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September 2010

All mothers are different. For some having a child is a life-changing experience requiring an array of prenatal courses and months of reading to get their parenting skills up to scratch, at least theoretically. They stop their careers mid-track and take time off. Some decide to become a full-time mum.

For others having a baby is a minor inconvenience. Having an elective caesarian reduces lifestyle disruption to a minimum (it can be planned to a day). So does feeding with a bottle (as mother’s presence remains optional). Then a maximum of four weeks to recover and find a convenient daycare that would take such a small baby on. And back to work. Some wonder whether they should have had a kid in the first place.

What does it mean to be a good mother in the 21st-century Australia? As the authors of The good mother: contemporary motherhood in Australia point out, the answer is far from straightforward. While the once dominant image of a good mother as a white, heterosexual, economically dependant and child-focused female is no longer adequate, the archetype of good mother persists in new incarnations and mothers continue to be judged and judge themselves.

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