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.

 

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

 

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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!

 

Stick To Your Guns

I wanted to make 2016 a different year. For as long as I can remember January was always the time when I made resolutions I knew I would never keep. It’s always been the usual resolutions – losing weight, start saving more, stop buying unnecessary items etc. This year I was dead-set upon one thing. I wanted to focus more on me.

I was going to be my own priority.

Nearly two months into the new year, I am thrilled to have stuck to my guns. I have started and continued new rituals which are helping me in more ways than one. I have stopped finding and using silly excuses to get out of doing something which may not be that easy.

I have started training. Yes, me, training. Bar a couple of years doing aerobics, I have never consistently trained in my life. My body had become one big mass of laziness. I was 35 years old and I was struggling to walk uphill. I knew something had to change when mornings had become my own personal hell, with nothing fitting me well and everything straining to contain the whole of me.

Then, six weeks ago, with the help of an awesome friend, we both started training. We are each other’s rock and help, and we now do what we never thought we could even start. We wake up at an ungodly hour yes, but we manage to spend a whole hour sweating our arses off. And finally, after six hard weeks, my body is starting to change. My tight trousers are now a little loose, and my mummy-tummy (16 months after giving birth) has finally started to go in, without me straining to hold my breath in to contain the whole of me. But more than the physical aspect of it all is perhaps the realization that we are truly helping our body change for the better. With the help of our trainer and the beautiful ladies who attend training with us, I have come to realize how pathetic the excuses I would say to myself really were. I used to complain with not finding time to work on myself, but I now know that it was just an excuse to not wake up early. We all have time to do what we want or what needs to be done. We just need to find it and use it. Nowadays my days start earlier, but the positive outlook the rest of the days have is truly amazing. My days are more productive and strangely enough, I am more recharged and ready to go. Only now can I really understand the difference exercise makes to our mental health. For that alone, waking up early is worth it.

I’ve also started trying to stick to small rituals which might seem insignificant to some, but to me it means a world of difference. I go to yoga every other week, I have made it my own personal mission to properly cleanse, tone and moisturize my face every day. I’ve invested in some products which help me take care of the physical me. My nails are getting done regularly now, and I had some inches cut from my hair which have made me feel lighter and younger.

One other thing I’m trying to do is to stop being a people-pleaser. I am trying to do what I like and enjoy doing, and I try to stop myself from going out of my way to please others who I know aren’t appreciative of the fact. God knows how many times I’ve said yes to people, only to have that fact gone by without a single thank-you or an inch of gratitude. So nowadays, I don’t respond ‘yes’ immediately. I still struggle yes, but I pause and think about whether I really want to do that particular thing or not.

Coming to think of it, we spend so much time focusing on others – be them parents, children, spouses, friends. Is it so bad to want to be a bit selfish in your behaviour and just please no one but yourself?

 

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 🙂

Strolling By

I haven’t written in what seems to be ages. Not from lack of events, far from it. Finding the time to put thoughts into words is the ultimate feat.

Bettina turned one, Cesca started her second year at school, I started full-days at work, our house is slowly being erected. Life is good. Hectic, tiring and exhausting, but nothing to complain about. Our life sometimes resembles a family sitcom show – the evenings especially are crazy, and when I finish cleaning up the kitchen, Anthony handles the toys and the girls are put to bed, I let out a huge sigh of relief. For as much as I love the girls, I love them that bit more when they’re both laying in bed, clean and happy and ready for the night.

Juggling work with family is not easy.

I am not one to complain. Yet sometimes I yearn for the stay-at-home lifestyle. Returning home after a full day of work to start what is a second full-time job is tiring. Sometimes I struggle to make the bed or think up the evening’s menu. But I think motherhood toughens us up, and we move on and forward. I falter, I trip along the way, but I try and move on. Sometimes, I hobble along to end the day, but somehow we’re all good. So things must not be as bad as I sometimes think they are.

So two months of not writing here is because of this. It’s not about not having anything to write or say. It’s just not having the energy and time to sit down and concentrate for an hour.

For now I’ll probably just write small snippets here and there. But I promise I’ll be back properly.

Can’t promise when though.

Keep-Moving-forward

Let Them Go

There comes a point where you have to just let it go.

The first and most difficult step is realizing that things change, situations alter you and your perspective and thoughts change in the process.

The ‘you’ of ten years ago did things differently than ‘you’ today. You may live in a different village now, you may have a family, you may have certain life experiences under your belt, you may have been hurt, loved, betrayed, forgiven, you may have hurt others yourself and learnt from it. Small knicks that shape your life and make you the ‘you’ of today.

You may think that some people will remain in your life forever. But it is not so.

I have learnt this lesson through several episodes in my life. More so recently.

So as much as it hurts, I accept that we all change and we all move forward. I will treasure some people and my memories of them in my heart forever. I will smile and laugh when I remember past times, but I will not stay stuck in the past. I will not wallow in sadness and cry for the ‘why’s’ and ‘how’s’ and the ‘what-if’s’. We are all responsible for our actions. We take our decisions and we move on.

The most important thing is letting go without regrets. It’s waking up in the morning with a clear conscience, knowing you did what you could, and realizing that sometimes you can’t fight for something alone.

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.