Stories of Motherhood

Shirin Lausch is the author of a German book “Mit anderen Wurzeln” which tells the motherhood stories of 40 international mothers, comparing their experiences in Germany and their home countries.

Shirin Lausch
Book cover

Introduction

Stories of motherhood

Starting a family had a profound impact on her life, herself and her career – like for so many of us. She says, “But I now see that I am privileged to have experienced this kind of transition in my own country. Women who became mothers abroad face a lot of challenges on top of that.”

So I decided to learn more about her work and story. Here is a short conversation between us.

Your motherhood story

When I became a mother for the first time I had a very strong wish to connect to other parents, especially moms.

Whenever I got to know another mother I was amazed at how quickly we would talk about the most private things – barely knowing each other. We would speak about our experience delivering our babies, or we would grieve the losses we suffered, or share the challenges motherhood had entailed for us so far. For instance, I would talk about how I thought that sleep deprivation would make me go crazy. In exchange I heard stories of obstetric violence, financial problems and hardships in relationships.

From all the other mothers I got to know I was especially touched by those who were not born and raised in Germany, like me. I realized that becoming a mother in one’s own country is a huge privilege. You are more likely to know how things work – say, like how to find a spot at a daycare center, how to apply for financial support or how to choose a pediatrician. You are more likely to find the information you need in the language that you speak. You are more likely to have a social network that will support you.

 

As a child I lived several years with my family abroad. After becoming a mother myself, I realized that I knew very little about the experience my own mother had back then. How had it been for her to move to another country with two little kids in tow? How did she cope? What did she find challenging? Were there any cultural differences she had a hard time living with?

 

I also asked my mother these kinds of questions. In addition to all the stories I had heard from mothers in Germany who were born in another country, I started thinking that there should be a way to share all of these experiences.

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The idea for the book

Gitanjali: And that’s how you came up with the idea for the book?

Shirin: Exactly. I asked mothers I knew if they would like to share their story for my book project. Plus, I went online and reached out for more women. It was a beautiful experience as I saw that asking them to speak about their experience of motherhood hit a nerve. One mother told me that she had been waiting for years for someone who would be interested in who she really felt. Another one said, half-jokingly, half-earnest, that narrating her experience was equally valuable as three years of therapy. If I could wish for one thing that the readers take away from the book it would be this: it is of infinite value to share and listen to our respective stories.

Gitanjali: What are your thoughts and emotions hearing all these stories?

Shirin: First of all, I am deeply grateful for the women who shared such personal details of their lives with me. Some stories were really hard to swallow. It’s sad to say but racism, for instance, is still a very prevalent problem in our society. Others stories made me laugh – they are funny because they’re true! Several mothers mentioned for example that children in Germany go to bed so early – that’s so me! I used to find it so important, too. And then, I realized through the stories I did not only get to learn so many things about other countries and cultures. I also learnt so much about my own upbringing, my own culture and socialisation. Last but not least, the stories deepened in me a strong sense of solidarity with mothers from all over the world. I hope my readers will feel the same way.

The Confused Mothers

What is your advice for the confused mothers?

Shirin: My advice for The Confused Mothers in Germany is: embrace your emotions! Love, anger, grief, fear – sometimes we feel all of it and all at once. That is okay. We are allowed to feel how we feel. In my experience, everything gets easier if we acknowledge our feelings and if we are not alone going through them.

Shirin was born and raised in Germany. She has lived in Spain, France and Mexico and has experience working in cultural exchange and education. She works for a death-tech start up called “Meine Erde” that offers a new, sustainable burial method. She is a grief consultant and works with people who have lost a loved one. You can find her on LinkedIn

She lives with her husband and two kids in Berlin.

If you want to win a free copy of “Mit anderen Wurzeln” comment “Christmas” on the Instagram post before the 21st of December!

Mother and baby

The Confused Mother Podcast

Do you want even more content on motherhood? Here is The Confused Mother podcast, where I talk to mothers and experts about everything related to motherhood and work. Click below to tune in on Spotify or Apple podcasts:

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