POLAND: These Are The Days . . .

POLAND: These Are The Days . . .

Bagel necklaces

Can we just stay in a world where bagel necklaces solve all of our problems?

Shocked. Confused. Completely taken aback. That’s what happened the other day when I was watching my two young girls on the playground and elementary-aged kids came out to play.  Horrible language, bullying, and throwing around malicious comments about looks, behavior, and sexual orientation.

Those words.  Those attitudes.  That scrutiny. I was so suddenly jolted from my innocent little world of swings and sand castles and hoisted into a “big kid” universe that I was disbelieving of what was happening around me.

I had so many questions. How do these kids even know these words?  Should I do something to intervene?  And then the realization hit.  My children, now ages 5, 3 and nearly 2, will be thrown into similar situations in the not-so-distant future.  And what would they do in this situation?  Have I taught them to respect others?  To be the right kind of friend?

And close behind became a second epiphany.  These are the days.  The days to appreciate.  The days not to take for granted. I think I have problems when my 20 month old won’t go down for a nap on the first try.  Or when my kindergartener drops an entire box of Cheerios on the floor.  When my three-year old refuses to wear anything but her Olaf sweatshirt.  When my toddler eats Play Doh. Problems. These are our “problems.”

Sometimes I find myself complaining, maligning the fact that my children can’t quite do things for themselves yet. After my encounter on the playground, I’ll keep my problems and multiply them by one hundred before wishing for my kids to grow up.

Yes, I’ll happily read “Old McDonald Had A Farm” 100 times in a row, help you put on your socks and velcro your shoes, and carry you when you are just too tired to walk anymore, because these “problems” are not really problems at all.   They are tiny – nearly microscopic – bumps in the road to becoming independent.

And as not-so-subtly thrown in my face that day on the playground, I realized that as children grow up, their problems become more delicate, emotional, and serious.  The problems that they face are more complicated and likely to impact others.

Can someone please find a way to make time stand still?  Because I don’t want to get to the more serious stuff.  I want them to stay young, innocent, and oblivious to mean behavior, bad language, and unforgiving situations.  And I want my problems to revolve around Cheerios and Play Doh rather than the much, much harder stuff.

But try as I may, I can’t freeze time.  They will grow up and make choices on their own. And when they reach that point, my hope is that the example I have set for them is to be kind; love others; empathize; have unwavering confidence in who they are; and surround themselves with the right people.  If they adopt that attitude, maybe we will be able to navigate the real problems with greater ease.

Just a few weeks ago, I volunteered to read to my son’s class. He proudly sat in my lap as I read, and when we left school that day, he asked, “Mommy, can you go on the next field trip with us?  You know mommies are allowed to go on field trips.”  It didn’t take me long to find a babysitter for my younger two so that I could chaperone his next trip.

Ornament Factory

Happy to chaperone my son’s field trip to the ornament factory

I’m not going to let these days pass me by – these days when they are impressionable, eager to listen and learn, and want me around.  I’m going to use them as wisely as I can.  Instead of thinking I have problems when my toddler throws her winter hat off for the tenth time in one day or my three year old melts down when her brother doesn’t bring her something from the school bake sale. I will think about how trivial our “problems” are in comparison to the more grown-up situations they will soon face.

And I will use the extra time I have not obsessing over the small things but to teach them how to embrace the qualities that will serve them well on that critical day when they have to start making important choices on their own.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our mom to three and writer in Poland, Loren Braunohler.

The images used in this post are attributed to the author.

Loren Braunohler

Loren Braunohler is a former U.S. diplomat turned stay-at-home mom and freelance writer. She is a world traveler who avoids the cold (don't ask why she is currently in Poland). Former assignments have included Mozambique, Venezuela, Australia, Sudan, Thailand and Washington, D.C. She enjoys running, although she probably enjoys sleeping even more. Loren blogs about her family's international adventures and parenting at www.toddlejoy.com.

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USA: The Ones You Have

USA: The Ones You Have

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I remember when I was little playing with my dolls and pretending that I was a mom from a very young age. I don’t think I ever remember a time when I was young thinking I wouldn’t have children. I remember coming up with names for girls and boys. As I grew up and got married and the thought of having my own children became more and more real, I began thinking and dreaming of what they would be like. (more…)

Meredith (USA)

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.

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BRAZIL: A Postcard For My Sister

BRAZIL: A Postcard For My Sister

Postcards

When I was born, my half-sister was already married and had three kids. As far back as I can remember she has lived in the same house, in a middle-sized town in northeastern Indiana, in the United States, and for most of my life our contact was via postal service.   (more…)

Ecoziva (Brazil)

Eco, from the greek oikos means home; Ziva has many meanings and roots, including Hebrew (brilliance, light), Slovenian (goddess of life) and Sanskrit (blessing). In Brazil, where EcoZiva has lived for most of her life, giving birth is often termed “giving the light”; thus, she thought, a mother is “home to light” during the nine months of pregnancy, and so the penname EcoZiva came to be for World Moms Blog. Born in the USA in a multi-ethnic extended family, EcoZiva is married and the mother of two boys (aged 12 and three) and a five-year-old girl and a three yearboy. She is trained as a biologist and presently an university researcher/professor, but also a volunteer at the local environmental movement.

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USA: The Santa Talk

USA: The Santa Talk

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My son turns 10 years old this fall. At the start of the summer, I told my husband that before school reconvened, I intended to have the talk with my son about Santa. While my son has never pushed for answers regarding holiday magic, he is in a multi-age program at school with older, brainy kids. My gut has been telling me that this is the year that Santa’s cover would be blown. I also know my son well enough to know I wanted to control the conversation and not have a big talking fifth grader accidentally ruin Christmas at the last minute. I wanted to work through this far enough away from the holiday so we could all get used to the idea. I knew if I framed things the right way, my son would still be able to welcome the upcoming holiday season. I was resigned to move ahead. (more…)

Tara B. (USA)

Tara is a native Pennsylvanian who moved to the Seattle area in 1998 (sight unseen) with her husband to start their grand life adventure together. Despite the difficult fact that their family is a plane ride away, the couple fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and have put down roots. They have 2 super charged little boys and recently moved out of the Seattle suburbs further east into the country, trading in a Starbucks on every corner for coyotes in the backyard. Tara loves the outdoors (hiking, biking, camping). And, when her family isn't out in nature, they are hunkered down at home with friends, sharing a meal, playing games, and generally having fun. She loves being a stay-at-home mom and sharing her experiences on World Moms Blog!

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GUEST POST: SINGAPORE–Our Little Island Charm

GUEST POST: SINGAPORE–Our Little Island Charm

SingaporeCity_jdoquinnTwo months ago, we had our first experience going to a medical clinic in a foreign country.

Come to think of it, we managed nearly four years in Paris without needing to do so. It helped that we lived across the street from a pharmacy (a distinct Parisian ‘landmark’). Those days, we relied heavily on self-medication and the advice of our friendly pharmacist.

This time around, these options couldn’t cut it. Our 22 month-old daughter had already been ill for a week and wasn’t getting any better.

Having only recently arrived in Abu Dhabi, we had no idea about which pediatrician to consult. Armed with a recommendation from a mum’s group, I called up only to find out with some panic that the earliest appointment was in four days’ time. After some frantic telephone conversations with my husband, we made a dash for a walk-in clinic which closed its doors at 1pm.

While this may be common in many countries, it is not something that we would have encountered back home. In Singapore, we could always see our pediatrician at short notice after a quick phone call. This was always reassuring, especially for first-time parents who made a big deal out of every rise in temperature or unusual cough.

Our experience at the clinic made me a little homesick and left me wishing for many things, big and small, that we often take for granted back in Singapore.

This feeling was further intensified a few days later, when news broke that Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, had passed away.

Amid the numerous news reports and posts on social media from friends and folks back home, I felt a keen sadness for the nation’s loss of the man who made Singapore what she is today.

Countless politicians, heads of state, journalists and media outlets inundated us with statements, commentaries and judgements on the life and impact of our “giant of history”. I leave this to them.

What I’ve been mulling over, what preoccupies me as a parent, is what Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy entails; it’s what he has left Singaporeans, our future generations and my daughter.

Every opportunity is available to my daughter:

  • She has access to education from an early age and will never have to struggle for the right to go to school.
  • She can run around freely in our neighbourhood and enjoy her childhood innocence in playgrounds.
  • She can go out with her mother now, or alone in the future, without restriction or the necessity of being accompanied by a male presence.
  • She can travel around our little island on public transport, and see marvellous skyscrapers and iconic buildings, all set amidst verdant flora.
  • Her safety outside our home is not an issue that her father or I have to worry our heads about, neither does she need to be anxious over whether her parents will get home safely at the end of the day.
  • She will have friends from so many different cultures and nationalities, and she can be proud of being able to claim heritage from multiple cultures.

Every opportunity awaits my daughter, for her to make something out of it.

For these and many other reasons, my heart hangs heavy and yet swells with pride for our tiny island and I long for the next time we arrive again at Changi Airport, to see the sign “Welcome Home”. It is a home and country that a visionary built. It may not be a perfect place but my daughter has so many things to be thankful for.

This is an original, first post to World Moms Blog from KC, who is currently stationed with her family in Abu Dhabi but born and bred in Singapore. This is their first international job posting with their daughter, TT, who is now 22 months old. You can read more about Singaporean-expat life through KC’s eyes on her blog, Mummy In Transit, or through her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mummyintransit .

The image used in this post is credited to the author’s friend, Jacob O’Quinn, and is used here with permission.

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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JAPAN: The Big Girl

JAPAN: The Big Girl

child nappingMy daughter was sick last night. All over the futon, all over herself. It was certainly not something that I wanted to deal with in the middle of the night–especially knowing that there was no spare futon, and that I would end up sleeping on the hard floor.

I started off by giving her a shower, washing her hair, changing her pajamas. I’m at expert at this, after all.  Due to a bout of RSV when she was three months old, my daughter has asthma.  Her airways over react to any stimuli.

Coughing to the point of being sick used to happen daily, but it’s been over a year since the last episode.  My daughter had forgotten about it, forgotten the routine.  I had not. As I washed her up, she complained about how hard I was scrubbing, how these pajamas were too big, how the pillow was too hard.

When she was smaller, she used to only cry when I washed her.

It struck me how grown up she has become.

Recently, she was named group leader for her four-person group at school. (In Japan, it is very common for teachers to assign groups. They work together to distribute lunch and to clean up, as well as  class work.) She takes this responsibility very seriously. Actually, a bit too seriously!  She is stressed out about it. I can see how she is maturing and learning about what it means to be in change of others.

There are some things you can control, other things you cannot.

Later, after she was cleaned and changed, we both cuddled onto a futon meant for one. She rested her head in the crook of my arm and went to sleep, snoring softly. Such a big girl. Still such a little girl. So unaware of the joys and the trials that are awaiting her.

I rested my head on hers, encircling her in my longer, stronger, more experienced arms. While I still can, while she’ll still let me.

Please share moments when you feel how much your children have grown.

 

This is an original post by the author to World Moms Blog. 

Photo credit: John Finn under a Flickr Creative Commons license.

Melanie Oda (Japan)

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.

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