No Marriage For You!

Equal rights for everybody?
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Views from the Couch

I know that when two people fall in love, it is so easy to get caught up and carried away. When you feel that connection, that love and that intimate bond that you’ve never felt before with any other person, you just know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you’ve found the one. You get engaged and, sure, your family and friends are all really happy and you’re looking forward to committing your lives to one another in front of all of them and blah, blah, blah, but none of that can compare to how it feels to break the exciting news of your nuptials to the government!  When I reflect on my marriage and what it means to me, it’s the tax benefits and inheritance rights that make me feel nostalgic and gushy. I’m just a hopeless romantic, I guess. I really value the sanctity of marriage and…

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On limits on feelings

I dream about you.

I even day-dream about you.

When I see a pram, a bump, a child… when I see my own child … I think about you.

That time I lost my gloves, and went to that shop to find new ones, the sight of that little baby white dress on display, brought tears to my eyes and a pang of pain to my heart.

I read all I can find on how to help nature bring you to me. I have taken supplements, modified routines, being poked with needles, replaced the romance with science, to see if, by chance, I find the key that will open the door to have you.

I want you, I feel incomplete without you.

A couple of weeks ago, my love blatantly told me that I was getting obsessed about you. He hurt me and I resented him for it.Of course he is right, but how can he not understand how I feel?Nobody understand how I feel, unless he or she is going through the same thing.Does that give me the right to resent any one who gets pregnant?

The short, concise and precise answer is NO.

NO

Part of my daily reading diet, is a strong set of “trying to conceive( TTC) and pregnancy” articles, blogs and forums. These are some of the means, together with social media, where people can pour their souls out. News, grief, life updates, opinions, are all placed out there for the world to see. Sometimes is a need to share, a call for attention, or just “what everyone else does”. But sometimes is the outlet to say what we can not say out loud under the protection of anonymity.

On my reading, I sometimes find a post where the writer, who so far has been unsuccessful at TTC, recounts such and such episode where he/she tried to deal with somebody else’s pregnancy related news: announcement, bump pic, birth story, etc. and the writer goes on and on about his/her own pain and all that. I understand this, this is a way how we deal with pain. I get it.

I’ll say that again, I  understand this and agree with it.

What I don’t agree is  the degeneration of this feeling into the “it should be me, I deserve it more … so fuck you and your bump” attitude.

How unfair is it to be angry at a person who is finally getting what we all want?, or expect them to feel remorse/guilt/bad about it?

How distorted is the thought that a newly pregnant person is HURTING a TTCer ? Why should a pregnant person feel bad because of this blessing? How can share that type of news  be possible be thought as “rubbing in the face”?

I believe the complaints and negative comments are masked as “lack of compassion/empathy”, but when looked at them objectively, are they really?

In my view that lack of empathy/compassion is coming from us, TTcers, not the other way around.

Everyone can write what they want on their blogs and it is my choice to read it or not; lately I have chosen to stop reading once a writer starts sulking in envy, bitterness and/or anger because somebody else finally got pregnant.I know what is like to want a bump so much that it physically hurts, but I can not accept not being happy for those lucky ones,  even if it is not my bump…

Yet.

Raising my child

A few days ago, I read a post titled ” “Mom, I’m Fat:” One Mother’s Inspired Response to Her 7 Year Old ” by Janell Hofmann (you can see the whole post here ) and I have been thinking about ever since.

What were my concerns when I was 7?  I don’t really remember, but I am pretty sure weight was not in the ever changing top ten list.

I don’t know the exact age but I do recall at some point during my teenage years worrying because I was “fat”. But to be honest during the same period I worried about being too tall, having knees too “bony”, believing one arm was slightly longer than the other one, actually having boobs (swimming classes where pure torture at 13), my legs resembling “chicken legs”, and I even went through a phase where I was sure my knuckles where too dark when compared against the rest of the finger… Ah, youth!

An aunt used to say that you don’t watch TV to see “ugly” people, you watch TV to see “pretty” people, and now that I actually stop think about what she said, as an adult I must say, I don’t agree.

I can see where she was coming from; when she was growing up TV was not a common thing and going to the movies was a very big deal. Most movies and early TV shows where all about entertainment: a beautiful story, a good laugh or a good cry. But that single side aspect of the media evolved with time thanks to the increase in availability.

Now, audiovisual media not only entertains, but educates and is used as a means to transmit a message to society. Long gone are the days where all people wanted from a movie was Gene Kelly dancing, or lots and lots of glitter and glamour.

I think that as parents now, we need to be more proactive about tackling issues like this and help our kids navigate the body image perception jungle.

I have caught my toddler Llollo staring at Hubby a few times, while Hubby is completely unaware of being the centre of attention. On those moments Hubby is not doing anything remarkable, just mundane activities: watching the news, eating a sandwich or cooking  (my love, everything you do IS remarkable, but I do need to make a point) . I have seen how Llollo absorbs the moment and I see him trying to imitate his dad in the little things: how he holds a cup,  how he bites his toast.

Children are sponges; during the formation years, they will take as the norm what mum and dad DO and what mum and dad SAY. I don’t mean to say that home represents the only source; peers, environment and society have there share of the load. But it is silly to neglect the weight that the message at home has.

I am not generalizing, I am not saying this is the one and only root cause of a very complex problem, and I am not on my pedestal pointing fingers and preaching. On the contrary, I am realizing that drugs, sex and rock n’ roll are not the only things I need to worry about when raising my kid, so I am sharing with the blog-sphere my latest source of stress.

Of course, you don’t do it on purpose, you don’t wake up one morning saying: today I will mess-up my kid a little. Most probably one is not aware that is being the centre of contemplation when being negative about oneself body weight and image. One is not aware how we reinforce in children the media message of “beauty”, when we obsess about celebrity gossip or spend every single free moment in front of the TV.

It hurts when I read about a girl struggling with body image,  It hurts when I read about an adult woman struggling with these issues. I want this to stop, I want that every parent sits down with his/heir kid(s) and have that talk about how we all come in different shapes and sizes and how all of us are beautiful, what makes that kid special on her own unique way,  what we admire on her.

The message needs to be sent over and over again,  just like the one about not drinking straight form the juice carton, it needs to be repeated endlessly for it to sink in. We need to show them we have a positive body image, we need to show them what is important in life (your family, your call on what that could be).

I cringe reading about 16 year old girls getting the boob job they “always wanted” as a sweet sixteen present.  Always wanted?

Why are mum and dad reinforcing in their girl, the message that she is worth nothing more than the size of her breasts? Have they stopped to think what is going to happen when all her dreams don’t come true at 25? 35? 45? upgrade to a D cup? butt-cheek implants? look for the guy that is only focused on her “greatest assets”?

Why are mum and dad reinforcing in their girl’s brother, the message that it is right to value a women just for  her body? What will happen when junior realizes that he doesn’t have anything in common and doesn’t share anything other than boob-appreciation with the playboy bunny he married? cheating? divorce?

It looks like this became a rant, but my point is that whatever happens at home is going to be the foundation over which this new person will build his/her life, from here they will deal with the influence coming from the outside world.

My aunt didn’t have to deal with this issue, audiovisual media was scarce so its influence was not strong, there were other problems more present back in the day when she was raising kids; but for me, just like for the author of that post, this is an issue that needs monitoring and action on my kid and on my kid’s environment.

I believe TV and the media in general should be about people; not skinny, buffed, white-teethed people, but just people. Not “pretty” vs “ugly”, blonde bombshell vs mean fat brunette.

But while we wait for that change to happen,  I think we do need to do something about it at home, to help counteract the damaging message sent.

I owe that to my kid, I want him to be happy.

Home sweet home?

“Ladies and gentlemen, as we start our descent, please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position … blah blah … seat belt … blah blah … turn the damn ipads off! …  Thank you.” … or something like that, meant the captain on my flight back to London.

I am on my way back home … home?.

I have spent part of the holidays at my parents’ home, the house where I grew up. I like my old room, with my creaky old bed, that belonged to my mum during her teenage years. I like the greenness that pours in through the windows, and I love the warmth that I feel anywhere in that house.

Outside that house though, things feel foreign every time I go back.

I moved abroad many years ago, and selfishly, the whole country decided to move on and continue with life … They did not care about my little need of keeping some things the same. New restaurants replaced my old “burger joints”, new developments popped up out of nowhere, people dress different and have worries and concerns different to what I remembered.

How could they do this to me?

Looking through the windows I can see a clear, bright, beautiful day, glowing on what looks like a thick blanket of cotton wool. 10 minutes before landing, the plane goes through that blanket, revealing a dark grey, very damp landscape.

I love the dark green fields surrounding London, the soil is so wet it looks black, you can almost feel the smell of clear rain. It is going to be cold, windy and grim; part of my body cringes … and the other part relaxes and feels at home.

Where is home? where is MY home?

I know the whole “home is where your heart is” concept … but I am wondering about it in a more mundane way.

Where will I grow old? well, older?, Is this it, am I going to be a London pensioner? Is this the land where I will be laid to rest?

The thought causes a bit of anxiety.

I came to London to study and give myself a chance of trusting my heart. Because of work, I got used to moving places quite often, for years I moved towns, and countries, with little trouble. My study coursework would last 2 yrs, so I guessed that was my time frame before being ready to jump to a new adventure.

To, once again, confirm that planning too ahead is futile in my case, I stayed and planted my roots here.

One of hubby’s friend, also an expat, is having problems with his little son at school. They have been very keen on keeping him on an all-Russian environment at home, so he does not lose his heritage. But the little boy has not been able to connect with the rest of the class, his teacher defined it as “a total lack of awareness on all things British”.

I guess it is a trial and error thing, trying to raise children as part of the community while keeping foreign heritage present.  I am raising a little Londoner, and I am committed to make him feel the British citizen he is without losing some of my traditions. I’ll learn to make sausage and mash and to deal with rhubarb, although I must say I already make a killer shepherd’s pie.

I think for now, I have those bases covered. But what about me? Is it here where I’ll stay to miss him when he decides to move abroad to chase his dreams?

My old country is not there anymore; London feels temporary, but I have been here for ages, so how really temporary is it? All of my friends are expats, in fact I am surrounded by expats: co-workers, neighbors, they are everywhere.

When I take Llollo to the common to play, I see how almost every family is bilingual, the least you hear from parents and children is English. French, Spanish, Italian and the odd Japanese, every time we go. Where are all the British families?

I have tried to join the community and become more involved with British people without success. I am likable really, very funny, but maybe I have been trying too hard.

I have no plan of action, I am feeling without roots and don’t know what to do about it.

Maybe I am going through an early mid-life crisis … should I get a Porsche? a motorcycle? a new haircut?

On regret and being too late

My sister’s dearest friend is gay, or more precise, was gay.

They met ages ago right at the start of college through his then girlfriend; he was your typical small town, shy and dorky young man, passionate about arts and my sister was… well… my sister…

My sister and I were raised under the same roof. We ate the same food, drank the same water and got equal shares of love and attention from mum and dad. But if you give me a ruler and a pen and ask me to draw a straight line … well, I wouldn’t know where to start.

My sister, on the other hand, is amazing: she is creative, full of beautiful ideas and incredibly skilled with her hands. My sister is awesome, just like my mum.

Back to my story: my sister was, even at that young age, awesomeness in a petite package.

In each other they found somebody with intense passion for design, arts and all things creative. They became each other’s confidant and the toughest judge on the other one’s suitors. They were there for each other not only through the day-to-day drama that only college can be for the very young, but on deeply emotional matters; they were there when hearts were broken, parents were lost and when there were pregnancy scares.

They spent most of their awake time together; it was common for me to come back home in the evening from uni, to find him going through the fridge’s content, crashing on our couch or with his head on my mum’s shoulder pouting about something or someone.

It didn’t matter he had a girlfriend, or that he liked this or that girl. My sister knew, well before he admitted it to himself, that he was gay, and just waited until he was ready to come out.

She was there for him when he needed her, she helped him deal with many of his emotions and thoughts and tried to hold him together when he tried to face a tough and unsympathetic father. I am being unfair to his father, I guess he didn’t know what to do and didn’t really understand how to handle his doubts and assumptions and sadly acted the wrong way. He loved his son very much, he just didn’t know how to just accept and love, he put prejudice and “what others would think” first.

This post is and is not about that.

My sister’s friend lost the sense of home when he came out, he had nowhere or no one to “go back” to. He just turned around and jumped into the world with a new sense of freedom and unfair sense guilt and shame. He didn’t have “home” to talk about relationships, or what was right or wrong. By shunning him off, his family lost, if not the ability to help him stay balanced, the ability to guide and protect him when he needed it, just like we all need once in a while.

The only way he found to ease the pain was to put physical distance between him and his family. He dropped out of college, moved countries, and followed different careers. He wanted to explore, to learn and to love, and I guess, to find something or someone that would fill that huge hole that he carried in his heart.

He acted crazy and irresponsible, I am not justifying his actions, he was a young man and he knew what was right and what was stupid, but I do believe that when we are hurt or lost we tend to put more faith on acting on impulse.

On a silly night, my sister’s friend became HIV +

It took him quite some time to find this out, and when he did, he went and stayed in denial. My sister found out when he was hospitalized due to pneumonia and realized that days went by without him recovering, and that he was transferred to the “tropical and other infectious diseases” wing at the hospital. He wouldn’t talk about it and pretended not to listen.

She was there during his whole stay; she sneaked in the cigarettes and the cookies, she brought books and magazines and she helped him feel better.

She forced him to look at what being HIV + meant, and forced him to make changes on his lifestyle to take better care of himself and others.

Life got in the way and they drifted apart again.

Today my sister is at home heart broken. She is been crying for hours inconsolably. She got a phone call to let her new that her dear friend passed away last night, away from his family and most of his friends.

A few months ago, I had the pleasure to meet my husband’s old pediatrician … yes, the woman that healed him from when he was a little premmie baby, gave his baby a check up. On our way back to her home, she went on “full advising mode”, the type mums get into when time is running out and they need you to absorb the maximum amount of pearls of wisdom: you know like: this to eat, that to wear, careful with blah blah …

And at the end she said, “remember, this baby is not yours to keep, is yours to prepare for the world. Who he decides to go to bed with, is his problem, and his problem alone. Just love who he loves”.

Is it worth for a parent to lose a child because we don’t agree with our child’s choice of life companion? Really?

A workmate argued that is not just a life companion choice but more of a life style choice … how is that a life style choice? we all eat, drink and sleep the same. Work the same hours and do the same things for fun. How does life style change if you are gay?

How can I, as a parent, justify pushing my kid away?

For me it is just the same as pushing him away because he doesn’t like broccoli. In my view, that is how absurd it sounds.

My sister’s friend didn’t have to leave this world alone. He needed his family and his family needed him. I know it is very hard to realize that one’s child doesn’t get that “parents know best”; but as a parent love is infinite, we need to let or children “make mistakes” and learn from them, make decisions and live with the consequences, without removing the anchor that home represents if we don’t agree with their decisions.

I am not perfect, I have made mistakes and I will make mistakes with my child in the future, but I hope he always knows that I love him more than anyone in the world and that I will always be there for him.

This post is to remind myself to leave a light on for my child, so he will always remember where he can come back to.

Darling in heaven, I hope you get the peace and love your soul deserves, You will be missed.

Looking for a needle in a “cuckoo” infested haystack

We have decided to look for someone to help us picking up and taking Llollo from/to nursery. I have spent the last few days going through loads of ads.

After reading most of them you would think somebody is forcing these girls to get a job against their will,  and they are trying to sabotage this through their “about me ” section.

For example:

“I am a positive and easygoing Swedish girl who loves staying in London. I like shopping, skiing, traveling, going out with friends and dancing. I like honesty, so you must know that I like the occasional drink when out but only smoke on the weekends. I like kids too.

“I live in London recently and I’m looking for a au pair position at a nice, warm-hearted family who appreciates their au pair’s help and don’t criticize all the time.

“I’m looking for a job that can be made by a woman for a family !!!

“I broke up with my boyfriend a few weeks ago, I am not interested in men for now, I am not ready for a relationship, so don’t worry no secret visits while you are not home 🙂 “

I think it is very important to have a good presence … and I can assure you your children will always look impeccable, I prefer dressing them in white … I can’t stand dogs, they are filthy, sloppy with germs  but I am ok with cats, they are self-cleaning “

And my personal favorite:

“My name is … I have long brown hair and brown eyes and I don’t consider myself fat.” 

Seriously? What?  How is any of that even relevant?

How exactly is any of that going to help me feel at ease about you taking care of my precious child?

Ok, I see now, that finding an ad that would make me fell all warm and fuzzy inside was going to be a stretch, but many of these posts do not convey  any interest or knowledge on childcare, some of them don’t even describe any previous child interaction at all, not even some silly comment about a baby cousin.

I guess they are very young and have not actually stopped for a moment to think about how to market themselves properly to the “working mum market”, but my god !

I am the most lunatic of all for considering leaving my child on somebody else’s care.

from a dark place

I am in a dark place.

I finished the book I was reading over the weekend and I have been bitter and sad ever since.

When I got it, I thought it was going to be some sort of mystery/thriller type of book; I just wanted a silly book to read on my journey to /from work.

The story was unimpressive, not particularly well written. In it, the author was trying to bring awareness on the struggles and dangers children and teenagers, from a variety of social backgrounds, face and how society deals with it, by shocking.

Somewhere after 2/3rds of the dull story, something happened and it felt like a blow to the stomach. I meant to just read a chapter before going to bed and ended up going to the living room to finish it. I couldn’t read whole paragraphs, I did not want to read the details of what she was describing. I skimmed through the pages, trying to retain the plot without going into the details; I found myself desperately looking for a glimpse of hope or resolution, a happy ending that never came.

Why did I continue reading? Because I needed her to save those children. I did not want to have that image that shocked me, lingering in my head. I wanted her to make it better.

I know that terrible things happen to children every day, and the thought of it causes a vertigo feeling and this feeling has multiplied since I have a child of my own.

Now,  every child real or invented, in a movie, in a story, in the news feels like my own child. My heart aches, I literally feel a pang of pain, when I hear or read anything that relates to mistreatment or abandonment of a child.

When I was in college I tried to do something about this feeling. I volunteered in a safe house for children, who were victim of mistreatment and/or were waiting for their parents to come out of jail. I was young and didn’t know what to do, all I could do for them was give attention and care.

I am a “hugger”, I have always been, it makes me feel safe and protected, it makes me feel loved. I spent most of my time back then hugging and caring for infants, with a huge knot in my throat. Knowing that I was not doing anything to help, that what i was giving was only temporary, was extremely painful. I spent all of that period submerged in guilt and sadness.

I couldn’t find a way to overcome this and cowardly I stopped going.

The book, stirred all that was buried inside me.  I still don’t know what to do.

I have spent this weekend’s nights crying and the days weepy, how can I explain it? It doesn’t make much sense. But I am hurting.

What can I do? I don’t seem to find an answer.

How can I help? how can i make a difference? I want to but I don’t know how. And the inability to find a way is burning.

I am not hurting for the characters of a book that don’t exist, I am hurting for all those children I can not protect.

Mommy Martydom

I am not going to makea habit of re-bloging but this “Queen of the Couch” post was practically written for me. Mommies, please Read !

Views from the Couch

Some friends and I were chatting and the the above meme card came up, which has been posted around Facebook, and we discovered that we were unanimously annoyed with the implied sentiment. Listen up ladies, this isn’t the 1950’s! Your goal in life no longer has to be landing a husband so you can spend the rest of your life finding shoes to compliment your newest apron or dedicate yourself solely to dispensing little humans out of your vagina like Pez. Supposedly, the sky is the limit–okay, well the glass ceiling is the limit (wink, wink). You can go to college, and not just for your M.R.S. degree. You can have a career. You can have an active social life and go out with friends. The world is your oyster! That is, until you have a child. At that point, you are only supposed to concern yourself with all things…

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