Blended Family Rituals: about ice cream, mustard and goodnight wishes

Blended Family Rituals: about ice cream, mustard and goodnight wishes

The Glue that Binds

If you ask about the glue that keeps our blended family together, I could reply with classics like ‘unconditional love’, ‘reciprocal respect’ or ‘bonding through fun’. All those are indeed values we hold high in our family of two plus two plus two.

But the special superglue which makes us a family are definitely our family rituals and routines.

In our family, each Thursday is Ice Cream Day. Not just because we all like ice cream, but because on Thursday we celebrate being a family of six again.

Both my kids and my husband’s daughters return from their time with their other parents on Thursday. In the early days of being a blended family, Thursdays would sometimes be filled with tears, silence or just general awkwardness, so we looked for ways to ease the transition. Hence, Ice Cream Day came into being!

Many years later, we feel they don’t really ‘need’ Ice Cream Day anymore, but it still feels appropriate to celebrate being a family on a weekly basis. Besides, who wouldn’t cherish a fixed day to indulge in ice cream!

The Importance of Rituals

Personally, I feel rituals like Ice Cream Day help our kids experience our family home, and by extension, the world, as a predictable, safe place. It gives them something to hold on to.

Especially during the ongoing, turbulent times. Ice Cream Day and other rituals continued to give them a sense of security and comfort. A few months ago, one of our girls casually remarked—halfway through her Thursday Cornetto—that ‘Coronavirus cancelled a lot of things, but not Ice Cream Day!’

Other rituals we have as a family, are less thought through in advance, but became an important aspect of our family identity almost by accident.

When we hear the theme song from Frozen in the kid’s playlist, we need to yell ‘Kasteel!’ at the exact moment in the song when Elsa would build her ice castle in the movie. Just imagine the bewildered looks from bystanders when they hear the six of us in our car yelling ‘Kasteel!’ from the top of our lungs through the open windows, seemingly out of nowhere. We giggle, discuss who’s the winner – the one who was not too early and not too late – and proceed with waiting for our cue to loudly sing ‘Mosterd! Mosterd!’ when Master of Puppets is on. In our family, this song is about mustard. And occasionally about ketchup.

Building Family Security

Our family rituals are a bit like inside jokes. They have a special meaning to us as a family exclusively, and some of them even express our family values in a fun way.

On top of that, they provide the kids with a sense of identity as a member of our family. Especially in a blended family as ours, these casual instances of ‘belonging’ seem truly valuable.

By holding on to our rituals, I also aspire to instill some loving, fun memories in the kids. While slowly but loudly repeating the same mantra of six goodnight phrases when going down the stairs after tucking them in, I secretly hope they will pass this ceremony on to their own kids, one day.

‘Slaapwel. Zoete dromen. Welterusten. Hou van je. Tot morgen. Dikke kus.’

‘Sleep tight. Sweet dreams. Nighty night. Love you. See you tomorrow. Big kiss.’

Each their favorite good night phrase.

Each their daily reminder of security, identity and loving care.

All bundled up in one twenty-second-ritual.

I’m sure you all have some rituals in your families, maybe even without realizing their value. I would love to hear about them, big and small!

This is an original post to World Moms Network by our contributor from BelgiumKatinka Wouters from Belgium. The image used in this post is credited to Kenta Kikuchi from the open shared site, unsplash.com.

Katinka

If you ask her about her daytime job, Katinka will tell you all about the challenge of studying the fate of radioactive substances in the deep subsurface. Her most demanding and rewarding job however is raising four kids together with five other parents, each with their own quirks, wishes and (dis)abilities. As parenting and especially co-parenting involves a lot of letting go, she finds herself singing the theme song to Frozen over and over again, even when the kids are not even there...

More Posts

Evolving Maturity: Sometimes 23, sometimes 3

Evolving Maturity: Sometimes 23, sometimes 3

“Why aren’t babies born with their own unique manuals?!” used to be my constant refrain during the growing-up years of Abhishek, my science-loving, planet-conscious geeky son. As infancy, toddlerhood, childhood and the pre-teens of this bursting-with-energy boy, gave way to the tumultuous teenage years, I kept marvelling at the continual learning involved in being a parent – no sooner did I master a technique, Abhishek’s next stage of growth arrived!

Parenting over long distances, when Abhi left for his four years of undergraduate engineering studies for another city, became even more challenging – the added dimensions of missing one’s child, maternal anxiety, and little ‘gaps’ in communication, made parenting seem suddenly more complex.  And, as if these were not tough enough, the pandemic has added an extra dimension of complication to the simplest of interactions and decisions.

“Have things really changed greatly?” I found myself wondering recently, after finishing a 15-minute video call with my son, who is currently studying for his Masters’ degree in the Netherlands. I live in Mumbai, India. Google helpfully informs me that the distance between his city and mine is 4276 miles or 6882 kilometres. My head may not quite grasp those numbers, but my heart recognizes the challenge of every little bit of millimetre. As it remembers every day since August 24, 2020, when, mask and gloves in place, this lanky boy-man, weighed down with heavy suitcases, waved goodbye to his father and me at Mumbai airport, to leave for the next phase of his learning. 

This, then, is a little “slice of life” glimpse of my parenting story, about the changing equations of long-distance parenting in the pandemic…

Me to Abhi (WhatsApp): Abhi dear, we need to discuss the schedule for payment of your fees. What’s a good time to talk for 15 minutes? I can work with either 7 pm IST or 9 pm IST. Alternatively, let me know your preferred time-slots.

Abhi: *silence for 2 days*

Me: Abhi, hope all is well. I tried reaching you but didn’t get through.

Abhi: *silence for another 3 days*

Me: (Wondering what to do) Abhi, we are beginning to get worried. Please message or call back.

Abhi: (out of nowhere, on Whatsapp) I am fine, don’t worry. The phone was on silent for long durations / I was resting when you had called / I was out when you had called / There was a group meeting when you had called…*insert sheepish and semi-apologetic emoji*

Me: (a bit annoyed – now on a call) You still need to send a message you’re doing OK. After all, there is a pandemic going on. Are you eating and exercising properly? Are you using a face-mask in crowded places in public?

Abhi: Relax Ma, I am almost 23, not 3!

Me: Can we switch to a video call? Haven’t seen you for such a long while! (Mothers, please note – your child may baulk at any expression of sentimentality. Mine does. Any statement of “I am missing you, and it’s been a year since we met” is met with a truly bewildered response of “But I am fine and we are regularly interacting on the phone and over WhatsApp!”)

Abhi: (reluctantly) O.K. if you insist

Me: (after talking for 5 minutes, suspiciously) Abhi, why aren’t you moving the phone to a more comfortable position? Why do I only see a close-up of your face?

Abhi: (grinning, tilts the phone around – the room is in happy chaos and he’s only partially clothed) I didn’t want to scare you!

Me: Abhiiii! Are you 23 or 3 years of age?! Haven’t I succeeded in teaching you anything?! (In high-context cultures like India, parents, particularly moms, are held accountable by society for their children’s quirks, tastes and anything the child does that might be even a little different from the norm. Yes, I know – it’s peculiar.)

Abhi: (laughing) I am 3, I am 3! Who said I was 23?

Me: On a more serious note, won’t it help you to organise your things? And maybe you could wear a vest or a light T-shirt even though it is hot…

Abhi: (sighing) Ma, I need my own space. Don’t worry, I’ll manage. Was there anything else you wanted to talk about?

(Undeniably strong cue for me to drop my current line of conversation – I quickly switch tacks.)

Me: No worries. How have you been enjoying your Teaching Assistant work? Are you learning interesting things?

Abhi: (in a more interested tone of voice) Yes! It’s good and I am reading up on sustainability, in order to answer the questions of other students in the online teaching forum…

As Abhi continued this conversation, I found myself quickly mentally switching from the “classical mother” role to the “friendly parent / peers exchanging updates / teacher learning from a ‘student’” mode. I’ve realised that the classical motherhood tropes that my generation grew up with in India (“Did you eat your food?” “Why are looking so thin?” “Are you studying hard and scoring good grades?”) are almost completely redundant. Our children would rather discuss an interesting video they saw, a meme they chuckled over (Abhi and I regularly swap laugh-out-loud memes on Instagram), or why they think we need to conserve our resources on a war footing. Pandemic or not, daily reminders for careful living will boomerang. And yes, we cannot presume to claim their time, only on account of being their parent – we approach them for a slice of their day with the same courtesy we have for a non-familial, professional interaction – something that amazes the grandparents of our family!

Generation-Z shrugs off the use of labels of age and hierarchy, is unapologetically individualistic, unflinching in its gaze towards the truth of the planet in which we live, and more than willing to take a collaborative stance towards solutions. But provided the older generations are willing to speak in a peer-to-peer voice. With ample space for individual quirks and choices, and mutual respect for all, irrespective of the presence or absence of maternal or filial ties.

I chuckled when my ruminations made me realise there’s just one alphabet differentiating “mother” from “smother”! So now, I simply send a “Are you healthy and happy?” message, whenever there is silence for a while. And he replies with a “Yes” and a smiley emoji. And we both try not to think about when we will meet in person.

Perhaps, the secret to successful parenting over long distances, especially in this global pandemic, is to recognize our shared as well as distinct journeys, laugh over what we don’t control, build our tomorrows on hope, and allow sweet spaces to be interwoven through our conversations and hence, our lives. We live in trust, faith and hope and the acknowledgement of a shared vulnerability. And yes, sometimes, the far-away child will be “3” and sometimes “23”  😊

This was an original post for World Mom by contributor, Piya Mukherjee(India). Photo credit to the Author.

What has your parenting experience been during the pandemic?

Protecting Family Time From Screen Time

Protecting Family Time From Screen Time

Socially distanced but digitally connected. That pretty much sums up what happened globally when COVID-19 hit us in 2020. Who would have imagined that in order to stop the spread of the virus, we have to isolate at home, get quarantined, and go as far as having lock-downs across cities, states and countries. It was no different here in Singapore.

In April 2020, the Singapore government announced a circuit breaker, a partial nation-wide lockdown, where non-essential workplaces including schools had to close and move online. Prepared or not, eLearning became the default learning mode where students had to quickly adapt to digital learning.

But guess what, our children proved how adaptable they are as they rose to be digital natives like fish to water. I saw my daughter navigating video platforms like Zoom, and Teams with ease and I even had to take a lesson or two from her.

To cope with social distancing, she took to playing games online and chatting with friends on WhatsApp and Google hangout. Entertainment choices were at her fingertips ranging from streaming channels, YouTube, Spotify and the list goes on.

While I saw how technology was a saviour to keep us entertained and socially connected to the world outside, it could have potentially been a curse if there were no ground rules with a free for all pass. It is one thing to read news and articles about how technology can draw us and suck us into our devices, making us oblivious to the ones next to us, and it was another to see it unfolding in my family.

I was particularly disturbed that it drew us apart as a family because we were so caught up about being connected with everyone else online. What an irony.

So even though I saw many benefits from a digital lifestyle, enough was enough and we decided to dump our devices and head outdoors instead. We picked up cycling as a family and explored places on our wheels. We cycled on familiar routes in the city and got more adventurous with longer routes along the coast. It was refreshing for body, mind and soul and became a new family activity that we looked forward to on the weekends.

Being in a lock-down made us appreciate nature so much more and it was a much needed respite with all the negative news on escalating COVID cases here in Singapore and around the world. Our weekend cycling adventures gave us something to look forward to and it bonded us tighter as a family of three.

It made me realise that even though our children may appear to choose their devices over us, it’s up to us as parents to draw the boundaries and offer them an alternative. An alternative which the whole family can be involved in while building deeper connections. An alternative that is healthy, wholesome and it never hurts if it’s lots of fun too!

Parents, let’s win the war to win the hearts of our children to strengthen and protect our parent-child relationship instead of leaving them to their own devices, literally. In a world where things have thrown us off balance, we can be the stabilising force in our kids’  lives to give security and hope as we look forward to the day when we stamp out COVID.

What activities did you start with your family during COVID-19?

Susan Koh

Susan is from Singapore. As a full-time working mom, she's still learning to perfect the art of juggling between career and family while leading a happy and fulfilled life. She can't get by a day without coffee and swears she's no bimbo even though she likes pink and Hello Kitty. She's loves to travel and blogs passionately about parenting, marriage and relationship and leading a healthy life at A Juggling Mom.

More Posts

Celebrating Friendship

Celebrating Friendship

The United Nations declared July 30 as International Day of Friendship. I honored the day by taking time to reflect on the benefits of friendship and the universal bond of motherhood:

It was my early days in New York City, having moved from Bali, Indonesia. The move to New York was proving to be a hard one. I left behind a lot in that move: a beautiful garden, house help, a nanny, and year round sunshine. The most important thing that I left—something I didn’t realize the magnitude of until I was in my new environment—was a tribe of friends like none I had ever known.

Aside from being the people who could make me laugh until my sides hurt, or hold intellectual conversations that taught and challenged me, my friends in Bali also showed up for my son and me in ways I hadn’t realized I needed. I rarely had to ask, they just showed up in truly magical ways. We were a crew of people from across the globe, brought together for a shared work environment, quickly bonded together as a chosen family. 

I was lucky with that move. In retrospect, I had been lucky in so many of my work related moves, always finding a magnificent network of friends pretty quickly in the transition. My New York move, back to my home country, however, was proving to be more challenging.

For a variety of reasons, I was just struggling to find my tribe, and with day to day life being harder than I had experienced in the past, (no more help!) I was often overwhelmed. I have never been good at knowing how (or when) to ask for help, so I just waded through it thinking that this was the new normal for me. I was overlooking one important branch of my tribe: World Mom’s Network. 

I am not sure how it all came about now, my memory has morphed it all like it was some superhero cartoon moment where Jennifer Burden, the founder of WMN, and editor Elizabeth Atalay swooped in wearing capes to help me out. I know I wrote to my editor to say: “I need to step back from World Moms, I am just too overwhelmed with life…” And then there was a text from Jennifer saying: “What can I do?!?!” and in my discomfort with asking for help, I weakly said: “I don’t know! Maybe get my son out of the house so I can get some work done?” 

Without hesitation, the two women came and took my son, along with Jennifer’s two daughters, out for pizza and a walk in the VERY cold park, giving me a few hours to work. Their gesture contributed a lot more than that to my life. Up until that moment, these were people whom I had only known through our social media group, World Moms Network, yet here they were, dropping their lives to step in and help me out. They showed up. They encouraged me to ask for help. They reminded me of the importance of reaching out. They modeled the values of the World Moms Network: women showing up to support other women. 

This one small example of friendship in action speaks to the benefits of having your tribe. The benefits of friendship are so far reaching that the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 30 July as International Day of Friendship, with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities. 

While the resolution places focus on involving young people, as future leaders, in events that include different cultures and promote international understanding and respect for diversity, the day has become a time for all people to celebrate the friendships in their lives. 

The benefits of finding your tribe:

The old adage says that friends are our “chosen family,” or “found family.” They are the people who have intentionally chosen to embrace us for all that we are, sharing our interests and values, and often encouraging us to be our best selves. Our friendship groups can become our tribe, seeing us through the many stages of life. While we can all speak to the value of friends for fun, research also tells us that having friends is an important part of our overall well being. 

Health benefits: 

Friends are good for our mental and physical well-being, even contributing to longevity of life. Having a close circle of friends can decrease certain health risks like diabetes, depression, heart attack, and stroke. A study published by PNAS, found that people with a friendship network live up to 50% longer than those who do not. (1) A small Harvard study also found that friends can help to reduce the hormone cortisol in times of stress. (2) These studies, and many more, show that friendships are an important element in our physical and mental health. While many people may be tempted to withdraw during hard times, research shows that we are likely to weather it better when we have friends by our side. 

Achieving goals:

One reason for the potential longevity factor is that friends can help encourage us as we go through lifestyle changes. For example, friends can help us set and achieve healthy goals, serving as accountability partners. Friends can also alert us when we are getting off track, or when certain behaviors get out of hand (like overworking, or drinking too much). (3) People are more motivated to take on changes and maintain healthy behaviors when they are surrounded by people with similar goals, and have a group encouraging them along the way. Do you want to get fit, or stay on track with healthy eating? Consider forming a friendship walking group, or if that’s not possible, create a texting group with friends who share the same goal; a daily check in can be the thing that helps you stay on track!

New discoveries:

Friends can also help us to step outside of our comfort zone, taking on new activities and learning about things we may not have considered without their influence. I often credit my friends with being my resource for courage- I know I never would have gone ziplining or rafting down a rapid river if it weren’t for friends introducing me to new activities. I have a group of friends now with a promise of “Yes,” meaning when one says: “Let’s try…” the others say YES.

Encouragement: 

Friends can serve as valuable mirrors, helping us to see our strengths and reminding us of who we are. They can encourage us when we are down, and offer reassurance when we doubt our abilities.  If we are stepping away from our best selves or outside of our values, our friends can serve as a compass that can bring us back home. When I have struggled with something, having a friend say: “The Erin I know would…” has served as a wonderful reminder of my own strengths, and helps boost my spirits to see myself through the positive lens of a friend.

Finding your tribe:

With all of the benefits of friends being listed, it may be obvious that we should choose our friends wisely, as the old adage says: we are the company we keep! Our friendship circles can significantly influence our own lifestyle choices and personal motivation. Selecting our chosen family for their positive influence (and the contributions we can make to their lives) has the potential to make a big difference in the trajectory of our lives. 

As we get older, the demands of life can make it hard to find and nurture our friendships. Despite the effort it takes, the benefits are well worth the effort. 

A few things you can do to make new friends include: 

  • Join a fitness center with accountability groups, or join a 30 day fitness challenge to connect with others who are interested in a healthy lifestyle. 
  • Check out events with social groups like meet up or Internations to find people who share your interests or to find people with a similar zest for new adventures! 
  • Join affinity groups within your community, either through a local place of worship or community service group. Finding people committed to their beliefs and service can help you connect to people with shared values. 
  • Connect with World Moms Network contributors and tribe members! Moms from around the world are here to support you and may become your new BFF.

A few things you can do to honor your friendships include: 

  • Send a handwritten card or flowers for a special occasion or just because! Let your friends know they are on your mind and that you value them.
  • Check in with your friends for no reason. A quick call or even just a voice memo to say “I am thinking of you,” can make a world of difference for someone. 
  • Make a commitment for a once a month friend date, whether that be face to face or online, time together can help strengthen the ties that bind you. 
  • Avoid being a friendship vampire! Whilst we can benefit a great deal from the friendships in our lives, it is important to consider our own contribution and keep things in balance. Ensure that the give and take in your friendship circle is reciprocal in nature.

When I was in Girl Scouts, we used to sing a song: “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.” As I have gone through my life, the truth in that simple little refrain becomes more and more apparent. Friendship, for all of its benefits, is truly worth celebrating.  Happy International Day of Friendship!

CITATIONS:

  1. Yang YC, Boen C, Gerken K, Li T, Schorpp K, Harris KM. Social relationships and physiological determinants of longevity across the human life span. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016;113(3):578-583. doi:10.1073/pnas.1511085112
  2. Harvard Medical School. The health benefits of strong relationships. Updated August 6, 2019.
  3. Craddock E, vanDellen MR, Novak SA, Ranby KW. Influence in relationships: A meta-analysis on health-related social control. Basic Appl Soc Psych. 2015;37(2):118-130. doi:10.1080/01973533.2015.1011271

This is an original post for World Moms Network by our contributor in Switzerland, Erin Threlfall. The photograph of the author with WMN founder, Jennifer Burden (l) and WMN Senior Editor, Elizabeth Atalay (r), is credited to the author.

Erin M. Threlfall

Originally from the US, Erin has credited her intense wanderlust and desire to live around the globe to her nomadic childhood. Every two to three years, her father’s work with a large international company provided the opportunity to know a different part of the US (VA, OH, PA, GA, SC, NY) and eventually Europe (Germany and Italy) and Asia (Thailand and Japan). Though her parents and siblings finally settled down in the heartland of America, Erin kept the suitcases in action and has called Ghana, South Korea, Togo, Bali, and now New York home. Single Mom to a fabulous seven-year-old citizen of the world, she is an educator and theatre artist who is fascinated with world cultures and artistic practices. Her big dream is to some day open a school focused on well-being and inquiry based learning to meet the needs of all her learners. In the meantime, Erin and her Little Man Edem, plan to keep investigating theatre and influencing education, one continent at a time. You can read some of her ramblings and perhaps find the common thread by checking our her personal blog, telling all about This Life http://www.erinmthrelfall.com/

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
Twitter

Above and Below: Celebrating on World Oceans Day

Above and Below: Celebrating on World Oceans Day

Though the World is still reeling from impacts the SARS-CoV-2 has wrought on terra firma since December 2019, today is World Oceans Day. As far as I know, the ocean is one place the virus has NOT wreaked havoc. So, let’s divert focus for a while and celebrate life…teeming below the sea.

If you are lucky enough to live on or near the coast, then you know the power of looking out over the sea. It’s a vista that can be inspiring, breathtaking, powerful, calming and foreboding; sometimes simultaneously. Remarkably, the ocean covers 71% of our planet’s surface and contains 97% of all water on Earth. Furthermore, about 80% of it has yet to be explored, mapped or even seen. Though the ocean is one, continuous body of water, humanity has divided it into 4 geographic regions: Pacific, Atlantic, Indian and Arctic; 5 regions if you also include the newly designated Southern Ocean, around Antarctica (facts courtesy of National Geographic). Maybe you already knew all of this. That’s awesome.

But did you also know that today, June 8, is the United Nations designated World Oceans Day?

The proposal to mark June 8 to celebrate the ocean came from the Canadian delegation, at the 1992 Earth Summit, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It didn’t pass an official resolution at the UN General Assembly until 2008. So, because June 8, 2021 is both the official relaunch of World Moms Network and UN World Oceans Day, I dedicate this post to both causes.

The theme for UN World Oceans Day 2021 is The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods. Because this is a post for World Moms Network, I’ll talk about how the ocean impacts my own family’s life.

Let me start by saying that the ocean has been a huge part of my life from inception.

I was born into a family of ocean lovers. My father served as a Navy Salvage Diver and my mother is an ocean devotee. As a child, I was surrounded by images, artifacts and elements of the sea. We spent lots of time at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, onboard boats and summering at the shore. In fact, when I think about it, I can hardly recall a family vacation that didn’t somehow involve being on, in or near the ocean. We spent hours at maritime museums, aquaria and gazing at painted seascapes in galleries near and far.

My college major had little to do with the ocean but one of the most impactful courses I took was Coral Reef Ecology. My college was located in Memphis, Tennessee. The lab portion of the course, however, was in The Bahamas. For one week in May, we lived at a science research station on the tiny island of San Salvador. We spent our mornings snorkeling and logging the biology of the island; and we spent our afternoons studying the geology of it. The sea enchanted me with the vibrant and complex societies just below its surface. I wanted to go deeper and learn more.

I knew I needed to get SCUBA certified.

In my early 20s, when I was living and working in Asia, I determined to get my diving certification so I could explore more of the world below the waves. Over the next decade, the journey took me to dive sites around Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Mexico and the Caribbean. Whenever there was time—and a nearby dive shop—I went.

When I met my husband in 2000, I encouraged him also to get PADI certified, so we could explore together. And we did. Early in our relationship, we spent a few days on a live-aboard dive boat in Thailand, in search of the ever elusive Whale Shark; we still haven’t spotted one. On our honeymoon, we did a wreck dive. Together we have seen reef sharks, barracuda, sail fish, and all kinds of rays. We have encountered pods of sea turtles, eels and octopus and infinite numbers of fish. Diving together was pure joy.

Then came kids.

In the past 15 years, we have dived just a handful of times; waiting for that day when maybe we could get our kids interested in diving too.

That day has arrived. This is the year, at 12 and 15, when our kids finally are ready to take on the adventure with us.

Though we all were born on one side of the Atlantic—the East Coast of the United States—we now live on the other side, the West Coast of Portugal. Back in northern New England, unless you’re diving for a lobster dinner, SCUBA diving isn’t a terribly popular past time. It’s COLD! And though the weather in Portugal is temperate and sunny year-round, the Atlantic here is even COLDER!

Diving in frigid, 17C/62F degree water with 7mm thick wetsuits, hoods and booties may not seem like ideal conditions but in Portugal, diving is a big deal. In fact, pretty much anything to do with the ocean is a big deal: surfing, kite surfing, wind surfing, boogie boarding, fishing, spear fishing, sport fishing, eating fish and, of course, sailing. The Portugese are a seafaring people. This is the home of The Discoverers after all.

In the middle of a pandemic, faced with social distance requirements, excessive screen time and lockdowns, what better place to escape than the ocean?

And that is what we did. We invested in getting our kids their SCUBA certifications; not because we plan to go diving every weekend nor even every vacation vacation. As World Moms, we’re all on a path to raise global citizens and part of that journey requires raising awareness at all levels. Sure, diving is a luxury—just like skiing or any sport that requires extensive gear—but when you experience an environment, when you truly spend time getting to know its surroundings and inhabitants, you become a citizen conservationist.

So today is World Oceans Day and to honor it, I’m happy to report that this past weekend, both of my kids did their first open water dive. When I descended 11m/33ft into the chilly waters off the coast of Sesimbra, Portugal and saw my kids kneeling on the sandy bottom, it was something akin to magic. I never got the chance to dive with my own father—the person who first planted the love of the sea deep within me—but by witnessing it planted in my own children, I know that I am passing on that legacy. I know that I am raising stewards of the sea.

Slide left or right for before and after

This is an original post to World Moms Network from our Managing Editor, Kyla P’an, who resides in Cascais, Portugal. All photos in this post are attributed to the author.

Kyla P'an (Portugal)

Kyla was born in suburban Philadelphia but spent most of her time growing up in New England. She took her first big, solo-trip at age 14, when she traveled to visit a friend on a small Greek island. Since then, travels have included: three months on the European rails, three years studying and working in Japan, and nine months taking the slow route back from Japan to the US when she was done. In addition to her work as Managing Editor of World Moms Network, Kyla is a freelance writer, copy editor, recovering triathlete and occasional blogger. Until recently, she and her husband resided outside of Boston, Massachusetts, where they were raising two spunky kids, two frisky cats, a snail, a fish and a snake. They now live outside of Lisbon, Portugal with two spunky teens and three frisky cats. You can read more about Kyla’s outlook on the world and parenting on her personal blogs, Growing Muses And Muses Where We Go

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
Twitter

Lockdown Reflections: Musings From a COVID-19 Warrior’s Wife (Part 2)

Lockdown Reflections: Musings From a COVID-19 Warrior’s Wife (Part 2)

We hope you had the chance to read Part -1 of our WorldMom Purnima’s family’s experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. Below is Part 2.

My husband’s COVID-19 experience has awakened many feelings that seem to be coming to my conscious mind in layers, in time. I had probably shut out everything when while undergoing the experience. With each memory, new wisdom emerges. A new level of consciousness opens up. Each reminiscence ushers in an opportunity for transformation.

Here I will try to put a few of those into words!

My husband, nor his friends and colleagues, allowed any wasted time in sympathy. They had a job to do. Their duty came first, and I am proud of the COVID-19 warriors worldwide who pledge their lives to do what they think is the right thing to do. Work is worship, for them, and may the world be more blessed by such giving souls. 

They go to work every day, not thinking that it is the end of the world. For them, it is just routine. These physicians have been active healthcare workers during the bird flu, the swine flu, and many other pandemics. They feel humanity will endure and come out stronger and better. At least that is what they perennially convey to all of us – eternal hope, and loving-kindness.

If today you have an opportunity to show kindness to one soul – please do it. You may be doing much more than helping out with grocery shopping, or baking a cake, or running an errand for your friend or a stranger.

You may be touching the soul of a person in an irrevocably good way for eternity by a very simple act, and sometimes that could make all the difference between life and death.

Compassion, affection, and empathy – are the fuel that runs the world. While you are wrapped in kindness outpouring from all quarters, you can endure anything. I received only gentleness from all quarters, and perhaps that was the most important factor to ensure my sound mental health, lack of stress, and lack of worry. Not one patronizing word. No condescension. No holier than thou talk, or wise-talk, no nothing. Just pure love, care, and concern from all who knew of our situation. We also did not face a single social stigma; of course, we had the personal discipline to socially isolate as per standard health guidelines.

In the midst of everyday challenges and the pouring of wisdom from within my heart, I realized that as humans, our collective compassionate consciousness was being elevated.

Wisdom is perhaps already inherently present inside every one of us if we listen. Wisdom is what probably enables us with creativity, and intelligence, when we decide to look deeper than what our immediate current perception show us. My wish for all of us is to go beyond that tangible thought or feeling and wait, like we do, as a family, both physically and emotionally.

Let wisdom decide to enthrall us, and in that one moment of revelation, you can feel the Universe’s love, and if you continue to stay there for one extra moment, perhaps that would allow us to perceive the kindness and compassion in our immediate surrounding, from the Universe.

As humanity, we endure with some hope, some gratitude. We are always offered a choice at that one moment when we are faced with life-altering adversity – we can choose hope and gratitude and be transformed by our choices. And this perception can make all the difference in lighting the path – for ourselves and for people around us. 

I remember this excerpt from Carl Sagan, inspired by an image taken by Voyager 1 on February 14, 1990. Voyager 1 was about 6.4 billion kilometers (4 billion miles) away, and approximately 32 degrees above the ecliptic plane, when it captured this portrait of our world. Caught in the center of scattered light rays (a result of taking the picture so close to the Sun), Earth appears as a tiny point of light, a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size. 

The Pale Blue Dot – Our Home, Planet Earth
Image Credit: NASA

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor, and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

― Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

To be continued …

Purnima Ramakrishnan

Purnima Ramakrishnan is an UNCA award winning journalist and the recipient of the fellowship in Journalism by International Reporting Project, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her International reports from Brazil are found here . She is also the recipient of the BlogHer '13 International Activist Scholarship Award . She is a Senior Editor at World Moms Blog who writes passionately about social and other causes in India. Her parental journey is documented both here at World Moms Blog and also at her personal Blog, The Alchemist's Blog. She can be reached through this page . She also contributes to Huffington Post . Purnima was once a tech-savvy gal who lived in the corporate world of sleek vehicles and their electronics. She has a Master's degree in Electronics Engineering, but after working for 6 years as a Design Engineer, she decided to quit it all to become a Stay-At-Home-Mom to be with her son!   This smart mom was born and raised in India, and she has moved to live in coastal India with her husband, who is a physician, and her son who is in primary grade school.   She is a practitioner and trainer of Heartfulness Meditation.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus