We live in a culture of fear, in a society where you can’t think by yourself anymore. Some mums don’t want to be mums but they are pushed to. Some mums want to be mums but they are prevented from living the experience. Some mums wish they could at least offer their kids a walk in a park but are forbidden the right of some green. Many mums are being pointed at because they made the choice to stop working for their babies. And we’re not talking here about school yet and all the difficulties that every parent in lebanon has to face to afford their kids an education.
Lebanon, a baby friendly country?
And that is how :
1- Motherhood is not recognized as a full time job and remunerated in consequence
Lately I bumped into a mum who told me that she was a working mum and therefore her job as a mum was harder. I looked at her with surprise and though : well, go back to your house and just take care of the baby and then we will talk!
NO. NEIN. NA. Working mums and staying at home mums are NOT different from the point of view of WORK. The fact is they both work but no law has established that and people keep having their prejuges of what is work and what is not. But we all know how much WORK a baby is, don’t we ? 😉
2- Working mums are hurried to go back to work and only have 70 days leave
70 days leave. Better say nothing much. How do we recover from such a powerful experience in only 3 months? Mums need at least one year to recover from pregnancy, delivery and the baby’s first months ( if not more). Unfortunately, the fact that they cannot be remunerated for taking care of their babies push most of them to hurry back to work in no time.
May I ask why is the society not concerned with the well-being of our babies and our mums and about the importance of the bond they need to have? Wouldnt we have more happy and healthy kids ?
How can a mother live the experience fully when she is not allowed the rest she needs?
How can a mother be more effective at work when she has not rested and when her mind is elsewhere?
* Some mums go back to work quickly because they are not supported at home and fear becoming depressed ( and they have a point).
* Some mums feel guilty when they go back to work and crave the whole day to hold their babies in their arms, other staying at home mums are frustrated because if indeed they are staying at home with their babies, they are not getting paid for it and don’t have the help they need. They work the whole day : cook, clean, take care of the baby.
3- Mothers are not well supported by families and communities anymore
The general trend is that more and more mums in Lebanon are left alone after giving birth. I remember not a long time ago, a man from Mina was telling me about his wife not being able to cope with the baby. I asked him a few questions about her and it turned out that she was going through depression. Still, he had no idea what was going on with her.
On another hand, some mothers can afford to bring a helper but even then, they feel alone because if helpers can do the cleaning and cook food, they are not always able to give the moral support that mothers need.
In what would consist the moral support?
It’s about someone telling you you’re doing the right thing, it’s about someone taking care of the baby during the night so you can manage some sleep, it’s about someone conforting you in your choices of breastfeeding. It could either be a family member, or a woman who has been through the same experience or a professional. When helpers do all they can, they are not always mothers or professionnal and therefore, even this help is not enough. Before, communities and enlarged families made the task way easier. Mums would give each other tips and confort. Many people were taking care of the baby and the mum would rest and be able to give more.
4- Mums live in smaller apartments and are excluded from society
First we live in smaller apartments, with no gardens. In lebanon this summer we were even tempted to keep the windows closed because of the garbage and pollution. Not to mention the heat.
Imagine yourself with your baby in these conditions. No space for playing, no fresh air, no possibility to connect to any nature of any kind.
You’re just stuck between 4 walls.
Before families were together, they would share the same house, give support to each other. The baby would play around and many people would watch on him.
Today, most mums are ALONE. If a mum was surrounded by people that she could rely a little bit on or that she could talk to she would be allowed to express herself more (even if it’s for small things) and be more relaxed about the baby. In that sense, a working mum can feel more liberated because she’s surrounded with adults with who she can communicate.
5- Lebanon cities (specially Beirut) are not baby friendly
No parks in the city, no sidewalks, high level of pollution.
Of course some people have countryside house but how many Lebanese have this privilege?
No green, no possibility of running after your kid, no opportunity to make the baby sleep in his stroller.
6- Woman are being told that if they live fully their motherhood, their carreer will be threathened
What? You are still breastfeeding?
What? He’s still sleeping beside you?
What? You didnt put your daughter in the nursery yet?
What? What? What?
When a mum in Lebanon lives her motherhood fully, people become judgemental and full of fears. Which brings up other questions :
Aren’t you afraid to spoil him-her?
Don’t you think you should preserve your couple and keep your baby away from your room?
You didn’t go back to work yet ?
People don’t realise that life changes and we should accept the changes instead of fighting against them all the time.
They don’t realise that if yes motherhood can be challenging on the couple, on the work on many things, it’s like everything really in life.
Didn’t we make sacrifices when we were studying hard to have our diplomas?
Won’t we have one day to deal with our parents or our partner or our kids sickness and even sometimes death?
Don’t we need to mature and understand that also life is a process that we need to go through and sometimes there is what we call sacrifice?
Sacrifice yes, but that doesnt mean we shouldnt be supported. That only means that we go through phases (and motherhood in the early years of the child is a hard one) and that we should ackowledge the experience and make the best out of it.
7- Motherhood in a very individualistic oriented society is more challenging
A lot of Lebanese women dont realise that motherhood is going to be made of sacrifices and prefer to give up right from the beginning. They refuse to breastfeed, to wake up at night and prefer to hire helpers who will do all the hard work.
They are not even interested in their pregnancies and only rely on the doctor opinion. It seems like having a kid is a burden and cannot be a source of pleasure. They are afraid of getting fat, tired, of losing their job. For all these reasons, they don’t live their motherhood fully. Kids of course suffer from this behaviour and develop emotional issues or they develop a privileged relationship with the helper that will “save” them emotionnally.
8 -Women become pregnant under the pressure of society
In Lebanon, families put a lot of pressure on women so they get pregnant and before they are even ready.
Yet we are never really ready to become mothers, we should at least decide it and have the right to say without being judged : I don’t want kids.
Today, many mums get pregnant and realise after giving birth that they were not ready. That they would have wished to know how much hard work it is.
9 – Moms intuition is not respected &; there is too much information
As my friend Emilie Thomas puts it beautifully :” We need a more organic and intuitive world… a world where we trust and follow moms’ intuition and babies’ lead… There’s too much information, we are more virtual than ever… We need more flesh and blood and bones, and we need to believe that our mind, brain, spirit, whatever you call it, can be connected to the body and listen to it”.
10- Motherhood became a business
Because we have no parks, the only way sometimes is to take our kids to malls.
Malls….As if motherhood was not already a whole business.
When did we forget to live simply?
How did generations of people live without all these waste of plastic that only make our garbage bigger?
Yesterday I was in a shop for mums and babies and was wondering what I would buy. Nothing popped in my mind.
I needed NOTHING.
Unfortunately, we are many to think that we have to ruin ourselves in order to be good mums. We spend tons of money on details and things they will never use. We have stopped to live simply. We need that special bag, and that special bottle, and that special spoon and that special blanket. We don’t realise we are spending our money uselessly and spoiling our environment for meaningless things. So many toys are bought for kids before they even explore their surrounding ! Why? Isn’t the world already amazing and big to explore? Why do we need to keep buying and buying things ? To achieve what? A glimpse of happiness and meaning?