When I heard that a beach club nearby was opening its doors to the public on weekdays to come, kick-back and read, I jumped at the occasion to enjoy the setting, catch-up on some of my reading list, and mostly to reinforce my kids’ perception of reading as a fun activity.
Many places in the United Arab Emirates are likely to make reading related events this year as 2016 was declared the Year of Reading! As for my London friends, keep an eye out for events around the end of this week, as March 3rd is World Book Day in the UK.
My New Home (by Marta Altes) and Petit Noun (by Géraldine Elschner) were the choices for my 4year old daughter. The first deals with the tribulations and excitements of changing homes and was a great way to get my daughter and I to have a conversation about how she has experienced our various moves in the past few years. I do know (and she reminded me that day again) that she misses her friends back in London a lot but just like in the book (and I reminded her of that AGAIN) she is making new friends and learning how to adapt to novelty and difference. As for Petit Noun, it’s an amazing metaphorical adventure about a blue hippopotamus in ancient Egypt… this book transports both parent and child, at different levels, to a world of reflection, colors, history and mystery.
As for my 18months old tot, I enlisted l’âne Trotro (and his sister ZaZa) to help me introduce her to potty training (wish me luck, that’s gonna take a while…) and then we read about good old Sophie La Giraffe’s busy daily schedule in Sophie’s Busy Day (…and I thought I was busy! 😉)
I find that anticipating a book a long while before it’s released or you get your hands on it makes the eventual read even more enjoyable… I’m therefore disclosing two books I’m eagerly awaiting below (and feel free to add in the comments any recommended upcoming books):
- The Importance of Being Little – What Preschoolers Really Need from Grownups (by Erika Christakis): a reevaluation of traditional teaching and parenting techniques, this book promises to propose an alternative approach which promotes a better learning environment by listening more closely to the needs of children and how they experience their surrounding and the teaching/parenting itself)
- I Love You Madly – Marie-Antoinette and Count Fersen: The Secret Letters (by Evelyn Farr): it’s about newly discovered letters that promise to shed more light and confirm the much rumored loved-affair the Queen had with Count Fersen
Sometimes you have to look back to realize how far or where you’ve come and today when I accidentally scrolled up too far in the sent photos section of WhatsApp while chatting on a family group, I landed on some old pics of my daughters and realized how much they’ve changed (mostly how my eldest has transitioned from chubby baby to opinionated little girl!) in what felt like a time and space I missed – even though I’m certain I was there pretty much all the time!
It’s in moments like this that I’m forced to have a bit of an out-of-body experience and reflect on the fact that my kids are growing up much faster than I’m able to catch-up and it’s then that I start questioning whether caught in the day-to-day grind trying to satisfy their (and my) ever morphing needs (and thank you move for making this even more intractable) I’m perhaps losing perspective and losing the delicate balance between my needs and my family’s. Despite my best efforts, it seems that every time I go through that mentally tortuous exercise (which often starts through an old cute picture!) I end up thinking the balance is tilting one way or the other more than it should and I start micro-planning solutions around this… those solutions often involve planning and slicing my time into more pieces to address all the things I and they want to do… the problem is both those lists keep on growing and I keep on thinking one of them is going to shrink to give way to the other! + hey sorry to break-it to all the second-time-around moms, the synergies of having gone through it once do have serious limits, as the second kid can be very different then the first and you may have some completely new experiences / challenges with them (for instance I never had to deal with unruly curly hair with my eldest!) Of course, despite my best planning, it seems that with so many things, not everything gets done exactly as I saw it in my planner…
Perhaps nowhere is this tension between their needs, my husband’s and mine more apparent then during the weekend, when we’ve resolved that it’s important for us to recharge both separately and together. All it takes sometimes, is one incident that creates a domino effect on all the rest of the carefully planned day and there goes the whole balance… For example, we plan a day carefully designed around a nice car ride with music, lovely brunch with friends, stroll in the park and an afternoon relaxing on the beach / going for a run… this can turn out to become a shouting fest by fussy toddler in the car seat from Abu Dhabi to Dubai (bye bye Seascrest top 40), an ‘à table’ juice fight between my usually white but then turned orange daughters at the bewildered sight of our single friends (who are likely to stay single for a while after this!), and a miracle tantrum at Dubai’s Miracle Gardens by my eldest over not finding the perfect lollipop! So much time gets wasted of course dealing with those unexpected events and even more time when we try to stick to principles. I mean obviously if I settle to their every demand (and my husband often voices the let’s save the rest of the day argument) or don’t hold them accountable to their actions, things would go faster but am I not hurting my future self there too? That day I didn’t give in and hey I missed the beach and my husband missed his run… oh well not sure I made the right choice there 😜
Of course (and perhaps that’s a blessing somehow) those self-assessment episodes only last for so long (because I only have so long before I’m interrupted by either a cute moment: “Maman regarde cette coquine dit “Tigre”; ENG: “Mom look this naughty one says “Tiger”! or a disaster “Maman cette coquine descent les escaliers toute seule! Regarde elle peut! Je lui ai ouvert la barrière! Laisse-la!; ENG: “Mom, look this naughty one is going down the stairs! Look she’s doing it by herself! I opened the gate for her! Let her do it!”… Moi 😱
I’m not sure if I’m balancing right but surprisingly as time passes I’m becoming less vulnerable to realizations that I’m actually not always balancing perfectly… it’s a sort of a gradual peace-making with my limitations or realization that my trying to control everything ultimately circles back to create even more frustrations that I lack control over. So perhaps the best balance one can achieve is to accept without frustration or too much resistance that “something’s gotta give” and that from time to time the coloring is going to go outside the lines… but that despite that your life can still be beautiful.
I’m loving that my daughter is now old enough to enjoy shopping-time with me. I get tempted to try things on her, she gives spot on advice (e.g. “Maman, c’est moche! / c’est bizarre! / c’est quoi ça?!? / Maman, ça c’est pour les enfants!” / ENG: “Mom, it’s ugly! / it’s bizarre! / what’s that?!? / Mom, that’s for kids!”) & we often have the best laughs out of things we don’t buy! 😂
What I love and don’t love about being a mom
(because it’s Mum’s day in Britain)
👍I love how rewarding it is being a mom for my two little daughters. The time and work I put day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year to raise them as good individuals is worth everything.
👎I don’t love how high maintenance they can be.
👍I love that I have the privilege to stay at home and keep up with my kids all day. I can’t see myself doing anything more fulfilling than nurturing my kids and caring for them.
👎I don’t fancy having to deal with a gazillion crises per day including whining, tantrums and separation anxiety.
👍I love to hug and kiss my daughters. My favorite hug is the one my daughter gives me in the morning when kissing me goodbye before leaving to school. To make sure she melts my heart even more she often complements it with “je ne vais pas faire pipi dans mes vêtements, je te promets maman, je vais faire attention / ENG: I won’t pee in my clothes mommy, promise, I’ll be careful!”
👎I don’t love when my kids become needy and don’t give me a break… (I love hugs and kisses even more after a break away from them!)
👍I love those little moments during the day watching and hearing my daughters do and say the cutest things. I giggle randomly whenever their memory comes to mind. I love how my husband and I can’t hide our relief when the girls go to bed and are quiet and it’s finally “us” time, but then we spend the rest of the evening watching iPhone videos of them and marveling at how quickly they’re growing and changing and how amazingly they overwhelmed our life with joy and sleep deprivation.
👎I don’t love that movie night starts at 11, by the time my husband decides on a movie (time to choose a movie can sometime take longer than the actual movie)…or I don’t love that we watch movies as series.
👍I love how I miss my baby during sleep time and I love to pick her up from her crib when she first wakes up in the morning and starts calling for me. Her eyes glitter in excitement when she sees me. That moment is everything. No matter how tired and short on sleep I am, the promise of that face waiting for me in the next room promptly gets me out of bed!
👎Even though I am more of a morning person, I don’t fancy preparing oatmeal at 6am, on a Sunday.
👍I love the special bond I have with my 3-year-old daughter. I love how at this age she can see through me and understands my emotional state. She stares at me and tells me: “maman, j’aime pas quand tu te faches / ENG: Mom, I don’t like when you get angry”. I love how capable she is in calming me when I’m anxious with a simple smile or word. I love how invested she can get whenever my husband and I argue. I love how she always manages voluntarily or involuntarily (breaking into an argument with a chain of never ending questions but why, but why, but why….) in converting an argument to laughter and jokes.
👎I hate when they drive me nuts sometimes: “go tidy up your room for the 7th time! stop stepping on your sister’s hands/toes/head! Where did you hide your other shoe!!!”
👍I love when she comes from school with her silly sense of humor boosted / e.g. as we’re playing kitchen: “maman, je veux te preparer une surprise, c’est un sandwich de caca avec des crottes de nez/ENG: Mom, I have a surprise for you, it’s a poop and boogers sandwich!”.
👎I don’t fancy her saying “Caca boudin” the second I meet her friend’s mom at school and to make the situation even worse, grabs my phone and blasts at that same moment: “My Anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns hun”!!! Here I am getting the once over look and being labeled the creepy mom who listens to trashy lyrics and lets her daughter swear.
👍I love lazy weekend mornings when we all snuggle in one bed and we indulge in a cuddle session.
👎I don’t love that it’s virtually impossible to have any guaranteed uninterrupted private time!
👍I love being a mom of 2 GIRLS. I love having been able to give my 3-year-old daughter a sibling.
👎I hate that for most of the time she still sees her as a rival.
👍I love when my 3 year old daughter, out of the blue, looks me in the eyes and tells me: “maman je t’aime beaucoup, PAS UN PEU, BEAUCOUP” / ENG: “Mom, I love you a lot, not a bit, A LOT”.
👎I hate when I proudly prepared a creative gourmet dish for my family (which took me all day) and at first taste my daughter hits me with: “J’aime PAS” / ENG: “I don’t like it”.
👍I love when I wake up and find my husband sitting with my daughters reading them a book / playing basketball with the mini sand bucket as the net….I love him even more when on his way to drop our daughter at school he sends me a texto saying: “she says “papa, une autre hitoire de Johanna” / ENG: “Daddy, another Johanna story please!” one more time and I’ll 🔫 myself!” (me 😝) (ps: Johanna is a fictional character I invited one day while giving her a shower and now Johanna has taken a life of her own and we’re at her adventure #156! Our daughter refuses to hear the exact same story twice! It’s like being in a creative writing class everytime we take a cab ride with her!)
👍I love how my daughters challenge me, inspire me, strengthen me and push me forward… the thing with children is, and that’s something that probably only parents can truly appreciate, is that even though raising them is exhausting and can make you lose touch with some aspects of your pre-children self, they have an ability, whether it’s through a smile or a joke or a new word they’ve learned to empower you to endure the hardship… it’s your pride and bedazzlement turning into increased patience and limitless willingness to sacrifice and endure their screeching screaming voices!
Now it’s your turn to share with me what you love 👍 or don’t love 👎 about being a mom! xoxo Happy Mother’s Day!