On meaning: I came to the realization I feel stuck in life a lot of times because after doing so many things I “had to” during the years, while failing at a lot of other things I thought I wanted to do, I ended up in a place where I do crave change, but I’m not sure what that change should be, or what form it should take. In not so many words, I don’t know what I want.
On finding meaning:
Today I decided I need to work on being less stubborn.
This is a post I wrote way back in December 2015 on my previous blog. But I still love reading it even now so I took it with me here.
“As a new mom I feel compelled to read every piece baby literature I can get my hands on, in order to try (emphasis on try) better understand what’s going on with the newest resident of my household: my three months and a half Levi. I guess this is a new fear present in my head around the clock nowadays: what if I miss doing something my little one would need in order to evolve into the best version of himself? And what if years and years from now he’ll come back to me asking “Why? But why..?!”. Insert big gulp from my part and smell of brain on fire while …nothing eloquent comes out of my mouth. Nightmarish scenario, I’m telling you. I know I pulled this one out with my folks…so I kinda feel I have it coming. 🙂
As you can probably guess from the introduction, I’m following (maybe even virtual stalking a little bit) a lot of people more in-the-know than I am for information. One of these people I very much like to read from is Joanna Goddard&team aka cupofjo.com. I follow her posts via bloglovin.com (think of it as blog heaven for the lazy – where you can read all the new stuff from your fav blogs).
She posted a most wonderful series called “Motherhood around the world” where mothers from everywhere share their experience on how it is to live, give birth, raise a child, etc in the country they currently live in. I found it very fascinating and refreshing. And even more than that, I found it comforting, which was exactly what I needed. While reading post after post after post I had some “A-haa!” moments from time to time seeing that there is no unique right way to care for kids – people do it so differently starting from education to food, to play time, to… well everything actually.
Of course all those fears I have will never ever be completely brought to silence (and someday maybe I’ll come to better terms with that) but, on the bright side of things (which was about time to make an appearance) I think spending time getting informed and reading such materials help me keep them more in control, which is a totally awesome thing for me to accomplish.
Back to the motherhood series I was just telling you about, some of the opinions were in line with my own beliefs, other less so – I am still a product of the way I was raised to see things, but some items are definitely keepers. I’ve posted below some parts that I’d like to revisit in the future.
Note: The excerpts and pictures below have been taken from cupofjo.com
EXCERPT FROM 14 SURPRISING THINGS ABOUT PARENTING IN SWEDEN
“On napping outdoors: Even in the thick of winter when temperatures are below zero, many Swedish parents put their kids, bundled up in their strollers, outside to nap. They say children sleep longer and better this way and believe the cold and that fresh air is good for a child’s immune system. And here, if you’re sick your doctor will say, open the window when you go to bed at night, fresh air cures all! When I first moved here, I went to meet a friend for coffee in the pouring rain. She told me her baby was asleep outside in the stroller, like it was the most natural thing in the world. His stroller had a waterproof cover, and she could see his stroller outside the window. I realized that it was not actually that crazy when I compared that approach to bringing a wet stroller with a sleeping baby, all bundled up in winter gear, inside a crowded, stuffy cafe, full of germs, trying to find a place to park the stroller, then risking waking him by undressing him so he doesn’t overheat. All of a sudden, leaving him outside seemed like a pretty great option!”
EXCERPT FROM 20 SURPRISING THING ABOUT PARENTING IN GERMANY
“On teaching self-reliance: Hugo is two, and we recently had a parent/teacher conference with his daycare. The teacher said, “I’m concerned about his coming into the group of older kids.” I asked why, and she said, “He needs to learn to stand up for himself more. When other kids come up and take toys away from him, he just lets it happen.” I was like, well, isn’t that just sharing? And she said, “He needs to either take the toy back or fight. We teachers can’t fight all his battles for him!” I was laughing inside, because it was SO different from how we were socialized as children. In the U.S., we were taught that you have to share, you have to compromise. In Germany, it’s all about self-sufficiency and standing up for your rights. When German friends come over, and Hugo wants to play with something the other kids are playing with, my German friends will say to their kids, “Come on, take it back! Did you not want him to play with it? Go take it back.” It’s not meant to be confrontational or mean in any way. But their emphasis is teaching the child to stand up for himself.”
“On non-helicopter parenting: Childhood is a time of freedom and happiness. I see little kids walking or biking to or from school alone all the time. Sometimes on weekends, I’ll see kids in the neighborhood all alone, buying breakfast rolls for their families. Once a kid is around seven or eight years old, parents really encourage more autonomous behavior (that is controlled, obviously). Germans prize independence in children, which can feel a little strange to someone brought up in an American-Italian home (I think my parents would still like to hold my hand while crossing the street and I’m 36). The non-helicopter parenting totally extends into teenagerhood. I remember all my German friends having co-ed sleepovers. When you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, from basically fourteen on, you sleep over at their house in their room, unsupervised. Parents are so much more permissive and trusting—there’s a whole groundwork being laid of self-sufficiency and trust.”
EXCERPT FROM 16 SURPRISING THINGS ABOUT PARENTING IN CHINA
“On a diaper-free culture: Babies wear split pants, and they’ll pee and poop on the ground. My American friends say, “I’m so jealous that they potty train sooner,” but the definition of potty training is completely different here. Back home potty training means going on a toilet, whereas here potty training means going on command. It’s more laid back. Chinese moms will hold their baby and whistle, and then the child will go potty on the ground. The other day, while I was walking my daughter to school, we saw two older boys pooping on egg cartons. They’re potty trained to go anywhere—not to wait to hold it and go a toilet. One big bonus: When our kid has to go, we’re not scrambling to find a public restroom.”
EXCERPT FROM 12 SURPRISING THINGS ABOUT PARENTING IN ABU DHABI
“On hiring help: I’d never hired a nanny before moving to Abu Dhabi, but now we have full-time help. Our nanny, Tsega, is Ethiopian, and she helps cook, clean and take care of the kids six days a week.
Most domestic help comes from outside the country—Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, the Philippines or Bangladesh—and it’s extremely affordable. People here say “nanny” or “housemaid.” Everyone—both locals and expats—has a housemaid, and often a driver. I’ve seen everyday Emiratis with a maid for each child!
I realize this is a controversial subject for some American women. Among the women I knew in Utah, it was common to have five or six kids and take care of them full-time, with no help. I felt real pressure to have a beautiful meal prepared every night, vacuum lines on the carpet, kids looking like they stepped out of Crewcuts—all while having perky breasts and wearing size 6 skinny jeans. For me, that was impossible. I felt like I was constantly failing. Soon after we moved to Abu Dhabi, our middle child, Asher, was diagnosed with autism, and we hired Tsega because I just couldn’t keep up. She swept in, with her soft gentle voice and impeccable cooking and cleaning skills, and saved us. She gave me TIME! Time to focus on my kids individually; time to actually have date nights with my husband; time to start my own business. Having full-time help has been a huge benefit to living in this city, and it’s something I’ll be sad to give up.
It’s worth mentioning that there has been some local controversy here about housemaids being worked too hard. For example, the Ethiopian government recently stopped allowing the UAE to recruit Ethiopian maids because of reports that they’re literally being asked to work day and night, seven days a week, by local families. I can only speak to my own experience, but we talk often to Tsega about her hours and pay and are very careful to make sure feels she is being treated fairly. I truly feel like she is part of our family and I adore her. Right now we’re paying for her to take computer and English classes so that when we leave, she’ll be in a position to move forward with her career and send more money to her family back home.”
EXCERPT FROM 13 SURPRISING THINGS ABOUT PARENTING IN CONGO
On hiring nannies and housekeepers: Jill: We had never hired people to work in our homes before moving to Congo. But it’s expected here for families who are relatively well off to use some of that income to provide work for others.[…]
[…]In Congo, all women are called “Mama So-and-So” out of respect, whether you’re a mother or not. I thought I would be uncomfortable sharing my mama title, but I’m not. It’s a strange relationship—that of nanny and parent and child—but one that is less threatening and more loving than I expected. Now it’s hard to imagine raising children without so many mamas.[…]
“On weight: Jill: There’s no need to step on a scale on the continent of Africa. I know I’m gaining weight when I start getting compliments on my appearance. More specifically, my butt. I’ve been told, with great kindness, that I looked “nice and fat” after returning from a vacation. The tailor who recently made me a dress looked at my lackluster curves and reassured me that she could figure out how to add in boobs and a butt via some magical seams.
Sarah: Recently I took some photos of some of the Mamas in my children’s lives, and Mama Youyou gently brought me Mamitsho’s photo saying, “Madame, umm, hmm, well…Have you seen this photo of Mamitsho? Well, hmm, has she seen it? Is she okay with this?” I told her I thought it was a lovely picture of Mamitsho, and in fact everyone who has seen it comments on how nice she looks. (In retrospect, I guess it was only Americans giving the compliments.)
“Well, Madame, it’s not a good photo,” said Mama Youyou. “She looks skinny. It must be embarrassing for her. You can see her”—and then she yell-whispered—”collarbone!” Body fat is a precious thing here; a sign of nutrition, comfort and a good life.
Jill: The different perspectives on bodies and beauty are something that comes up fairly often. I just read an article in a local magazine about tia foin, the dangerous trend of women using prescription medications to fatten up a bit. It’s the same discussion as we might see in the pages of Marie Claire or Elle about weight-loss drug use among women, but with a completely different spin.”
EXCERPT FROM 10 SURPRISING THINGS ABOUT PARENTING IN JAPAN
On food: Kids here eat mostly very healthy…tons of rice! Lunch boxes are mainly rice balls—sometimes wrapped in seaweed—with a little egg omelet, sausage and broccoli. The tricky part is that there isn’t labeling like in the U.S. So when you buy eggs or vegetables, you don’t know if they’re organic or not. My husband thinks it’s because all the food is good quality, but it frustrates me not to know. In Brooklyn I was part of a food coop and I bought all organic…Here I just have to close my eyes and buy it!
On marriage: People work a lot fewer hours in Norway than they do in the U.S. For example, my husband works for the government for 37.5 hours per week (8am to 3:45pm, five days a week). That’s typical. Since both parents work, marriage partnerships feel much more equal here. Families tend to eat dinner together around 5pm. The housework is mostly divided, and I don’t know any husband who doesn’t help cook dinner and take care of the kids. I see just as many dads picking up their kids from Barnehage as I do moms.
For the whole series check them on Joanna blog here: Motherhood around the world
I would really love to see a series about Romania too. Thank you cupofjo.com for all this wonderful information!
This is a post I wrote back on 24 February 2016 on my previous blog. I love it even now and wanted to bring it with me here.
Have you ever wondered how will the world look like in some decades from now? I think about that quite often, with mixed feelings: with awe because I’m a very curious person and I love how new discoveries in all science areas improve our lives, and with a lil bit of fear (ok insert a little bit more fear here) because well…I’m gonna have many more years behind me. I do imagine myself as a sexy (yup yup), witty, elegant old lady but…the fear feeling is still there. Now…brushing off melancholy, I’m gonna go to the more fun part of this story. I’m gonna tell ya all boys and girls, what I imagine we’ll find in this mysterious future of ours: In about 20 years from now…
CARS WILL BE DRIVING THEMSELVES
1. The first that comes to mind is actually a classic one: I think all cars will be able to drive themselves (the option exists nowadays but it is not widespread) and people will be allowed less and less to take manual control of their vehicles. I thought about this ever since I saw this cool 2004 Will Smith movie I,robot (a must see if you’re asking me) where this very concept was introduced. It would definately solve a lot of issues, like having to get a driver’s license, saying no that beer with friends because well…you need to drive home afterwards.
However, like with all things, I like the idea of having a choice over what you want to do. There are many people around me that truly enjoy driving as a way to relax. For me, my car means only a means of transportation (a really nice one though): I really appreciate the protection it offer in rainy or snowy days or when I’m just running late, but…driving it not one of the areas I’m most passionate about. I prefer when someone else does it (like with public transport) because I get a little bit more time to read, chat with my lady friends, read the news or check my Facebook account. 🙂
KNOWING HOW TO CODE WILL BE ESSENTIAL TO EVERYDAY LIFE
Knowing how to code in some language will be as important as it is right now being able to do basic operations on a computer. Since we use technology more and more in our everyday lives (most of our work day is spent in front of a computer), I think it will be just as normal (and expected) to be able to communicate with that technology in a way it can understand and respond. For many folks, the thought is totally scary. But, try thinking of it as learning a new foreign language. If you get past the idea that coding is just for geeky geniuses that live in a totally different universe, it might even get a little bit fun. (don’t start throwing with those eggs at me just yet :p)
I admit, this is something still on my goal list so I’m not quite there either. But…still on the list.
MORE REALISTIC(AND SF) TV SHOWS
We could be able to see TV shows like 3d holograms. Imagine how it could be to be virtually in the first row at a designer presentation or if you’re a guy, to be able to actually be in the middle of a football game with the players running all around you. Crazy!
If that sounds totally like chinese to you (assuming you don’t know Chinese, that is) you can get a grasp of what I’m talking about here.
Fun game idea for you or to play with the little ones: Did you know you can create a basic 3d hologram with your phone? If you’re curious, you can find the how-tos here.
WE’LL BE ABLE TO 3D PRINT ALMOST EVERYTHING
3D printed organs will be used as mass market solution to a very wide range of purposes: from printing our clothes based on a file sent by the online shops you like (instead of waiting for days in a row to be shipped that hopefully perfect fit dress), to solve the issues caused by long transplant lists, as all organs will be created to be compatible with one’s DNA (which, to be honest, is such an awesome thing).
Even building and decorating a house will be “affected”. Imagine how awesome it will be to see that perfect coffee table “being born” in your living room and under your eyes. Honestly, I can’t wait for this stuff to become more affordable and commonly used. My wardrobe is waaaaaiting 🙂
Note: 3d printing (for objects, medical purposes, etc) exists nowadays but it is not mass affordable or mass known.
MY KIDDO WILL BE A GROWN-UP
Last but not least on the list:my son Levi will be 20 years old… A cool guy just finishing college, going to Uni and heading to his very own path in life. Sigh! OMG! This thought makes me go fill myself a glass of good wine. Cheers to that!
The weirdest thing happened. Although Levi is so much better now and that means more sleep and a more relaxed pace for all of us, I feel more and more in a low mood.
Morning: New sleepless night. Levi started to cough a lot. Finally, he will take out whatever he has inside his lungs and hopefully it will be better. Of course, he is still under treatment.
Noon: Day went in a haze. I think parenting has hallucinating effects sometimes. Lack of sleep and personal time makes for moments you loose the track of time in general. Or, in any case, you don’t really remember what is it that you did.
Ate at my parents. Levi was finally convinced to sleep for 1 hour. Until he started coughing again that is. It’s quite a drama to care for a sick kid. You suffer twice: because you love them so much and want them to be alright and because you lack sleep and a tiny bit of time to self.
I remember when I was about 5 years old, that I was playing with a balloon I was not supposed to play with, because it was not mine. And, of course, somehow, it popped.
And, as I was waiting alone outside the house for the first adult to come out and discover my deed, I was terrified. But, in a moment I still recall to this day, I said to myself: No matter what, this will pass. In a month from now, a year from now, nobody will remember this balloon and it will cease to matter. So, no matter how unpleasant it was going to be right now, time will pass and this will go away and everybody will forget.
Looking back, it was quite wise. And true.
Because I still use this today. It’s super useful in days like this. Looking ahead and knowing all will be good again, soon, makes things easier.
Evening: Made some tasty spinach pasta and a salad of tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. Yum!
After Levi fell asleep, Alex and I watched the latest Thor movie on Hbo. Remember my comment from the other day about the movies for adults only containing destruction and ego power games? Just got a new confirmation.
I do like Loki though. He has so much potential, and he is to me the most interesting character of the story so far.
But, at the same time, I always look at the negative characters and think: if someone wishes power so much, why do they destroy everything around them thinking this way they will have it? Power by force never lasts long. Historically, all dictatorships ended bad for the dictators, no matter how powerful they were at a certain moment in time.
If someone wants power and money, it seems more solid from a strategy point of view to get it by creating a place where people would love to live in, and contribute to it’s development and to the well being of the people making that development happen.
I find it that people are naturally attracted to support other people who do good by them, and that makes for a better environment. It takes longer to create change, especially if you start from humble beginnings, but it’s the smartest way to have power, money and get to live to enjoy it in the end.
Internal motivation, by inspiration is far move effective than external motivation by fear, even though the second one seems to have a quicker effect on the surface.
Looking at our political scene nowadays, not much people are in for a winning strategy, even though all want to win. Ah well. 🙂
But that’s all for tonight.
Morning: Woke up dizzy again. Levi woke up a few times last night. Nobody tells you how difficult it is to be a parent sometimes. Who would believe them anyway? 😊
Got used to do these daily logs and I actually find pleasure in recording my thoughts and feelings. This weekend I plan to have a look over all the logs so far, to see what I did from this new perspective.
Morning: Mom came by our house to go help Alex with taking Levi to the doctor. And she brought a lot of food. Yey moment! It means more budget can go in the way of travel.
Ate eggplant salad with bread for breakfast. Work.
Noon: Following the doctor consult, we were advised that Levi will need stop going to kindergarten for a longer period of time because he has flu again. Being around small children is great for bonding and playing but not so good with colds and flu. He has yet again to take a medical treatment and it hurts me to see him take chemicals. But, we need to get through this, so that’s all there is to it.
So we decided to keep him home until September and my parents will help us.
Ate a lentil soup, bread and eggplant salad. On a budget for good reason again.
Work. So many meetings today. Sigh!
Evening: Ate schnitzel and salad. This evening I felt a very very compelling need to have a beer or have some popcorn, or both. This has been a comfort thing to do when I had stressful/too full days for years. It would calm me, numb me, call it what you will. But it would ease the anxiety of the day.
Nowadays, with a small child in tow, I feel quite often the need to get rid of the buildup of anxiety at the end of the day.
But I managed to get through the evening without. Not because I have a very strong will on the subject, or for any noble reason. But because the store was not very close to home, I couldn’t eat or drink junk food/drinks until Levi was asleep which is about 10:00 pm (which is quite late to be doing those things anyway), diet (I need to loose a few kg so I don’t have to do a wardrobe change, because budget goals) and finally because I’d set up as a goal to no longer buy things that are not truly necessary. Those were some tough hours though. I moved around the house a lot.
On parenting & meaning: I’m more and more set to spend as many hours as possible with my son and as little time as possible on devices. So that he can see and later copy this behavior and not our old one. Can’t wait for Levi to get a little better so we can go to our parents house and spend time outside.
Living on a slower pace and focusing on travel and parenting and togetherness feels good. It took me a while to get here but it surely feels now more than ever that no book, or project will bring so much feeling of being content with every day that passes that human connection.
It was also good to review for me on how I deal with anxiety. Having a small child leaves very little time to self after a full day of work. Then the kiddo goes to sleep at 10:00, and I am left with some time on my hands but not a lot of energy to do much anymore. A lot of times the little time left needs to be used to to personal care stuff like cutting my nails, etc. I don’t enjoy doing this so it kinda add to the frustration. And I am aware that having a beer at the end of the day or popcorn as “comfort” is not a good solution to deal with tiredness or anxiety. Have no magic solution so far.
Looking to find people that are on a similar road to mine so I can get inspired with their stories. Do you know anyone?
Btw, how was your day today?
Morning: Levi seems a little bit cold and he woke up during the night because he needed his nose cleaned to breathe better. Didn’t get uninterrupted sleep but I have quite a lot of energy. Prepared Levi for kindergarten and then we all went our way.
Called my father to stay home with Levi for the next couple of days so little one will be able to recover. He said he’ll help so I’m totally happy for that. It’s so hard to find someone you can truly trust with your small child.
Had french lessons at work. It was the best lesson in many sessions we had.
Noon: Had Turkish food after and it was delicious too. Life has a way of bringing only the best stuff my way. I like that.
PS: notice a theme here? Thinking everything is as it is and therefore an adventure, help me put of a lot of my negative chatter and better and better things came my way.
On meaning&parenting: Since started budgeting yesterday and trying to eliminate all that is not totally mandatory while keeping the best quality in everything I do need and decide to get has put me up towards the challenging situation of finding purpose in meaning without so much help from the material part of the world.
Time passes quite fast if you take the kiddo and husband and go out to eat, because of the new destination, new stuff to do. But when you decide to remain at home, and keep a low profile with a small child, you need to put a lot of energy and imagination in the game to not get bored. Bored kids result in crazed parents. Yes, children do need to get bored a tiny bit so they get resourceful and introspective. But as all introspection times have their limits, the adults need to step up.