Global Mama: Spain

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

“Whoa, Mama!” Worldwide: We’re profiling one mother from every country on the planet. (Current tally: 5 down, 187 countries to go!)

If you want to nominate a first-time mother living outside of the United States to be featured here, please send an e-mail to: get[dot]msmack [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Meet Armelle. She’s a French woman living and raising her 11-month-old son in Spain. When asked to give a little background about herself, Armelle, 39, made no mention of what she does for a living. It was interesting and charming— and probably very European.

“From what my friends tell me, I’m I’m a joyful and generous person,” she said. “From what I want people to see, I’m  a woman who stands on her values: harmony, sharing, integrity, wisdom, and liberty. Happiness is all around me. I like being a part of that.” Now, how refreshing would it be to see that on a resume somewhere?

Life before baby …
I had a very independent life. In my 20s, I studied abroad in Germany, Scotland, London, and Belgium. It was such a great experience. And I had a good life outside of work and school: dining with friends, going out partying, having fun.

By the time I arrived in Belgium, though, I was partied out. I was more focused on my career. I definitely became a workaholic and didn’t had much of a life outside of that.

My ideas about motherhood …
Motherhood was a wish, but I was somewhat scared of it.  So much so that I avoided thinking about it.  But then again I was more occupied with my work and social life.

After I met my husband and realized that I was with a man with whom I could stay for the rest of my life, it allowed me to actually think about motherhood in a real way.

For me, motherhood is a part of a woman that completes her personality. What I mean is, I’m blooming—both in my professional and personal life. I know myself well and can feed my brain and body with what I need and love. Being a mother is that something else that makes me feel  fulfilled.

Then came baby Loïc …
First of all, my pregnancy was a dream. When Loïc arrived, the three of us were all together in the hospital for five days. It was magical to have his father with us the whole time.

The biggest change was certainly the intense emotions. Having this living being in your hands affected us so much. We were both crying with joy. And seeing his father being so emotional, eyes filled with love the first time he saw him, was just the greatest thing on earth.

And Loïc! Oh, man, Loïc. Such a darling. It’s like he understood everything straightaway.

The most challenging part of motherhood …
It’s certainly being available and patient with Loïc.  A baby demands a lot. I’ve noticed that the more I answer his needs, the easier he is in the day. If I have too much on my mind and I’m not fully here for him, then he can be a pain, and I’ll be on my feet all the time.

Finding the right balance as a whole woman (the mother, the professional, the wife, the housewife, the friend, the lover) is not that simple.

The best part about raising a child in Spain …
Overall, I feel lucky to be able to raise my child wherever I am. And I’m happy to do it in a place where we have the sun, the mountains and the city all nearby.

The Spanish are easygoing and very respectful of motherhood. All public transportation is easy to use with a pram. People here will stop you in the street and chat with your baby. They’re just so friendly. And you can breastfeed your child wherever you want without shocking anyone.

Also, Loïc is growing up hearing French (from his father and grandparents), English with me, and Spanish and Catalan from the people at the nursery, in the shops, etc. It’s brilliant. I think it keeps him alert and aware.

Unfortunately, things can be expensive here: baby clothes, baby equipment and gear, hiring a nurse. And there isn’t much governmental help. In France, you can have a private nurse for few euros (about 3 euros an hour), and even that is tax-deductible! People in Spain tend to rely on their families to get by and make it work.

Best piece of advice I ever heard …
It’s not you who educates your children, they teach you. Loïc shows me this everyday. Also, as a mother, follow your instinct. It will always be what is best for your child.

If we could jump into a DeLorean and race back in time …
I would tell myself two things: Enjoy these first few months. Every second is so special. Also, you are connected to your baby and know what is the best for him. Believe in you.

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