My hair is black and my hair is puffy and long and crinkly. My favorite hair style is when my mom does my hair curly. I don't like when my hair is braided only because when she takes the braids out it hurts. But when I come to school my friends say my hair is beautiful braided.
Rising before the sun, I stumble my way through the dark trying to get myself up and ready for work at our local school. A dim light shines from my husband’s office, as he works away on his computer and business. It’s great having him work from home! My kids are dragging themselves around the house this morning tired from the previous day’s activities. What would that be?
Well, let’s start with a full-day of school, along with after-school band practice for our, fourteen-year-old son, nicknamed Tre. Jalen, our 11-year-old daughter, has a meeting after-school for choir, now, we’re headed home just after two hours of school basketball or track practice to try and grab a snack from our refrigerator. In about one hour or so, we have to take the kids to club or local youth sports practice. (What sports depend on the time of the year.)
I'm not the most organized person...in fact I've been told I'm a hoarder. My husband is constantly advocating for me to throw out all of my (repurposed) items. However, these items keep me organized and I enjoy the idea of using old plastic containers over paying money at a big box store for new plastic. Cheap as this may seem, I've found creative ways to make these old items new. Those who know me can attest to the journey it's taken me to transition from the clutter bug to the clutter genie that I am today. With a bit of creativity and a few household scraps you too can have effective organization that is also appealing to the eye.
February 24, 2014. That day changed my life forever. I was currently 20 weeks pregnant. My boyfriend and I were waiting in the doctor's office to have the anatomy scan of the baby. He said that he didn't care if it was a boy or a girl, but deep down, I knew he wanted a girl. We are escorted to the table and the ultrasound scan begins. "I see the heart beating! Nice and strong!" "Look at the face!" "Here is the arm, and here is the leg." "Do you want to know the sex?" I look to Terry for conformation and I tell the tech "YES!" "Congratulations, you're going to have a boy!" I was overjoyed. I now would have one of each (I had a 6 year old girl at home). And his first child would be a son. Who could ask for anything more? But my joy was short lived...
Every child deserves a safe, happy and healthy childhood. This includes the carefree innocence that comes with feeling secure, protected and loved. Although this is our hope for each and every child, the reality is that there are millions of children who do not experience the childhood they deserve. In fact, I was one of the children stripped of my childhood at the hands of someone my family and I trusted, my female nanny. I wish I could say my experiences are rare, but the truth is my story is similar to the stories of so many other children.
I’m not religious, like many of my peers in the millennial generation, although I appreciate the presence of traditions. If I had to classify my belief system I would label it ‘spiritual naturalism.’ There is so much magic in the world to appreciate and enjoy. I don’t believe that a supreme being created the mountains and oceans and rivers, but that makes them no less awe inspiring. When I talk about the world with my children I talk about stewardship, informed choices, mutual responsibility and justice for our neighbors near and far. As we reflect on the holiday season, I find myself feeling the need to create an alternative to both the religious and secular versions of ‘Christmas’ also known as ‘December’ or even “basically everything between Halloween and New Years”.
If you believe in the saying that ignorance is bliss, nowhere is this more apropos than in those months leading up to having your first child. The “I will never do _____ when I am a parent” statements seem to flow out of ones mouth like the deep red wine that used to flow in. When my son arrived however, he proved that my plans and his were not the same. We bed shared, we used disposable and cloth diapers, I drove him around to just try to get him to nap sometimes, I even tried to lure him to sleep by giving him a pacifier (which he promptly spit right back at me until I gave up). There was one promise though that I was determined to keep to myself.
When I have kids, they’re going to be raised in three different countries. No, it won’t be the 1 percent, I own a private plane and houses around the world kind of childhood. More like, my New Zealand husband and I may some day be outvoted by one or more Australian offspring living in our house.
Now let’s get this up front, we haven’t started trying yet, and you and I may be having a totally different conversation in a year. But for now, welcome to the beginning of my expat pre-pregnancy journey.
“No pets. No plants. No kids.” This was my mantra for the first 35 or so years of my life. I simply wanted no responsibility for any other living thing. Selfish? Sure, somewhat. I am an only child after all. But I also really believe if you are going to take on such responsibilities you must have a strong desire and a sincere commitment to do so; otherwise, you are doing a serious disservice to a child. Or a pet. Or a plant (well, maybe not so much a plant).
As we were walking towards the metro station on a crisp Saturday morning on our way out from Russian school, me pushing the stroller with my youngest in it, and my son desperately trying to zip his jacket, he suddenly blurted: “No more Russian, mom, OK?”
No More Russian
I stopped for a moment feeling like what I thought for quite a while was a great achievement, is turning into a failure. Later, as we rode on the train back home, I talked to my 5-year-old, trying to figure out what was going on. Was Russian school boring? Did he have a fight with one of other kids there?
Son: No, mom, nothing bad happened, I just don’t want to learn Russian.
Me: But why? Isn’t it great to have an additional activity outside of school?
Son: Instead we could try ice skating. Or maybe learn Spanish?
Me: But Russian is mommy’s language, and it’s important for me that you and your sister learn it.
Son: (After a deep sigh) Okay… But I was born in America. Nobody speaks Russian here!
There are many different definitions of "parent" and a diversity of perspectives on parenting. One thing remains... good parenting is rooted deeply in love. This is our attempt to capture real stories from real people.