A Song For You….

I could be in the cheeriest of moods. Ugly laughing and gasping for air. I might have just fallen off my chair laying on my back because I wasn’t able to maintain my composure. I could be the center of attention riding a joke to the high heavens as those around me cackle and lose themselves. I could be fueled by joy and glee and have it all snatched away at the sound of Donny Hathaway singing ‘A Song For You’. While written by Leon Russell, this is absolutely one of those remakes that far exceeded the original. It is a beautiful piece of music and Hathaway’s voice ate this masterpiece up! I don’t know what it is, but the song drives me to be quiet and calm, sit with my eyes closed and my head back. I never sing along either, I suspend every move whenever it plays. It’s like honouring the beauty of the song with silence and pressure to never ruin what it does for me. It immediately puts me in a pensive mood. I ended up listening to it in the morning after his rendition of This Christmas. After spending Christmas morning in the emerg with my sick baby the day turned into a somber emotional time and it reminded me to love on and be grateful for everything. This jam could easily be a forgiveness plea anthem for lovers, but I dedicate this song to my husband and child. Ideally, letting them know, I am not without fault or innocent. I fail and falter and would never hurt them intentionally. I am in love with them wholly.

‘I know your image of me…Is what I hoped to be… I treated you unkindly… But darling, can’t you see?… There’s no one more important to me… Baby, can’t you see through me?.’.  This is a message of love and purpose of choosing my family over and over again.

‘You taught me precious secrets…Of a true love while holding nothing…You came out in front when I was hiding…But now I’m so much better…And if my words don’t come together…Listen to the melody…’Cuz my love is in there hiding’. This a message to my son. I learned so much and grew in abundance from becoming his mother. My parenting has false starts but not because I am not trying but because I am just learning as I go.

 

‘I love you in a place…Where there’s no space or time….I love you for my life…’Cuz you’ re a friend of mine…’.  Speaks to being more than a wife and a mother but a confidante and anchor when they need me.

 

The decrescendo from 5:06 to 5:18 just rips at me and have caused tears to flow. This song is such a simple yet emotionally disturbing admission of wanting to do better and be great. It’s the perfect dream…..

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Are kids worth it?

I recently engaged in a discussion around what it’s like to raise a child; or multiples. The tone of the discussion was frank, lighthearted and a bit dark at times. Exactly the way being a parent is. Every parent feels this, and when you struggled to have your child, you will think this but may not be strong enough to say it out loud out of fear of seeming ungrateful. 

The conversation started with a non-parent reaching for the stars saying the want 4,5,6 kids and those who were already parents cackled heartily at the dreamer. Hit me up after you’ve had your first someone said. We all laughed again. Another person neatly declined the thought of procreating and honestly was met with a lil’ envy. Thinking about having more children comes with so much reluctance. Then you think, if my life is constantly on flames now, what’s a lil more heat? If you are lucky enough, you find out. There was also mention of the fact that people don’t always know what they’re talking about when it comes to kids. This is my FAVOURITE thing to say, why? Because no one person is the same. What worked for you wont work for others and people should really stop doling out advice on sight. Fingers on your lips as the ‘parents’ handle things their way. Here’s the thing, people get frustrated when something someone told them doesn’t work, not realizing that it isn’t intended for your child but theirs. Take suggestions and advice from people you trust but always try what your gut is telling you first. Most importantly what your kid is telling you. I cringe when I watch parents do what others tell them to do to their kids while the child have to be standing up for themselves because you’re failing at respecting their right to choose. Then they further get labelled as rude and treated as such. Meanwhile, you’re selectively deaf. Child-centered parenting is not indication of weak parenting. FACT. It was also mentioned that its gets easier the more you have, you can never be sure though. The thing about being a parent is that absolutely anything is fair game.

Frankly expressed was the fact that you get used to a new normal, then fall back into the pits of newborn hell. Caring for a loaf of bread sized human who can’t do much but expel rapidly out both ends and let you dress them up. The teething, late nights, fevers, protein spills, never ending cleaning, potty training, wonder weeks, regressions, illnesses, accidents, near misses, they anxiety, thin sanity, breastfeeding woes, greying, loveless marriages, nonexistent sexy time, schedules, frantic driving, arguments, tempers, tantrums, body changes, memory loss, irritability, tolerance and weight ballooning. You genuinely wonder if you were built for any of it and find that you build yourself as you go. You find your strength and uncover truths about yourself from raising your kids. The lessons learned in parenting happens when things occur but if you never have another child you don’t get to redeem yourself and quench that burning guilt. There’s also finances and another cackle happened this time with a few tears being shed at the mention of this topic. I love being a mother and at the crux of that is that pair of boots I also love but couldn’t buy last month, or every month if i wanted. Frankly, my savings account I throw money into the same way I do a wishing well, every now and then you know, just in case… as its been awhile.*Hears a knock on a door*… Me: home ownership is that you?…why no, no it’s not. It’s the need for another bloody winter jacket since your kid lost the last one you purchased just 2 weeks ago.

Hard truths was what I said, in addition to that most days I love being a parent. My main qualm is having to do everything by ourselves all the time because you cannot depend on anyone. People either don’t understand kids, have the patience or they romanticize how they were raised and want to pass that on. It’s difficult being a hermit parent because life happens but also you have to do that so you don’t end up raising a child that has to work to heal from traumas. You then rely on a daycare service which in itself gets paid out with the likes of a cash cannon. Someone else chimed in saying this also leads you lose 80% of your family, friends and about 80% of yourself. BIG FACTS.

The key I find is to treat kids like adults so they gain their independence early, even in their manner of thinking. Socialize them properly, hold them to discipline and you have a built in best friend. There is now a certain symmetry when you both understand and trust each other because a certain bond is there. There’s also so many joys that come with being a parent, their innocence and wonderment for the simplest things is so fulfilling and humbling. Being a parent most importantly comes from honestly asking yourself ‘Am I unfit?’ ‘Children are to be seen not heard’ is dead and should have been generations ago. It dumbed down a whole generation of people who have issues with basic communication. It taught people to not talk to each other and to be impressionist because we don’t want to face embarrassment. That was the key here, our parents didn’t want us to embarrass them so everyone walked around heads high like everything was fine. Meanwhile the truth was that mental illness, toxic behaviors, abuse and other issues needed to be out in the open and discussed. They created frail children in a new, mean world, not kids who would speak up when something wasn’t right. Let them speak and no matter what it is they’re saying, converse with them. Ask a million questions and teach them how to communicate. To bring this full circle, the minute your child needs to navigate the world without you present they need a sense of maturity and the ability to communicate so that you are aware of everything they experienced. They need to be able to tell you everything that happens to them in your absence, not cower and speak up for themselves and those without a voice. If you find that you need to control everything and try to do that to others around you, you are unfit. Watch your interactions with others and how much you try to influence people to ‘bend’ in a way that pleases you. Language, mannerisms, actions, choices and willpower are independent based on free thinking and should not be stifled or changed. Yes, choose the best people to be around but we genuinely all have rough patches. If you find that you cannot leave people alone and take them as they see fit then you cannot parent well. You need to be able to give them freedom to choose, fail and fight against all odds; they also need great examples that teach them how to celebrate in a way that doesn’t oppress others. Think about it, if you cannot just be and let people be themselves around you, when the dark days of parenting hit, you’re going to rage against your child. That, is the first step towards a traumatic life….

Memories making me measure myself…

I wish you were here to meet my son. My father never needed to deny or not take care of me because my photo was permanently affixed on your dresser. Every time you looked in the mirror I was there. You acknowledged me. I wish I could talk to you so many times. Just to fill in the blanks in my life and understand me. My burdens are so heavy sometimes. My worries are circulating with no end and the pressures of life are seething into each other. I miss you so much on many days and get angry when my memories of you start fading. When little details are no longer clear it breaks my heart. You loved all of your family and I’m so glad you taught me that. Everyone that came your way was taken care of. Your palms were always open. In my weakest moments your memories are always there. When time brace against my responsibilities and I am just one woman against the world I feel you behind me. Every fall I take I scream at the audacity of the dips trying to keep me low knowing I have fighter blood in me. Today I cried because I couldn’t remember your face. It felt like the ultimate betrayal. The things that come with aging in life doesn’t discriminate. It was like you were forgotten and dashed. How scary it felt I didn’t dare utter but was sure to dig deep into my life and there you were coming back to me. Coming into a clearing. A love like yours was never again graced and though I aim to be like you, my ego knows I’m no measure. I need the conversations of an older woman I can trust. The ties that bind that makes you never ever to leave me. The woman that can tell me the history of my lineage and clear up why things are or will be. That female bond that binds in times that men cannot understand exist. The older, experienced wisdom that nurtures and soothes. I need access to your blueprint to mothering; it’s so bloody hard! I miss you so much and need the strength of you by my side but I get up; still. I try to move mountains with what feels like a pencil and use the rubber to remove the unnecessary figures from my life. Never forgetting what life with you was like and aspiring to that joy in my childhood life. You made the best roti I have ever had in life. I loved our supermarket trips. The hot patty lunches. I was so horrible to you when you tried to control me, not knowing better; I’m sorry. I wish you were here still grandmother; to just be.

 

….’As a child, there were them times I didn’t get it, but you kept me in line’…’All them grown folk things, separation brings, You never let me know it, you never let it show, Because you loved me enormously’…’And you never got a chance to see, How good I’ve done’…’I wish that you was here to celebrate together, I wish that we can spend the holidays together’ …’I thought you were so strong, You make it through whatever, It’s so hard to accept the fact you gone forever’….

Missin’ u…

You know the hardest part about being a parent?  Not being able to keep your child with you 24/7s or be able to see them in a moment when you need to. It’s true, mothers can just look at their children and know when nothing in their world is right. When mothers are down, their children often pull them out of their funk. It’s an instant mood elevator to see the face of your babe. Their smiles, laughter and general silliness wakes your soul to look ahead. Even if you’re wondering just what the fuck they’re doing. As a working mother, this has been my gripe for days on end. If you didn’t think your mind was powerful, you can literally think your way into a major tragedy that puts your heart in a bind. You will literally hyperventilate at the thought that a predator might be eating your baby alive. Only to find out all is actually well and there is not a single need to panic. Children will teach you so much about yourself and your body. They will literally call your bluff when you’re voicing something different. The way you miss them makes you ache and seeing them lifts you high.

I used to think it was ridiculous when people would say ‘I just couldn’t leave my baby’. ‘What could be so great about them?’, I would think. Then I had my son and I got it. It 100% rips my heart out when I have to leave him. I literally want to fight myself for not being further ahead in life or better accomplished so that I could afford life at home with my son. Creatives that take the non-traditional route so that they can be home are goals to me. I want to scream every time I have a horrible thought or a bad piece of news cross my path and I can’t hold his hand or glance at what mischief he’s getting into. They are so pure, and give so much all the time. Children give you 100% of what you give to them. They have no filter and are the most genuine human beings you will ever encounter. They teach you how to live, question life and wonder about things that you’ve never thought of before. It is also why you can almost immediately tell when an adult wasn’t nurtured by love but raised to exist. They’re like green limp flowers, misunderstood and out of reason. In each stage, the babes give us life, whether we want it or not. I I could define it, the sound of my soul…is the laughter of children the world over….

Assimilation….

I love observing immigrants. It is my weird thing. I just love their take on culture shock and seeing how they cope. They move with such caution, light footed. Their choices are so tied to so many things. It is almost a burden. We are so lucky to be in a country were compassion is natural response. As much as coming to this country was scary and had difficult moments surrounding navigating the systems in place; I cannot say migrating has been something to regret. I blame that solely on how I assimilated. Also, the birth of a Canadian-born child. You see, if you moved here with children from another country, they will be subdued and burdened with things a child shouldn’t. When you have a child in the country you migrated to, they almost seem to cruise through life. We find ourselves shaking our head at the simplicity and ease of my son’s life. This caused me to compare the resolve within that never truly let’s us settle. This isn’t our home, but it is his. He will never have to learn to assimilate and will naturally thrive in certain situations. This will be worse, once he goes through the various systems that span his life cycle.  No internal battle to attach himself to Canadian ways or to hold on to his ‘first culture’. A lot of immigrants become so stuck in their ‘first culture’, they refuse to adapt to the ways of their new world. Irresponsibly imparting certain views in a tolerant environment. Carelessly handling themselves in a way that makes them think their ‘first culture’ is an excuse. Recklessly throwing away all the sacrifices and investments made to pave the way. I say all this to say, assimilation is so important.

A lot of people think to leave their home country for a better life, but never check the culture of where they’re going. What is common place in the corporate world? How loose or strict are certain industries (of interest)? Something as simple as understanding what a ‘scent free’ environment is, knowing a sharp fragrance is a part of being fully dressed. You will have to go back to school. Period. Even to do a ‘small’ course. Are you open to learning and formal education again? Are you ok with ‘play-based’ learning for your children? The concept of free public schools may be new and seem like a relief, but can you accept limited say in your child’s education? If religious, how would you navigate the LGBT curricula that is taught in public schools? How would you handle private school tuition, knowing as an immigrant you won’t necessarily get a high-paying job right away? It is imperative to consider residences and learn about surrounding communities. Child-rearing will fall heavily on parents and a daycare provider. Are you keen on the cost both financially and mentally to get an older relative to come and help instill your values and morals? Are you prepared to leave your children for hours with someone who looks nothing like you? Are you aware of the political practices where you’re going? Is there civil conflict, uprisings or mistreatment of those marginalized? What are their considerations around health and healthcare?  What do their people look like? No, really, intersectionality creates clusters of people and what they look like is very important. Where is your community located and what are their social stats? What about social programs and views on community support? Who gets respect? Will your qualifications mean anything? Can you promise yourself that you will seek to manage your mental health when faced with coercion from societal pressure? Are you racist and known to discriminate? There is also more interracial dating because the culture of those who grow up or is born here is wholly Canadian with references to their parents’ culture. They do not live by their parents’ culture with reference to Canadian mores, no matter how much parents speak their language, take their kids to visit ‘back home’ or inundate them with stories of past times. Can you accept interracial relationships? Can you child marry who they please? Are you a person that will experience a language barrier? This will affect how far you get ahead in the corporate world, so can you learn a new language at your age? Immigrant health is known to decline over the years, what is your coping plan? What will you do when you are homesick? Do you laugh a lot and often, or know how to at all? You will have so many moments when you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I say all this to say, research and prepare yourself so that you can assimilate, as this is non-negotiable when it comes to survival.

 

No Parent Coach

I wish more people would decline to give parenting advice. The stigma around the very presence of children is so telling! We see the annoyed looks on your faces and that twisted smile. There is nothing wrong with saying, ‘I can’t say because I’m not sure myself’. Saying, ‘my situation is a bit different’ is acceptable too. It’s perfectly fine to just keep quiet as well. It just gnaws at me when people who do not celebrate their children tell others not to have any. It physically pains me when people say ‘they ruin your life’. No, you ruined your own life with your choices and is now inflicting this irresponsibility on an innocent being. Do not tell people to not have kids because you don’t want any. Don’t speak against children knowing you want them but just haven’t found the right ‘situation’. I completely understand times where children are born into situations that end up changing. As a product of a single parent home, I know it’s extremely hard. Hats off to all of you! I’m referring to those who were told their partner doesn’t want children, lays bare to procreate then find themselves in a ‘rut’. I’m speaking to those who birthed a child out of a convenient relationship and is miserable with being grounded. Do not fix your mouth to tell people children are a nightmare, when you couldn’t control yourself long enough to use protection. I’m also referring to those who have multiple children, inflict all sorts of abuse on them and have the nerve to say they ‘messed up’.When I was pregnant and about to go off on mat leave, I had lunch with my manager and he blatantly told me he has no advice for me. I made a face naturally and he laughed and said seriously, ‘I’ have no advice for ‘YOU’. Of course, I called out his unfairness because he had recently become a father and could have imparted so much knowledge on me knowing what ‘this thing’ is going to be like. He was quite bemused with my pressing, as his statement was simple. Simple, but weighted. The only other thing he said was that I should do what’s best for my child and don’t listen to anyone. I shot him another side eye as his mother was a prominent figure in his child’s life. I let him have that one, as much as I wanted to know more.

FB post by SM 01-22-2018

When we had our son and came to grips with PARENTING a child, not babysitting or tolerating one, I got it. When I went back to work, we had lunch again. He was smiling from ear to ear and so was I this time. We talked about the antiquated ways of child-rearing and all that I had escaped by doing things our way. I trusted him and would have listened to his advice; this stranger to MY child. We learned about our child and we cared for and led him with our choices. Everyone was happy. When I told my cousin I hadn’t read any books she was in a rage and sent me title after title of all the popular stuff; we politely declined. Months later when I attempted to find a solution with a popular site I felt like the one thing I was looking for wasn’t there. The one word to connect my issues to a solution wasn’t there. Why? Nothing in parenting is cookie cut; it’s ever-changing. Every time I had posted my issues on mommy boards on Facebook, I was rewarded with comments filled with nuggets of gold. All ending with ‘THAT’S what worked for US’, MAYBE it will for you. A small side-eye there as I thought if it worked it worked, what’s the deal? The more we dealt with and overcame, the more I got it. How can someone else tell you what will work for you or your child when they have never met the child? When they are born, you the parent don’t know their ways and cannot bend them to follow someone else’s routine. In a room with 10 people, 10 of them will be different; kids are exactly the same. Here’s another thought, in a room with 10 people, 10 of them will be from a different situation. Same. There are no super parents and it is perfectly ok to hate being a parent. Be honest about your experience though. Decline to offer advice when you know your ‘situation’ comes with circumstances! Don’t tell people to not have kids when you have 4 with 4 partners and consider time with any of your children as babysitting. Do not have children with someone who does not want any and blame them for a failed relationship. For the love of God kids will not save your relationship, but pit you against each other and teach your children horrible relationships are acceptable. Finally, a single parent experience may seem to be 10 times worse than a 2 parent household, but unless both parents are involved, its one and the same!