Mama Talks: Zara „It’s all about equality, it’s called ‚likestilling'“


2002, lange bevor sie selber Mutter wurde, hat die Fotografin Pamela Rußmann begonnen, schwangere Frauen zu fotografieren. Seitdem porträtiert sie Jahr für Jahr in achtsam vorbereiteten und ausgeführten Fotoshootings eine Vielzahl von Frauen und hat nicht nur ein enorm umfangreiches Bildarchiv aufgebaut, sondern sich durch die Beschäftigung und die vielen Gespräche mit schwangeren Frauen auch inhaltlich intensiv mit den Veränderungen und emotionalen wie seelischen Ebenen auseinandergesetzt.

Exklusiv für Salon Mama hat die Fotografin & Journalistin Pamela Rußmann nun eine Reihe konzipiert, in der sie ihre bisherige Arbeit des Fotografierens von schwangeren Frauen um eine Ebene erweitert, nämlich: das Wort.

Im 11. Mama Talks interviewt und fotografiert Pamela Rußmann wie schon beim letzten Mama Talk keine Schwangere, sondern eine Mama, Zara, die mit ihrer Familie in Oslo lebt und sich mit einem eigenen Geschäft selbstständig gemacht hat. Wie immer sind Pamelas Fragen spannend und am Punkt! 

 

MAMA TALKS No.11

Interview and Photography: Pamela Rußmann

Portrait of a Mom: Zara (Oslo, Norway)

May 2018

 

–         Name: Zara

–         Age: 39 years old

–         Profession: Local business owner of retail store ‚WEAVE‘

–         Children (how many; aged): Two boys! Six years and 18 months

–         Place of residence: Oslo, Norway

–         Marital status: Happily married to a Viking. 

– social media links: Instagram and Facebook- @weavebutikk

 

Zara is very mindful when it comes to showing pictures of her kids on the internet, so we decided to take pictures of her as a working mom in her own shop.

Hi Zara, nice to have you on the blog! Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers? Where are you from and what brought you to Norway?

I am a daughter, mom, a wife, a sister and an owner of a local store called ‚WEAVE‘. It’s a store that you could find something for yourself, your home, your kids if you have any and just general gifts. I am originally from India. I left for New Zealand to do my post graduation, after which I worked there too (lived there for around six years). I met my husband (who is from Norway) whilst at University. We came to Norway because my husband thought it would be a good idea to try and settle down in Norway since neither one of us was originally from New Zealand. So here I am and have been for around eight and a half years. 

You have two little sons, how do you organise child care? 

My oldest is six years and my youngest is a year and a half years old. Both my kids go to ‚barnehage‘ which means kindergarten. My oldest started kindergarten when he was 21 months old and the youngest started kindergarten at 14 months of age. Basically you send an application to your area council mentioning the top five preferred barnehages. They try and place your child in one of them. If not you get a spot in one that perhaps was not on your list…but you still have the flexibility of accepting the spot and then trying again for your preferred at a later stage. Each area has a number of barnehages that are mostly owned by the city council and at the same time you do have private barnehages as well.

 

How are the „barnehages“ organised in Norway? How many assistants work with a group of children? What are the usual rates?

The barnehages are well organised. There is the barnehage for the little ones that is up-to three years of age it’s called ’småbarnsavdeling‘. You have one assistent for three children. When they are between four years to six years old (‘storbarnsavdeling’) you have one assistent for four children (this has been my experience with both my kids that go to barnehage). The barnehages are heavily subsidised by the government. So you pay circa Nok.3000 for one kid (ca. 310 Euro, Anm.d.Red.*). We have two kids in the barnehages so we are subsidised even further and pay around Nok.5000 (ca. 520 Euro) for the two of them together. This is small fraction of expenditure when compared to the average income in this country.  

Did you talk to other pregnant women when you were expecting? To get infos about certain pregnancy stuff, to get infos about what to do how and when…?

My mom and sister (she has two kids) were always great to turn to. A good friend of mine and I were pregnant at the same time (this was during my first pregnancy), so we shared a lot and I read a few books. I was never overanalysing anything, I really just went with the flow. I had a great doctor and also a mid wife that I could ask questions to. The health system in Norway is great. The moment I got pregnant I had my first check up with my doctor (plus I went to her for pregnancy information to) and I also got allotted a mid-wife at the local health-station with whom I would meet up a couple of times at regular intervals through out my pregnancy. 

 

What about your mum: did you ask her about her pregnancy? Was your mum relevant as an advice giver?

My Mum was my go to for everything in this period and continues to be so even in child rearing. I remember saying often to her…was it like that for you too mommy and she would give examples of when she was pregnant with my brother, sis or me. My mom always tried to put me on track as well…if I was wondering about something she would immediately encourage me to contact the health sister, doctor or mid wife…who ever was relevant to my query…that to me was very important. My Mom has always been and is always my go to for everything anyways:) 

I loved being pregnant. I was so marvelled by the fact that my body has a bigger purpose…and that inside of me there is a life growing. I was super proud and grateful. I remember the first time I felt my baby kicking, it was so so amazing. Like just knowing that a leg or an arm inside me is moving was mind boggling. I simply loved it. I remember that I would talk to my baby in my tummy and try and listen to soothing songs. I even encouraged my husband to talk to my belly (so that babies would get used to his voice as well), it was quite cute actually. 

Here in Austria, it is often said that Scandinavian societies are role models concerning female emancipation, child care, equal rights on the job market etc. Since you have lived quite a long time in Norway, what is your opinion? What and how do it scandinavians better?

I can only speak from my experience in Norway. I think Norwegians have a very balanced outlook on their responsibilities and their place in their society.  It’s all about equality, it’s called ‚likestilling‘ in Norwegian and it’s very important to them to get it right. In my opinion they really do practice what they preach. I have thus far not heard of anyone getting discriminated based on their gender.

How is maternity leave controlled in Norway? How long can mothers (or fathers) stay away from the job after a child is born?

In general a parent can stay at home with the child for 49 weeks on 100% pay or 59 weeks on 80% pay (the last time I gave birth was in 2016, so my knowledge is from that time). The first weeks are reserved for the mothers, 10 weeks reserved exclusively for the father and the majority are divided between the mother and the father according to their wishes. I would say that pretty much says it all…it’s really a great place to become a parent. And then you also often have leave for that year which is five weeks in addition. 

Are there any community projects in Oslo for pregnant women or fresh moms?

Almost towards the end of your pregnancy you are asked at the health-station by the mid-wife if you would like to join the ‚barsel gruppe’- which means ‘maternity group’ in your neighbourhood. It’s basically moms that have delivered around the same time. They form like a group of 4 or 5 moms, and they meet up once a week or a fortnight and just generally catch up about how it’s going with them, their babies. They go to a cafe or just hang out together to share stuff. It’s great because the way families are set up today, we are so nuclear and urban that it is really nice to meet up with people who are also in the same situation as you and that you can connect with.   

 

Is it „ok“ in Norwegian society to be a „stay at home-mom“?

This is a very interesting question… My impression of the society here is that the feminist movement, the progressive movement has worked so hard for women’s rights to equal opportunities in all facets of life that when you choose an option like wanting to stay at home then you are perhaps giving up on a plethora of opportunities that you can take advantage of. 

At that same time I also feel that there is a certain obligation you feel when you live in this society as well, the reasoning being that since it is a welfare system, the state essentially provides healthcare, daycare for children (heavily subsidised and well run) and schooling. So when these important aspects of one’s life are taken care of, my duty would be to be an actively contributing member to the society. 

Would you say that Norway is a good place to raise your children? 

Yes, absolutely. 

Name 3 things a Norwegian mother would never do!

I have been able to come up with my top two:)

Well she will never say that the weather is bad…it’s just the clothing that is wrong…so she instills in her kids from the start that clothing correctly is the key to making the most of every day.  She would never give up her love for wool…you get wool with silk for the summer and then soft wool for winter…it’s incredible how wool is found all year round:)

Thank you, Zara, for the interview!

Thank you so much for having me!

* Anmerkung der Redaktion: Das durchschnittliche Einkommen in Oslo beträgt derzeit etwa 28000 Norwegische Kronen (NOK) pro Monat (nach Steuern). Das sind in etwa 2900 Euro.

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