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Mamitis and daycare pressure

November 2, 2009

Mamitis is a Spanish word that describes a child’s extreme dependance on their mom. And my child has caught the mamitis cold. It doesn’t help that her papa isn’t home a lot these days. In fact, it is almost 12pm and Principe still isn’t home from work, which means she saw him for exactly 35 minutes this morning and nothing more. Is it any surprise that the mamitis bug is hanging on hard?

I understand that this is probably just a phase, but we already had one of these phases, then it seemed to let up, then she got sick and the mamitis bug took root again. It seems that the mamitis bug has actually built a home, bought a bed and couch and plans to stay the duration of the winter. Example: Last Thursday Principe came home just in time to read books and put Queenie in bed. It starts right there, with the books. We read books before naps and before nigh-night time. During the afternoon and many times at night she sits next to me as we look through the books and pick out items that she knows or she asks me what something is called, etc. It is only the nights that Principe is home and tries to get her to sit on his lap that she makes a fuss and comes over to my lap. Then there is putting her to sleep. Principe picked her up and she immediately started to scream. I handed the bottle over to him and silently left the already dark room, and she contined to scream. And continued. Then let up. Then started again. About 6 minutes later Principe called me in to hand her over. He was so heartbroken that she didn’t want her papa to put her to sleep.

The next day he came home telling me that a coworker of his told him not to worry, that it is normal. In fact, just the other night one of his children woke up from a bad dream and when he walked in to comfort them the child said, “Not you, I want Mama.”

There are just certain things that kids relate their parents to. For Queenie Mama is the one who provided food and helps her sleep and Papa is the ones who comes up with cool games. She loves her papa, really. Just on Sunday morning they sat in our room for almost an hour playing silly games and Queenie had so much fun she whined (through the hiccups she caught from laughing too hard) when it was time to stop. Yes, she loves papa, but he just isn’t the one she wants to put her to bed. And much of that comes from him never putting her to bed when she was littler. He would always wave it off and say I was better at it. Guess you reap what you sew….

There is more of point to this, and I am sure you are waiting with baited breath to know what it is.

Mamitis. Have I ever explained here the pressure that stay-at-home moms get here in Spain to put their kids into daycare? It is a small movement of women revolting against the idea in Spain that if you stay home with your kids you are forfeiting yourself and your future. No woman here wants to say that they are an Ama de Casa. No one. Not anyone under the age of 50, at least. The pressure to wait to have kids is quite strong and the pressure to place those kids into daycare once the 4 months maternity leave is over is even stronger (I know, they have better laws here on maternity leave and other such things than the States). Just the other day my inlaws were over for lunch and when Queenie woke up from her nap she welcomed them with open arms, but when it was time to eat she didn’t want her abuela to help her, she wanted me.

“You need to send her to daycare to cure her of the mamitis,” was said several times. Interesting, coming from a woman who stayed home with her first two kids.

If anything is going wrong with your child (ie.: doesn’t eat well, doesn’t sleep well, is shy, is too agressive, isn’t agressive enough,etc) the cure is always said to be daycare. I have no idea what it is like in the States, daycare I mean, but I know exactly what it is like here and there is no way I want my child there if I can help it. Not to say that all children who go there are somehow damaged from it, it just isn’t something I am comfortable with. Especially when the largest salary I would be earning here in Spain would be around 20,000-25,000Euro for working 9-10 hour days, not including transportation there and back. In Madrid that could add up to 12 hours out of the house, away from my child with half of my salary going to pay someone else to educate my Queenie. Yep, half. Expensive!

We moms talk about this pressure a lot at the playgroups, those of us who are either Spanish or who are married to Spanairds, of course. The rest don’t really feel the pressure as much. It seems that we are seen as rogue women who need to be led back to the path of feminism. Unlike the movement in the States where you can say with pride that you stay home with you kids and still have the opportunity to get back out in the work force (perhaps with a bit more difficulty, but you are able to get out there) once the kids are in school, here it is seen as something from the fifties, or something that the uneducated women do. Because, really, why would you spend time at the university if you are just going to turn into a baby factory and stay home with you kids? Why on earth would you want to be responsible for teaching your child good eating habits, how to tinkle on the potty, that he/she must hold hands when crossing the street or what color the trees are when you can pay to have a professional teach them those things while you continue in your career path? Okay, now I’m becoming snide.

Let me step back. There are those women who actually have a career path, a good job and have studied for years and I certainly don’t blame them for wanting to continue working. Many times these women would not be happy staying at home and if you aren’t going to be happy then it isn’t the right decision for you. But then there are friends of mine who have a job but no career, ie. it isn’t a job that they particularly like neither is it a job in which they can go higher up in nor is it a job that they would fight for if the need to arose. They still look incredulous when you ask them if they are going to stay home after the baby is born. For what? Why? (or the best) We can’t afford that, no way!

I know for a fact that their husbands make just as much as mine. People must think we have money growing out of our bums over here since I stay home. I have heard that so many times. One friend in particular has this sort of non-career job and I know that she makes less than 20,000euro a year.

I guess I shouldn’t judge. It is just that I feel judged so often for not being woman enough or feminist enough (I will gladly say I am an old school feminist, not definitely NOT a new school feminist.) that I guess I find it easy to throw it back in their faces. And what’s with us deciding not to start Queenie in preschool next year at age 2 1/2 in Toulouse? Don’t we know that kids adapt even if it is in another language other than their mother tongue (in Queenie’s case it would be her third language. She still doesn’t speak either one of the first two). Don’t we understand that she is going to be behind (we are going to homeschool her so that she isn’t)? Don’t we know that even if we homeschool here she will have to learn to adapt to the routine a year later than the rest of them, that the rest will already have friendships formed, that the rest will already know what is going on and she won’t (I’m sorry, didn’t you just use the arguement that kids adapt easily for the first point?)? And  not being gung-hoe in making her learn French? How dare we!

Errr. Guess I’m just a bit irritated today with all the judgement on my parenting skills.

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