I was recently invited to a family dinner. Throughout the visit, the hostess, the principal of a prestigious elementary school, juggled dumplings, mixed 3 salads with one hand, brewed coffees and put heated bigos on guests’ plates – all at the same time. To the table she sat down once. She then told us a story about how a few years earlier, while nursing, her baby bit the nipple out of her boob. The room was filled with appreciative, well-deserved oohs and ahhs, and the one-cheeked hostess’s breasts bulged in pride.
This is just one of many stories confirming that the function of mothers in Poland is primarily a fat fejm. Under communism, they were erected monuments, allowed to go to work, and showed respect on women’s day by giving carnations, tulips, pantyhose and unwanted spankings on their bottoms.
It’s hard to deny that motherhood is treated like an act of heroism in our country. It’s just a shame that usually one on the scale of a housewife, not a CEO. Because the country on the Vistula River values submissive women and women who sacrifice for the family. Those who understand this dependence are transformed into the Unsullied Polish Mother of Sorrows, who, elevated to the altar, presents herself accompanied by laden shopping nets and bags under her eyes.
The genesis of the myth of the Polish Mother was hatched during the partition period, and during Romanticism it was instigated by none other than the greatest enthusiast of Polish martyrdom, Mickiewicz. Using the beloved ethos of suffering, he writes the poem To a Polish Mother, where he exhorts his female parents to wrap their sons’ hands in chains and harness them to wheelbarrows. Bit harsh, if you ask me, but it should be understood that in the face of partition, the role of the Polish mother focused on preparing her sons to fight for independence. And so, bathed in a glow that was only a reflection of the light cast by her heroic offspring, the mother contributed to the survival of the nation by giving birth and raising. In itself, it did not represent a value, because although on the one hand it was a respected authority, in combat it took a passive position. Standing on a pedestal, she was expected to play the role of the sufferer in accordance with the principles of national martyrdom. Motherhood was thus a patriotic act and had as much to do with sexuality as the celebration of Christmas has to do with Christianity. Instead, it fit perfectly with the archetype of the sinless white woman who, having no right to her own carnality, became pregnant through intense eye contact.
Sound familiar? It’s cause Mary is in da house.
Analogies between the Polish Mother and the Divine Mother show a pattern of self-sacrificing female parents, thus reinforcing the messianic ethos of Poland and Poles. Left unanswered, however, is the question of why, in a country thoroughly imbued with patriarchy, one of the most important roles of the Christian pantheon was to be filled by a female figure.
So to find the answer, I go back to medieval times. There the Bogurodzica falls into my paws . I look at it distrustfully, squinting, because as the only religious song from this period, it is not a translation of a Latin hymn. So where does it come from? It is possible that in its original version it was modeled on a text addressed to the goddess Mokosz – the Slavic Mother Earth. It’s hard to say that the intermingling of pagan beliefs and Christian faith surprises anyone. Imagine this, you’re peacefully worshipping Dadźbog, jumping over a bonfire on the Kupala Night and horsing around in the woods, when suddenly some guys in baggy rags show up in the village and tell you to worship their god. In order for this number to pass, the missionaries couldn’t just ban pagans from their beliefs. So they began to Christianize them. Hence the Marian cult in Poland.
Why am I making these historical-anthropological divagations? Because understanding how deeply rooted in our culture is the idealization of the female figure, it allows us to look at the myth of the Polish Mother with greater empathy. Until recently, I was convinced that the martyrdom tragicomedy involving people with pussy is a thing of the past (at least for millenials), but the truth looks quite different. Indeed, the deification of the role of Polish women in family life is doing well, continuing to impose on women the obligation to possess divine omnipotence, which as mere mortals they most simply cannot live up to.
Although I am increasingly waking up in a cold sweat, fearing that the order of self-sacrifice and feminine perfection will be officially enshrined in the Constitution, I know that there is a simple solution to this. Instead of expecting women to have superpowers, let’s let our mothers be good enough. Because while it won’t be easy for some to give up the spectacular cucumber soup, washed windows and ironed shirts, the glorified Polish Mother is essentially a wronged woman and no ideal.