August 29th, 2008

not ruler of the universe, not ascended, no baby yet

But that baby is pretty low at this point, and definitely OA. Woohoo. It's Labor Day weekend. Needless to say, there's some loose talk in the household about how appropriate it would be to have the baby Real Soon Now.

Unlikely. Judging by last time, it'll be weeks yet.

In any event, the nanny book has said One Too Many Annoying Things about mothers. Rather that go downstairs and bring it upstairs and supply detailed quotes, I'll lay out the general problem now and possibly revisit it later. Once upon a time (during the Nanny Block), British upper class and to some degree upper middle class women hired other women to raise their children for them. There's some question as to precisely why this was done this way. Certainly, the availability of women to hire for this purpose was a factor, as was the vast economic inequity of the time. The author explores this kind of stuff ably, as he does the earlier history that predisposed the British to letting other people raise their kids for them.

But here's where the analysis limps. To call the centuryish of the Nanny Block pronatalist (at least for the upper class and upper middle class) is breathtakingly inadequate -- these were the dozen-kids+ years in the British Empire. Which is also weird, because a lot of the specific families he interviewed (well, they were much later in the time period) are NOT that large. Altho some of that is presumably due to deaths as well which were a big issue. Gathorne-Hardy is all focused on the frivolity of mothers who abandoned their children to the help so they could socialize, but that kind of ignores what was Really Happening under all that Frivolity and more importantly, it totally ignores the reality of Being Pregnant All the Time. Neurotic? Frail health? Fainting? It's not _just_ because it was trendy. If you're pregnant every year, you're _sick_. I don't mean psychologically (that's a whole other set of issues); I mean straight up ill.

As for the idea that nannies who "chose" their careers (from a list of _what_ options?) being better mothers than the kids' mothers? Please.

Also, Freud was still ascendant when this was written, altho Gathorne-Hardy is admirably aware that Freud's theories did not hold up cross-culturally he still believed they applied somewhat to the time period in question. Mixed bag, there.

I'm going to open what came in the mail. I'm hoping it's _Anthropology of Breastfeeding_. Otherwise, it's back to medicare politics for me.