Mothers on Mother's Day
BELGİN AKALTAN - firstname.lastname@example.org
Day care at workplace: When will this dream come true for working mothers ?Mine died a few months ago, you know that. She is at Karacaahmet Cemetery. There is no phone line or Internet connection to where she is now. No point in sending flowers either. I really do hope she is in a better condition than she was during the last few years of her life.
Since Mother’s Day is here, this piece is about mothers and motherhood. Talking about motherhood, a cynical giggle seizes me. I don’t have a mother right now but I, myself, am a mother. Another cynical giggle.
I think some women are natural-born mothers; they enjoy their status. Some mothers are not natural mothers; they have to struggle to learn how to become one. They definitely don’t enjoy their situation. They cannot say what they really think about motherhood openly and aloud; not on Mother’s Day when prolactin levels are at their peak and when the mass sentiment is “Paradise lies under the feet of mothers.” Why doesn’t anybody mention on this day, “Where is the daycare center in the office for your female employees, as instructed by law?”
Oh, by the way, even though more than 20 years have passed since I first said it, I still support my excellent idea of “Newborn Care Centers” to be opened in every city, every neighborhood, so that couples can leave their newborn babies and their not-so-new-born small babies for care by professionals until they feel confident enough do it themselves.
Coming home with a three-day-old baby is simply alarming. You know nothing. Your partner doesn’t know anything. Your mother has forgotten everything. The books lie. You are on your own. I compared myself to an Intensive Care Unit specialized nurse when trying to learn what to do with a newborn. Believe me, it is very similar to taking care of an extremely sick person. You have to be that careful, that professional and that hygienic. It is only a short time, then you become a master of baby care. I was joking, “Send me five more babies, I can manage all of them, now, I know what to do.”
Why should I learn this much about the care of a newborn? Is this my job? Look, now, I have forgotten it, just like my mother. I will never use this hard-earned skill again. So, why learn it at the first place?
That’s why I suggest baby care centers. How nice it would have been. Leave your baby there, go and visit it whenever you miss it or feel like seeing it. Then take it home a few weeks later, or one month. Or any other preferred time.
I have tons to write about on this subject. Evrim Sümer’s article May 6 in daily Radikal on single motherhood explains a lot.
She took a short holiday with her 3-year-old daughter, Leyla, and she came back more tired because of the nonstop attendance. When she looked around to other couples, where parenting should have been shared, she saw that the situation was worse. “At least, I don’t have any expectations from anybody; all there is available is me. I have to do everything,” she said. While other couples experienced continuous tension because of what she called “unidirectional expectation from the other parent,” she was fine.
Her observations continue: While men were able to read the paper, watch the game, drink beer with friends, “the mother model of a human being signs a slavery contract the moment the sperm touches the egg. Women do not have any needs. We do not get hungry or thirsty. We do not like to drink coffee, read the paper or just stand there for 10 minutes without doing anything.”
I remembered my officemate, a famous columnist 20 years ago at Hürriyet, who had a baby when he was in his late 40s. Since I had a small baby then, we had a lot to talk about.
He told me once, “On some days, I forget I have a child, Belgin.” I was shocked. He said he would remember the baby when he got home. Still in shock, I went home and told this anecdote to my husband. Who in return confessed, “Well, true. There were times, then, when I forgot we had a baby.” Second shock. And he is the most sharing partner I have seen in the Turkish territory of 814,578 square kilometers.
THERE HAS NOT BEEN AND THERE IS NOT ONE SPLIT SECOND THAT I HAVE EVER FORGOTTEN THAT I HAVE A CHILD SINCE I WOKE UP FROM MY ANETHESIA ON OCTOBER 11, 1989. Full stop.
I tell this to my young colleagues and friends when they consider having a child. “The father may be able to forget from time to time, but girls, for the mother, there is not one moment of forgetting. Your whole life will change. Your personality, vision, daily life, professional life, your home environment, your leisure time, your thoughts, your freedom, your integrity, your relationships will change. Everything, your body, your sanity will undergo a change. You will never be the same.” Why am I quoting myself when this is my own column? That cynical giggle has seized me again.
Anyway, congratulations and best wishes to all mothers. And to myself.