I’ve been lucky enough to look at motherhood from different cultural aspects. From the American side, the Indonesian side and to a glimpse of the Chinese side.

When I was still in the States, I lived a life like most American stay-at-home moms do. I cooked; I cleaned; and, I took care of my son, the ex husband and my stepsons to the best of my ability with the help of my ex husband, of course.

Then I came home for the first time to Indonesia when my son was 9 months old. We flew over 23 hours to introduce him to my parents and my family, just him and me.

Although I am Indonesian, I never paid much attention to what motherhood looks like here. So I was in for a “motherhood culture-shock” when I returned.

To see the armies of nannies – sometimes one for each child – walking behind a polished looking young mother who looks like she doesn’t know what sleep deprived is, while I look at myself with my hands full with a big diaper bag clung to my shoulder, a baby and dark circles around my eyes, I passed judgment.

My own mother protested the way I mother her first and only grandson. “Why did you make him sit up while you give him his bottle?” to “Don’t give him a bath at night?!” You know, hearing that kind of comment while I looked at her and said, “I’ve been doing this since the beginning.” I follow the books, read about baby-care, listened to the pediatrician’s advice, and so on.

Then came the move to China.

Not only did I suffer from “motherhood culture-shock”, but I had real culture shock, as well. To see how babies wear Kaidangku there was amazing and got me thinking. I was judging them for the hygiene aspects. I passed judgment.

Then the ball turned when I became a single mom.

I had to hire a nanny to help my mother take care of my son. After taking care of him by myself for about 3.5 years of his life, to then letting someone else take over while I went back to work full-time, wasn’t easy, but that’s another topic.

Crossing over – I’m now on the other side of motherhood – the one I used to criticize before, the one I used to judge. Nannies are very affordable here, so it is normal for us, Indonesians, to have one (or more). I don’t have to cook or clean too much. Having a domestic helper does help. And I used to think Indonesian mothers are spoiled?!

My epiphany came a couple of days ago…

We mothers are basically the same, deep inside. Despite if you are practicing Attachment Parenting or if you are letting your baby cry it out for sleep training purposes. Whether you are pro-circumcision or against it. Whether you are fully breastfeeding or using formula. Deep down inside we are all the same.

Despite our many obvious differences that can cause arguments, even catfights, deep down we are all mothers who love our children and only want what’s best for them. We share the same hopes to raise the children of tomorrow with all the good qualities a human being can possess.

Our mothering ways may vary insignificantly from one mother to another, from one country to another, from one culture to another, but we can all relate that we are doing our best for our children and their future. By peeling away these “outer layers” of our cultures, nationalities and values, maybe we can see that same foundation deep inside us all — the love for our little ones.

Have you ever experienced “motherhood culture-shock”? Do you really think we are all the same underneath it all?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Maureen from Tatter Scoops.

Photo credit to Dan Ionut Popescu. This photo is available for free download and use on web sites, as set forth in the terms of use on dreamstime.com.


Founder of Single Moms Indonesia, community leader and builder. Deeply passionate about women empowerment.

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