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 a large number of testimonies of young parents, in the form of novels, memoirs and essays, which are currently flooding bookstores.

Who are the parents? No, 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 is not personal, however, it is at the same time.

in All that love and anger Ianthe Mosselman (1989) says: “I could somewhat prepare for the arrival of a child, but in no way could I prepare for the arrival of my child, because I did not know who he would be. I also did not know how I would be like his mother. There is incredible uncertainty in To have a child. It is impossible to appreciate what fatherhood entails, it is impossible to imagine, it is so big, so abstract, so different from everything you knew up to then.”

Even if you imagine it, it also appears the breast, “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.

frankly painful

However, both women actually recovered during pregnancy, despite their laconic idea that they would be back to their old form after giving birth, 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 bright, intelligent, and also painfully honest book is filled with the phrases “Why no one told me that…”.

Mosselman also writes it over and over again: “Nobody told us how to do it,” for example when she and her partner are home alone with the baby for the first time. No one told her you’d never want to show your vagina to anyone again after giving birth, or that the arrival of the 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 control their being. 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, when she was a mother, plays tricks on both.

Image is turned off the breast by Renske de Greef. Illustration Renske de Greef

Since conception, a woman is boring, not, for example, smart, progressive or funny. Mosselman sees the reasons for this mainly in society’s norms: “I didn’t realize how mothers were viewed until I became one: then I saw sexism everywhere and it overwhelmed me.” De Greve looks for it more in himself. She describes the reason for her arrogance, her conviction that this would not be a move to change her life, unlike many others, her “inner sex”. You paint them like a rough-mouthed, cigar-smoker bastard with hair that 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 a man,” reads a selfie in which, pregnant and well, she presses a “base mount” to her chest, surrounded by a smoky barbecue and a truck that needs a wheel change. 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 you appear in those moments, there is a pencil drawing that shows how you actually feel: broken, bewildered, upset and insecure.

Mosselman experiences the same, but especially marvels at the rage, sometimes sleepy, often ferocious, which she seems to have carried with the child she really adores. Because of society: “The idea that a mother is better able to take 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 fight over the division of labor. And hardly too, despite the “narrow schedule” and “weekly schedule”, despite the conviction of Mosselmann 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] “Big kids,” 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 be 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, and depicts it in a drawing of her husband chatting with gloomy heads. Among 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. Mosselman is also criticized for breastfeeding or not breastfeeding: both mothers are satiated in their minds.

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 comes down to the assumptions and expectations they seem to have internalized, which horrifies them both.

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 previously featured in this newspaper, are always downright witty, as are her tall visions. but out the breast It turns out that as an illustrator she can do much more than that, because with thoughtful contrasts between dark and light and a very diverse font, from thick to dark and thin, she depicts many of her moods (recognizable to those with a child).

new balance

the breast This is truly a book every parent, woman or man, expecting or “newborn” needs, is here for education, entertainment and preparation. All this love and fury from Moselman is an investigation, study, and theory based on personal experience. The accuracy with which Moselman categorizes 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 greatest confusion behind in a slightly different way: “And now only I dare to ask myself why I was so afraid of change, of all that was soft—my head, my body, my place in the world. To me, motherhood does not seem to be something my brain controls. The crawler is completely automatic, and it’s also not an enlightened case – it’s a work in progress.”

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