You can never forget the day you meet Kevin. Although I met him when I was still in the throes of postnatal depression, I can’t forget him despite the fact that I’ve forgotten so much else from that time. I first heard about him several years ago pre children. I’d heard overheard work colleagues speaking in distressed tones him. It never occurred to me to ask for further details because in my mind for a child to be so bad he must have been the victim of abuse or was possessed (in the supernatural sense). Either way, this was not someone I wanted to know. Then in 2011, the year after Angelo was born the film came out. I was intrigued and thought (perhaps unfairly); I’d better read the book before seeing the film. You know the book is ALWAYS better. I’m pleased to say for once that was not the case, but I’m digressing… off I went to a local bookshop and picked up my copy of We Need To Talk About Kevin. Reading Kevin pulled me into a dark, scary, lonely world that felt familiar to me in away. By the time I finished reading Kevin I felt a weary sadness for him and his mother Eva but also haunted.
Since reading the book, I’ve come to learn that people see Eva as a cold unfeeling woman. She didn’t love her son. Yet, I could relate to her. I read the early days of her life and found an affinity to it. My love of travel was one of the reasons that led to me becoming an expat. Travelling gave me joy. As a young expat I had lists of things to do and achieve. As a Library Technician it was innate for me to be passionate about categories, structure, and organisation. I was and am not a bubbly warm person but if you met me you would never think me unfriendly, unkind or unfeeling. Well, I hope not. I got Eva’s flavour. Like her, at the time I decided to start a family it was another ‘thing to do’, to achieve with my life. When the blessing came, I was so shocked that the doctor asked me if it was planned such must have been my facial expression. As my bump grew, I was annoyed that there were things my body could not do. I rebelled against maternity clothing. I read books on what to expect, how to connect with bump, and how to prepare for labour, as well as, the arrival of baby. As you know, when Angelo popped out he looked nothing like me, he still doesn’t. Conscious of the difference I went into overdrive to connect with him. I needed be worthy of having him. I wanted him to know that I was his mother, to feel loved and safe. Unlike Eva I didn’t (don’t) hate my son. I love(d) him with all of my being from our first meeting but I was consumed by fear, haunted by nightmares. Having no family or friends near by only added to the fear and isolation. Added to that his endless crying and sleep deprivation frazzled my nerves. Through it all I was trying have order and routine. This is not scientific but merely thinking out loud, I wonder if it’s the need/desire for control that leads to postnatal depression in some of us mums? In my quest to be a worthy mum and to deal with my own issues, I’ve been to all sorts to courses and support groups. The result of my journey to date is that my son and I adore each other. We are in tune with each other. Of course we have our challenges what parent doesn’t but I think, I think, it’s in the trying to do a good job, engaging with your child, and relinquishing a certain level of control that helps to create the ties that connect parent to child.
There is no denying that there is an intensity of feeling between mother’s and sons. So, was with the question “Why?” still ringing in my ears that I attend Lionel Shriver’s book reading at Canada Water library. I guess wanted to know how could a ‘modern’ woman/mother (seemingly like myself) wind up with a child like Kevin. I had the burning desire to see in the flesh the woman who had created that body of work. I’m not sure what I was expecting but the answer to “Why Kevin was the way he was? ” and “Why did he do what he did?” was not written on her person. Lionel was there to read from and talk about her new book Big Brother. She like her loyal readers she had moved on from Kevin. I didn’t ask any questions about Kevin because it didn’t feel right. In the end, all I found the courage to say to her at the book signing was how much the book haunted me and that I read at a time when I myself was suffering from PND. I didn’t dislike Kevin. I felt sorry for him and Eva. She kindly asked, “how is your son was now?” and I was proud to say, “He’s fine. He’s now four years old”. In the end we all have to find our our way when it comes to parenting and follow your gut, so to speak.
Have you read the book We Need To Talk About Kevin? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from dads. Have you read the book? Maybe you suffered from PND or your partner did, how find you or your partner find her or his way back to feeling whole? What’s your own relationship with your child now?
As for Kevin, we will never know why. In fact at the end even he is lost for an answer. But I still feel sorry for him and his mother and what could have been fictional though they may be. Click here to read superb interview with Lionel Shriver on Mumsnet.
The feature images was take from SKY TVMovie