motherhood

‘Like A Queen’ by Constance Hall – A Review

Usually I would persevere through a book, especially if I intend to review it. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to finish this particular book, or more so, skipped large parts of it as it wasn’t my cup of tea. Self help books have never been my thing. The striking feature of this book also being that it reads like a bunch of blog posts strung together; there is story, but it is jumbled and parts, I think, that should have been discussed more in depth, weren’t. So I will pass it on. 

I can see what Hall is trying to do and the message she’s trying to convey. It is a good message. But the way she words it in her book is sometimes contradictory and can be a bit dangerous. 
Mum called me her little princess when I was little; I hated it. But that’s because she would use it in a condescending way such as to suggest I was acting like I was too good. There’s concern now around calling little girls princesses as it puts a gendered stereotype on them, so why would a grown woman want to call herself a Queen? I guess I’ve always forged my own identity and enjoy being separate from the rest. But I found my crowd in the heavy metal scene which is increasingly inclusive of both women and men. But, as I enter motherhood, I’m in need of more. I was given this book as a baby shower present and I gave it a go. I must admit being a little reluctant to write this as it could be construed as ‘putting a Queen down’, but I believe in voicing ones opinion and sparking intelligent discussion about the points Hall has raised in her book. When you write a book and it is published, of course there should be discussion about it! It’s not like it’s the Bible, right?

There were parts I liked reading, such as Hall’s portrayal of her mother. She seems like an awesome woman. I think being able to, and putting into practice, the art of putting oneself into another’s shoes is an admirable quality. But a lifetime of it can send you a bit mad; taking on other people’s problems can have that effect. It’s a quality more people should strive to attain. This is a quality I don’t think Hall has been able to develop yet herself through reading her book. This became a concern when Hall wrote a blog post about refugees, children in particular, and included this in her book. Hall compared her own son to the drowned boy washed up on a beach in Turkey. I do not believe that little boy “would have been excited too, putting on his sneakers that morning, wondering what wonderful possibilities this new land might bring”. No. He would have, since the moment of his birth, being born into a war torn country, known fear. Adult fear. The kind of fear no child should ever have to go through. His parents would not sugar coat it, they can’t, when it is all around them! Trying to relate them to children born in Australia is a false image. It takes away the urgency and the understanding we need to acquire to see them as people in dire need. 

Another point I found to be contradictory to her unifying message was her belittling of men, namely her husband Billy. There are overtones of the ‘us and them’ mindset and a need to hang onto the ‘mother’s club’ mentality. This is detrimental to any effort to create equality among men and women, especially when it comes to their roles as parents. No one should be put down, man or woman, to raise the status of the other. It goes against any push towards a fluid identity or parental role. Hall seems to be of the opinion that men cannot do what women do when it comes to parenting. There is zero support offered to dads. There are no father’s groups or daddy clubs. There’s very little male/dad specific resources. All they have is the way their father’s were. We know their father’s did not have the pressure to be ‘equal’. 

Sisters no longer have to do it for themselves.

 The majority of men that I know are great fathers, partners and hard working examples and they balance all of it just like their female counterparts. They cannot, as far as I know, read minds so the only way to get across what you want them to know is to tell them! They might not have the same emotional intelligence as you do, but instead of throwing your hands up, learn how to communicate in a way that unlocks their own ability to express emotion. 

Women have beautifully complex brains. 

Put yourself in their shoes. Encourage and give men room to express their innate compassion and love for their children. Speak to them with respect if you want to get the same back. This, I thought, was just part of being a decent human being. Lead by example as well, that is, speak to him the way you want to be spoken to. They are not the enemy. Stop accepting gendered behaviour. There is no such thing as blokey behaviour anymore. If he does no work around the house and stays out all night, neglecting his responsibilities, ask him why because it is not normal behaviour. Children are smart and look to you for life lessons. If you set an example of mums do this and dads do that, they will pick that up and perpetuate it. Your daughters will sit by, complaining to her girlfriends while her husband’s out all night. Your sons will work too much and have little to do with raising his own children. That is neither going forward nor backwards. That is staying exactly where you are, in your “shitty space, but at least your best girlfriend will be there with two bottles of wine”. 

‘Like a Queen’ wasn’t helpful for me on my journey into motherhood. But this is because I prefer to read factual evidence and sourced writing to get my information about pregnancy and motherhood so I can then form my own opinion. Rhea Dempsey and Sarah Buckley are two Australian authors and mothers who have helped me develop. Hall’s offering fell short for me.