March On

Up until some time ago, I never really gave the concept of friendship that  much thought. I was never one to have a whole list of friends. Quite to the contrary, I always had a small number of friends I counted as real ones, and the rest were just acquaintances – people I would not share more than a ‘hello’ or a smile with.

The younger you are, the more important it seems to have lots of friends. The number of friends you have seems to be directly proportionate to how popular or unpopular you are at school. The bigger the posse, the more high-up the fame-scale you find yourself.

With university, your friends change. Friends you leave behind for different courses or work are soon replaced with new ones, and only the treasured few remain as true friends. It only makes sense that the new people you share new experiences with become new friends, ones who can understand what you are going through, and who you find yourself confiding more and more in.

And then you start dating, and you get married and you have children, and suddenly you realize  that you have become isolated from everyone and everything. When children come in the scene, you are so involved as a mother, that all the rest seems unimportant. You lose yourself as a person at times, and the only conversation you can hold seems to revolve around feeds, nappy changes and the colour of the baby’s stools. When I had Cesca I was not working at the time. I was a stay-at-home wife, still discovering a new country and being happy with baking and watching television. When she arrived, my life was all hers. I used to force myself to shower, change and get out of the house, and when we visited Malta, I found that I had lost so much of myself. My conversation was boringly all about babies. I had become the person I never wanted to be. Only then did I realize how important working and being round people was for me.

So I did what I could and changed that. I found a new line of work, I met new people and I very slowly began finding myself again. Being a mother is a gift, but it is also very tiring and draining. I was ‘mummy’ all the time, and I had truly forgotten what the old “Josepha” liked and who she was.

And so came another change. I found new me-time, I made new friends, and I started opening up more and more. I made a new set of friends and realized that adults need friends. We need to be around similar-minded grown-ups and be able to moan, complain, joke and laugh around them. Life is so crazy at times, we need to know that it is not only us and our situation which are chaotic, but others are actually going through the same things.

There is something liberating in being able to meet up with a group of friends over dinner and a bottle of wine, or even a quick cup of coffee and discussing every topic under the sun, without feeling guilty about leaving the husband or children behind.

I do believe in balance. Between work and family, I had so little time for myself. So I did what I could and I made the time. And I threw all the guilt I could possibly feel out of the window.

Take yourself as a whole. Now remove the mother part of you, the wife part of you, the daughter part of you, the worker part of you. What are you left with? I am still not left with much, but I am content that the little I now have is much more than what I had a couple of years ago. And it fulfills me a hundred times more.

So any opportunity I have to be just me, I seize. Being able to recharge as a person after meeting up with friends, or going out with my husband alone, makes me a calmer and better person for it.

Again, no guilt.

None.

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Soon Six

When photos like this pop up on my Facebook timeline to remind me it’s already been a year since her Kindergarten graduation, it gets me thinking.

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I was so scared. She was excited, I was terrified. Kindergarten years are easy. They’re full of playing and activities, no strict rules and no sitting down for homework. Year 1 was different. For Cesca, more so. It meant a new school building, travelling to and fro on the school minibus and adapting to sitting down and doing the classwork.

But she did well, very well in fact. She was always one to love knowing more and challenging herself that bit more, and this year offered her that and more. And she loved it.

My little Kikkina is turning six and I simply can’t believe it. She comes up with with the most bizarre and sometimes most uncomfortable of questions, and there is no way of escaping their answer. I love her company and talking to her is like conversing with a young teenager. She is still the sensitive type, does not just talk to anyone, and observes everything and everyone.

I sometimes find myself imagining what an adult Cesca will be like. Will she be the quiet and observant type or will she be the brash and outspoken one? At the present she is a bit of both, so that will be a beautiful thing to find out. Will she ever like anything else besides pasta, pizza and breaded meat? Will she still jump on me and give me wet kisses while giggling ‘boobies’ in my ear? Will she remain a worrier over the silliest of things and be a stickler for perfection? I think and I wonder.

Enjoy your last few days as a five-year old my little flower.  You are growing up too fast for my liking, especially this past year when I have seen you blossom into a young girl –  a kind-hearted one who has a smooth way of getting along with other children. Always be yourself and never apologize for it. You fill up our lives with words, more words, a hundred questions and an eternity of love.

Happy Sixth my Kikkina 🙂

 

Stuck

It was inevitable that the sick bugs would catch up with us. We are still not in the clear, but going on and on about the negative won’t help us with anything, so enough of that. Onwards and upwards, onwards and upwards.

I do not like this time of the year. The first three months of the year carry too much sadness for me, for one particular reason. I honestly wish I could blink and be in April, but that is just wishful thinking on my part. So I am trying to be as upbeat as I can, I am trying to focus on the positive and move forward. But I do get my moments when things just weigh me down. Bettina contracting a nasty virus, Cesca with the fever and me with a cold and foot and ligament pains which do not seem to get any better. Then there are birthdays, anniversaries and other moments I do wish I could forget and erase.

So in a bid to try and pull myself out of a sad rut that this time of the year always brings for me, I am looking out for positive things, words, images, stories. Anything.

  • I read. I go with whatever flow my mind tells me to follow. Be it a steaming romance, a tear-jerker or a self-help book, I just go where I feel I must.
  • I let Cesca brush my hair and call me the prettiest mama’ ever.
  • I take the painting set out and let the girls make a mess, focusing on their giggles and silly drawings instead of the dirty clothes and messy floors.
  • I lose myself in television series which make ma laugh and cry. I imagine myself living in Downton and being as snobbish and annoyingly correct as the Dowager herself.
  • I try to find more time to spend with the girls and stop myself from complaining when it’s bedtime and they want me to read them a book. I shut up and cuddle up with them in bed.
  • I buy things for myself. After years of neglecting my wardrobe to my daughers’, I now enter a shop and go to the women’s section first. And horror of horrors I sometimes steer out before my legs lead me to the children’s section.
  • Online shopping. Always works wonders.

And if all that fails, I just sit still and let myself be overwhelmed with whatever I’m feeling at that moment. Be it pain, sorrow, a strong sense of loss, anxiety, grief. It literally feels like heavy waves hitting you where it hurts most. I have learnt that some things are too strong and sensitive to just escape from. You need to feel some things, let them hurt you and temporarily take over your all.

Then when the waves stop and I feel calmer, I start feeling better. Sometimes you just have to really hurt, feel the pain in order to start getting better. It works with me.

That’s the rest of my month figured out. April can not come soon enough.

* Speaking of waves, Gozo has just lost a national landmark today! Weather and nature finally took their toll on our treasured Azure Window and what once stood so proudly as Dwejra’s main attraction, has now collapsed and disappeared. 

 

Running

That’s all I seem to be doing most of the time. Running, chasing things, chasing time, catching up on everything, dashing around, checking my watch and hurrying around.

My running starts early in the morning, but at that time the running is welcome. In fact, it’s my morning exercise session which keeps me going for the rest of the day. Then there’s playschool, school, school-bus runs, work, housework, homework, cooking, religious lessons, ballet lessons, meetings, errands, empty kitchen shelves…it’s all about running.

I often complain about the running and the errands, about the busy life I lead, and the feeling of always having something else to do. I am awake for more than 17 hours everyday, and yet I never find half an hour to wash my hair or clear the shoes wardrobe.

But if the running stops, then what happens? As much as I am rushed off my feet every day, I crave the running. The running keeps me going.

The running means everything is good.

The girls are healthy and active. They’re playing, emptying toy chests and sprawling small bits of Lego around. They’re eating and making messes everywhere. The television has sticky handprints on it, which we only see when they’re finally sleeping and we’re semi-comatose on the sofa. We have at least one screaming match a day, some hair-pulling, a couple of face scratches here and there, and then lots of giggles and laughs. We are never quiet. We are never tidy.

We are working, we’re busy, we leave home early to make a better life for us all. We communicate via our mobiles till we meet late at night. We rarely eat together because of our busy lifestyles, but we never miss out on our chats. They’re quite hasty at times, and they usually end halfway through with one of us sleeping on the sofa, but they happen. We sometimes manage a bottle of wine on weekends, even dinner with friends, and we are enjoying building a home we will hopefully move into soon. Everything at its’ own pace, but happening. We’re lucky enough to make the best out of any family-time we have, and when that happens that gives us a short breather before being thrown back in into everyday routine.

The running means everything is functioning as it should be.

There is a reason I write this on a Wednesday. Tuesday is my busy day. I wake up on Wednesday thanking the skies that Tuesday has passed with everything being done and everyone in one piece. It’s a short-lived feeling, a couple of hours long, but enough to keep me going on.

When the running is paused, something is amiss. Someone is sick or something is cancelled. It is then that I crave the routine, the running and the feeling of being rushed off your feet.

So here’s to running. Let’s do a lot of that in 2017.

 

 

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’ 🙂

 

 

Love Warrior

I don’t know if you following this blog’s Facebook page, but if you do you might have read how I recently got hold of a book I had been wanted to read for a while. Love Warrior was a book which I got to know of through social media and my book buddy L, who sent me links after videos after links about it and its’ author Glennon Doyle Melton. She also runs Momastery, a blog with a Facebook page, which is inspiring to say the very least. Curiosity got the best of me and I got the book.

Love Warrior is everything every single critic I read said about the book. There are certain books which do not suit everyone. There were periods in my life where I would not have been able to read this book. I started The Secret many times, but for the life of me I could not read it – it made me feel too uncomfortable. And I know that if I had read Love Warrior a couple of years ago, I would not have been able to.

Love Warrior is a flowing read. There are however passages which I found myself reading and re-reading because they were so simply-worded yet so true, and it struck me how sometimes the so-obvious is the last thing to hit us as humans. It starts off with the author narrating the broken-down state of her marriage, but then kicks off in a deeper level, unearthing issues which led her to be the person she was, resulting in some serious changes who led her to be warrior that she is.

I have marked favourite parts of the books. I feel that this is a book to keep, not to lend, but to mark it, scribble on it and make it yours. It is a book to keep for reference, for guidance at times, and to go back to when you need assurance on certain things.

Let me share my favourite quotes. There are many, so many more, but these make the cut:

You are not supposed to be happy all the time. Life hurts and it’s hard. Not because you’re doing it wrong, but because it hurts for everybody. Don’t’ avoid the pain. You need it. It’s meant for you. Be still with it, let it come, let it go, let it leave you with the fuel you’ll burn to get your work done on this earth”

Remember, don’t be a lady – be a Warrior. The Warrior feeds all three of her selves: mind, spirit, body”.

And this…God’s words to us:

“You! You are my beloved! I made you and everything you have ever been or are or will become is already approved. Nothing you can ever do will make me love you more, and nothing you can ever do will make me love you less. That is finished”.

My lovely L has now lent me her The Universe Has Your Back and reading the reviews, I have to admit that I’m really curious about starting it.

I think now is my time to read these books. I would not have been able to read them a while ago. But now – yes.

If you can read Love Warrior I urge you to. It’s thought-provoking and raises some really good points for discussion. I’d love to know what you think if you’ve read it!

 

Compromise

What word do you think describes parenthood best?

Love, patience, dedication…they all come to mind.

But lately one stands out more than the rest – compromise.

Having an outspoken, hard-headed five-year old and an adventurer for a nearly two-year old makes our household a noisy and dangerous one. Lately everything seems to be questioned, and what till now was a small and quite safe home has become a minefield for Bettina. She creates danger in places I see as being safe.

Sometimes I despair. Sometimes I stand still for minutes in the living room wondering how two children can create so much chaos in the time it takes me to hang the clothes. Every couple of weeks Cesca invents new languages – she has three right now – Mio, Spanishina and Pinkie. To her delight Bettina speaks Spanishina (do not ask), but gets angry when I do not remember what water is in Mio.

Sometimes (and briefly, don’t worry) I fantasize about locking myself in my room with a big mug of wine and closing my eyes. Mummies hiding wine bottles come to mind, and I sympathize.

wine

So it is all about deep breaths and counting to ten. Because after an early start to the day, a day’s work at the office and at home, and handling two little terrors, I get tired. I really can’t be bothered learning new words, or picking up toys for the millionth time.

Therefore I have become an expert at compromise. I have long given up on expecting their four little ears to pick up what I am saying. So I barter. I have become one of those mothers who exchanges gifts for favours. I threaten them with things they hate in order for them to do something they hate. And I have wisely learnt to choose my battles.

So Cesca gets no ice-lolly after dinner if she does not pick up her mess. The cartoons get switched off for an hour if I get too angry. And revision will be three pages instead of two. As for Bettina, her weak spot is food. So I work around the sweet side of that. They get to open new boxes of toys held in storage if they work with me on tidying up, and I even let Cesca play with Playdoh if she is really good.

And if they give me too much hassle for a small errand, I just bite my tongue and do it myself. Some things are too menial to get worked over for nothing. It might not be the way to parent, but it saves on the Panadols later on in the day.

Yes, parenthood for me is all about compromise.