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Unspoken Truths in Narratives of Contemporary Mothers Towards Their Mothers in Latvia

Elza Lāma
University of Latvia, Faculty of Social Sciences, Latvia

Abstract. Soviet propaganda promised liberation of women from household shackles, glorifying them as ‘heroines’, who embody love for family, work and communist ideals. Behind ideology, the ‘second shift’ burdened mothers with tedious housework, childrearing, and professional workload. Nowadays their daughters, who were born in the turmoil of collapse of USSR, experience motherhood differently, with the aid of information and technologies, that seemingly ease childcare and everyday life in democratic Latvia. Although mothering is a subjective experience and each next generation questions decisions of the previous one, contemporary motherhood favours different childrearing methods, rooted in evidence-based sources, Western medicine practitioners, and democratized family models in contrast to Dr. Spock’s advice, home remedies or physical punishment. ‘Intensive mothering’ ideology adds to the pressures of modern motherhood, deeming the mother entirely responsible for social, psychological and cognitive well-being of her children. By employing the theoretical framework of Arlie Hochschild, this article explores the unspoken truths, doubts, and grievances of 21st century mothers towards their ‘mothers-heroines’ of USSR. The ‘deep story’ has been constructed, intertwining narratives, gained from eight phenomenological semi-structured interviews with new mothers. The ‘deep story’ has been supplemented by a case study of a viral post (Facebook, March 2021) by a contemporary mother, reflecting on advantages of modern motherhood in comparison to mothering in 1985, sparking a heated debate. The ‘deep story’ of contemporary mothers unfolds the layers of unarticulated feelings – from resentment to gratefulness, from anger to love. Inner conflict between respecting parents, and following an individual path is also present.

Keywords: motherhood, intensive mothering, communication, deep story, narrative, pheno­menological interviews, case study

This research is funded by the Latvian Council of Science, project “Jeopardizing Democracy through Disinformation and Conspiracies: Reconsidering Experience of Latvia,” project No. lzp-2019/1-0278.

In: Human, Technologies and Quality of Education, 2022. Proceedings of Scientific Papers = Cilvēks, tehnoloģijas un izglītības kvalitāte, 2022. Rakstu krājums
Riga, University of Latvia, 2022. 1135 p. Ed. L. Daniela
ISBN 978-9934-18-911-1