Motherhood – dedication as a work assignment

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Written By Maya Cantina

Victoria Bonelli has five boys between the ages of two and eight and is busy around the clock. You wouldn’t think of writing a book. The communications scientist takes care of her husband, children and the household and radiates so much satisfaction that she transforms the Bonelli house – her husband Raphael is a well-known psychiatrist – into an atmosphere of harmony.

The idea for the book came from a publisher who was often a guest at the Bonellis and had seen a lot of daily family life. “What he saw was, as he said, so beautiful and harmonious, so threatened with extinction and at the same time a seemingly utopian longing for so many people that at one point he wanted to write a book about it,” Bonelli recalls. The publisher had a good nose. Victoria Bonelli’s first book “Full-time mother. The Most Important Job in the World” is a bestseller.

The sympathetic mother does not seem anti-feminist, nor does she give in to justifications or forcefully convey her ideas to the woman. She just tells it. She tells what she observes and moves, what she thinks and feels, what has shaped her and what she recognized as right. Mrs. Bonelli explains how she became Mr. Bonelli’s wife and why she wants to stay that way. “One of my favorite words is ‘dedication,’” she writes, “the gift, the gift of yourself, and I am convinced that most people long to give of themselves.” Sounds a bit like “Pride and Prejudice” and the longing love confession of a certain Mr. Darcy.

Man and woman become ‘I’

But it is actually about much more, namely the time that follows such a declaration of love. It is a process of development until husband and wife become “you and me”. The development process is preceded by a decision of the heart, which is called ‘love’ and which is sealed with the marriage vow. These are the insights that Bonelli deals with. Being a mother with the conviction that you are pursuing your most important calling is the result of this love. None of the five children had to go to daycare.

Devotion also organizes priorities in daily life. The expectant mother of six children writes how, despite the stress, she calmly looks her children in the eyes when they excitedly tell her something, and how her husband takes over the children from her if possible. She does not suffocate the reader with a utopian family idyll, nor does she portray vomited children’s clothes, mountains of laundry, stress and frustration as her favorite moments of happiness.

It seems more as if anecdotes, like the one in which the five boys sit neatly dressed in the back of the family car and suddenly turn their insides out, and in which it is not she but her husband who keeps him nervous, only become clear in retrospect. Get meaning. When the ‘secrets of love’ are lived openly between men and women, true happiness lies hidden, especially in everyday life.

Victoria Bonelli: full-time mother. The most important job in the world. 224 pages, edition a, order now from the JF book service

The Bonellis keep their mouths shut until the anger subsides

“In the hierarchy of love that really works, God comes first,” Bonelli emphasizes. “Then the husband comes. Then the children. And then nothing for a long time.” The division of roles is clearly arranged. “My husband brings the money home and I stay with the kids,” Bonelli says. “When he’s home, I’m happy if he spends time with the kids, but I don’t burden him with household chores.” Some readers may gasp at such sentences, but when they read chapters titled “Please, Thank You.” – Sorry” or “Division of labor between husband and wife” does not give Bonelli the impression that she is not emancipated enough to determine what is best for her husband.

Clear agreements must be made about the tasks, otherwise conflicts are inevitable. As a divorced child, Bonelli knows what she is talking about. There is no ‘healthy debate culture’. Arguments mean injury and humiliation. ‘Always’ and ‘never’ are the killer words. The Bonellis become quiet when they are angry and ‘remain silent’ until the anger passes.

“Even the best husband of all has real flaws.”

They resolve conflicts in calm conversations at eye level. Acknowledging your own mistakes and forgiving those of your partner is also commitment. “Even the best husband of all has real flaws (which I won’t point out to him in a book),” Victoria writes of Raphael. They are a couple who have never had a serious argument, especially not in front of the children.

When her descriptions leave her own family and she ponders the causes of broken homes and self-centered lifestyles, she does not do so from the pedestal of the happy. Formative encounters are said to have transformed her once career-oriented self into a better version of herself. “I was deeply blessed at the time and was able to completely reorient my ambitious life,” Bonelli writes. She wanted to pass on “this gift that I received” and honor the work of the housewife. But it is not because of the housework that she likes to be at home, but because of the children.


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