Franziska Sonder


Franziska Sonder


For Mother's Sake?

For 29 years of my life, I lived with my mother (65) and grandmother (86) in a tiny apartment in Belgrade. My mother, who has learning disabilities, could never adequately take care of me, so my grandmother took over and looked after both of us.

Ten years ago, I moved to Switzerland to be with the love of my life. I was happy to leave it all behind – the cramped living conditions, the sobering prospects in the country, even my two mothers, who I felt at the time were suffocating me. I started a new life with my wife, but the guilt of leaving my mother and grandmother hung over me like a cloud. I wanted to be able to help them in their daily life in Serbia. But each time I visited them in Belgrade, I would miss the freedom and my life in Switzerland.

My grandmother died a few weeks ago, leaving no one to care for my mother. My wife and I decided to live with her, travelling back and forth between Serbia and Switzerland. I had shared such a small space with my mother for 29 years, but I have never been as close to her as I am now. Slowly I get to know her and her stories, and I appreciate her more everyday.

But being uprooted makes my mother uneasy. Similarly, having her around constantly demands a lot from my wife and me. We want and value our freedom, and we want to start our own family soon.

All of a sudden I feel morally under pressure. In Serbia you look after your family, that is the tradition, it is expected of you. I do not want to let my mother down and leave her in a home, but I value my independence and wish to carry out my plans for the future. Mostly, it forces me to confront a moral dilemma: How can I help my mother live a life of independence without losing my own?
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