The happy story of motherhood invariably begins with one little discordant note. Amidst the congratulations from friends and family and the heady feeling of having reached a life-transforming milestone, one thing that invariably goes unmentioned to new mothers is that sleep will become the most precious thing in their lives, second only to the newborn squalling in their arms! Recently, I stumbled upon some old pages from my diary, written when my progeny was all of 40 days old.
From the Diary:
Motherhood. One little word with so very many nuances of color and meaning! I knew about the nappies, the feeding, the burping, the rocking-to-sleep thing. I didn’t know about the sheer sense of awe and wonder I would feel each time I looked at or held my little one. But all that awe threatens to disappear in a puff of smoke – this baby just won’t sleep! He seems to run on adrenaline. Even now as I write, my left hand is patting him, hoping he will shut his eyes (and I will shut mine too) but he seems fascinated by the wall-clock! J But the real battle of wills happens after dinner. The situation runs like this:
Mother (that’s me): Abhi, finish your feed and then sleep; don’t doze off now.
Abhi (if he could talk, this is what he might say): Huh? I am not too hungry…zzzz…or am I?…zzz…
Mother tickles Abhi’s ears in a vain attempt to get him to finish his feed. The doctor had advised her this was the best way to awaken a sleeping baby. Abhi obviously didn’t get the memo! She wonders how he manages to become drowsy at feeding times and valiantly resists sleep at other times.
Mother: One moment, let me hold you properly…
Abhi: Waaaanh! (mother quickly soothes him; he seems to finish his feed, all seems well)
Mother: Good boy! Now I will help you sit up and burp.
Abhi: Not the least bit interested! (Helpfully brings up some curdled milk instead. Mother quickly wipes him clean and starts worrying – is this normal? Does he need more feeding?)
Mother: Are you hungry?
Abhi responds by hiccuping, putting a stop to all further feeding plans.
Mother: O.K. Sleep-time. “Aye ghoom aye. Shona ghoomaye” (Bengali for “Come, sleep, come. The little darling sleeps.”)
Abhi opens his eyes wider and starts counting the squares of the mosquito-mesh at the window.
Mother: “Aamaar shone cheley. Please ghoomiye poro”. (“My darling boy, please go to sleep)
Abhi: Mom, there are 672 panels in this part of the mesh!
Mother: Aargh! What are you staring at? Shut your eyes, please!
Abhi: What a lovely little lampshade we have! Say, the curtains look a different colour at night. Interesting…
Mother is ready to collapse. She looks at the clock and decides there is no point in collapsing – the next feeding time is just minutes away! As a last-ditch effort, she decides to walk around with him, tired body notwithstanding. And he snoozes off. Victory! Mother wonders how a 40-day old infant can differentiate between the bed, the crib and her arms…Mother declares herself to be a student of “Bachelor of Child Care Management” taught by the University of Life and Experience!
Reflecting on the journey:
If anyone had told me that I would survive for months on end with barely four hours of sleep a day, I would have thought that to be impossible. And yet, motherhood seems to confer Superwoman-like powers on the humblest of us. Exhaustion battled with a supreme sense of hard-won patience. The latter won. Every time. The sheer force of unconditional love and an increasing sense of clarity about what the little one needed, were enough to deal with perpetual sleeplessness. The almost zombie-like days and nights segued into each other. And soon the infant grew to be a mischievous toddler, then a curious, inquisitive child, and is now, a strapping teen. Was I a patient person to begin with? Far from it! The first weeks and months of motherhood were therefore a “baptism by fire” for me. Over the years, there have been many, MANY more occasions for me to grow my “patience-muscle”. But this one was by far the sweetest and most definitive way to learn patience; truly claimed by the sheer persistence of a mother’s love.
Abhi and his mom – all round-eyed innocence!
What better gift is there than teaching your child the spirit of giving this holiday season! Why not create a family tradition that gives back by supporting one of these amazing organizations with holiday gifts that help people around the world?
A few years ago, I began highlighting different organizations that offer wonderful gifts that also give back to a cause. I began to curate these lists of Gifts that Give Back because I realized that we too as a consumer have a responsibility to make the world a better place, and there is no easier way than purchasing a gift that gives to your loved one and also gives back to someone in need. From purchasing a scarf that sends girls to school in India or a bar of homemade all natural soap that provides economic resources to communities in Africa, there is so much you can do. With the holidays right around the corner and millions of dollars being spent on gifts, imagine the difference we can make as consumers if we use our money to do good while giving. It is fabulous that so many amazing organizations exist today to help improve the world.
Here is a list of some of my favorite gifts that give back for this holiday season. Enjoy!
Bloom & Give
Bloom & Give sells beautifully handcrafted scarves and bags made in India using techniques passed on from generation to generation. Each product is designed in the US by one of Bloom & Give’s designers, and made in India with love. Bloom & Give donates 50% of their profits to support girls education programs in India through their partner Educate Girls to improve the lives of girls in Rajasthan.
Bloom & Give just released a new fall line with lots of beautiful products. Here are some of my favorites for the holidays. www.bloomandgive.com
Bird + Stone
A made-in-NYC jewelry start-up that invests in female entrepreneurs in the developing world. Bird + Stone uses jewelry as a funding vehicle for micro-loans and financial training and invests in single mothers in Kenya to start farming businesses, lift their families out of poverty, and follow their dreams. www.birdandstone.com
b.a.r.e. soaps is an all natural, socially conscious soap & candle company. b.a.r.e stands for “bringing antiseptic resources to everyone”. Proceeds from the sales are reinvested into social causes such as a soap rebatching initiative in India and a program to help children with essentials in Uganda. www.bare-soaps.com
Heart of Haiti
Designed to improve and enrich lives, Macy’s offers an extraordinary collection of art and gifts to promote change and hope in Haiti. Each purchase supports that artisans on the ground so they can have a sustainable income. http://www1.macys.com/shop/featured/heart-of-haiti
The Obakki Foundation is a small Vancouver-based foundation, created and run by local fashion designer (Obakki), mother and wife, Treana Peake, contributes 100 per cent of all public donations to their humanitarian projects. The foundation has drilled or rehabilitated more than 850 wells in the war-torn country of South Sudan, bringing clean water to an estimated more than one million people. And they have just promised six remote villages in the country that the foundation will help them to build a better future by providing each village with a much needed fresh water well. All that Obakki Foundation needs to do this is to sell 500 of each of the new, stylish colours of scarves – as a part of their Scarves for Water program. www.obakki.com
Preemptive Love Coalition
Preemptive Love Coalition brings emergency relief and medical care to families on the front lines of the world’s most polarizing conflicts—in places like Syria and Iraq. But we don’t leave once the fighting is done. We stay and empower refugees to reclaim their future from the ashes of war. www.preemptivelove.org
As a mission-driven brand, each and every detail has been thoughtfully planned to marry purpose and responsibility with practicality and, of course, beauty both inside and out. The company furthers this idea through its partnership with She’s The First, an organization that helps to provide education, mentorship, supplies and training to girls in developing countries. Every step taken in VEERAH is one stylish step closer to ensuring women everywhere can make their mark. www.veerah.com
Cotopaxi (adventure outdoor apparel and gear)
Cotopaxi is an outdoor company that funds sustainable poverty alleviation, moves people to do good, and inspires adventure through innovative outdoor products and experiences. Their unique business model enables their grantmaking in developing countries and represents a commitment to sustainable product design and charitable giving. The Luzon Del Dia backpack is created with salvageable materials that would otherwise have been headed to the landfill, and no two backpacks is alike.
Mission Belt Company makes no-hole leather belts, nylon belts and an assortment of licensed NBA, NHL and NCAA belts that give back. Giving back has been part of Mission Belt since day one and is the reason behind the company name. A dollar from every belt sold goes to fight global hunger and poverty. To date, over 28K Kiva (peer-to-peer micro lending) micro-loans have been funded from the sales of Mission Belts.
Health 2 Humanity
Health 2 Humanity goes beyond soap. Every H2H purchase helps fund international vocational programs that create jobs, grant scholarships, develop skills, and improve the lives of people around the world by offering hygiene solutions in developing countries. Through the development of these programs, the company plans to put an end to global health inequality.
TOMS (shoes and eyeglasses and coffee)
With every purchase you make of either a pair of shoes or eyeglasses, TOMS will help a person in need. One for one. It feels great to know that when I buy a pair of TOMS shoes, someone else far away who who really needs shoes is getting a pair as well! TOMS also supplies fair trade coffee. If you buy one bag of coffee, TOMS supplies one week’s worth of clean water to a family in need.
For the Kids
Happisnappi kid’s accessories are the perfect way for your little ones to accessorize with ease! Happisnappi accessories have interchangeable pieces, making matching different outfits as easy as can be! Simply choose an embellishment and snap it on to the hat or headband! For every hat sold, Happisnappi gives another to a children’s hospital. www.happisnappi.com
Goodbye Malaria, an initiative by African entrepreneurs who aim to eradicate malaria in our lifetime. Malaria is a disease that is completely preventable and treatable, although it kills more people in Africa than HIV/AIDS and is the biggest killer of children on the African continent. Goodbye Malaria enables Africans to raise funds and advocate against malaria, whilst creating employment across the continent. Their beautiful online shop which sells products that “save a life in your sleep” offers African-made pajamas, bracelets, slippers, pencil boxes and teddy bears, all which employ local women and protect families in Mozambique against malaria. www.goodbyemalaria.com
Bureo makes skateboards and sunglasses from recycled fishing nets. Operating a recycling program in Chile, ‘Net Positiva’, Bureo’s programs provides fishing net collection points to keep plastic fishing nets out of our ocean. Preventing harmful materials from entering the ocean, these recycling programs protect wildlife and supporting local fishing communities through financial incentives. Bureo is on a mission to find innovative solutions to prevent ocean plastics, and inspire others to join them in the movement to protect our oceans. www.bureo.co
Love your Melon
Love Your Melon began with a simple idea of putting a hat on every child battling cancer in America. Since 2012, they’ve donated over 80,000 hats to children battling cancer and with each product purchase, they donate 50% of net proceeds to their select charity partners to help end the fight against pediatric cancer. Over $1.5 million has been raised so far! One of the biggest days of the year for Love Your Melon in terms of raising money for their nonprofit partners is Cyber Monday. This past Monday $414,095 was raised, over double that of last year. www.loveyourmelon.com
Pals Socks are socks for kids that come mismatched on purpose, because it’s fun to be friends with someone different than you. They are all about inspiring kids to keep an open mind to all kinds of people and new ideas/experiences. Pals Socks also give a percentage of their profits to an organization that also helps make our world a better place. They support anti-bullying, animal rights, the environment and more. www.palssocks.com
And of course World Moms Network’s very own mini-shop!