Our first visit “Home”; as an Expat

We’ve been Expats now for close to a year, and the boys and I recently had our first trip “back home”.

Being away from Home for just over 10 months has widened our hearts and minds. We’re part of a different culture; not only the one that we currently live in but also the culture of being an Expat; an outsider.

For months I’ve had friends and family telling me how they miss us and when are we coming to visit. With Bunny’s school holidays approaching towards mid-January, I suggested that I take the kids to visit friends and family, instead of just lounging around in the house while Mr. Bear still had to work. It would be 2 weeks of excitement; constant get together’s and meet-ups where Bunny could play outside in a garden, Monkey could get used to what real grass feels like, I could soak up the typical Highveld summer thunderstorms with the added pleasure of seeing the people I hold dear to my heart.

I had announced our idea to some friends and family and it was very well received. Some even counting the days down with me, some starting to make plans, but then, some not sharing much care or enthusiasm about it.

I was told numerous times by other expats who have gone through this type of visit, that it’s rarely all that you wish it to be and one often will expect way more; that I had to remember that I’m not going through what they are going trough right now; I’m not really part of their lives, even if we still had daily contact; that I would see who were willing to make an effort; and that the easiest would be to organize one event where people can come see us, instead of me dragging the kids all over the place each day to try and try fit everyone in.

My heart sank quite a bit when I heard that it wouldn’t be all sunshine and roses. I mean, these are people I care for and they care about me. I’m making the effort of a 11+ hour trip across the world; why wouldn’t some make a small effort. I’m sure my people won’t be like that!!

Well, wake up and smell the bloody roses!! They were right.

By all means, I had family and great friends who really did make a lot of effort to come and see me. Effort from driving 3-hours to come to where I was staying; extending their own trip to stay longer; to blocking out an entire afternoon to see their “doctor”; and others just making the effort to maneuver through hectic traffic to come say hi. It was absolutely heart-warming to see how some would put their lives on hold for a little bit to come see us.

Don’t get me wrong; I know one can’t always take off work, or take a break for a coffee, especially during the week, or rearrange a whole day with kid’s schedules. I really do get that. Good grief! I had to adapt and rearrange both my kid’s routines for 2 weeks, in a different time zone, miles away from their new home, without their Daddy, in a foreign house with new tastes and smells. I know that I’m not “used to” what’s going on in said Home Country. I know you have your own life now. I know sometimes plans just really don’t go as we intend them to go. Really, I do get that… Just didn’t realize your own life meant I can’t be a part of it in living form, but only through social media…

This is not a post to make anyone feel bad that didn’t make an effort or whom I didn’t get to see. This is just a heads-up to anyone planning a trip “back home”.

Visiting back home after being away for nearly a year, certainly has stirred up a lot of emotions in me. Even when you look past the whole visiting of friends and family.

Currently, we live in a country where it’s relatively safe. Where violent crimes are unheard of. Even petty crimes do not make the news headlines, not even on a monthly basis. It just doesn’t happen… Compared to our Home country, where violence and crime is part of everyone’s lives on an almost daily basis.

So it was quite a reality shock to be petrified to sleep alone in the house without a family member at night; to not allow Bunny to stroll behind me in a shop; to not want to drive around in case we catch a red traffic light and having to wait for it to turn green.

It made me realize how pathetic it is to live in a country where you don’t feel safe; where you have to constantly look over your shoulder and be on permanent guard mode. How did I ever manage to live with it for so long?

Our holiday overall wasn’t so great. It didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. It was lonely during the days while everyone was at work. It was nerve wrecking at night with only me and the kids in one massive house. I missed having my boy’s daddy. They missed him. We were all miserable. One phone call and a good amount of tears later and Mr. Bear went to change our flight ticket to come back home 4-days earlier.

Do I want to go visit again? Yes sure. But this time completely on my T’s & C’s.

The next time another Expat gives me advice on these type of things, I’ll actually follow them and not think that “my trip will be different.” Seems everyone’s trips are all the same.

 

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On our way back home

 

 

The 5th trimester

I remember Monkey only wanting to be in my arms when he was a newborn, for a good few weeks. His favorite position and location to sleep on was in my arms, upright. Even nearly 10 months later, he still won’t lie horizontally in my arms, not even for a few minutes. Luckily, I knew we were going through the 4th trimester and I knew it was just a phase that we both had to get through. It was something I didn’t mind though; having him attached to me; completely dependent on me; I was utterly content with this situation and arrangement. (You can read more about the 4th trimester here.)

And through the months, this little monkey started getting more independent, especially after he became completely mobile and would speed crawl to wherever he wanted to be; pulling himself up to see the world at a higher level. And with all that, a small part of my heart was sore; my baby was growing up just too fast. Yet honestly, it was also giving me a break to be able to go to the loo when I wanted too or make supper without a clenching tiny body to me.

A few months later and I now have to get used to it all over again. This time with a much bigger little monkey. I can’t really cradle him like I used to and I sometimes have to struggle with the flying arms, kicking legs and body that arches to make me go where he wants to go. It takes quite some getting used to after months of not having him in my arms the whole time.

Welcome to something I have dubbed The 5th Trimester. 

This is the stage roughly around 9-months where babies learn about space, distance and relationships. Something known as SEPARATION ANXIETY.

I know it’s completely normal and “age related” and “a phase” and “it will pass” and “enjoy it while it lasts” and and and…

But let me just say, carrying an almost 10kg baby everywhere, keeping him relatively still while having a wee and consoling him now while tears stream down his face as he has no patience for me just wanting to first turn the oven off, is something to get used to all over again.

The little blossoming personality that has been coming through over the past few months are being intensified during this 5th trimester. He wants to be held, but all on his terms, as he also wants to explore and learn, again all on his own terms, dependent on his mood and especially on what time of the day it is.

Sometimes he’s perfectly happy being put down by his toys, to play, gnaw at and/or crawl and stand up as he pleases; giving you a few minutes to get something done. Then there are times where I can totally understand that he wants me a little closer to him, especially while he’s busy teething or tired and about to go down for a nap or after he has stumbled down and knocked his head.

I think the worst part is from about 4 pm each day. Then you can just about forget putting him down. As soon as you start losing vertical height, the legs kick out and become all rigid; the mouth starts opening and this high-pitched sound comes out, either that or the long string of “Mamamamamamamama”; water-works start; a disgusted look on the face, as if he is a puppy being left at home as you get into the car; arms waving around. These are the hours where he teaches me patience every day; where he reminds me that he’s still actually quite dependent on me and that I should just embrace it as yes, they do grow out of it and just as I wipe my eyes, he’ll be very reluctant to be held and cuddled.

Some things I had to change and/or adapt to; like learning how to do things with only 1 hand and making supper earlier in the day; but it’s all doable.

So, if you’re about to go through it or are in it right now, just enjoy this stage too, know there is light at the end of the tunnel; I promise you, in a few years, you are going to miss it, as difficult it is to believe right now. For now, I’ll keep picking him up while he thanks me with these open-mouthed-sucking-me-in-kisses.

 

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Right where I want to be, Mommy!

 

 

Don’t be thát friend!

Remember when you were in high school and/or college and living the life of being in absolute love with a boy/girl. Things were going well. And then suddenly, without any warning, it ended. Sometimes you expected it but a lot of times it came to such an abrupt halt that it left you with an almost whiplash-effect. Remember the hurt, the questions, the not-knowing as to what happened. Those were the worst.

Or so you thought…

The worst is when this happens to a friendship. Everything is going well. You are part of each other’s lives. You share so much. It’s like the sister you never had. Or the brother. And then unbeknownst to you, it stops. No warning. No fight or argument. No drifting apart or giving you time to get used to it. Just STOP! Like an accidental death. END!

Apart from the pain, hurt and sometimes even anger, the thing that makes it so hard is that you don’t know why. You replay the last couple of chats you had, reread the last month or so’s messages; trying to find the “where did it go wrong?” and/or “where did I f… up?”. But there is no answer to your questions and you’re left with “It’s me. It’s my fault. I must be…” (insert all self-invalidations you can come up with here.) And all you can come up with is, WTAF!?!?

Don’t be that friend!

It’s happened to all of us at some point or another. And if it hasn’t happened to you, then you might just have left someone else in the dark, feeling like this.

Yes, I don’t sugar coat things and I’ll be damn honest with you if you’ve peed me off or upset/hurt me and I’ll tell you. Why? Because the bond means more to me than just letting it fizzle away. I’ll fight for the relationship cause that’s how I am. And yes, when I’ve had my say and have tried to resolve and mend it; yet see it’s not going anywhere, then I’ll cut my losses and move on, even if it is with a broken heart. But at least you’ll be on the other end knowing exactly what happened.

I get that people grow out of each other’s company or life; or that they move on for whatever reason, which is fine if at least done in a proper way. A proper way so that both parties know where they stand and why they are standing at that threshold of a new beginning. What I don’t get and don’t like hate; is when you don’t know the reasons. It’s like reading a 700-page novel and then the last chapter has been eaten up by the dog and you wonder what happened.

Don’t be that friend!!

Puck up the courage and tell them. Don’t just leave them with a mystery. If you can’t do it by talking, then write a mail. Gawd, send smoke signals if you must. But tell them!

I’ve been through it more than once in my life and all it does to me; is build my wall around me and my heart higher and stronger; add more security to it; insert booby traps; electric fencing; make the vault stronger and un-penetrable; as well as place all of this underground with no sign of where to dig/enter it. You’ll have a better chance of breaking into Fort Knox, that entering my heart again or even allow someone new to enter it.

Don’t be that friend!

I get that people sometimes misunderstand each other. Either due to not expressing yourself in the way that you are feeling or that you “read” a message incorrectly and imagine the way a message was sent (usually in an utter incorrect tone than what was actually meant). And that is why it is so darn important to clarify it. Clarify it until you are both on the same page, even if you still disagree. At least you understand why or what was said.

And if you’re reading this now and it strikes a cord, then well, do something about it.

Don’t be that friend that just moves on, because in reality, you don’t really move on. You just hide it; don’t look at it and make as if it doesn’t exist. But it does, and it ain’t going nowhere. The worst of it is that it will influence your future friendships. And that’s not healthy, not for either parties nor 3rd or 4th parties…

Even if you don’t like confrontation. Even if you’re scared to “hurt” someone with words. Still, clarify it, try to mend it if both parties want to and/or move on.

Just don’t be that friend!

A few months later and I’m eating up my words

I can remember it as clear as daylight… I was stuck at home with a 2-month old baby and a bored 4-year old. It was getting too hot to go outside for walks and play; I didn’t really have friends yet; Bunny was hogging the TV as I didn’t feel like playing the whole time we were running out of ideas of things to do; Monkey was napping long stretches and/or calmly being fascinated by the toys hanging over him while lying on the play mat; I didn’t have a laptop yet and thus had an abundance of time to clean the house and make supper and lounge around… I remember complaining that I was bored and asking for advice on what to do as a new expat arrival in Doha.

And I remember how I got remarks of disbelieve, ranging from “How can you be bored with 2 kids?” to “You must be Superwoman”. I remember how I didn’t understand what the hell these other mothers were on about. Of course, I was bored! Both my kids were content with doing their own things, the house was clean and supper was made… there’s only so many times you can check into Facebook to see what the rest of the world is up to.

Slowly but surely things started changing and we were getting out of our hell-of-a-summer-limbo. Bunny started going to school; so we had to add the getting ready for school, doing homework as well as his swimming lessons to our daily routine. This had to be done while Monkey had just started crawling and thus was getting more and more mobile (a new challenge all by itself).

Things started getting busy now… More juggling required…

As the weeks passed, the even busier it got as Monkey’s confidence in crawling grew. He was/is now cruising at high speed; sometimes even while having one toy dangle from his mouth AND dragging along another toy in a hand. He’s also now walking; holding on to a couch or table; and has started trying to let go of 1 and sometimes both hands while standing up; not really allowing me to be too far away from him, in case I need to ensure a soft landing. He has also recently started climbing onto the bed and other small tables, making it almost impossible to leave him for a few seconds. (I don’t believe in playpens, so I can’t even put him in there to give myself 2 minutes to go to the loo). And then, of course, he has hit the “separation anxiety” step where I cannot, or may not put him down at all. Man, I thought the 4-month fussies were bad…. THIS is worse!! It’s like when he realizes that he is dropping down vertically, the tears start. Do not even try to sit down on either the floor or a couch with him still in your arms… THAT IS NOT THE SAME AS STANDING!!!

Now my daily routines are out the window and I do things as and when I can. Mainly when Bunny is at school and Monkey is having a short power-cat-nap or hogging his brother’s toys. Because once Bunny is home from school it’s the battle of him eating lunch, changing out of his school uniform and doing his homework. This activity can range anything from 30 minutes to our record breaking 2-hours to get done. Quite frankly by that time then, I’d had enough of a roller coaster, emotional, frustrating, working day to last me the rest of the week.

And so if the floor hasn’t been mopped in 2 weeks and the dry washing, is still hanging on the washing line waiting for me to fold it up and iron, then well, so be it. Supper is at least always made. Kids are always alive bathed. The house will be relatively neat. But if you do plan on dropping in, just give me at least 30 minutes heads up. And under no circumstances are you allowed to check my shelves to see if it will pass a white-glove inspection.

 

 

Doing Qatar (in a week)

Ok, so I’m not a travel blogger, nor a foodie. But here is what we got up to when my mom came to visit us for the first time in Doha. This might also give you some ideas as to what to do when you have visitors and/or when you are a tourist coming to Qatar.

***

Mom landed safely on Sunday morning. We were still on our way to the airport when we got the notification that she’s gone through immigration, but due to heavy fog and bad drivers, we were running late (as usual). Bunny had gone to school without knowing what we were up to. Monkey was quietly in the back seat awaiting to see his gran. And I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning.

 

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Roofs sticking out above the heavy fog – Pearl, Qatar

 

Once Mom was picked up, we were dropped off at home to have a cup of coffee, unpack and plan our week, in between constant chatting. (Mr. Bear was very relieved that he didn’t have to attend to the constant chit-chatting.) To plan our iteniary, Mom had the following criteria: Not too expensive, taste as many different types of food as possible, see the most important things but still spend time together to just “chillax”.

At 14:00, Bunny arrived home only to be surprised and overwhelmed by his granny waiting for him in the lobby. And soon after the lunch routine, we set out to do some exploring. (Luckily I had had mentally prepared myself to have no daily naps… pity I didn’t prepare myself for all the walking that was going to be done in this week. On our first day, we walked 7 km!!!!!!!)

With the Pearl-Doha already being an attraction by itself, we decided to show my mom this man-made island and what it has to offer, while we munched away on some ice cream. From slim-lined yachts to an abundance of coffee shops and other restaurants, to clothing stores who seem to only have a few designer outfits. A peaceful and relaxing walk along the marina, taking in the beauty and tranquility with a mixture made from the water and beautiful sunsets.

 

The next day, we went to Villagio Mall to show Mom the decor. Back home (South Africa) we have 1 building with the same type of ceiling; so this was nice to see how a whole mall can look like a village somewhere in Tuscany, even with a small little man-made water feature where you can go for a ride on a gondola, as well as a Ferris wheel and a roller coaster, all inside the mall. The interesting part is how one minute it feels like you’re in Italy and the next you’re inside the Waterloo Train Station…

Working up a good appetite, we returned to the Pearl, where we had lunch at Shakespeare & Co. Now it is absolutely impossible to describe this restaurant’s ambience. The decor is so “busy”, yet everything has its place and it’s like everything just flows together. The food is delicious and always fresh too.

 

The next day we visited Katara Cultural Village where Mom was amazed by the architecture of the new mall that looks like a palace, the passages between buildings with the water streams all along the buildings as well as the Katara Amphitheatre.

If you’re ever looking for the best Belgian waffles in Doha, then go to Chac’Late, right opposite the Amphiteatre. Hands down the best!!

Although we were so full from the generous waffles, Mr. Bear still needed supper, so we decided to add American to our list of foods to try. And off we went along the Pearl Marina again, to Just Burger.

 

Day 3 was spent in and around the Pearl, trekking from Tower 13 all the way to Tower 1 as well as taking a drive through the villas on the Pearl. That night we were fortunate enough to see the Super Moon rise from behind the Kempinski Hotel on the Pearl. And then a Turkish Supper at Mado – the ravioli is to die for!

 

The next day was our “Preparing Day” for Friday’s trip to the Inland Sea. Cooking, grocery shopping and later on a swim in the Tower’s pool and then an early night.

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Swim in the pool
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View from the balcony

 

On Friday morning we woke early and made our way to the Inland Sea. Now if you’ve never been, then you have to make a plan to go. Make sure you don’t venture there by yourself and ensure you have extra beverages and food, just in case your time there is prolonged.
It was absolutely amazing, as always. Bunny and Mr. Bear got to ride a camel, we got to watch a beautiful sunrise come over the horizon; and then we made our way further into the desert; all the way to the Inland Sea, where we unpacked, swam, ate and generally just soaked up the last bit of summer sun.

Going to the desert is always an experience and adventure and you just never know what you’re going to end up doing and/or seeing. This trip gave us the experience of a hightide further into the desert than usual (possibly caused by the Super Moon), forming an unexpected lagoon; some assistance given to a group of people who had an overturned Hummer and had to be pulled upright and out by a Ford (Kudos Ford F150) and then hundreds and hundreds of Land Cruisers coming into the desert in droves, as we were on our way out. I can now imagine myself being a small gecko in the way of a herd of buffaloes stampeding their way towards you. It was a sight unimaginable. All slightly sun burned and exhausted, we called it an early night again.

 

Saturday was spent at the Flea Market at the Museum of Islamic Arts, where we got to see the locally hand made arts and crafts as well as some eats and treats that people make, and then we had a stroll into the museum to view the terracotta soldiers from China.

Once done viewing Doha City from the museum’s side we went to the Souq Waqif where we got some souveniers for the family and friends back home in South Africa and then had supper at Al Adhamiyah Iraqi Restaurant, where you will be given the most tender lamb ever. On the way home, we drove through Doha City Centre so that Mom could see the different lights on the skyscrapers…. yes, yes, Mom’s town in South Africa doesn’t have any skyscrapers!

 

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Lighting up the sky – Doha

 

 

Sunday we had breakfast at Jones, the Grocer and then we spent some time at home, baking Mr. Bear some carrot cake (his fav) and then one last stroll along the Pearl Marina where Mom, Bunny and Monkey went on the merry-go-round. A lovely way to end our week together.

 

And ending our beautiful week together, with yet another beautiful sunset.

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Beautiful sunset

It has been an absolute memorable week for all of us, as we not only got to see and spend time with Mom, but we also got to see more of the beautiful city we currently call home. If you haven’t seen/been to one of the above places, then please make a plan to go.

According to Mom, these were her top 4 favourite attractions, in order:

  1. Inland Sea and desert
  2. Katara Cultural Village
  3. Souq Waqif
  4. Museum of Islamic Arts (She’s not a big historic/museum type of person though)

 

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See you soon, Mom xxx

 

***

Keeping in mind Mom had a criteria for her visit; there were still quite a few places to see and/or experience; but our time was limited.
Here they are, for future reference:

  • Banana Island
  • Camel Race Track
  • Al Khor Park
  • Spa’s and brunches at Hotels
  • Dhow trip
  • Kayaking in The Mangroves
  • Sheihk Faisal Bin Qassim Musuem
  • Al Wakra Souq
  • Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Grand Monsque
  • Falcon Souq
  • Fuwairit Beach
  • FilmCity
  • Sealine Beach Resort
  • Torch Tea Garden

Have fun site seeing and exploring!!

What defines you as being strong?

Being the 6th of November today (yesterday); marks my little Rainbow Monkey’s 8-monthday! As I counted down the minutes and seconds to mark the “exact” time he was in my arms; I couldn’t help but not just reflect on our birth experience but also on how far I’ve come as a woman and what I had to go through on that day and the days leading up.

Mr. Bear wasn’t even on the same continent as me. We were in different time zones for that matter. Bunny was with a family member and I was pacing the empty house, (literally barely any furniture in it) stopping to breathe with each sporadic contraction. It was my one dread, regarding the birth of Monkey that I knew I’d have to do by myself without my pillar of strength next to me.

Here’s our story and how I’ve come to realize just how strong I actually am as a woman:

We’ve been waiting, not so patiently for Monkey to make his debut into this world. I was in pro-dormal labour for 2 weeks and had tried every non-medical way to get induced to meet this young man. Everything from eating the hottest curry ever, to long walks, bouncing on the ball and even had 2 sweeps done by my midwife. But just like his mother, he was stubborn. And during those 2 weeks, he had taught me the true meaning of patience. “Oh how I hope he is coming… I wish he comes while Mr. Bear is visiting us in South Africa… I think he is on his way… Maybe today is the day…;” those were my thoughts every morning and with every small contraction during each day…

On Saturday, 5 March, I woke up with not much change from the past 2 weeks. Slight contractions, period pain, lower back ache and every other single “sign” that Google says “you’re in labour…” I saw my midwife again that afternoon who did yet another internal and said I had dilated slightly more than the previous time, but was still at roughly 1cm. We decided on doing another sweep as I was exactly 40 weeks by this day. And so back home I went with the “I hope it works” thought.

Early evening my pain became more than the previous times after those sweeps were done. Some contractions even took my breath away and made me stop talking. Mr. Bear even said I sound more “in pain”. The annoying part though was that the contractions were still so irregular that I thought it’s just because of the sweep done earlier. I decided to take the “prescribed” bath to see if it will ease the pain, but it didn’t. I then decided to take 2 panado’s, but also didn’t have any effect on me.

I got into bed at about 22:30, still the contractions were irregular and I’d tell myself “Ok, give it another 30 min” and “Let’s see what happens in the next half an hour”. And by 00:22 Mr. Bear got the This is it, Love. It has begun-call.

My doula arrived first and my midwife soon after. The pool was started being filled while I was pacing the room going through each contraction, thinking to myself “this feeling I know, I had it with Bunny too”.

We did the first internal at 1:35 am and I was relieved when my midwife confirmed that I definitely had progressed since she last saw me this afternoon and I was indeed in labour. Thank the pope!! I was ordered to walk around, go up and down the stairs, bounce on the ball and everything else to open up my pelvis even more. Having a tight muscle in your lower back apparently doesn’t help this cause. At 3:40 am, another internal.

*Note the midwife doesn’t give figures of dilation and all internals are done due to change in my behaviour, expression and/or contractions.

Just after this one, I was allowed to get into the pool as contractions were intense!

“RELIEF! PAIN-FREE! OMG, I CAN STAY HERE FOREVER!” was all I thought…. for a while at least and still definitely better than outside the pool. 4:45 am another internal with another at 6:25 am at which point my waters were broken for me and I was ordered back into the pool. At 6:45 am I told them, baby is coming, I need to start pushing…. At which point my doula started Skyping Mr. Bear so that he could experience the birth as much as possible. (Poor guy was supposed to handle a meeting.)

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“Baby is coming very soon”

7:04 am my last internal (while in the pool) “Baby is coming very soon” was all I remember being told… 7:14 am I got to feel the head and by 7:15 am I had pushed Monkey completely out and he was safely above water and in my arms and my heart had doubled in size. With my wonderful Mr. Bear just on the other side of the phone, our youngest prince in my arms, and the other one not too far away, I felt full of love and complete.

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Safe and sound

(What I did not know and only found out afterwards was this: At 1:35 am I was only 2 cm dilated and I had only moved to 4cm by the time they broke my waters for me. Due to everything progressing (contraction wise, etc, the only thing that stalled baby to come, was my waters, and thus the reason they broke it). By 7:04 am I was 5 cm and progressed the last 5 cm within 10 min.

I wouldn’t change anything about our birthing experience and couldn’t be more ecstatic about the way it happened. Thank you to my wonderful Mr. Bear who suffered with me through this pregnancy, my caring team of caregivers who were always available to help me, KvdM and LB, Bunny who tried his best to help when mommy’s tummy was sore as well as my lovely friends and family.

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Monkey, few hours old

 

Monkey born on 6 March 2016 at 7:15 am
Head circumference: 34cm
Length: 53cm
Weight: 3.06kg

Looking back at this experience and the few months prior, I have realized how strong I am. I think most women often underestimate their own strength, especially when they are right in the middle of the difficulty.

Yes, the birthing part was relatively easy. But emotionally, I was a wreck. I had, yet again, suffered from HG while pregnant with Monkey. For just over 2 and a half months, I was without Mr. Bear having to juggle selling and packing up home to emigrate; support Bunny (a lot) as he had to start at a new school; all this while being in my last trimester. I was drained, yet I had to stay strong; for my boys and for Mr. Bear.

So whether you are going through something that feels overwhelming at the moment or you have just come out of the dark tunnel; stand still for a moment and realize how far you’ve come and how strong you actually are. Yes, it might not have gone according to how you had wanted it, but in the end, it has made you stronger!

To all those mommies who didn’t get the birth they wanted/planned; to those that tried to breastfeed, but couldn’t; to you ladies who’ve had to say goodbye forever to someone way too soon or never even got to hold your little one; to those who are fighting cancer or other illnesses with everything they’ve got; to those who will never have a child of their own; no matter what your circumstance is, no matter how the day feels like today, you will come out of it stronger than ever before, even if it doesn’t go the exact way you wanted it.

And yes, my story might not seem like a big deal to some of you and someone else’s story might seem effortless to me; one thing that I have realized is that you are never put in a situation that you will not be able to conquer, for you. Not your friend’s or a family member’s, stranger’s next to you or anyone else’s.

It is YOUR story. It is YOUR life. It is YOUR mountain to climb. It is YOUR tunnel to come out of. And when you’ve done that; then YOU are stronger as a being and that is the ultimate definition of how strong you are.

Don’t ever forget it!

*What event in your life has made you stronger than before?*

Mommy, she doesn’t want to be my friend anymore

Having a sweet, loving child who is often shy, yet considerate most of the times, with fellow children; makes it almost unfathomable that you’ll hear this phrase from a little mouth. “Mommy, she doesn’t want to be my friend anymore.”

Bunny has always had 1 best friend. In his previous school, he had the same best friend for more than 2 years straight. They were inseparable. If she wasn’t at school, he’d easily play with someone else so I was content in knowing that he had more than just one friend. I even asked the teacher about it, she confirmed that he was well liked by his peers and was often the center of attention.

Now in his new school, it seemed he was doing the same thing again. Attaching himself to one girl. From his description of her, she sounded very similar in looks compared to his old bff. Every day I would ask who he played with and who did what etc. And so far, he’s only mentioned her. If I asked for the names of boys or other girls in his class, he’d just say that he doesn’t know their names. But still, I hoped that over time his little circle of friends would grow.

But then last week, my almost 5-year-old came home after school, acting besides himself. He was rude, whiny, teary eyed and in general a little nightmare; more than usual. Despite various usual questions and activities throughout the afternoon, he spiraled further down into a bag of unpleasantness. Both Mr Bear and I were at breaking point by the time it was his bed routine. We’ve run out of compromises, negotiations, threats, patience and quite frankly enough eff’s were given for the day. The sooner he gets into bed, the better for the sanity of this entire household.

Instead of allowing him to see that I was about to loose it with him; I decided to do the bath routine with him, instead of Mr Bear. I stayed calm and asked random little questions about his day at school since they had an event at school. He told me something trivial regarding his day and quickly asked me why I don’t believe him. This was odd to me, as I did believe him and more surprisingly, it was a phrase he’d had never used before. I then asked him who at school didn’t believe him. And there I found my answer. “Cinderella.”*

And then it happened. My little boy looked down and started crying. “She doesn’t want to be my friend anymore.” I was shocked. My little boy’s heart was shattered. His behavior of the day suddenly made sense. I wasn’t there to protect him. But most importantly, yet, scary, this is something he will have to learn to deal with by himself with only tools that I can offer him to use.

Upon questioning what happened, I learned that they had a disagreement about a simple thing. She believed in the one thing. And he believed in the opposite. Something so trivial yet in the life of a young child, it was something absolutely major and enough to break up a friendship.

I calmly explained to him that it was okay to differ in opinions. It was okay to not agree with each other the whole time. It was okay to see things differently or experience something differently. But I also ensured he understood that it was not okay to force someone to agree with you on everything. We used some examples of daily life things as well as of different relationships and he seemed to understand. I asked him what he is going to do when he sees Cinderella again and he said he’ll tell her that she can believe in what she wants and then they can play again. He then asked me whether I still love him and like him even though we disagree on things. Upon which I promptly told him that I will always love him, especially when we have different opinions.

My little boy had calmed down and was the loving child again.

After tucking him into bed, I went to Mr Bear and told him what I had found out. A sigh of understanding was sighed. And yet, I was only half way to helping my child regarding friends and relationships.

After some consultation with my mommy-groups and some reading up on articles and blogs, I was ready to bring up this subject the next day.

The following morning, I brought it up as calmly as possible. I told Bunny that I had different friends. I had friend A and friend B that I spoke to about any and everything almost daily. And I had friend C and D who I go with for coffee. And friend E and F who I share some vino with. And then I had my bff who was his daddy. I told him that even with my bff, Mr Bear, we don’t always agree on everything and sometimes we might argue about it. But most importantly, we respect each other’s viewpoints and often come to a compromise on an issue or we agree to disagree and that was fine too. With this he understood that it was ok to have more than one friend and that you didn’t have to do everything with just one person, all the time.

I continued by giving him examples of how to use this at school. He could have 1 or 2 friends to color in with. Another to kick the ball with. Another to sit with during lunch or to walk to a certain class.

He at first said he only wants Cinderella to be his friend, but I then asked him who he will play with if she is sick and not at school for the day or what would he do if she didn’t want to do the same activity that he wants to do at the time. He thought about it and then mentioned another name of a child he can play with. And with that, I knew he’d understood the message.

It’s hard to bring up a child who doesn’t have all the tools in life. It’s hard to not break your own heart when theirs are breaking or feel sad when they’re sad. In this day and age, one can only teach respect and understanding and hope that they understand it and will use it.

 

Have you been in a similar situation with your little one? How did you handle it?

* Name changed, obviously to ensure anonymity 🙂

** After his next day of school, I asked him how Cinderella was and he said they’re friends again. So all is well again 🙂