Paper on "I’m Home Mum. Did You Miss Me?"

I’m Home Mum. Did You Miss Me?


In the short vignette “I’m Home Mum. Did You Miss Me?” the main character `Bronwyn’ goes through many trials and tribulations early in her life. In this essay, we will be looking at the reasons behind those issues and what factors made it possible for her to overcome them.

Premature Birth

Bronwyn had a rough start to life, born six-weeks premature and of extremely low birth weight at only four pounds. One possible reason as to why she was born premature could be the mothers’ use of or exposure to teratogens during pregnancy. Teratogens (Santrock, 2004) are anything that causes birth defects. They could be diseases, drugs, and pollutants in the environment, stress or a child born to aged parents.


At the end of the vignette, a phrase is used, “Ka nui te aroha mo ratou”, which would lead you to believe they are a Maori family. The fact Bronwyn was born premature and had severe breathing problems could possibly be due to her mother smoking during pregnancy. This hypothesises is further confirmed by studies that show 48% of Maori smoke (

Te Puni Kokiri ( states “Overall, the percent of Māori smoking has decreased over the last 15 years”. It would be reasonable then to say that if smoking among Maori was higher the further you go back in time, then the likelihood her mother was a smoker at the time that Bronwyn was born (1969) was much higher.

Her mother was aged 29 at the time that she was pregnant with Bronwyn, which statistically puts her in the highest age group (20-29), sex and nationality that are smokers.

According to the doctorate study “Analysing Smoking using Te Whare Tapa Wha”
New Zealand Journal of Psychology, Mar 2005 by Glover, Marewa
“High rates of smoking among Maori women during pregnancy (two thirds of Maori women smoke during peak child rearing age) (Glover, 2004), contributes to higher rates of miscarriage, preterm births, low birth weight babies and other difficulties during childbirth (Pomare, Keefe-Ormsby, Ormsby, Pearce, Reid, Robson, & Watene-Haydon, 1995)…From birth, Maori record proportionately higher rates of hospital admission for asthma and glue ear (Pomare et al., 1995)”.

Breast Is Best

The story mentions that Bronwyn was afflicted with many health issues, the worst of which was intolerance to cows’ milk. This would indicate that she was not breastfed from birth. Psychosexual theory, developed by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), has 5 stages of development from birth to adolescence, the first of which is the “Oral Stage”. During this time (from birth to 1 ½ years) infants gain pleasure and comfort from oral stimuli. Breast feeding would satiate a basic infantile need and cause a strong bonding between the mother and child.

The Women’s Health Organization website ( show some of the main benefits of breastfeeding babies is stronger immune systems and less hospital admissions, as well as significantly reduced risk from gastroenteritis, diarrhoea, respiratory tract infections including pneumonia, urinary tract infections and ear infections.

She was also born with chronic breathing problems, spending her first 10 days in an incubator and was not released to her parents care until she was three weeks old weighing only 4 ½ pounds which would have also lessened the bond between her and her parents. She had a low immune system and for the first two years of life suffered ill health, spending a lot of time in hospital.

The Family

Another possible and very plausible reason for Bronwyn’s low birth weight and ill-health may have been due to the family situation at the time. There is no mention of the father being around for support, which would mean her mother had the main responsibility of taking care of the children. While pregnant with Bronwyn, she had two preschoolers to care for as well as three older school-aged children. Not having the father there for support would have taken it’s toll on her emotionally and financially which may have meant she neglected her own needs by not getting enough nutrition or being overstressed.

Positive Influences

Although there is no mention of a father’s presence, Bronwyn’s mothers’ mother lived with the family during this time. She had been very experienced with child rearing; having had many children of her own right up until her own grown children started having children of their own. There was also support from the Public Health Nurse who would visit frequently. Young children

This is a good example of Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Theory of Development coming to play. Bronfenbrenner’s theory bases a person’s development on five environmental influences:

Microsystem: The people, services, and groups that you have the most involvement with such as family, school, church and peers

Mesosystem: The dynamics between any of the groups in the microsystem, an example of which would be a child who is neglected at home, resulting in trust issues with adults, impinging on the child academically.