Monday, 3 March 2014

Parents sans frontières

Today I will write a bit about what it means to me to be a Mom, and also to be many other things besides that. I will try to avoid the, to me, awful terminology of 'not just' a Mom. Who came up with that anyway? I wouldn't go up to anyone else and ask them what else they were apart from 'just an executive manager, shop assistant or researcher', either. Would you?

This topic has been winding its way around the unfathomable labyrinth that is my mind most of the weekend, kicked off by the lovely introduction given for my guest blog at the end of last week. Translated as best as i can it says: 

'the author studied aerospace engineering in the UK and is an allround multi-cultural person, who lives in Germany with her Hubby and 5-month-old Baby. They proudly enjoy their Irish, Austrian, American roots and UK influences on their family life, showing also in the bilingual blog, which reflects their communication at home. As the author is on parental leave at the moment, she has started off two new projects: blogging and a little dawanda-store. Another Mother, for whom the parental leave is just not 'enough' - I can totally empathise.' 

This set me off thinking, as it never even occurred to me before that I would be focussing all my time and all my energy while at home on Baby. It never came across my mind that I 'had' to do other things other than be there for the little one, I just did them. I love writing, hence the blog as a good way to practice, and I am really enjoying doing something creative with my hands, hence the shop. I also finally have time to read books again. Yeah!

There are so many sides to people, in my case: wife, engineer, manager, Austrian, American, bilingual, Mom, sister, daughter, ....... Don't get me wrong, like every young Mom, I am of course totally unbiased and convinced that Baby is the most wonderful, gorgeous and most clever child ever to grace the earth, but still, that does not fulfil all my other interests, even if being a Mom is more fulfilling than I could ever have anticipated.  

The reason I am writing today is that this is not the first time I have come across this focus while we have been here in Germany. When starting my first job, the guys in my team strongly asserted 'of course our children are at home with their mother until they are three. why does one have children if one does not want to spend time with them.' One of my lovely neighbours strongly supported my shop activities with 'well, you have to do something'. Two totally different views, but joined in the agreement of disagreement with the need for mothers to focus on being solely a Mom when on parental leave.

Kindergardens are a fairly recent invention in West-Germany, where the image of the 'Über'mother ranged large for many many years, influenced apparently also by a popular parenting book having survived WWII into the 50s and 60s. The image I have of this mother is that she, on the one hand, must sacrifice her whole time, energy and being to manage the household and raise the children, while at the same time, keeping a strict regimen and making sure raise 'proper' citizens - not too much cuddling allowed here!

I went to a Kindergarden - I wouldn't have learned Austrian if I hadn't - and I loved it there, so for us the question of either of staying home for up to 3 years focussing on parenting only never came up. And for others, the more traditional family model may work better than what works for us, which is good. 

What I find a shame is that many of our friends and, it seems, young Germans are still left in doubt as to whether they can choose to be the parents they want to be, to be more than a person focussing on one particular role in their life and have their child in child care, without feeling, or being made to feel guilty. 

We all know becoming a parent is a nerve wrecking experience sometimes, but why put yourself under even more pressure in the fruitless search to do it perfectly right? Is there a bona fide confirmed, certified right way to raise a child? Sure, there are basics that many people agree on, but why is it that we are all so insecure in our own way of interpreting parenting that any criticism or even just difference in what others do is automatically a threat? I am very much a fan of following ones instinct, which is what I try to do unless I am worrying - another joy of Motherhood. There is a reason mother nature gave us instincts, and raising a family has got to be one of the most natural things we do in this technologically advanced world.
This topic could probably lead to hours of discussion and writing, but in an effort to make this mildly readable I will leave you here, with the words of two very clever men:

'Take care of yourself, as well and as often as you can. For a child it is very important that their parents are doing well. Nobody knows what perfect parenting encompasses. The best parents make 20 mistakes a day. This is normal.' (Jesper Juul

'A mother who adapts her needs to that of her baby beyond the first few months of its life is not a good mother.' (Donald Winnicott)

And with that I wish you a lovely day - be nice to yourself and it will be easier to be nice to others. 

PS: dieser Artikel handelt um meine Gedanken zum Thema Muttersein und gleichzeitig andere Aspekte seiner Persönlichkeit ausleben und behalten; sowie meine Beobachtungen dazu in Deutschland.

1 comment:

  1. Liebe Cary,

    interessant zu hören, dass ich mit meiner Vorstellung deines Gastblogs so etwas losgetreten habe :-)
    Solche Gedanken gehen mir auch seeehr oft durch den Kopf!

    Ganz liebe Grüße,