It Takes a Village

Let me tell you a thing about motherhood. While it comes about as a tango by two (in any iteration), it is an experience that can make you feel very much alone. Motherhood can be a very lonely thing. Why do you think so many moms form clubs, have meetings and create online communities commiserating with each other over the common crazy and wine? There is an ‘if you know, you know’ sentiment where shared experiences help to make the entire journey easier once you know that others are going through the same.

Moms hold in their hearts the worry that comes with pregnancy, the pangs and the pain, the trauma of childbirth and breastfeeding, the pervasive thoughts about their non-biological children, the self-doubt, the mom-guilt, the societal expectations and the obsession over doing it right by these children all from year 0 to year 18 and beyond.

Now in light of this. all mothers are not perfect. Some may not get it right and others don’t deserve the title beyond the biological process. So where can they get support for the sake of the babies? Enter the village.

In our nine-day news cycle in Trinidad and Tobago, one particular tragic circumstance is front and centre. read about it here and come back.

I purposefully activated the turbo in my scrolling finger mainly because Trinis can get very stupid in a social media comments section and sometimes my brain doesn’t cope well with that. In reading the story however I stood with those who wondered why the neighbour would have seen the child in the road and not raise an immediate alarm…in the road….. I stand on that opinion despite her viral video explanation re not being able to catch the child as well as the blame being placed squarely on the mother who should have kept an eye on the child.

A village provides extra cover for a mother who has failings, check all the societal traditions over the course of history to see how this plays out as fact. I have run out of fingers and toes trying to count the amount of times I have done absolute mess as a mother. My own mom (who is my village leader) reminded me of this recently:

Ting tuh cry for……

A strong sense of community is a critical element in the mental, emotional and psychological state of those on parenting journey. Some have no one to rely on to ask for help or to teach them how to do this parenting thing properly at a time or in a manner that would benefit of the child. This is why some are run ragged to the point where no ‘self-care Sunday’ would suffice. Community is a tradition that seems to be missing very much in Trinidad society (except of course in a negative way).

If you are close to a mother in any sense, don’t shy away from being a part of her village even in the age of “drink water and mind yuh business”. There is a way to do it without being ‘fass and outta place’*

Are you a mother? Can you identify who is in your village or do you feel alone and helpless? If you’re not a mother, are you an active part of a village?

I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments!

Blessings

TMIDM

*nosy and unbearable

The Thing About Teenagers…

Is this thing on?

Back from an absence and to be honest I was stalling quite a bit to write and to post because I’m feeling very compelled to give my blog a whole refresh again especially in time for my bloggerversary in April. However, like a prisoner with a lucky break, time just seems to escape me.

Anywhooo…

I’ve been steadily trying to adjust properly into my new role as Trini mom of two teens (and by steadily, I mean from about October of 2021). Everything is in full swing now though and while sometimes I run like clockwork, there are many days when I feel like…Jesus just take the wheel, the car, the tune-up, the monthly installments AND the insurance because EYE not able with this!!!

Tew….much…

I feel like NO-ONE adequately informed me about mothering teenagers and I have questions. The sad part is that in my decade (plus) career as an Educator (including a lengthy spell as a Dean of Discipline), you would think that I would have learnt a thing or two about dealing with them. I did, but here’s the thing though, I can’t send mine home to their parents or suspend them from school for seven days to get them out my sight. They actually live in my house so alas, there is no separation of church and state. This is outright corruption and it stink.

Knowledge is power though and I am definitely learning every damn day. If you thought the lack of sleep/milk factory newborn stage is rough or the draining/demanding toddler stage is exhausting, guess what? It just morphs into a new set of challenges at the adolescent stage where you (more often than not) question your sanity, walk on eggshells, get irritated quickly, manage your expectations and worry….and oh you will worry…. a lot….more than you need to, but as much as you want to. Once you have children “it” never ends.

Here are a couple things I’ve learnt on this journey so far:

  • Teens want space. All of a sudden, I live a house with a corridor flanked by closed doors (NOT locked in my damn house). I knock for proof of life but most times I don’t need to as I usually hear giggling or bantering as they are ‘online’ with their friends. They don’t know how lucky they have it nah.
  • Said space will be acceptable to their standards which means it will be messy as hell if you don’t reign it in. I usually tell my gremlinz to at least neaten it up, nobody is saying to put down a Christmas cleaning, but try not to have stuff strewn all over when there are clear receptacles available.
  • Said space will also be the prison for your missing cutlery and crockery. When I see the stacks of dishes emerge from their dungeons in the evening, I shake my head and wonder how personally invested I would have to be in order to NOT make this a “thing” as de young people like to say. (Answer: Not that invested, and it depends on what the stack looks like.)
  • There is a slight obsession with hair. The elder gremlin asked me to grow his out while he would need curl activator and a hair sponge. (Naturally I enabled this as casual observation from the after-school population shows that teen boys find and express themselves through hairstyles). The younger gremlin all of a sudden wants to “see” what her hair would look like straight, it’s too thick for her to handle and apparently, I don’t do a well-enough job to make her look fly. Then she changes her mind because she gets fed up easily. She wouldn’t drive me mad.
  • Bad moods are de rigueur. Sometimes they scowl, fret and argue for no reason. One minute they will make their own breakfast, next minute they’re mad because I didn’t make anything for them. No amount of “this-is-the-day-that-the-Lord-hath-made-we-will-rejoice-and-be-glad-in-it” will help. My house gets very angsty and most times I just leave them alone yes because I doh want no bad vibes and they wouldn’t drive me mad.
  • You compete with headphones and earphones for their attention so they don’t “hear” you. Thankfully I have 5-year-old #gremlin3 who dutifully serves as town crier when necessary so I am safe. He handles the sentence “MUMMY CALLIN YUH!!!” with such ease.
  • Teens are masterful in identifying the random moments when they feel like talking. It is at this point you laser your focus to make sure that it appears as though you are doing nothing or doing some nonchalant activity. At this very random time they just appear, start with one word and then the rest follows like word vomit. For this sharing of thoughts I am always grateful but of course expect them to disappear shortly after they have unloaded on you.
  • Teens still need physical touch. They might roll their eyes, hit you the “oh gosh man!” or the “don’t be weird”, but they melt like butter once they get hugs etc. and then for a brief moment you see the inner child flicker in their eyes.

I’ve learnt so much more, but these are my main lessons. I still feel like as much as they brilliantly package the “what to expect” for pregnancy, babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers, all the feverish teachings die out at the later stages of a child’s life so it’s more of a ‘do what works for you but don’t raise no more shitty kids, the world has enough’ scenario. Therefore sometimes I am left with going back to my own teens trying to remember what I liked and didn’t like to influence my present parenting strategy. But then again….these children different….

Am I alone in thinking that way? If you have teenagers, do you feel the same? If you have littles, are you even thinking about coping with the teen years? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to follow me on:

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Bless!

TMIDM

A Holiday Shift in Focus

1480715539-wd-stress-free-christmas

Some months ago, I was having a conversation with a friend on the topic of scaling back the usual to-do when it comes to preparing for holiday celebrations. She is Hindu and does the most when it comes to Divali, the Hindu festival of lights, perhaps the most festive on the Hindu calendar usually celebrated in October. In a moment of reflection perhaps fuelled by past experience, the timeframe and on becoming a mother times two (toddler and baby), she realized that she may dial back the effort as she is usually A+ when it comes to creating the festive feeling when the second half of the year rolls around.  In the midst of the light-hearted banter about a serious topic, I thought about us adults, children and holidays.

I am entirely convinced that holidays are for children and this is simply based on two things: one, the joy that a child feels and expresses during holiday festivities could never be purely experienced as an adult and two, the fact that most, if not all, adults can place a finger on a seasonal memory that occurred when they were children and which they use as a point of reference. For me, when I was a child my father used to invite a parang* band over to celebrate his birthday which was Christmas Eve with the festivities leading into Christmas Day. I remember my sister and I used to force ourselves to stay up for that excitement (ranked higher than waiting up for Santa Claus) because the merriment, music, eating and drinking was something that didn’t happen on that scale during the year. Associated with that, was the particular smell of the carpet when it was vacuumed, scrubbed and dried. To this day if I hear certain parang songs or smell a carpet being cleaned there is an unbeatable joy that creeps into my heart which I know is stored there since childhood. Weird, but true. Nostalgia is a hell of a thing and when that hits, it hits hard, sometimes to the point where tears flow (I don’t cry when a carpet is being cleaned but you get my point).

Now adults and particularly parents, are taken up with ensuring that the holidays mean something (no matter how grand or miniscule) so that memories are created, and memory-making can indeed be hard work. Why do you think you take so much pictures with your phone of your children, your lunch, your face, your nails, your commute to work, your drinks, the moon, the sunsets and the rainbows? You are recording your life because on some level you don’t want to forget what you’ve experienced which of course naturally happens as we age.

This is why at holiday times we may feel inclined to ensure that they are well enjoyed. For some it may be putting out the best décor, food, drink and gatherings of family and friends and in putting out the best so that the memories are created (because it is once a year after all), sometimes we lose sight of the purpose and the overwhelming feelings of preparation anxiety kick in. For women who are the captains of this particular ship, this may work in direct conflict with the effort we have been employing alllll year to ensure our #selfcare, #balance, #metime and related hashtags which have become the order of the day. So we start to think about scaling down without losing the flavour.

I usually go crazy with Christmas decorations but when I was doing my ‘summer cleaning’, I discovered an intruder rampaging in my storage. I shall call him Mickey and he had a jolly old time. Mickey forced me to discard everything: garlands, balls, tinsel, flowers, ribbon, lights and nativity scenes. As mad as I was (still am), I was really on the fence as to whether I should repurchase all my stuff. This year got a tree, lights, another nativity scene (this is a must) some balls and that’s it. I’ve warmed to the idea of not having to hurt my head to find my ‘colours to match’ for my décor. My teen, tween and toddler gremlinz will hardly blink an eye at a missing snowglobe, my husband worse yet.

Perhaps as adults we have been oversaturated with the commercialization of the holidays over the years, the hustle, the bustle and the perfection, that we are returning to keeping the pure, meaningful moments dear for the sake of keeping our minds clear. It’s like children who unwrap the gift, take out the toy and then joyfully play with the box. Keep it simple. That is something I could definitely get behind as my sanity is precious to me. It’s the final weekend before Christmas day, what about you?

 *https://www.nalis.gov.tt/Resources/Subject-Guide/Parang