It’s How You Live Your Years That Matters

It’s How You Live Your Years That Matters

locked heart

Had she not been a patient of mine and had my eye not been trained to see the telltale insults that cancer leaves on a body, I never would have known that her life was anything but perfect.

There are people like that in the world. People who smile through the worst. People who bring light to others and who know how to appreciate every moment with a vitality most of us lack.

She was one of the special ones. A special person and a patient with whom I connected on a deeper level. I was there to help guide her, but she was there to teach me about gratitude, optimism, tenacity, acceptance, love, courage and happiness.

She was an inspiration and a joy to be around. How I hoped she would be one of the few to beat the odds of metastatic breast cancer. And it looked like she might because she never stopped planning for the future or living her life in the present.

Unlike other patients and friends of hers who closed off the world or shut down when things took a turn for the worse, she never lost her huge infectious smile, energy, positive attitude or sparkle in her eyes.

Except for the last few days, and even then there was no self pity, just strength and determination. She was dying, in pain and in and out of consciousness but still fighting to hold on until her last wishes were fulfilled. She wanted her 8 year old daughter to come and say goodbye to her so her daughter would have some closure and she wanted her month old son, born to a surrogate mother, to be circumcised in Jewish tradition.

And she fought with her body to hold on. She saw her daughter for the last time and as soon as her son was circumcised later that same day, she took her last breath and our world was left a little dimmer as the light and joy that was her was released from her pain.

My only comfort is that she left behind an amazing family. A husband no less special than she, a daughter, a son, a mother, 2 sisters and a brother who all loved her deeply and will make sure that her special light and her precious gifts are not forgotten.

Every person who had the privilege of knowing her will never forget her, because although her years on this earth were short, she lived them to the fullest in a way many of us will never succeed in doing.

In these heartbreaking days in Israel, as we suffer our own private losses as well as national losses we choose to make our own, I think about my patient and the 29 young Israeli soldiers who died in the prime of their lives while fighting terrorists. Their deaths are more than just a grave loss. I think that their deaths are meant to be a “living” reminder for me. A reminder that it’s not how long you live, but rather how you live those years that you are given.

May all the families who are mourning the unfathomable loss of their loved ones somehow find the strength to continue to live life in the way they did.

And now I’m asking you all, how well are you living your years?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by our contributor, Susie Newday in Israel. You can find her on her blog New Day New Lesson.

Photo credit to author.

Susie Newday (Israel)

Susie Newday is a happily-married American-born Israeli mother of five. She is an oncology nurse, blogger and avid amateur photographer. Most importantly, Susie is a happily married mother of five amazing kids from age 8-24 and soon to be a mother in law. (Which also makes her a chef, maid, tutor, chauffeur, launderer...) Susie's blog, New Day, New Lesson, is her attempt to help others and herself view the lessons life hands all of us in a positive light. She will also be the first to admit that blogging is great free therapy as well. Susie's hope for the world? Increasing kindness, tolerance and love. You can also follow her Facebook page New Day, New Lesson where she posts her unique photos with quotes as well as gift ideas.

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GUEST POST: Greek Super Grans

GUEST POST: Greek Super Grans

The Super Greek Gran of this story is pictured above.

The Super Greek Gran of this story is pictured above.

The greatest invention EVER!!!

I hope that all you moms out there are coping with and even ENJOYING your summer vacation! Having kids at home all day and every day can be challenging even for the most organized, and creative of us, especially if we also have to work outside the home.
Do you have help with feeding, entertaining, and generally nurturing your offspring?

I wonder how many of you busy multi-taskers are as blessed and fortunate as I am to have a super-soulmate, super efficient ma-in-law to LITERALLY pick me up when I’m down and totally out of action…and yes, I did say

I have been bedridden for a while and in excruciating pain due to 3 herniated discs on my spine which have plagued me for years. Yiayia (Greek for grandma) makes sure that I have priority in getting meals and having clean clothes, then gets to work doing the same for my hubby and two teenage sons. She makes mouth watering traditional Greek pies and delish soups, so believe me, it’s almost worth suffering flat on my back so that she makes her culinary delights for us!

It’s hard to believe she was born with a severe physical disability and has undergone a series of operations over the years on her legs and hips. Although she can only walk with the aid of crutches, her doctors say that it’s a miracle she is mobile at all! At 83 years old, I truly admre her abilities and her absolute dedication to her three children and their families. The great news is that she is typical of women from her culture and generation.

In Greece, Yiayia is greatly respected and in many households a godsend for working moms. Having a hot meal on the table when your tired daughter/daughter-in-law gets back from work is an example of what Greek grannies consider their duty. Believe me, these ladies REALLY know how to cook!!! Imagine the quality of food our offspring are getting as no Greek from this generation puts takeaway or prepacked food on the table. This would be an outrage! Only dishes based on the Mediterranean diet, passed down from generation to generation are considered good enough for nurturing a healthy family. Really great, right? So, even if at times you might not see eye to eye with the older members of your clan-Greeks are exceptionally clannish-then try to remember that goodwill, especially towards your mother-in-law, has more benefits than negative aspects!

I know that in most cultures around the globe the mother/daughter-in-law dynamic is considered to be one of the trickiest and sticky to manoeuvre.

Haven’t you ever felt at some point in your relationship with the in-laws that a fistful of Prozac or a bowl full of magic mushrooms would be a blessed relief?

Come on now-be honest!

More often than not one or both women feel a  need to have the upper hand when competing for the attentions of hubby/son as well as children/grandchildren. At least in the beginning of the relationship with our new partner things can be pretty tumultuous until the boundaries and expectations are (hopefully) worked out.

My relationship with my Greek in-laws was definitely tumultuous when I first came to live in the family home 16 years ago! My husbands father was certainly NOT pleased when his boy came home with the XENI NIFI or foreign bride!!! Remember that great comedy; MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING ?
That wasn’t a comedy for me but MY LIFE!!!
It’s truly staggering how my relationship with my (now) beloved ma-in-law has progressed over the last one and a half decades! These days I think of Grandma Vasiliki as my own mother who ALWAYS supports me if I have a disagreement with her son. My poor hubby is pretty fed up hearing from his own mother that I’m more practical and wiser than he is (even if it IS true) and therefore I should have the final say in any major family decision making! I sometimes wonder if he rues the day he brought me to live in the family home. After all, the two women who are closest to him have become loving allies and so he can’t get away with anything. AT ALL! There are two sets of beady eyes constantly watching him…sound a little spooky? Well, I’m more than half Greek myself nowadays and I can tell you most Greek families really DO tend to live in each others pockets! I was actually born in the UK but such close proximity and familiarity would be considered very claustrophobic there. In Greece however, every family member feels they have a right to express an opinion about all things great and small, whether it concerns them directly or not! Usually Yiayia has the final pearl of wisdom to share…and more often than not is the wisest of all.

My husband has a great saying in Greek we use when we need a babysitter, cook, housekeeper or a shoulder to cry on. I find it hilarious although it loses something in translation;

“Greek Super Grans- the greatest invention EVER!”

Do you have a mom or mother-in-law to help out when things are tough?
Would you like someone to be this close to you and your family, or would you consider it too interfering and claustrophobic in your culture/part of the world?
What types of behavior would you find acceptable or not acceptable from a grandma?

Enjoy the rest of your vacation wherever in the world you may be!

This is a guest post by Ann Marie Wraight who lives in Greece.

World Moms Blog

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.

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blogcationSee you in two weeks with new and fresh posts from around the world!!

We’re on our annual summer/winter Blogcation’ and we’ll be back on Monday, July 21st!

In the meantime, we hope you’ll enjoy our daily dose of previous WMB posts!

World Moms Blog

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.

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UNITED KINGDOM: What’s Really in That Women’s Magazine?

UNITED KINGDOM: What’s Really in That Women’s Magazine?

Magazine Stack

I made a mistake this week, and bought a Women’s Magazine.

I know, I know. I have only myself to blame. Turkeys voting for Christmas, and all that. I haven’t bought one for so long. I’ve been doing really well. But then. Oh then…

In my defence, it looked so – fun. So cheerful and chatty and colourful.There were healthy recipes inside, it said. And – I admit – my eye snagged on a headline about summer dresses.

So I picked it up. I was at the cash till. It only took a moment to grab it, bleep it, bag it. And before I knew it, I was driving home with it.

At home I unpacked everything else first, aware of the magazine in its untouched bag as much as if it was emitting a radioactive glow. I made myself work slowly – stacking the tins of beans straight, organising the refrigerator drawer. Then I called my children and gave them snacks, and sent them out into the garden to play.

After that, I made myself a cup of tea, as though I had nothing particular planned. And then – and only then – I took the magazine out of its wrapper, and sat down to read it.

The first couple of pages were harmless. Or at least, they were nothing I couldn’t handle. Adverts, mainly – twenty-somethings draped in overpriced clothes that could only look good on them. Nothing to see here. Then a couple of placements for age-defying face creams. I read a few lines, caught myself, and moved along again.

The next page provided an unexpected giggle: beneath the legend “Coolest hot-weather buys”, an exhortation to try the latest offering from a diamond company – some sort of twisty ring from just £1,950 ($3,320) each. I made a mental note to ask my husband what he thought when he got in from work, just for laughs.

The next few pages provided tidbits on shoes, celebrity tattoos, and the new King of Spain. I flipped faster, half-aware that my kids’ voices below the window had taken on the whine that suggested some immense unfairness was about to be brought inside and laid at my feet. Sort it out between you girls, I urged them mentally.

Then I turned the page and found an article on being skinny.

I tried to turn the page but I couldn’t. My eyes were fastened on the headline: The Disturbing Rise of the Triple Zero.

I read on.

Somewhere at the back of my mind, a protest went up: Damn it! Suckered again!

Still, I read on.

So disturbing was this new trend for extreme, extreme thinness that the magazine had devoted four pages and fifteen photographs to it, along with such insights as: “It’s no secret that stars can make headlines out of being scarily skinny” (Um, Q.E.D., I think.)

I read the whole article, wanting to stop the whole time. I felt like I was standing in front of my kitchen cupboard in the middle of the night with a jar of chocolate spread and a spoon. Stop it, I told myself. It’s not good for you and you know it. Also, it’s making you feel sick.

I could hear my girls coming inside now. I pictured them arming sweat off their foreheads and tugging off dirty sneakers; saw their strong young shoulders and sinewy legs. In front of me, female skeletons struck ghoulishly sexy poses while the text explained how new ‘skinny apps’ can slim photos for Instagram by five to 15 lbs.

I realised as I read that I was thinking back to my lunch, to my breakfast, to dinner the night before, computing how much I had eaten and how many calories it might have amounted to.

Then a hand landed on my shoulder and I jumped, guiltily.

“Mu-uuum,” Betty began, flushed and aggrieved. In the other room, Grace called out a preparatory defence: “I didn’t!”

I turned to my five-year old daughter while simultaneously turning the page of my magazine. She wasn’t fooled.

‘What’s that? What’s that? What are they doing?”

“Nothing.” (The line that never works.)

Betty grabbed the magazine and pulled, and my heart thudded with horror until I saw that on turning the page I had moved us along to a feature on – ha! – learning to be brave.

“What does it say?”

“It says how you can be brave.”

“Like fighting things that frighten you?”

“Something like that.”


“Come on, let’s wash up for tea.”

Later, when the girls had gone to bed, I threw the magazine in the bin. I felt immediately braver. And healthier. And saner.

If only there was an app for that.

Thus is an original post by World Moms Blog contributor, Sophie Walker, of the United Kingdom.

Photo credit to Ian Mackenzie. This photo has a Creative Commons attribution license.

Sophie Walker (UK)

Writer, mother, runner: Sophie works for an international news agency and has written about economics, politics, trade, war, diplomacy and finance from datelines as diverse as Paris, Washington, Hong Kong, Kabul, Baghdad and Islamabad. She now lives in London with her husband, two daughters and two step-sons. Sophie's elder daughter Grace was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome several years ago. Grace is a bright, artistic girl who nonetheless struggles to fit into a world she often finds hard to understand. Sophie and Grace have come across great kindness but more often been shocked by how little people know and understand about autism and by how difficult it is to get Grace the help she needs. Sophie writes about Grace’s daily challenges, and those of the grueling training regimes she sets herself to run long-distance events in order to raise awareness and funds for Britain’s National Autistic Society so that Grace and children like her can blossom. Her book "Grace Under Pressure: Going The Distance as an Asperger's Mum" was published by Little, Brown (Piatkus) in 2012. Her blog is called Grace Under Pressure.

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KENYA: Interview with Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama of Mummy Tales

KENYA: Interview with Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama of Mummy Tales

Mummy Tales Kenya

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

I am in Kenya, East Africa. I live in the capital city of Nairobi. This is my home country, and I have lived here all my life.

What language(s) do you speak?

I communicate in fluent English and Swahili, which is our national language.

When did you first become a mother?

I first became a mother in April 2011 when I had my first son. I became a mother for the second time in April 2013 with the birth of my second son.

Are you a stay-at-home mom or do you do other work inside or outside the home?

I work as a freelance journalist, so most of the time I work from home.

Why do you blog/write?

I blog because I have a passion for informing and educating people (hence my journalism work). I specifically blog about motherhood because there is so much information that we moms could do with. Especially, because there is no manual to motherhood, you just learn things along the way. So why not learn together and from each other?

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

I really can’t say I am different from other mothers, as I see that we all go through the same challenges and have the same desire to give the best to our children. I can only say that I am extremely passionate about ensuring that our experiences and our learning moments as mothers are captured somewhere. I try to capture these moments on my blog.

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

For me it has got to be the fact that we are living in a very individualistic world, especially we who live in urban areas. Long ago, it was the entire village that would raise a child, but nowadays children are raised by their parents alone (and some are raised solely by the nannies as parents are too busy with work). When I was growing up, I knew all the homesteads within a 10 km radius, and could name all members of each household.

But that is not the same nowadays, where even knowing your next door neighbour is too much work! Society is so busy, with technology (computers, cell phones, video games) lessening the interaction of both parents and children. I fear my sons may never enjoy what ‘communal parenting’ is like.

How did you find World Moms Blog?

On twitter!

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama of Mummy Tales.

Photo credit to the author.

Maryanne Waweru Wanyama

Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama, a mother of two boys, writes for a living. She lives in Nairobi, Kenya with her family. Maryanne, a Christian who is passionate about telling stories, hopes blogging will be a good way for her to engage in her foremost passion as she spreads the message of hope and faith through her own experiences and those of other women, children, mums and dads. She can be found at Mummy Tales.

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