I was in four different countries recently and was delighted to see that mothers all over the world are struggling with the same crap.
I saw firsthand from Munich to Milan that mothers are still taking most of the responsibility for the children. Perhaps it’s just part of who we are, but although I don’t speak fluent French, German or Italian, I do speak “woman” and “mother.”
At the airport in Munich, I watched a mother make that face. It said, “I am not happy with what you are going to do but what can I do about it now? Nothing.” This happened when her husband left her with three young children to entertain in the airport alone while he searched for reading material. He was gone for 20 minutes, and in that time, I watched her chase a toddler, ask the slightly older children to behave and for all three to stop climbing on the chairs.
In France, I witnessed a mother talking to her two teenage sons who wanted to go out on the town by themselves and gave her a hard time when she said no. I couldn’t understand all of what she said, but I did hear her say don’t sass me when her son spoke back to her. They were outside of the hotel and the mother, shorter than her son, stood on the curb while her son was standing in the street so she was taller than him for the dressing down. She used her finger and she was in his face. I wanted to go over other and say, “Right on, sister mother.”
I saw weary women making their way home after a long day of work. Fatigue settling in their face as they were perhaps thinking of the hours ahead of them making dinner, putting kids to sleep and preparing for the next day. And I also saw smiling women laughing with their children. But I guess I was drawn to those who had the same anguish on their faces and in their eyes that I see when I travel around Baltimore.
We all have the same troubles, joys and hardships. Of course we do. But to observe it up close the way I did in a foreign land just made me feel reassured that we are all more alike than different. Our wants, desires, needs and hopes for a better life, a good life in which our children and our families succeed, keep us all striving and living.