I love being a mother and I’m forever grateful for my children. It has not always been so smooth through pregnancy, childbirth, and nurturing but I’m constantly learning, praying and evolving as I navigate through this journey of motherhood. We have been blessed with two gorgeous boys who are to me everything that I could have asked or wished for. They are sweet in their own right and sometimes can be thorns in each other’s flesh (sibling rivalry). I don’t dare say I know much about that as I am an only child so did not have to fight over toys with any sibling. Nonetheless I get to watch the love and bond that both boys share which is beyond every little fight that exist between the two.
Raising boys has its own challenges but I guess the same can be said about girls too (any help from mums with girls?) This should be another topic for discussion sometime later. Often times I get friends asking me how I manage with two boys? I don’t always have an answer but rather say to them; do I need a formula to manage boys? I believe every child is an individual with unique strengths that need to be nurtured by parents and not go by society’s norms to raising boys or girls in a certain way. Every child is created different and no two children are the same even twins. I am not a perfect parent but I pray and strive to be the best mother to our children.
This topic of motherhood and experiences came up during a discussion with a group of mum friends at one of the children’s parties we had attended. As usual we sat around and chatted over finger foods and tried to catch up on what we had been up to. A mum who was still nursing her then 4-month old baby told us about her birthing experience since she was a first time mum and wanted to hear from some of us who had been there before. You sometimes feel you have a lot of experience after a second or a third child and can give the most advice to new mums. This was her question to us: ‘so how was it like during the birth of your first child? Were you so nervous or scared? My answer to her was simple; I was just SCARED! (more…)
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 two decades to the love of her life.
Every day she´s challenged by combining the best and worst of two cultures at home.
She used to be an elementary school teacher but is now a stay at home Mom. In her free time she loves to pick up her photo camera.
Mirjam has had a life long battle with depression and is not afraid to talk about it.
She enjoys being a blogger, an amateur photographer, and 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 (sporadically) at her blog 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 and Instagram.
I knew something was not right when the homeroom teacher got the principal, school counselor and some other unfamiliar faces as I sat down in their office.
My gut feelings were right. They pretty much told me my son couldn’t continue in that school for the next school year. In other words, my son got kicked out of school.
“We all agree that it is best for your son to go to a school where they can cater to his needs.“
I felt anger rise in the bottom of my stomach. Anger for receiving the news on such short notice mixed with a sense of panic of where to put my son to school next.
I blamed myself for this. Not my boy, but me…his mother who should’ve done more investigative work before sending him to the closest school to home. When I picked that school it was because they were the closest to our home. If you are familiar with Jakarta’s traffic, you would understand that I just don’t have the heart to send off my child to school before the crack of dawn like many other children have to do. I thought I had picked the right school.
My son has his challenges. Behavior problems that the school simply couldn’t handle anymore.
My sensitive boy has always been different.
He has been tested for behavior issues before and the results showed that he has no psychological problem and that he is a bright kid. He is not autistic. He is just different. He has difficulties controlling his frustrations which end up in him crying. In a way, his emotional intelligence is a little behind than the other kids in his classroom. This made life so difficult for him; He hated going to school and would come up with 1001 excuses to skip school. Being different is not easy.
The school in question was an expensive school that cost my family over $2,000 in enrollment fees alone and they do have great programs, albeit very high academic demands. My son used to come home with a backpack full homework folders. We were both frustrated by the volumes of academic pressure he was under.
One of his teachers told me one time that he was very smart but he’s not the type to sit still and listen to his teacher during class. Yet somehow he managed to ‘absorb’ what the teacher was talking about.
He is different.
When my son got kicked out school, his father (my ex-husband) was diagnosed with cancer and I was under unbelievable pressure from work. The world felt so heavy on my shoulders. I went home from that meeting feeling defeated, crushed. I kicked myself for not being a good mother who could stay home with him like the other moms. I blamed myself for working long hours. Maybe that’s why he is misbehaving at school? To protest the life that he has. A father who lives overseas, a mother who works long hour, no friends around his age at home to play with. The mommy guilt wore me down.
I could not afford to put my son back in school straight away so I kept him at home for about 6 months, missing the first semester of the new school year. I was too embarrassed to talk about this openly until now.
It wasn’t until I found a local school recommended by a fellow single mom friend that the guilt evaporated. Located a little further away, I studied their concept and philosophy and after a trial class for my son, we both fell in love with this new school.
A school where he could be completely himself must feel liberating in a way. Where he is not judged by whether or not he could sit still or if he prefers to sit on the floor. The new school emphasizes on the facts that every child has a different combination of intelligence that makes him/her unique.
My son started this January and he couldn’t be happier. I have never seen him got so excited about school. Yes, he still has some challenges but seeing how happy he is has reassured me that we finally found the right school for him. Looking back, I realized leaving his old school was the best thing that could ever have happened to him.
How about you, Moms? Are you happy with the educations that your children are getting?
No, this isn’t a political post, unless you consider that on some level every post written by a woman is a political post whether she intends it to be or not.
This is about the apocalypse, Armageddon-style chaos and anarchy that happened at my house last week. That’s right, y’all. I got sick, Influenza A to be exact.
For anyone who has not yet experienced the unique experience that is being-sick-while-mommying, please stop reading now. Or gird your loins or something because I don’t want your mom calling me and saying my post is the reason she will never have grandchildren.
I realized very quickly that no one else knew the details of our household: where underwear are kept, what time children need to leave for school in the morning, who has pool on what day and what that entails, what time dinner needs to be started to get children to bed on time, etc. I am truly both the lowly servant girl and the CEO of this organization.
Five seconds after the first epiphany, I also realized that no one else is interested in learning and remembering these details. It’s my job to be everything to all people, as far as all other people are concerned. They are “just helping.”
Convenient, that. I never agreed to be both lord and serf of this manor, but because I have been thrust into that role, I am also unable to demand excellence (to be honest I would settle for basic sufficiency) from the people around me. If I do, I’m being ungrateful.
But I don’t seem to receive much gratitude.
All of the physical and mental tasks involved in keeping a house and family going, the mental gymnastics of scheduling around other people’s needs, all of that “woman’s work,” is real labor. When mom is down, other family members realize that, but make no real effort to take any of it on for themselves long term. It isn’t an ignorance issue. Is it an entitlement issue? A laziness issue? Why should I be fielding where-is-the-swimcap phone calls when I am sick in bed?
How do we find ourselves in this position, and what can we do to relieve it? The basic truth is this: my time and labor should be just as valuable as other family members’. I should be able to be sick without the world falling apart.
What happens in your family when mom falls ill? How do others cope?
If you ask Melanie Oda where she is from, she will answer "Georgia." (Unless you ask her in Japanese. Then she will say "America.") It sounds nice, and it's a one-word answer, which is what most people expect. The truth is more complex. She moved around several small towns in the south growing up. Such is life when your father is a Southern Baptist preacher of the hellfire and brimstone variety.
She came to Japan in 2000 as an assistant language teacher, and has never managed to leave. She currently resides in Yokohama, on the outskirts of Tokyo (but please don't tell anyone she described it that way! Citizens of Yokohama have a lot of pride). No one is more surprised to find her here, married to a Japanese man and with two bilingual children (aged four and seven), than herself. And possibly her mother.
You can read more about her misadventures in Asia on her blog, HamakkoMommy.
Before my (now 24 year old) son was born, I was a SuperSitter. Not only did I work for a Babysitting Agency called SuperSitters, but I’d also studied Child Psychology, Child and Infant First Aid and aced a course which would have allowed me to open up a daycare facility of my own, if I’d wanted to. I was the person they’d call for challenging babies and children. I could soothe a colicky baby and have a normally hyperactive child fast asleep before the parents came home. They all expressed their astonishment at how well their young ones behaved when in my care. I felt supremely confident in my ability to be a great mother – after all, if other people’s children behaved so wonderfully when I looked after them, surely my own flesh and blood would be even easier, right?!
When I found out I was pregnant, I was thrilled. I read every single book on pregnancy, childbirth and parenting that I could lay my hands on, attended prenatal classes, and congratulated myself on how well-prepared I was for motherhood. A week before my due date I had my bag packed for the hospital and my birth plan written out. My husband had been prepped as to what I would need from him at each stage of labour. We were ready – or so we thought!
My due date came and went with no sign whatsoever of my son wanting to be born. I was extremely bloated and hot (January in South Africa is peak Summer heat), not to mention anxious to hold my son. To make matters even worse, my husband and I were living with my grandparents at the time, and with every braxton hicks contraction they would ask, “Is it time?” Eventually I couldn’t take it any more, so 10 days post due date I had my husband take me to the hospital. When I got there my contractions stopped again. On examination I was 3 cm dilated. The doctor asked me if I wanted to go home or if I was willing to have my labour induced. I wish that I’d been smart enough to go home, but at that moment I couldn’t face going home again without having given birth. This was to be the first of many mistakes I made as a mother.
I will spare you all the gory details, except to tell you that nothing went according to my meticulous birth plan, and I ended up needing an emergency c-section due to foetal distress. That was just the start of our problems. The surgical team struggled to get my uterus to stop bleeding after they’d delivered my son. My blood pressure nearly bottomed out and (much later) my OB-Gyn admitted that, if I hadn’t stopped bleeding when I did, she would have had to perform a hysterectomy to save my life! I thank God every day that it didn’t happen, because I wouldn’t have my beautiful daughter if it had! I’d lost so much blood that they had to keep transfusing me throughout the night. I wasn’t taken back to the maternity ward until the next day.
Because of what had happened to me, I wasn’t given the chance to breastfeed my son until much later the next day. By then they’d already given him a bottle and I never managed to get breastfeeding properly established. Instead of the minimum 6 months that I had planned to breastfeed, I ended up switching to bottle feeding almost from the day I got home. I really wish that I’d known then what I know now, like breastfeeding on demand!
As if that wasn’t bad enough, my son had severe colic for the first 3 months or so. Much to my surprise and dismay, this “SuperSitter” was completely and utterly unable to soothe her own baby! I also suffered through Postpartum Depression. I thank God every day for the unbelievable support I had from my husband, grandparents and aunt, who all stepped in and did for my son what I wasn’t able to.
Things went from bad to worse for my poor son. He projectile vomited every feed for almost 2 years, despite all our best efforts. He also often had gastroenteritis. Between puke and diarrhea we did a full load of washing every.single.day. I cried a lot during those first two years, because I felt like the world’s worst mother, and I was sure that my son wasn’t going to survive given all the vomiting.
Fast forward to today and the child I was so worried about has grown into a handsome, healthy and intelligent young man. In those early days I couldn’t even begin to dream of him becoming the man he is today. He has surpassed all my expectations, and I am incredibly proud of him.
He is now married, and is the step-dad of a lovely little girl. My son has learnt how to speak, read and write German fluently, and is currently studying Computer Science (Informatik) at Goethe University in Frankfurt.
The main reason for writing this post (apart from the fact that today is my son’s birthday!) is to give hope to all the moms who, like me, feel that they’re not “good enough” mothers. What I have learnt is that all children need to know three things – that you love them unconditionally, that you’re proud of them and that they can trust you. As long as you have those 3 things in place, nothing else really matters that much. Most of the things that we beat ourselves up for they don’t even remember when they grow up!
Was your labour and delivery what you hoped it would be? What do you wish you’d known when you were younger?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Mama Simona from Cape Town, South Africa.
Mamma Simona was born in Rome (Italy) but has lived in Cape Town (South Africa) since she was 8 years old. She studied French at school but says she’s forgotten most of it! She speaks Italian, English and Afrikaans. Even though Italian is the first language she learned, she considers English her "home" language as it's the language she's most comfortable in. She is happily married and the proud mother of 2 terrific teenagers! She also shares her home with 2 cats and 2 dogs ... all rescues.
Mamma Simona has worked in such diverse fields as Childcare, Tourism, Library Services, Optometry, Sales and Admin! (With stints of SAHM in-between). She’s really looking forward to the day she can give up her current Admin job and devote herself entirely to blogging and (eventually) being a full-time grandmother!
With the rise of dual income families, the roles of mums and dads have become less conventional where roles are no longer confined to one gender. What used to be a typical arrangement of dads shouldering the financial responsibility of bringing home the bacon and mums staying home to be the main caregiver of the children have evolved over the years.
It’s undeniable that fathers bring another dimension of parenting in the family and while they do things very differently from us mums, they hold a very important role in raising and shaping the kids. A recent conversation with a girlfriend made me even more appreciative of my husband and led me to think about how as wives, we can give them a hand to be a more involved and active dad at home.
Biology is the least of what makes a father
Recognizing our differences
I used to complain about why my husband thinks and acts so differently from me on many matters, especially when it comes to parenting; but I’ve come to recognize that our diversity is what allows my child to have a broader perspective and richer experience from her interactions with both of us. Now I no longer jump to conclusion about his way of doing things and am also more open to other possibilities, a trait that I want my child to embrace as well.
Dads impart confidence
I could be stereotyping, but in our home, hubby is the one who taught my child how to cycle, ice skate, attempt wall climbing, amongst other sports. Dads tend to encourage kids to go faster, higher, further while mums tend to be cautious and protective.
When I found out that my daughter learnt how to paddle on her two wheel bike by going down a slope, I almost flipped and was about to lecture my hubby on the potential dangers when my daughter interrupted and assured me that she had her helmet on while she mastered how to cycle on her two wheel bike that afternoon.
Dads think differently
As mums, we build relationships by being open to our problems, showing empathy and being caring. While dads are all about loyalty and trustworthiness when it comes to friendship. These are all important qualities and both spectrums teach our kids how to develop healthy friendships with their peers.
Anyone can be a father. But it takes someone special to be a Dad.
Dads show affection differently
Dads may not be big on hugs and kisses but they demonstrate love nevertheless with acts of service like ferrying the kids to school, taking the kids out for their favourite dessert and giving them high fives.
And speaking of affection, did you know your man is more likely to be a more involved dad when they’re in a loving and supportive marriage. Marriage like parenting is a partnership where both parents have a role to play.
Practical ways to support your man
Here are some practical ways on how to get your man more involved with the kids
Encourage one on one time: Go for a car ride to pick up dinner on weekends, read a bedtime story together, build the craziest Lego creation. Discover what common interest your child and hubby has and nudge them to spend time together without you hovering over.
Attend a school event: Suggest that daddy takes a day off to attend that sports meet or school excursion that your child has been looking forward to.
Do chores together: What’s even more sexy than a man helping with household chores is getting the kids involved, like washing the car together, hanging the laundry or setting a challenge to see who fold the dried laundry the fastest
Be a teacher: Give dads a chance to help kids with their homework too. They may not have as much patience as us mums, but they may fare better than us when it comes to maths and science.
Recognize their efforts and praise them: Dads need all the encouragement they need to be a more involve parent. If they’ve taken efforts to do so, praise them for it and they’ll more be more likely to do it more often.
How do you help your children’s father be a more involved dad? Tell us in the comments so we can get to know your family.
This is an original article by World Mom Susan Koh from Singapore.
Susan is from Singapore. As a full-time working mom, she's still learning to perfect the art of juggling between career and family while leading a happy and fulfilled life. She can't get by a day without coffee and swears she's no bimbo even though she likes pink and Hello Kitty. She's loves to travel and blogs passionately about parenting, marriage and relationship and leading a healthy life at A Juggling Mom.