Reflection

Innocence and Wonder

Innocence and Wonder

The few Wonders of the World only Exist as long as there are those with the Sight to see them

Singing this song today and remembering my babywearing days.
Remembering my babies little.
Remembering wanting to show them the world – full of wonder, full of imagination.
Days full of heart-full love…

It’s not that the love is gone, but the wonder and imagination….I don’t look at the world the same way for them.

I look at the world through much more cautious eyes, not trusting the world to be kind, be fair.

My children know I am here.

That I will fight to protect them.

That I will love them, read to them, watch over them.

But… I’ve forgotten to show them wonder and imagination. Not just in what they create with their hands, but in this big beautiful world around us.

Today I choose love.

Unquenchable Thirst

Unquenchable Thirst

Macqueripe Bay - Trinidad and Tobago

A friend of mine once said to me, “We are people of the sea.”

“We live on the mountain tops, for that is what an island is – a mountain top in the middle of the sea.”

Perhaps that is why we feel so connected to the sea.

When we want to get free, to escape the busy busy life we create for ourselves, we escape to the sea, to the rivers, to the green.
The gentle sounds of nature relax us – waves, streams, wind in the trees…

Strange then that we busy ourselves getting away from everything green, chopping and cutting with a surprising disregard.
Stripping the land, polluting the water.
Forgetting how much nature feeds us – physically, spiritually.

“This idea of ‘vacation’. When was it born?” he asked.
“When we were one with nature, did we feel the need to get away on vacation?”

“We ‘need’ vacations, because we continue to remove ourselves from the very thing that sustains us.”

What an irrational, easily distracted animal man is…

Drinking Nature is an Unquenchable Thirst
– Berri Clove

Who Wants To Be The Perfect Mom?

Who Wants To Be The Perfect Mom?

What is it about motherhood that makes us develop a whole new relationship with guilt and self-doubt?

Certainly, the responsibility for the guidance and development of a whole new human being is a huge factor, but perhaps just as significant, is the tendency we have to compare ourselves to our ideal of “The Perfect Mother.”

You know, that Mom whose house is impeccably kept, is an amazing cook, and whose kids are artists and athletes and academics. She never raises her voice, she’s funny, and everyone wants to be in her company. And somehow, she finds time for them all.

She’s awesome isn’t she?! And deep down you know… she doesn’t exist!

That perfect Mom is modelled on the traits you admire in so many other women you’ve encountered in your life – mothers, teachers, co-workers, neighbours. She’s an amalgam of all these wonderful characteristics, but the truth is we don’t know any one individual who possesses all of these characteristics, and displays them all the time.

When I was eight, I lived next to the sweetest, gentlest lady. An excellent cook, and housekeeper, and FANTASTIC mother. And you know what? She lost her temper from time to time. And that poor lady would shriek at the top of her lungs. Looking back on it, I have a world of regret for the antics we would get up to that would push her to that point. But never – then, nor now – did I think of her as a bad mother.

My Mom instilled in me a love for reading, a sense of integrity, and she encouraged my curiosity. But she couldn’t tell a joke if her life depended on it! And we often didn’t see eye to eye (especially in those teenage years) – but she respected my independent thinking. And she was… is… still a great Mom.

The point is that Moms are people too. And like all humans, we are creatures who respond to our environment. We get tired. We are great at some tasks and poor at others. And most importantly, we evolve. We are more than the sum of our parts, and we can’t be “perfect” in every given situation. What is perfect anyway? This parenting role doesn’t have its lines written in black and white. It’s an ad lib we’re called to do as we grow and evolve, while our kids themselves evolve, as our partners evolve.

When you consider it that way – it’s not an easy role to perfect anyway, is it?

The next time you’re on the verge of berating yourself about being less than perfect, do yourself a favour. Take a moment, and take a deep breath. Give yourself some perspective and look at the big picture. This is one moment in time. Stop comparing yourself to other people, or worse, to that amalgam of ideals that can never exist except in the movies.

And get back to being the best you that YOU can be.

I would like to invite you to be part of our monthly Mom Meetups, where we connect and share each other’s unique perspective on topics of special significance to Moms – from Online Safety, Bullying, Peer Pressure, TV and Video Games, Babywearing, Breastfeeding and much more!

 

An Artist's Soul

An Artist's Soul

Photograph of Tree - copyright Sarita Rampersad

Photo credit: Sarabay Photography

Once upon a time I wrote, I painted, I made music… I created beautiful things.

How did I get from there… to here?

Where I’m afraid to pick up my guitar, because I now fumble at a language in which I was once fluent.

I no longer draw or paint, because I don’t have the time. Or so I tell myself.

Where I lived was always an expression of me. From cushions I designed and made. Jewelry stands out of recycled cardboard, fabric and beads. Curtains that everyone would admire, not knowing they’d been recycled from discarded carnival costumes.

Slowly over years, there’s been less creating, and more… functioning.

Picking up. Packing up. Straightening.

Little bits at first.

Overwhelming in the end.

Until it’s all you know, because you’ve forgotten that you were an artist once.

Until one day you’re reminded…

Come back and play with our group. We miss you.

:)

And you smile at those decade old memories.

Until you receive a gift of a photograph, from a friend. One you’d admired but never considered hanging on your wall, because you can’t even remember when last you deliberately decorated. Left a message from your soul in a room.

Until you receive a quill from a friend. Because you are meant to write.

And you go numb.

Because you dare not cry.

Because if you start… You may not be able to stop.

So you save it til you’re alone.

And you realize… I realize… that those tears have watered a little part of my soul that had gone barren with neglect.

But there is no sadness. Because new life comes.

In this life, there are no coincidences.

On my birthday, I thank the friends who have helped me find that path again, with their laughter and kindness and faith. And with the gift of their friendship.

Facebook Faces

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, an amazing mother and a close friend for way too many years to count. We were reflecting that after so many years of us girlfriends being inseparable, she’s ended up migrating to another country and raising her kids far away from home.

It’s quite a stretch from what we’d imagined as teenagers. We were sure we were all going to be living a stone’s throw away from each other All our kids were going to be the best of friends from the time they were in diapers. But life has its own plans.
Thankfully technology allows us to stay close in heart, if not in distance. Video conferencing has shared pregnant bellies and introduced new babies, and of course has facilitated long talks about… Life!

As we chatted, she mentioned to me how she felt that everyone else really seemed to have it together. At least that’s the way it looks, judging by their Facebook pictures. This supermom – who juggles studying law full-time, working part-time and mothering full-time – she was looking at our friends’ lives through the lens of Facebook, measuring herself by it, and finding herself falling short!
And the thing is, she’s not the first. I’ve heard the same conversation from single successful career women, from stay at home moms raising amazing kids, and from working moms who juggle it all and still stay (mostly) sane! It doesn’t matter what your walk of life is, it seems many of us think everyone else is handling life’s ups and downs with a grace that escapes us.

And it seems that Facebook is adding a little pepper to the mix.

While it’s great for sharing photos and experiences, let’s not fool ourselves into believing that what we see online is by any means a realistic reflection of the whole story.

What we put out there are the memories of the chapters of our lives we CHOOSE to live on forever! To laugh at, to reflect on. These are the photos that make it into frames and scrapbooks. But in this Information Age, those scrapbooks have become a lot more public than they used to be.
Realistically, we’re going to share images of our kids working together, not those of them battling each other. Because a) who’s taking pictures when they’re tearing each other’s hair out? And b) who wants to be reminded of those moments?!

While we’re sharing more than ever before thanks to online social networks like Facebook, it’s important to put things into context. And let’s face it considering Facebook to be a realistic reflection of anyone’s life makes as much sense as considering a photo album to be.

My advice? Relax, think about your own Facebook “image” and be grateful for all the blessings in your life that it celebrates.

It’s good to be home…

It’s good to be home…

My son recently had a heart defect repaired through the kindness and generosity of pediatric cardiologist, Dr M. Ebeid.

Wendy Fitzwilliam can be proud to have her name associated with the Pediatrics Dept at EWMSC. Mostly.

At a time when nurses and doctors in the public healthcare system are warring with the Gov’t, the nurses and doctors dealing with the kids in the system at Mt Hope are kind, calm and professional in carrying out their duties. The rank and file workers – luck of the draw on that one.

Like the escort who showed up at 7am and “coming back in 10 minutes” because he need his “corfee dis early morning”, and NEVER returned for the 5 anxious children who had been told to get ready for 6am, and most of whom were ready WAY before that despite fitful sleep the night before… That is how pressure does build up…

Especially following the preceding 24 hours we shared.

When certain parents (Lord Jesus please bless them) decide to bring “d village” to visit, in a space where 2 parents could barely fit, and where we had previously been expressly forbidden from bringing guests.

When said parents kept telling their toddler what I can only describe as foolishness (albeit well-intended foolishness) so she learned to trust not a word they told her and instead resorted to screaming at the top of her lungs (I now know exactly what that term means) despite being given a healthy dose of sedatives to calm her down. She screamed through any effect the sedatives were supposed to have, even while other children tried to rest and recover in beds literally 2 feet away.

Lord Jesus I know it could only have been you that prevented my thoughts from becoming words when, at midnight, said parents peeped through the curtains separating us to see if I was sleeping, and looking for company and conversation despite me clearly trying to help my boy pee in a bedpan. At midnight.

And Father it could only have been you that prevented riot from the 3 parents of sleeping children who were forced into wakefulness by these same parents who succeeded in drawing their OTHER neighbour into conversation, much the same way they tried to draw me in. These children of yours proceeded for hours to discuss whey dey from, who dey know, who have how much money, and what a light to the world their little screaming bundle of joy is.

I am grateful for the efforts of the nurse who felt prompted to draw the curtains in a bid to “break up this reunion”. It didn’t work though. Without missing a beat, we then had to hear about what parts of their bodies “sleep away” and how their back and neck hurtin because the chairs too uncomfortable, and impossible to sleep in. Which we could all agree with, but which the rest of us were trying to work with anyway.

I am grateful too for nurses Marcia, Tracy, Niraj and Ayanna. There were others, but these in particular brought calm and even laughter to scared kids and made all the difference in the world. I will never forget them.

I will never forget the doctors, the anesthetists and the technicians who worked with my boy to repair the defect in his heart. I know at least 1 anesthetist has learned a little bit about Asperger’s and that there’s a hard way and an easy way (in that order). :-) I know that hospital policy had nothing to do with how many times he checked in on Matt to see how he was doing.

I NEVER would have guessed while in Mrs Olton’s class that her son would one day be involved in operating on my son…

I will never be able to express my gratitude properly to the doctor who comes from the US to give of his time (and more) to make these operations happen for a few kids year after year.

To Ika – I hope your little boy never needs this surgery. But on the off chance that he does… I know you’ll be in good hands.

To the parents who have to return because their operations were diagnostic or needed other special equipment… I wish you luck (and better rest this time around) and your kids speedy recoveries.

To those who have never visited the JBF ward where the pediatric cancer patients are warded… you should know that the Just Because Foundation does very important work in making the lives of the kids and their parents just a little easier. If you want to be part of a solution, and don’t know what to do, do this. Check the group – donate of your time, your money, your love. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6553807334

I never knew there were so many children left alone on the wards at Mt Hope. Infants in cribs, toddlers who are too sick to play except to climb into a lone wheelchair and maneuvre themselves around a playroom, older ones dragging their little IV stands around. No mothers to hug and soothe and watch over them. Only nurses to love and care for them, when their schedules allow them to squeeze in some mothering time.

Heartbreaking to watch mothers who cannot, for whatever reason, stay with their kids and can only come to visit. To watch them leave… and to watch little hearts break when they do… Amazing to see the love that pours out from the nurses when they do.

Amazing too to see mothers trying to make a home for themselves in a place like this – grating carrots and beets to make fresh juices for their kids “to get the blood counts up!” To hear bedtime stories and lullabies across the way. To listen to mothers who care, homeschooling right there in the hospital…

I think that mothering instinct is strong in some. Others perhaps are motivated in turn by their efforts. But I know that it must be a lot easier to let the mothering happen in a space like this – with a playroom for the kids, a tiny but clean and comfortable dining space (& kitchenette) for families, and a decent bathroom/shower for the parents.

And nurses and doctors who seem truly interested in the patients in their care.

Thanks again to everyone who sent love and prayers and support. My phone battery was completely losing its charge within 2-3 hrs and I kept having to sneak a charge where I could (I’m amazed nobody boof mih). It was clearly allergic to the hospital because Tuesday night’s charge is still holding. :-)

Matt is catching up on rest and being back in his surroundings and we’re taking it one day at a time.

Seriously. Please check out the Just Because Foundation and see how you can help, even in some small way. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6553807334

A Mother’s Journey

A Mother’s Journey

Last weekend the hubby and I packed up the kids and drove an hour along the coast to find a little peace and tranquility. And find it we did.

The little village of Blanchisseuse offered us sand, sea and surf, with the Marianne River just a 5 minute walk away from the little apartment we rented for the weekend.

It also gave us such a treat – sighting of 4 endangered leatherback turtles.

I’ve seen nesting turtles before, but it was a first for the hubby and kids. And after the encounter my husband, lover of “wild meat” hunted from the bush, officially blacklisted turtle from his menu.

Leatherback turtles spend their lives roaming the open sea, and only the females come back to shore to nest. The giant turtles (a guide estimated that 1 weighed over 1500 lbs) pull themselves up to a high point hopefully above the line of high-tide, and begin the arduous process of digging a hole deep enough for the eggs to be safe from predators. It’s hard work, even without lugging all that weight around, and it’s heartwrenching to see the turtles appear to gasp in exhaustion.

When she’s done, she begins the journey back to sea, taking many stops to catch her breath. Amazingly, once she gets into water mere inches deep, with the next wave she completely disappears in the blink of an eye. Seriously, blink and you’ll miss it.

Unfortunately, Blanchisseuse dogs are good at digging, so some nests are lost despite Mama Turtle’s best efforts. Also, there seem to be so many turtles coming in to nest on the same narrow strip of beach, that some nests are uncovered by other turtles looking for a good nesting site.

The odds are against these maternal giants, but they don’t give up. Well-meaning tourists taking flash-aided photos scare off incoming turtles (they only nest at night). The poor things return to deeper water to try their luck again later on.

Even harder to see is what the bright lights do to turtles who’ve lugged themselves up onto land and making their way to a nesting site, or already digging a hole. They become distraught by the white lights of the flash and abandon laying to make the tiring journey back out to sea, to rejuvenate themselves and try another time.

Professional nature photographers and nature guides use lights on the red spectrum since this doesn’t bother the turtles.

We tagged along with a team from National Geographic who spotted nesting turtles we missed in the darkness of the beach. Along with some local tour guides, they taught us that nesting patterns are changing for the leatherback.

Previously, nesting turtles returned only to the beaches where they themselves hatched, some amazing internal compass guiding them back to the very same stretch of sand where they began their journeys.

Now, turtles are beginning to be seen here that come from as far away as Australia! What a journey that must have been!

It seems that the home beaches are becoming too polluted or too unsuitable for nesting and the turtles are seeking refuge elsewhere.

I remember in my childhood that we’d go turtlewatching and the guides would stress that there was no guarantee that we’d even see one turtles. Now… the beaches are covered with them.

As happy as I am to see them, and experience this, it worries me.

What are we doing to our Earth?

And with respect to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill – what effect will this have on the next turtle nesting period? Have we finally gone too far to recover from?

The planet we share doesn’t belong to us as individuals or even as “countries”. Political borders for human governance mean nothing to our environment. I keep hearing about this oil spill being the worst “in US history” and it sickens me.

This isn’t about the US. It’s much larger than that.

An international effort is required to try to salvage this situation, BP’s pride and pockets be damned.

Before the Earth we planned to share with our children is changed irrevocably right before our eyes.

We did not inherit the land from our fathers. We are borrowing it from our children. -Amish Proverb

For ways you can help with the Gulf disaster go here:
Armchair missions
Active missions

With love, from Mom

With love, from Mom

My little girl is 18 months and I still nurse her. There was a time when that wasn’t such an uncommon thing in our society. It was not unheard of to hear of mothers nursing their children until the age of 5 years.

I support a woman’s right to choose what’s right for her, and it always surprises me how many external factors discourage a woman from choosing breastfeeding. Not because she doesn’t have the desire, but because it’s becoming socially so difficult to do. Lord knows I have firsthand experience of how tough it can be to choose to breastfeed.

The fact is that more mothers have to be part of the workforce to support the family’s income. Despite that fact, however, many workplaces don’t recognize the special needs of a nursing mother. As a matter of fact, the surroundings may downright discourage a mother from choosing to pursue breastfeeding for any extended period of time. This despite years of “Breast is Best” education campaigns locally and studies like the recent study published in the American journal Pediatrics.

I recall returning to work after my second son was born determined to breastfeed for longer than I did with my first (3 months). I refused to sit in a toilet stall and express my child’s food in the bathroom. (Hello, Mr Manager? Would YOU go eat lunch in the toilet stall?) So I was given the “opportunity” to use the stationery room. The dusty room where the stationery, old equipment, mops and brooms, and miscellaneous effects were stored.

It offered no privacy but was it better than the toilet.

Every day, I would lug a chair in there, clean a little area and try to ignore my surroundings for the sake of my little one. It didn’t last more than a month.

With my third, I was determined to make this work. There have been many challenges but we’ve made it to 18 months. :-)

A week ago decided it was time to wean her since she only really nurses to fall asleep, and only when I’m around. (She’ll take formula in a bottle unless she knows I’m close by.) She eats regular meals with the family throughout the day but she wakes in the middle of the night on the same schedule she’s always been on – twice a night – but I’m convinced it’s more habit than hunger.

But this weekend I noticed that she wasn’t really eating her food. She’d chew and then hold the food in her mouth or spit it out. Or she’d ask for the food, and then refuse to open her mouth and turn her head away. Because she was eating only a few bites at a time, I would try her with food again after about an hour had passed, with the same results. And now, she wanted to nurse during the day as well, although – like with the solid food – just for a few minutes at a time.

I was glad to be able to let her nurse – at least I knew she was getting some nutrition – because at this point she really hadn’t eaten a full meal for the entire day. This went on for a few days until today when she proudly showed off 2 new jaw teeth.

I remember having to go through this with the boys, and feeling so helpless trying to comfort them in their pain. This time around I feel like there’s something I can actually do to help. Like I can let her know that I’m right by her side as she goes through this. It’s times like this that convince me that it’s all been worth it.

Maybe we’ll put off weaning just a little while longer…

Holiday Surprises coming soon!

Stay tuned for updates!
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