Our container came from the U.S. last week — Hooray! We were so happy to be sleeping in beds. And sitting on couches. I was tired of the four pairs of shoes I had brought in my suitcase and happy to see the rest arrive. And then the reality set in. Professional movers notwithstanding, someone was going to have to put away all of this stuff. Why on earth do we have so much stuff?
A week later, I’m not even close to the level of order that would inspire picture-taking, so sorry. Give me another week. At least.
After a late night last night (a social event followed by someone’s unfinished homework project) I didn’t feel like facing any of my messes, so I was puttering around and Bloom sent me over to Jane, who gave me permission to take the day off. Perfect. So since I was taking the day off anyway, I read a little more Jane, and found this quotable little gem, in response to a mother who wanted to know “how” to nurture her child:
“In essence, when you really fall in love with your baby, when you could just eat him up…he’s being nurtured. If you resent him or love him with reservations, he is missing something. In that case, give more of your deep self–not your custodial mother self, but your connecting self, to the relationship. Pray to be “filled with love” for your child. Look into his eyes and recognize his unique powerful little spirit.”
Isn’t that excellent? My experiences the last couple of months have caused me to once again reflect on myself as a mother. We live among pretty affluent people here, and many (even most) of them hire people to do the sorts of things I do all day. Someone else is there in the morning to make their children’s lunches and send them off to school. Someone else cleans up the messes and does the laundry. Jon told me one day, “My friend’s maid takes his shoes off when he gets home” (an 8 year-old). A different child, a neighbor, has been spending a lot of time here, and when it’s time for a meal, his nanny comes to get him (in case you are wondering, his mother does not have a job outside her home). Chileans call this person a “nana,” and at first my kids thought she was his grandmother, which is pretty funny since she looks about 25.
I’ve realized that I spent the last five years living around women who had similar ideas about valuing motherhood. Here, by contrast, a woman (an American) I’d just met told me, “If I had five kids I’d never want to get out of bed in the morning.” Another, who happens to be from New Zealand, after agreeing with me that staying home with young children is important to her, said that she thought it was boring. I actually think both of these women love their children and are good mothers. These conversations made me want to watch what I say about this job.
I have a tendency to be honest about things, and it drives me crazy when people never complain about being a mother. It’s a hard job, and we don’t support each other when we don’t tell the truth about that. But if I have complained too much sometimes, I am sorry. I chose this job. I love this job. It is important work and I am grateful to be doing it.
We can afford to have “help” here in Chile. Enough help that my life is less stressful and my house is less disastrous. But I don’t want to be one of the “ladies who lunch.” I want it to be clear to myself, my children, and anyone who meets us, that my purpose here is to be a mother. And if having some help with the cleaning up parts, and sometimes the cooking part!, gives me extra time and energy, I’m going to spend it nurturing.