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My toddler is wearing underpants. Sort of.

4 Aug

I came home today to find my two and a half year old, naked, in the front courtyard wielding a garden hose. I wish I’d gotten a picture!

The next time I saw him, he was wearing his older brother’s underpants…over his diaper. His nanny tells me that this fashion choice was his own insistence. Is this his way of telling me that he’s ready for potty training??  

I ask this because, well, for a variety of reasons, I’ve let potty training sort of slide this summer. This being my second trip around parenting, I’ve learnt to pick my battles. Potty training falls under that category for me. I mean, he’s not really even talking yet (and that’s a post for another day), how can I start potty training?

That being said, I was rather surprised at the reaction I got from the director of the Montessori preschool that I just enrolled my youngest in when I told him that my son wasn’t toilet trained yet. “You mean he still wears a diaper at night?”, he asked. “Um, no, he wears a diaper all day too”, was my response. It wouldn’t have taken an expert in body language to tell me that this man did NOT approve.

I took this up with another teacher mommy friend of mine with a child of similar age. I told her about how this school director responded and, that up until that moment, I’d thought I was doing well as a parent – or at least I didn’t realise that I was ‘failing’. She was predictably supportive and reminded me that we all learn at our own pace. 

So hopefully, soon, my youngest will be fully potty trained and I will gain the approval of his new school’s director. In the meantime, I’m happy to continue changing diapers. 

My annual ode to International Women’s Day

8 Mar

In response to ‘Dear Mom on the iPhone’

18 Mar

Today, via Facebook, I came across a retort to a posting of an article entitled “Dear mom on the iPhone: Let me tell you what you don’t see” The retort, entitled “In Defense of the iPhone Mom” really got me going. It got be going so much that I then went over and read the article that incited the retort. And all this began a realtime conversation with a fellow mom, whom I respect very much. Her beef was that people nowadays spend too much time documenting events rather than experiencing them. Think of the last concert you went to. How many people were holding up a digital device and recording the event rather than experiencing it? Probably too many.  And too many people, many of them parents, seem more engrossed with their phones than their children when you see them out in public. And, I agreed, this is a very real issue. A societal issue, in fact. So why did the original article specifically attack “mom”? There inlies my beef.

Here is what a fellow educator and mom had to say:

Hmmm, I do think that I see so many parents greet their kids at school with a phone in their face while dealing with their important messages. Not just mothers but fathers too. Everywhere I go I see people living their lives on i-products (or similar). I went to see Fat Boy Slim last year and no one was dancing, all except me and (my husband) were filming it. Sorry, I don’t actually think that’s ok. People need people. Face to face. I get her point about stop picking on parents and totally agree but really….in defense of the i-phone? Sorry, have just opened a can of worms there.

Open that can of worms my friend! For certain cans need to be opened if we are ever going to get to the bottom of this.

Here is my reply.

What I really connected with was the idea that no blogs ever go viral praising parents, especially mothers, for the countless little things they do day in and day out. And the sad fact that motherhood is a competitive contact sport with metaphorical blow after blow being levied on women for not putting their children first every minute of every living day. These attacks come from family, peers, strangers, the media and government. I recently saw a US study where 60% of respondents (all parents) said, when asked, that they put their children’s needs first and their needs second. Sixty percent also correlates roughly to the divorce rate in the US (and many other countries where this sort of mindset exists).
 
The iPhone issue is part of a wider societal issue. People are recording events rather than experiencing them -as you rightly point out. The larger issue, for me at least, in that post was that maybe, just maybe, we should stop for a moment when judging strangers. Perhaps giving people the benefit of the doubt once in a while wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
 
On the birth board that I belong to online, in the fall of last year, a woman posted about how she saw a couple with their maybe 6 month old on the bus. The baby was in a stroller wearing nothing but a diaper. The poster took a pic of the child and posted it online ranting about how these parents were unfit because they had their child out after dark wearing nothing but a diaper in 18 degree Celsius temperatures. I was livid when I read this. Livid at the poster – not this poor kids parents! How freakin’ dare she violate the right to privacy of this family that way. And by the way, all she did was snap a sneaky pic and post it online. She didn’t speak to the family at all! Who knows what was going on there? If she had honestly thought for one moment that this was a case of child neglect or endangerment then shame on her for not enquiring and offering assistance!
 
I remember a time last summer when my six month old had a massive diaper blowout in the car. We pulled into the rest area to change him only to realise that we’d forgotten to pack a spare change of clothes for him. All we had was a spare t-shirt for our eldest. So, one filthy infant onesie in a Ziplock bag later, there we were in the food court of the rest area with a 6 month old infant wearing nothing but a diaper and t-shirt that was 3 years too big for him. What must we have looked like? Thank the gods that no one whipped out their camera phone and posted that!
 
So all this to say that I just think that most people are living their lives with the best of intentions and ya know what? Sometimes you end up on a bus with a kid wearing nothing but his diaper because wearing nothing is more appropriate than being covered in your own poop. I just wish that everyone would stop judging. But also, I wish that more people would risk the embarrassment of being wrong and genuinely enquire when they see something that perhaps raises a red flag. All that that mother had to do was say something friendly to the family like, “Forgot to pack a spare change of clothes, eh? Man, I’ve been there, done that.” That would have probably been all she needed to do to ascertain whether this was an act of child cruelty or human fallibility. This woman in question also needs to learn the story about glasses houses, in my opinion, and keep her damn camera phone to herself. But that’s a whole other rant 
 

Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe I’m wrong. What do you think?

Funny. But not ‘ha ha’ funny

21 Dec

Over two months ago, my last post was about how I reacted to seeing a play surrounding the events of 9/11.

 

Today, the events of 12/14 still haunt me.

 

They haunt me as  a teacher, as a mother and as a human being.

Go ahead! Be a big baby!

8 Aug

This summer was  a summer of a lot of “firsts” and “lasts” for me as a mother.

My son Gabriel (Gabe to his friends) is my second and last child. My last son. My last baby.

This summer, we witnessed a lot of “firsts” with Gabe.

Celebrating his first Canada Day (in Bangkok).

Eating his first solids.

Sleeping through his first long haul flight.

Meeting his extended family in the UK for the first time.

Discovering how his knees work and putting them into action for his first proper crawl!

Sitting up for the first time.

Pulling himself up to a standing position (using a suitcase, ironically enough) on July 4th at the age of 6 months and 1 week.

Being weaned from the breast. 

As I watch him grow and achieve, I feel at once a sense of pride and yet a sense of sorrow; knowing that these are the last baby “firsts” that I will witness with my own children.

But watching him I was also struck by the thought that “being a big baby” shouldn’t be a putdown. We should all strive to be big babies; every day. I have observed for endless hours my big baby trying to work out how to navigate the world around him and to find his place in it. Trying to figure out how his own limbs work. Testing his own strength. I have seen him fail more times than he will ever remember. And that’s the thing. Any parent knows, from even the most casual observation, that babies/toddles/kids don’t dwell on their failures. They remember their successes; and build upon them.

As my eldest son prepares to start “big kid school” tomorrow, I will try to find a way to remind him that it’s ok to be a “big baby”.

To each her own

30 Apr

Today on the mommy board that I belong to, a new stay-at-home mom (STHM) posted about feeling overwhelmed. Most first-time parents, certainly first time STHM, can easily related to her. She writes:

I’m a first time Mom…  I am feeling completely overwhelmed sometimes, with just life in general…

Here is my unedited and hurried response.

Oh sweetheart! Welcome to the club!  I haven’t read the previous posts but I imagine that they’ve been overwhelmingly supportive. This is my second child and I’ve gone back to work after only three months (I had 16 months off with my first).

When I was at home with my first I loved it. I was so fortunate to find a wonderful mom’s network in my local area. No mean feat when you live overseas! Those ladies, and their babes, were my lifeline. Don’t know what I would have done without them. There are only two of us left in town now. The rest are scattered around the globe. And that’s why I love Facebook because we can still share so many of our ‘mothering’ adventures. Although, after the first year, I really felt ready to go back to work. And, like you, I REALLY looked forward to bedtime too. Nothing wrong with that!

I look at motherhood like being a passenger on a plane. You have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can be of any assistance to anyone else. So whatever your ‘oxygen mask’ is, be it work, school, a good workout, or a great weekly mani-pedi…you have to take time for yourself. I can honestly say that the only times that I felt lost as a mom were those moments when I started to lose sight of who “I” was.

Now that I’m back at work with two kids I find it so tough to find that balance. Two things I do for myself are a standing bi-monthly mani-pedi appointment on Saturday morning with a good girlfriend. And second, the hours between 4 and 6 from Monday to Friday are generally mine to do with as I see fit.

See, I’m a teacher. Between the hours of 7am and 4pm, my priority is making sure that I’m giving the best of me to other people’s kids. And that’s not a snarky or flippant comment. As a citizen of the world, I have a vested interest in making sure that the kids entrusted to me can one day go out into the world and, ideally, make it a better place. That they have the drive, the desire and the knowhow to do so is something that me and tens of thousands of other hardworking and dedicated teachers are striving for on a daily basis. But I also have another equally (arguably more) important obligation to my own kids. And I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t give them what they need (the best of me) until I’ve had some time to decompress from my work day. Some will undoubtably call me selfish but this is what works, right now, for me and my family.