All the above has been clouding my mind for the past couple of months. I tried to shut it down by keeping my already busy self even busier. Burying myself deeper with work, refusing to deal with the reality.
Motherhood didn’t prepare me for this!
At least it hasn’t yet…
My heart would lament at the sad truth.
Some nights the little voice inside me would whisper “What if he doesn’t survive?” Those little voices often times grow bigger and louder and leave me paralyzed at the thought of how Ican help my son through the worse possible scenario.
The unknown can be a truly terrible thing and I am searching high and low for comfort or faith in how everything will turn out for us. For my son and I. We will get through this, no matter what!
Some nights my heart breaks into a million little pieces seeing my son’s face as he sleeps peacefully. Tears running down my face like there’s no tomorrow.
“How do we protect our children from heartache?”
“God, please help me!”
It is almost a natural instinct for mothers to protect their children, right? Yet life will bring us heartache, disappointments and pain. So how can I help and guide my son to manage all of those possibilities?
Then it dawned on me, I cannot forever protect him with a bubble wrap. I cannot shield him from bad news. The world is not always rainbow and sunshine. There will be bad days but hope is always there. Hope is what will get us through the not so good days.
My son, my precious child may need to learn more about heartache sooner than his peers. He has overcome the facts that his parents are divorced. He has learned to distinguish that a family unit does not always consists of Mommy and Daddy. He now understands that he has two homes filled with people that love him.
As much as I wish to shield him from sadness, I realize I can’t prevent the circumstances in our lives.
All I can do is assure him that everyone loves him. Reminding him that I will understand his feelings and validate them. Knowing my child, I know he can ask the most gut wrenching questions at times so I must prepare myself for that. My son needs a lot of encouragement to talk openly about his feelings and it takes great patience until he is ready to be open. Therefore, I will wait for his cue while being understanding and assure him how much he is loved.
How do you help your child going through difficult times?
This is an original article by World Mom Maureen Hitipeuw from Indonesia
I won a trip of a lifetime to Queensland, Australia last month and while I felt overjoyed, once the confetti settled down and once I found out I will be alone, panic crept in. My partner – who lives in Australia – cannot join me for the trip as he was also traveling somewhere in Australia at the time. All I had was an itinerary crafted by the Tourism Board during my whole 6 days visit.
“What? I’m going alone?”
“But what if I get lost?”
“It’s been gazillion years since I’ve traveled alone…”
Doubts came creeping in, my old worry wart self had to grab a broom and swept all those negative self-talks out of my head.
“You’ll be fine…”
“Take the time to enjoy experiencing the new place by yourself without having to worry about being a mom or anyone else but you.”
So after carefully explaining to my 9 years old son why his mom is going to Australia (again) without him, I packed my suitcase and flew from Jakarta to Denpasar, Bali before flying directly to Brisbane, Australia.
During the 6,5 hours flight, I checked in with my feelings. At first, guilt was there – guilt from not being able to take my boy along with me. For he also has a deep love for traveling which is something I am proud to say he got from me. The wanderluster bug is in him! There was partial sadness knowing I will be in the same country as my partner but our paths cannot cross. I miss him terribly.
Then it dawned on me.
I haven’t been anywhere alone for eons. Yes, I’ve flown to meet up with my partner in Melbourne a couple of times already without my son. Yes, I’ve traveled a bit with my boy but when was the last time I really travel solo?
I searched through the memory bank in my mind trying to remember when was the last time.
Gosh, I can’t remember…
College? When I went on a night bus ride to explore Yogyakarta by myself.
When was that? Over 16 years ago or so? Clearly, I had the guts to do that and I’ve never been afraid to travel before.
I forgot what it’s like to travel solo and most importantly to be alone.
Life has a funny way to give you something that you desperately need – but usually unaware that you need it. Once I got into my hotel room and soaked the view from the balcony towards the beach, those old familiar feelings returned. That joy of being alone with myself. I was alone in a foreign land with only me and myself.
The much-needed solitary…
Yes, the itinerary planned for me were so much fun. Amazing experiences that I still have to write about but it is in that much-needed solitude that I realized how much my soul needed those days, a break from my busy life.
My schedule as a full time working mom has been crazy, chaotic and messy. My role as a single mom is often times exhausting borderline frustrating with the challenges we are dealing with. I was depleted from juggling so many things at once. Exhaustion consumes me like wild fires. Jack of all trades…I had to push Maureen aside and put everyone else’s’ needs above me.
Yet, as I sat there on the wooden bench in Surfers Paradise, sipping my favorite flat white coffee, watching people passes by in groups the realization came, of how I haven’t really stop and just be in the moment for ages. I was either always on the go or rushing inside my own head thinking of the never ending to do list. There’s always things to do, work to finish, homework to help with, deadlines to meet. It’s like a never-ending cycle.
That day I allowed myself to stop. To just be. To watch people silently. I wonder where that family came from, what’s their stories back at home while they spend sunny days of vacations down under. I watched lovers exudes romance as they strolled down to the beach. My heart felt warm witnessing two elderly couple still holding hands, smiling widely.
Somewhere down the busy Surfers Paradise spot…I strangely found my peace.
I sat and observed the world as it passes me by. I nurtured my tired soul by not thinking about work, not worrying about my son. I listened to my heart. I conversed with my soul. Watching the seagulls pecking around the side walk. Burying my toes in the warm golden sand and soaking up the sun. I found love.
Love of foreign lands…love of traveling…love of exploring. Old familiar feelings returned like an old lover. Wild and burning in desires to travel and to write.
In the quiet chambers of my mind, I re-discover these passions buried deep underneath the layers and layers of life’s responsibilities. By traveling alone, I gave myself a gift I desperately needed. To recharge, to rest, to checked in with me. Allowing Maureen to sit with Maureen. Strange as it sounds, I returned feeling rejuvenate.
As someone’s mother, someone’s partner, someone’s employee, I now realized the importance of finding our own solitude amidst the chaos busyness of our daily life. Sometimes we just need to stop juggling and unearth the real person we really are inside. We don’t need to travel to foreign countries – we just need to travel inside ourselves, to listen to our inner voices, to honor our feelings and to make peace with whatever it is that needed to be sorted out internally.
The gift of self-love really can be found in the most unexpected places. Oh and traveling alone is really not that bad nor scary.
What do you do for your alone time, ladies? How do you nurture your soul as busy mothers?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Maureen Hitipeuw of Tatter Scoops in Indonesia.
With the beginning of the rainy season here in Indonesia, the rain is welcome for all of us, especially for those affected by the forest fires spreading in Sumatra and Kalimantan.
Every rain drop brought hope that the fire will be tamed. The difficulties of taming the fire especially in Borneo is also caused by the natural landscape of the forest. Mostly peat land, the fire would still burn under the ground long after the initial fire has been put out.
Writing about this topic has been hard because, as a mother, I am outraged by human greed that allowed this to happen in the first place, and it has been going on for years on end.
Part of me wants to shout – when will this stop? Until we have no more trees or until all our children died from inhaling toxic smokes?
Friends in Singapore and Malaysia are also affected by the fire. The haze reportedly traveled as far as to Thailand.
Lives lost…19 so far according to the last count. 500,000 suffered from respiratory tract infections.
Endangered animals, orangutans are on the brink of extinction.
This is an act of crime against humanity!
This fire has been raging since July!
4 months of breathing in toxic air… 4 months of buying oxygen to survive.
Deforestation caused by greedy hands who burn the forest down in hopes of turning them into palm oils have been so rampant in the past few years.
I am angered by the greed. I don’t care who started the fire, but this needs to stop! This needs to change. This can no longer be a yearly occurrence. Not in Indonesia, not in other countries.
Our innocent children are being put at risk. Indigenous people are losing their home.
Animals that are already on the endangered species list will soon only remain as photos for our children to see in books one day, if we keep going at this rate of earth destruction.
Can you imagine yourself living through this?
These images above are all from a friend who lives in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan. She had to evacuate all her children for cleaner air.
The world needs to push for a real plan to end this because once the forest in Indonesia is completely gone, the whole world will feel its effects.
“They said I must not have been a good enough wife…”
“Is it okay to ask the father to pay for my child?”
“I’m not allowed to leave the house.”
“Being a single mom, feel people look down on me as I matter less.”
What Single Moms Need
Those are just a few of the things I’ve heard over the year, since I started a local support group for single mothers called Single Moms Indonesia.
Living in a patriarchal country Indonesia, women still get blamed for filing divorce. The religious divorce court will put the blame on the women. The court will have a mediation session that almost always ended up with a panel of male officials putting the blame on the women. Women are usually prone to be verbally abused in this situation. It doesn’t matter if the woman filed for divorce following her husband’s infidelity or even abuse.
Indonesians have one word for divorced woman and it is laden with a negative connotation. The word is “Janda” and it’s true meanings are: a woman whose husband has died, or she is a divorcee. I’m not a fan of the word because of the shadowing negativity behind it. The word has turned into a label. It means that the woman behind it is someone who will seduce another’s husband, who ‘asked for it’. It means a woman who is worthy of all the juicy gossips.
To hear members of the support group that live outside of Jakarta, in small towns talked about how they are being isolated just because the neighbor thinks she may pose a threat for being divorced really disturbs me. Not only have these women lost their families but they are also being shunned by the society and having little supports from the government.
What these women need are our support. They do not want to be blamed for their decisions in life. They do not want to be made embarrassed and put on the spot often in a derogatory way.
What single moms in Indonesia needs:
Emotional support. Some members of our group choose to be anonymous because they fear that their families or friends will start gossiping.
Financial Education. Having to be responsible for their own financial state can be daunting for some women especially if they have never work before. Financial education can really help single moms to make better choices or investment.
Parenting Therapy/Support. Often times single moms here are stressed borderline depressed going through their divorce process this can greatly impact the way they mother to their children.
Affordable Daycare. One of the biggest challenges of working single mothers in Jakarta and Indonesia, in general, is the lack of affordable daycare available.
Affordable Housing. With prices of housing skyrocketing in Indonesia, plenty of single mothers are forced to move back in, with their parents or rent the cheapest place they can afford.
Child Support. There is no legal binding laws or government agency in Indonesia that assure children out of divorce families are financially taken care of. In most cases, men just flee and leave the financial burden of raising children to their ex-spouse.
I know these are very general things that not only Indonesian single moms needs, but all single parents needs.
Maybe as a society the simple first step we could take is to be kind and understanding towards single moms because deep down we are all just trying to do our best with the circumstances we are forced to be in, in this life.
Single moms, just like the rest are trying to make it work and to raise children who will become great individuals in the future.
How is life for single moms in your country? Does your government provide special assistant for single parents?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our writer and single-mom to one in Jakarta, Maureen.
When it was time for my son to start school, I knew I wanted him to go to private school and thankfully, he was accepted into one of the international schools near our house.
Private school has its pluses and unfortunately its negatives too.
My son’s classmates are from the upper-middle class, those whose spring breaks were spent going to Japan or Hong Kong to visit Disney Land. The same kids who also have their own iPads and the latest cell phones.
I realized this might cause a challenge for us—with me being a single mom, who had just recently returned to the corporate world—but I try not to let their different lifestyles make my son feel that he’s different.
So that’s why, on Easter weekend, I took him on a mini-getaway to my new job.
We did not take a taxi to get to my office, which is in a hotel. Instead, we rode the train like I do daily. I wanted to show him this is what his mother has to do to get to and from work. He got to see views that he won’t see from inside a nice air conditioned taxi or private car.
He loved staying in the hotel, just like most kids do, so we had a blast. But on our way home Sunday afternoon, the train was full. Not as full as it normally would be on a week day, still, we had to stand. We were leaning against the wall that separates the engine and the passengers. With the train swaying, it didn’t take long before my son told me he wished he could sit down.
Part of my mama bear instinct wanted to give him a seat but part of my tough love was to allow him to feel and experience how not everyone is blessed with a comfortable life.
I hope by showing him what I have to go through on a daily basis it will help him realize that I am working hard, that as the sole bread winner, I am providing for him. Yes, his father pays for school but outside of that, he is my responsibility and I’m doing my best to take care of him.
Yes, I told him I would love to be able to take him to Disney Land someday but for now, we have other priorities. Bills to pay, medicines to get for my parents, uniforms to alter, the list goes on.
Through our short train ride, my son was exposed to life “outside the fence”. What he saw through the windows of the train: makeshift shacks, houses built only inches away from the train tracks, kids playing soccer barefooted with garbage piling up around them. Hard life. The other side of glamorous Jakarta living.
We discuss this. He asked me why these people are living in such poor conditions. My heart ached having to explain that some people are not as fortunate as we are and that poverty is real.
We have a house to live in, a roof over our heads, while others came to the big city to chase their dreams and never made it. That’s why it is important for him to get his education so he can make a living for himself, one that hopefully he will love. I told him it is easy to look up and want what other people have but we need to be in the now, to be grateful for what we already have. To remember that there are those who need our help, who are struggling just to eat.
My wish is for my son to understand this, to grow up being grateful for what we have and to have a heart that is kind and willing to help others.
How do you explain poverty to your children?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our writer and single-mom to one in Jakarta, Tatter Scoops.
The image used in this post is attributed to Hideki Yoshida. It carries a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.
“Need to go and get his hair cut…” I made a mental note as I run my fingers through his now obviously long hair.
“But why Mommy?”
“Oh no, I missed a question…” I inhale and look at him deeply. “Why what? Sorry I was just thinking you need a haircut soon.”
“But why you have to go back to work?”
Sigh…I tried to compose myself even as his messy hair is still between my fingers.
“Because I have to make a living so I can pay for your school. So you could do after school activities…” and so I can add you to a health insurance coverage (I added this bit in my head).
“Will you work out of town?”
“No, Pumpkin. I will find something here.”
“Ok…” he hugged me and I hugged him back tightly and told him I only ask that he study well in school and he behave well.
“You know I love you and I will always be there for you, right?”
“I love you Mommy…” and in the dimmed room I wiped my tears.
The memory of his teacher’s reactions when I told her last year that I will be moving to Bali to pursue a career flashed before me. Back then, she told me that my son’s behavior in school has improved so much ever since I quit working. She was worried.
And for the past few days I’ve been weighing all my options.
Working from home through my writing is sadly not enough to cover everything we need, my son and I. Being a single mother, I am the sole breadwinner, and I have realized for months now how behind I am on getting his needs met. New school uniforms…thanks to my parents, that and my son has a brand new sturdy backpack for school this year from them.
I was content working from home. I get to spend more time with my son; I am home when he gets home from school. We are happier. I didn’t have to get up around dawn to beat morning traffic. I am a happier single mother.
So, I have decided to put my contentment aside, dust up my resume and started sending them out today. Hoping my old field of career will have an opening somewhere, somehow. He will be fine, I keep telling myself. My son understands that I need to do this not just for the obvious financial reasons but also to help me feel better about being productive again.
How do you prepare your kid(s) when you go back to work full time? Any advice?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Maureen from Scoops of Joy in Indonesia.