Double Shift Mothers
By Jesús Aguado
¡A toda madre! This is a common expression among people of all ages in Mexico. It is a phrase that transmits excitement and love toward an important occasion. La madre (the mother) is the family’s rock, and she is respected. It’s not a surprise that every year the purchases for May 10 in this country compare with those for Christmas (according to the PROFECO).
The most common presents for moms on this occasion are flowers, and there are celebrations and special events that are prepared in homes and schools to pay homage to the “queen of the home.”
Here we present the stories of some mothers who decided to share their love, experience, and daily work to educate the children of others who, like them, are working mothers.
In the city, a daycare center shelters more than 300 children from 7:30am to 3pm. These children are accepted from 40 days old, and most of them remain at the center until they go to primary school (six years). These 300 kids are fed, educated, and cared for their “second moms”—the teachers. Atención interviewed three of these teachers, who also have their own children. They have become double-shift mothers.
Ana María Bárcenas
A 42-year-old woman with three sons, ages 24, 22, and 17 years old, Bárcenas has been working at the daycare center for the last 15 years. When she requested the job, she was expecting her youngest son, so the interviewers asked her how she would work there while carrying a baby. She needed the job and said she would look for somebody who could take care of her son. “I wanted to enroll him here, but there was no room because there is always a waiting list; and when they finally gave me the space, he was about to start primary school,” says Bárcenas. The present/absent mom commented that she had to organize her household tasks so that she could go out to work. The only thing she regrets is that she missed festivals and parents’ meetings at her children’s schools; but her husband was able to attend. “When my son finished his secondary education, I went to the ceremony, and a woman asked me, Are you Dany’s mother? I always thought that he was an orphan, ” she related.
At present Bárcenas takes care of more than 30 children. She says that she loves her job because it gives her so many professional experiences. “In these times, life cries out for working parents, so they bring their children here, and we cover the working mother’s place. You spread all your love over them, and at home you give a little bit. But I like it,” said the teacher. And if that is not enough, she says that the children own her. Sometimes she wants to say, “I am the mother, but I know that is not correct. The best satisfaction as a double shift mother is that children who have left the daycare center to go to other schools still come to visit me, and they love me as much as I love them.”
Leticia Galván Reyes
Galván is a 46-year-old mom who has a daughter and a son. She has worked at the center for 15 years, five in the daycare area and ten years in a program targeted to rescue children from street situations so they can attend school. The world where they live is full of violence, drugs, and dysfunctional families. She has had to face physical aggression at times because her mother’s love tells her she has to do something for the sake of these children.
Like so many mothers, Galván had to “resign” from care of her own children for a long time because she had two jobs. She could see them only a few hours at night. “I always taught them the right path, and now they are respectful and affectionate as well as solid. Sometimes they come to pick me up from here; they love me so much,” she says. Galván also had to play the dad for her children.
“Here I take care of children who are dear to me. Some even say that they love me more than they love their own moms, and that makes me feel good but also uncomfortable. I love them and educate them. I do not punish them or yell at them. I just talk with them and tell them what is correct and what is not. I teach them how to eat, to go to the restroom, to wash their hands,” says Galván. Sometimes the moms come to her to get advice because the children do not want to eat at home. The moms get desperate. Galván questions, “How can they be desperate with just a couple of children? Here I watch over almost 40 children, and all of them are very respectful and attentive to our instructions. My own children say that I have a lot of patience and, although I am also very grumpy, they say that I am different with these children.”
There is a situation as a double mom that annoys Galván. “We lend our children to the parents (she jokes), and when they bring them back, we realize that they have fallen down and were injured or had other accidents. How is that possible?” she asks. She is very open and gives advice to the parents so they continue the good habits at home that are taught at the daycare center. “I tell the parents what to do to have better children, but in the end they do whatever they want. The children do not obey them because they punish them by not buying them this or that; we do not do that.”
Rodriguez, 22 years old, is waiting for Hanna, her new baby. Currently she is educating children from two to three years old. When she was younger, she developed a passion for taking care of babies. She used to take care of a newly born baby for a neighbor. She also worked as a social worker, and in the end she decided that she wanted to work at this daycare center.
“I teach my children the basic knowledge for starting pre-schoolers: colors, parts of the body, names of fruits, cleanliness, and I also train them to stop using diapers and to leave behind the baby bottles.” Rodríguez feels herself to be like one of the children. She talks with them and makes them laugh. “They are lovely although they also cry.” They kiss her belly and give her strength to continue working day by day. Some children call her mom, but she asks them to call her Maleni or teacher.
The May 10 Facts
A document from the Women’s National Institute says that Mother’s Day was celebrated for the first time in Mexico in 1911; however, it wasn’t until 1922 that the celebration became official.
On April 13, 1922, Excelsior, a national newspaper, published an article inviting people to celebrate Mother’s Day for the first time on May 10. According to history, the celebration was supported by then president Lázaro Cárdenas in order to instill in Mexicans that the family was the rock of the state. He also promoted festivals at schools for honoring the moms.
Although it is a day celebrated across the country, Mother’s Day is not an officially recognized Mexican holiday. Nevertheless, private and public institutions give a half-day off to moms so they can spend the day with their children or go to festivals at their children’s schools.
The last census from the National Institute of Geography and Statistics states that in the country there 40.8 million mothers older than 15 years. Of those, 71.6 percent have had at least one child. On the other hand, the Mexico Women’s Institute published that 18 percent of the mothers in the country are the heads of the family, and they live alone with the children (they are divorced, separated or; single).
During the last few years, the government has launched daycare centers that, according to INMUJERES, shelter more than one million children of more than 500,000 working mothers.