NEW YORK, USA: Time away from it all

NEW YORK, USA: Time away from it all

photo by Elizabeth Atalay

 

As I sit in another airport lounge at 5:00 AM waiting for my flight, I am sitting here thinking about my children and husband who are at home, still fast asleep in their warm beds. I think about what I will do on this business trip that will take me away from them for two nights. I think about how will my 3-year-old react when she wakes up to see that mommy’s not there. Will she whine and cry, or will she jump into my mother’s arms, not even asking where I am?  My 6-year-old knows not to expect me when he wakes up.  I have only just recently started telling him when I leave on a business trip. Until then it was simply mommy’s working early/late today.  I think about the extra huge hug I got from him last night before he went to bed.  “Goodnight for 2 more nights Maman” he said. 🙂

My mom will show up early today, a little earlier than she normally does, to take care of the kids, as she normally does. She will bring them back to her house this afternoon, where they won’t even notice I’m gone. They’ll sleep over there for the 2 nights that I’m gone and have a blast. It’ll be like a mini-vacation for them… easy not to think about mommy or where she is. They will go to the park, visit with my sister and her dog (who just moved back from the west coast), play in my stepfather’s office, go to sleep late and eat delicious homemade food.

My husband will come back from work and watch football, order in junk food, lay on the couch in his underwear (TMI? 🙂 ) and drink beer. He’ll enjoy the bachelor life for 2 nights while the kids and I are not home.

I’ll be working. Visiting with and entertaining clients. Making all of their problems go away.

Sleeping in a lush king sized bed by myself. Sleeping “in” not having to get breakfast or dinner for anyone else but me.

I’ll have a large bathroom countertop all to myself, which I’ll spread all of my toiletries and makeup across and not have to worry about anyone touching or moving it.

This is the routine that we have all come to accept and live with as my occasional business trips take me away from my family, thankfully for only a couple of days at a time. It all sounds like a lovely staycation for them while I’m away. But when I come home, the kids run across the house and jump into my arms. The 3-year-old tells me how she missed me. The 6-year-old wants to hear about the city I visited, and want to know what present I brought back for him. My husband will say how he felt like a part of him was missing with everyone out of the house, and how happy he is to have his family back home again. Everyone will be happy to see me. And I will be happy to see them, to tuck them in and cuddle with them as I read their bed time stories.

Being away, and coming home to their bright smiling faces, their kisses and love reminds me of why prepping of so many meals, doing loads of laundry, running all of the errands – basically being the mother – is so worth it!

And the best part is?  I get to unpack, and repack to go away again in two days, but this time with my entire family!  🙂

This is an original World Moms blog Post by Maman Aya.

Do you ever get time away from your family (either forced or voluntarily)? How do you manage it?

Maman Aya (USA)

Maman Aya is a full-time working mother of 2 beautiful children, a son who is 6 and a daughter who is two. She is raising her children in the high-pressure city of New York within a bilingual and multi-religious home. Aya was born in Canada to a French mother who then swiftly whisked her away to NYC, where she grew up and spent most of her life. She was raised following Jewish traditions and married an Irish Catholic American who doesn’t speak any other language (which did not go over too well with her mother), but who is learning French through his children. Aya enjoys her job but feels “mommy guilt” while at work. She is lucky to have the flexibility to work from home on Thursdays and recently decided to change her schedule to have “mommy Fridays”, but still feels torn about her time away from her babies. Maman Aya is not a writer by any stretch of the imagination, but has been drawn in by the mothers who write for World Moms Blog. She looks forward to joining the team and trying her hand at writing!

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INDONESIA: Baby Fever Season

INDONESIA: Baby Fever Season

ID-100161413What’s that one for?” I pointed to the rows of most beautiful shiniest rich dark sparkly brown bracelets at this meditation store.

They are for fertility.” the girl smiled warmly.

And I immediately withdraw my hand, a little too abruptly maybe followed by “Oh no! No, no, no!

Diana, my best friend couldn’t control her laugh and I giggled as we thanked the friendly shop attendant and left the store.

Yeah you definitely don’t want to go there, yet!” Diana and I laughed about it. “Obviously, we need the daddy first!” we casually cracked jokes.

Yet when I was alone in my thoughts, deep down I can’t help but wonder.

Why did I pull those?

Out of rows of many beautiful bracelets I was drawn into those specific ones. Fertility. Why?

Is it because I’ve been having some serious baby fever? Maybe from holding those cute babies at work last week, when my colleagues came to work with their babies. The sweet soft smell of them warms my heart. The feel of their soft plump little bodies against me. Their tight little grasp on my finger.

I just miss all that.

That day at the office before the big Eid holiday many of my colleagues, my self included came to work with our kids and yes, some brought their new babies.

It was chaotic in a good way. (more…)

Maureen

Founder of Single Moms Indonesia, community leader and builder. Deeply passionate about women empowerment.

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KENYA: Disability Is Not Inability

KENYA: Disability Is Not Inability

for wmbIn the US, people with physical disabilities focus on fighting stigma, on being viewed as people who can do almost anything despite of their physical limitations,  and on fighting for the world to make appropriate accommodations in order to even the playing field.

In Kenya, like so many low-income countries, people with physical disabilities, children in particular, are fighting for their very survival.

A friend, who runs a school for the disabled here, recently told me an illustrative story.   The man who founded the school was visiting a friend in a rural area and came across a disabled child who was tied to a tree while his parents went to work in the field.  The boy was left with a bowl of food and forced to defecate in the radius rope permitted.  The school founder, touched by this scene, made it his life’s work to make lives better and futures brighter for these children. (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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WORLD VOICE: Defecting is Only the Beginning

WORLD VOICE: Defecting is Only the Beginning

 

Photo by Ms. V

Photo by Ms. V

 The third week of August here in Seoul brought some extreme heat, some sun after weeks of monsoon rain, and the first ever United Nations Commission of Inquiry into human rights abuses by North Korea.

The hearings were held at a local university and while the accounts were harrowing – beatings, killings, starvation – they were nothing we haven’t heard before. For some, the fact that the UN was officially holding these hearings was a hopeful sign that the international community is poised to act on behalf of the millions of North Koreans living under that repressive regime. For others, these hearings carry little, if any, weight at all. After all, what will more talking about abuses that have been going on for three generations of the Kim family rule do to stop them?

What I found most surprising about the hearings was the almost complete lack of interest in them here in Seoul. They were very sparsely attended, journalists being the bulk of those in attendance. As an outsider, it is very challenging to understand the complicated relationship that Koreans from the south have with Koreans from the north.

In the period immediately after the war, and for a few decades after, defectors were hailed as heroes and national treasures and were taken care of by the South Korean state.  Somewhere along the road, though, attitudes began to shift. As more and more defectors made their way to South Korea, the government changed its policies for handling these North Koreans and South Korean citizens began to see them, not as heroes, but at best a nuisance and at worst a problem.

One must understand the vast differences that exist between these two countries occupying the same peninsula. North Korean defectors are shorter, less healthy, and far less educated, if at all.

Their language and speech patterns are different and they struggle to assimilate into the very fast-paced and highly technology-dependent life in the South. It is not uncommon for South Koreans to believe that North Koreans are lazy drunks and to feel embarrassed by their very existence.

The framework of Confucianism almost always provides some clarity to the cultural nuances that I don’t understand. In this case, the Confucian preoccupation with the “right way” creates an environment where differences, rather than being celebrated, are focused on and seen as inherently bad. There does not appear to be any room in the South Korean culture for an appreciation of the difference in language or mannerisms of the North Korean escapees.

NK_defectors_1990-2005 copy

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This focus on uniformity and a belief that there is one right way to do everything is apparent throughout Korean culture, and while I have observed it many times and in various situations, its application to the situation with the North Korean defectors is hard for me to wrap my brain around.

As an outsider and a guest in this country – which I must say has been mostly warm and welcoming to me and my family and a very comfortable place for us to live – my perspective is admittedly limited. Bur from where I stand, I see the heartbreaking reality that those who are courageous enough to do what is necessary to flee North Korea and make it to the south have a largely uphill battle.

South Koreans cannot undo what has been done to those in the north. They cannot erase the trauma or the long-term effects of malnutrition and suppression. What they can do is put an end to the discrimination.

Differences are often threatening at first glance, especially when they are a result of something as terrible as war. Yet, all differences are opportunities for enrichment and growth. It is a shame that the current generation of Koreans is paying for the choices of previous generations and the problem of managing the current flow of defectors, not to mention what would happen were the two Koreas to unite, is beyond overwhelming.

This we know – the North Korean regime is guilty of human rights abuses. The North Koreans who make it to the south have suffered enough and defecting is only the beginning of their very hard road in life. Hopefully the South Korean government and people can create policies that help and cultivate attitudes that heal.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog written by our South Korean contributor Ms. V.

Did you follow the news of the hearings this past week?

 

For more information about the challenges faced by North Korean defectors, you may want to read this report compiled by CrisisGroup.org

Ms. V. (South Korea)

Ms. V returned from a 3-year stint in Seoul, South Korea and is now living in the US in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her partner, their two kids, three ferocious felines, and a dog named Avon Barksdale. She grew up all over the US, mostly along the east coast, but lived in New York City longer than anywhere else, so considers NYC “home.” Her love of travel has taken her all over the world and to all but four of the 50 states. Ms. V is contemplative and sacred activist, exploring the intersection of yoga, new monasticism, feminism and social change. She is the co-director and co-founder of Samdhana-Karana Yoga: A Healing Arts Center, a non-profit yoga studio and the spiritual director for Hab Community. While not marveling at her beautiful children, she enjoys reading, cooking, and has dreams of one day sleeping again.

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NETHERLANDS: Interview with Mirjam of Apples and Roses

NETHERLANDS: Interview with Mirjam of Apples and Roses

MirjamWhere in the world do you live? And, are you from there?

I live in the Netherlands but I was born in Surinam. 

 What language(s) do you speak?

I speak Dutch, English and Surinamese and I also have a rudimentary knowledge of German and French.

 When did you first become a mother?

I became a mother almost eleven years ago, when I gave birth to my son Jason.

 Are you a stay-at-home mom or do you work?

I was a stay at home Mom but for the past couple of years I have been working one day a week. I still feel like a stay at home Mom, though.

 Why do you blog/write?

I started to blog because I needed an outlet for my creativity and a space where I could express myself. Once I started, it became so much more: a document for my kids; a report of my journey and struggle with depression; a place to inspire and encourage others; a special spot on the internet to honor my soul and mostly a mirror in which I could see myself in a positive way.

How would you say that you are different from other mothers?

This is such a tough question to answer! I think I am different because of my background. I  had some difficulties early in life that have permanently influenced my personality. I choose not to say damaged because I find, as a result, I can still grasp the concept of childhood. I still completely know what it feels like to be a child. That makes it easier to place myself in the shoes of my kids. And that is a big part of the way I parent my kids.

What do you view as the challenges of raising a child in today’s world?

It is my opinion that society nowadays encourages self-centeredness. It is all about self-fulfillment, self-development. I want to raise my children to be compassionate. I would like for their lives to be a blessing to others, that they not only live for themselves. 

How did you find World Moms Blog?

I found World Moms Blog via Twitter.

This is an original interview and our second post from our new writer in the Netherlands and mother of two, Mirjam.

Mirjam

Mirjam was born in warm, sunny Surinam, but raised in the cold, rainy Netherlands. She´s the mom of three rambunctious beauties and has been married for over a decade to the love of her life. Every day she´s challenged by combining the best and worst of two cultures at home. In what little time she has left, she enjoys being an elementary school teacher. Mirjam has battled and survived three postpartum depressions. She enjoys being a blogger, an amateur photographer, and she loves being creative in many ways. But most of all she loves live and laughter, even though sometimes she is the joke herself. You can find Mirjam at Apples and Roses where she blogs about her battle with depression and finding beauty in the simplest of things. You can also find Mirjam on Twitter.

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