, and I think there's a lot of pressure on families to stick to the model of "I don't vaccinate, and I had a homebirth, and we have a family bed, and we eat organic food from the farmer's market" or whatever. When I wasn't able to do some of those things, I felt like even more of a failure. We forget sometimes that it's hard to reason qualitatively when you are depressed. It's hard to reason qualitatively when you are tired and you have an infant, and you are making decisions that you think are going to make or break your child as a human being forevermore. We have no idea whether we are successful as parents of very young children except by comparing ourselves to other people.
RK: In terms of writing the book, did you think about how people, especially other mothers, would judge you? If so, do you think it affected your writing or choice of content?
MI: At times I think I went too far the other way, that I adopted this attitude of "If you don't like my parenting choices, then fuck off and take your sustainably-grown produce with you." That attitude is just as dangerous.
Read the rest of the interview here.