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

Recharging

Week before last, The Husband and myself were in Italy. We were eating, and drinking, and walking, and shopping, and we did so for three whole days. For three whole days we were ourselves, we were just two adults enjoying the sights and scenes of beautiful cities. We could wake up at our own leisure, we could get ready to go out in thirty minutes and I was able to go around with a small bag. I finally got to spend quiet moments applying make-up and I even finished a book I had started a month before.

It was beautiful.

And much-needed.

We lose ourselves in parenthood. Our children take over our lives. Everything you do is for them, and you end up with little (if any) time and energy for yourself or others. And so a break, even a short one, is not a luxury but a necessity.

Some of my friends have openly told me that they would not imagine going away for a couple of days without their children. “But how can I leave them behind?”, “But I’d feel so guilty”, “But they’re my children and my responsibility”, and perhaps the saddest reason I’ve heard – “But what would my husband and myself do and say all day long?” I have seen split-second moments of disbelief and shock on some friends’ faces when I tell them that we’re going away and leaving the children. I can read their unsaid thoughts on their faces – and they generally aren’t pretty thoughts.

You were half a couple before becoming a parent. You were allowed to be selfish and attend to your and your husband’s needs and screw the rest. Then you became a parent and priorities shifted. And rightly so.

We missed Cesca and Bettina, of course we did. I missed holding Cesca’s hand and seeing Bettina’s smiles. But I also knew that some me-time would recharge me, and make me do my job better.

So I would definitely suggest a short getaway to all parents, without the children. You’re no less of a parent for wanting some time away, doing what makes you happy and indulging in your pleasures, be them as selfish as they are.

In our case, a brief holiday like this one is one of the very few moments we can relax and find time to be ourselves. You see, I miss the Josepha that I was pre-babies. I miss the carefree people we both were before life and responsibilities set in.

And no, that does not mean that I don’t like my life, or the wonderful beings in it. I wouldn’t change anything if I was given half a chance. The girls make me the happiest mother on earth, and I can’t even begin to think of my life without them. So that is not the case.

It just means that sometimes you are allowed to be a bit selfish, and do what helps you. You’re a parent, but you’re also a person. I don’t believe that being tired, nervous and exhausted will help your family and children.

Mothers are constantly engulfed with guilt feelings. But we shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to be better.

That’s what I think at least.

Less than five years ago, but it seems like so much more! Honeymooning @New Zealand

Less than five years ago, but it seems like so much more!
Honeymooning @New Zealand

Motherhood. Parenthood. Sisterhood.

Bettina is four weeks old tomorrow. It’s been four weeks of trying to find our feet and adapting to the experienced, yet somehow new lifestyle of having a newborn in the house. We have all been enchanted by this new member of our family. She is small, perfect and happy. Two children means more than double the love.

But I have learnt that two children are more than double the work of having one child. Two children means extreme time-management, hastily-grabbed snacks, less than perfect meals, showering at odd hours in the day, and waiting three whole days to eat a pomegranate, because the time spent peeling it can be better utilised doing something else. Like going to the bathroom, for example. Or putting another load in the washing machine.

Cesca has taken to Bettina without any problem whatsoever. Everyone asks me how she’s taken to having a younger sister, and I can honestly say that there has not been one moment where she’s shown any sign of jealousy or aggression towards Bettina. On the contrary, I have to keep an extra eye out for her because all she wants to do is hold her sister, pat her head and of course, play with her ears. Bettina is her sister, her property and I thank the higher powers that I’ve seen nothing but love towards her.

However it has not been all easy-peasy. Cesca has had some difficult moments, episodes which I think are school-related more than anything else. I think she was more effected with going to school than having a younger sister. Don’t get me wrong – the majority of times she is the old Cesca. She never had the easiest of characters, but we know her so much, for us it’s all normal. We know that giving her choices works wonders with her. We know that we always have to start with the right shoe, or the right sock – never the left. We know that she is a head-strong girl and if she says ‘no’ there’s no use trying to convince her otherwise.  But lately, she’s been having full-blown tantrums over the silliest of things. At the moment it’s twice a day – one usually after school when it’s time for her nap, and one right before bedtime. She says ‘no’ all the time, even when we know she badly wants something. Suddenly everything concerning her is ugly. She has ugly hair, she has an ugly bed and her room is ‘an ugly mess’. Cesca was never a people-pleaser, but she never had these types of ugly episodes, where she screams and cries so much for the better part of an hour. And it is trying on us. Very very trying. Especially with a newborn in the house. This past week has been horrible. I’ve shouted at her everyday, left her to cry herself to sleep every other day, and I’ve had moments where I’ve lost it completely and smacked her – something which keeps me awake at night with regret and sadness because I never was and never wanted to be that sort of mother.

With motherhood comes the guilt feeling. The sensation that you are doing something wrong, that you could have done more and that whatever you’re doing is not enough. I have been thinking and rethinking past episodes over and over in my head, I have been reading online articles on what to do and how to deal with these situations. However the more I do that, the more guilt and remorse I feel.

So today I turned to Instagram with a photo, and got an overwhelming number of messages from friends, near and afar. All offered words of encouragement, and most importantly for me, everyone shared with me the fact that they had passed from my exact situation, and lived to tell. And that, more than anything else, is what is helping me. Beautiful friends gave me advice on books to read, some shared their blog posts with me wherein they went through what I’m going through now, people I’ve never met gave me virtual hugs and cuddles. And I cried. It seems I spent the whole day crying. Crying for the moments I allowed myself to lose it, for the moments where I forgot that she is all but three years old, that in one month her whole life as she knew it was shaken and disappeared completely. I cried because I look at her and still see her as she was at Bettina’s age, so small and vulnerable and my heart goes out for her and the change she has had to go through. And I cried because I love her so much and I don’t want her to remember me as the parent who was always shouting at her, who was always angry at her. I cried so much I felt spent. And when the tears stopped, things suddenly became much clearer.

So today I made a pact with myself. I promised myself that I wouldn’t shout or smack Cesca, even when another full-blown tantrum happened. I would distract and distance myself when the screaming and shouting became too much. And I would live one day at a time, I would take care of myself and therefore be healthier and happier of my children, and I would not let one episode throw me back in doubt and insecurity. Sure, today she had an after-school tantrum where she did not want to change out of her uniform. She removed every piece of clothing I put out for her. So I ignored her. I ignored her running around naked, still suffering from a slight cold she has, and carried on as if nothing happened. I ignored her putting her dummy in the fridge and refusing to eat anything. I kept my calm, counted to hundred hundreds of time, and sure enough after a couple of minutes she stopped screaming. She came to me with her socks and top and asked me to help her put them on. She went on the sofa, drank her milk and asked for a banana. And within minutes she was back to her normal self, the Cesca I love so much. The one who never ceases to chat and ask questions. The one who mentions all the children in her class and tells me what each and everyone of them does in school. The one who wants to know everything, who amazes me with her stories and makes me laugh with her goofy voice and silly dance moves. And even though it was a silly episode, I feel somewhat proud of myself, of this one moment which I’m happy passed by without much ado.

So thank you my online sisterhood of friends. Thank you for your words, for your advice, for your support and for not judging me. Sometimes I write these posts and ask myself why I ought to share my thoughts and life with my readers. What do you get out of reading my experiences and what do I gain from it all. Maybe some people read these posts out of curiousity, maybe it offers them some moments of good gossip or a hearty laugh. It certainly is not easy writing a blog in a small country where everyone knows you and your family. But for me, in many situations, it has offered me support and the knowledge that I am not alone in my worries. I don’t know you all, not personally, but I feel I know you that bit better than others because of your words and comments.

Parenthood isn’t easy. Motherhood is perhaps the toughest job out there, utterly rewarding but hard. And sisterhood? Ah, sisterhood rocks. Sisterhood is the helping hand in times of doubt and problems.

We act silly and we smile :)

We act silly and we smile 🙂

Love, love, love.

Love, love, love.

Remembering It All

We have just started our last full seven-day week here in England. Chaos is ruling and it sometimes feels as if every single thing which can go wrong, is. Some decisions still need to be taken and last minute alterations are occurring. I feel as if I am drowning at times, my days are full of list-making and jotting down notes in my diary. Circumstances are not helping. Potential house-buyers have now started to mix up appointment dates and times it seems. The awful grey English weather is now hitting me hard and my headache never seems to cease. Cesca seems to have a bit of a cold and is coughing and waking up freezing cold at night. Small things. But added up, they seem to do grave damage to the mind and spirit.

And amidst all this craziness going on, I’m finding moments of stillness. I now find myself seated on the sofa. There is absolute quiet because C is sleeping. She is due to wake up any minute now and the moment that happens, my zen calm will be shattered. But until then I am sipping a glass of water and thinking. Thinking of what’s been and what will be. Thinking that I will most probably never have these moments ever again. Moments of the three of us, all alone, living our life and setting our own pace. Days at end when C is my only company, when she gets to be my listening-board, my audience and my confidante. She does not complain or protest for having to put up with me every single day. A and myself are her only constants, and I truly cherish that. I may be selfish, but whenever we do have company, I get a very satisfactory feeling deep down inside whenever I see her looking out for us, catching our eyes and see her light up with joy and love. My heart seems to tighten up and I very nearly burst out with all my love.

How lucky this little munchkin is. She has two parents who would walk to the end of the earth for her. She has everyone wrapped around her little finger and she is the protagonist wherever we go. I get to see her grow up and become a little girl. She is a baby no more. Her language is expanding at an alarming rate, and we are being constantly copied, both in words and gestures. She names all the animals she sees, counts to number ten by herself (except for number five which she sometimes skips) and is now learning her colours. She has her little habits – she will grab her ‘buddy’ (dummy) and Baba and start playing with her ear whenever it’s time to sleep. It is just like an invisible and automatic switch going on. When she wakes up from her nap, she needs to spend a couple of minutes in the quiet before properly waking up. She insists on sucking her dummy upside down. Whenever we’re out for a walk, she insists on walking the opposition direction to where we are headed – and she will scream ‘walk walk’ whenever we carry her up (those reins mentioned a couple of weeks ago – nah, they just make her worse!) She giggles and says ‘pfff’ whenever we change her nappy…and then proceeds to kick like crazy when we try and put a clean change on. Her favourite toys at the moment are her coloured pencils and her toothbrush. Yes toothbrush – definitely a dentist’s daughter!

The ear-flicking moment just before she's down for her nap <3

The ear-flicking moment just before she’s down for her nap ❤

I know her every move and can understand every look she gives me. I comprehend every word she says and every gesture she makes. Her giggles and laughs melt my heart and her cries break it. I’m at her constant beck and call, and my days are no longer my own. Whatever we do and wherever we go, she is the one we think of first and her needs are attended to immediately. Saturday and Sunday mornings have an early start and our TV/mobile phones/iPad are not our own anymore. She paints on the floor and walls, spits food one minute and eats it the next, she drives me up the wall when she’s in a stroppy mood and insists on drinking from an adult cup only to then pour it all over herself.

She now just 'daws' all the time. Everywhere.

She now just ‘daws’ all the time. Everywhere.

And I will miss these intimate moments with her. It will never be just us three anymore. I will love having family around, I can never thank them enough for their help and support, and I know that not being together all the time will help both me and C. But I know certain times will come when I’d give anything for a brief time-out and be somehow transported back to this life where it’s just us three. To be in this house, on this sofa, sipping some water and being my daughter’s everything, and she mine.

Off-Days

I always start the day with the best of intentions. I go to bed at night planning the day ahead – clean out my wardrobe, iron A’s shirts, tidy up the medicine cabinet, put all of C’s books in one place…the usual drill really. What normally happens is that I either get to do everything or nothing at all.I either wake up with a full bout of energy and manage to strike off every item from my To-Do list, or else 6pm arrives and I realize that I haven’t yet done the bed.

I call it lethargy. The awful feeling of not being bothered to do anything but the bare essential. If that.

Sometimes it happens too often for comfort. On such days I can barely bring myself to shower and instead find refuge in my comfy house-coat for the whole day. On such days, C seems more demanding than ever, and I admit to losing my temper much more easier than usual. Cooking-wise I do so without enthusiasm and unfortunately for my husband, the food does taste and look lacking. As for C’s food, I use the easy-way-out and resort to jars or pasta. I find it more time-consuming to prepare Cesca’s food than our own. I try and keep everything in balance for her – some carbs, veg, protein, something sweet and dairy. But on my couldn’t-care-less days, I sometimes go to bed feeling as guilty as ever because no thought at all would have gone into her food. Just something quick, add some Crackerbread, some fruit and chocolate balls to keep her quiet (and still while changing her nappy!) and her food for the day is ready.

And since on such days I don’t bother showering till right before The Husband returns from work, we stay in all day, probably in front of this laptop, trying to keep C busy playing on her own, not bothering to read a single book to her or play with her. Fortunately for me, her favourite time involves emptying her toys and scattering them around the place before settling on something in particular.

I guess we can’t be Super-Mummy and Super-Wife all of the time. Or at anytime at all.

Today will not be such a day, I promise.

Highlights – October 2012

I’ve abandoned my Highlights section for the past couple of months. But this month I wanted to highlight the past couple of weeks with one picture which says it all:

October was a month full of child-related stories. A Gozitan neighbour of my mother’s is enduring each and every mother’s worst nightmare. Help was requested, help was granted and now we all wait for good news for little Leah. In England, news has come up of a famous, beloved and now deceased TV presenter who got on with disgusting acts behind the scenes. Acts involving underage and vulnerable children.

Hearing and reading these stories make me hug C that bit tighter. And pray that for the rest of her life she will always be safe, healthy and surrounded by people who love her as much as we do x

Growing

My little cheeky one is nearly sixteen months old. She’s a tall baby girl, her skin tone is currently the same as mine was (at its’ darkest) last summer and she has an outrageous head of straight dark hair – apart from the volume of the latter, all three characteristics come directly from her father. Her character is starting to come right through – un/fortunately she seems to have inherited  my stubborn streak. She understands the meaning of the word ‘no’, so much so that upon hearing it, she starts kicking her legs and hands, cries a bit and then resumes her busy life as a toddler. If you DARE take anything she happens to be playing with, she will throw a short-lived tantrum during which you start praying for a hole to appear and swallow you up whole. However her mood is soon restored to normal. In that, she does not take after me. I tend to stretch my tantrums into hours and days. You can ask my husband.

She does not walk yet, but has mastered crawling to a tee. She knows how to walk and it’s just her fear which is stopping her from taking off. In the meantime every room in the house is now HER room. Nothing is off bounds – including the bathroom when I shower. I now have an audience of one during my once-upon-a-time private time. She keeps me company while cooking, she takes out every pan and pot and drags them to the living room to play with and eats any bit of food I drop while I cook. We live in austere times you see.

I love hearing her new words – of course they’re not words any other human being would understand, but I’ve started to recognize some of them. For instance, the ‘ayaya’ (said in a whispery, almost magical way) is her favourite fruit – the Banana. ‘Baba’ is her play-ball, a long ‘bababa’ means ‘butterfly’ and ‘sh-sh’ are her shoes. She loves the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and goes into a happy-induced frenzy when Mickey appears on the television. Mickey and Minnie Mouse are known to us as ‘Ninnie’. ‘Ninnie’ the soft-toy comes in very handy when she has a melt-down over something as mentioned before. And then there’s ‘mimi’ which I’ve come to think refers to a number of things – her dummy, her milk and ‘me me’ – that is, ‘everything belongs to me. This is mine and that is mine too’. As if we need any reminders that everything is all about her. Always.

I’m happy that I’ve finally managed to steer her away from the coma-inducing Baby TV onto the more reasonable Disney Junior TV. At least this way, we can watch better cartoons, listen to better conversations and they’re something I enjoy watching too. Her favourite shows are the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (of course) and The Hive. She laughs so much during the opening tune, and she’s taken a real shine to Busby. I have to admit, I have as well – he is the cutest thing ever!

Nights are still an issue with us. Just when she has a good night, she then has 2/3 nights of waking up 4/5 times a night. By 8am she’s then wide awake, chattering away in her cot (or in our bed – depending on the night she had) as if she had the most relaxing night ever. Whereas I look like a zombie who’d kill for an hour more of uninterrupted sleep. I know it’s teething, but it seems to go on forever…

What I love most about her age at the moment is her ability to communicate. We talk to her and you can see her small brain digesting what we’re telling her and storing it all in. She then answers with a look or a word and looks at us for approval. She knows when she’s doing something she’s not supposed to and looks at me with her big eyes when I explain the reason why she can’t do it. I ask for her shoe and she goes and gets it for me. I find it amazing how quickly she learns things, like last weekend when she saw me opening a bottle of water and when I gave it to her she opened it, looked at the lid and tried closing it again. Thankfully it was empty. A tells me that it’s just like training a pet – in some ways it’s true. We’re always saying “Cesca, say hello”, “Cesca, open your mouth”, “Cesca, put your hands up”. We repeat everything for a million times, and when we’ve nearly given up, she will say or do it for us.

Little Puppet, you’re amazing. I love being able to spend this time with you, seeing you grow into a young girl, finding your own way around everything, and showing us snippets of what you’ll be like when you’re older. You do make me angry at times, and I hate myself when I lose my temper with you, but you’re a special girl. You jump into my arms and give me your biggest hug, and I feel myself melting around you. I love you little C x

I meant to upload some recent pictures of C, but for some reason WordPress is not allowing me to. Hope I’ll have better luck next time!