1. Parenting is a family affair here in Spain. The grandparents are extremely involved, and I see as many grandparents pushing strollers as I do parents. Many of my group's host moms watch their grandchildren on a daily basis while the parents work. It's a sweet circle of family connection, and I love that the kids are not going to daycare as often.
2. In general, parenting seems a very equal role in the home. Every morning, I watch the dads walk their children to school. It is also not at all unusual to see dads out pushing babies in strollers. I feel like this especially is not seen in the U.S. I always get a sarcastic attitude from American moms that, "Oh my husband just can't do the diaper thing. Or he just can't handle it when she cries. Yada yada yada." Personally, I have so much respect for dads here who have an active role with their kiddos. Definitely something from this culture that I would love to instill into my future family :)
3. I have seen only 4 families that have more than 3 kids. 2 is very typical, and of course there's the typical twins. I can definitely say that I like the South American big family perspective better :)
4. Spaniards are very concerned about their outward appearance. Americans are too, I'll be the first to admit it. But the level of formality here is so much higher than in the United States. So being a mom in Spain has a whole load of "qualities." First, you have to have a really nice stroller. Like super nice. They have fancy wheels, storage compartments, umbrellas, and all of this padding and fabric. After watching thousands of strollers the past month, I have come to the conclusion that this is not for convenience but for appearance. Because every mom pushing these fancy strollers is stick-skinny, wearing platform shoes, trendy clothes, gorgeous hair, and perfect make-up. Being a mom means alot more than having a baby. It means keeping up to the stereotype here. No "mom jeans" allowed EVER!
5. The last, and possibly most fascinating thing that I've yet to see one mom nursing. I also have yet to see one baby sling or carrier. The baby is ALWAYS in the stroller, never in the mother's arms, even in a restaurant. In public, it seems to be a very distant parenting style, and the complete opposite of the newer "bonding" parenting methods that are popular in the United States right now.
After a month here, I can safely say that I have fallen in love with Spanish families. Despite the rather distant parenting style or the "chick-mom-look," I have witnessed sooo many precious moments between these kids and their parents. Love is love is love- no matter what country you're in. Whether you have a $500 stroller in Spain, a comfy wrap-around sling in the US, or a simple piece of fabric in Guatemala, these mamas love their children.
While I'll definitely take back some aspects of the family culture, I like to keep my dream of lots of little ones from different countries, wearing my yoga pants and adoption t-shirts :)