Sylvia Lasalandra Frodella, (or Mrs. Fro as she's known in school circles), has done it again. Having challenged the stigma associated with perinatal mood or anxiety disorder (PMAD) in her candid bestselling book, A Daughter's Touch, she has now decided there needs to be an endpoint to the mother guilt. Specifically, she feels:
* That there needs to be a time when mother and child celebrate the relationship that inevitably emerges with the restoration of health.
* That we need to slam and expose the idea that love and happiness were absent at birth if the agony of PMAD's obscured such feelings.
In a medical model, we would never insist that love and connection to others had fled if physical pain brought us to our knees crying out for relief... or, if severe illness caused an inward retreat to marshal every force needed to do battle and sustain life. Would we interpret this as lack of love? Intentional indifference?
Mommy, were you happy the day I was born?, goes straight to the question recovered mothers often fear...Have I somehow irreparably damaged my child because I could not be fully emotionally present at birth? How do I answer this question?
We read so much about the guilt associated with PMAD's. Guilt that the partner is overburdened, guilt about needing help, guilt about the financial costs of recovery, guilt about disappointing loved ones when this unwanted response to motherhood emerges. This guilt does absolutely no good and may protract recovery.
Thankfully, babies and children are incredibly resilient and weather transient emotional storms like the little troopers they were meant to be! Please raise your hand if you have never experienced mother guilt despite the best possible birth experience?
What, no hands? I didn't think so.
But maternal guilt can be a haunting, persistent presence for recovered mothers despite ensuing healthy years of joy and boundless shared love. It can cause second guessing about behavior, development, personality traits, and feelings of somehow having to "make it up" to the child.
Sylvia's not buying it.
So she wrote a book for her precious Melina to pre-emptively answer, once and for all, a question that might arise one day.
Sylvia's book "Mommy were you happy the day I was born?" is a touching dialogue between mother and daughter which takes place on a single normative day in their joyous life. While basking in each other's obvious love and attention, the child gradually gains confidence to ask the question her little heart has pondered. And the answer is incredibly powerful in its refusal to deny what was and always will be present.
The sun behind a cloud has still risen. Love behind pain is still present.
Sylvia wanted to create a permanent record about this aspect of PPD's tendency to make moms second guess their own truths. The smoke and mirrors of emotional pain which make a mother doubt herself or the actual love that seemed out of reach. She is, after all, a PPD survivor and nationally known PPD advocate. She has brought audiences to tears with her honest revelations about what she endured. And one day, her grade school daughter will be old enough to read her book, understand her mother's mission and face her own child.
This may be a book for Melina but it is also for every mother who has dreaded this question and been silenced to respond by phantom guilt.
What I love most about this book is that PMAD's don't get top billing. In the mother-daughter discussion, there is no specific reference. When the question arises, the dialogue that ensues could have been generated by any number of life circumstances causing disruption around birth.
Instead, the book emphasizes the supremity of the maternal spirit, the resiliency of mother and child and leaves no doubt that illness is no match for the visceral connection that prevails, despite great pain around the birth story.
Congratulations Sylvia! Thank you for the spiritual support you continue to offer mothers currently suffering from PMAD's and those who are blessedly recovered but tortured with guilty thoughts.
To order this beautifully written and illustrated book, please send inquiries to [email protected]
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