It happens every night when I lay my head on the pillow. I replay many of the day’s events back over in my mind. “Was I good friend, wife, sister, daughter, etc.? Was I good mother to my children? Did I set a good example?”
However, the events which have been playing over in my mind more and more frequently are the times I am not sure if I really listened to my children. “What was it my daughter was telling me about a friend of hers at school as I was hurriedly sending a text to my friend? What was my son showing me that he learned on his new video game as I nodded and pretended to see him play it while I sent an email?”
I know we all get caught up in this thing called life, but are we really present for our children?
At any one minute during the day, I feel like I have a laundry list of things to get done. A lot of times, I find myself sitting listening to my daughter read, and I am making a mental list in my mind of what I need to get from the grocery store. When I’m driving the kids to school, and they are in the backseat laughing, I am thinking of the things I need to get done that day while they are in school. What were they laughing about? I don’t know because I wasn’t really listening. And, that makes me a little sad.
I know one day, I’ll look in my rear-view mirror and they will be in junior high and then high school and they won’t be my little children anymore.
I have read so many articles and talked to so many friends about our kids being able to pay attention to what we, as parents, say. We have talked and discussed how too much time on electronics isn’t good for their attention. What about us as parents? It became crystal clear to me a few weeks ago when I took my children to the park. My son was on the swing, and I received a text from a friend. I was replying to her text while my son was saying something to me and I remember nodding and saying “Okay.” It turns out that he asked me if I would pay him a quarter for every time he jumped off the swing. You can imagine how surprised I was when he told me I had to pay him $4.50 for jumping 18 times!!!
These past few weeks, I have been thinking about how I have approached mothering, and I think I had something wrong. For some of you this may not be earth shattering, but for me it was ground breaking. And here it is…I will never be done with a grocery list, laundry list, cleaning, cooking, etc. There will always be broken things which need fixing and plants needing to be watered.
I was approaching things in my mind as things to check off like a list. I was thinking of my days as a destination, and that just isn’t how life is. In my head I thought if I get that grocery list done, then it is complete. If I finish this load of laundry, then it is done. But, the truth is, neither of those tasks are ever done, and unfortunately, I feel that I have wasted some of my precious time with my children using that approach.
I have started to look at my life as a journey and to try to enjoy it more along the way.
Coming to this realization has freed me to sit with my daughter and just listen to her read for 20 minutes without my phone right next to me. I don’t have to answer texts right away. I am able to watch my son play his new video game and show me his new trick because the laundry will always pile up, and I can get to it after I take 10 minutes to listen to him. I am waking up 10 minutes earlier to get lunches packed so I can talk to my kids in the morning while they are eating breakfast. I am taking a little of the pressure off myself to get everything done. I am getting most things done, and the things I don’t get to can wait until tomorrow if it means I can have some extra special moments with my kids.
I have found that slowing down my mind and my “to-do” list have made me a bit more calm, and in turn, it has helped me to be in the moment with my kids. Every night, we have dinner together and there is a “no toy and no electronics rule” at the table. It’s a time for our family to really listen to each other and make sure that we have a few minutes to “check in” all together as a family.
The one thing that won’t always be there are my 5 and 8 year olds. They are only like that for one year and then they just keep growing and growing and there isn’t anything I can do about it. As I look at them in my rear-view mirror, I want to know that I have really enjoyed them and not regret not spending precious time with them.
Do you have a way to really be “in the moment” with your children?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Meredith. You can check out Meredith’s life in Nigeria and her transition back on her blog at www.wefoundhappiness.blogspot.com.
Meredith finds it difficult to tell anyone where she is from exactly! She grew up in several states, but mainly Illinois. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana which is also where she met her husband. She taught kindergarten for seven years before she adopted her son from Guatemala and then gave birth to her daughter two years leter. She moved to Lagos, Nigeria with her husband and two children in July 2009 for her husband's work. She and her family moved back to the U.S.this summer(August 2012) and are adjusting to life back in the U.S. You can read more about her life in Lagos and her adjustment to being back on her blog: We Found Happiness.
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of a fellow World Mom, Neta. Neta, who was a good friend of our contributor, Susie Newday in Israel, lost her fight today with metatastic breast cancer. Our thoughts and sincere condolences from around the world are with her family and friends today.
Neta volunteered an interview about her life of living with metatastic breast cancer on World Moms Blog with the hopes of encouraging more mothers to get tested.
Neta sat down with World Mom contributor, Susie Newday in Israel to talk about living her life with metastasis breast cancer.
Goodbye, Neta. Thank you so much for letting us get to know you and for sharing what you knew with all of us. For that, we are forever grateful.
World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children.
World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.
My Little One started school during the New Year, and it was with great trepidation that we approached his impending education. And this was for many reasons…
For one thing, he knew no other language but our native tongue. And we were very concerned about how he’d interact in school. In fact, we were more concerned about how the teacher could understand him as there was no one who spoke or wrote the language at his school.
Second, this was truly his first foray into the outside world. He has lived a very sheltered 4 years, and was always at home with nearly no interaction with peers of his own age. This wasn’t intentional, rather, it just happened that everywhere we lived, the kids were always much bigger than him; and, he was also very shy.
Third, was for ourselves. We really had no clue on how to go about educating a little child. Both of us remember our mothers teaching us, but that was when we were much older. How does one go about getting a 4 year old to hold his pencil and learn the alphabet? What does one do when he says he wants to play now and study later? Do we force him to learn, or just let it go?
Despite our misgivings, our son started school on Jan 2nd, and the first day went okay. The school permitted parents to sit with kids on the first day, and we had a nice time watching the proceedings. The second day was when the waterworks started, and that lasted till last week.
Every morning, he’d wake up even before the alarm, and ask me if it was time for school. It is heart-wrenching to hear that plaintive tone in his voice…but as advised by many, we were not taking no for an answer. Come rain or shine, he had to go to school.
Then came the homework – for the first time, he had to write “A,B,C”, and we weren’t really sure how to tackle it either. Since neither my husband, nor I, were too endowed in the patience department, we didn’t have such a great time these past 2 months. Most days were filled with screams and cries as we forced the little thing to hold his pencil and write. And you know the funny thing – after we had screamed at him for inverting his Bs or not getting the right slant for his As, he would come up to us after an hour or so, and write a perfect A and B.
I know, we were horrible to him – and our only excuse is that we didn’t want to appear to be too lenient and that he get the impression that it was okay not to want to learn. And I don’t know if it was the terror of the home classes that made it doubly difficult for him to adjust to school, where everything was foreign to him.
You see, we feel like we are living a race now – once we get back home after work, we just have time for a bath and to eat, as Little One must be in bed atleast by 10, so that he wakes up fresh at 7 the next day for school.
But two weeks ago, we made the decision not to pressure him so much – because we were also distressed on seeing his pitiful face every time he had to learn something. We decided that any homework would be finished off speedily by holding his hand and helping him write it, while learning it would be done during the weekends, when there was no pressure on any one.
And I don’t know if it was this decision, or as Little One has made friends and adjusted to school – but since last week, he hasn’t cried at all when going to school. He seems more happy about school, and he keeps singing songs they sing in school. He tells me about the kids in his class (he is already interested in girls) and what he ate and the general happenings in school.
And the atmosphere at home is also different now, with him being happy about school and life in general feels so much more lighter and happier. The lesson I’ve learned from the school fiasco is not to pressurise kids so much that they lose all zest for life. His sad face, and moping around all evening was so depressing, and frankly, I was dreading the years up ahead.
After all, he is just 4 years old, and he is a bright little spark. Let him have his fun and the learning will come slowly.
Have you ever faced a situation like this? What do you do to get your kids to study?
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. ⠀
In about three months our lives will drastically change. My husband and I, with our two little girls, will leave the place we’ve called home for the last six years. We will probably never return.
When we first came to Congo, we didn’t know much about the place, we didn’t know a soul here and we definitely didn’t have plans to start a family in this country. My, how everything’s changed.
Just as we had a “feeling” we should move to Congo. Now we have that same “feeling” that it’s time for us to leave. It just feels right and we have wonderful plans on the horizon, but boy is this hard. In fact, we’re feeling a bit lost in our last months here. This is the only home our children have ever known. Our girls have been loved by the nanny or “Mama” who’s helped us raise them for as long as they’ve been loved by us. This will be hard, but it is time.
And so I have lots of questions about how to do this, but more importantly how to do this right. Will there be something meaningful I forget to say or do? Do we make a big deal out of our last goodbyes? Or are our children really too young to understand? There will be tears. There might even be sobs. I hope we don’t needlessly upset them.
I can’t help but think about how much easier our departure would be if we didn’t have children. Their two little lives became a game changer for us living in Congo. Once we had children and the people around us began to care for them and love them, I could feel the roots sprout from my feet and bind us here. They helped us burp our girls when they were babies, nurse them back to health when they were sick, they’ve memorized their every tick and tock. This will be hard, but it is time.
Will our children have any authentic memories from these first years of their lives? Or will their only understanding of Congo come through the stories we tell them over and over? Will the photos they see when they’re older be the only images that remain in their heads? This will be hard, but it is time.
My husband and I always say the hardest part about living abroad is the leaving part. Goodbyes in your host country are usually forever. Sure, it’s hard leaving the United States and saying goodbye to parents and grandparents, but you know they’ll always be a part of your life. You’ll see them again. They’re your home base. They have the internet and email and Facebook and all those other lovely things that keep up connected to those we care about in the States.
When we leave Congo, there will be no email updates. We will not see pictures of the loved ones we leave here. We will miss births and weddings and all the minutiae in between that founded our friendships. This will be hard, but it is still the right time.
Has anyone left the country in which you’ve raised your children, never to return? Was there anything you did to make your last days meaningful or your departure easier?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Sarah. You can find Sarah blogging with Jill Humphrey at Mama Congo.
“You Matter”. The revelation that those two words can change the world seems so simple, so intuitive, yet those are not words that young people are used to hearing. Angela Maiers a long time educator, and founder of Choose2Matter decided that those two little words could be revolutionary. With her passion and enthusiasm behind the idea that we each have a unique genius to contribute, it is no wonder that her 2007 TEDx talk went viral. Thus the Choose2Matter movement was born.
“We were created for significance and one of the most dangerous things that can happen to us is the feeling that we don’t matter.”- Angela Maiers
Angela points out that she is not talking about an ego thing, studies show that feeling like you matter is a basic human need. The genius she sees in all of us is each individuals’ ability to problem solve from their own unique personal perspective. What started out as a digital community has now evolved into Choose2Matter Live events at schools across the U.S.A. In my mind perhaps no one needs to hear this more than high school kids who are in the process of self-discovery, so I was thrilled when the two-day Choose2Matter Live workshop came to my daughter’s public high school in Rhode Island.
The first thing the kids learned was the Choose2Matter Manifesto: You are enough, you have influence, you are a genius, you have a contribution to make, you have a gift that others need, your actions define our impact, you are the change, you matter. If they did not believe it before, they were now introduced to the idea that their voices and their actions can help others. The examples shown to this new group of kids of ways in which students have already made an impact through Choose2Matter are remarkable.
Honestly though, who doesn’t need to hear this manifesto? Even as adults the feeling that we matter is essential. This is an ideology that we frequently see first hand here at World Moms Blog, the power of one person, one idea brought to fruition, and how it can positively impact entire communities. Kristyn Zalota launched CleanBirth.org to provide safe birth for mothers in Laos, Alison Fraser started www.mom2momafrica to support the education of women and girls in Tanzania, and the founder of World Moms Blog Jennifer Burden created this global community of mothers from around the world when she couldn’t find what she was searching for online. These are just three examples of the many ways World moms Blog Contributors and Editors are using their passions and voices to make the world a better place. Their accomplishments inspire me to strive to do more in my own life, through their achievements I can see the possibilities when one puts their mind to solving a problem.
A Heart-Break Map
After the introduction, when the kids broke out into groups of “heart-break mapping” to narrow down what breaks their hearts about the world, and then come up with solutions of what they can do about it, my heart burst open. Kids narrowed down their heart breaks into solvable problems, some chose to be brave about sensitive issues they knew first hand to use their experience to try to help others. Due to a snow-day a room full of high school kids chose to voluntarily return to school on the saturday before vacation week to follow through on their ideas. It was truly amazing to watch these kids come together and talk through some of the major issues impacting society. I witnessed at least three new websites being born to begin to address some of their heart breaks , self-harm, depression, and body image issues for girls. These kids got it. As Angela and her colleague Mark told the kids, these ideas may not be the ones to solve a problem, but you are just building your muscles here, you are just getting started.
The lessons the kids at my daughter’s high school learned in those two days are sure to stay with them. The empowerment of knowing that they do matter, that they are capable of making a difference is huge. The students were left with the message that they are the ones who will need to come up with the answers to the world’s most pressing problems, because us adults just may not have all the answers. (But that is one thing I think all teenagers already seem know.)
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Elizabeth Atalay of Documama.
Do you have any great examples of the power of one person who made an impact to share?
Elizabeth Atalay is a Digital Media Producer, Managing Editor at World Moms Network, and a Social Media Manager. She was a 2015 United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, and traveled to Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow to report on newborn health in 2014. On her personal blog, Documama.org, she uses digital media as a new medium for her background as a documentarian. After having worked on Feature Films and Television series for FOX, NBC, MGM, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Castle Rock Pictures, she studied documentary filmmaking and anthropology earning a Masters degree in Media Studies from The New School in New York. Since becoming a Digital Media Producer she has worked on social media campaigns for non-profits such as Save The Children, WaterAid, ONE.org, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, American Heart Association, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on ONE.org, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter.com, EnoughProject.org, GaviAlliance.org, and Worldmomsnetwork.com. Elizabeth has traveled to 70 countries around the world, most recently to Haiti with Artisan Business Network to visit artisans in partnership with Macy’s Heart of Haiti line, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans. Elizabeth lives in New England with her husband and four children.