“Strong” mothers do not exist. There are mothers who overcome unexpected circumstances, economic crises, postpartum depression, poor breastfeeding education, tantrums, terrible two, three, four years…and, 30 years later, generational silences that hide how hard it is to be a mother and they cover it up with commercials for diapers or formula milk where we are all (seem) happy.
Society told moms that being “strong” was okay. That if the parents leave, we will have to be “strong”; that if the parents collaborate with mom and baby just when they remember, both financially and emotionally, they will have to be “strong”, that if dad gets upset, they will have to be “strong” and will have to remain “silent”, that dad will not she is uncomfortable during the long nights of nursing because she has to work the next day, while mom has to work too. They invented an adjective, “strong”, to justify the absence of support networks and laws that protect all types of mothers in a real and inclusive way, including those who also care for themselves.
On the other hand, concepts such as the “fighty mom” were invented, as if being a single mom was a punishment for a bad choice. They made the mothers of more “traditional” families see that it was not worth protesting because, ultimately, they have partners who “support”, although, in reality, many mother more alone than accompanied. They made working moms feel that if they work they are actually abandoning their children for their own career ambitions; and the mothers who stay at home were taught that they are useless for not working.
What if that mother doesn’t want to or simply can’t be “stronger” and stops being present? “No, mom always has to be able to” — everyone yells, including the absent parents.
And if mom can’t be “strong” and breaks, is she then “weak”? Think of a birth, be it natural or cesarean section. Think about the fear, the uncertainty, the chaos, the trembling hands, the legs unable to support the cramped body, think about the screams, the calm, the breathing, the trying again one, the other. time… There is nothing fragile in a birth, there is nothing weak in feeling how everything breaks to give life.
But mom can’t give in, not even to exhaustion, because when she does, the structure that weighs on her shoulders falls. So mom becomes “strong” and learns to cry hidden in the bathroom, to smile while she wants to scream, to look at herself naked in the mirror and not recognize her postpartum body, to breastfeed hidden, to work with the baby on her chest, to not going out to a restaurant because your rowdy baby will disturb the next table.
And so, mom is mercilessly devoured by her own “strength”.
And what happens to that “strong” mom? She ends up believing herself that myth that she can do anything. She loses her voice; she becomes invisible. Her needs are hidden under the shell of “supermom” and the justification of “no one forced you to be a mother” emerges as a punishment for trying to give voice to exhaustion.
And if no one looks at that mom, how can the system help her? When the environment believes the strong mother who endures everything, she assumes that things will be fine, that no matter what happens, that mother will be able to move forward, without complaints or hesitation. What does the economic and moral crisis of a country matter if mothers can handle everything!
I’m going to tell you a secret about motherhood: behind the shell of a “strong” mother there are also fears, suffering, stress, infinite exhaustion. Behind what is seen and expected there is a mother worried about diapers, the COVID-19the school snack, the shoes, the granting of circles, how expensive private care homes are, dengue, the payment of basic services, the uniform, the milk, the buyllingoil queue, chicken, public transportation, not arriving on time for meetings, work, not working, money, lack of co-responsibility, Montessori education, non-Montessori education, respectful parenting and, finally, the doubt: am I doing it right?
If you’re a mom, yell. You’re not crazy, just exhausted. Let us let our imperfection flow and allow others, from whom, like us, “strength” is also expected, to realize our vulnerability, which is everyone’s. None of that makes us weak. It makes us visible and human because, no, no one should have to deal with all the burdens of motherhood alone.