NEVADA, USA: Kindergarten Commencement

NEVADA, USA: Kindergarten Commencement

KinderGradEarlier this month I attended my son’s graduation ceremony. He looked so handsome in his bright red cap and gown, smiling proudly at all he has accomplished. He clutched his little blue diploma when they called his name, and I was overcome with emotions that felt out of place. Especially considering the fact that my son had just finished Kindergarten.

Literally. (more…)

Roxanne (USA)

Roxanne is a single mother to a 9-year-old superhero (who was born 7 weeks premature), living in the biggest little city and blogging all about her journey at Unintentionally Brilliant. She works as a Program Coordinator for the NevadaTeach program at the University of Nevada, Reno. Roxanne has a B.A. in English from Sierra Nevada College. She has about 5 novels in progress and dreams about completing one before her son goes to high school.

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SINGAPORE: Celebrating Fatherhood

SINGAPORE: Celebrating Fatherhood

DSC_2005_2We continue honoring the fathers out there, even after Father’s Day! Today, Veena writes about her thoughts on the roles of fathers, and their unique hallmarks. 

Motherhood and Mother’s Day are celebrated the world over – but  how much does the world really realise a father’s sacrifices for his family?

According to Merriam-Webster, a father is :

fa·ther  (fär)

n.

a. A male person whose sperm unites with an egg, resulting in the conception of a child.

b. A man who adopts a child.

c. A man who raises a child.

As mothers, we all know the amount of work involved in raising a child. So, how many of you would agree to the first definition of a father – sperm uniting with an egg? Or even the second?

A father – in the truest sense of the word – is one who begets a child and stands up for the mother and child through thick and thin. He is there during the sunny times and rainy days, during happiness and sorrow. And through sickness and health.

I am a full-time working mother – made possible only with the complete support of my husband. When I have to travel on business trips, or stay late at office, he is there for my Li’l One.

India (where I am from) is a patriarchal society with the men taking the upper hand in most spheres of life and work. When a girl gets married, she is usually expected to resign if her husband (or his family) doesn’t want her to work (often with no regard to her wish to continue working), she may have to move to a new city if her husband is located there, and more often than not, she is expected to give up her job once she has a kid. Or if the husband gets a posting abroad, the wife just has to drop everything and follow him there.

Sometimes when I go home, there are relatives who look askance when I say I have to attend a call or a meeting, or that I have no time for some thing. According to some of them, I should be devoting more time to womanly pursuits – like cooking, attending Church or some such activity.

This is quite funny, because my paternal Grandfather was a person who believed in a girl’s right to education and managed to get all 3 of his daughters educated and in government jobs. And he had just 2 granddaughters (me and a cousin) from a brood of 10 grand-kids, and both of us are full-time working mothers. Needless to say, none of the women who married into the family are working outside the house (for various reasons).

I have nothing against home makers – my Mother is one herself – and I am eternally thankful to her for her decision to stay home and look after us. All I am saying is that no one has any right to judge whether a woman should work or not, and decide what should be her priorities in life.

Now, I have a tremendous opportunity to move to Singapore, and my husband is again there for me – completely supporting my decision, and ready to move over as a family – not heeding any unwanted voices that may whisper about the inappropriateness of a husband moving because of his wife’s work priorities.

So far, I have just seen a single friend who moved abroad because his wife was transferred there on a project. And here I am – honoured to have such a caring person as a partner. He is always there with a helping hand in the kitchen (one place I detest). He has a bad back, and yet refuses to let me carry the heavy stuff. Every time I am back from my business trips, he insists on driving over with Li’l One to the airport, so that I don’t have to worry about getting a cab late at night. And no matter how worn out he is, he always has a smile for Li’l One and me.

In fact, it is all there in the little things – the way he always slows down the car to allow a person to cross the road, or a car waiting at a U-turn to take the turn. Or the pains he has taken to win over my family, in spite of us having an intercaste marriage (a terrible taboo in India) and even after having been subtly snubbed by some of my extended family (something that could very well result in cutting ties with the wife’s family forever).  Or even the times he has packed up the house during the umpteen moves we have had ( 6 in the last 7 years), and let me go to a friend’s place or my home (and yes, I offered to stay and do the packing, but he was insistent that I leave it all to him).

Here is a salute to Fathers all over the world!

What makes your partner the best in the world? How does he help you out in your day? 

Veena Davis (Singapore)

Veena has experienced living in different climes of Asia - born and brought up in the hot Middle East, and a native of India from the state known as God’s Own Country, she is currently based in the tropical city-state of Singapore. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ Several years ago, she came across World Moms Network (then World Moms Blog) soon after its launch, and was thrilled to become a contributor. She has a 11-year old son and a quadragenarian husband (although their ages might be inversed to see how they are with each other sometimes). ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ On a professional front, she works in the financial sector - just till she earns enough to commit to her dream job of full-time bibliophile. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ You can also find Veena at her personal blog, Merry Musing. ⠀

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CASTING A WIDER NET: Parenting in a Time of War

CASTING A WIDER NET: Parenting in a Time of War

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Our “Casting a Wider Net” series features mothers around the world whose voices have typically been excluded from the blogosphere, due to lack of access to the internet, low literacy or poverty. This feature aims to include their important and distinct perspectives with interviews and occasional video clips.

My grandmother, even at 91, never ceases to amaze me.  She has fought back from accidents and illness, car wrecks and strokes, with unexpected strength and optimism, probably from a deep drive to feel fully engaged in the world.  When my grandfather, the love of her life, widowed her over 30 years ago, she saw past her grief to discover new joys, taking up folk dancing and beginning a new career as a pre-school teacher.  Today, her hands shake, the result of essential tremors, but that was beside the point when she decided to take up pottery – a unquestionably physical art form  – in her 8th decade of life.  Her brightly colored ceramic creations fill her small apartment and she makes gifts of them for her 5 grandchildren and growing brood of “greats.”

But it’s not just her zest that draws you in.  She’s warm, the kind of woman it’s easy to open up to, a good listener and curious question-asker. It’s probably this quality, along with her undeniably sweet demeanor, that has kept her in companionship since my grandfather passed.  And it’s this quality that made me want to turn the tables and ask her questions. (more…)

Mama Mzungu (Kenya)

Originally from Chicago, Kim has dabbled in world travel through her 20s and is finally realizing her dream of living and working in Western Kenya with her husband and two small boys, Caleb and Emmet. She writes about tension of looking at what the family left in the US and feeling like they live a relatively simple life, and then looking at their neighbors and feeling embarrassed by their riches. She writes about clumsily navigating the inevitable cultural differences and learning every day that we share more than we don’t. Come visit her at Mama Mzungu.

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SOCIAL GOOD: Face To Face With Poverty In Delhi’s Slums

SOCIAL GOOD: Face To Face With Poverty In Delhi’s Slums

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A pregnant mothers group at one of the slums served by Save the Children. Photo By Nicole Melancon

At the end of May I had the honor of traveling to India along with Jennifer James, founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good, a global coalition of mom bloggers who use our voice through blogging and social media to spread awareness, education and support to the various NGOs around the world that are making a difference.

The purpose of our trip to India was to meet face to face with some of our partner NGOs and see firsthand some of the issues we cover as part of Mom Bloggers for Social Good: Maternal and newborn health, food and water poverty, sanitation issues, and education for women and girls.

Although this was not my first time to India (I had visited India a few years ago as a tourist) it was my first time going in a much different role: As a social good blogger and advocate.  Seeing India in a different framework was utterly life changing.

India is perhaps one of the most fascinating places I’ve ever been and with its enormous population, and sensational culture comes issues that are often overwhelming to comprehend.  Most people are aware of the huge inequities and poverty strangling India. Although India has seen rapid economic growth over the last decade, the gap between rich and poor has become even wider and more profound. As migrant families leave their villages in rural India and come to the big cities in search for a better life, the growth of urban slums, many in deplorable conditions, continues at unmanageable rates. In just Delhi alone, there are thousands of them. And as almost half a million migrants come to Delhi alone each year, many of them end up populating the already over-crowded urban slums that can be found all throughout the city, even alongside some of Delhi’s most expensive neighborhoods.

Our mission in India was to visit the heart of Delhi’s slums to see the issues firsthand and meet with our partner NGOs who are on the ground and making a difference in people’s lives.

It was not an easy trip. The weather was scorching hot with highs nearing 120 degrees Fahrenheit and visiting an urban slum in itself is heartbreaking and shocking. Although I’ve experienced poverty many times before in my travels I wasn’t prepared for the enormous magnitude of desperation that I found in India.

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Girls learning at Pratham. Photo by Nicole Melancon

The highlight of our entire trip happened on our first day. We met with a small Indian non-profit organization called Protsahan. Founded by young Indian social entrepreneur Sonal Kapoor, Protsahan, uses a unique approach to teaching and inspiring young, underprivileged girls who come from some of the most tragic circumstances possible. All are poor, and many have been abused and have little opportunity to get an education or a way out of the poverty they were born into. Protsahan, which means “encouragement” uses the arts as a means to inspire, teach and motivate the girls to learn and strive for a brighter future. It was a heartwarming experience meeting Sonal and the girls that were striving to succeed and climb out of poverty.  I left wishing we could stay longer. The love and tenderness of Sonal for the girls was overwhelming and made me realize that anyone can make a difference in the world and impact the lives of others.

Our second day was spent visiting another education-focused NGO called Pratham, which is the largest NGO working in India to provide quality education to the country’s millions of underprivileged children. We visited a Hub Center supporting 150 children that was located in a slum in Trilokpuri, East Delhi.  The program model was slightly different from Protsahan as the classes were co-ed and also were offered for a minimal, yet affordable fee. Classes began at preschool age and continued on to more advanced English as well as vocational courses. What makes Pratham so unique is its approach to working with the government to create change.

Our final day was spent visiting two big NGOs, Save the Children and WaterAid, where we were able to do two field visits to different urban slums to see their work. In the morning , we visited some of Save the Children’s projects within the Okhla Industrial Area that hosts garment factories, home to over thousands of families living in unauthorized slums.  Save the Children provides a variety of services to the slum such as a mobile health van where people can receive basic health care services, medication, and prenatal and newborn health check-ups which is extremely important in cutting maternal and newborn mortality rates. We also attended one of the weekly meetings for pregnant mothers where they are taught the skills needed to ensure their children’s survival.

We ended our day with WaterAid, an NGO that works all over the world to provide safe drinking water and sanitation services.

Ironically, we visited an unauthorized slum built right outside the lush, grand American Embassy.

Unauthorized slums are by far the most devastating places to live. Many do not have running water or sewer systems, which significantly threatens the health and livelihood of the people.  At the Vivekanansa slum, we toured one of WaterAid’s Community Toilet Compounds (CTC) which provides safe, clean toilets to the hundreds of families that live in the community. WaterAid operates 78 CTCs all over Delhi as well as CTCs throughout India. The importance of having a CTC cannot be understated. Not only does it provide dignity, it also helps stop serious diseases which kills many children each year.

I left India feeling intense emotions. There were so many enormous issues that at times it was completely overwhelming. Yet, meeting some of the NGOS and people on the ground who are saving lives and making the world a better place, sometimes one person at a time, inspired hope that change can be made.

This is an original World Moms Blog post written by Nicole Melancon of ThirdEyeMom .

Have you been to India, or experienced the juxtaposition of these types of extremes?

 

Nicole Melancon (USA)

Third Eye Mom is a stay-at-home mom living in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her two children Max (6) and Sophia (4). Her children keep her continually busy and she is constantly amazed by the imagination, energy and joy of life that they possess! A world wanderer at heart, she has also been fortunate to have visited over 30 countries by either traveling, working, studying or volunteering and she continues to keep on the traveling path. A graduate of French and International Relations from the University of Wisconsin Madison, where she met her husband Paul, she has always been a Midwest gal living in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Chicago. This adventurous mom loves to be outside doing anything athletic (hiking, running, biking, skiing, snowshoeing or simply enjoying nature), to travel and volunteer abroad, to write, and to spend time with her beloved family and friends. Her latest venture involves her dream to raise enough money on her own to build and open a brand-new school in rural Nepal, and to teach her children to live compassionately, open-minded lives that understand different cultures and the importance of giving back to those in need. Third Eye Mom believes strongly in the value of making a difference in the world, no matter how small it may be. If there is a will, there is a way, and that anything is possible (as long as you set your heart and mind to it!). Visit her on her blog, Thirdeyemom, where she writes about her travels and experiences in other lands!

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BRAZIL: My Birth Story, Part III: A Rewarding Peace

BRAZIL: My Birth Story, Part III: A Rewarding Peace

Today’s post is a continuation of a South American birth story from our contributor in Brazil, Eco Ziva.  Click here for part one  and part two of her birth story on World Moms Blog. 
 

Pregnant Woman with Globe

Coincidence or not, about five minutes after the encouraging message the contractions began. At first I didn’t want to admit they were contractions – not even to myself. It is true that they were different from any kind of contraction I had felt before. They were restricted to a small area of my lower abdomen and were less painful. By then my husband had already filled in the tub and after a while I finally accepted I was in active labor and agreed that he turn on the water heater.

The warm water calmed me and I managed to get all thoughts out of my mind. The fear was completely gone. I soon figured out that each contraction lasted exactly the time it took for me to mentally recite four prayers I knew by heart due to my Catholic upbringing: Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Guardian Angel and the Saint Germain prayers. I used that as a meditation and it made the contractions quite bearable.

What was happening around me is all jumbled in my mind and I don’t really remember. I know that our daughter had become fully awake, while our son completely blacked out no matter how much his father tried to wake him. My husband was also running around back and forth organizing things (I think).

The midwife arrived at around 11:30 p.m. with her daughter (an apprentice midwife), a doula, and her sister, an acupuncturist. After talking with them for a while I reluctantly left the water to be examined. The baby’s heartbeat was fine and I was 7 cm dilated.

Since my daughter’s labor had progressed a bit faster I was slightly discouraged thinking I still had another hour or so before reaching full dilation. However, at this point the midwife asked permission to try something new with me. She (who is also an acupuncturist) and her sister had recently learned a way to diminish the pain in labor and I would be the first they would try it on. They also wanted to try a technique where I would push as little as possible and let the baby come out softly in order to avoid tearing (this was due to my big babies and the enormous tear I had the previous time).

No, the pain did not diminish (much to the contrary!). Yet what happened after she placed the acupuncture needles was equally amazing. Things sped up considerably and in two or three contractions I felt like pushing. Not only did I feel like pushing but I couldn’t help it – so much for letting the baby come out slowly! Differently from my previous labor processes, where the pushing phase felt much more like a need to go to the bathroom, this time these contractions were quite painful.

During my daughter’s labor process I held back for a while during the pushing phase because I was afraid of tearing. This time I just wanted to get it over with and see our son. Not simply get over with labor – I wanted to put it all behind me, all the months of illness after illness, all the fear, and now the pain.

At some point our daughter (who was watching everything outside the tub, right behind me) started crying, I guess from all the faces I was making as I pushed. I reassured her mommy was fine and my husband picked her up.

I pushed so hard I began to feel my blood pressure drop as if I was going to faint. I asked for the water-honey mixture my husband had prepared while the midwife pressed an acupressure point straight below my nose, and I soon felt better.

I checked to see how far the baby was from crowning and was once again discouraged when I felt the head about 10 cm away. The midwife reassured me that it wouldn’t take long for him to descend and in the next contraction I pushed with all my might. I checked again and the seemed the distance seemed to have decreased by half.

Amidst all this, everyone in the room was singing a beautiful song that talked of world peace, union and love. What a wonderful way to welcome a new being onto this planet! Over the next days this song was in my head, and every time a warm feeling came to my heart, along with a wish that more children could come into the world in such a loving, harmonious way. I truly believe it would contribute to a more peaceful Earth.

Two or three contractions later he emerged. It was 34 minutes past midnight. I remember the first words the midwife told me, smiling, were “You broke a record!”

I asked if the cord was around his neck and she said yes and removed it. Then he came straight to my breast. I had felt a great sense of relief and contentment after my two other children were born – even after the C-section, but nothing can be compared to this time. All of a sudden I felt like a completely new woman, fearless and full of energy, and who seemed to never have been ill or in pain.

After the cord stopped pulsating, my husband cut it and we waited for the placenta, chatting excitedly. I had thought of having a Lotus birth, but after so much havoc I realized now I just wanted to rest. I donated the placenta to the midwife as she uses it to make homeopathic medicine.

All in all – despite the initial fear and panic – it was a wonderful birth, a great gift after such a difficult pregnancy. As I finish writing this our beautiful baby boy (the best gift of this entire story!) is sleeping peacefully next to me.

How was/were your birthing experience(s)? Please share.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our mother of three in Brazil, Eco Ziva.

Ecoziva (Brazil)

Eco, from the greek oikos means home; Ziva has many meanings and roots, including Hebrew (brilliance, light), Slovenian (goddess of life) and Sanskrit (blessing). In Brazil, where EcoZiva has lived for most of her life, giving birth is often termed “giving the light”; thus, she thought, a mother is “home to light” during the nine months of pregnancy, and so the penname EcoZiva came to be for World Moms Blog. Born in the USA in a multi-ethnic extended family, EcoZiva is married and the mother of two boys (aged 12 and three) and a five-year-old girl and a three yearboy. She is trained as a biologist and presently an university researcher/professor, but also a volunteer at the local environmental movement.

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