How did my mum do this!

How did people manage? what i actually mean is: how did mums manage to do all this and not get lost in translation in the past?. Is it actually possible to be a mum that is on top of things at home, has happy kids, a good relationship with her partner (who of course helps out and is involved), in a household with two working parents, on a city where you have no family to help out. IS IT POSSIBLE? Because to me, it oh so often feels like it’s not. And every happy time i get to find another part-time working mum i find that we can laugh and complain and secretly feel relieved that we are not alone in this (so this means i officially don’t think mums on full time jobs with kids can.. but that’s me and i’m known for make rush pre-judgements)

So the question then is, how did my mum do it? and of course the answer is different for everyone. In my Latin-American-Dutch case the answer i came up with is: she didn’t. My mum is GREAT, she is a sociologist who was first a journalist and learned Spanish and moved to Bolivia because she fell in love with my dad (who was also a sociologist), yes the story is super romantic, maybe I’ll tell you more one day.

I always considered my mum super brave for having leapt to the unknown like that: a new continent, a new language, a new culture.. But for her it must also have been exciting and surprising. She and my dad worked together on projects to do with development and other important issues, so that must have been rewarding. They lived in a house they build adjacent to my grandparent’s, on land that was owned by them.

I know from the stories that they carried me with them on their field trips into the mountain villages, and i remember dad taking me to nursery sometimes. But then i also remember always having someone taking care of me (and the house). First there was Balbina, a cholita that helped out with the cleaning and cooking at home, i was apparently very close to her and she always wanted to carry me in a swaddle like cholitas do with their own babies, my mum would tell her not to as to discourage me from wanting to be held all the time. Then there was Lidia, who was always whistling and quite playful, she was very young, too young we found out when she finally confessed to have lied about her age when starting to work with us. We loved her like a sister, my sister and me, and she would put the record straight telling us off: “you’re crazy if you think i’m going to put up with you like your mum does!”. Also since forever there was Sonia, a lady that came once a week to do the ironing, she had countless children, her youngest came as a surprise when she was over 50 i think!. When i started school a very special lady came into my life: Alicia, she was there to be with us and encourage us to do our homework until mum and dad where free. We also had a gardener come once a week.

I’m not sharing this to make my mum feel awkward, or because i wanted to show how spoiled i was as a kid.. my point is, even if i wasn’t living in one of the most expensive places on Earth, where the cost of living takes in average over 60% of household income and where childcare for twins is more expensive than the salary of anyone i know, and where it would be more likely for you to meet all of your favourite Hollywood stars hanging out in your local pub before you could make a decent living on a minimum wage (don’t miss interpret this please, i do love living here, the museums, the parks, to me it’s worth it).. Even if i went back to my home country (Bolivia) things couldn’t be the same.. and that is a good thing.

It shouldn’t be allowed to have such a gap between the lowest and the highest income that it would allow a whole class to live comfortably served by another who is always struggling to get by, just because the jobs they do are considered inferior. I am very proud of the changes happening in Bolivia that move away from that situation, like raising the minimum wage, compulsory health insurance and pension for homeworkers and strengthening the law to protect them from abuse.

To me it is funny, but not haha funny, how things in the UK seem in some ways so similar. But then actually a bit worse, because as a Latin-American i am always very aware of the inequalities, when faced with them, but i found that most people here aren’t when the inequalities don’t affect them directly.

In the UK over 2 million children are considered to live in poverty, it appears to be most common for people to earn less than the living wage, and therefore to be on benefits, so basically most people earn too little and are subsidized by the government to be able to just about make it, so they can comfortably go back to work to keep on earning nothing… In Bolivia there are no benefits, there is no safety net, so people have to make it and therefore are very hardworking.. I think this is an argument the UK government made for removing benefits: get people into HAVING to work mode (which i get, but seriously?)..

Strange but true, i think some things are a bit worse here.. No offence meant.

This entry was posted in Latin American issues, My Latin American Women, Other worldly issues, Poverty, This Latin-American woman and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to How did my mum do this!

  1. 5sOnTheFly says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful post. We definitely agree with your thoughts about how inequality in places like the U.K. and U.S. (where we were raised) are quite similar to other countries that have much less overall wealth. Before leaving for Mexico many we spoke to in the U.S. confessed they could never imagine living in a place with so much poverty, as if the U.S. had no children going hungry each night or working folks who only make ends meet by being subsidized by the government (as you mentioned also happens in the U.K.).

    I was a Sociology major in college (though never really did much with the degree once out of university), so I for one would be eager to hear the story of how your parents met some day 🙂

    • How lovely to hear back from you! I’m glad you liked it, yes, inequality is present everywhere and it is sad that so many people fail to see it.. I find it quite frustrating sometimes.
      How interesting.. Another university graduate who has a diploma gathering dust somewhere.. Strange isn’t it? how the most important things from the past can become so unimportant at an other point in life?

      I’ll look forward to reading bout your family’s adventures! And thank you for the encouragement, i think i will write about my parents, but i think i need to have a long chat with my mum first (she actually has no clue i was writing about her in my last post as she was road tripping with my sister to the South of Bolivia)

      Thanks for popping over! xx M.

  2. vintolindo says:

    Yes Mireya, as your mom I can say that the leap to Bolivia was a great adventure, scary but most of all exciting and surprising :-). And that in the beginning it was really hard for me to depend on other people to do things in the household, even when you were not born yet! And that I always felt bad on having other people doing “my” household and childcare jobs, but after a while also very grateful. I remember SO well people asking me all the time why in the world I was happy to live in Bolivia, coming up themselves with the answer: because you have got help, i.e. you can afford to pay people to do the less pleasant jobs…… It obviously was an advantage.
    But then – as you say – is it so different, or worse then bringing your kids to a daycare center while you work? Etc etc.
    It is complicated. And please Do have this long talk with me before ever writing about your parents…… :-)!

    • Thanks for your comment ma! I was waiting to read your thoughts about it.. I don’t think having to leave your children in an impersonal day care while you work is better than having a loving someone caring for him/her at home, i think i was lucky, and so where you that things where the way they where. My point is, i don’t think it is possible to do all the things that entail raising children and keeping a household and having two full time working parents.Even when one is working part time it can be very overwhelming if you have no family around willing to give you a hand.. Even in Bolivia, what do you think?

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