Is my child a foreigner and other questions about motherhood

We know moms dropping their car keys with full shopping bags and a baby whimpering in their arms from Hollywood movies and sitcoms. The tireless mothers, self-deprecatingly blow hair out of their faces, giving the impression of being sexy and exhausted, but also showing the viewer that they are beautiful. The children or babies in the movie are spoiled or cry spoiled, but in the narrow faces you can see that they will grow up to be beautiful and successful people. These are movies for laughs, because on the one hand they are recognizable (all mothers sat with a screaming child at some point), and on the other hand, all these beautiful people also make for a perfect picture.

Canadian and British author Rachel Cusk tested the importance of humor and appreciation when talking about babies when she published a book in 2001 about her daughter’s first year of life. life work It is named, and appeared in 2004 in a Dutch translation under the title In the land of mothers. In it, she talks about the idea that she will lose all her freedom once the child is here, and how she has not slept a full night for a year, and how her daughter controls her on the one hand, but on the other hand he hands her how she can do without her daughter and how the environment treats you once you become a mother. The book is sometimes read as a cure for the desire to have children. And there is a bit of humor in it – characteristic of her later novels.

Reaction, both from readers and reviewers, was entirely negative at the time. So many black thoughts about your child, it just wasn’t right. The baby’s poop is dirty, but you don’t have to immediately air your dirty laundry is the basic idea, and above all you gave this baby to a mother who was overflowing with love. “Female culture is positive toward courage, spunk of humor, but negative toward honesty,” Kessak summed up the reactions in an Anna Biggins lecture in 2012. When you, as a mother, ruthlessly record your own life, it doesn’t go over well. According to Cusk, it was because she was not judged on the quality of the work, but dismissed as a bad mother.

Also read our review of Cusk’s latest novel The Second Place: Another true Cusk novel about never being free

life work It can be considered a book ahead of its time. Whoever is reading this book now will not be surprised at the sincerity, but that was not more than twenty years ago Bon Ton. However, the question is whether a book ahead of its time remains a good book. Answer: No. This has less to do with the ruthless honesty readers were for at the time, but more to do with what has now become a cliché. The uncertainty once the baby is born, the despair if your baby continues to cry (and whether you can be desperate or whether it just shows a little love), the pressure other parents put on you, the written counters about it, not even with oneself. -mockery.

For example, when a daughter appears to be truly looking at the world for the first time, Pussy writes: ‘I admit to myself with embarrassment that I find it creepy, as if the child was sucking information out of me at high speed in my sleep. ; As if she had been sent, not really to replace me, but to use me as a kind of base or headquarters where she would receive instructions and wait until she was ready to leave as a secret mission. This is one of the more extreme sentences about her feelings – and not everyone will view the child as an alien – but in fact this is a fiery formulation of every teacher’s uncertainty.

Piercing Cloud Pink with notes like this may be old now, and more annoying than bashing other moms who post Cloud Pink (or mocking the many children’s books out there). Yes, a lot of the advice is hilariously stupid, and non-skeptical moms are annoying, but an author who feels so much higher and writes it without humor is just as annoying. At that time, writers showed courage, but what life work It now shows not only that mothers dare to speak more realistically about their children, but also that a book that was ahead of its time does not always stand the test of time.

Also read this interview with Rachel Cusk: “I lost my sense of humor”

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