Italians love to tell the world their woes. I’ll never forget the time when I was living here as a student and I asked a waitress at my favourite local pizzeria how she was. “Not great,” she answered. “I’ve got a headache.” Since I was also a waitress myself back in Toronto, and therefore schooled in the North-American-style, customer-is-always-right (and sometimes downright superficial) kind of service, her response really left an impression on me.
I later recounted that exchange several times when I was back in Canada as an illustration of various cultural differences between North Americans and Italians related to everything from money and business to how we present ourselves to the world.
Sometimes the Italian penchant for TMI can be rather off-putting. But I must say that when it comes to thoughts on motherhood, I find it refreshing. Feminist, even. Indeed, a common thread of feminist motherhood thought is removing the facade of the “ideal mother” and exposing the many layers – some numbingly boring or exhausting, others transcendentally beautiful – that make up the reality of motherhood.
The problem with women not talking to each other about how hard motherhood can be is that when you get there yourself and you find yourself feeling resentful or annoyed or terrified, you feel like a bad mother. You feel like a failure for not living up to that impossible ideal, because you don’t know that you’re not alone.
Italian women may be the ultimate yummy mummies, often pushing their strollers while tottering around on heels, but at least (in my experience) they tend to leave the varnish off what motherhood actually requires of you.
For this new mum, that is decidedly not TMI.