For most of my life, “mom” wasn’t even in my definition. And when it was, I never considered that my nationality would play a big part in it. Good mom, bad mom, lazy mom, super mom… all possibilities. But many times I hear the phrase “it’s so American,” sometimes from my own lips, often referring to my parenting.
So here, dear Brazilians, are some of the activities that you seem to use to define me, and have forced me to define myself, as an “American Mom,” and my justifications. Though really, these things just make me – my daughter’s mom.
Yes, I like to bake cookies and cakes with my daughter. Yes, I suppose if I asked the housekeeper, she could do it for me. That’s not really the point. No, I’m not just trying to torture myself (I do that in other ways). No, I don’t want you to ask your maid to do it for me. No, it’s not that I “love” to bake, I like to bake with my daughter. She thinks it is fun. It’s kind of like how you won’t find me coloring on my own, but I do enjoy time with her filling in an outline of Dora the Explorer with Crayolas. (Yes, I do realize you can buy books with the colors already filled in.) Yes, the cookies you just ate were laced with four-year-old saliva and a little bit of sneeze.
No, I don’t want someone else to give my daughter a bath. I don’t know why, I just don’t.
Yes, I still cringe when I’m forced to buy an overpriced toy in this country. No, I’m not going to get over it. This is why on a return trip from the U.S. my suitcase will always be stuffed with reasonably priced toys. Yes, I realize that means I’ll have to wrap it on my own. This is why my suitcase will also be filled with reasonably priced gift bags. Kind of like the one I put your kid’s birthday gift in, the one you carry around, for some reason, like it’s a Fendi purse.
Yes, I’ve decided I don’t want someone lurking around my apartment every single day waiting to clean something I’m currently using. I mostly like it to just be us. Yes, I realize that means I might have to wash a dish or two. No, I don’t believe I’ve ever scrubbed a dish hard enough to ruin my manicure as of yet. (No, please, get those rubber gloves away from me.) I spent many years washing my own dishes. In fact, as a child, it was my responsibility to wash the dishes every third day. (Insert sad, frightened Brazilian eyes.) No, I’m pretty sure this doesn’t fall into the category of the “tough love” you’ve heard about.
Yes, I did make a picnic lunch to bring to the beach. Yes, my husband still has his job. I’d just rather she ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich than cheese-on-a-stick for lunch today. And she thinks it’s fun to pack, and then eat, a picnic lunch. Sure, I guess she might have learned that from American cartoons, I don’t know, why does it matter? No, I don’t have an extra juice box for you.
No, I’m not planning on having another child. No, I pretty sure this is not going to ruin my daughter’s life. I understand that your cousin was an only child and she had a brain tumor, I don’t see how the two events are related. Didn’t I hear the other day that your first child tried to smother your second child with a pillow?
Sorry again American, you got me out there creating a stereotype for the Brazilian audience. (And in turn, I’m creating a stereotype of a Brazilian for you.)