With the permission of the toilets, the other heroines of this house arrest are the mothers. Good, bad, or fair. Of course, parents too, would be missing more, but now we are talking about them. Laura Baena Fernández (Málaga, 1981), founder of the Malasmadres Club, has become the face of realistic, demystified and authentic motherhood. Hundreds of thousands of women in our country are inspired by their demands and their defense of conciliation. Always with a touch of humor and with the ability to laugh at herself, but from a firm activism that has turned her association “I do not quit” into an actor to be considered by politicians. Now he faces this confinement with a double quarantine, that of the coronavirus and his own. The Malamadre in chief just gave birth to her third baby girl, the “gooddaughter3” as she calls her.
– How are you doing? Large family and a new baby sounds like a feat without the need for a pandemic.
– The truth is that as he told the other day in networks “who was going to tell me this?” There had come a time when I wanted to enjoy stopping with my baby and had visualized a very different plan from the one I had. But it has touched us all, so after a few days of anger, impotence, confusion, now I am already in another moment of assuming that this is the new reality and I have even managed to see the positive side of this madness. Especially since those of us who stay at home are doing well and we have to celebrate that. It is the responsibility that we have, so you have to take it with patience and I, in my case, with humor, because if it doesn’t work uphill. Of course, I feel more Malamadre than ever because I get nowhere.
-What are the Malasmadres especially complaining about? What do they tell you in your messages?
We have been going through 13 very intense days, in which the Malasmadres are experiencing this confinement, as we all say, as a true roller coaster. Spending it with little boys and girls is very difficult. Also, if you have to telecommute it gets complicated because it becomes impossible to concentrate with so many interruptions. But there are countless messages that come to us with very different situations. Bad mothers who feel more Bad mothers than ever for not making the thousands of plans on social networks, generating more stress. We must lower self-demand, send the blame away and survive. Bad mothers worried about the amount of duties that good children have. The new role of teachers overwhelms us. Bad mothers who have to go out to work because they belong to sectors of primary need or because they work in companies that are not allowing telework. The latter should not be allowed.
– and in the labor plane what worries them?
-Many freelancers or small businesswomen do not know very well how they will survive. Workers employed by others with doubts about the ERTEs of their companies, pregnant women who do not know if that ERTE applies to them because they are on leave and many more cases. We refer all of them to our aid project: the yellow phone of reconciliation.com. There are also Malasmadres who have no one to leave their children with because they are single-parent families or because their partner works outside the home or because they work in basic services.
-Is Malamadre a little less in this situation?
-Oh! Nooooo. It is more Malamadre. Because if we normally lack patience, now more. Because if guilt normally haunts us, now more. You feel like running away, but you can’t. Looking for a moment of disconnection right now is IMPOSSIBLE. You go to the bathroom and there they are. You try to make a “call” and there they are behind the screen. “Mom, can you help me?”, “Mom, shall we play?”, “Mommyyyyy” and if you add a baby to that, time is already conspicuous by its absence. I wake up motivated, thinking: “Come on, girls, today we are going to organize ourselves great” and after 5 minutes the situation is surpassing me, the day is passing and I am content with “surviving”. All this with great humor, eh! Let no one think that I do not love my daughters, hahaha. If there is something good about confinement, it is that they are happy to be with their little sister. So I cling to that “everything will be fine” that the good daughter1 has placed in the window and to think that it is one day less.
-Are good parents up to the circumstances?
-In my case, yes, but because he was up to it. We are co-responsible and we team up at home. Now more than ever because otherwise it would not be impossible. He cooks, I clean. So we have decided and we do the best we can. Divide and you will win. But for that very reason, because we believe that co-responsibility is far from being a reality, we have launched a survey to see how the Malasmadres are living it. Because when we struggle to reconcile we do not mean this. Even so, I think that we will learn from this and I trust that it will help us and make us a more conciliatory society.
– Is teleworking and school at home reconcilable? Are we not demanding too much of ourselves?
-I see it almost impossible. We must lower the level of demand. In our case we have spoken with the teachers of the Buenashijas and we have sincerely told them that “we will do what we can”. When they are little they do not do their homework alone, they need you and if you try to telework that equation it is impossible. So from here I ask FLEXIBILITY to companies that have to understand that meeting tight schedules and not lengthening the day due to interruptions is impossible. And equally to the schools and the government because I know that it depends not only on the teachers but on the demands they have. Why don’t we rethink how we are doing it? And do we focus on boys and girls learning to be at home, helping with household chores and developing creativity in another way?
Do you think that any marriage will survive this crisis?
Hahahaha what is clear is that whoever survives will do so forever and ever. If we team up, we sit down to negotiate how we are going to organize ourselves and we are both involved is possible. I believe that now more than ever we need someone to support us and accompany us in this confinement. In my case, thanks to that, I manage to shower ALONE every day, have a tea or answer this interview in 3 days hahaha. We ask for little, but those minutes are now valued more.
– Zero tolerance with screens now sounds like a joke, don’t you think?
-That’s a chimera in this quarantined state. As long as you don’t pull screens at the moment there is no one to survive. Fortunately, we have our beloved expert María Zabala who gives us advice without making us feel guilty. Here we had a norm before Covid-19: tablet only on Sundays, movies on Fridays and on foot. Now we have decreed a state of alarm in this holy house and every day they have their costume time, their homework time, their time for sister fights, their time of boredom, their time of not leaving us alone and then the time of screens arrives , in which we finally breathe.
-It seems that a new concept has been born, that of the “malafamilia”, to face so many Instagram photos doing yoga as a family.
-This pressure contributes to the madness we are experiencing. People are making crafts beyond their means, they are making cakes above their means, hahaha. I promise you that the first days I was overwhelmed with the subject. I even made a “planning” trying to include some activity of this type. Now I have relaxed because only with the day to day I feel like a heroine. And now that I see it more calmly I am even able to connect to a storyteller or a sport class together. If I’ve never done crafts with girls, it won’t be now when it starts, will it?
Do you think that the situation of children with special difficulties has been considered when it comes to prohibiting going out to take the air?
-Children with special needs are authorized to leave their homes for a short time. Even so, many Malasmadres who write to me in this situation tell me that they do it in short periods of time to avoid any possible contagion. I am glad because they are situations that need visibility and support. To humor everything, I said the other day that families with a large garden or terrace play with advantage in times of coronavirus. My 5 square meter terrace is giving me life. You have to be positive!
-Do you have any recommendations to avoid losing your mind completely?
-The truth is that I would like it hahaha. But at least, despite the chaos, we try to maintain the routine in breakfast, homework, lunch, bath and dinner. Something as basic as this I think helps them. Be more flexible and let them tell what they want to do on the day, so they are motivated by doing something special. It also helps us to call grandparents for a while, send videos to the cousins, zoom in with their friends at school … It is a way of using technologies in a positive way. We have also made a wish list for when we can leave the house and not think much about how much we have left because that overwhelms more than anything else. We will resist Badmothers! There is no species more resilient than us.