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.

 

 

Self-care

I’m liking the way my year is turning out to be. For the first time in a really long time, if ever, I am in a happy place. I’m appreciating my life and those in it. I’m proud of myself for taking the step of ridding myself of what I do not need. I’m embracing the positive and shunning the rest. I’m moving forward, skipping actually, perhaps with less people around me but with an overall much better aura.

The decision to stop pleasing others and focusing on myself proved to be the turning-point. Perhaps it’s my age or reaching a saturation point of sorts, but my priorities have changed and with them, my life has shifted. I have come to realize that any time spent on things or people who are not worth it, is wasted time. I have given up on past friendships not with any antagonism, not at all. I just choose to spend the time I have with friends and family who give me something worth holding onto. It is a hard decision giving up on something or someone who meant so much to you in the past. But when you do so, the feeling of lightness and rightness which accompanies the action, is mind-lifting.

I do not care for any bull in my life. At 36 years of age, I finally know what I want in my life. And I consider myself fortunate to have people in my life who can and are giving it to me. Gone are the times when I used to set off, going out of my way to please someone, without any acknowledgment, thanks or reciprocated action. How many times have I done something for someone, only for them to shun away when I used to ask for something in return? We are all humans. We all expect help from our close ones in times of need. And when your priorities are not theirs, then there is a problem.

In every post I have written this year, I have always said how this year was going to be my year. I made it a priority to better my life and myself . It was not easy and it took hard work and keeping my eyes on the prize to move forward. Today I am with less people around me. I probably come across as sometimes direct and abrupt. But I am no less sensitive. than I was before. I am not crass or arrogant.  I only choose more carefully when to show what side of me.

I have, in a way, spring-cleansed my life. I have opened up myself, let the negative air and presences go out, and allowed the positive in my life. I have found the courage to admit to myself what I want out of this life, whom I want in my life, and what I need to do to achieve my own peace, and I’m slowly getting there.

I will not apologize for this. I am looking out for myself and my own. I suggest you try doing this. Clarify what and who you want in your life, and set out the way to achieve it.

I am telling you – the feeling is great.

I may not be doing it right. This may be the least correct way of doing it, but what works…works.

 

pinterest

This is not about hate or disrespect. It’s about self-care.

 

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!