BELGIUM:  The Balancing Act

BELGIUM: The Balancing Act

balancing actI suppose it is inevitable. After all, people are what they are, they can’t change themselves. And although curiosity was apparently the mastermind behind the murder of someone’s cat, there are many curious people out there.

And curious people ask questions.

Sometimes stupid questions, sometimes profound questions, sometime questions which aren’t really questions but more a judgement on one of your actions and/or beliefs.

And sometimes people ask questions on matters which are none of their damn business.

One of those questions is the oft asked : “When are you having another?” or – since I have two girls: “When are you going to have a boy?”.

The answer usually runs along the lines of : “Oh not just yet! I have enough on my plate with just these two!” or “A boy? With these two… (at which I point at my girls doing whatever they are doing) the poor thing would just get traumatized.”

But I rarely tell the truth: No, never. No we are not trying for another baby. No we are not planning to “gift” our girls with a baby brother.

Perhaps it is due to the fact that I had my two girls in such a short space of time (When n°2 was born n°1 was a mere 16 months old) but I am most definitely done having children.

There are many reasons, finances being but one of them. No, we are not in financial trouble, but face it: raising a child is wickedly expensive. For the past three years we’ve spent a small fortune on day care and let’s not even talk about the price of diapers shall we… Had I been better informed I might seriously have considered buying stock options in Pampers or Huggies. With both kids in school we get a bit of financial breathing space, we can afford to finish our home.

But the main reason is balance.

When you are a mother, whether you have a job or are a stay at home mom, life is nothing less than a big balancing act on a loose rope above a pit filled with hungry tigers and fire.

Our balance is OK, right now. We are not in immediate danger of falling off the rope. Both kids attend school full-time, they are too young to have ‘real’ hobbies yet so no rush, rush, rush on Saturday morning – as yet (Please note: I do not count running after each other screaming bloody murder as a hobby).

Because of their relative closeness in age their feeding schedules (if I may be so blunt) are relatively in sync, meaning I don’t have to provide three or four individual breakfasts, lunches and dinners anymore each day. Lately they’ve started playing proper games together, in which each is an equal player and which do not require constant parental interference, just distant supervision.

We can start going on proper outings without dragging half the nursery and a whole plethora of baby food along, just a change of clothes, some cookies and a water bottle will get us through.

So in short: after four years of clutching desperately at that rope we’ve arrived at a spot where we can breathe freely, where we can relax for just a second, where there is time to be “us” and “just me” again.

The realization that we were as we should be came when we gave away the double stroller without an inch of pain or regret. Just happiness that there would finally be some more room in the garage.

Our family has found its balance and it feels wonderful.

When did you realize your family was as it should be?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our writer in Belgium and mother of just two…Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes.

Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes

Born in Belgium on the fourth of July in a time before the invention of the smart phone Tinne is a working mother of two adorably mischievous little girls, the wife of her high school sweetheart and the owner of a black cat called Atilla. Since she likes to cook her blog is mainly devoted to food and because she is Belgian she has an absurd sense of humour and is frequently snarky. When she is not devoting all her attention to the internet, she likes to read, write and eat chocolate. Her greatest nemesis is laundry.

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WASHINGTON, USA: Under a Cream Cheese Moon

WASHINGTON, USA: Under a Cream Cheese Moon

IMG_1612edPotty training my three year old son has not been easy. He’s been resistant to the idea for quite some time. I chalk this up to two things. First, he has a willful spirit and often rejects my proposals on principle. Even when dealing with treats or play, if it isn’t his idea, he’ll pass. Second, my son verbalizes to me regularly that he is still a baby. (more…)

Tara Bergman (USA)

Tara is a native Pennsylvanian who moved to the Seattle area in 1998 (sight unseen) with her husband to start their grand life adventure together. Despite the difficult fact that their family is a plane ride away, the couple fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and have put down roots. They have 2 super charged little boys and recently moved out of the Seattle suburbs further east into the country, trading in a Starbucks on every corner for coyotes in the backyard. Tara loves the outdoors (hiking, biking, camping). And, when her family isn't out in nature, they are hunkered down at home with friends, sharing a meal, playing games, and generally having fun. She loves being a stay-at-home mom and sharing her experiences on World Moms Network!

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SINGAPORE: Dealing with my imperfections

SINGAPORE: Dealing with my imperfections

5694104161_8e91dcbf8fI’ve made many mistakes as a parent.

I’ve yelled, spanked out of anger, accused and spoken hurtful words out of frustration.

Only to realise that there’s no way to undo the deed…well, except to say “I’m sorry” to my children.

We had a recent episode where I came home from work to find out that Vera had in a moment of fury, grabbed a cane and hit her god-grandmother. I, in a moment of outrage, swiftly used the same method of punishment on her.

I was shocked to hear of her actions, as we’ve never heard of her using force or violence on anyone in our home.

That evening, I cried. Because I felt like I had failed as a mother.

I wondered if it was because of my own disciplinary actions on her, that had taught her the example of using the cane to lash out when she was angry.

After we were calm, I sat her down and taught her some ways of expressing anger, ways that are more socially acceptable such as shouting into a pillow or hugging her favourite soft toy.

I also apologised for having been so angry, and for spanking her when I was at the peak of that anger.

After discussing with my husband in private, I realised that I’d made the mistake of not allowing her to give her side of the story, not seeking to understand what was in her heart and mind when she made that grave mistake, before disciplining her, not giving her any benefit of doubt. In my fit, it did not dawn on me that I wasn’t there to witness the incident, and therefore cannot be fully aware of the circumstances that had provoked her to such behaviour. (more…)

Mamawearpapashirt (Singapore)

June, born and bred on the sunny and sometimes rainy shores of Singapore, is a mother of two - a chatty 4 y.o. girl and a toddler boy who babbles. She works part-time as a communication consultant, and she is deeply passionate about family, writing, faith, and good old-fashioned love. She can be found on her blog, Mamawearpapashirt.

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KENYA: Westgate Mall Shooting: finding words

KENYA: Westgate Mall Shooting: finding words

This post is a reflection by our editor, MamaMzungu, in Kenya on the September 21, 2013 shooting in Nairobi, when 10-15 unidentified gunmen opened fire in an upscale, downtown shopping mall, killing 62 and wounding more than 175 people.

Kenya militaryI’ve spent the last few days fighting back (often unsuccessfully) tears. When I communicate about this tragedy to friends and family, I find myself most often saying, “there are no words.”

Sixty dead souls, children among them, nearly 200 injured and the senseless death toll keeps mounting. Ravi Ramrattan, among them, is a friend who was kind-hearted, whip-smart and had a manner that immediately put everyone at ease. They identified him by his shoes.

Unthinkably, when I describe him, I have to use the verb “was” not “is;” his bright future snatched from him, leaving a crater-sized hole in the hearts of people who loved him. Those are words. And as I type them, here I go again fighting that tightening in my throat and welling in my eyes.

Still, I need to find words. I need to find some sense or meaning out of this tragedy.

When we first heard about the shooting, we were camping in a forest with some friends. We were walking amid astounding beauty with our children, 3 four-year-olds and 3 babies. We received information in fits and starts when cell phone reception worked.

First it was 15-20 dead. Shit. That’s gotta be a terrorist attack.

Then it was 29. Holy crap. Pit in the belly. Do we know anyone?

Then it was 39. But these numbers could keep going up. Where will it stop?.

Then, 59 dead. Silence.

But it was one small detail, not the numbers, that finally made that scene at the luxury mall real: It was a children’s day at the mall. Something I might have taken my own babies to. Some of these children were now dead.

I was going to write something about numbers, how we interpret tragedy and risk through a narrow and almost tribal lens. How I’ve seen a lot of equally senseless and avoidable death from terror of poverty. And those numbers are higher than 60.

How disappointing the truth is that it pains me to my core, when the victims look like me – when I can picture myself and my children in that circumstance.

How, as much as I think of myself as part of a truly global community, the world spins off its axis more for me when my bubble of safety and comfort is exploded.

But forget all that. I’m not in the mood to be philosophical yet. I just want to be sad. I want to mourn.

All life is precious. And fleeting. And nothing is sure. I just want to hug my family extra tight. And I want to pray to a god which I have to cling to, even though such senselessness make me doubt his existence, to bring comfort to the people who are unexpectedly burying loved ones too soon.

Mama Mzungu is a World Moms Blog editor and contributor living in Kenya with her husband and two young children. You can read more about their life and recent events on her  blog: Mama Mzungu This article was reposted on World Moms Blog with permission.

The image used in this post is credited to US Army Africa and holds a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.

Mama Mzungu (Kenya)

Originally from Chicago, Kim has dabbled in world travel through her 20s and is finally realizing her dream of living and working in Western Kenya with her husband and two small boys, Caleb and Emmet. She writes about tension of looking at what the family left in the US and feeling like they live a relatively simple life, and then looking at their neighbors and feeling embarrassed by their riches. She writes about clumsily navigating the inevitable cultural differences and learning every day that we share more than we don’t. Come visit her at Mama Mzungu.

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SOCIAL GOOD: Honouring Eleanor Roosevelt and Girls Around the World on October 11th!

SOCIAL GOOD: Honouring Eleanor Roosevelt and Girls Around the World on October 11th!

City of Kitchener Councillor, Kelly Galloway-Sealock, and the author's three daughters at a 2012 International Day of the Girl Child event

City of Kitchener Councillor, Kelly Galloway-Sealock, and the author’s three daughters at a 2012 International Day of the Girl Child event

Mark your calendars and celebrate October 11th with your families and in your communities! Why you might ask? Well, the reasons are two-fold. Firstly, October 11th is Eleanor Roosevelt’s birthday. Eleanor was a world-renowned advocate for human rights and world peace. She was instrumental in the development and implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. So, how fitting is it that the United Nations has declared October 11th as the International Day of the Girl Child.

This October 11th marks the second annual International Day of the Girl Child. This day will be celebrated worldwide in an effort to bring attention to the human rights of girls around the world, and to highlight the gender-based struggles that so many young girls face daily.

Forced childhood marriages, rape, and female genital mutilation are just some of the issues that many little girls are forced to deal with at very early ages. In many countries, young girls are not valued and as a result are not invested in, particularly when it comes to schooling.  The resulting long-term effects are alarming and have been documented in an eye-opening video by the Girl Effect movement. Please watch this video and share with friends and family – it will change the way you see the world. Girl Effect – the clock is ticking! 

Last year, the focus of the very first International Day of the Girl Child was child marriage. This year, the focus will be on education. There are so many wonderful ways that you can participate in this important day. Whether you plan a family event or a community event, we all need to ensure that this very important day is recognized. Spread the word – girls are important and need to be valued, respected and treated as equal partners in our local and global communities.

What can you do to honour this important day? You can host a community screening of the Girl Rising film that is receiving acclaim worldwide. You can act to spread the word about struggles some young girls are facing in the world today. You can talk to your children about these critical issues.  You can ask your child’s teacher to discuss this day with their class.  You can organize a fundraising event in your office/workplace. Whatever you choose to do, whether it be large or small-scale, YOU can make a difference on October 11th!

Last year, my three young daughters tied pink ribbons in their hair and joined a local city councillor on a hike discussing the importance of human rights for all girls. It was a simple but highly effective way to celebrate this day. So many people asked them why they were wearing the ribbons, allowing them to speak about the day in their own words describing what it meant to them. It was so great to see the passion being shared by a younger generation, especially given that many of these issues are often difficult for them to understand and rationalize!

This year, we are planning a yoga event at a local studio for young boys and girls in the community. We are asking for small donations, which will then be used to support the educational needs of girls in Tanzania. In addition, my two older daughters have done small research projects on the significance of the International Day of the Girl Child, and will be presenting all that they have learned to their classmates on October 11th, thanks to the support of their teachers. I encourage you to plan an event too!Your event does not have to be fancy or sophisticated. Sometimes the smallest and simplest acts can have the greatest impact.

Let’s all celebrate October 11th together – girls are worth it!

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said;

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”  – Eleanor Roosevelt

In what way might you celebrate the Day of The Girl Child?

This is an original World Moms Blog post written by Alison Fraser.

Alison Fraser

Alison Fraser is the mother of three young girls ranging in age from 5 to 9 years old. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. Alison works as an Environmental Toxicologist with a human environment consulting company and is an active member of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). She is also the founder and director of the Canadian Not for Profit Organization, Mom2Mom Africa, which serves to fund the school fees of children and young women in rural Tanzania. Recently recognized and awarded a "Women of Waterloo Region" award, Alison is very involved in charitable events within her community including Christmas Toy and School Backpack Drives for the local foodbank.

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