No pictures just a few thoughts:
I have been thinking about connections recently and this week I thought about Advent as being a time of waiting, anticipating and expecting and how that might be connected with another meaning of the term expecting that of expecting a baby. Of course the birth of a baby is what the Christmas story is all about so there is already a connection.
This week a double tragedy occurred when a young woman walked out of a maternity hospital in Bristol where she had given birth to a baby girl just 4 days earlier. She left without a coat nor any proper shoes on one of the coldest nights so far this year and her body and that of her baby were found a day or so later just over a mile away where she had apparently jumped into the Avon Gorge. I have thought a lot about her and what might have driven her to do this at a time when society would be expecting (that word again) her to be overjoyed at the safe arrival of her baby.
Our society expects us to be happy at the birth of a baby in the same way that it expects us to be happy at Christmas but it isn't always quite like that. Take Christmas - in spite of the decorations and the parties and so on it can be a terribly sad time for many people as the advertisement for Crisis at Christmas says "when you are homeless and lonely at Christmas you can only watch as people meet for parties ....." of course you don't have to be homeless to be lonely and for many people Christmas reminds them of loved ones who are no longer alive to share it with them. Some are sick or sad, frightened or concerned and not everyone is enjoying themselves as the media would have us believe.
Having a baby can of course be a happy time especially if the baby and mother are healthy and well but for some people the baby blues set in and the mother loses all sense of her self and her ability to parent the child. Not everyone is endowed with mothering skills and for some it is a nightmare not helped by the fact that some babies don't sleep enough and exhaustion soon sets in. Some apparently adore motherhood and seem to know just what to do whereas others lose all their common sense just at the time when it is most needed and lacking in confidence makes matters worse since babies apparently need a relaxed and confident Mum. But what about the Mums needing relaxed and peaceable babies?!!
It seems to be taboo to admit that you are not enjoying any of it, that you wish you had never thought of having a baby and that you can barely manage to get dressed half the time let alone return to a career where you might have been somebody busy and capable. Lack of sleep can go on for a long time and such mothers can feel murderous when other mothers blithely say "Oh yes he/she sleeps through the night now" a few weeks down the line! Not all babies sleep much at all and it is little consolation to a weary mother to learn that they are often the intelligent ones either which may or may not be true. (I loved the Wanderer and still do of course, and would willingly have died for her had that been required but motherhood was definitely not my metier and even now more than 30 years later if I hear a small baby crying my stomach knots and I want to run away as I have no idea what to do to calm it. Not for me the peering into prams and cooing at the baby inside!!)
I wonder if Mary was a natural or if she too found it all very difficult especially with all those shepherds and wise men visiting and expecting her to make them welcome! She always looks very serene but I wonder...!
I guess what this post is about is just a reminder to spare a thought for those for whom the Joy of the season is a little thin on the ground this year at Christmas whether they be sick, lonely or even new mothers who are finding it all too much.