Trends in Chilean Motherhood Ideals
After reflecting on Mother’s Day for a few days, it’s fair to say that Chile would not be the same without today’s powerful moms. They set examples for the population in terms of dedication, willpower, and love for their children. They encounter great social and cultural differences, and face criticism because of their choices.
Should they proceed with an unexpected pregnancy and reject abortion? Should they continue their studies, work, and rely on “nanas” to help them with their children? Is postponing pregnancy well into their late 30s and early 40s a more intelligent choice?
Chilean ex-minister of “Medio Ambiente” (Environment), Ana Lya Uriarte, was a mom at age twelve. She fought discrimination at school and relied on the support of her mother and grandmother, women who worked hard to keep her enrolled.
“In the 1970s and 80s this country was very different. The news that a girl who got pregnant at twelve was a scandal of high proportions in any social class and had to be punished,” admits Ana Lya, who spent her family’s savings on a c-section.
Having to hide her pregnancy from the public, missing out on being a teenager, and eventually falling out of touch with all her friends, Ana Lya developed into a brave young adult. She accepted her fate and continued her studies. She never once gave up on her career because she had a baby.
Dr. Maria Fernanda Perez, a working mom whose passion for Biology led her to work investigating Chilean plants, argues that working moms are greatly prejudiced against in Chilean society. An employee at the Chilean Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity, she became a mom at age 27 and always took her children to work with her. Her choice to have her small children tag along during work hours was shocking to her peers. Ten years ago, most women with children were “stay at home” moms. A decision like Maria Fernanda’s involved a great deal of discrimination that she had to deal with.
Her fellow colleagues even created a blog which addresses motherhood, aiming at discussions if women should in fact leave young children at home and return to work.
“Their club is called ‘The Bad Moms Club’ and they feel guilty to have to travel so often, sometimes even outside of Chile,” said the biologist.
The trend in Chile today is to leave paid jobs and stay home with the kids. However, a vast majority of working moms admit that this is an economically challenging choice. Chilean mothers must choose between employment for financial independence and caring for their children’s physical, emotional, and intellectual needs.
The choice is a difficult one, but must be made. And who’s to say what’s right?