When I got pregnant there were a couple of things I was sure I would not do. First, I would never ever use the crying control method (known in Spain as Doctor Estivill’s method); and second, I would work part-time for a while after having the baby. My first decision was very much driven by what I had heard and read about crying control; my second was the consequence of being the only child of a working mother.
When I was born my parents had recently started their own business and had to work hard to pay their bills every month. My mum worked every day, including Saturdays, from 9:30 to 8:30, so she was never able to pick me up from school or help with my homework. I grew up a very independent and autonomous child because I had learned from an early age that I needed to be able to manage on my own.
I have very good memories of my childhood, but there were also painful moments of solitude. Most of all, I missed my mum. When E. was born I was determined not to repeat this situation.
My mother is a great woman: very active, energetic, intelligent and independent. She never went to college, but she managed to rebuild the family business from scratch when my father died. I feel a deeply grateful to her, as she was committed to working hard to pay for my studies and provide me with a good environment to grow up in. She hardly had any holiday for years, and amazingly she was also the person who provided members of my family in trouble with help and advice.
Her tough character was a bonus when my father died. She told me once: “If I had been a housewife when your father was alive, when he died I could have not managed the business. Thanks to the fact that I got involved in it, we were able to survive afterwards”. Of course she was right, but there were many things in between, many grey areas and definitely moments that were lost for both of us
For example, I don’t have a single memory of my mother playing with me. I have memories of being with her while she was doing things around the house or going to the supermarket, but nothing like a lazy afternoon spent together baking or playing. These were the sorts of things I wanted to do with E., and that’s why I wanted to work part-time: to have a professional life, but also to be able to spend time with E.
But surprise, surprise…now that I have the time, I can’t play with him. When there’s time to play I always have an excuse. Cleaning the kitchen, calling a friend, tidying up the house… So the other day, talking to Lucila, I realised how much time she spent doing things with R. that I never do with E.
It‘s funny how what we haven’t been given is more difficult to give to others. In my case, my mother never played with me, and although as an adult I can choose to do it, it is becoming a battle inside me.
I decided a couple of days ago that I would try to play for 30 minutes every day. So far this is the result of my decision: more or less at 4:30 pm I sit down in the living room with a big watch in front of me and start playing with E., counting down the remaining time until I can go into the kitchen to carry on cleaning or doing absolutely anything else . It sounds completely stupid, but I do hope that by keeping on doing it I can incorporate into my female family symbolic vocabulary that tells us that mothers can also play.