There are enough ‚mummy blogs‘ out there depicting a life of contented maternal fairytale-like bliss. And whilst I lament my inability to sew, my lacklustre attitude towards baking and the fact that our guest room still looks more like a guest room than the beautiful nurseries on Pinterest, I love reading them all.
All the same, it’s nice to read about the harder issues surrounding motherhood. Like what about the suddenly missing working life and persona? I love my job and still can’t quite imagine what it will be like to not be at work. And whilst working life brings its share of stress and doses of unpleasantness (like night-shifts) it has always been rewarding and contributed to my overall happiness with life.
Edition F is a super on-line German magazine founded by 2 women and created for women serving as a portal for opinion and debate over a diverse range of issues as well as a place for networking. (Sadly just in the German language).
During early pregnancy, one of the most reassuring and sensible articles I read on how to have a relaxed pregnancy was from one of Edition F’s contributors. Now Teresa with a 2-month baby by her side, Teresa writes about the different facets of being a mother. And revealingly about her missing work life and what that means to her. It’s worth a read for any German reader.
In Germany, this stands out particularly. Whilst most of my friends in England are back at work within a year of giving birth (willingly or unwillingly), many women here – including friends and acquaintances – take full advantage of the full 3 years of maternity leave and mothers going back to work do so with a feeling of guilt. In fact, there’s even a word to describe these mothers: ‚Rabenmutter‚. This can be loosely translated as ‚cruel or uncaring‘ mother and tellingly doesn’t have a direct counterpart in the English language. I’ve often enough heard people comment upon why you bother to have kids, if you are planning to put them into daycare.
I firmly believe that each family should decide on its own concept, and should be left to do this without being judged one way or the other. Just as I fully acknowledge that expecting a baby is far removed from actually having one and don’t know myself if I will think differently in a few months time.
Maternity leave starts officially tomorrow and I realise that it has been a very long time since I have had the prospect of such a stretch of time to myself. And what is the first thought that comes into the head of a doctor? That’s a good time to prepare for an exam. We just can’t help it.
Last weekend saw the rewarding completion of another project. The pleasure of learning the beautiful melodies of Mendelssohn’s Elias has accompanied me through much of the autumn and winter and the performance, when it finally arrived, was a thrill and a self-proclaimed success. A packed audience at the beautiful great hall of the Ludwig-Maximilian’s University in Munich made for an impressive setting.
And the central project of maternity leave has not been completely forgotten. There’s finally time for a yoga class, swimming, making an attempt to prepare the nursery and deciding which bits of the 100 recommended things to buy for your baby are really necessary and which are not. And hopefully a little more blogging.
Munich for the last few weeks has been barely snow-free. A proper winter. After the heavy snowfall on Boxing day, the snow keeps coming intermittently in varying amounts. Enough to keep the walkways either covered in snow or glazed with ice until the next batch arrives.
Without the hassle of a car journey to work through snow and ice, I’m learning to appreciate the pleasures of winter. The glistening snow reminds me of the tacky christmas cards that use glitter to mark the snow. The wonderfully dampening effect of the snow on the usual hustle and bustle of city life. The beauty of the parks and open spaces, decked in a permanent layer of white. The comforting draw of Munich’s many breweries.
For me, the sight of so much snow is sort of a novelty. Whilst I wince at the sight of every pensioner who glides his or her Zimmer frame over the slippery surfaces, seemingly oblivious to the dangers of a fractured hip, or look in awe at young mums striding without a care with tiny babies slung to their chests, the locals here seem to be used to the terrain.
Talk at work on a Friday centres around the centimetres of snowfall in anticipation of day trips to the alps or the cross-country skiing hotspots in and around the city. Even the works outing is a one day ski-trip.
As I write this from the cosiness of our still relatively newish home, with light snowfall and a howling wind as a backdrop, I can’t help thinking that the joy of spring will be a particularly special one this year.