Tag Archive | Perfect Mother

Juggling mother? No, thanks

juggling mother

Image: Journal Times – Tim Ludwig / The Wichita Eagle / MCT)

The term “the juggled life” suggests an existence characterized by ceaseless activity, awareness, and concentration, in which the real “trick” lies in maintaining the illusion of effortlessness.

[…] The consequences for successful juggling are even worse than the consequences of doing it poorly. The better at it you are, the harder and longer you will work. The more accomplished your performance, the more invisible your efforts become.

(MAUSHART, Susan. “The Mask of Motherhood – how becoming a mother changes our lives and why we never talk about it.” Penguin Books)

I work at the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil (House of Representatives), in the Social Communication sector. On March 31st, 2011, as part of the celebration for International Women’s Month, the talk show “Woman and her plurality of roles” was presented. The image for publicity was a sequence of illustrations with the same woman in several situations: as a manager, a mother, an athlete, a housewife and so on.

At that time, I had posted on Facebook my discomfort about that image: “not due to the plurality itself, because it can be enriching, but due to the insisting concept that presents the multitasking and perfect woman in all roles. It’s even said it’s an innate feminine brain attribute, meant as natural, with no question. To me, that “pedestal” just leads to a fragmented, exhausting and frustrating life.”

Woman and her plurality of rolesThe comments were nice! From the idea that everybody can be manifold, both men and women; the verification that we can assume a tiring madness even when we are aware we don’t need it. And the will of being only “me”, without any role…

My friend Vera Morgado, the event presenter, suggested me to open that reflection in the debate.

My question to the debaters was:

“So much is said about the juggling woman. But the juggler has the plates in the air. She doesn’t appropriate the plates. She doesn’t prioritize any of them in order to avoid them to drop. When a plate falls down, it’s she who breaks. And when she handles the plates, the show is over and nobody pays attention anymore. How can we get rid of this metaphor?”

The answers were very interesting!

The actress Elisa Lucinda talked about the danger for us, when we confound our personality with the tasks we do. She also asked us to not suffer with the dropped plate: “after all, there’s the saying ‘The rings go away, the fingers stay’ (in English, the saying is “Better lose the saddle than the horse.”). I say: ‘the breastpins go away, the breasts stay’.”

The psychologist Carmita Abdo said that we should take advantage of our feminine multitasking features in our own benefit, aggregating, pacifying, for our personal progress.

And the deputy (representative) Janete Pietá summarized, in just one phrase, everything that now I’m looking for:

“Better than being a juggler is being the circus owner.

It’s being the CEO of ourselves.”

white mug

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You can also see:

Only mothers are happy – Marusia speaks

Mothers in animated feature films, TV series and cartoons 3: why do we identify ourselves with them and see them as references?

This post in Portuguese: Mãe Malabarista? Não, obrigada

Does sacrifice make you a better mother?

Complicated pregnancies, complex postpartum periods – these things don’t make me a better mother.

The immense challenge and privilege of breastfeeding my children until they wanted to: that’s not what really matters.

As well as the number of breastfeedings, liters of expressed milk donated to the Breast Milk Bank (an institution that exists in Brazil), sleepless nights.

It doesn’t matter how many times I change diapers; clean piss, poop, vomit; blow noses, cut nails, brush teeth.

Nor the number of hours spent waiting in the office supply store queues; filling labels, identifying school materials; sewing dozens of pants and shorts hems. And, “whatever” if, in the next year, I decide to send those to a seamstress.

The same about the negotiated and compensated hours at work, in order to participate in parent-teacher meetings. Or when I didn’t do something for myself, cancellations, postponements.

Even candies that I forbid or I allow. Fruits and vegetables carefully chosen at the supermarket or milk in feeding bottles and pre-made baby food by Nestlé.

Comings and goings, from here to there: doctor, dentist, vaccination, speech therapist, fitness club, piano classes, school.

Events planned in detail, meant to be fun, that ended annoying.

Never-ending arguments, scoldings, timeouts.

Fevers, diseases or serious syndromes, feelings of powerlessness.

Weariness, discouragement, distemper, doubt, guilt, fear.

None of these things make me a better mother.

None of these things matter at all. What really matters is how we face them and what we convey with every gesture.

The more the sacrifice, the more the expectation. It leads to risks:

  • Expecting return or wanting to ask for payment later, almost unavoidable;
  • Creating alibies: I breastfed, looked after them, gave them my all, did my part, and now it’s enough;
  • Not accepting when someone does something differently. If it is easier, even worse; it’s almost as if this person is committing a crime.

Often people talk about “choices”: “you’d better think about it before having kids”, “there are a lot of contraceptives on market”. But the motherhood idea in vogue is very different from reality. Almost the opposite. Beautiful perfect mothers always smiling, with healthy and cute children, eternalized on the covers of magazines, on advertising panels, on TV, on the cinema and on the internet, all of them show how much everything is magical and sweet. You can observe: NONE of them show mastitis, children fits, school adaptations, diseases. Not counting the discourse that says: women feel fulfilled ONLY when they become mothers.

And, suddenly, we realize that things don’t happen the way we expected; that, theoretically, everything is very simple; that mostly we end up doing things that we criticized before. And there comes the question that drops like a bomb:

“I’m trying so hard, but it’s never enough. What am I doing wrong?”

Well then, the answer is implicit: what you are doing wrong is just thinking that you are TRYING SO HARD. Who said that everything must be this way, that it is only legitimate if it is painful?

As the idealized motherhood is false, the motherhood with supreme subjection also is. One thing is the daily care to the kids that really demands a lot, it’s basic, necessary. Another thing is to base motherhood only on it. It’s very heavy. Not counting that it is reductionist, myopic.

I want to emphasize that I understand and respect those who feel better with the sacrifice. Something in our culture endorses it. It is also a paradoxical thing, because it lives with consumerism, hedonism and promises of ready and easy solutions. At last, the fact is that the overcoming of a sacrifice brings a sensation of victory.

I think those who can transform tragedy in concrete attitudes are really fantastic; those who open spaces and endow entities in order to help people. The problem is when the overcoming brings a sensation of arrogance, status, power, superiority. And the irresistible temptation of comparing, labeling and condemning the behavior of others. One thing is feeling better as a mother. Another thing is to believe a mother is better than the other mothers.

 

This concern is natural: a concern related to the other mothers’ kids, helpless children or potentially problematic adults who will share the world with OUR children (obviously, I’m not talking about police cases). But, then, there’s a risk of adopting another dangerous illusion: the belief that the mother is the sole responsible (and, therefore, the guilty one) for all that her kids will become.

Now, I go back to the initial question:

Does the sacrifice make me a better mother?

In MY CASE, no, never. I think it’s even the opposite: it makes me a worse mother, focused on demands, first to myself, and then to my children.

The best moments of motherhood happen when I am spontaneous. It’s true to me and to my kids. Not thinking if it is from a right or under an obligation. Not thinking if I’m right or wrong. These moments arise when you surrender, let them teach you. When you stop seeing it as a sacrifice and let it flow. When you feel pleasure, love. I confess – they are less frequent than I would like; it’s very difficult for us to allow them to exist in a quotidian that mostly reminds us of a military routine. But they are eternal, unforgettable. Moments when we can really know our kids and let them know us.

What makes me a better mother is the certainty that I do know my children. I hope they don’t think of me considering only the birth, the time spent breastfeeding, the sleepless time, the invested money or any other sacrifice I have done. What I hope the most is that they know they can TRUST ME.

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You can also see:

Only mothers are happy- Analysis

Only mothers are happy – Marusia speaks

This post in Portuguese: O sacrifício faz de você uma mãe melhor?

Why mothers want to leave their jobs to stay with their children – Marusia speaks

In the photographs of reports like “Why mothers want to leave their jobs to stay with their children”, it seems like the mothers have (literally) lost their heads. These mothers don’t have hearts, too. So, even if a text values the mother who carries on with her professional career, the images say the opposite, feeding the guilt, tagging the situation as if it was an abandonment.

I have even a guess about who took the photos for those reports:

The Red Queen, of Alice in Wonderland: “Off with their heads!”

I’d rather be:

  • A full-time professional when I am at work (and my children at school); and
  • A full-time mother when I am with my kids.
  • But, above all, I prefer keeping my identity: being Marusia (with a head and a heart), full-time, all the time.

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You can also see:

Why mothers want to leave their jobs to stay with their children – one side

Why mothers want to leave their jobs to stay with their children – another side

Why mothers want to leave their jobs to stay with their children – Analysis

This post in Portuguese: Por que as mães querem deixar o emprego para ficar com os filhos – Marusia fala

Only mothers are happy – Analysis

 Free translation of an article published in “Crescer” magazine, nº 138, on May 2005 (Brazil)

"Only mothers are happy"

 Ten reasons why we become much better after our kids are born (Malu Echeverria)

Forget sleepless nights, the guilt of leaving your kids at home to go work, the lack of time for taking care of yourself. Ignore the credit card account, the mess around the house, the being tired. At least for some moments, stop demanding too much from yourself for not being a perfect mother. On Mother’s Day, enjoy the happy moments brought by motherhood. […]

1. You get new friends

At the school entrance, in parental meetings and in children parties, you meet the parents of your kids’ friends. They become your friends, too, increasing and diversifying your network. After all, there’s no lack of things in common.

2. You become a healthy person

Even those who don’t like walking, after becoming mothers, find how much riding a bike or playing with a ball is cool. The concern is pertinent: you want to be well in order to see your kid growing up.

3. Your time becomes more productive

“The capacity that women have to think and do a lot of things at the same time is increased after motherhood, because the demands also increase”, the psychoanalyst Ana Paula Pires explains. Have you ever imagined that you would manage to dress, talk on the phone and carry a baby, everything at the same time? […]

4. You are powerful

You find that your body has a nobler mission than only enchanting men […]. The discovery that your body is able to create a human being really gives you a sensation of power.

5. You want a better world

As all of good mothers, you want the planet to be a better place for living.

6. You find you are a well of patience

You ignore child’s in-public-fits, the complaints at bath time, the crying in the early morning. “When we are in love, we bear almost everything […]”, the family therapist Marília de Freitas Pereira compares.

7. The choosiness is let go

[…] Nowadays, if a problem appears (yes, you don’t look for it anymore!), soon you find a solution and that’s it!

8. You feel the greatest love

The love that exists in the relationship with children compensates any difficulty […].

9. Other talents arise

Maybe you had some abilities before being a mother. But, certainly, you have never used them with so much pleasure as you do nowadays. […]

10. You go back to playing

The psychoanalyst Ana Paula sums up why being a mother is so good: “Motherhood brings a lighter way of living.” Enjoy!

Analysis

At first sight, this report is an acknowledgement: see all the happiness that is a privilege only to mothers!

At second sight, this report is a eulogy: be proud for all the qualities that only motherhood gives.

At third sight, this article is an invitation: be conscious of all the wonders that are within mothers’ reach and enjoy them.

At fourth sight, it’s a consolation (or a reprehension): problems are irrelevant in face of so many gifts that mothers receive!

Although, there is a fifth truth: the acknowledgement, the eulogy, the invitation to pleasure and the consolation are presented under so many conditions, that in the end the homage becomes an obligation. And every imposition can become guilt.

Reasons to be happy, according to the report: Conditions presented on this report:
Only mothers are happy If you aren’t happy, you are not a good mother
At least for some moments, stop demanding from yourself for not being a perfect mother After these moments, you can go back to demanding from yourself. A list follows:
New friends If you don’t become a friend of the parents of your kids’ friends, you are not a good mother
A more productive time If you cannot dress, talk on the phone and carry the baby at the same time, you are not a good mother
Power Women’s bodies are only good for men [!!!] and, after them, for children. The report discards everything that a woman can access by her own body as an extension of her individual consciousness
A better world If you don’t get involved in ecology, Human Rights and World Peace, you are not a good mother
Well of patience If you don’t have more than enough patience with children’s fits, complaints and crying, you are not a good mother. If you don’t bear everything, you are not in love with your kids
No choosiness If you don’t find a solution for the problems soon, you are choosy and you don’t prioritize what really matters – the children
The greatest love If the unlimited love doesn’t show up at first sight, you are not a good mother
New talents If you aren’t creative, you are not a good mother
Playing If you didn’t go back to playing and if you don’t lead a lighter kind of life, you are not a good mother

 The whole text is written in the Present Tense: you do, you become, you define, you find, you want, take, feel, believe, you are. This affirmative approach, with the testimonies and photos of six mothers delighted with their children and the comments of four psychologists, contributes to reinforce that “being happy” is not a realization. It’s a duty for mothers.

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You can also see:

Only mothers are happy – Marusia speaks

This post in Portuguese: Só as mães são felizes

Only mothers are happy – Marusia speaks

I think that in the “Only Mothers are Happy” Course, I missed the classes when they taught the “Find you are a well of patience” Module. I flunked with honors.

In the “Choosiness is let go” Module, a kind of transference occurred: I started to have a lot of choosiness with my children, mainly when they were still babies, like: boiling Lego (to sterilize it) and not changing the wristwatch to daylight saving time on trips (to keep the routine intact).

I don’t like parent-teacher meetings either (I only like individual meetings with the teacher); I’ve been risking myself doing rappel around; I’ve been using disposable diapers, to environmentalists’ dismay; and sometimes I’m not in the mood for creative games.

I don’t think that only mothers are happy. I do believe that everybody can be happy if they do not waste time in wanting to be perfect (and not only “for some moments”, as this report affirms).

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You can also see:

Only mothers are happy – Analysis

This post in Portuguese: Só as mães são felizes – Marusia fala

The first baby adventure – analysis

The following texts are a free translation of parts of a report, originally published in Claudia Magazine, number 5, year 42, on May 2003, Abril Publishing Company, Brazil

 The apartment of the Brazilian producer Priscila Borgonovi (24 years old) and the actor Fabio Assunção, 31, reveals who is the king of this space. In the entrance hall, there is a poster with this message: “Welcome, João”, which was put up by the godparents of the baby, who was born on January 21st, in São Paulo [Brazil].

“On the day after the birth, I woke up calm. I was feeling everything was different and I was seeing things differently, as I was turning into a mother.”

The truth is: the newborn baby contributes, like no other baby does, for the family’s peace. He doesn’t have colics, he only cries when he is hungry, he has not choked or scared the proud mother yet, and sleeps tight straight through the night. “The last time I breastfeed him every day is at midnight, so he only wakes up at six in the morning. Even sleeping less that I would like to, I can rest just fine”, Priscila reveals. She is conscious she is privileged. “He’s calm, strong, gives us security. He’s never made us stay awake at night.”

When she was pregnant, she led a normal life: she did hydro gym up until the seventh month and worked until close to the delivery. “I felt great, beautiful, loved, with a great energy”. So, she managed to beat thefear of the natural birth. “It went fine, in spite of the five hours at labour, and the induction, due to the water breaking. At that moment, I did three pushes, and João was born, in four minutes.”

Fabio watched the birth and also was deeply moved. “I felt like in a trance, as if not knowing where I was. How can such a normal event be so extraordinary? You try to see yourself in the baby and you can’t… he is another new, unique person. It’s beautiful to see the mix of yourself with the woman you love.”

Slowly, Priscila had established a new routine. […] But slowly everything is returning to its axis. “We were once again in contact with the world, with the normal life […] and recovering our libido, too. It’s important and amazing to feel beautiful and like a woman again, to remember how it is to be with your husband.”

[…] When the baby completed one month, she had lost all the weight she had gained during her pregnancy, and soon was fitting into tight pants and jeans. At 1,75 metro high, she weighs now 53 kilos. “Less than before”, she affirms, proudly.

Fabio agrees that the couple’s life changed a lot, but not as people used to say. “Everybody used to say: ‘you know, man, when the baby is born, your life will end, etc, etc.’ João didn’t limit us in anyway, he opened a new way.” A great father, the actor changes diapers, gives the baby baths, helps in everything and loves being with his son.

The analysis

According to the text, we can elaborate a list of things that contribute to a happy motherhood start:

  1. A secure and calm mother;
  2. A baby that doesn’t cry, doesn’t have colics, nurses well and sleeps tight straight through the night;
  3. A calm pregnancy, with the mother working, going to hydro gym classes and feeling beautiful and loved;
  4. A natural and calm delivery;
  5. A father who’s always there;
  6. A life returning to its axis;
  7. The return of the libido;
  8. A quick return to being in shape.

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You can also see:

The first baby adventure – Marusia speaks

This post in Portuguese: A aventura do primeiro bebê

Perfect Mother?

If you, sometime, have already tried to fit (without success) in the perfect mother examples of the media (as I have), you’re welcome to our blog! “The perfect mother” is a non-pretentious version in English from the “Mãe perfeita” blog, originally in Portuguese, written by a Brazilian non-perfect, still learning mother and a non-perfect, still learning student of English.

It’s an open space to share our experiences (it includes the suggestions to improve my text and language), have fun, “unstress” and find that the only recipe to be a mom is: there are no recipes (all statements to the contrary are immediately revoked).