A truly marvelous thing happened to me this month. Or perhaps more accurately, it was a series of interconnected events. Thanks to social media, I have reconnected with some of my closest friends from the past after a gap of about three decades. This has been a real roller coaster ride of fluctuating emotions. Rediscovering these special people from my childhood has triggered highs of emotions that I don’t remember experiencing since giving birth to my children.
Comparing our stories and memories of shared events has caused me to experience a real epiphany: people don’t always see us in the same way we see ourselves. For me this has caused real joy…and relief!
Since leaving England to live in southern Europe I have tried my best to reinvent myself. I wanted to leave behind the troubled child and young woman who never felt comfortable in her own skin, who was complex to an extreme degree because she was motherless from six years old and fatherless from 15. The memories of holiday gatherings and celebrations where I felt awkward and depressed were pretty difficult to shake off. The flighty attention seeking behaviour I used to exhibit as a teen has terrorised me over the years during many a losing battle with insomnia. It is true to say that I’m fairly embarrassed about the teenage girl I once was.
Although a good student and very quiet during lessons, the breaks/recess were a completely different story. I remember being loud and pretty flirtatious…yes, that makes me really blush now! It was my way of trying to get some of the attention I was desperately lacking at home. Quite simply, I don’t feel proud of the teenager I was. The memory I have imprinted of that time was OTT or Over The Top.
The staggering thing for me this month has been to learn that after three decades of avoiding trips down memory lane, those closest to me didn’t see things in the same way. One of my friends described me as being “witty, smart and knowing how things worked.” Another ‘bestie’ told me she found me funny, fun to be with and pretty mysterious as I didn’t like to talk about my family life.
Really? That’s how they saw me? Playful and teasing but NOT anywhere near as bad as I thought?
I have avoided going to reunions for all these decades because I was embarrassed to ‘inflict’ myself on my old schoolmates?
Wow! If only I had known all this earlier! I’m sure I would have been a much more confident young woman with a much brighter self image!
One of these old friends stayed up until the wee hours of the morning last night to scan and send me photos of our school exchange trip to Berlin, Germany, in the late 80’s. I realised that even after all these years good, decent kids usually remain good, decent adults and GREAT friends, too!
My message to you is keep tight hold of your childhood buddies and those closest to you. At some point down the road when you look back on your life, it is those people who will reaffirm the good in you and show you how others see us. These ‘treasures’ are priceless especially to those with low self-esteem.
Encourage your kids to keep up the ties they are forming now, and GO TO SCHOOL REUNIONS!
How many of you still keep contact with best friends from childhood? Do you think that you see yourself the same way as those closest to you, or do you tend to be more self-critical?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Ann Marie Wraight of Greece. Photo credit to the author.
Having lived in 4 different countries, Ann Marie finds it difficult to give a short answer about where she's from. She regards herself: Brit by birth, Aussie by nature, with a sprinkling of Greek and German based on her insatiable appetite for tasty food and chilled beer!
This World Mom has been married to her Greek soulmate for 16 years and they are the proud but constantly challenged parents of two overactive teenage boys. (She secretly wonders sometimes if she was given the wrong babies when she left the maternity clinic.) She can't explain the fascination and ability that her 13 and 14 year-olds show in math and physics or that both boys are ranked 1st and 2nd nationally in judo. Ann Marie can only conclude that those years of breastfeeding, eating home cooked meals and home tutoring really DO make a difference in academic and physical performance! The family is keeping its fingers crossed that---with the awful economic crash in Greece---continued excellence in math and/or judo will lead to university scholarships...
In addition to writing, enjoying a good glass of wine and movies, Ann Marie also works as a teacher and tends their small, free-range farm in the Greek countryside.
“Have you ever gotten to the point where you feel like a regular in your OB/GYN’s office during prenatal visits? I remember my own visits, a few at first, and then, more and more as my due date approached. However, when I was last in Uganda, I met up with a nurse midwife and I asked her what a typical prenatal checkup is like for a mom in a rural area there. The differences surprised me more than I expected.”
Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India.
She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls.
Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.
I used to think that racism didn’t exist any more.
Growing up in the Caribbean, in a cultural mishmash of a class, I learned about the slave trade and the underground railroad as part of history. Our teacher read to us about Harriet Tubman. We saw videos of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech. We learned about Rosa Parks.
Carol from If By Yes has lived in four different Canadian provinces as well as the Caribbean. Now she lives in Vancouver, working a full time job at a vet clinic, training dogs on the side, and raising her son and daughter to be good citizens of the world.
Carol is known for wearing inside-out underwear, microwaving yoghurt, killing house plants, over-thinking the mundane, and pointing out grammatical errors in "Twilight". When not trying to wrestle her son down for a nap, Carol loves to read and write.
Carol can also be found on her blog, If By Yes, and on Twitter @IfByYesTweets
Wow. It’s been a lifetime since I last contributed to the blog. My last post was after I had just given birth. After that, things totally took a turn for the busy! And now, my second child is a year old, my eldest just recently lost two of his teeth. Already I’m feeling like I am on the short end of the stick when it comes to time! Just the other day my husband and I realized that, in four years, our eldest would be ten years old. Ten years old. I can’t even begin to fathom what I’d do.
When I watch my kids, I notice how they live in each moment. Have you ever stopped to watch your kids do the same?
It’s different for each child. I have a one year-old baby girl and a fidgety, curious six year-old son. Each day seems to stretch on forever for my six year-old, like when he anxiously awaits a new toy or the arrival of his cousins visiting from out of town. (This past week, his long wait has been his dental appointment, which we’ll go to later today.) After last Christmas Day, he asked how long it would be til the next one and sighed how it would be “forever” until we got there.
For my daughter, it’s like each minute is precious, and five minutes is an eternity away from me. (She’s a high need child, you see.) She cries when I step into the bathroom for a shower. (I’ve mastered those 2 to 5 minute ones, have you?) She complains when I leave for a meeting for an hour. My mother once said, “Imagine if your source of food and drink left you for a couple hours. How would you feel?”, and I now understand my daughter, haha! Poor thing.
We recently had a photo shoot at home with a photographer who specializes in unstyled, “day in the life” pictorials. It was a refreshing shoot, because there wasn’t any time set aside for makeup or hair, or vignette styling or wardrobe changes. It was just us, whiling the time away doing our everyday duties of play, work, rest and play again.
“Why would you pay someone to take photos of you when you’re just in your house clothes?” someone asked me on social media. In my head I replied, “Well, why not?” Because of time constraints and a clingy baby and a rambunctious preschooler and a busy-with-a-new-biz husband and a home in need of care…. I have literally no time sometimes to grab a camera. I should, but I had a friend who took on the task instead. And I’m glad she did, because I saw in those 200 or so photos what I realize I often miss or gloss over any ordinary day. It’s not the activities — I notice those, of course. It’s what threads our days, the feelings of delight, frustration, love, and passion that I sometimes don’t notice. Perhaps I needed someone else to look from the outside into our ordinary everyday, so that I could see just how much I get wrapped in time.
I watched this video recently, which perfectly describes why it feels like time speeds by the older we get. I appreciate the perspective here, and I can vaguely remember how time seemed to stretch on forever when I was a child! But very vaguely, really, like a distant memory. I only hope that as time goes by, I will like my children, live in the present.
I hope to not take each life-stage for granted, and not waste time navel-gazing, grumbling or losing myself to the squabbles of the mundane.
“Life is short… Life is long… but not in that order.”
I couldn’t have said it better.
How do you feel about time going forward, moms? How do you view time alongside your children’s point of view?
Martine is a work-at-home Mom and passionate blogger. A former expat kid, she has a soft spot for international efforts, like WMB. While she's not blogging, she's busy making words awesome for her clients, who avail of her marketing writing, website writing, and blog consulting services. Martine now resides in busy, sunny Manila, the Philippines, with her husband, Ton, and toddler son, Vito Sebastian. You can find her blogging at DaintyMom.com.
My daughters and I are planning a very special party at my house. We’ve invited our neighbors over for a movie, popcorn, laughter…and even some tears, inspiration, and global activism!
On Monday, February 29, the National Geographic channel will show the commercial-free U.S. television premiere of He Named Me Malala at 8:00 pm ET/7:00 pm CT. He Named Me Malala is Davis Guggenheim’s acclaimed film that tells the story of the world’s youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner and girls’ education activist Malala Yousafzai.
This is such a perfect chance for us World Moms in the U.S. to gather together families and children in our communities for a night of awareness and action! We can learn about what education for means for girls in Pakistan and be inspired by an extraordinary young leader just in time to push our government for increased global education funding.
My girls, 10 and 12 years old, are fledgling activists for global education. Together, we have read the young reader’s edition of Malala’s autobiography, “I am Malala,” and thoroughly enjoyed it. Her voice as an activist who started speaking out against the Taliban at age 11 reaches my kids in a way they can completely relate to even though they have never visited Malala’s native Pakistan. The book was thought provoking and funny, yet nothing really compares to seeing and hearing the words of a young person coming from her own mouth.
We have invited friends to come see the movie with us – friends who have lived in the U.S. their whole lives as well as those who have moved here from India, Pakistan, and China. I asked some of our guests to share with us their personal experiences of what they have seen in their home countries when girls were not allowed to participate in classes due to gender bias or poverty.
In Malala’s acceptance speech for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, she said, “I tell my story not because it is unique, but because it is the story of many girls.”
Each of these stories is important to lift up and share.
I hope that we can come to a greater understanding of each other’s perspectives. The stories of why some of our friends have moved here are deeply rooted in a desire for education, opportunity, and equality. Our goal is to learn from Malala and each other, then write letters to our elected senators and representatives with these stories and ask for the U.S. to include $125 million for the Global Partnership for Education to cost-effectively support access to quality education for all children.
Our American leaders in power need to hear what the people they represent have gone through. Immigration stories are beautiful and part of the fabric of our local communities. They connect us to our global community and help us to understand our role in helping to promote gender equality, education, and health worldwide.
If you are living in the U.S., I encourage you to gather some friends and watch He Named Me Malala together. If you are out of the country, you may be able to purchase it on DVD to create your own watch party or read the Young Reader’s edition of “I Am Malala” as a book group with your kids. Read or watch, be inspired, and then share with us your ideas for helping all children achieve their dreams of education!
Will you be watching?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Anti-Poverty Mom Cindy Levin.
Cynthia Changyit Levin is a mother, advocate, speaker, and author of the upcoming book “From Changing Diapers to Changing the World: Why Moms Make Great Advocates and How to Get Started.” A rare breed of non-partisan activist who works across a variety of issues, she coaches volunteers of all ages to build productive relationships with members of Congress. She advocated side-by-side with her two children from their toddler to teen years and crafted a new approach to advocacy based upon her strengths as a mother. Cynthia’s writing and work have appeared in The New York Times, The Financial Times, the Washington Post, and many other national and regional publications. She received the 2021 Cameron Duncan Media Award from RESULTS Educational Fund for her citizen journalism on poverty issues. When she’s not changing the world, Cynthia is usually curled up reading sci-fi/fantasy novels or comic books in which someone else is saving the world.