Browsing Tag

memories

One day, I’ll tell my daughter about my past

October 20, 2017
past

As my daughter’s growing up, life is becoming more and more interesting. It is said that a small child equals small problems, whereas an older child…
But that’s not all. An older child demands more logical answers to increasingly difficult questions.

Our most interesting conversations usually take place early in the mornings, when she opens her eyes, and in the evenings, when we hug each other before we go to sleep. The other night, just after I turned off the lights and tucked her in her bed (she has moved out of my bed), an unexpected question came from the darkness:

Mom, have you ever got married?

It took me by surprise, and the time wasn’t exactly opportune. I’ve never been married to her dad. Maybe her playmates from the daycare center had talked about the marriage or she was just comparing herself to other kids. Who knows?
But, she sounded worried, so I replied: “No, I only wanted to have this child. That was mattered most to me. A sigh of relief. “Mom, I’ll do the same when I grow up!”

I don’t think this has closed the subject though. Me, her father, marriage and family will be discussed many times before she becomes an adult.

And not just that.

I wondered if we should tell our kids about our past, ex-boyfriends, former husbands?

 ******

Tidying up the closets is among the most regular and preferred female activities. After a month of serious mental preparations, I recently decided to give it a go. I applied the only efficient method I knew of: I just took out the entire content of the drawers and closets, piled it up on the floor and started rummaging through it. At some point, I came across a long forgotten shoe box which stored some old photos and letters. I opened Pandora’s box filled with long suppressed memories.

******

My past is by no means a thriller, but the pages of my book of life turned slowly. One day, long ago, the present collapsed and turned into the past.

After a period of reconnecting with myself, new currents drew me away to the open sea. The past remained captured in the shoe box, offering as evidence some two-decade old photos and twenty letters or so.

******

I sat on the bedroom floor and took a long look into my past. There were photos to illustrate it, with me in them, and some people who were close to me at the time. The woman in the photos looked like me, but she was still different. She travelled. Her hair was short and blond, then a bit longer, and finally a bit darker. She looked nice, smiling, in a white silken dress, spotted with many colorful butterflies. She was getting married…

******

The past had been held captive in the photos, in the box, in the closet until I finally plucked up the courage and opened it.

I asked a friend if I should tell my daughter about my life before her some day. Would it be wise to show her, maybe not the letters, but at least the photos of her mum and that man she couldn’t possibly recognize, the man who meant so much to me in my past life?

“Keep it all”, she told me. “You’ll show it to her some day. It’s incredible how a look from the future heals everything because it is the only right way to look at it. The whole life trembles inside of us and it never gets to be told. Only our daughters will be able to make sense of it all and shed some light“.

I will take her advice. The box has kept its place on one of the lowest shelves in the closet, tucked in between the old sweaters I avoid discarding and keep storing “just in case”.

The past was beautiful while it was the present. It’s a part of me, of the way I once was, the way I’ll most likely always be. One day I’ll show it to her and we’ll look at it with her eyes. We will look at the old photos, at the good-looking, smiling bride in the colorful silken dress and at the man in dark suit. Together, we will find new words to recount my past.

What I’ve learnt from FB

August 21, 2017
FB

Social networks are amazing: fun and useful at the same time. The other day, I got a feed of my posts from 5 years ago on Facebook, including a photo of my daughter and me on our first trip. She was ten months old and had already embarked on a 10-day trip adventure with my friend and me. I looked at the photo in wonder, having trouble to recognise myself, let alone my daughter.
Peanut, as I called her then, grew from an impish toddler into a fine little girl. Where have all those years gone? And how? What was I doing? How did I spend those first five years of her life?

While we raise our kids, we make big plans for them and usually wish they could learn foreign languages, have a good education, get a good job and start their own families.

Buried under a pile of endless chores, as we try to make sense of this hectic life and resolve problems and dilemmas, we tend to forget that every day that goes by is gone forever and will never return.

We forget to soak up every moment of their childhood, each more significant and memorable than the other.

We always worry, comparing ourselves to other parents and our kids to their kids.
And then one day FB reminds me of a photo made five years ago. I felt like I was looking at another person.

A proud, but obviously clueless mother and a sweet little child.

Could I have imagined then what our lives would be like, how many silly things I’d do, how much time I’d lose, how many mistakes I’d make? Perhaps.

So, because of the FB’s On This Day feature and before I receive any of the future reminders which will bring back all my errors and make me aware of the time wasted on unimportant stuff, I want to try to be smart and happy for a change:

Because:

1. Nobody’s perfect. What matters is to do our best in each moment. We are all different, and so are our kids and our paths. The rule is – there are no rules.

2. If something really bothers me, I’ll try to change it. Changes are the only way to improve my life, and if I feel better, so will my child.  

3. I won’t pay too much attention to what other people say or think. My life is my business. It is I and not them who set the rules.

4. I am a good mother. I’m not a good cook, but it doesn’t matter. My child prefers eating spagetti without any sauce and – she loves hominy.

5. Kids are prone to doing silly things. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad parent. It simply means that kids are only kids.

6. Panic and nervousness are bad companions. The sooner you get rid of them, the better in the long run.

7. I often think that parenthood is extremely hard and stressful. And it is.

8. Sometimes we just have to be good to ourselves. A sink full of dirty dishes, piles of unironed clothes, untidy rooms? So what? Us mothers also need a break from time to time.

9. Children enjoy what we think is ordinary, unimportant stuff, such as going to the movies, buying popcorn, hugging.

10. Anything is possible if you really set your mind on it. In life, one should expect the unexpected.  

And always keep in mind that in life, like in travels, what matters most isn’t the final destination, but the journey itself.  

Why do I still carry my child?

July 6, 2017
carry

I started thinking about all kinds of dos and don’ts even before my daughter was born.
Among other things, I was wondering if children should be carried, as a rule.
Some mothers carry their children all the time: their offsprings lie in their arms like baby koalas, in front carriers, in back carry wraps, on their heads… Be it their own decision or acting on advice, they surely realise at some point that this sweetest burden is also a hindrance. Children get used to being carried around and there’s no way for them to lose the habit easily, at least until they start walking. Having considered all the aspects of my future life as a single mother, I decided not to carry my child.
And, against all odds, I persisted!
Or maybe I was just lucky to have a child who’s not too demanding by nature, who knows?
Anyway, she spent most of the time in the crib and began to discover the outside world only after she found her way out of the crib. OK, that was obviously an exaggeration, but I really didn’t carry her much, and I’m sure this made my parenting much easier.

One sweet day, my baby started to crawl… and then to toddle, holding on to the furniture as she walked past it unsteadily. In time, she became more and more stable.

Don’t think I’ve never carried her at all

Far from it: for a long time, I did carry her down the stairs (we live on the third floor, no lift, oh joy!).
I used to carry her when she was asleep or simply when she was tired and cranky.
Of course I did; there’s no greater pleasure than feeling the tiny arms around your neck or the small legs around your waist.
Cheek to cheek, as she whispers into my ear: „You smell so good, mom. You are the best mom in the world“.

But, the child has grown… and become heavier…
Mothers are strong by definition, and single mothers are stronger still – they simply don’t have any choice.
Still, carrying a child who weighs 45 pounds can be a problem.

And so I started denying her that pleasure quite consistently.

Until one evening, we arrived home; she was exhausted, and I was frustrated with all the everyday worries and problems. She lay on my bed („our bed“ – she still sleeps next to me) and asked me to play some cartoons.
When I called her to have a bath, she just squealed – „I’m so tired, please, carry me…“.

My first instinct was to say no.

I thought: What if I hurt my back, who will take care of her and do everything instead of me?

Then I saw her pleading eyes and just extended my arms.

I lifted my big, heavy child and carried her to the bathroom. Pity no one was around to take photos. I’m sure the picture would be hilarious.

I carried her knowing that such occasions would soon become very rare, if not impossible.
Time will come when she will no longer want to be my baby. She will move to her room and shut the door when her friends come to visit.

I will soon remember those lovely moments with nostalgia, her arms around my neck, the sleepy child who will always be only my baby. One day, soon perhaps, my child will want more independence and laugh at my need to carry her from time to time.

Until then, I’ll be happy to take any opportunity, any occasion. I will live each blissful moment, each second of happiness to the full. I will enjoy her childhood, her soft cheek rubbing against mine and her thin little voice, whispering that she loves me into my ear.

 

 

My memory book

June 7, 2017
memory

I was tiding up my flat. It was the usual cleaning to welcome the change of season. Warm clothes would be washed and placed on the top shelves instead of the summer clothes, which would be made more readily accessible. After such feats, I usually develop the fever of tiding up. Lately, I have read various theories about minimalism as a lifestyle. OK, I’m not saying I would be able to accept such an approach: it would require too many sacrifices. But, riding on the wave of enthusiasm, I did manage to fill several plastic bags with trinkets that had probably cost me an arm and a leg, although I wasn’t entirely sure I understood why I’d bought them in the first place.

On such occasions, my victims are usually found among toys, the broken or cracked stuff or objects without an easily identifiable purpose (those tiny pieces of something that might be a Lego block or a part of a Kinder Surprise toy). Then I discretely fill another bag with all the stuff that my daughter has outgrown to give them away. It has to be done discretely because if she opens the bag, she’ll surely take everything out and say those are her favorite toys and as such should not be given to anyone. On the other hand, strangely enough, giving away outgrown clothes has never been a problem. I don’t think she actually pays too much attention to what she wears, as long as it’s a dress and it spins.

Then I opened the drawers filled with notebooks, pencils and knick-knacks. I knew what was inside as I’d briefly gone through their contents a few days before…

…and found a notebook with green covers with butterflies. I opened it and …

I was immediately transported five years back in time.

In my late pregnancy, I was so well organized. I’d prepared lists, recommendations, comments from various websites… I’d collected them all, not in duplicate, but in triplicate. Just in case. Maybe it’s just me or maybe all single mothers are the same. We are always doubly careful  because we can’t rely on anyone else.

I remember when I bought the notebook. It was so convenient, small, with a spiral, so that the pages could turn nicely without being torn.
It was a thing that could last. I wrote down all kinds of things:
how much milk the baby had drunk,
how many times a day,
her first cramps,
her first smile,
her first carrot and boiled potatoes, her first banana and pear.

Dated notes about the first year of her life, a testimony about my efforts, commitment and love.

For instance, they remind me of the fact that my daughter started to walk when she was exactly one year and 26 days old.
That she came down with her first fever when she was 14 months.
That she weighed 22 pounds and was 2,6 feet tall.
When she was 15 months old, that she was trying to talk and pushed the food greedily in her mouth.

I kept the notebook, like I kept her ID bracelet and the clothes she was wearing when we returned home from the nursery. Her birthday dresses and the first shoes are my most valuable treasures.

Indeed, what is the life of a mother but the patient collection of memories as she watches her child slowly take steps towards the adulthood?

Be a part of their childhood memories

February 24, 2017
memories

Before I became a mother, I had a simple travel camera. I loved to take pictures anytime anywhere, during the travels or at festivities. I made photos of others, but I liked being in them too. After I had a child, my photographic ambitions rose to a new level. Soon enough, I bought a high-quality camera, and then another state-of-the-art miracle of the digital age. While I’m writing these lines, I’m plucking up the courage to admit the purchase of the third device and thinking about a professional flash kit at the same time…

The typical syndrome of a mother dreaming of making each moment of her child’s life eternal…

Believe me, all three cameras make fantastic photos and I’ve tried to learn a thing or two about handling them properly. I’ve made a dozen beautiful photo books, which are often browsed through and commented on by my daughter. That’s right: kids love to look at photos, especially if they’re in them.

It’s all very well, except for one small detail: I’m rarely in any of those pictures. Who takes pictures of the photograph? Most of my friends are not very good at handling sophisticated devices, so I, the mother of the child, mostly operate behind the camera. Each time I make a new album, I try to find someone to take pictures of me with my child without cutting off a piece of my body or spoiling all harmony in the picture.

What’s the point of this story?

Dear mothers, try to find a place in the childhood memories of your kids. Today, when I look at the photos from my own childhood, I feel like crying when I see my mother and me. Don’t be like me, ask a passerby, a friend, anyone! The hairdo or clothes don’t matter. What matters is that your child has photos of you, that they will look at with tender feelings and show to others. Be a part of your child’s memories, and not just the eye behind the camera, the finger on the switch or the photo album designer.