You might have noticed we were a bit quiet on our website this summer as we took our annual “Blogcation.” Well, here is what some of us, World Moms, were up to during July and August of 2017!
Tara Bergman, USA
“My family and I took a backpacking trip to an alpine lake in the Cascade Mountains in Washington State, USA. It was a lot of work to get everyone on the trail with packs, but we made it to our destination and had the whole lake to ourselves overnight. The birds were chirping until 10pm and started up again around 4am, so I guess we had some company after all.”
Tina Rodriguez, Philippines
“No holidays here in the Philippines now. I’ve been trying to juggle many things like family and home life (including homeschooling the kids), work, advocacies, etc. By God’s grace, I’m surviving! ?My family and I were even able to squeeze in some bonding time with my parents, which made for many precious moments!”
Ketakandriana Fafitoson, Madagascar
World Mom, Ketekandriana Fafitoson, of Madagascar poses in front of the temple-pyramid of El Castillo in Chichen Itza while on a business trip in Mexico. The temple once served as an astronomical observatory!
“My kids have just finished school but I don’t know if we will have time to go on the seaside this year (we live in the highlands). The fact is that I am 6 months pregnant now, and still have to travel a lot for my job and my activism…But I will try to manage some time to take them to their favorite place, maybe in early September…If everything goes well”
Tes Silverman, World Voice, USA
“Summer’s was busy for me & my family! My daughter, Shaina, graduated from high school in June, and then my whole family headed down south to Virginia Beach in early July to celebrate my great-aunt’s 100th birthday! What an amazing reunion of aunts, uncles & cousins I haven’t seen in years, and especially for Shaina, who met a lot of them for the first time. My most favorite moment was going up to my great-aunt Pacing (the woman of the day in pink), and after being told who I was, seeing her eyes fly wide open after recognizing me and giving me a big smile. I then moved over so I could introduce her to Shaina, and her response was, “oh so pretty!” It was so moving for me that she recognized me after so many years, and that I had the opportunity to have Shaina & Micah see her again.
That weekend spent with my relatives made me realize how precious life is & how awesome it is to have an extended family. If l live to be 100, I hope to see as much family around me as my great-aunt had. As a result of this weekend, we are now planning to get together again next year, to make sure that the 2nd generation (mine) & 3rd generation of cousins (Shaina’s) keep in touch.
To-wen Tseng, USA
“Currently pregnant with my 2nd child, I had to take some time off earlier this year because of pregnancy complications. Now into 27 weeks, I’m feeling better and trying to catch up at work. I have a new book due exactly on the baby’s due date! Wasn’t aware of the pregnancy when I sign the contract with the publisher. A busy summer for me!”
Founder Jennifer Burden, USA
“We headed to the U.K. and Italy for a month to vacation and catch up with family and friends. Here’s a photo of the girls looking out over the ruins of the Forum in Rome.”
Bessma Bader, Saudi Arabia
“Summer has been both, slow and busy. Busy because I gave birth to my 5th child in June 18th, and slow because since then I have been stuck under or beside my 5th feeding or caring for him. All while trying to make sure the other kids get to various summer camps and activities to keep them busy considering it’s averaging 48-50 C degrees outside in the daytime, so outdoor activities are not an option! Feeling happy, tired and blessed. “
Cindy Levin, World Voice, USA
“I took my family up to the San Juan islands, a remote chain of islands in the pacific northwest of the U.S. We kayaked, canoed, hiked, and watched the orcas watching us. We also got to scramble around the “bottom of the ocean” looking for sea stars. In a rare tidal event, the moon was aligned so that we could walk where the water would normally be 10 feet over our heads!”
Piya Mukherjee, India
“It was a lovely summer and a bit of a milestone. My 18-year old returned home for his summer break from the hostel, and it’s been a sweet-sad feeling, cherishing every moment of family time, yet aware of the calendar telling us he will fly back to Delhi soon to his engineering studies. Best of all was the 8-day trip to Gokarna and Goa (India) – an off-the-grid, back-in-time kind of holiday, with entire days spent at the beach!”
Yolanda McCloud Gordon, USA
“I had a great summer. First in June, I went to NYC to participate in a story telling workshop with The Moth! Totally awesome. Then I joined Cynthia Changyit Levin in DC to fight for healthcare and led a Storytelling workshop at the RESULTS Conference! Back at home I prepped for the student that I took under my wings this summer.”
Elizabeth Atalay, Managing Editor, USA
“This was an epic summer for us, having both turned 50 this past year, looking forward to our 20th wedding anniversary this fall, and sending our oldest of four kids off to college in the fall inspired us to go big with our summer plans. It was a dream come true for me to travel to Tanzania as a family with Proud African Safaris, a small Tanzanian owned company that provided a trip of a lifetime. We spent 6 nights in the Serengeti viewing spectacular wildlife, and visited a Masaai village as well as several tribes in the lake Eyasi region. Then spent a few days at the beach in Zanzibar. Soon after our family trip, I did a week long women’s trip to Israel that was incredible. Then as a family we traveled into the path of totality in South Carolina to view the Total Solar Eclipse!”
We are excited to be back, to share the global stories that we have collected and dive into a new season together!
What did you do did this past summer? We’d love to hear!
Elizabeth Atalay is a Digital Media Producer, Managing Editor at World Moms Network, and a Social Media Manager. She was a 2015 United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, and traveled to Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow to report on newborn health in 2014. On her personal blog, Documama.org, she uses digital media as a new medium for her background as a documentarian. After having worked on Feature Films and Television series for FOX, NBC, MGM, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Castle Rock Pictures, she studied documentary filmmaking and anthropology earning a Masters degree in Media Studies from The New School in New York. Since becoming a Digital Media Producer she has worked on social media campaigns for non-profits such as Save The Children, WaterAid, ONE.org, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, American Heart Association, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on ONE.org, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter.com, EnoughProject.org, GaviAlliance.org, and Worldmomsnetwork.com. Elizabeth has traveled to 70 countries around the world, most recently to Haiti with Artisan Business Network to visit artisans in partnership with Macy’s Heart of Haiti line, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans. Elizabeth lives in New England with her husband and four children.
A few weeks ago, I found myself rubbing a strained back, while contemplating a few dozen cardboard boxes, spilling with myriad possessions. My family and I had just shifted residence and while the bigger home was welcome, the sense of being uprooted, was downright disturbing. Over the days and weeks, while I got back to arranging cupboards, emptying out the boxes, and deciding what went where, there was an almost palpable sense of shaping and creating a living space imbued with warmth. A feeling that this apartment was slowly but surely turning into “home”.
That got me thinking. What is it that binds the woman so closely to the sense of “being home”? Why are bachelor pads the butt of jokes, almost as if they can’t be anything more than functional places of stay? And what is it with mothers, that transforms a space with walls and ceiling, from house to home?
Keepers of memories:
“You can’t possibly throw my old soft toys” was the plaintive wail over the phone, from my now grown-up teenager, studying engineering, hundreds of miles away. The tall, bearded young man can dismiss tech troubles and maths equations with ease, but will turn into a 7-year old when confronted with the threat of parting with his precious old buddies of childhood. While I laughed and assured him his dear Spiderman figurine and other assorted ‘friends’ would continue to live with us, part of my mind wondered about how easily mothers slip into the role of “memory-keepers”. In my family, I get to be the person who decides about the keeping of old birthday cards, letters (yes, we still have those!), hand-written notes and little reminders of days gone by. And so there are three burgeoning bags labeled “Sentimental keepsakes”, holding varied treasures such as a favorite insect-print shirt of the sonny-boy when he was a toddler, a teddy-bear with a missing eye, painstakingly created art projects and more. I guess being the protector of the little tangible reminders of precious reminders comes with the territory of being a mom.
Strands of love:
Bidding goodbye to the previous apartment was very difficult due to the myriad of experiences and special moments that had enriched our lives for 16 long years. Would this new home hold a special place in our hearts too? I sighed and realized that when a family lives in various places in succession, no two homes can ever hold the same position in the heart. Each place is linked to a distinct palette of memories. Children are born and they grow up, moving through the years with frightening speed. Our parents leave us, moving from the earthly plane to a higher and better place. We shed our hair and gain some pounds and our faces reflect the battles lost and won in the arena of the world. And our children leave their homes, to find their own wings. Amidst these milestones, big and little, the home remains our sanctuary, the shelter where we return to find ourselves. And so, woven in our homes are strands of love and laughter. Of care and sacrifice. Of sleepless nights and faith-filled days. And again, mothers seem to gravitate towards this process of “weaving love” almost effortlessly.
Mothers are often, thus, the binding factor, transforming houses into homes. It does not matter whether the mother is the caretaker of a child with special health-needs or the mother of a potential Olympian athlete, or the mother of a daughter in a country where females are routinely treated as second-class citizens, or the mother of a little child, living in a refugee camp, trying valiantly to use lullabies and a rag doll to create the illusion of a home for her little one. Home isn’t a space alone – it is a physical space that is imbued with the most sublime of human feelings and emotions. It is the sparkling magical reaction between a safe dwelling place and a mother’s love.
“There are times when it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that my husband and I are blessed to have Abhishek as our child!” I recently said , to a close friend.
You might initially assume that these are the words of a proud parent and that the child is an achiever in the worldly sense of the term. Yes, every child is an achiever in their own way; but the special gifts that every child brings into the lives of their parents are much more meaningful than mere achievements.
The early years:
When Abhi was a toddler and composed tiny poems about Nature, we nick-named him “sunflower” to reflect the innocence and sheer joie de vivre that he expressed at every waking moment. We felt humbled and awed by the fact that this trusting little soul had chosen us to participate in his quest for meaning, to share his curiosity and to gaze at the world with eyes filled with wonder. When we were with him, we found it easy to brush away the dust of old “has-been’s” and “should be’s”. We shrugged off pre-judged notions of what things ought to be, what fun is supposed to look like, what work truly means. We learned to become child-like again. His easy take on life restored our hope in fellow human beings. His intense love for “all creatures big and small” reminded us about how truly interconnected we all are in the fabric of life. Most of all, his trust made us want to be the kind of people he would look up to.
“Practice, don’t preach” became a necessary rule to live by.
Over the years:
As the years rolled by, and the toddler grew into a tween and then a teen, we realized just how much we had learned, thanks to him. One kind of learning was the ability to see the world through his eyes – uncompromising, clear and yet optimistic about the future. The other, more subtle kind of learning was related to our role as parents; were we living the truth of everything that we asked him to be and do? We were not just messengers of a message, we WERE the message.
From the pages of the family album – Unbridled joy in the tiniest of things – who better than a child to teach an adult about this?
A debt to our children:
Could it be that as parents we owe a debt to our children, far greater than what is ever imagined or acknowledged? Our children teach us all about trust, faith, patience and pure, unsullied joy. If we are willing to learn, they teach us what unconditional love is all about. And through our interaction with them, we explore the boundaries of our physical, mental and emotional reserves; learning to stretch ourselves to meet the ever-changing challenges that they bring to our lives. From being self-contained adults, we move to a higher, more intense realm of thinking, feeling and being.
Parents – not just givers, but receivers too:
Perhaps parenting is looked upon as an almost overwhelming responsibility because the focus is frequently on the need to give, give…sigh… and give some more. Granted that the axis of one’s life changes forever when children arrive. One learns, perhaps for the first time, to put someone else first. When we pause to take stock of all that we receive; the joys, the learnings, the richness that imbues everyday moments and makes them into cherished memories, parenting seems like a special gift. A privilege granted by the universe. Hence it would not be incorrect to say: Our children make us into better people!
Toy cars were no doubt invented as a sanity-restorative for frazzled mothers of demanding toddlers. No, I am not for the world suggesting that we turn material in our pursuits of family fun. But when the cabbage is being coaxed into softness and the aubergine threatens to burn, a 4.5 cm by 2 cm., inexpensive but dinky car can magically transform a wailing child into a cherub.
The droplets of tears begin to dry on the cheeks. The eyes are wide and unblinking while the tiny fingers explore each molded plastic bit of this new entity. Exploratory pushes are hugely successful and now, Abhi, my toddler-of-rainbow-moods, looks up at me with a huge grin, as if to say “thanks, Ma!” Soon, entertainment time gives way to education, as he decides he wants to see how this actually works. Initial tugs at the wheels yield very little. But gradually, the hapless thing succumbs to determined and surprisingly dexterous fingers. “Aha!” thinks Abhi. “Now I will learn more.” But the battered car is a silent sphinx, yielding no more secrets about its magic. With a sigh, Abhi pushes it away. Later, I will try to salvage the once-pristine car and get it in working order. Toddlers have thankfully short memories (or so we like to believe!) and I might put it away for now.
From toy cars onto the real thing. Travelling by car is fun-time for Abhi. He likes all those loud things that move next to his box on wheels, occasionally flashing bright red lights. His immediate response to the brake-lights of the car ahead is a triumphant “aao, aao!” (meaning “aalo”, which in Bengali language means light). He also enjoys fiddling with the louvers of the air-conditioning duct. But the activity that really brings a gleam into his eyes is playing with the gear stick.
Comfortably ensconced in Ma’s lap, he eyes it longingly for a long while, watching it change position under his father’s hands. He decides to try for himself. With a sudden lunge, he grabs the head. Almost. The ever alert Ma pulls him back. She wags an admonishing finger at him. Abhi is ensconced once again in a safe but unexciting lap. How utterly boring! What is life without the gear stick of a moving car? He kicks his legs up and down. Hopefully, these silly, white socks will fall out and off his feet. Why his parents insist on sheathing his feet in goody-goody socks, is yet a mystery to him.
At this point, Ma notices the socks seemingly growing past his toes and, with a chuckle, pulls them back in position. This is too much to take. Abhi’s dignity is definitely hurt. Only the gear stick can change that. He makes a brave attempt, bends forward to grab the tantalizing, black thing and almost succeeds, when…Ma promptly pulls him back. She makes it known in no uncertain terms that the object of desire will have to wait. For several years in fact.
He is indignant. They are doing this to him, their own little precious son?! The corners of his lips droop down and tremble. Ma refuses to be browbeaten and coolly gazes out of the window. He decides to withdraw into a hurt calmness. Gradually, his eyes down their shutters, halfway. What is life? Abhi ponders over this, cars, gear sticks and stubborn parents…
Another day, another time. Abhi is sure that the difference between “p” and “bh” is irrelevant. While gazing out of our tall windows, we spot a passing jeep. I point it out to him and in my best, “child-instruction voice” say “jeep”. Abhi grins at me with a “why are you trying to fool me?” look. He promptly sticks out his little, pink tongue and waggles it to show me what a ‘jeep’ is. Just to make sure I have got the point, he starts a “lo-lo-lo-lo…” chant with the said organ. At which point, I interrupt him to clarify, “This is your Jeebh(Hindi and Bengali for tongue) and that is a Jeep”.
By now, the vehicle in question has vanished. Abhi looks at where my finger is pointing. He sees nothing resembling his tongue, or a vehicle for that matter. He turns to look suspiciously at me. I hurry to retrieve his dog-eared book of vehicles and victoriously point to a picture of the object under dispute. Indisputably, a jeep. He looks surprised and exasperated, as if to ask,”How can you possibly give the same name to two things? Grown-ups, bah!” Catching my frustrated look, he switches to a serene “I know it happens to the best of us” smile and walks away saying “lo-lo-lo-lo…”
What has your child been fascinated with in his toddler-hood continuing into childhood?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by World Mom, Piya Mukherjee of Mumbai, India.
In this post, World Mom, Piya Mukherjee in India has shared an excerpt from her motherhood diary. Many of us have gone through this same experience with our children when they were small, but ever did we think a mom on the other side of the world was playing the same game?…
These days, I seem to be in the middle of an affair with scissors and cellotape (Scotch tape). Come rain or shine, be it noon or night, these two innocuous objects have inexplicably developed a strong attachment for me, and I, for them. Diapers, I can understand, baby oil and soap, quite naturally; and toys? – but of course. But cellotape and glue?
Actually, there is a simple explanation. Abhishek, my over-a-year-old-but-not-yet-two son, adores books. He loves to feel them, dribble on them and even chew the pages meditatively, if they seem interesting enough. He turns pages and stabs his tiny fore-finger below each picture, a cue for me to explain what it is (never mind that I had done just that an hour ago!). Once, he even subjected his book on animals to the indignity of a bath – in a warm puddle of his own making!
Given his proclivity towards books, it seems logical that pages will often tear under his enthusiastic but clumsy fingers.
And what happens to that poor little torn page? It is promptly placed in Mama’s hands, where, with immediate ministrations of glue, scissors and cellotape, the book becomes whole once more. Albeit in a battered sort of way.
Meanwhile, the guilty party shuffles on his feet and darts me repentant glances from beneath lowered lids. I launch into a lofty sermon on why books should be treated with care and respect. Next comes the message “This is definitely not on.” Finally, the tete-a-tete ends with a pat on his back and a “Be careful in future.”
Abhi gives me a smile of relief, which clearly says, ”Won’t happen again, Ma!” I grin back and hand over the pieced-together book. Grabbing it gleefully, he toddles off to his favourite corner. Soon, he happily retreats into a cozy, private cocoon of books, imaginary friends and one-sided babble. Sighing in relief, I turn back to my work. Feeling the contentment that comes from a job well done, a clear message given to a young, impressionable mind.
I laugh, remembering the time I caught him in the act of throwing a torn page into the waste-paper bin. To avoid the inevitable reprimand, he had decided to do away with the evidence! The crumpled picture of a bright green spinach was duly rescued and given its rightful place in its book – with the help of the omnipresent duo, of course.
I start dreaming of the day when Abhi will use his knowledge to make a positive difference to his world. Information will no longer be restricted to books. The ubiquitous computer will occupy prime space in his life.
But books are likely to be his loyal companions for a long time to come…Will he then remember his first books and their colourful pictures? That picture of boat with its sail under cellotape? And the gentle lamb in his book of Nursery Rhymes, its tail in tatters? Maybe he will…
The peace is abruptly broken by the sound of ripped paper. A curly-haired head is bent in contrition. Two little hands are guiltily fingering a torn bit of paper, as if to ask, “How on earth did this happen again?” Sigh! It’s time to reach for the cellotape and glue once more!
(The little reader finds shelter in his mom’s cupboard, after one episode too many of ripped pages.)
Have you ever wondered about all the mothers around the world facing the same day to day as you? Where are reading this from? Leave us a comment!
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by World Mom, Piya Mukherjee of Mumbai, India.
Where in the world do you live? And, are you from there?
I live in Mumbai, India and have lived here since birth. However, work and leisure have taken me to many different pockets of India and of the world. It’s a tad ironical that someone with “wanderlust” should also be a happy citizen of a single city for a long time!
What language(s) do you speak?
I speak English, Hindi (the national language), Bengali / Bangla (my mother tongue), some Marathi (the language of the state where I live) and a sprinkling of words in French remembered from my school and college days! 🙂
When did you first become a mother (year/age)?
I had just turned 26 when Abhishek was born.
Are you a stay-at-home mom or do you work inside or outside the home?
Surprisingly, the answer to this question is – both! When my son arrived, I moved into full-time parenting and slowly progressed to weaving my work around his schedules. Later, this took the form of freelance and flexi-time work. Over the years, my son grew – as did my work. However what remains constant is my “being there” when needed – exam study times, “I need to discuss with you” times, ill times, sad and happy times. So yes, I work, but if there is a toss-up between parenting and work, parenting would win hands-down! Hence I like to think of myself as a professional who also works with the mind-set of a stay at home mom.
Why do you blog/write?
Because the thoughts in my heart and mind wear the words of their choice and seek expression in my diaries, journals and laptop! Because they will not be denied. Because they echo my deepest, most sacred beliefs. And because I believe in the power of such words in forging and linking like-minded souls across the planet.
What makes you unique as a mother?
Every chuckle and laugh that motherhood has brought me, every tear I’ve shed, every epiphany that seemingly simple moments have brought me, every dream my heart has nurtured, every fear that has kept me awake and every hope that I’ve cherished – these have all contributed to the tapestry of this special, challenging, wondrous and joyous journey of motherhood. That makes me a unique mother – like the other mothers on this planet (no, that’s not a paradox!). Aren’t we then all unique mothers? 🙂
And oh, I must mention that over the past 18 years or so, I’ve been very active in the education domain. Being a teacher-trainer, allows me to bring some much-needed understanding into the classroom and some objectivity in terms of dealing with growing-up milestones, in my home! The cross-pollination of experiences and learnings helps!
What do you view as the challenges of raising a child in today’s world?
The world today probably offers more choices and faster time-buckets for changes and decision-making than ever before. The flipside is this: emotional resilience and intellectual maturity don’t quite grow at the same rate as techo-skills and expressions of individuality. Which leads to a world that teeters between the “I” and the “We” paradigms of identity. Raising a child to navigate this course is what makes parenting a challenging task today.
How did you find World Moms Blog?
I was searching for some “soul-food” for mothers on the Internet. Some random clicks brought me to this website, and I was interested…then intrigued…and then hooked. But then again, Vedanta (a school of philosophical thought of India) teaches us that nothing is truly random! So this was meant to be. 🙂
Do you you have any questions for Piya?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by new contributors, Piya Mukherjee of India.