TANZANIA: Bringing Up Step-Children

TANZANIA: Bringing Up Step-Children

They call me "MZ"

They call me “MZ”

Never in a million years, did i ever think that i would be in a relationship that meant loving and embracing a child that was not my own, as my own. Not that i felt anything against the idea, its just something i never thought of or considered. But that is just how you see it. You have ideas and make plans and then Life happens.

Where did the term ‘step-children’ come from? Why is there a step?

For about four years, my ‘step’ children and I have been in each others lives. It seems like an easy enough relationship whereby i know my boundaries, in manner of not attempting to be their mother, rather a loving figure in their lives. It was a rather difficult relationship to define at first, because well i am not really ‘Auntie’, but yes ‘Dad’s Companion’ and also their sister’s mother.

Eventually they settled for an abbreviation, which i think is pretty cool, MZ they call , from “Mama Zuri.” Sort of like a superhero type? Or close? It feels like it.

And so on and on it goes – this journey of ours. We sometimes have growing pains. It cannot be easy to have someone around who they did not plan for. And this someone playing a role that they did not expect to see me play. But i am thankful and blessed in many ways. It is easy, when they are good kids. There is an occasional discomfort but we paddle through. Like any relationship, it has its ups and downs. But we work at it and it works out. I do not ask for much, other than respect for themselves and others and self discipline. I guess those are simple standards for children everywhere.

The notion of the evil step mother that is perpetrated in history never helps. So there is hesitation in getting close.

But I am confident that the less I think about it and the more love I give, we will get to where we are meant to be, which is in a space of comfort, ease, trust and love.

Do you have any step-children? How is your relationship with them? Any tips to share with the world?

This is an original post by Nancy Sumari from Tanzania. You can find more of her writing at Mama Zuri.

Photo credit to the author.

BELGIUM: The Adopted Little Sailor

BELGIUM: The Adopted Little Sailor

3777834366_869456969b_zIn preparation for our adoption, we had to take an intensive course, dealing with the many dynamics involved. A while later, our gained knowledge, but also our personal history, relationship, parenting skills and social network were scrutinized by a social worker and a psychologist.

During those months and months of preparation, there are two statements that came up several times and which I will always remember:

1)      Having children is NOT a universal human right. Having a parent – or a dedicated caregiver – IS.

In other words: We were not entitled to a child. It’s the child’s benefit that comes first at all times. A hard lesson to learn for some, and next to impossible to swallow when the judge doesn’t give you the much hoped for green light. But true nonetheless.

2)      We were NOT judged for our parenting skills. We were judged for our ADOPTIVE-parenting skills.

Especially to couples that were already parents, the course and social exams could be seen as an affront. And yes, it could be quite provoking and private at times. But in our case is was also very respectful at all times, and educating as well. And it was necessary.

Why? Because adopted children come with a backpack filled with their history. Because, as an adoptive parent, you might need to help carry that backpack.

A central topic to both the course and the exam was: attachment, and with that, basic trust. It was explained to us beautifully by ‘The parable of the little sailor’, in which a child is at first safely on a boat. All of a sudden, she finds herself in a storm. The boat sinks and she struggles to survive. When next she is picked up by a new boat, full of small children like her, and a new captain, it takes a while before she believes that the captain will keep them safe. And she proved right to be hesitant, because a new storm comes up and eventually, that boat also sinks. The child is alone again. From that point on, the child decides to not trust any captains any more. So when a new boat arrives, she goes in hesitantly, because she has no other choice. But she will keep her guards up for a long time now. She will test the captain’s sailing skills over and over again, and whenever a storm comes, she will be ready to take over control.

Some adopted children will have experienced more boats, more caregivers, than others. Some will have had worse storms than others. In quite some cases, gaining the trust of that little sailor will be a tremendous task for the final captains of its journey, the adoptive parents.

Attachment disorder can be an overwhelming Damocles’ sword that hangs above an adoptive family.

We were told the best way to avoid attachment disorder, was to make sure we were going to be the only captains during our precious sailor’s first months on our boat. A minimum of six months of semi-isolation, they recommended. Ideally not letting anyone else take care of her, not even hand her gifts. After that, the time she would need to safely attach to us and rely on us to steer the boat, was estimated as her age upon adoption, multiplied by two.

Our daughter was 2.5 years old when she came to live with us, and she’s been with us for three years now. That means we still have at least 2 years to go for her to let go of her anxieties and mistrust.

At least 2 years. Probably longer, if we look at where she is today on her journey towards trust and attachment. I personally believe attachment, at least for our daughter, will be a constantly evolving process for many years to come.

We’ve also had our share of storms. For one, we broke her trust those first, crucial months. You see, in Belgium, maternity leave is fairly short, only 15 weeks. When adopting, it’s even less. We were ‘lucky’ to adopt when our girl hadn’t reached the age of 3 yet, so I got to stay at home with her for 6 weeks. When your child is older, you only get 4 weeks. Or zero weeks, when the child has reached the age of 8, or when you’re a foster parent… So, a maximum of 6 weeks to complete this huge task of gaining trust. It’s extremely frustrating to have been pressed repeatedly on the importance of a strong basis for attachment and then being forced to send that little sailor off to another captain, one in the boat of day care or kindergarten, after a mere 6 weeks or less.

There have been quite some voices and petitions these lasts months, to once and for all equalize maternity leave rules for all sorts of parenthood, including adoption and foster care.  The old statement of ‘You don’t need physical recovery from adoption like you do from giving birth, so you don’t need the same amount of time’ has lost its validity the moment regular maternity leave was extended with an additional (unpaid) month, for the sake of ‘bonding of mother and child’.

No need to say the adoptive community was outraged, or at least strongly disappointed at that time. We still are. The adversaries of our request don’t seem to understand that we don’t ask longer maternity leave for ourselves, although I must admit that some time for emotional recovery would have been very welcome in those first, stormy months.

But essentially, we request it for the benefit of the little sailors to come. They deserve more time to explore, defy and scrutinize their new captains.

How long is maternity leave in your country? Is the same for all kinds of parenthood? And how long do you believe it should be?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by K10K from The Penguin and The Panther.

Photo by Alejandro Groenewold under Creative Common license

K10K

If you ask her about her daytime job, K10K will tell you all about the challenge of studying microbes in extreme environments, going from the deep underground to outer space. Her most demanding and rewarding job however is raising the Penguin and the Panther, her seven and five year old little rascals. The Penguin grew in her belly, turned out very, very white and wants to become a meteorite examiner, fireman and artist. The Panther grew in her heart, had quite, quite dark skin and wants to become a teacher, mother of thirteen babies and famous musician. Together they provide most of the feed for her blog, The Penguin and The Panther, but they are also the primary cause of why she struggles to find the energy for writing anything lately...

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BELGIUM: Bah Bon

BELGIUM: Bah Bon

Bah BonI’ve  yet to meet a mom who is not monitoring her kid’s eating habits. Some might even be obsessed over it, others just make sure their kids eat enough or don’t overeat. Food can be filled with cultural, health or moral values and seems an important subject in most families I know.

Every single one of the moms I know, seems to have her personal truth about food, or is at least searching for it. I know quite a few moms who vouch for strict vegetarianism, sugar free, all organic, low-carb, macrobiotic, low-fat or a mix of those. Others cook without lactose, gluten, sugar, eggs, nuts, soy and other allergy or intolerance boosters, by necessity or by conviction. But there’s also quite a number who just like to stick to their grandmothers’ favourite mashed potatoes with pork chops and piccalilli, because that’s what they were raised with.

Myself, I mix quite a bit of the above. My life is all about compromises. As a student, I used to be vegetarian, but now we eat vegetarian for only about 3 days a week. I also restrict the amount of lactose, because of my daughter’s (mild) intolerance. I make sure they eat at least one piece of fruit per day, but most days it’s two or three. And because we are Belgian, we have our two-weekly take out of ‘French’ fries, which originally came from Belgium. Or maybe even from Flanders.

I would not call myself obsessed, but I do keep a detailed mental track of what my kids eat in a day, and try to compensate by the 80/20 rule I adopted from a fellow World Mom: if they eat healthy for 80% of the time, that will make up for the 20% they eat junk.

When a mom has found her personal truth about food, obviously she wishes for her kids to eat by it; which they aren’t likely to do without a struggle. Not after they’ve tasted the Belgian fries, they won’t.

When my oldest was younger, I used to think I had it all together though. He ate whatever vegetable I gave him and his favourite dish was Brussels’ sprouts. I even recall quite some occasions on which I, the former vegetarian, bribed him into eating his meat by promising him an extra stem of broccoli. After a while, even the meat didn’t pose a problem anymore. He would eat whatever I served him.

Those good old days are over now.

It all started when our daughter arrived, age 2.5. She came from Ethiopia and was not used to our diet, not mentally, but also not physically. The first time I served her something green, she just threw it on the floor. Not out of a whim, but because she was clearly convinced it was not edible. She even tried to take it out of my mouth. Having been fed mashed dishes all her life, she was also not used to chewing. She did like bread and she did her best chewing it, but we had to take her to a physiotherapist to sooth her jaw pains. So we customized our cooking to her and introduced new stuff every once in a while. The one dish that never posed a problem was, indeed, our Belgian fries.

Meanwhile, our son, then 5, seemed to finally grasp that there was such a thing as rejecting food. I don’t know whether it was his sister’s example, the TV shows he started watching, his classmates or just normal evolution, but he started getting more selective each month. He also ate with his hands more often, just like his sister was used to. I went from having one kid with excellent eating habits to two picky, messy eaters.

After two years of convincing myself it was just a phase, this year I started implementing some strategies to get them to eat more balanced. Ultimately, what they were eating wasn’t all that bad but I was getting tired of the drama and the struggle to get them to eat what I believed was good for them. And most of all, I wanted them to develop the discipline to choose healthy by themselves, and not just because I ordered or rewarded them.

First, I tried the Yucky List. A colleague of mine had it at home, and it worked perfectly for her family. The idea is that it is only natural to have different tastes and that you don’t need to like everything. The concept is that each family member can have three dishes they really don’t like, on that list. When it is served, they are allowed to refuse it and have bread instead. Or hope for a mom who cooks two different dishes in advance. Of course over time, you can change your preferences but when a fourth dish you don’t like is served to you, you have to eat it, before you can put it on the list (replacing another).

It seemed promising but after a few weeks, the kids started to change their list about every other day. Way too many family dinners were filled with  ‘I will put this on my yucky list for sure!’ and a lot of moaning and struggling, which didn’t really lighten the mood as I had hoped it would. We might pick it up again when they are older but for now, it doesn’t work for us.

After that, I changed my strategy to handing out a Yucky Coupon, Bah Bon in Dutch. I borrowed the idea from a friend who used to do cooking for youth camps. At these camps, each of the kids was given one Bah Bon for the duration of the camp.  They could hand it in if they didn’t want to eat one of the meals that was cooked for them. Of course, they only could do that once. And the ones who still had the Bah Bon at the last day of camp, could hand it in, in exchange for ice cream.

So that’s how we do it now and it works like a charm! The kids both have their weekly Bah Bon, which is very conveniently posted on the magnetic wall next to the dinner table. Whenever they complain about dinner (or lunch or breakfast), we just point to their Bah Bon and remind them they can hand it in if they wish. No strict words, just giving them a choice and a visual reminder. Our son hasn’t missed his Sunday ice cream once. Our daughter has, once, and she’s not likely to miss another.

Of course, this will only work if ice cream is really a treat for your kids. Mine don’t really get candy or other sweets that often, so for them this works perfectly.

And of course, it’s still kind of a bribe. But I like it much more than the daily ‘If you don’t eat it, you can’t have desert’ bribe. For one, because we don’t have desert every day. Second, because they have to manage the discipline to work all week for their ice cream, rather than getting an instant reward. Third, because I don’t exactly sell the ice cream as a bribe or reward but rather as an interpretation of the 80/20 rule: if they eat healthy and balanced all week, it is all right to have something unhealthy every once in a while.

Most importantly, I like this system because the kids themselves really like this system. They like being in control of what they (don’t) eat without any pressure from us, and most of all they absolutely love our weekly ceremony when they officially hand in the Bah Bon they saved in exchange for their well deserved treat.

Do you have a personal or cultural take on the food you serve your kids? And do you need similar strategies to convince them about it?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by K10K from The Penguin and The Panther.

The picture in this post is credited to the author.

K10K

If you ask her about her daytime job, K10K will tell you all about the challenge of studying microbes in extreme environments, going from the deep underground to outer space. Her most demanding and rewarding job however is raising the Penguin and the Panther, her seven and five year old little rascals. The Penguin grew in her belly, turned out very, very white and wants to become a meteorite examiner, fireman and artist. The Panther grew in her heart, had quite, quite dark skin and wants to become a teacher, mother of thirteen babies and famous musician. Together they provide most of the feed for her blog, The Penguin and The Panther, but they are also the primary cause of why she struggles to find the energy for writing anything lately...

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Belgium: Bleak Reflections

Belgium: Bleak Reflections

BleakEven before I became a mother, I had a particular wish for my future children. Looking back at several not so fond memories of my childhood, I vowed I would do everything for them to have a better one. They shouldn’t have to grow up too fast. They would not have to feel unwanted, misunderstood or worthless. I would guard their innocence and happiness like a hawk.

The major driving force behind the different attempts of therapy I tried throughout the years, was the well-being of my (future) kids. I wouldn’t allow mistakes in motherhood.

In fact, I didn’t want them to become like me at all. Just like the mother who really tries hard not to show her child how much she is freaked out by spiders, in order not to raise a little arachnophobic like herself. My list of not-to-pass-ons was just longer: low self esteem, perfectionism, fear of failure, social clumsiness, easy overstimulation and of course CFD: ‘continuously fretting disorder’.

The first five years of motherhood, I had the impression I could accomplish all this. I actually felt like the perfect mother: patient, involved, crafty, warm. I even managed to stick to my not-to-pass-on-list.  It would cost me quite some effort, but I would not interfere when my son was building a crooked tower, so he could not catch my perfectionism. Trying not to pass on perfectionism while desperately trying to be a perfect mother.  It may sound absurd now, but back then, it totally made sense.

Three years ago, my perfect balance in motherhood shifted drastically.  When our son turned five, we couldn’t ignore anymore that he was going to develop at a speed different from his peers. At the same time, our adopted daughter arrived, aged two and a half.

They both forced me to face my demons better than any therapy has ever done throughout the years.

My son and I, we discovered developing an intelligence and sensitivity far beyond our physical age, is a struggle we share. Where his friends will watch a grazing cow on a field trip and complain about the stench, he will likely try to understand why this mammal has four stomachs, how to measure the circumference of the pasture and how long it would take for the cow to eat all that grass. And how much dung it would have produced by then, of course. His sense of humour is still a seven year old’s.

My daughter and I, we’ve been battling childhood trauma and attachment disorder together. We cried together in the shower numerous times, holding each other fiercely. The battle has been rough. It still is. Sometimes I just can’t comfort her like I should, because I need comforting myself.  But she amazes me with a resilience I just can’t manage. She might be  jumping on the trampoline and singing imaginary happy-songs, while I crash on the couch to mentally recover from holding her mourning and kicking little body for over half an hour.

It has been extremely painful to see my least fond childhood memories revive in my kids.

Comforting a son that feels like an alien, desperately trying to cover up his super powers because he just wants to blend in. Reassuring a daughter that follows me around the house like a puppy because she just can’t believe she won’t be abandoned again.

Painful. Heart wrenching. And feeding the CFD by the tons.

However,  I’m seeing now that our struggles do not necessarily have to be the same. Because, you know, they have me. Of course I can’t protect them from being hurt. No mother can do that for her children. It’s one of the curses of being  a mother.

But as it turns out, as a ‘damaged’ mother, I might be the perfect guide for my heavy-hearted children.

I’m teaching my son first handed how to make use of his extraterrestrial powers, without a need to blend in. I’m even coaching him in failing and making mistakes without believe it’s the end of the world. I surely acknowledge how important that lesson is. He’ll get it much earlier than I did.

I’m confidently ignoring outsiders’ advice on how to deal with my daughter’s anxieties, since I recognize how she feels. When she’s grieving, I guard her like an eagle that will not allow anyone to question or mock her tears of grief. I’m determined to give her what I never got. I will make her feel loved and understood. Unconditionally.

Me, I’ve only discovered how to find happiness after a painful and lonely journey.

I intend to show my children all the short cuts.

They will have a splendid childhood.

How do you see your own childhood reflected in your children? Is it mostly warm or can it be painful as well?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by K10K from The Penguin and The Panther.

The picture in this post is credited to the author.

K10K

If you ask her about her daytime job, K10K will tell you all about the challenge of studying microbes in extreme environments, going from the deep underground to outer space. Her most demanding and rewarding job however is raising the Penguin and the Panther, her seven and five year old little rascals. The Penguin grew in her belly, turned out very, very white and wants to become a meteorite examiner, fireman and artist. The Panther grew in her heart, had quite, quite dark skin and wants to become a teacher, mother of thirteen babies and famous musician. Together they provide most of the feed for her blog, The Penguin and The Panther, but they are also the primary cause of why she struggles to find the energy for writing anything lately...

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BELGIUM:  Sinterklaas

BELGIUM: Sinterklaas

SinterklaasAs an adoptive mother of an Ethiopian Panther, I’ve grown an extra pair of antennas when it comes to racism.

Truly, a lot of really nice people distinguish my daughter from other children, based on her color. Even if it is meant to defend her, like calling me disgusting for letting her carry the groceries, it basically still is hidden racism. Should I tell her that people believe she shouldn’t be helping me out because it reminds them of slavery while her white brother is allowed to do the same chores? I’d rather have people call me names than let them wreck my daughter’s self esteem.

However, as I’m writing this, there is a HUGE racism debate going on in Belgium and even worse in The Netherlands, where it all started. And despite my racism antennas, I just can’t fully agree with the racism-yellers this time. Not even if they yell all the way from some United Nations office.

The debate is all about the ancestor of Santa Claus: Sinterklaas. You can read here about how Santa Claus evolved from our Sinterklaas, or Saint Nicholas, who is actually believed to be Turkish, who resides in Spain, has a white horse called Bad-Wheater-Today (Belgium) or Amerigo (The Netherlands), and celebrates his December birthday by coming over to our countries and surprising children with presents.

In the Netherlands he comes over on the evening of December 5th. Later that night, he comes to Belgium and delivers toys and sweets to be found in the children’s shoes on the morning of the 6th. It’s really a children’s celebration, full of magic and anticipation. You will bump into him just about everywhere during November.

Now, because Sinterklaas is getting old and forgetful, and has a lot of work to do within 24 hours, he has helpers. These helpers are all black, and hence all called ‘Black Peter’ (Zwarte Piet).

And that’s where all the accusative fingers point.

Indeed, this tradition can be seen as offensive. I, for a fact, believe it is partly based on a slavery and stereotype-loaded past, and a lot of people agree with me. Black Peter has long been depicted as a bit slow, barbaric (kidnapping and hitting the naughty children), dressed in clownish clothes, with stout lips and being submissive to his white boss.

Of course I agree this is an awful, insulting picture to brainwash our children with during the big Sinterklaas-Awaiting-Month-of -November. I also agree an outsider would be shocked, when he meets Sinterklaas and his Black Peters for the first time, especially if oblivious to the folklore. And I honestly understand and feel the offense people take.

For me personally, Sinterklaas has me cringing with bittersweetness ever since I found out about his racist taint. I’m not even particularly fond of the Sinterklaas tradition anymore.

However, I also don’t agree that we are teaching our children racism, nor paying ode to slavery by honoring this tradition every year. Not any more, that is.

Since the 1990’s, we have a children’s holiday special on TV portraying the real story. Children are elegantly taught Black Peter is black – and not brown/colored/african – because he came down the chimney. No more, no less. Nobody really tries to explain why his clothes didn’t get black during his journey down the chimney.

It is just part of the mystery, just like Bad-Wheater-Today walking on rooftops or Sinterklaas having this enormous book in which the good and bad behavior of every single child is listed. It doesn’t make sense, but children buy it anyway.

In this TV-special, Sinterklaas is depicted as a bit senile. In fact his Black Peters are now the smart ones, all with different names according to their function or character. A bit like the Smurfs, and everyone likes the Smurfs, right?

For the past 20+ years, this  special comes on every November. Along the way, children started to grow more afraid of this very strict and grumpy old man than of his joyous, candy throwing helpers. The Black Peters became the true friends of our children. And every Belgian child you ask about Black Peter’s color now, will patiently tell you the chimney-story.

To me, this shows our tradition is evolving from, I admit, a racist past, towards a new story. Just like it evolved into Santa Claus overseas—who, by the way, appears to imprison a whole lot of innocent, little people in a Siberia-like, harsh environment without paying them for their round-the-clock labor.

Therefore, I trust society may even evolve towards a tradition of White Peters in a few more years or decades. After all, with more and more houses being built without huge chimneys, we will sooner or later find out that Peter’s color is fading, won’t we?

I’m hoping that by the time this post runs, all the petitions –pro and con–the social media frenzy, any UN investigations and any public manifestations, will be over and done with. I truly hope no-one got hurt along the way, and that both camps have reached a certain level of understanding towards each other by the time Saint Nicholas wants to celebrate his birthday.

Because, you know, my children are already expecting Sinterklaas to send one of his Peters down our chimney on the 6th of December. Especially my very dark daughter is impatiently awaiting. I’d hate to disappoint her if he decided not to come this year, because he’s afraid to be called a racist. She would definitely not understand, mainly because she doesn’t see any resemblance between Black Peter and herself.

I’m confident Sinterklaas will make it, though. We are both alike, Sinterklaas and me. We’re already used to people calling us racist slave handlers. And we both know better than that.

Did you know about Santa Claus’s European past? How would you feel if he had black helpers instead of elves? 

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by K10K from The Penguin and The Panther.

The picture in this post is credited to Sinterklaas Himself, who published it on Wikipedia, while undercover as Gaby Kooiman, under GNU Free Documentation License.

K10K

If you ask her about her daytime job, K10K will tell you all about the challenge of studying microbes in extreme environments, going from the deep underground to outer space. Her most demanding and rewarding job however is raising the Penguin and the Panther, her seven and five year old little rascals. The Penguin grew in her belly, turned out very, very white and wants to become a meteorite examiner, fireman and artist. The Panther grew in her heart, had quite, quite dark skin and wants to become a teacher, mother of thirteen babies and famous musician. Together they provide most of the feed for her blog, The Penguin and The Panther, but they are also the primary cause of why she struggles to find the energy for writing anything lately...

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BELGIUM:  Interview with K10K of The Penguin & The Panther

BELGIUM: Interview with K10K of The Penguin & The Panther

K10KWhere in the world do you live? And, are you from there?

I was born, raised and proudly remain stuck in the Belgian mud. I would sometimes dream about moving abroad, but it turns out I’m quite happy staying right here. I do like to travel several times a year, mostly for work.

 

What language(s) do you speak?

My mother tongue is Flemish (which is basically the same as Dutch), but with Belgium being a trilingual country, I also speak French and I can understand German. Obviously, I also speak – and write – English. About ten years ago I also decided to learn Indonesian, but all I remember of it now are the words kamar kecil, which means I can actually ask where the bathroom is if I would  make it to Indonesia one day.

In addition, I would love to learn how to read and write music, and to understand Amharic, the first language of our daughter.

 

When did you first become a mother?

This is a tricky one, because in my experience, I can call on two firsts.  Two totally different ways of expecting a child, of becoming a mother, both wonderful and intense. In 2006, I first became a mother when our son was born,  the one I love to call our cuddly Penguin. Five years later, in 2011, I first became an adoptive mother when we brought our two-year-old daughter home, our darling Panther.

 

Is your work, stay-at-home mom, other work at home or do you work outside the home?

Apart from being a full time mom, full time housekeeper and full time wannabe writer, I also have a full time job outside my home. Some might even say I’m building an exciting career as a geomicrobiologist, enabling me to go on missions abroad and to research amazing subjects, but they should  know that my favorite moments are without doubt coming home, be it after a working day or a business trip.

 

Why do you blog/write?

I started blogging (in Flemish) during our adoption procedure, merely as a way to keep friends and relatives posted on any news we would get in those long years. Along the way, blogging became a kind of therapy, enabling me to vent frustrations and personal struggles,  or to focus on optimism and fun facts. I also learned just how much I loved to write.

I kept on blogging until our daughter was home for two years. I recently decided to stop, mostly for the privacy of my children and because I felt like I was getting ‘addicted’ to blogging. It was a hard decision, disappointing to quite some readers who liked the plain honesty in my writing. But, as a go-between, I decided to start a low frequency, anonymous, English blog about life with my Penguin and Panther, and to contribute to WMB every once in a while. And in the extra spare time I have now, my newest endeavor is to write children’s books, which has long been a dream of mine.

 

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

As a typically modest Belgian, I truly find it awkward to differentiate myself that way. I don’t believe I have something special about me as a mother, or a person for one. But since I have to, well, I guess I would be different from other mothers because my kids come in two opposite colors and with some extra needs. Our blond haired Penguin is an overly sensitive philosopher who understands more than is good for him, while our curly Ethiopian Panther deals with attachment, anxiety and health issues. They leave me both exhausted and enriched every single evening, but I guess that’s no difference to other mothers…

 

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

I don’t even know where to begin!  Every day is a challenge, when raising children, isn’t it? One of my major concerns though, is to let our children remain children as long as possible. I strive to keep a delicate balance between guarding my children innocence and purity, and still teaching them about the need for respect and care for the less fortunate or for our struggling environment. With today’s society going so fast, having everything within reach, leaving nothing to the imagination,  I try to create an island of simplicity and ‘slowness’ for our children (and ourselves!)  at home, where they can develop at their own pace. But when time comes, I still want them to be able to catch one of society’s speed boats that are racing by our island…

 

How did you find World Moms Blog?

I just bumped upon WMB through a cartoon someone shared. I think. My kids often beat me at ‘Memory’, so I can’t be sure about it. But I do remember I started reading and reading and couldn’t stop for another hour.

 

This is an original interview of our new writer in Belgium, K10K – pronounce it as Ka-ten-ka and you will come quite close to her real name – from The Penguin and The Panther

The image used in this post is credited to the author.

K10K

If you ask her about her daytime job, K10K will tell you all about the challenge of studying microbes in extreme environments, going from the deep underground to outer space. Her most demanding and rewarding job however is raising the Penguin and the Panther, her seven and five year old little rascals. The Penguin grew in her belly, turned out very, very white and wants to become a meteorite examiner, fireman and artist. The Panther grew in her heart, had quite, quite dark skin and wants to become a teacher, mother of thirteen babies and famous musician. Together they provide most of the feed for her blog, The Penguin and The Panther, but they are also the primary cause of why she struggles to find the energy for writing anything lately...

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