As a wife of one and a mom of four, it seems like I am always learning and discovering! I know I am not alone. It doesn’t matter where we live, let’s just admit it:
The world is a big place, life is a lesson, and children can be the best teachers.
Previously my series, Life Lessons with Mexico Mom, was hosted on Los Gringos Locos. Starting today, I will host it here on World Moms Blog. Look for it the last Friday of every month. I hope you will join us for our continuing adventures in Mexico and beyond. You won’t be disappointed 😉
Here are my most recent insights and experiences as a Mexico Mom: (more…)
Last Sunday, my closest friend became a mother for the first time. It has been excitement galore from all the people who know her: her family, her friends, her colleagues, neighbors, acquaintances, and just about everybody.
When I visited her in hospital, I found myself giving her all kinds of advice about motherhood from breastfeeding, to weaning, to walking, to teething, all that and more.
Then I quickly told her that I would add her to some Facebook groups that would be of great help to her as a new mum. I began by adding her to a group that is exclusive to Kenyan mums who are breastfeeding. As I did so, I amused myself at how Kenyan mums have turned Facebook into their go-to resource center.
There are plenty of Facebook groups by and for Kenyan mums whose membership constitutes a certain phase of the motherhood journey.
For example, when one is trying to conceive, there is a group to join. When she conceives, she then swiftly moves on to a group for pregnant mums. Once she has her baby, she moves on to the next group –that of breastfeeding mums. After that its a group dedicated to weaning, and where nutrition advice is offered –by fellow mums.
Then there are also larger groups made up of Kenyan mums with babies of whatever age, a general group where everything about motherhood is discussed. From schools, to detergents, to diapers, to cooking fat, tissue paper, to the very critical issue of house girls (nannies). Everything goes. Each of these groups have thousands of members, with one even having slightly over 90,000 members!
I have been in all of these groups, and I am still members in some of them.
In the traditional African setting of the past, new mums were guided into the motherhood journey by the older women around them: their mothers, their aunts, their grandmothers, older cousins and female neighbors.
However, in today’s society some of these traditional fabrics are slowly ebbing away.
More women have to work to supplement the family income, which leaves little option for staying at home to look after the children. In fact, we are seeing less and less of the special interactions between generations of women when it comes to raising her child.
Consequently, we are turning to our friends, our online friends, most of them strangers, for advice that would otherwise have been given to us by our ‘African mothers.’ Combine that with modern technology where access to the internet in many African urban cities is growing, and accessing information and connecting with mums online becomes inevitable.
Sometimes when I think about it, I believe it’s unfortunate, especially for those of us who live in the urban towns, that we no longer have easy access to those traditional pieces of motherhood advice that we would have received directly from our mothers. But, in turn, we are grateful about how the internet has made our parenting journeys significantly easier for our modern lifestyles. Because, it truly has. But, it is only natural to wonder if we may be missing out on something lost.
How has online motherhood support played into your experience as a mother?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by contributor Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama of Kenya.
Photo credit of Kenyan women to the author.
Quote image credit to World Moms Blog.
Last week, my six year-old threw a very loud, very intense and very public tantrum. He threw it because I said, No, to a treat that I wasn’t prepared to buy for him. And yes, I did explain why I said, No.
My saying, No, is not a new experience for him. He is familiar with the word and knows what it means. He is intelligent and articulate and understood my reasons for saying, No. I wasn’t too bothered by his outburst. I knew he would get through it and we would be on good terms again by the time we reached home. What was fascinating, to me, was other people’s reactions.
I really, really wish more people understood than these willful tantrums, what I’ve always called Processing Tantrums operate the same as the mourning process. It’s a process to be supported through, not stopped in some way to make me or others feel better.
My son, while in public, was initially in the Denial and then Anger and Bargaining stages. Like the mourning process, he oscillated between them but, because I held the, No, position but was emotionally as supportive as he would allow – mostly through calm words as he wouldn’t let me touch him – by the time we were five minutes away from the store, he hit the Sad stage and a minute later was in Acceptance.
But of course, the people in the store never saw those bits. They just saw the screaming and defiant child and drew their own conclusions. Most kept their opinions to themselves. Some were verbally supportive toward me or used body-language to show they understood. One woman meant very well but managed to irritate me more than the six year-old tantrum.
She told me not to be embarrassed. And seemed quite shocked when I said I wasn’t in the slightest bit embarrassed. Not one ounce of embarrassment was felt by me.
My children are not me. I am not my children and I am certainly not my children’s behaviors. My children are well nurtured, well fed, get loads of sleep, explore and take risks often, have great rituals and firm boundaries. I do my job of parenting them to the best of my ability and they’re turning out just fine.
Their job is to use me as their home base. Their job is to seek comfort from me when they choose to do so. Their job is to move away from me as they desire, at their own pace, in varying amounts as they are so driven. Their job is to learn that things don’t always go their way but they can survive that process and be, not only okay but also have a better understanding of their world and how to reasonably accommodate others, when it’s all over. Their job is to complete the mourning process when they hear that word, No.
I hate to think what would happen if my boys did not learn to properly process, now as children, with my support and understanding. Would they end up being abusive partners because they couldn’t respect the personal boundaries of others? Would they think they were above the law? Would they end up depressed because they got low grades, for what is a low grade but A. Would they stop taking chances and blame everything and everyone else in the world for their inadequacies? I suspect they would. I know plenty of adults who have these characteristics in their personalities.
So, if you see my boys throwing tantrums be assured I am comfortable with the short-term stress of supporting them through those times. They are processing.
I believe it’s worth the short-term pain for the long-term gain of raising kids with character. Their anti-social moments are not their permanent states.
And, really, truly, any tantrums they throw do not embarrass me. I am not my children’s behavior. I am their mother and their lighthouse.
Have you ever had a child tantrum in public? How was that for you? How did other people react?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Karyn Wills of Napier, New Zealand.
Photo Credit to Mindaugas Danys
Photo Credit: Jennifer Lovallo
In a time where one’s ethnicity is being questioned or disregarded, as evidenced by the treatment of Syrian refugees, I thought it timely as one of the topics at the recent Social Good Summit.
I’ve attended the Social Good Summit three times, and each time, I came away wanting to be involved more than I ever had before. The topics ranged from human rights to AIDS activism and most importantly this year, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that are being discussed and implemented by 2030. One of the speakers, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, spoke about the importance of being involved at a time of intolerance. The topic was titled “Refugees: The Route to Resettlement” and the panelists outlined what must be done to resolve this issue.
For UNHCR Guterres, it wasn’t just Syrian refugees that need to be addressed as he states, “let’s not forget that 86% of refugees are in the developing world”. It’s become almost “normal” to hear about refugees from Syria looking to resettle, but that’s where the problem lies. Developed countries like the US and Europe should be taking in more refugees, but whether it’s a matter of logistics or fear of being replaced, it has affected the plight of Syrians. Currently, there are more than 4 million Syrian refugees displaced globally and while U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced this September that the United States would accept 200,000 refugees, that is a fraction of those who are currently displaced. For Guterres, it’s not enough that we open our doors wide; he believes that the international community must do more and time is of the essence if these issues are to be resolved. These “refugees” should not be shunned but embraced because “diversity is a richness, not a problem”.
Another panelist who made an impassioned plea to find some solutions for this issue was UNCHR Ambassador of Goodwill Ger Duany. Duany was a former child soldier, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, until he fled to the United States in 1994. For Duany, being a former refugee makes him a great barometer for what could be the future of refugees. When he became a political prisoner, he turned his life around and has become an example of what one can accomplish given the chance.
What is becoming dangerous at this time and affects the future of anyone looking for asylum are the economic ramifications that result from helping them resettle. In addition to economic instability, there is a pattern of xenophobia that is being experienced in Lebanon, Jordan and currently, Europe. Xenophobia is an unfortunate byproduct of the unknown, but it should not shape or affect how we treat others, especially those who are in danger.
It is necessary that as a society, we remember that so many of us came from places where we were forced to leave our homes, families and lives. It is vital to remember that without “refugees” our society would not have the richness of cultures that we have today.
It is disconcerting that a “refugee” , whose primary goal is to find a safe haven for themselves and their families, has evoked negative responses from those who feel threatened by their presence.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Lovallo
As someone whose parents came to this country to escape martial law in the Philippines, it is heartbreaking to see photos and read of the plight of these refugees, seeking asylum and freedom from their suffering. As a wife and mother of a teen, I can only imagine how I would be if I were ever in the same situation. My family was lucky to have escaped from a dictatorship, but I also know that it could have gone quite differently.
While the Social Good Summit has come and gone, there is more work to do if we are to solve the refugee crisis at hand. The SDG’s and conversations are great starting points, but concrete actions are needed to ensure that refugees are not ignored or forgotten. It is my hope that the implementation of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals will propel actions to resolve this crisis.
Does your own family have a history that includes a refugee tale?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by guest contributor Tes Silverman of www.pinayperspective.com
Tes Silverman was born in the Manila, Philippines and has been a New Yorker for more than 30 years. Moving from the Philippines to New York opened the doors to the possibility of a life of writing and travel. Before starting a family, she traveled to Iceland, Portugal, Brussels, and France, all the while writing about the people she met through her adventures. After starting a family, she became a freelance writer for publications such as Newsday’s Parents & Children and various local newspapers. Four years ago, she created her blog, The Pinay Perspective. PinayPerspective.com is designed to provide women of all ages and nationalities the space to discuss the similarities and differences on how we view life and the world around us. As a result of her blog, she has written for BlogHer.com and been invited to attend and blog about the Social Good Summit and Mom+Social Good. Currently residing in Huntington, NY with her husband, sixteen year-old daughter and nine year-old Morkie, she continues to write stories of women and children who make an impact in their communities and provide them a place to vocalize their passions.
I have loved Portugal for nearly my whole life. I first came here as a little girl for summer holidays with my parents. I can still remember the dry heat of the Portuguese summer, the ice-cream from the beach stalls that was never quite frozen, and the delicious pastries in the cafés. I’ve been coming back to the same city, the same coastline ever since.
The result is that, although I’ve only been actually living in Portugal for over a year, I sort of feel like a local. Take me anywhere in Portugal today and I’ll probably find the place imprinted somewhere in my memory, even though I thought I’d never been there before. I can go to the same ice-cream parlour I went to over 20 years ago and order the same flavour. There are family photos of little me sitting at the top of the farmer’s market steps just like my son does today. No wonder Portugal feels like home.
And then sometimes it is jarringly obvious that I’m not from around here. My Portuguese accent is from Brazil; sometimes I even still have problems understanding the local pronunciation. In the summer, most shop-owners think I’m an English tourist on a week’s holiday. I don’t vote, I’m not up-to-date with Portuguese politics and have no idea what’s on Portuguese TV.
But my most glaring lapse is that I don’t have any Portuguese friends.
It’s not by choice. The local expat community welcomed me with open arms and I simply haven’t had to look elsewhere. In Brazil, you could basically count all the foreigners in the city on one hand. Outside of the big cities, people would look at you funny if you spoke English. Waiters at restaurants would often confuse England with America, London with Miami.
Here, playgroup alone includes mums from Sweden, Germany, the UK and Holland. On Saturdays the organic market is full of French and German people. There are English, American and German schools up and down the coast and nobody blinks an eyelid when you say your child is bilingual.
On the one hand, it’s lovely to be part of such an eclectic international mix of people. In some ways I feel more at ease with other nomads like myself, who know what I’m talking about when I mention living out of boxes or moving every couple of years. But I worry that I’m missing out on the real Portugal. Did I really move here just to buy Waitrose tea at the supermarket and chat about the weather with other Brits?
Of course it’s lovely that I can buy peanut butter and proper English tea bags at the supermarket, but shouldn’t I be experimenting with local ingredients?
At the playground it sometimes feels that there is a bit of a “them and us” mentality between expat and local parents. Of course it’s difficult to mix when you’re not sure if the expats speak Portuguese (many of them don’t). Different attitudes to parenting don’t help: most Portuguese parents look aghast when I let my son splash through puddles without shoes or climb the slide – I in turn can’t believe they take their children to the park in such beautiful clothing (the washing! the ironing!). I wish it weren’t so. I don’t want my son growing up in Portugal but not a part of Portugal.
Since I’ve had no luck sidling up to Portuguese mums in the park, I’m trying to find other ways to connect with my community. A couple of weeks ago I bought a bus pass – what better way to get to know the neighbourhood than via the bus route? Plus, there’s always a friendly pensioner looking to chat about the weather.
Are you an expat or a local in your country? If you’re from abroad do you find it easy to mix with the locals?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Julie of Portugal. Photo credit to the author.