Tag Archive | parenting

Easy Life?

Who said life was easy?

My mother died when I was a teenager. Many years have passed but I’m still learning about her, not from family or friends. When she married my father she distanced herself from the only friend she had and there is no family.

My mother is still a mystery to me. I discovered many things about her after her death, through letters and legal documents. Photos revealed a woman who was a far cry from the old-fashioned, prim and proper mother I knew.

Writing has helped me sort out my feelings and offered perspective. Friends never understand how I’ve forgiven her for the miserable childhood  I had.

As a mother I’ve struggled to understand the hows and the whys. I also missed the special bond most mothers and daughters have when a grandchild is born. Knowing this would not have happened didn’t lessen the void. Seeing friends with their mothers sometimes hurt.

Life is a long path of recognition and learning. Not so long ago, it finally dawned on me that more than having just grown up in difficult circumstances, my mother was suffering from a mental illness.

It all came clear to me that morning. Why did I never even suspect it? I was raised not to question things, but I did. I kept it all to myself. But my mother, well, I was so afraid of her. She was so strong, indomitable.

All the crazy spells, smiling and screaming the next minute, throwing a basin full of water at me in public, trashing my room in the middle of night while raving.

Still, I didn’t click. Because for years I lived with guilt, like many children who have suffered abuse, I thought it all my fault. I was conditioned to believe everything that happened was somehow my fault. It’s not easy shaking those labels.

Her son from a previous marriage is schizophrenic. I wasn’t told this until after she had died. It was not something my mother wanted known, another secret under the carpet. I didn’t even find out he was my half-brother until I was 12. He terrorized me through my childhood. I remember my mother taking him to this centre, it was only years later that I learned what this centre was.

So here I am, all these years later, proud mummy to my gorgeous children. Who said life was easy? But one thing is for sure, you learn something every day, and with love you cannot go wrong.

Extreme parenting in all cultures

I shuddered when reading the reviews and interviews of Amy Chua.

One example :

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/jan/15/amy-chua-tiger-mother-interview


She reminded me too much of my own mother, and no, she wasn’t Chinese. Rather she was from a certain background and a generation stuck in the past. I don’t believe this is necessarily a case of Chinese vs Western styles, you can find extreme ways of parenting in all cultures.
Children need love and encouragement, not being put down and threatened all the time. We all have our own strengths. Children should not feel bad if they’re less able in one are, they might be great in another. All talents are needed, otherwise, there would be no point, if we were all capable of doing absolutely everything!

I expect most children raised in this way rebel sooner or later. I’m not Chinese but the system she advocates is not far off the way my mother treated me.
It doesn’t make for happy children or adults. I had to learn to shake off all the labels and the fear.

With my children, I am the complete opposite. I want them to feel loved and have the confidence to find their strengths and thus give their best.

https://elleamberley.wordpress.com/2010/03/16/mother-love/


http://thegoodchinesemother.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/challenging-chua/

http://blog.seattlepi.com/parentingadabsurdum/archives/235930.asp

Photoshop in schools?

Seen in the New York Times:

The practice of altering photos, long a standard in the world of glossy magazines and fashion shoots, has trickled down to the wholesome domain of the school portrait. Parents who once had only to choose how many wallet-size and 5-by-7 copies they wanted are now being offered options like erasing scars, moles, acne and braces, whitening teeth or turning a bad hair day into a good one.

Say what?

But parents who choose to edit also run the risk of “potentially validating the concerns that it is not O.K. to be that way,” Dr. Peterson said.

No kidding!

Read the article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/20/nyregion/20retouch.html?_r=1&hp=&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1290265347-jnDk4/ZNl4PbcfIrU9sCxQ

In response to one of the comment on Mummy Bloggers discussion:

Wouldn’t children who have their photos retouched be more prone to teasing? Everybody in their class would know that’s not how they look like, I think it would give more power to potential bullies. As teenagers, let them make that decision, but photoshopping is not going to change the way they look in real life.

Life and the universe

A while ago, I was asked to come up with some personal quotes. I’d like to share them with you. Many have been taken from various posts I have written and magazine articles.

Hope you will enjoy my “philosophy”!

  • We do not have to suffer our lives or wait for some miracle to happen so let’s embrace life. Even on the darkest of days, there is always something to be grateful about, some small mercy.
  • Learn from your past, whether good or bad and then move on!
  • This madness possessing me, the one that stops me in my tracks, forcing me to write, so compulsive and obsessive.
  • As a young child I believed and hoped, it made me a survivor.We are free to survive our lives and to live them to the fullest.Given time and hope, it is amazing what you can accomplish.
  • Writing a blog, I find is an excellent way to let out the torrent of thoughts and ideas raging in my head.
  • Feminism means different things to people.For me,it just means respecting women as much as men and thus giving women the same rights and opportunities as men.
  • What I have learned that it is ok to be different,we are not clones after all! We are all different ,some of us just a little more than others.
  • I explain to my children that life is a long endless cycle.Many things may happen,little and not so little tragedies but sooner or later there will be rejoicing again.It’s the circle of life.
  • The more you learn , the more you realise how much more there is to know.How exciting it is to be on a perpetual voyage of discovery!  The constant struggle between my brain, sleep and words.
  • So many reasons why food no longer is about eating and becomes the focus of your problems, masking the real issues.
  • I’m very instinctive and mostly I write because it keeps me sane, I hope !
  • Don’t change your perception of me once you learn where I come from, because you’d be wrong and I’m so tired of having to justify myself, my roots or my nationality !
  • One thing for sure, all the women in my family are strong and stubborn, my daughter is following the same path, in a good way !
  • More than ever I respect life as always, life is precious and we all have something to give, sometimes it just takes time to appreciate what we can all achieve.
  • I suppose I’ve always had a strong survival instinct, a belief deep down that there is always a light at the end of the darkest of tunnels.
  • So many obstacles,  Yet, we do go on,  Giving up is not an option.

Homeschooling sense

Homeschoolers have so much potential and Stanford university wants them
Quotes on homeschooling from this article in Stanford university magazine:

http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2000/novdec/articles/homeschooling.html

  • Among the nation’s elite universities, Stanford has been one of the most eager to embrace them. Despite the uncertainties of admitting students with no transcripts or teacher recommendations, the University welcomes at least a handful every year. Stanford has found that the brightest homeschoolers bring a mix of unusual experiences, special motivation and intellectual independence that makes them a good bet to flourish on the Farm.
  • It’s hard to define, but they swear they know it when they see it. It’s the spark, the passion, that sets the truly exceptional student–the one driven to pursue independent research and explore difficult concepts from a very early age–apart from your typical bright kid. Stanford wants students who have it.
  • “The distinguishing factor is intellectual vitality,” says Reider. “These kids have it, and everything they do is responding to it.”
  • But conviction, more than convenience, is the reason Baruch kept her children at home. At age 16, she vowed that if she ever had kids, their education would differ from hers. Baruch attended a traditional Hebrew yeshiva in Brooklyn. “I was very much excited about learning, but there was not time to just learn for the love of learning,” she says. “There was an hour [for each subject], and when it was up, the bell rang. That was it. Interested, not interested, awake, asleep–you moved on to the next thing.”
  • Backing her up is a 1999 survey organized by Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute. Ray found that the typical homeschooler takes part in at least five social activities outside the home every week–from dance classes and sports teams to scout troops and community theater. He also collected previous findings by educators and psychologists suggesting that children taught at home are actually socially and emotionally healthier than those in schools. They are more comfortable interacting with adults and less likely to pin their self-esteem to the fads and whims of teenagers, Ray says.

 

Staying at home with the kids

A post in response to my friend Peryl’s post :

” There are a lot of people – politicos, authors, strangers at Starbucks, my mother, to name a few – who question the absolute value of the work of a stay-at-home mother.

Linda Hirshman, Author of Get to work: A Manifesto for Women of the World famously said: “women who quit their jobs to stay home with their children [are] making a mistake….the tasks of housekeeping and child rearing [are] not worthy of the full time and talents of intelligent and educated human beings. “

My take on the matter :

It’s a personal choice.
What about just enjoying your children, they grow up so quickly!
I find being with my children fulfilling, they are so inquisitive and full of life, so enthusiastic!
I suppose a lot of it depends what you do with your time.
Personally I feel so overstimulated, I fear for my brain.
Maybe that explains the encephalitis I had last week.
I stay at home, well,  in between all the travelling that is.
Now where am I again ?
Oh yes, back in Paris, for now..
I’m proud to say I look after my children, I home-educate them (they are bilingual).We’re always busy busy busy.
Somehow in the midst of all that I write. I’ve got 2 books on the go, one in english and the other one in french.
Whatever  possessed me to start writing in french ?!
So there you are, I ‘m probably a bit mad and a bit too creative.
Let’s enjoy our Mummy time while it lasts.You can never experience these early years again.

P.S. Don’t forget to read my friend’s blog, it’s a brilliant read and she often makes me laugh.

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Regrets ?

Regrets ? me? not really!

After all, what’s in the past should stay firmly in the past! You should live in the present.

Learn from your past, whether good or bad and then move on!

Keep for best

My mother was very much of the “keep for best” generation.When she died, there were cupboards filled to the brim with delicate china, used once or twice, clothes she wore on very rare occasions…you get my drift.

She died when I was still a teenager.She was an “older” mum, quite unusual at the time.

It made me realise you should appreciate your life for what it is now and enjoy what you have.

What is the point of having nice things if you do not use them or even see them ?!

Nothing is really sacred in our house, sure accidents do happen although oddly enough all the treasures accumulated by my mother and my own souvenirs have escaped quite unharmed.

I have kept some of the china my mother never dared to use, only one piece got damaged and that occurred on moving houses!

So when a treasured toy or other gets damaged, broken or redundant, I tell my children to remember how they enjoyed that particular item and many more toys, cuddlies…are yet to be cherished.

Possessions are just that, they don’t always last but your memories live on inside of you.