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Monday 4 April 2011

Pru Goward, Lisa Wilkinson, and Jackie O: the debate about that photo

So, I am sitting here gobsmacked, eyes glazed with tears.

I just heard Lisa Wilkinson from the Today show speak about these photos and this article, below (in particular the explosive quotes from politician Pru Goward):

Here is what Lisa said: "It's a comment that has deeply offended many mothers and is all the more surprising coming from a politician who, shortly afte taking office in 2007, was caught speeing in a schoolzone. We invited Ms Goward to appear on the show this morning to explain her comments. She declined because she, quote, had parliament this morning. An excuse we do find odd as Ms Goward is attending the Barnados' Mother of the Year Awards this morning. I know because I am hosting the event.

"Ms Goward, our offer for you to explain your comments stands. As I said last week, the truth is we know nothing of the circumstances behind the Jackie O photo, but we do know those first weeks of being a new mum are fraught. How we work it out is a deeply personal thing, and what none of us need is unpleasant sneering from the sidelines. And as incoming Family Services Minister, in a state with an unprecented number of children being abused and neglected, surely Ms Goward, you have more worthwhile issues to attend to."

Lisa - what can I say? You are the voice of all women. You said what many are thinking.

Yesterday, Pru was quoted saying: "We all were horrified when Michael Jackson dangled his baby out the window and this woman is crossing the road not just holding a baby but feeding a baby and I think it was unnecessarily cavalier," Ms Goward told The Sunday Telegraph.

"There would be no mother, no parent probably, or even a hardened feminist, in the country who would think that was a good way of feeding a baby, particularly a little tiny baby," she said.

Wow, Ms Goward. Bring on the onslaught. How dare you judge like this?

The first months, years even, of a new mother and baby's life together are fraught with trial and error, tears and disappointments, frustrations and sleep deprivation. Add a dollop of unsolicited advice and intense judgment and snide comments and you have a recipe for even more of the daily self-loathing and inadequacies we feel as new mothers.

How many times did I leave the house with my baby twins, desperate to be around people in some kind of social setting, head to my local Woolies supermarket, and cower in embarrassment as one or both of my twins screamed down the shop.

My elderly mother - bless her - really was no help, and so I felt so alone, so helpless, like such a failure.

Yes, I got those looks. The ones that say: "Can't you control your children? What is wrong with you? Sheesh, what's wrong with them?"

The turning point came for me one day when I'd had yet another day out from hell. I had to take my mother to the doctor's surgery. My twins screamed. I had to take my mum to the bank. My twins screamed there too.

I was in tears - actually a total mess - right there in the bank, and from behind an angel appeared: my hairdresser/family friend Alba. She scooped up my inconsolable son so quickly and without prompting; she comforted him instantly, and in that moment, I was just so grateful. She knew. She understood. Me.

The next time I saw my doctor's secretary, again in tears, she simply said: "Mothers understand. Nobody is judging you. Ignore everyone else. And this will all pass." I hugged her right there in the street, and cried some more. I cry as I write this as it takes me right back to the moment.

And I had tears as I heard Lisa Wilkinson's impassioned statement, straight down the barrel of the camera this morning.

The hazy first year of my life twins' life when I had two babies to raise, an elderly mum diagnosed with a life-threatening illness who moved in with us - and for whom I became full-time carer - were a mixture of intense emotions. There were plenty of beautiful times I will treasure forever. And there were some I'd rather forget. And with days and days filled with no help, hired, family or otherwise (I did/do have a heaven-sent/helpful husband and I did have the occasional visit from my Karitane volunteer), I felt incredibly isolated and deeply sad.

Add to that a paparazzi shot and judgement from an entire country, and, well... how do you think anyone would feel, famous or otherwise...?

What are your thoughts? Please share anything you'd like to say.

(Photos: news.com.au / Mode Media)


  1. Well, I for one am not a mother however I have been around many who have been stopped in the street by random people giving their advice as to'WHAT IS BEST'.... Granted, some people do mean well but after seeing this shot of Jackie O crossing the road whilst feeding her child, I can honestly say people need to back off and give this poor woman a break!!!!

    She looks so distressed to the point where i am surprised there was not another shot of her bursting into tears!!!! (God knows how she managed to supress them)..... Who knows what happened before this pic was taken? Perhaps she was sitting quietly feeding her child in peace until these dimwitted, scumbag paps wouldn't leave her alone to the point she felt compelled to remove her child from that environment.....

    Also what's all the hooplah surrounding Jackie about her decision to return to work??? I'm sure these backyard professors will no doubt all chip in and pay her mortgage and bills up until they deem a fitting time for her to return to work!!!(yeah right).... Families and especially children should always be off limits and for F@#%S sake (my apologies for the use of the F bomb), she is a new mum be supportive and offer words of encouragement rather than making her feel as though she is a failure which I for one second don't believe she is.... She has achieved so much in her career, and now it's time to allow her to achieve greatness as a mother which I believe she will without a doubt do! In this day and age you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't. So Jackie, do what makes you happy and what YOU believe is best for your child because only you have your child's best interests at heart.... I feel for her! :o(

  2. Thanks so much for your comment, Polly.

    One cannot believe that such a seemingly harmless shot - of Jackie crossing the road while feeding her baby - would cause so much controversy.

    Is Pru's problem because Jackie seemingly doesn't have a firm grip on her baby? (Trust me, she'd be hanging onto her for dear life - ask any mum).

    Or because she is - gasp - CROSSING A ROAD AND FEEDING HER BABY? Dear God, what a criminal!

    Pru is either intent on causing controversy, or really is that insensitive, knowing full well how hard it is for mums to juggle simply SURVIVING each day with a newborn, but ignoring any emotion that's involved in that survival.

    Which ever it is, it proves yet again that the sisterhood can be our most loyal friend - or the most two-faced foe.

  3. Hi josie. Loved your blog. I dont have kids but my mother raised 2 while working 7 days. I got a pile of nappies angled for my bottle so I could feed myself. She had us in a box under the counter until we started running and then we were old enough to work!. And I promise you no children ever felt so loved and spoilt like my brother and I - you know what I mean! I never felt hard done by or ripped off. But I bet she felt bad a lot. And my heart breaks for that. Kitty is very loved Im sure. And feeding style is irrelevant.

  4. Thanks so much for your comment, Angela.

    That is the thing... whether we are mothers is not relevant! Once we understand the daily struggle each and every mother goes through - whatever their predicament - we should be better equipped to be sensitive to any mother, famous or not.

    In your case, your mum did the absolute best she could. And I am sure you always felt so loved! I bet if we all got papped on a daily basis Pru would find plenty of examples to deem us unfit mothers.

    There is nothing we can do but speak out about how we feel - there will always be people (in this case a mother herself) who intend you make us feel inadequate. Pure bullying in my opinion... pretty disgraceful.

  5. I'm glad Pru has never seen me at work mothering. She'd probably have my kids removed from me for being an unfit mother. I've had a few people make rude remarks about my parenting, but I have put them back in their boxes in seconds. Feeding a baby while walking? Shock horror! What's next? Is leaving the home with a baby at all going to be an example of 'cavalier' motherhood?

  6. Thanks 'Anon'... your comment gave me a good laugh. Oh, how many times have I said to my best friend (herself a mum of five and always trying to survive her own 'adventures'), "Please don't call DoCS and report my bad parenting!"

    We all do the best we can - deep down we all know this of each other... it's just that some (in this case, Pru) think it's okay to deliver a low blow to a new mum with a high profile trying to do her very best.

  7. I find Pru Gowards to be a bully, in times where we are showing our children not to judge others and to be responsible, sensitive children we have the NSW Families Minister destroying the idea of what a mother should be in the year 2011 and being a bully at that, with her comments. I am raising 3 beautiful girls and there are many places I have had to feed my child... they are being fed and that is the important thing here. I choose to have my children close in age and therefore when I had my 3rd child I had to return to work earlier then expected, granted if had more paid leave this would have be sweet but I did not, instead I had mortgage that needed to be paid and we choose to have a family memeber look after my youngest. Every choice I have made has been for my children and for their future, therefore I cannot beleive any other mother has the right to judge another mother in the decision they make escpecially when we are providing the best for our children in a safe, happy and healthy environment where they can grow up to be strong, sensitive and smart indoviduals. Each family makes a choice on what works for them. Therefore Pru and Anette Sharp really should apologise not only to Jackie O but to the mothers of this wonderful country who have to make a choice in what is best for their family.

  8. Victoria Clair4 April 2011 at 21:58

    WELL SAID LISA - that was an excellent piece. As for Pru Goward...TOTALLY uncalled for and MOST INAPPROPRIATE from someone who should know better....as for JACKIE, like all MUMS new and old, WE CAN ONLY do the BEST we can. AND from where I sit it looks to me like Jackie was doing the best she could do given the circumstances.

  9. Thanks so much, 'Anon' for your comments.

    There are a gazillion reasons why women return back to work - all of them valid (well done for raising three precious girls AND working).

    What, you people think we want to make life hard for ourselves? Juggling it all is freakin' hard. Yes, I know, I know... but we CHOSE to do this!

    And I agree - as if it is suddenly a crime WHERE we feed our kids! This morning I heard Sarah Murdoch exclaim on Kerri-Anne's show that sometimes she'd be driving and turn around and shove a bottle in her bub's mouth in the backseat to keep them happy and fed. I am hearing you Sarah (try two screaming twins in the back seat as you drive! No wonder I was often so housebound...).

    Just leave Jackie O alone already... she's doing the best she can.

  10. Thanks for your comment, Victoria.

    Agreed - a mum should know better than to criticise another mum... as if we haven't ALL had incredibly bad days we'd rather forget! It's just that paps aren't on hand to take shots (I know, I know - we're not famous... that's hardly the point).

    Jackie O IS doing the best she can (she was quoted as saying she was running late and her daughter was hungry... why don't we now crucify her for that? Like we haven't all been there...)

    And yes, isn't Lisa Wilkinson just brilliant? Never mess with Lisa - she knows her stuff, and always has the goods to back it up...

  11. Hi Josie, thanks for being so honest in your blog on this topic.
    I have been under a dark cloud for the last few weeks with dealing with an incredible lack of sleep with a 5 month old and a 2 year old and a husband away for work. I have had days where i have been sobbing trying to get my toddler to just get his nappy changed, while he asks me if i am happy! He has witnessed me throw tantrums that only a 2 year old could throw, i have stayed in my pjs all day because i didn't have the strength to get out of them.

    What helped me was the amazing listening ears and support of my good friends who were able to tell me i am doing a good job, that they also went through the same thing and this time will pass!

    I applaud people like you, Lisa Wilkinson, Mia Freedman, who are able to be the kind of women that offer support and honesty rather than berate and villify.
    I have to go as my little man has just woken up ;o)

  12. I don't care much for Jackie. After listening to her on radio for 15 or so years I've found she's incredibly insecure and an idiot.

    As for feeding and carrying her baby across the street, goes back to my comment about breastfeeding mothers, why can't you take five or ten minutes to stop and take a break while you feed your baby. It's a break for you as well and doesn't put the baby at risk.

    I don't have children but that doesn't mean I can't see the child's safety should come first. Jackie's mother was pushing the pusher and why couldn't Jackie have a baby sling. At least then the baby would be safer than just being held.

    First thoughts should go to the baby's safety and I see many women holding their newborn with one hand or arm and I stand there shaking my head as to when they'll drop the poor bugger. Or break it's neck.

    If you can't take a few minutes to take a break and spend a bit of personal time with your baby by feeding it, breast or bottle then something's wrong with you.

    And Jackie HAS the time to sit down or take a moment, she only works mornings.

    And before you all jump on me, my mother had 6 children of her own and fostered two more plus looked after her brothers and sisters when she was younger. Even she scoffs at Jackie for her stupidity. My mother raised kids in decades that didn't have much welfare and no charities helped her. She did it all herself, worked, looked after, cleaned house. Women CAN do it without falling apart, women CAN do it by telling other people to keep their opinions to themselves, women CAN do it and not fall apart.

    Maybe if you're bawling your eyes out there's a medical reason such as post natal depression.

    As for Jackie, she had nine months to read books or talk to experts and then decide for herself, but walking and feeding a baby at the same time, to me, is just stupid.

  13. YOu know what? Jewel Divas has a point. You ALL have a point but what Jewel Divas is saying definitely has some merit.
    I have two kids of my own and lord knows Ive done some dumb stuff in my time, but granted I dont have papparazi following me and people like Pru Goward commenting on my choices and decisions. But like it or not, Jackie is in the public eye, gets paid a pretty penny to do so, so thats al the more reason to be careful and conscious of what youre doing. She knows that the paps are another factor complicating her day and her actions so my opinion is that she needs to act accordingly.
    We are all quick to be horrified by what Pru said... I mean...I am too, but lets just stop and breathe and take stock for a minute. I'm sorry but what Jackie did WAS dumb. Heck we've all done dumb things like that. My only problem is that Ms Goward should, in her 'esteemed' position be more wary of what she says and at least have the balls to front up and answer her critics (fancy refusing to go on the Today show?) Plus, if she wants us to start aiming for below the fairness belt, some can say that she didnt do such a peachy rosey job of raising her daughter Kate either....

  14. For the woman who actually HAVE children and have been there, they will know what I'm talking about. Some of our Mums or even other women will say they did EVERYTHING (almost sounding perfect) and survived making them sound like a "Supermum" but honestly it can be right there like an urban legend and they forget to mention the bits in between. Being a Mum is extremely rewarding but also very demanding. We all handle things our own way and there is no right or wrong way. Gosh, books don't even live up to it or other people's own opinions. If I hear another mum tell me their baby or child is a 'text book' baby/child, I'm going to scream. Lol! Post natal depression is not always the diagnosis but easily thrown at by someone who isn't a mother. I'm sure there are times when a woman without kids just breaks down and has a bawl. Is she depressed? Is she crazy? No, she's having a bad time too and it may be a build up. Better to let it out than hold it in I say. I can say so much more but I will only be attacking which I'm not here to do. As I said before, if you can pull out a bottle to feed a screaming baby, you can breastfeed too (discreetly). No big deal. Times are changing and we must adapt to our babies/kids/families. Don't judge until you are walking in that person shoes THEN don't judge at all.

  15. Another point, I think most mums know that they have a firm hold on their babies when they are holding them. Don't think our attention would be to drop them or 'break their neck'. Otherwise, we would just go out in the middle of the street or in public and just throw them to get the type of attention others are looking for.

  16. Jewel Diva,

    Not a fan of Jackie O either however I don't agree with you.

    Life is not perfect and sometimes all mothers do imperfect thing with our children - however, not all of us are photographed whilst doing it (thank god).

    Personally, I don't think what JO was doing is a biggy in the grand scheme of all things. I've sometimes walked around my house whils feeding my baby or leaned over a car seat to pop a bottle in their mouth amongst a variety of other sins...

    Sure, what *appears* to be not the ideal position or time for feeding, you can't tear the woman apart - as any Mum who gets out of the house will tell you, nothing ever goes to plan with babies - bubs poop, get hungry and scream at the most inappropriate of times and places - and one thing is for sure; what JO did is not deserving of all this BS.

    Still can't stand Jackie O's radio show however! ;) x

  17. I am a mum and have also of course had bad days but my motherly instinctive reaction when I saw that picture, feeding or not feeding (because I did not even realise at first that she was) was; poor baby - that is no way to hold a newborn. I could not have held my newborn like that, ever. I would have thought id possibly damage my baby's spine if I had.

    It makes Jacki O look like an undeserving mother, which she probably is if she is back at work already and can’t even take the time to feed her baby properly. But this picture tells a thousand words. Did she want a baby at all, I wonder. There is a lack of care there.

    As for Lisa Wilkinson, who I usually like (on TV), what a surprise to hear her outburst against Pru Goward! What was that all about? Clearly a lot more than her comments about Jacki O. Lisa was opinionated in a very out of line way I felt, and she palpably does not like Pru Goward and used this as an opportunity to defame her.

  18. Wonder how long it will be before Pru Goward faces the media with an explanation of her comments. She's certainly enraged many women (including myself) and I'm a supporter of hers!! For goodness sakes ... we (as mums) do what we can with all intentions of being the best for our child/children. I hope Pru does sit down with Lisa W and looks right down the barrel and apologises for her insensitive comments and then gets back to work on the many issues within her portfolio.

  19. And of course the other thing not to lose sight off is Lisa Wilkinson doing the story at all while sounding like she is defending Jacki O she is at the very same moment exposing her at her moment of inept motherhood.


  20. I heartily applauded Lisa when she had her spiel yesterday morning!

    I also loved Chrissy Swann's comment last night on the 7pm Project, when she fessed up her son ate "2 weetbix and a banana for dinner".

    We women are the worst enemies of other women - I applaud when we actually support one another, and I wish that the media would spend as much time on the support side as the do on waiting for the crack to be photographed and commented on by any 2-bit crackpot who likes a headline.

    Personally, never listened to Jackie O so don't know what my opinion is of her or her show - but that it entirely beside the point in this instance.

    Apologies for the blog in your comments section.

  21. From Another Pathetically Anonymous Commenter:

    As if Lisa Wilkinson doesn't have an axe to grind against Pru Goward.
    I recall an episode of Beauty and The Beast where Pru set Lisa down magnificently. I guess Lisa has been waiting her chance to get even ever since. (does she think the public has no memory of these things?)
    Although it could have been put better, I took the Michael Jackson remark to be a reference to the perils of fame, but people will make they want of these comments as they will.

  22. Oh my. I'm living overseas these days, so have missed this initial storm... but I don't get it (and I have two young kids). Someone call DOCS on me.

    So she's feeding her bub while walking across a road, with company. Clearly visible to drivers. It's a pedestrian crossing - is that not the right place to cross a road? Last time I checked, it was the legal and preferred place to cross.

    Granted, the photo appears to be showing a less than ideal way of holding the baby, but the photo was captured in a split second! Who's to say she didn't adjust her hold?

    I've never followed or listened to Jackie O, but I can't help feeling for her. Does any new mum deserve such harsh judgement? And so publicly?

    As for the comments (Tess?) that she can't really love or want this child because she's returned to work already, how effing rude! Do these people know Jacki O personally? No? Then stop making such ignorant and nasty leaps to conclusion. It's not becoming. Try supporting another new mum instead. It might even make you feel good.

  23. Do the people criticising Jackie O get that she is working FROM HOME with her baby beside her? Most stay at home mums would gladly work if they could get a job like that because you get the best of both worlds. There is also a house-husband in the picture so basically Kitty has both parents at home. Pru's comments were inaccurate, stank of reverse sexism and frankly were just wrong.
    For the record, I do have a two year old, and although I didn't have post natal depression, for months after giving birth ANYTHING could make me burst into tears due to the ridiculous amounts of hormones zipping around my body, plus sleep deprivation.
    I am no fan of Jackie O and cannot remember the last time I heard her show, but no new mother deserves crap like this! Maybe she was walking and feeding because she was just trying to get away from the scumbags with cameras and didn't want them to catch her crying.
    It's just female bullying as far as I'm concerned.

  24. 1. She's walking across the road - at a crossing
    2. Mothers are allowed to carry babies across the road - well those of us who can't fly
    3. Sometimes you just have to feed your baby whenever and wherever you can
    4. Mothers are quite capable of being good parents whilst returning to work - they may return to work because they need to financially, they may just need the time back at work to keep their identity or they may just want to work. Either way, returning to work is hardly a sign of bad parenting
    5. 1 photo, 1 moment, 1 split second - to pressume so much from 1 tiny moment !? Shame on you.
    6. I'm always saddened when I hear women putting other women down and harshly judging them - shouldn't we know better.

  25. One can only wonder how Ms Goward would cope with the outcomes of her parenting being scrutinised in such a public manner. Unless one is perfect you have no grounds to offer judgement in my opinion. I am proud to announce that as a mother of two children I actually mastered the art of walking and breastfeeding. Two very happy babies was always the final result. As a mother my sole focus was to ensure that my children were, happy, healthy and contented babies, and that they certainly were. Being a good mother is doing the best you can and Jackie at that moment in my opinion is doing just that.

  26. Why are women who are so quick to cut other women down? We should be supporting every woman who makes the CHOICE (remember the feminist catch cry - women should have the right to choose )to work. God knows it is hard enough as a full time mum - how excruciating for any mum who has to go back to work!

  27. I can't believe something as petty as this has even made the news. Honestly. She's just a new mum, trying to juggle a thousand things at once, as we do. It's obvious the baby wanted to be fed and it's not like feeding the baby while crossing the road is mum's preferred regular method of feeding baby. If she had been spotted pushing the baby in the pram while she was screaming her lungs out for a feed, Jackie would have been branded as a bad mum for allowing her baby to cry. So either way, the poor woman can't win. Pru Goward must have too much time on her hands.

  28. Goward should be sacked.
    - Mother of 3

  29. Women who don't have children should NOT be allowed to comment. Before you talk and put other women down, think again. You might one day eat your words. - Mum of 1

  30. Pru may have been scared that a mother like Jackie is crossing the road with her baby, and a speeder like her run them over, but rather than criticizing herself, would blame the innocent. Of course its going to be everyone else's fault but hers.

  31. I think Jacki O is in a position most women would love, stay at home dad, million dollar part time job. She's a celebrity, so open to criticism. If she doesn't like it, she's welcome to fade into the background. If you dish it out, you have to be able to take it.

  32. When Pru Goward was in opposition this time last year. She was approached to speak to mothers/grandparents/parents of The New Stolen Generation by DoCS at a protest outside Parliament to which she agreed to do.Re: 100's upon 100's of Innocent children that were and still are being ripped away from innocent parents and family networks under the guise of Domestic Violence.She was asked to comment on sibling groups in care being seperated, carved up into two and three seperate foster carer homes to which she also agreed. On the morning of the protest Pru Goward hurried past the protesters, ran into Parliament and went back on her word and instead peeped out of Parliament windows at the protest. I was there and seen her do this.

    Jackie O should not let Pru Gowards comments concern her, the woman went back on her word after so many parents/grandparents/family networks and siblings lived in hope of her support and they got zilch and were seriously let down by this politician.