With a half fake smile my friend said to me:
-“with a nanny and a husband that cooks, you don’t know what motherhood is”
she meant it as a compliment, and as an insult, and it worked. Her words achieved their goal and stung both my heart and my pride, and I’ve thought about that comment a lot since.
This friend of mine is separated. She lives in Europe, thousands of miles away from her extended family back in South America, in a small two bedroom with her two children.
I’m a lucky person, I know that.
Both my husband and I have a job that pays well, not amazing, not the kind of money we could have made had we stayed in the private sector, but that is precisely the cherry on top; we love what we do. We do what we want.
I quit my job after my kids were born, and I wear that with pride, as a badge of honor, but I know it is something I did because I could, because we can live on just one salary.
When we moved back to Europe we brought our nanny back with us. She is an amazing person that needed to leave the country, that is earning four times what she would had she stayed behind, paying for two of her brothers to go to school now. Still, I’ve had “friends” say to me:
-“well, it’s so easy to have kids with all your help, why don’t you have more”
seriously, with a straight face.
In Holland, where I now live, this is unusual, this is a luxury, and it is I know. But when they say things like this to me I feel like responding to them:
I know damn well I am lucky, very lucky.
I’m lucky that I have a nanny, and that I can do what I love as a freelancer. I know I am lucky because my job often takes me to see how the other half lives. Not the ones bitter because I can go out for dinner and leave the kids with my nanny, but the ones that would appreciate the real blessing: that I can eat and feed my children every day of the week.
That neither myself nor my daughter have to walk 2 kilometers each day so that we can have enough water, and that we don’t have to expose ourselves to rape in order to do so. That the water coming out of the tap is safe; safe for them to drink, safe for me (or my husband) to cook with, that it is parasite free.
We are lucky because when they were exposed to parasites and other diseases, like rotavirus or asthma, they had access to the best doctors and the best healthcare. Even when we lived in Cambodia my children would be evacuated to Thailand to access medicine that did not exist in the country, that was up to our standards. We could and we did, and unlike the other 38,000 children that die each week of curable diseases like diarrhea or dysentery , my children lived, and will flourish.
I know I am damn lucky. I know that with every bone in my body, every time my heart breaks listening to my 2 year old asthmatic cough in the middle of the night, and every time I cry while watching the evening news seeing the same images, what is too old and too well known news. I know.
I also know that it is up to us, the random anonymous people of the world to do our bit, be it by evaluating an aid project, or writing a blog post to make people think, signing a petition, making a donation, calling our politicians, or voting in the ones that are aware that there are 38,000 mothers around the world each week whose hearts break forever.
My children will live and thrive, that does not make me one bit less of a mother.
If I never do ANYTHING for those other 38,000 children, it might make me less of a person.
African women walk over 40 billion hours each year carrying cisterns weighing up to 18 kilograms to gather water, which is usually still not safe to drink.
Every week, nearly 38,000 children under the age of 5 die from unsafe drinking water and unhygienic living conditions
It’s blog action day, and the theme is water. Do something, big or small, today, this week, this month. Just do it.