Saying Goodbye

I’ve been inundated by waves of nostalgia of late.

The babies are gone. An incredible little person in the form of a 7 year-old boy greets me every morning and awes me with stories of learning, friendship and growing up every evening. An incredible little person in the form of a nearly 3 year-old girl shows me the power and strength of will in a larger than life personality. Both are so very loving. Both are so very courageous.

I am humbled by the privilege to mother each of them.

Watching your children grow into themselves is nothing short of miraculous. As exciting as it has been for me, I can’t help but feel haunted by the ghosts of the babies I once cradled in my arms for endless hours – quite often in the middle of the night.

I find myself lost in memories of the cooing, the first recognition of their extremities, the gurgling laughter bubbling out of cherub cheeks when their favourite stuffy reappeared from behind the cushion again and again.

I find myself projecting into the future. What will their future selves be like? Who will they grow up to be? Above all, my only hope for each of them is happiness. As long as they are happy and at peace, everything else will fall into place.

But, then I have to nudge myself out of these reveries because I’m missing them now. These days which sometimes seem so long, are fleeting. Losing myself in their past or in the possibilities of their future prevents me from enjoying them NOW.

I don’t know if all parents experience this kind of nostalgia. And, I never in a million years thought I would fall privy to such sentimentality. But here I am.

So, rather than hiding from my feelings, I’m owning them with the intention of being able to lovingly say goodbye to the past, to the babies which brought so much joy into my life, and embrace the present. Be with the children who light me from head to toe. I can see now that this will be a bit of a state of being for me in this whole parenting business.

Nonetheless, every night, once they are fast asleep after a day full of adventure and fun, I indulge in a brief moment of mothering by tucking their blanket around them, ensuring their favourite stuffy is cuddled up close, and after a soft kiss on the cheek I quietly whisper good night. Another day has passed taking them farther and farther away from the babies they used to be.

That’s when I realize, I couldn’t be happier because it means I get the chance to witness these beautiful people unfolding and growing into themselves.

And, that is something I don’t ever want to miss.

 

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Friday Five Favourite Moments

My Friday Five Favourite Things WM

Wow.  Is this place dusty! Life and all that was terribly in my way of writing.  I missed my blog. *sigh*

Considering the pace of my living and the expectations placed upon me from family, work and all sorts of other sources, today’s Friday Five will be about my absolute favourite moments in which I felt that “Today is the day that life is excellent”  – wise words from my 6 year old son!

5.  Laughing all together as a family.

4.  Feeling the pudgy arms and legs of my 18 month old squeeze as tight as they can in response to my “I love you”.

3.  Walking down the staircase at the end of the day, leaving my children in their rooms for the night and heading down to the couch to chat with my husband, watch some t.v. or pop open my laptop.

2.  Hearing my six year old say please and thank you and excuse me and you’re welcome.

1.  Right now.  I am blogging.

What are your favourite moments where everything is just perfect?

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Bookish Thursdays: Reading With Your Child

bookish thurs 3

My son has been looking at books since he was four months old (read more about that here). My daughter is now doing the same. It is the most special time of the day to have my baby on my lap as we read the alphabet, count to ten, or flip through a cute and cuddly touch and feel board book. Or to laugh out loud at the antics of Captain Underpants as my son now proudly takes on some of the reading himself.

It is the book-lover in me and the English teacher in me that drove me to instil a love and respect for books in my son and I hope to continue that with my daughter.

There is something about reading that teaches us to slow down, to appreciate the written word and to use our imaginations in ways that modern society does not challenge us to do in our every day lives.

The importance of reading to children and babies is firmly supported by a plethora of journals, researchers, parenting websites etc etc etc.

I do not pretend to be well versed in this research – but, I do know that as a mother of two my heart is warmed by my son’s excitement when we discuss our favourite parts of a book and  my 7 month old’s little fingers grasping at her book when I say “turn the page”.

I admit that as an English teacher, I am aware of the connection between being a good reader and being able to inquire, research, deduce, create and write well. So instilling a love of books is as much about their education as it is about loving the written word. This is easy for me because I love reading. But what about those adults who don’t? If you’re at a loss for how to give your child something that you may lack, but you know is important, here are a few tips that might help:

watermarked children and books

They deprive me of sleep, push me to the borders of irrational rage, squeeze every last bit of patience out of me – but when we sit to read everything dissolves around us. My children and I willingly lose ourselves in the magic of the words and pictures.

Love for reading is a gift that will last forever. Teach it with passion. Give it with abandon. Your children will thank you.

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Bookish Thursdays: Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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I am a first generation Canadian born to Colombian parents with a long Colombian ancestry. I grew up eating arepas, sancocho, frijoles, chicharron and aguacate. My favourite fruits were mango, papaya and pineapple. I went to my junior kindergarten class speaking Spanish because that’s all we spoke at home. I knew that being Colombian in Toronto years and years ago was strange. Most of my friends were of European descent and when I spoke Spanish with my parents they all assumed we were from Spain. Colombia was foreign and different and let’s face it, it did not have the best reputation.

(Nearly) every person we came across would mention the word cocaine as soon as they heard we were Colombian, followed closely by drug cartels and Pablo Escobar. My culture and people were smeared by the actions of world-class criminals and the world media that focused on and sensationalised them. My parents, and their cohorts, would retaliate with Colombia is also the land of coffee, emeralds, fruit and a rich history of music and folklore. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is Colombian. Colombians are a loving, friendly people. Resourceful, determined and above all, passionate. To which people would nod and say “Really?” but in their eyes you could tell they were still thinking, cocaine. Sometimes, however, it worked and we would feel vindicated that at least one more person saw Colombia and Colombians in a different light.

from elmundo.es

I grew up amidst people who are very proud of their heritage and defiantly challenge the world with many proofs as to why our Colombia is so much more than the illegal drug trade. And, always, those proofs included the great Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

I heard his name bandied about in my home or amidst my family when we visited Colombia. As a child he was beyond my reach. I was always interested in the writings of the literary giant but didn’t begin my journey into his worlds until I became an IB teacher.

I quickly learned why Garcia Marquez was one of literature’s greats. I’ve only read three of his novels, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera. Each one gripped me and I was fooled into believing that writing is so very easy because his stories are seamless. His narration appears effortless. And, that is how you know that he was genius at his craft.

He learned his narrative style from his grandmother who told him fantastical tales with a deadpan expression and that is how he wrote. One has no choice but to simply be swept into his narratives, be immersed in his descriptive, yet succinct, attention to detail, and allow him to take you on a splendid trip.

Fortunately, I live in a Toronto that is vastly different from the one in which I grew up. Our city (and surrounding suburbs) is home to people from all over the world. Being Colombian is no longer strange or weird. Our language, food and music has become more mainstream. Other famous Colombians are showing the world that Colombia is beautiful and so much more than it’s difficult past. We no longer have to defend our pride in our country.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is fundamental to that pride. I am saddened that he is gone – that no more of Gabo’s stories will be published. His legacy is a beautiful and inspirational one – for Colombians and all people. A boy from the northernmost tip of his country, a remote and hot area of Colombia became a Nobel Prize Author by giving shape to a new literary genre. He did much for Colombia’s image when it was at its lowest. He did much for me as a teacher, reader and writer. Thank you Gabo and rest in peace.

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Mommy Mondays: Second Time Around

Mommy Mondays WM

When I became a mother for the first time it seemed like I was constantly on high alert. I was stressed about my baby boy’s sleeping (or, non-sleeping) habits. It was all organic, home made foods. I rushed to wash his hands, change his clothes or his barely used diaper whenever a hint of germs or spit up or whiff of foulness was detected. My radar was sharp. I missed nothing.

I would invariably catch the attention of a more relaxed mother, perhaps on her second or third child, who would smile (condescendingly? nope, I think remembering her own hysteria) and say “he’s your first…it’ll be so much easier with your second”. I would nod and laugh and say something short like “I bet” while groaning inwardly.

or

The blissfully relaxed smiling face would say “You’ll be so much more relaxed with your next child” and I’d say “I guess so.” But what I really meant was:  ‘Really? You mean you can see my anxiety-ridden shoulders that are practically in my ears and my tight smile that is about to make my cheeks explode?”

or

Mother of Year would say “You’ll worry less with your second”. No response. Just a head nod as I would think, “Mind your own f***ing business because if I decide to have a second I’m not going to let that child swim in their own shit, be covered in vomit and drag themselves all over the grocery store because I’ve learned that babies/toddlers are tougher than we think.”

Ahhhhh. Even though there’s nothing worse than someone belittling your present experience because in the future it’ll seem like a trifle, I know that they all meant well.

Well, I’ve had my second child. And, while I still strive to give my daughter the same attention and care I gave my son…it is different.

Am I more relaxed? Yes, but not in her care. I am more confident in my abilities to care for her and to read her. I don’t necessarily find her easier – it’s more that I don’t feel like a baby-idiot any more.

I accept that the intentions of those mothers who were trying to help me relax with my first baby were good. Don’t we all love to impart the lessons we’ve learned to ease the hardships or trials of others. Except it doesn’t really work that way. We learn through our own experiences. Period.

I’ve been a mother to two children for three months now.  So, how have I changed my approach to motherhood as a consequence of my experiences?

  1. I will carry and hug and kiss and cuddle my children as much as I want. They grow fast and I will never, ever have this day with them again. I want my children to look back at their childhood and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they were loved.  And even if they do get a little spoiled with hugs and kisses…better that than feel less than important.
  2. When my baby cries I will pick her up. If my baby needs to fall asleep in my arms, she can.  If she wants to sleep with me, she can…because her brother did…and now he’s fine and sleeps independently…well not since his sister was born (but that’s another story)…and I doubt either of them will require to sleep with us when they’re adolescents…
  3. If I am in any way feeling irritated or less than patient, it is better to wait a few minutes before tending to my children. A deep breath, a moment to myself will help me be there for them without feeling exasperated.
  4. I can leave my baby in her play pen to simply take in her surroundings, check out her toys, get to know her hands and the sound of her own voice. I am not neglecting her because a baby does not require constant stimulation.
  5. I know that dirt won’t kill them. I get it that it is good for their bodies to be exposed to germs. I know that rolling around on grass, kneeling in soil, playing in sand, and jumping in mud puddles should be done with abandon. And, afterwards it should be thoroughly cleaned off. I cannot leave them dirty or in dirty clothes for long. Making the memory is awesome…smelling the memory, not so much.
  6. I will now approach my first born with the same confidence that I do my second born. My experiences with my son will always be a first for me…it’s not fair to him that I muddle it all up with anxiety to then breeze through life with my daughter.
  7. Babies just want to feel loved and protected. All the extra stuff that marketers wish to push down our throats … it doesn’t matter. The same goes for older kids too.
  8. Everything else can wait.
  9. My health matters. I will take care of myself because I hope to be with my children throughout their journey. As my son loves to ask me, “Mommy, how old will you be when I’m 100?”

Now that I’m doing this for a second time…I’m still on high alert but my shoulders are squared where they should be. These are a but a few ways…if you’re a first time mom and these help you out, great! If not, revel in your anxiety and worry…should you choose to do this again, the anxiety will magically disappear. However, I would never dream of telling you so.  

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