BRAZIL: Patience, Acceptance and the Symbolic Mother
My maternity leave is now coming to an end, but throughout it a typical week day has meant about 12-14 hours alone with the kids.
I usually wake up at 5:20 a.m. and my husband leaves with our eldest around six. I spend my mornings with our 2 ½ year old girl and our six month old baby boy. Our son returns from school approximately 1:30 p.m. Sometimes my husband returns early, but he usually gets home between 6 and 8 p.m. depending on traffic, his schedule, etc.
I love my kids dearly. Yet any mother knows that such a routine is not easy. On the typical day, by 6 p.m. my patience starts to wane. By nature I have a calm personality, but if there is screaming on my side, 90% of the time it will be after 6 p.m.
I once heard that 6 p.m. is one of the most difficult times of the day. On an individual level it is the time when stress peaks and on a collective level it is the time when most crime, car accidents and other such things happen. I don’t know if there is data backing that, but in a way it does make sense.
In my case, it is around 6 p.m. that the less-than-noble feelings will start to take over my mind, such as resentment, self-pity and repetitive worrying about pending work (although I have been legally on leave and have not been teaching, I did choose to maintain some activities from home). Other days I wish I could just stop working and truly be a full-time mother.
One thing that has helped is practicing acceptance and gratitude: A student sent me her research project two weeks ago and I haven’t even managed to open the file. Sorry, I am doing the best I can. My daughter has been screaming for 15 minutes in a temper tantrum. How great that she is healthy and her lungs are working! The kitchen sink is piled with dishes and the whole house is a mess. Things will get better as the kids grow older.
Of course it is easier said than done and one thing I try to do every day is to pray that my patience lasts past the kids’ bedtime.
I recently thought about how in the past it was a custom here in Brazil – a mostly catholic country – for the radios to play the Ave Maria in Latin at 6 p.m. In the small town I lived in when I was little, the Catholic church’s bells also tolled at six.
I haven’t been much of a radio listener for the past few years so I went on the web to check if the custom was still present. I learned it is a practice that has been carried out here in Brazil for the last 54 years. It comes from an old Portuguese tradition that in turn derives from the Angelus [*] – a Christian devotion recited at 6 a.m., midday and 6 p.m., which refers to Mary and the Annunciation. In simple terms, it is a time of prayer and meditation.
While reading about the 6 p.m. devotion and thinking about the emotional condition of mothers who spend the whole day alone with their children, I realized that it was the kind of practice that makes sense in the context of motherhood. After all, regardless of religion or debates on the specifics of Mary’s story, in a greater context she can be seen as a symbol of an inspiring and caring mother.
With that in mind, this week I am experimenting with short “Mary meditations” around 6 p.m. to see if it helps extend and deepen my patience and acceptance.
And you? What strategies do you use to help you face the challenges of the day-to-day motherhood routine?
[*] If there are any Catholics out there reading this and I am explaining this wrong please correct me! I was sort of raised Catholic in a Catholic country but I’m not actually Catholic, so I don’t have in-depth knowledge of the Angelus.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our devoted writer and mother of three in Brazil, EcoZiva.
The photo used in this post was taken by the author.