Loose Tooth

A couple of days ago Cesca returned home from school all excited and bubbly, jumping up and down, barely able to talk and nearly screaming out, “Mama, mama, I have a loose tooth!”

I got that awful feeling of your gut becoming locked in place and then free-falling to the ground.

She’s my little baby, how can she even be talking about loose tooth and tooth fairies? Wasn’t that supposed to be happening till a couple of months more – enough time to prepare myself for this awful thing called growing-up? What difference does a couple of months make you ask me? Not much, true. But for me, at this time in my children’s lives, it means the world and that bit more.

The girls are growing too much, too fast, too quickly. We just attended Cesca’s school Christmas Concert, and realized it was her third one to date. Already! And next September, Bettina starts school. Bettina, whom I still regard as my little one, is soon off to mingle with new children in uniform, in a new school. I can honestly say that at times all these changes just make my head spin.

The rest of the times I just give in to the inevitable and realize that notwithstanding my wishing and praying, they just grow. I cherish our moments, I try to take as many photos as I can, and I want them to make as many beautiful memories as possible. I teach them what they need to know, especially with Cesca, given her age. I teach her that it is okay to be that bit different from all the rest. It is okay to dress up as Batwoman if she wants to, and if she does not like pink then that really does not matter. She does not need to have the exact same pair of school tights as the rest of her friends, and if she wants a fringe, then it’s okay to have one even if her friends do not. I try my best to let her be her own person and go from there. If there is one lesson I want her to learn at this point, it’s that it’s okay to be different.  Moulding her into something she is not was never something I wanted with my children. And with Cesca, I could never do that – not even if I tried.

I hope she keeps surprising me with her words, making me laugh with her spontaneous dancing moves, and giving big hugs to her ‘bestest friend in the whole wide world’ 🙂

 

 

Five

My little (more properly, eldest) daughter just recently turned five. Five years of motherhood, of learning, of making mistakes and growing up. She is, as always was, my sensitive one. The one who needs to know that all is okay before being content. She needs to have a routine and stick by it, and she needs to be prepared and warned of any changes or unusual events. She’s a moody pain first thing in the morning, and won’t even tell her sister good morning until she’s ready to start the day and face the world. She’s the one with a hundred questions, all becoming more and more difficult to answer as time passes by. She goes with her guts, she rarely changes her opinion about someone, and she is, at moments, embarrasingly honest. Time spent with her is precious. Never a dull moment, and the words never stop. I will never tire of her spontaneous kisses and telling me what a beautiful mama’ I am. Her words and actions always put a smile on my face, no matter what.

She recently finished her kindergarten years, and my heart grew heavy as I saw her leave the school for the last time last week. I can’t even begin to explain the difference these past two years of school have made. I am only praying that next year a new school building and a new routine won’t have any unwelcome effects.

Five years of being a mother and two children later, what can I say?

Nothing is easy. Nothing comes handed out to you on a golden plate. We are terrifyingly given, in our exclusive care, these tiny beings without any real knowledge how to handle them and take care of them, and somehow we have to make the best job out of it. If that is not scary than I do not know what is. Then the worst is when you try really hard, you’re probably feeling desperate out of lack of proper routine, sleep and hormones, and you get judged. Judged by close-minded bigots who probably have no idea what this job really entails.

So my advice? Just move on. I have felt overwhelmed by motherhood on countless occasions, probably more with Cesca than Bettina. I have doubted myself and my abilities so many times that I was going crazy over it. We are our own worst critics. Nowadays I go with whatever works. You only want a banana for dinner? Fine. You want to take off your shoes and run outside barefooted? Go ahead. You want to eat yoghurt all on your own? Just do it.

Do enjoy little children. Before you know it, they’re all grown up. I’m dreading the moment Cesca will want to wash herself, or dress herself, or do her own things by herself. I don’t want her to stop closing her bedroom door or insist on reading by herself. I naively want to keep doing it all for her. Because stopping these mundane things, is so very scary.

 

Don’t let anyone tell you motherhood is easy. It’s the toughest. It’s one obstacle after the other, one challenge following the other, but the cliche is true. Nothing is as rewarding in life. By some unexplainable theory, the same small beings who drive you crazy and who you’d willingly rent out at times, just to get away from them, are the same ones you can’t do without.

So I will answer Cesca’s questions with a smile. I will try and find an explanation why it’s not always sunny on Sunday and why she’s never seen a fairy before. I will enjoy every embarrassing episode because I know I will smile later about it later on. I will allow her to help me with my makeup and choose my shoes for me, without flinching when she does so. I won’t get impatient when she won’t give me a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but insists upon showing me Dance A which means ‘yes’ and Dance B which means ‘no’. Who knows if she’ll still be doing these same things next year?

So my little free spirit, keep smiling!

 

Straight Out

Perhaps many of you know by now that my eldest daughter is the outspoken one. She is the one who knows no boundaries when it comes to social skills. Whatever one thinks and keeps in for himself (for fear of fighting with the whole island), she says out loud and clear. For this reason she is perceived as arrogant and sometimes rude. I disagree because I know that what she says isn’t meant with maliciousness or bad intent. For her what is white is white, and she will tell you it’s white, and she wants to be assured that you heard her telling you it’s white. As you can see it’s not just her stating the obvious in a blunt manner. It’s also making sure that her audience has heard and understood her. It is perhaps more the latter which makes us, her poor and silent sufferers, cringe and constantly apologize to people who either don’t know her, or perhaps more correctly, are not used to having children around. Mothers understand me when I tell them about this trait of hers. I have had some of my friends nod in embarrassed understanding. I have been told not to make a big deal out of it in front of her, and I do try to. I really try. But sometimes, in certain situations, I have snapped at her, I have apologized to people and I have become so red in the face I thought I’d actually, physically burst.

Cesca’s latest question, to anyone who looks a bit different to her in her books, is “Are you a boy or a girl?” She has asked it to men with long hair and women with short hair. She accompanies the question with a pointed finger to ensure that the recipient of her question hears her and answers her. For she does not budge before she gets an answer. And when it’s one she doesn’t agree with, she will go on. “But you have long/short hair?” If you know me or my husband you may understand how we react…

She has starting catching on any physical features which are not right in her books, and asking about them too. She has asked people why they have thin eyebrows, why their boobies are so big (“they’re huge mama’!!”) and why the boys at her school use the toilet standing up when she has to sit down. She once mentioned the words “elephant trunks” when discussing the latter, but thankfully (very much thankfully, eternally grateful and much obliged) she never again talked about it.

On one of the very few instances I let the television on E! Entertainment and a trailer for the new Caitlyn Jenner programme came on, Cesca came running to me, dragged me in front of the television set and asked me why that lady was talking in a man’s voice. “She had the flu and probably lost her voice with all the coughing”. She stared at me and back at Caitlyn, and that awkward moment passed to. I have never ever switched to E! in her presence ever again.

At the beginning of this scholastic year, she wanted to know all about babies. “How did Bettina get into your tummy mama’?”, “How did she get out of your tummy?”, “What instruments did the doctor use to get her out of your tummy?” I have to admit that these are questions I never expected from a 4-year old. I found myself at great difficulty trying to explain things to her without properly explaining them (I’m sure you get my drift), and not lying at the same time. Somehow she was satisfied with the short answers I gave her, and that uncomfortable chapter is closed. For now at least.

During a recent school holiday we went to Malta for the day and in a restaurant we went to she struck up a conversation with the waitress, a young girl of around 20 who unfortunately for her, was wearing a neon-orange top. Cesca had to ask her why she had chosen ‘such an ugly top’ to wear. The waitress told her, “You don’t like it? But why?”

“I don’t like that colour. It isn’t a very nice orange. I think you should go and change”.

“Oh, you want me to go change it?”

“Yes, I think that would be best”. (Her exact words).

The waitress looked at her, at my mum and myself (at that moment we were red on the verge of turning purple), and told us “Ommi ma, xi hlew ta’ tifla!” (Oh my, what a cute little girl!”) Better than being told off I guess.

Her latest fascination – poop. Poop and colours to be precise. She is now preaching to us her faithful audience, how snowman’s poop is white, Santa’s is red and the Minions poop blue poop. So now you know too.

These moments are (unfortunately) very frequent. Nearly daily to be precise. But as much as I sometimes foresee and dread certain situations, I would not change them for anything in the world. Cesca has a particular character, for as much as she is outspoken, appears confident and strides on without any fear, she is a true soft girl at heart. She is sensitive and kind, and these features are sometimes hidden by her blunt nature. She is the girl who can keep you entertained for hours at end, and you perhaps won’t want her near you when suffering from a headache, but I promise she will make you smile and laugh with her words. She is my own personal radio station. She tells me everything about school, who wore what, how their hair was, what they had for lunch, who wore a jacket, what coloured chair they all sat on – and I have no reason to doubt her word. Her most adorable feature is perhaps her relationship with her sister. They do fight don’t get me wrong. I do sometimes catch her pushing Bettina out of the way of her toys or telling her to go away. But I don’t worry too much about Bettina because she is our little warrior, always striding onwards and onwards, fearing very little on the way. When they start playing together, giggling together, chasing each other and laughing at something one of them does, I feel like freezing that moment and holding onto it forever. Time passes too quickly with them.

So if you’re ever one of Cesca’s recipients for certain comments, please just go with the flow. We don’t teach her to point out certain things, to talk about them, ask them and question them, but she is who she is. It is just her curiosity talking out loud. She might point out at you in the middle of the road and loudly say that you’re following us and she might ask you why you are wearing those funny shoes, and for this I apologize. Half my time with her involves apologizing to strangers. I’m trying to teach her not to be too outright and blunt when talking to strangers, but it’s proving to be a long and hard lesson. In the meantime, we are being very patient, much embarrassed and constantly apologizing. But that’s parenthood for you 🙂

Single Dose or Double the Double?

It was only this week that I ventured a delicate subject with a friend – a fellow mummy of three. It is a subject which I never discussed with anyone, basically from fear of the looks I would get from other mothers. I have always wanted to pose the question, from the moment we started talking about children right up until the minute Bettina was born. I never found the courage to ask the question, not even to my own mother, but somehow I have been thinking about this subject recently and this week the topic popped up when talking to my friend.

Looking back now, it is a ridiculous question, one I have no idea why I feared, but at the time it was on my mind. Constantly.

Do you ever love the second child as much as you do the first?

Motherhood opens up a universe of emotions. Everything comes to surface, all is new, and the amount of love you feel towards this small and fragile stranger is amazing. You find yourself doing things you never imagined you could, and you smile through it all. Everything is fresh and bursting with love. It is the reason why many mothers say how they can never imagine going back to a life pre-baby. It is because life and priorities shift so tremendously that even if you put feelings aside, there is no rational way of ever going back. You give birth, you become a parent and your children are with you always and forever.

So big and enormous is this mass of love you feel for this tiny little baby that it is frightening, elating and surprising. Ten years ago, would someone have ever told me that I would be waking up at 6.30am on a Saturday and Sunday morning to a cooing baby, and smile about it, I would have called them crazy. Whenever we went out I would start preparing for the night out for at least an hour before. Now I am lucky if I get fifteen minutes to prepare myself for an evening out. My bags are full of baby wipes and empty biscuit wrappers and my pots of makeup are now under lock and key or else destroyed. And somehow it is okay and I don’t mind.

Now imagine being so enamoured and so wrapped up in this tiny being who you’d move earth for, and then find out another little on is on its’ way. With our situation, we were waiting for Bettina eagerly. She came at the perfect period for us all. Cesca needed a sibling to ground her a bit and we did not want to let too much time pass for a second baby because we knew that the more time passed, the more difficult it would be to start the baby-routine again. Things were happening in the background, and add to that the silent fear I would sometimes experience when I’d think of a new baby, my panic attacks started and they threw me off balance.

I now know that the cause of it all was fear. Too many things were happening at the same time and I did not know if I was prepared for it all. Funny really, considering how I did the first two and a half years of Cesca’s life alone with her and I never ever doubted I could do it. But a second baby, a job and a new school for Cesca, made me worry about handling it all. Luckily enough they all turned out to be unfounded worries, but try telling that to a pregnant woman midway through her pregnancy. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to handle.

Underneath it all, and perhaps at the root of it all, I would start questioning how I could love another baby as much as I did Cesca. I spent so many hours during Bettina’s pregnancy thinking how I would be cheating Cesca out of my love for her, with the arrival of a new baby. I feared showing preference towards Cesca in front of the new baby and having the latter notice this.

And then Bettina arrived and everything shifted. Suddenly everything was clearer and simple. I had gone round the whole issue the wrong way. For it was not halving the love I had for Cesca in order to share it with Bettina. But it simply was doubling the love I had for one, for two. The enormity of emotions Cesca brought with her just doubled. As my friend told me, each child comes with their own universe of love. And that is true. I then understood so much more than I did before. Cesca and Bettina have different characters, each come with their own baggage of love, they are both unique and I can not think of one without thinking about the other. Cesca makes me laugh, and a minute later we’re both smiling at something Bettina did. There is never any hint of jealousy, of preference, for they are two separate portals of love.

So I finally got the answer to the question which had been brewing in my mind for ages. Each child is a blessing, and the most amazing thing is that whether you have one, two or six, you love them equally, in different ways perhaps, but somehow they all hold your heart. Parenthood is an amazing blessing. It baffles you at times, drives you up the wall at others, but rewards you with the simplest and purest form of love. Or loves.

Togetherness

Our little Bettina is growing up. Now that she’s bottom-shuffling and learning to express herself, she has become Cesca’s perfect buddy in crime. From the day Bettina was born, Cesca was constantly asking me when her little sister would start playing with her. It seems those days are here for now when together, they are inseparable. Their favourite way of playing is very messy and involves all the toys they have, but they spend hours together, playing, fighting (mainly B pulls C’s hair when the latter takes her toys) and giggling. Oh the giggling, how I love hearing them laugh together! Bettina is constantly following Cesca with her eyes, and I swear she gives her big sister a unique look of total love which neither me nor Anthony get. And Cesca (known to us, her parents, as our full-blown diva with the sky-high self-esteem and total love of self), has found her perfect role as a big sister. Bettina is the perfect audience. She claps when Cesca calls her, she claps when Cesca sings, and she claps when Cesca gives her toys. I’ve said it before and I will repeat it now – from the moment we found out we were having another girl, this is what we wanted and wished for. This camaraderie they seem to have, this hidden bond which ties them together. Bettina was a godsend to Cesca. And Bettina is lucky in a way that Cesca wasn’t. Bettina has a full-time entertainer, talker, performer – Cesca only had me as that. And my eldest daughter is a million times better a performer than I ever will be.

They are spending more time together now than in winter, and although tiring (and draining in this awful heat), they are a laugh. Their characters seem to be different. My friends all agree on the First Child Syndrome – the first child is the one who is unarguably spoilt, has a great sense of self-worth, struggles a bit when s/he learns that the world does not revolve around him/her alone and is somewhat a bit bossy. Cesca is all that. She loves an audience, insists on being called a queen, and I’m pretty sure she will start referring to herself in the third person pretty soon. But is so much more. Her sensitivity surprises me and the love she gives is a joy. She surprised me most with Bettina – she fully accepted her without an ounce of jealousy, and every sentence starts with “Me and Bettina…” Unfortunately third parties are sometimes rudely excluded. To their face. With a pointed finger ordering them to go away.

The Second Child Syndrome mainly involves the child being somewhat more of a fighter. S/he fights to find his/her own place in the world. S/he never knows the full and total attention of the parents as the First Child did, and this is due to obvious reasons. But the Second Child is observant, more knowledgeable about what is going on around him/her and although may appear quieter and calmer than the First Child, when need be, s/he will make his/her voice heard. Bettina is more ‘gathered’ than Cesca. She has an air of tranquility around her which makes everyone who meets her remark on her jolly nature. In these nine and a half months she’s been in our lives, the only times I have known her to get upset is when she’s hungry and when it’s time to take her out of the bath. Otherwise it’s mostly she smiles, I smile.

Together they click. And how!

Christmas in July.

Christmas in July.

IMG_20150628_124804

This is basically the sum of my lives together with these girls :)

This is basically the sum of my life together with these girls 🙂

We Are Five

We are five years old.

Five years ago I became Mrs. Farrugia and Anthony became my husband. We’ve been through so much these past five years that it seems more time has passed.

We’ve endured lots, but we’ve made it through.

So here’s to many more to come.

We're older and poorer lol...but happier :)

We’re older and poorer lol…but happier 🙂

And this little munchkin is four. She turned four two days ago, and I’m still mourning the baby she no longer is. It’s a joy watching her grow up, but I miss the years already gone by. She is a little joy, a trouble-maker, a non-stop talker and a protective sister. She made me a mother and the happiest person alive.

Kikkina, we love you 🙂

My Queen

My Queen

Hang On. Tight.

Tomorrow Cesca finishes her first scholastic year. I can’t for the life of me figure out how this year flew by. With so many things happening, and me looking forward and fearing the start of school, it seems like yesterday that I was buying her uniforms and trying to figure out how life with a new student and a new baby would work out.

Like sisterhood, school has been a godsend for Cesca. Both events happened together (quite literally), and although there were early teething problems, she took to both quite well. She has learnt that the world is not all about her, she learnt the importance of sharing, and in both situations she took to the roles of elder sister and fellow pupil very well.

School has helped improve her social skills tremendously. She is still very picky on whom she befriends, and if she does not like you (or the look of you, unfortunately), she will not hesitate one minute in telling you so (much to her parents’ embarrassment). However she is friendlier with her friends and whenever she feels like it, she will talk to strangers like there’s no tomorrow. Her vast vocabulary has now turned into fully-fledged sentences, and she can spend minutes talking about everything. She has learnt new nursery rhymes, she sings all the time and comes up with new expressions and words which sometimes baffle me. I smile whenever she uses ‘otherwise’, ‘in the meantime’ and ‘anyways’ in sentences. She has started using Maltese words and although her use of the language leave a lot to be desired (“Jiena ha taghmel…”), I admire her trying to speak Maltese with new children she meets.

My fear of Kinder One proved to be fruitless. Luckily she had teachers who made her comfortable and who were patient with her, especially in the early days. She has the same group of friends she mentions all the time, and seeing her interact with them makes me feel better about my unfounded fear of her not blending in well. Thankfully she does not seem to be lacking in the confidence department. In fact, she lately refers to herself as “Queen Cesca”. Not “Princess” – that title is saved for Bettina. Cesca is the Queen, I am the Super Queen and Anthony is the Super Hero. We had an episode of sorts last weekend, when we were in a shop full of people and she asked in a loud voice, when we were going back to our castle. Because you see, our little home is a castle in her eyes.

These past two weeks have been trying for us though. She is suddenly scared of everything under the sun. She fears the wind, the fan, her spotted socks and even the red hair-brush. She is also suffering from separation anxiety when it comes to leaving me alone for a minute. For that reason she has refused to go to her crafts lessons for the past fortnight – something she used to love doing. She now visits the bathroom with me, helps me hang the clothes and is always hovering round me. There are some perks to this phase – I get impromptu kisses and hugs, declarations of love and lots and lots of ‘mama’ this and ‘mama’ that. However it is a trying phase for me, especially with another baby in the house and trying to juggle everyone and everything. Hopefully this phase will pass. And I know it will, because if motherhood taught me anything, it is that childhood is one phase right after the other. One phase ends and another one will start immediately afterwards. It’s just that when you’re in the eye of the storm, things look a million times worse. Once out of it, everything resumes calmly. Till the next storm that is.

So if you have a child starting school next September, don’t worry too much. Like everything, the teething phase will be difficult. Believe me when I tell you that it was a hundred times harder for us, because we had Bettina arriving on a Tuesday evening, and Cesca started school on Wednesday morning. I was having closely-timed contractions at home, sorting out Cesca’s school uniform and satchel, telling Anthony’s sister what to prepare for her for school the following morning, clutching my tummy with pain, praying Bettina wouldn’t be born in our kitchen, and feeling useless as a mother for knowing I would miss out on Cesca’s first day of school. Learn to trust in higher powers, in your child’s ability to fend for him/herself and know that it will all be okay in the end. There will be discouraging episodes which will throw you back at times – having your child cry leave when you leave him at school in the morning, times when they wet their pants again (in school, for two straight weeks – yes, we had that too), the first Monday after two-week long Christmas and Easter holidays. But they will pass, don’t worry.

Perhaps the worst part of schooling happens to parents. For me, it was learning to let go of Cesca. I had to learn to trust her by herself, with new people, in a new setting, without being there to check up on her like I usually would. I have to admit that the temptation to call up on the school and ask about her was very tempting in the beginning, and there were days when I would stay for a couple of minutes underneath her class window to see whether she would cry when I left her. I was jealous of the time she spent with her teacher and with her new friends. But then I would see her coming out of school laughing, smiling, with messy hair and paint-stained fingers, with star stickers attached to her forehead, waving good-bye to her friends and teachers, and bursting with the need to tell me what she did at school, so much so that I could barely understand her rushed words, and I knew it would be okay.

So remember, the first cut is the deepest. Hold on and hang in there.

And come next October, I will re-read this post because I know I will need the reassurance again. And again.

This seems like yesterday.  01.10.2014

This seems like yesterday.
01.10.2014

Their bond is enviable. Their smiles and giggles make every second of a hard day worth it.

Their bond is enviable. Their smiles and giggles make every second of a hard day worth it.

Same girl's birthday party, one year apart. Last year she was the grumpiest ever, refusing to join in on the bouncing-castle fun and not letting the entertainer draw glittery doodles on her hand. This year she was the total opposite. Changes.

Same girl’s birthday party, one year apart. Last year she was the grumpiest ever, refusing to join in on the bouncing-castle fun and not letting the entertainer draw glittery doodles on her hand. This year she was the total opposite. Changes.

She drives me up the wall at times. She's stubborn, set in her ways and loves an argument. But she's the most sensible girl I know, and she has my heart.

She drives me up the wall at times. She’s stubborn, set in her ways and loves an argument. But she’s the most sensible girl I know, and she has my heart.

The end result of Kinder One :)

The end result of Kinder One 🙂