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The power of being grateful

I have started to write this post a couple of weeks ago, while I was grounded with the flu and feeling like shit. All after having been grounded for two weeks already, because the two kids were sick. Twice, both, and from two different viruses. One after the other. God, I love being a mom! During that time, I have been going from moments where I could barely breath and think, to moments where I’d wish everyone would magically disappear and just leave me alone (on a warm sandy beach, possibly). Clearly, I was not able to see the power of being grateful at that time.

A revelation

The moment I started to feel like myself again though, a big revelation hit me. When I was at my lowest, I was literally feeling like I was going to die. Still, I was not able to appreciate the fact that I was not dead yet. Maybe it’s because, deep down, I perfectly knew that at some point I would get better, eventually. Which could explain why we appreciate the things we have only seconds after we’ve lost them. And why we can only start to acknowledge the power of being grateful after something bad has happened.

I have already said many times how lucky and blessed I am for having two beautiful and healthy children. Well, healthy clearly not. But nothing too serious so far, I mean. However, I have also always been very honest and opened about how difficult it is to be a parent (and especially a mom). It’s a hell of a roller-coaster journey! Especially those times when you are sick and not only there is no one to take care of you, but you must take care of two little sneezing and puking humans.

Is it the fever talking?

Well, maybe it was at some point. But I cannot blame it on the fever anymore. I think we must reconcile with the fact that we cannot feel gratitude every time. Our pain and our sadness must be processed before we can live again. Particularly, when we feel like life has let us down. And I have to thank my therapist for teaching this to me. Hes site is in French only at the moment but she speaks very good English and she is great.

It is very hard to acknowledge the power of being grateful when the only thing you wish for is you did not have a nose or a throat, for instance. But now I’ve come to realize that the moment you can take back control of your “normal” you, and you start to appreciate life again (which, in my case, was when I could have a sense of smell again), being thankful for what you have can help you feel even better and accomplish even more.

We are so damn lucky to be able to grow old and watch our kids grow and help them become fulfilled adults. Or even just adults, I am good with that. Only, we do not think about it in this way. At least not until someone dies or loses it all.

The real privilege is growing old

Why is it that all we see when we get dressed in the morning are the kilos we cannot put down? Why all we think about when we look at ourselves in the mirror are the wrinkles and the white hair? What if we decide to change that and only focus on what we are, what we can be, and the immense gratitude for still being able to be something? Growing old is a privilege, a luxury that unfortunately is not given to everyone. We are so stuck in society’s perception of life, that we forget what really matters.

Life is so fragile, yet we tend to forget it. Probably because we would be too scared to live and be otherwise. However, I find extreme strength in reconciling with the fact that it could all go in a second. And taking a moment to think about this can only makes us stronger. These things happen more often that we think unfortunately. Being grateful for what we are, day by day, helps to stay grounded and make the most out of the present.

I promise myself…

I am promising myself to be more grateful every day. To take a moment every night and every morning, to acknowledge all the great things that the day has brought. Starting from waking up, spending time with my loved ones, getting to see my kids smile, taking them to school, cooking for them, and yes why not, even yelling at them.

By expressing gratitude for what we have, what we are and what we can be, we inevitably focus on the positives, which also include things we have accomplished and not only things we’ve been given by others. And when you recognize the good you have been capable of doing to yourself, your self-esteem inevitably grows too!

So tonight, before going to sleep, I will try and think about all the little things I am grateful for. I have already written about the need to stop complaining about what we do not have and start focusing on what we do have. This time it’s more about thanking God, the universe, or anyone you believe in, for what you have been able to live today and embracing the power of being grateful. You will see that this positive energy will come back at you at some point.

How do we explain covid19 quarantine to our kids?

Today is day one of our forced quarantine and I am far from figuring out how do we explain coronavirus quarantine to our kids? Schools are closed and people are invited by the government to just stay at home. Which would be a great thing for me. I am the couch kind of person who’s been waiting for years for someone to dictate that life had to be lived on the couch. And in the Netflix era! Simply awesome. Plus, the beauty of living in a country like Belgium – where we only have sunshine for two months a year – makes it even easier to digest.

If only…

If only I was not a mom. And if only me and my husband had not made the mistake of having unprotected sex TWICE. How do we explain coronavirus quarantine to our kids? Forced quarantine for two healthy kids is a suicide mission guys. This morning, only two hours after we woke up, they had already started 10 fights. Which I was very proud to be able to manage with an unprecedent diplomacy (time-out in the bathroom). Until, they started to throw Lego bricks at each other.

Damn Lego bricks!

The perfect and most desired toy for kids of all ages (husbands included). Yet, the worst nightmare for parents all over the world. Not just because there will always be that one little piece you forget to put away. And that suddenly reappears under your bare feet, while you’re trying to reach the toilet in the middle of the night. But also because, as I learned today, they can very easily become war weapons.

To put the fights at rest, I decided to video call my mom. She lives in Italy and thus has been locked up at home for the past two weeks already. And I was surprised to see how the moment the kids saw the “nonna”, they started to cry and moan. At that very moment, it hit them. They suddenly realized that we were not going to join her anytime soon. In their minds, they were waiting for school to be over, as they had identified that with our departure. Therefore, when we started the video call, they began to understand that they were home with me, without being sick, so school was over, but they were not going to go anywhere for some time.

How do we explain covid19 quarantine to our kids?

How do you explain to a 3 and a 4 y.o. that they have to stay home even if they are not sick? And that everyone is grounded? And that we cannot even go to the restaurant nor the park, otherwise we are all going to die?? Ok that’s not true, I was getting carried away sorry.

I’ve heard other moms saying that their kids were scared, “because if they go out the virus will eat them”. And last week, my daughter told me that at school they had to wash hands frequently, “because otherwise the police would go after them”. For now, my strategy has been to underline that school is over earlier (yaayyy!!!), so we get to spend some quality time together. But I am not sure that will work for long. Especially, because they are no stupid. I am sure they can see the look on my face, when I think that I’ll be grounded at home with the two of them for the next 5 weeks…

So, all in all. Not only they are scared about the virus, which is something adults struggle to handle too. They are also super sad that our trip has been postponed. A family trip, that hubby and I have been prepping for and saving for, for more than two years. Honestly, I haven’t figured out yet how to explain the covid19 quarantine to my kids.

The good news is though, that at their age they are not yet conscious of time. Which means, I will just lie for now. Tell them that we are leaving tomorrow (aka in 5 weeks). And that today will last very, very long.

Motherhood is the scariest hood (part one)

Becoming a mom is undeniably a gift. A blessing, that unfortunately many women cannot experience in their lives. However, after two kids each, me and my co-writer have come to the conclusion that – like one of the funniest mama writers out there would say – motherhood is the scariest hood. And because no one should ever navigate throughout a scary neighbourhood alone, we wanted to start this new parenting section on the blog with some tips for partners about what it feels like to be a mom.

Number one: breastfeeding sucks (the energy out of you)

Literally. Breastfeeding might be a great bonding moment; some women really enjoy it (count us out of that group please). But it can also feel like your child is sucking up all your energy. Which is already at its lowest by the way, given that you have brought life to this world. Honestly, do you guys even realize what that means?

That was a rhetorical question. I perfectly know men do not understand what it means to carry a little human for 9 months, bring it to life and then breastfeed it. Agreed, it is very hard to know what that means when you cannot experience it for yourself (even if, let’s be honest, you could try a little harder to understand). But I gave up on male empathy years ago already, and that’s why we are here on a mission to help you get it.

It means that you have to function at your best in order to ensure that the little monkey stays alive; but you have to do it with the lowest physical and emotional resources and very little help (hold on that thought please, becasue we’ll get there in the coming weeks!). This goes without mentioning the pressure our society is still putting on moms about breastfeeding. Yes, everyone is free to choose the feeding method they prefer. On paper. In reality though, all you get in most hospitals is judging looks whenever you choose not to breastfeed. And probably, the most judging look comes from your husband, who knows that with breastfeeding he will not risk to wake up in the middle of the night to handle a crying hungry baby.

Therefore…

When a mom chooses to breastfeed, first of all be proud of her! Because it’s a sacrifice. Another one, yes. Second of all, be supportive and understanding, especially when she loses her shit on you. Because she will, oh she will. It is just a matter of time. Finally, do not even dare thinking that if your woman decides not to breastfeed you are safer! The bottle is as tiring (only without the hormones), especially in the first months when the baby needs to get used to the day/night rythm. And no, the “natural mother instinct” excuse will not work here. We all have survival instincts and women and men should equally play on those to survive in the scariest hoods.

Number two: self-esteem is at its lowest (little lies welcomed!)

Of course, we can see them too. The hanging belly, the dark circles under the eyes… they are totally something we’d be better off, too. Especially when our lack of energy is already bringing our mood down. But hey – you can lie! Believe it or not, you are not the only ones who suffer from watching their sex life go away.

We understand, it’s hard, but where is the team spirit here? Please, do not hesitate to throw in a compliment every now and then. We are already doing the same anyways – even though YOUR hanging belly is due to a beer addition, honey. Couple goals!

Also, please. Do not guilt trip us when we always feel hungry. It is not something we can control (hormones again – and/or a little buddy who is sucking out our calories, sometimes literally or just metaphorically). So, there is no need to point that out really. Unless you wanna risk it coming back to you like a boomerang. You do not want mama to get angry at you, do you?

Number three: empathy is a luxury we cannot afford at all times

When you are constantly trying to understand and anticipate your baby’s needs, it becomes super hard to feel empathetic for another human being (aka hubbies, wifies, kids, and we’re not even talking about parents or in-laws if we’re “lucky” enough to have them around). A mom’s brain literally shuts down when she hears her baby crying – which, in case you had not noticed, happens quite often.

So I guess it is fair to say that moms are allowed to feel no empathy at all for some of your daily drama. Like when you are feeling overwhelmed because you have not peed for the past two hours. Did you know that moms can be so focused on putting the baby’s needs first, that they forget to pee for a whole day?! To be fair, I have also heard this pee story from a newly dad, who has immediately become my new hero for that! So I want to say that there are exceptions, yes. Nevertheless, as I feel we are talking to the larger crowd of “non-mind-readers” here, may I just insist on the fact that taking care of the laundry has never killed anyone?

I can see how you might think we are totally crazy. Society taught you that women are empathetic by nature, and it’s just so natural for them to be, that you can expect that kind of compassion every damn time. Well, my friends. IT’S A BIG LIE! But hey, we warned you right at the beginning of this post: motherhood is the scariest hood, and not just for mothers.

I hope we have scared you enough for today. This is the beginning of a long, rollercoaster journey, so I’d stay tuned for more if I were you. Fun awaits!