Cuba: The Hard Work of Being a Mother

May 11, 2013 | Print Print |

Rosa Martínez

Photo: Caridad

Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES —Though I read all of the comments that people write in response to my posts, I am not always able to reply to them, much less write a new piece as way of a retort.

Many comments have given me ideas for posts which I have later developed, but I do not make a habit of replying to comments that anger me or hurt my feelings. I am of the opinion that everyone ought to be free to express their opinions, but that it is important to respect others in the process.

Today, however, on the eve of Mother’s Day, I want to refer to a number of comments I received a few months ago, in response to the post “The Height of Forgetfulness”, which I had published on this site.

I believe those who accused me of being irresponsible were right. In fact, that is precisely what I felt when I realized I had left my little girl behind in the park. No one is as duty-bound to care for our children as we, their parents, are, and oversights of this nature can cost a child their life, in Cuba and any other country in the world.

No one would have kidnapped my girl to ask for a million-dollar ransom, nor was she at any serious risk of being murdered by someone, not in Cuba, but she could have easily been hit by a car or suffered another kind of accident trying to get home on her own.

I acknowledge the serious consequences that my neglectfulness could have caused.

A mistake at work can cost one a sanction or, in the worst of cases, one’s job. A misunderstanding can ruin a friendship of many years. But one can live with all these things.

However, the guilt a mother cannot live with is the guilt of having caused their child harm, or brought about their death, through neglect. I don’t think I could ever live with that. I imagine no mother could.

Many are the daily chores that fall on women, particularly Cuban women, who, because of their measly salaries, cannot afford to hire someone to wash or iron clothes, much less take care of the house while they work elsewhere.

Photo: Caridad

Photo: Caridad

Like most mothers around the planet, Cuban mothers carry the heaviest burdens at home. We contribute, as our husbands do, to covering daily household expenses and, in addition to this, are also responsible for our children’s education, for their moral upbringing, school work and other forms of instruction.

Nothing justifies the oversight I described in my post, but I want people to see that a change in daily routine can easily lead to it, as it did with me. The important thing is to prevent such things from happening again, right? Nobody is perfect and what happened to me could have happened to anyone.

I dedicate this post to those mothers, to the most self-sacrificing of the lot.

To those who fall asleep helping their kids with their homework; to those who accidentally burn food while getting ahead on the cleaning or washing for the next day and to those who arrive late at parent-teacher meetings because they could not get away from work earlier.

This is also dedicated to those who carry two jobs, plus the full burden of the home, who act as both mother and father, as sister and friend. To those who leave behind their child in the park in a moment of neglect; to those who sacrifice their own lives to devote themselves entirely to their little ones, and to those who prepare the most delicious food in the world, adding that special ingredient that no one else knows how to give as they do: love.

I dedicate this post to all of those mothers, congratulating them on this most special of days.


What's your opinion?

  • Grady Ross Daugherty

    Thanks you, Rosa, and Happy Mothers Day!

    Up here in the US we are developing a maximum, strategic program for a socialist cooperative republic. Through this program–which we could only implement with governmental power–we hope to redirect the enormous waste of monopoly-capitalism to useful purposes.

    A significant part of the redirection would be to grant “salaries for motherhood.” (If motherhood duties were to be undertaken by someone other than the birth mother, the “salary” would, of course, go to the actual care-taker.)

    Mothers need to be paid by socialist government for the labor of parenthood. This pay should be forthcoming during the one-quarter to one-third century of actual “hands-on” maternal care.

    But until we can get past both monopoly capitalism and state-monopoly socialism, such compensation is but a vision of the future.