Well motherhood can’t be that hard, right? (Yes, of course)

A princess finds a prince and they have a baby together. And then? Then they live happily ever after, of course, without hassles.

or not? Isn’t that that easy?

In fact, you have no idea what will happen to you when you have your first child. It was, or is still the case (more than ever), according to the flourishing of testimonies of young fathers, in the form of novels, memoirs, and essays, which are currently flooding bookstores.

Who are the parents? Nope, from moms, almost exclusively. They sing the same song in different colours, about the expectations placed on women with children in the part of the world we live in today. About wrestling that isn’t very personal, however, at the same time.

in All that love and anger Ianthe Mosselman (1989) says: “I could somewhat prepare myself for the arrival of a child, but I could not prepare for the arrival of my child, because I did not know who it would be. I also did not know how I would be like his mother. There is an incredible uncertainty in having a child It is impossible to appreciate what fatherhood entails, and impossible to imagine, so great, so abstract, so different from all you knew up to then.”

Even if you imagine it, it also appears distortion, “A Book on Motherhood” in Words and Pictures by Rinsky de Greve (1984). The birth will hurt for a while, she says, but still: “Get a body and let’s go home quickly with a nice baby scent.” A cat in a box, a child in a bag (baby carrier), continues, as if on its own, unchanged.

sad honest

However, both women actually recovered during pregnancy, despite their laconic idea that after giving birth she would revert back to her old form, both physically and mentally. Something comes, after all, nothing comes out. De Grave wrote that she had not heard her, when others warned her or denied it, she imagined she would do things differently. Her brilliant, witty and painfully honest book, her book is filled with the phrases “Why Nobody Told Me That…”.

“No one told us how to do it,” Mosselman also wrote over and over again, such as when she and her partner are home alone with the baby for the first time. Nobody told her you’d never want to show your vagina to anyone again after giving birth, or how having a baby makes you feel like a failure, guilt, or default. Mosselmann and de Greve both go through an experience of pregnancy, but certainly after the baby arrives, they don’t really control their being too much. Who are they anyway?

Both are looking for the cause. And they both always want to stay strong, brave and independent, even after giving birth. „even more than Funny girl Moselman Books. The fear of not being considered whole anymore, once you become a mother, plays tricks on both.

Photo off distortion by Renske de Greef. Illustration of Renske de Greef

Since pregnancy, women are boring, not for example smart, progressive or funny. Mosselman sees the reasons for this mainly in the mores of society: “I didn’t realize how mothers were viewed until I became one: then I saw sexism everywhere and it flooded me.” De Greiff is looking for more in himself. She calls her “inner sexist” the reason for her overconfidence, believing that this would not be a life-changing move, unlike many others. She paints her like a rough-mouthed, cigar-smoker bastard with hair who has not liked “girls-girls” since puberty, but would rather be “one of the guys”.

prevailing gender norms

De Greiff is an expert at taking her thoughts to tinker: ‘Don’t get pregnant like a girl. “Be pregnant as one,” reads a self-portrait in which she, pregnant and well, presses a “base mount” to her chest, surrounded by a smoky barbecue and a truck that needs to change its wheel. Put her foot on the soccer ball. Once pregnant, she transcends herself to live up to her own expectations, by going to clubs with her big belly with friends or by reading about “whores in love” at a literary festival. In addition to the pencil drawing that shows how she presents herself in those moments, there is a pencil drawing that shows how she actually feels: broken, surprised, resentful, and insecure.

Mosselman experiences the same, but is especially surprised by the rage, sometimes sleepy, and often ferocious, which she seems to have carried with the child she really adores. It is because of society: “The idea that a mother is able to take better care of children is deeply ingrained in our system. The prevailing ages of gender norms stand in the way between dream and action.”

From the child comes a quarrel over the division of labor. And hardly too, despite the “narrow schedule” and “weekly schedule”, despite the conviction of Moselman and de Greve as well as their men that they would do it together, equally divided. The world will not accept that, as Muselman says: “Mother [is] Baby heads, whether you like it or not. “In an argument I tell my friend that I don’t want this ‘job’. I don’t want to become the manager because I got that part anyway for some reason.” […]† I don’t want a shopping list in my head for everything that still needs to be bought and done. It is a waste of space in my mind.” In her opinion, the father is seen as the champion of the family’s “every simple effort.” The mother should obliterate herself without grumbling.

Myths about motherhood

De Greef encounters something similar, depicted in a drawing of her husband, chatting with gloomy heads. Between them, he hung notes from the rope with texts like “Overtime,” “Who comforts the babysitter?” and “Night Out”. Caption: “The family economy, or: That moment when you realize that when you want to do something on your own, it has a direct impact on the other person.”

It also gives way to unsolicited comments from passers-by on the street, who always address her if the child is not wearing a hat or is crying. Moselman is also criticized for breastfeeding or not breastfeeding: moms are either way drunk.

They concluded that the equality of men and women is complicated by ideas and myths about motherhood. Deprivation and inequality in relation to the partner, the other parent, are inherent. It’s about assumptions and expectations that they both seem to internalize, much to their horror.

Both books accurately, ruthlessly and honestly portray the struggle with the “darkness and light” of motherhood, writes Muselman. De Greef does this not only with words, but also beautifully in pictures. Her characters, known from the daily comics that previously appeared in this newspaper, are always downright witty, as are her tall visions. but out distortion It turns out that as an illustrator she can do so much more, because with thoughtful contrasts between dark and light and a very varied font, from thick to murky and thin, she depicts many of her moods (recognizable to those with a child).

new balance

distortion It is truly a book that every parent, woman or man, expecting or “newborn” needs, for education, entertainment and preparation. All this love and anger from Moselman is investigation, study and theorizing based on personal experience. The accuracy with which Moselman classifies matters is commendable.

Gradually, as the child grows, both authors feel more peace and a new balance. “You are two and a half years old. You speak and use complete sentences,” Mosselmann writes in her conclusion. „Words fill the distance I felt from you sometimes […]† I’m another person because of you. I don’t want to be without you. And what about anger? Anger is a pilot light, flashing in the dark. […] It belongs to me.”

De Greef leaves the biggest confusion behind in a slightly different way: “And now I only dare to ask myself why I was so afraid of change, of everything that was so tender—my head, my body, and my place in the world. To me, motherhood doesn’t seem to be something my reptilian brain automatically controls. fully, nor is it an enlightened case – it is a work in progress.”

Leave a Comment