NEW ZEALAND: The Oppression of Expectation

NEW ZEALAND: The Oppression of Expectation

As a new mum, I quickly realised that I wasn’t capable of meeting my baby’s needs, staying alive/sane myself, and having a clean house and the garden the way I would like it. I’m not sure if that’s just me or if it was my baby (eventually three babies) or the way I chose to parent, but it was that simple. I made the only choice I thought I had: the mess ruled, and still does, the babies and I came/come first.

It cost me people: after my anti-natal coffee-group had been around on one particularly messy occasion, I had several in that group who never returned; I had someone close to me, on more than one occasion tell me she couldn’t live this (with dramatic gesture) way, and my ex-father-in-law was postively rude every time he walked in the door.

I care. I cared. It upset me. I like things to be clean and orderly, I’d love my garden to be gorgeous with trimmed lawns. I’d like it done and it drives me nuts that in my  otherwise very well organised life, I can’t pull it all off.  I’m not sure how others can. How do you?

Now the boys are older (15, 12 & 7.5 – don’t forget the half), and I’m a solo-mum. I work full-time equivalent between two jobs, and the kids and I still come as first as we can. The boys contribute to getting things done and daily/weekly I do the basics like loo and washing, but still outside and inside usually look like a tribe of elephants has been through. I still get people calling in and casting an eye and giving me the frosty-nostril – to the point I’ve never really had visitors come to the house for over two years.

I have lovely friends, and the vast majority would visit me and not my house, but that sense of not being enough remains constant. I rarely even have my parents around for a meal and I’m always watching people’s reactions as they walk in the door. I’m conscious of not meeting some ridiculous standard of perfection. All. The. Time.

I also have no inclination to exercise beyond the incidental 10,000 steps I do each day; none of us is fit – but apparently that’s a capital offense too.

And, there’s the new issue of having been separated for over two years of – why are you still single, have you met anyone yet, time to get online dating, he’s got a new girlfriend, why haven’t you…

And dammit,this all bugs me. I’m 49 years old and pretty damned happy with the way my life is panning out, the boys are well-adjusted and make me very proud (mostly because, kids), I love my work and I have great friends and enough of a social life to keep me feeling part of the world. But these things still get to me: why isn’t my house cleaner and tidier; why isn’t my garden looking pristine; why aren’t we all fit and gorgeous; why can’t I really be bothered to be out looking for a new partner?

And why do I care what other people think?

Karyn Wills

Karyn is a teacher, writer and solo mother to three sons. She lives in the sunny wine region of Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand in the city of Napier.

More Posts

INDIA: Home, Mothers and Love

INDIA: Home, Mothers and Love

A few weeks ago, I found myself rubbing a strained back, while contemplating a few dozen cardboard boxes, spilling with myriad possessions. My family and I had just shifted residence and while the bigger home was welcome, the sense of being uprooted, was downright disturbing. Over the days and weeks, while I got back to arranging cupboards, emptying out the boxes, and deciding what went where, there was an almost palpable sense of shaping and creating a living space imbued with warmth. A feeling that this apartment was slowly but surely turning into “home”.

That got me thinking. What is it that binds the woman so closely to the sense of “being home”? Why are bachelor pads the butt of jokes, almost as if they can’t be anything more than functional places of stay? And what is it with mothers, that transforms a space with walls and ceiling, from house to home?

Keepers of memories:

“You can’t possibly throw my old soft toys” was the plaintive wail over the phone, from my now grown-up teenager, studying engineering, hundreds of miles away. The tall, bearded young man can dismiss tech troubles and maths equations with ease, but will turn into a 7-year old when confronted with the threat of parting with his precious old buddies of childhood. While I laughed and assured him his dear Spiderman figurine and other assorted ‘friends’ would continue to live with us, part of my mind wondered about how easily mothers slip into the role of “memory-keepers”. In my family, I get to be the person who decides about the keeping of old birthday cards, letters (yes, we still have those!), hand-written notes and little reminders of days gone by. And so there are three burgeoning bags labeled “Sentimental keepsakes”, holding varied treasures such as a favorite insect-print shirt of the sonny-boy when he was a toddler, a teddy-bear with a missing eye, painstakingly created art projects and more. I guess being the protector of the little tangible reminders of precious reminders comes with the territory of being a mom.

Strands of love:

Bidding goodbye to the previous apartment was very difficult due to the myriad of experiences and special moments that had enriched our lives for 16 long years. Would this new home hold a special place in our hearts too? I sighed and realized that when a family lives in various places in succession, no two homes can ever hold the same position in the heart. Each place is linked to a distinct palette of memories. Children are born and they grow up, moving through the years with frightening speed. Our parents leave us, moving from the earthly plane to a higher and better place. We shed our hair and gain some pounds and our faces reflect the battles lost and won in the arena of the world. And our children leave their homes, to find their own wings. Amidst these milestones, big and little, the home remains our sanctuary, the shelter where we return to find ourselves. And so, woven in our homes are strands of love and laughter. Of care and sacrifice. Of sleepless nights and faith-filled days. And again, mothers seem to gravitate towards this process of “weaving love” almost effortlessly.

And so…

Mothers are often, thus, the binding factor, transforming houses into homes. It does not matter whether the mother is the caretaker of a child with special health-needs or the mother of a potential Olympian athlete, or the mother of a daughter in a country where females are routinely treated as second-class citizens, or the mother of a little child, living in a refugee camp, trying valiantly to use lullabies and a rag doll to create the illusion of a home for her little one. Home isn’t a space alone – it is a physical space that is imbued with the most sublime of human feelings and emotions. It is the sparkling magical reaction between a safe dwelling place and a mother’s love.

INDONESIA: When Your Child Doesn’t Fit In

INDONESIA: When Your Child Doesn’t Fit In

I still remember that day from last year.

I knew something was not right when the homeroom teacher got the principal, school counselor and some other unfamiliar faces as I sat down in their office.

My gut feelings were right. They pretty much told me my son couldn’t continue in that school for the next school year. In other words, my son got kicked out of school.

We all agree that it is best for your son to go to a school where they can cater to his needs.

I felt anger rise in the bottom of my stomach. Anger for receiving the news on such short notice mixed with a sense of panic of where to put my son to school next.

I blamed myself for this. Not my boy, but me…his mother who should’ve done more investigative work before sending him to the closest school to home. When I picked that school it was because they were the closest to our home. If you are familiar with Jakarta’s traffic, you would understand that I just don’t have the heart to send off my child to school before the crack of dawn like many other children have to do. I thought I had picked the right school.

My son has his challenges. Behavior problems that the school simply couldn’t handle anymore.

My sensitive boy has always been different.

He has been tested for behavior issues before and the results showed that he has no psychological problem and that he is a bright kid. He is not autistic. He is just different. He has difficulties controlling his frustrations which end up in him crying.  In a way, his emotional intelligence is a little behind than the other kids in his classroom. This made life so difficult for him; He hated going to school and would come up with 1001 excuses to skip school. Being different is not easy.

The school in question was an expensive school that cost my family over $2,000 in enrollment fees alone and they do have great programs, albeit very high academic demands. My son used to come home with a backpack full homework folders. We were both frustrated by the volumes of academic pressure he was under.

One of his teachers told me one time that he was very smart but he’s not the type to sit still and listen to his teacher during class. Yet somehow he managed to ‘absorb’ what the teacher was talking about.

He is different.

When my son got kicked out school, his father (my ex-husband) was diagnosed with cancer and I was under unbelievable pressure from work. The world felt so heavy on my shoulders. I went home from that meeting feeling defeated, crushed. I kicked myself for not being a good mother who could stay home with him like the other moms. I blamed myself for working long hours. Maybe that’s why he is misbehaving at school? To protest the life that he has. A father who lives overseas, a mother who works long hour, no friends around his age at home to play with. The mommy guilt wore me down.

I could not afford to put my son back in school straight away so I kept him at home for about 6 months, missing the first semester of the new school year. I was too embarrassed to talk about this openly until now.

It wasn’t until I found a local school recommended by a fellow single mom friend that the guilt evaporated. Located a little further away, I studied their concept and philosophy and after a trial class for my son, we both fell in love with this new school.

A school where he could be completely himself must feel liberating in a way. Where he is not judged by whether or not he could sit still or if he prefers to sit on the floor. The new school emphasizes on the facts that every child has a different combination of intelligence that makes him/her unique.

My son started this January and he couldn’t be happier. I have never seen him got so excited about school. Yes, he still has some challenges but seeing how happy he is has reassured me that we finally found the right school for him. Looking back, I realized leaving his old school was the best thing that could ever have happened to him.

How about you, Moms? Are you happy with the educations that your children are getting?

Maureen

Founder of Single Moms Indonesia, community leader and builder. Deeply passionate about women empowerment.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookGoogle Plus

NETHERLANDS: The shape of a mother

mirjam_texgramMy mother used to say the same thing whenever I was sick: “Well, your hands are not sick.”

She expected me to do my chores and not to make a big deal about being sick. It was a motto she lived by. When I think of her in those days, I cannot picture her sitting down or lying in bed. She was always busy taking care of us and taking care of the house. I can almost imagine her feeling sick in the morning and saying to herself: “Well your hands are not sick,” and getting on with business as usual. I have tried to live up to this motto as long as I can remember.

This image of a mother that takes care of her family regardless the circumstances, was printed in the core of my being.

When I got diagnosed with depression, I was deeply conflicted within myself. Every moment that I needed for myself, every day that I couldn’t go on as usual, troubled me. I judged myself. There is always something the matter with you. Are you sick again? I felt like a sad excuse for a mother. I pitied my children and husband for having to live with me. Being sick has always been a powerful trigger for me to sink deep into depression.

In 2011 I got diagnosed with depression, which led to a long struggle with dealing with my depression and undergoing extensive therapy. Just as I started to feel a little bit better in 2013, I broke my right shoulder and as it started to heal, I had to have my gallbladder removed. After that, a long period of feeling sick and dealing with throat problems, led to a tonsillectomy in 2015. In 2016 my doctor referred me to a rheumatologist. The word rheumatoid arthritis was mentioned. I’m still in the process of finding a diagnosis and proper treatment.

But I am doing fine. In a sense, I am grateful. It is easy to find joy when you’re healthy and pain free. When you’re walking in the sunshine it isn’t as hard to be hopeful. I have learned to enjoy every single ray of light when walking in the shadows. I do have my occasional pity parties, and I indulge in them, because I allow myself to feel, to grieve, to be sad when I need to. But my pity parties end and when they end, I pick up positivity and make the most of what I have.

Depression always lurks in the shadows. But it is more a kind of melancholy that accompanies me, reminding me of its existence. It doesn’t bother me as much, nor does it scare me the way it used to.

I feel fine, I feel happy. We’re almost in the 11th month of 2016 and I have had approximately two days this year without physical pain. The other days have fluctuated between noticeable pain, manageable pain and excruciating pain. All things considered I still feel blessed. It could have been so much worse. I still feel privileged and grateful.

I have reshaped my image of what a mother is supposed to look like. No longer is she shaped like a rock, a bulldozer, a mechanical machine. She is covered in flesh, imperfect, she bleeds, she falls, she lifts, she cries, she smiles. She is shaped like a human.

How has your concept of motherhood changed since you had children?

This is an original post for World Moms Network written by Mirjam in the Netherlands.

Mirjam

Mirjam was born in warm, sunny Surinam, but raised in the cold, rainy Netherlands. She´s the mom of three rambunctious beauties and has been married for over two decades to the love of her life. Every day she´s challenged by combining the best and worst of two cultures at home. She used to be an elementary school teacher but is now a stay at home Mom. In her free time she loves to pick up her photo camera. Mirjam has had a life long battle with depression and is not afraid to talk about it. She enjoys being a blogger, an amateur photographer, and loves being creative in many ways. But most of all she loves live and laughter, even though sometimes she is the joke herself. You can find Mirjam (sporadically) at her blog Apples and Roses where she blogs about her battle with depression and finding beauty in the simplest of things. You can also find Mirjam on Twitter and Instagram.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterest

NEW ZEALAND: How Facebook Saved Me

NEW ZEALAND: How Facebook Saved Me

Maybe you’re the same? I get teased a lot about my Facebook use. But not by people who get it.

Five years ago, I was in a miserable marriage and experiencing phenomenally low energy levels. I wonder now if I was bordering on depression. I had a nine year-old, a six year-old and a two year-old, and my life pretty much revolved around them because I had to choose to do one thing well. I was 43 and experiencing some intense bleeding as part of peri-menopause and my iron levels were teeny as a result, I was seriously sleep-deprived and I was trying to convince the world I was right about everything.

I was prickly to those who annoyed me and many people annoyed me. I was very, very fragile. I was trying to keep my boys protected from some  intense dysfunction within their wider world, and ensure they felt loved but not entitled. I felt isolated and I had some serious self-development to do. I had baggage I needed to sort out. It wasn’t my fault I was in this state but it was my responsibility to change it.

To be clear: I have many dear friends in real life and lots of things I can talk about. I am interested in stuff. But most of my people are busy parents who aren’t always available. My interests have always been eclectic, so finding those who can sensibly discuss things I want to discuss is rare, when in survival mode, it was impossible. Personal development wasn’t new to me but it was on the backburner because there was no space in my head. So I joined Facebook, and it began.

Have you changed after using Facebook? It may seem weird to those who haven’t had it as a lifeline. I did. I found one mini tribe after another that shared my interests: I could be part of a group that got *this* but didn’t have to know *that* about me. I was given new information and new skills to learn. I became more circumspect about whom I told what. I could chat with people at 5.00am or 12.00pm, when no one in my real world was around. I had proper fun for the first time in years. I learned to laugh and tease and flirt with men, and to put in boundaries to maintain greater self-respect, and not be fazed when people didn’t resonate with me and ghosted. I learned a lot about speaking in a way that I could be heard and listening to understand, not to respond. I learned about some really alternative ways of looking at the world.

I learned to be the me I had been before other people had convinced me to be something else that suited them. I ditched the shell and found a spine.

And the response has been outstandingly positive. My sense of self has soared. I have slowly translated all my new self into the real world and am loving life in a way I could never have predicted. I am healthy all round. How about you? Does your online life reflect your real life? It’s an interesting thing to ponder.

As things do, this has cycled around: I am now faced with the reality that some of my online people are Trump people and therefore, not my people. The internet has limitations: no tone of voice, no body language, no instantaneous vibe to resonate with… or not. Interpersonal cues take longer to decipher. It’s a curious thing and I understand why those who don’t get it, don’t get it. In the end it comes down to this: I value my mini-tribes in ways that anti-Facebook people will probably never understand. Cheers to you all and a heartfelt, thank you.

What’s your Facebook experience been like? Are you even on Facebook?

 

 

Karyn Wills

Karyn is a teacher, writer and solo mother to three sons. She lives in the sunny wine region of Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand in the city of Napier.

More Posts

GLOW: #Heartfulness – Inspiration Through Meditation by #WorldMom Sophia

I ask my one year old son: “Who is Wesley?” His eyes brighten up as he remembers this question, and he happily and proudly answers “I”. He seems happy and proud because he knows our reaction to his showings of intelligence; not because he really understands that he is … himself.

That seems to be the question that many of us have, isn’t it? Who am I? What am I doing here? What am I doing in life?

Through the years, my life has made for a very interesting journey. I have learned, unlearned, thought that I unlearned, and have forgotten some things I thought were really important aspects of the type of life I wanted for myself, and my family. I have survived and I have lived, and I continue to be amazed at how much there is to understand about our experience in this physical realm. During my formative years I was raised within a religious structure, and I won’t name it only because I don’t want to provide a filter with which to read this article. Also, my ideas are just that: mine, and not a representation of any religion or belief system.

After conversations with people young and old, from here and there, and after experiencing energies that I couldn’t really explain within the context of religion, I have slowly come to believe in God a little differently. Maybe I should say it’s very differently because now I consider the possibility of God being she, and not he; or God being ____ and not anything we even understand. And that is way different than the solidified He that we often use in our speech.

On this part of my journey, which I should say started in 2009, I have become more aware of myself as a part of the universe. This has manifested most dramatically in my painting, and the connected-ness I feel whenever I let myself tune in to all that surrounds me.

If you have the opportunity to watch the movie, The Last Mimzy, I suggest that you do if for nothing else, just to see one scene: A little girl puts her hand in this space that is controlled by a force that is from out of this world *(literally). When she does this, her hand separates into millions of particles. It is absolutely beautiful and astonishing. When I saw this it made me think of a thought I once had. That scene was exactly what I was thinking – that creation exists as star matter gathered in different ways, to have different functions, but we (as in everything that exists) are all the same thing. Seeing that movie put into visual what I had in my mind.

So, where am I going with this? It is this – since 2009 I have allowed myself to be curious about life and creation, and to find the connection among God-based answers, soul-based answers, mind (consciousness)-based answers, and scientific answers. By doing so I have been able to experience the world differently. Some things have made me wonder if I am making things up. Could I have felt the presence of ancestors watching my husband and I when we were only friends? Could I have felt that good an energy when I put finger to canvas and painted an abstract, but soulful picture? Could I have dreamed of a place I had never visited, but upon describing it to a friend I hadn’t seen in 15 years and whom I just reconnected with a few months prior to the dream, she would finish describing the place of which I dreamed, and knew exactly where it was? Could I have climbed a mountain successfully by talking to all the elements, acknowledging their power along that of the mountain, and asking them to let me experience a safe climb? Was it coincidence that the climb was as peaceful and safe as it was?

I have had so many experiences that if you don’t believe in universal inter-connectivity, then it will just sound like craziness.

In 2009 I was not meditating. I thought about starting doing so for years, but never have. Now that I have started I understand it is not something I should force, and am content with the fact that I never did force it; it must have not been a part of my journey at that time. I started meditating only a few months ago and it has improved my life considerably.

Early this year I considered taking anti-depressants. It had been a battle to even acknowledge that I might actually need help chemically, and that went along with battling whatever the things were that I felt so badly about. I won’t go into details, but I will say that my children are awesome. They are being children perfectly. My husband is my friend, my love, my silent rock and I love him to the ends of the multiverse (forget the moon & back. I’m just loving him beyond infinity). So it wasn’t about any of that. It was that I would start feeling down and would start spiraling. I would watch the spiral and knew I didn’t want to go down in it, but it was so hard to stay out of it. I would watch canvas and paint. I’d just pass it sometimes like it wasn’t there. I’d look at my camera and not want to take photos. I’d not want to write any poetry, and would make myself focus on the many blessings, so I could write a blog post or two. However, making myself see these blessings, and actually acknowledging them are two different things, to me.

I noticed that when I meditated more and more, that more and more I would feel better.

I would believe that I could be a part of the art community. Why not? Why not I? Who was I anyways? Wasn’t I someone whose work could be displayed somewhere?

untitled

Meditation helped me (here comes a cliché) get centered. Cliché or not, it is absolutely true.

I decided to meditate instead of the anti-depressants and I have done so since February.

I don’t always feel great, and don’t expect that that is how it works. I think we learn from feeling down and from being jubilant. I do, however, see the difference in myself, and hear it in what my children say about how they feel about mommy (completely out of the blue “I love my mommy” “My mommy is nice” statements to random people).

Meditation inspires me to be happily alive. Not only does it inspire my creativity by unlocking … artist’s block (like writer’s block), but it also helps me so that I am not taken by life’s little trials.

I see it this way: small trials can be ignored, but sometimes this is done in a way that is like unto filling an hourglass with grains of sand. Each grain is a small trial. Then, before you know it, the hourglass has passed the last grain and you can’t take it anymore… you react, upset about too many things to remember, but you didn’t truly processed them so they piled up and filled you up in a negative way. Through meditation, I feel like I am learning to really regard small trials as just that. There is still an hourglass, as habits are hard to break, but it isn’t getting as many grains of sand in it.

I will share that since beginning meditation I have exhibited my photography at a local event once; I have painted new pieces and exhibited them in two cities in a neighboring State; I am working on a two-country anthropology project to bring children closer to one another, and it will exhibit in the next few months at a local museum or gallery; and I will participate in a really funky (good) art exhibit that fills a tunnel up with colorful chalk designs.

To say that I am feeling better and better about myself is an understatement. I sincerely believe that meditation is helping me tap into my subconscious and bring out my potential so that it can transform from potential, to actualized and tangible reality.

The last thing I would like to say to you, is that if you do decide to give meditation a try, to keep a journal about your experiences. Do this faithfully. When you look back at your journal in six months, or one year or more, I think you will be surprised by your journey. A journal will solidify the fact that you have made your life better by forming the habit of meditation and making it an integral part of your lifestyle.

This Friday, October 7th, at 9:30 AM EST, join me by registering here for a chat and a Heartfulness Relaxation and Meditation session, as part of the GLOW webinar series.

download

If you have questions for me, send them to glow@heartfulness.org. Judith and Purnima, our very own in-house #Heartfulness Trainers are hosting me for this webinar, and I shall be chatting with them, and with you.

inspiration_through_meditation_resized

Keynote Speaker, #WorldMom Sophia

Sophia Neghesti-Johnson is a photographer, painter, and a pencil artist. She is a children’s book writer with her main focus being educating the reader on the tribes of Tanzania. Sophia uses her photography to fund girls’ education, and is currently pursuing her higher education goals as well. Sophia is mother to three children. She has an amazing & astute teenage girl, a clever &sassy three year old girl, and a sweet & musical boy who is almost two years of age. She tries to be a good mom, a good wife, and a good person to others and herself. Sophia has been practicing Heartfulness Meditation for about 8 months now. In her spare time she loves to go for a hike or a jog: it’s like meditation on the go in the midst of creation in motion. Sophia writes on her blog at ThinkSayBe.wordpress.com, and also contributes to WorldMomsNetwork.com

GLOW Webinar Series – Inspiration through Meditation – this week with …!
#WorldMoms Sophia, Purnima, Judith

#WorldMoms Sophia, Purnima, Judith

ThinkSayBe

I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

More Posts

Follow Me:
Twitter