It’s been months since I had the guts to take my son to the supermarket. I’m not sure if every parent necessarily develops this form of shoppingwithtoddlerophobia, as I do sometimes see these relaxed women followed by faithful toddler girls doing a neat impersonation of a bonsai shopping housewife – but MY life does not look like that.
When my son started going to preschool, last November, I swore an oath to myself that I would always use those precious hours to practice the craft I love and WORK on my writing. But the craft I love is a foxy beast who knows many magic tricks to make time disappear, so slowly, over the months, I came to embrace the notion that slicing a tiny 25 minutes out of the two-hour Tuesday to dash get bread and a few other groceries for dinner was not such a bad idea after all.
August has been terrific – the best month of this whole Dutch “summer” of ours, by far. And it has been terrific not so much because of the few days of actual heat, and enjoying picnics at the swimming pool, and Martini-tonics on the terrace at sundown. But because it brought many small, almost imperceptible revolutions, like the flapping of butterfly wings which circle and grow, make waves, move waves, become hurricanes and landslides. The biggest, most significant magical shift in this rather demure lifestyle we lead, you see in this photo – yes, it’s a child (our child) sitting on a child seat on the back of a bike (my bike). Nothing special? Well, to me it is.
I’m sure we all have situations like this – this sort of roadblocks we plant in our own strides and then moan as the discomfort grows, but take months if not years to take a simple step, make an uncomplicated decision, and get rid of them.
Control. Somewhere at the heart of my darkness there has always been a march to the drum of this notion – CON-TROL, CON-TROL, CON-TROL.
I crave it, stride for it, ideate ways to achieve it, fight for it when needed, wallow in it when I have it. That’s where my thirst for knowledge and understanding comes from, it’s not just a snobbish para-feminist statement that I, as a woman, regard the shape of my intellect much higher than the shape of, say, my tits. No, it’s the first stage of my need to minimize the chances of unforeseen circumstances, subtle panic.
For someone so hooked on control as I am, life with a baby (a kaleidoscope of hormonal explosions!) morphing into a toddler (a thunderstorm on a wedding day!) is like asking someone with arachnophobia to adopt a tarantula. Continue reading →
The image you see was taken at the beginning of May in a very special laundromat in Antwerp, Belgium. If you look closely, in the top right corner you can see two of the many laundry machines lining the walls of this really hip joint, which also offered a wide choice of drinks and cakes and, obviously, had a piano too. We stopped there after spending the whole morning at the beautiful Antwerp zoo and then wandering for a good two hours across the city’s center.
This photo is very dear to me for multiple reasons, but let me just tell you about the two main ones. Continue reading →
April has been teary. There have been tears, small drops of salty moist, and there have been tears, slight rips in the structure of my emotional fabric. But also, there have been many rainy days. Lazy showers, thunderstorms, drizzles, hammering hail, and all other precipitation the sky can afford. Being stuck indoors with an electric Toddler displaying great appetite for turbo movement is not easy. Especially when it’s for days upon days and you’re too low to constantly come up with entertainment methods and time-killing techniques.
My beautiful child does not harbor much inclination for the fine arts. I gave him pencils and coloring books, he threw every single one of them down the stairs. I gave him play-dough, he rubbed it into the carpet so fervently I don’t think I will ever be able to get it out of its fibers. I gave him crayons, he ate them, I gave him chalks and a small blackboard, he crushed them into fine dust then rubbed it all over his mug. But then, by absolute accident, we discovered theater. Continue reading →
Although I like to think of myself as an ever-flowing, dynamic creature who is not scared of transformation, there are a few things about me – and especially about my body – that have been always true and true they will (possibly) always be. One of these pillars of my earthly being is that nothing in me (not my mind, not my body, not my mood or style or interest) likes being forced.
I will never forget this one event from my childhood. I had a milk tooth that was taking forever to come out. It was hanging in my mouth for days, dangling, wobbling, hurting, making me miserable and whining and because I would not allow anyone of my family members to get between my gums and put an end to my misery, my mother sent my dad and me to the dentist’s to finally get it over with. Next thing I know, I’m reclining on the dentist’s chair, the pleasant lady doctor asks me softly to close my eyes while my father smiles and nods sheepishly. At first, I do close my eyes and open my mouth, but at the very last moment something clicks in me and I lift one of my eyelids to see the most terrifying-looking pair of forceps looming over my face. In one split second, my safety system went in complete lock-down. Continue reading →
It’s almost Easter again. The purple tips of the blossoming magnolias, the moist scent of last winter’s dog poo awakening in the sun. Also, everyone’s pregnant with their second child. And by everyone I mean my next-door neighbour, 97% of the girls in my mama group who popped with their first within the same few months as yours truly, and – most importantly – my sister.
My mother is about to come stay with us for two weeks and she’s on a mission like one of those groggy police negotiators who take jumpers down from the edge of buildings, unharmed, unsplattered. If I want to survive the upcoming holiday, I need to prepare to fend off the numerous, unrelenting conversations about this epidemic of second human conceptions that’s holding me under siege. Continue reading →
A long long long long time ago, way before I even though I could ever get pregnant, I had very clear opinions about parenting. Not only about the important, metaphysical, aspects of it – my rock-steady knowledge concerned also many details of the nitty-gritty everyday of having kids. For example I knew exactly, if I were ever to have a child, that I would NOT follow the masses and push my precious offspring around in a stroller or pram or anything that clogs sidewalks and supermarket aisles making everyone behind me roll their eyes. That’s because, many dozens of months ago, one of my friend’s friend had a baby and she came to meet us wearing her newborn in a wrap, nice and warm under her winter coat. When I saw her, I immediately thought: That’s it! This is the right way to carry babies! Continue reading →
We hit an important milestone – our tight little nursing dyad has existed for two years, three weeks, and two days. This means that, for 753 days (and nights) my body has produced milk, which my son has drunk several times a day, by suckling on my breasts. I’ve written about breastfeeding before, and I have also written about my conflicted relationship with my chest. Everyone who knows me personally knows that I am a breastfeeding advocate, someone who is not afraid to speak up for the normalization and the desexualization of this beautiful and necessary act.
Throughout these two years of motherhood, I’ve spoken openly in real life and on social media about why it’s important for me to feed my child with my own milk and how I believe it’s crucial that nursing mothers get all the support they can possibly get. I post status updates (even the occasional brelfie) to celebrate our nursing milestones and international occasions like the World Breastfeeding Week, I follow several websites dealing with social issues and promoting breastfeeding information, I even started working as a volunteer for an association that provides support for first-time mothers where I focus especially on nursing moms, because that’s the kind of experience I can share.
In December there have been way more parties than throughout the entire year. Guests, dinners, desserts on fire. Candles, decorations, presents, tons of mandarin peels left to dry overnight on messy red tablecloths. Two different versions of Saint Nicholas bringing gifts, office parties, cards with wishes for a good Christmas, a New Year ablaze, a happy life. And all of it is quite awesome, not that I am a great fan of family occasions, but it would be foolish and childish not to recognize what a good life we have, because we absolutely do. Of course too much family too close for too long can be pretty asphyxiating (if you don’t take Valium or the like), but then again what would we do without them. Still, none of these seasonal occasions stands a chance against Continue reading →
I leave the bedroom quietly, shut the door like I’m not even there. It took me so long to get him to fall asleep, nursing, he must have sucked for almost half an hour. I step into the bathroom, lift my shirt, and estimate the damage. I take the needle from the complimentary hotel sewing kit I keep handy on the shelf, clean it with rubbing alcohol then get down to it. The first time I had to do this I sweated profusely, the needle slipping out of my fingertips and my heart pumping like a traumatized squirrel’s. Continue reading →
This month’s highlight of our Toddler-Mama life has been, without a doubt, the trip to the Train Museum. Now, when it comes to toys, we have a tendency to keep them as gender neutral as possible and follow V’s cues as of what he likes without any of that “you are a boy, thus you need to play with cars” nonsense. Unfortunately though, V does not like dolls. He is not interested in fairies and tea parties, he could not care less about glitter. Despite our efforts to broaden his horizon, he just loves cars. And trains. Actually, any vehicle with wheels will do. On the day of the trip, V and I took a bus, then a real train to a station where we met Continue reading →