motherhood is a deep and important urge, she should consider the man's ideas on fatherhood to be paramount in their relationship.
Mother and Baby
The mother and child relationship is the most primal, most necessary, most intimate, one can have in life. The spiritual nature of a mother's role as guru to her children has been dealt with in Chapter 1. Beyond that are the biological, psychological and practical elements of their link.
As befits it, the all-encompassing closeness in this relationship should, ideally, not be inter-rupted in the first years of a child's life. That is not to mean that a mother must always be physically present for her child, but rather that she be available should her child have a genuine need for her. The obvious biological relationship between a mother's breasts and her baby's nutrition, indicates the importance that nature placed on a close and consistent physical relationship with each other. It also hints at the primacy of their in-built emotional need for each other.
The two factors which most directly impinge upon this relationship are bottle feeding and early childcare. In a chicken-and-egg situation, each of these two activities tends to create and perpetuate the other to the same end result, that of lesser intimacy and quality time between mother and child. A fully breastfeeding mother does not even need to consider childcare (for a waking child) until after weaning. On the other hand, a bottle feeding mother obviously considers that her presence in nurturing the child can easily be supplanted by others.
The quality of a mother's relationship with her child is so closely tied in with her relationship with herself and her attitude to her role as a mother. And this is why a new mother needs the time and space to find her mother-self, to be her mother-self in the first few years of her baby's life, rather than just rushing back to work and then trying to provide that motherness "after hours", as it were. She needs plenty of time to feel that relationship, to grow into that relationship and to invest in that relationship. If she doesn't, who suffers? The obvious answer is the child, but the truth is they both do. Motherhood is a big part of her journey as a woman, as a person, as a human, such that to de-personalise motherhood, to delegate it - as so many do - is to lose out massively in the evolutionary school of life.
Most women today are mothering very much in isolation. Isolation from their homes and children (if they work), from their extended family, and from the
support of their local community. Such are the side effects of the nuclear, dual-income, suburban family. Gone (in Western culture at least) is the social milieu of working and mothering together, where young children are close by the mother or supervised by other workers. One result of our modern direction is a premature detachment in the mother-child relationship. On the other side, for those women who do choose to stay at home full time mothering, is the danger of over-attachment within the mother-child relationship. As I see it, the best trend we could initiate to address both these issues and provide a stronger, more balanced relationship for mother and child, is not the building of corporate childcare centres in the workplace, but the inclusion of more employ-ment possibilities within and around the domestic environment. A closer integration between family and neighbour, between home and community, would help to lighten the load so many mothers feel, as well as enhance the relationships they build with their children. Or else, a return to the hippy communes of yore!
As they grow and their awareness expands, a baby begins to relate to other people, but it will always be the mother to whom they return as home base. By their very nature, relationships involve the principle of attachment. This occurs for both parties. This automatic attachment to mother will continue well past the first year until a natural process of independence begins to manifest, at which point the nature and strength of that early attachment becomes extremely obvious. (See "Independence - Relationship with Oneself", following).
Father and Baby
In Chapter 1, in the section on "Role of the Father", I compared the psycho-biological differences between mother and father and how, according to a child's overall needs, the father comes second as provider and guide to the child. Anthropologists maintain that because a man cannot be 100% certain that he is father of any child (other than the modern use of DNA testing after the event), and because a baby's early survival does not depend on him as greatly as a mother, his role in its upbringing is more of an egoistic and social one. These days, because we are more social creatures than ever before, the father's role has changed greatly, with many men taking on closer and earlier nurturing roles to their children. And this is indeed a Very Good Thing. But the simple fact remains, that this is always their choice, whereas for the mother, it is not.