'It's a terrible thing when your children are sick': motherhood and home healthcare work

21 October 2013

This article draws upon research involving indepth interviews with 60 mothers of young children about the home healthcare in which they engage when promoting their children’s health and dealing with their illnesses, allergies or developmental problems. The study found that a series of often interconnected discourses were evident in the women’s accounts. These included the discourses of health states as controllable, good health as an outcome of good management and the child’s body as vulnerable. Other discourses were related to the concept of the ‘good mother’. The interviewees also employed the discourses of home health care as emotionally distressing and as hard work and of children’s illness as a mother’s loss of control. As this suggests, such caring was often an intensely embodied and negative emotional experience for the mothers, particularly if they felt as if they had lost control over their children’s bodies.