Tag Archives: children

Oona

“As I gazed in awe at my newborn granddaughter, all I could think about was the wonder of God’s handiwork.”

A month ago I became a grandmother. A milestone. Not only for me but for everyone involved. They say nothing beats the novelty of the first experience no matter what the situation is. I have been told it is difficult to forget and will always hold a special part in one’s life. Well, let’s see…

I always said before that I prefer to have a grand/son than a grand/daughter. I even said in jest that if it is a girl I will drown her in a rain barrel, something I will never do in reality of course but it says enough. Preferring a boy to a girl is a combination of my upbringing, tradition, culture and personal preference (what else). And so I thought. I had also once believed that I will never be a doting grandparent like most, a baby is just a baby. Till I held my first (and so far) my only grandchild in my arms and feel something I never felt in my life before: an overflowing love for a stranger.

She is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I am not saying this because she is who she is, I’m saying this because it’s the truth. Beauty for me is beyond appearance alone. It is a combination of character, aura, and something undefined. She has a certain je ne sais quoi about her. She is magic. Just a couple of days old and she can look at you with knowing eyes as if she understands. Her expressions are something I never saw from a newborn before. She perceived her surroundings with an equal measure of knowledge and curiosity, comprehension and enjoyment. Her smiles are reflective and if a baby has a sense of humor, she has it. She’s so unusual that you can’t help but love her. I love her.

My mother said I am not capable of loving somebody. She’s wrong of course. Perhaps what I was not capable of is being blinded by love and losing myself in the process. It’s true, I didn’t know how it is to miss someone. I’m okay with myself and don’t need others to make me happy. But since my granddaughter was born I know now how it is to feel a longing to be with another human being, to see her and hold her in my arms, to give her a kiss and just touch her soft silky skin. To feel the overwhelming desire to care, protect and give her everything in my power. That is all new to me. I never felt that strongly about anyone, not even with my own children.

It’s scary.

What is scarier is the fact that I am having unspeakable thoughts (or fantasies if you prefer) with just one purpose in mind: To have my granddaughter for myself. How scary is that? I will not elaborate for obvious reasons. Let’s just say that__

I want her with me, to love to cherish and to hold. You know… the clichés…

When I heard that they are going to stick her in the crèche in a couple of months before she is even three months old, I cried. I thought: Why have children if you don’t have time to care for them yourself? I don’t understand it and will never understand. Oh, I know it is all for practical reasons but I am not happy with the idea. I even offer my help but of course, it was denied. I understand why. But even then.

Babies need love and care I thought. Especially during their first years. They need to be cuddle cherish and brought up by their own family, not strangers. I imagine my granddaughter is a very special person, full of character and free-spirited. I am afraid growing up in that environment will affect her personality later on. That she will learn to suppress her natural emotions, reactions, feelings, and instinct. Much like a wild animal that held captive in a zoo. I don’t want her to grow up like most people I know here: cold, emotionless and distant.

But who am I to know what is right and what is wrong. I fucked up my own duty as parent choices or no choices. So, I try to shut up and keep my thoughts and feelings for myself.

I will love her from a distance. I have to. I cannot be too involved. I am not allowed anyway. I just hope that history will not repeat itself. Loving from a distance I mean. One get used to it and become the norm no matter how painful it is…

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Habibi

Dear daughter,
if you’ve inherited my heart
then don’t be ashamed
of how desperate you sometimes feel
or how you stain sheets and shirts
that you are sopping wet
a walking hemorrhage
curious hands in the shower
the first menses of a young girl
a virgin writhing on a bed
you are on fire
you are like your mother.
So how could I ever talk about sin or damnation
when you have legs like creaking doors?
you welcome ghosts home
so I know you will know hell intimately
men who like to punch women in the face
who tongue kiss girls who look like their mother
men who hold you down, face in the mattress.
Daughter with a soft body
the hardest ones will fall for you
and you will usher them in
seek out their sharp edges
the abrasion
and by the time they’ve finished
you will be bloody and sore
teeth marks on your thighs
your torso a burnt house of worship.
Habibti, you do not deserve it but
you will be loved in fragments and fractions
until you no longer look like yourself
until your mouth is just the shape of his quiet name
oh my little girl
rip him out of your body
you come from a long line of women;
Hawa who doused herself in petrol
Ayan who pulled out her own teeth
Khadija who fell asleep in the river
forgetting is the hardest thing in the world,
remember that.

– Warsan Shire

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The Art Of Forgetting And Forgiving

“I rarely suffer lengthy emotional distress from contact with other people. A person may anger or annoy me, but not for long. I can distinguish between myself and another as beings of two different realms. It’s a kind of talent (by which I do not mean to boast: it’s not an easy thing to do, so if you can do it, it is a kind of a talent – a special power). When someone gets on my nerves, the first thing I do is transfer the object of my unpleasant feelings to another domain, one having no connection with me. Then I tell myself, Fine, I’m feeling bad, but I’ve put the source of these feelings into another zone, away from here, where I can examine it and deal with it later in my own good time. In other words, I put a freeze on my emotions. Later, when I thaw them out to perform the examination, I do occasionally find my emotions in a distressed state, but that is rare. The passage of time will usuallly extract the venom from most things and render them harmless. Then sooner or later, I forget about them.”

― Haruki Murakami

Though the above quote resonates with me strongly, I am afraid I go a lot further when it comes to dealing with emotions and cutting people out of my life.

Out of a sense of duty which is one of the strongest propellers why I do things (and keep doing them) when it comes to people, I let myself be abused to the point of being a doormat, till I heard the click, and then no more.

Like I said before, I don’t cultivate any form of attachment to anything or anyone. Subconsciously, I must have learned it from babyhood leading a nomadic life and never unlearned it. Old habits never die, right?

So, when I heard the click in my head and decided to ban what causes me harm, that’s it, there is no way back.

The thing is, I don’t cut people or things from my life deliberately. It is difficult to explain. From one day to another, they will just cease to exist (in my head) as if they never been there or never been a part of my existence. And no matter what I do, how hard I try, I can’t bring them back.

It hurts indefinitely and I don’t forget but letting them back in, I can’t.

I did it with my family, my ex, my religion, and my daughter.

Speaking of my daughter, lately, she is reaching out. Perhaps the prospect of becoming a mother soon brought a little understanding in her head, realizing that being a parent is not as simple as she thought it will be. But though I love her dearly and I wish nothing but the best for her, what she all did in the past trigger the click in my head and I have no desire anymore to be part of her life. Not even for the sake of my grandchild.

There was a time that I will do anything to be included in her life but after hearing repeatedly in the past from her own mouth that she didn’t wish me in her circle and no plan to introduce me to her future children and will make them believe I was already dead because I don’t fit in her picture of what a perfect family is and compare to anyone in her immediate surroundings I came way too short of expectations. Her expectations. One day it finally sinks in and I decided maybe she is right, that I better disappear from her life and I did.

But not after she thrown me out from her place saying it will never work between us, simply because I didn’t agree with her unrealistic ideas. I cried and it hurt and still is but never again.

She invited me to her baby shower. I declined. There will be baptismal and God knows what in the future and probably I will invent excuses not to go but believe you me, the prospect of mingling with people she deemed qualified to be part of her life is so stressful for a lowly good for nothing me.

I don’t know if our relationship will improve in the future. If the gap between us could be bridge and wounds could heal. But even then…

At least we are on a speaking term now. Maybe that’s an improvement, but…

Time will tell.

As always.

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Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantage of a Painful Childhood

Adults who were hurt as children inevitably exhibit a peculiar strength, profound inner wisdom, and remarkable creativity and insight. Deep within them – just beneath the wound – lies a profound spiritual vitality, a quiet knowing, a way of perceiving what is beautiful, right, and true. Since their early experiences were so dark and painful, they have spent much of their lives in search of the gentleness, love, and peace they have only imagined in the privacy of their own hearts.” 

― Wayne Muller

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A Letter to my Children: You do not come from a Broken Home.

My dear children: I know that the world may try to tell you otherwise, but I want you to know that you haven’t come from a broken home—because there isn’t anything damaged about my love for you.

Perhaps we are nontraditional, and possibly sometimes, it feels as if we are wayward, but there is nothing about our family that is broken.

I never intended to be a single parent. And though I had hopes of the fairytale happily-ever-after, I soon realized that I was just not meant to live in a perfect castle, high on a hill, while those below thought my life was something more “perfect” than it really was.

My dear children: I see now that this was the journey that we were all meant to walk.

I would never have wanted you to grow up thinking that love was a responsibility, instead of a gift. Because while I didn’t get it right the first time—you just might.

Perhaps if I can show you that sometimes love isn’t easy—and that the first step is always to learn who we are and how we love—then maybe you will know more than I did and make choices that are founded in greater awareness and courage.

I didn’t know how little I knew about life and myself when I began my journey of divorce, but time did a beautiful job of teaching me.

I know that sometimes it’s hard just having one parent at home because Momma can only do so much at once. There is only one lap to sit on and one pair of arms to hold you close. There is only one adult to fix things, cook and plan entertaining endeavors. Sometimes I drop the ball because I’ve learned that I just can’t do it all.

It’s just me—and while I know I am enough, just as I am doing the best I can, I know that you still want more.

When you tell me that you want a boy to live with us, as I am driving on the highway, you don’t see the tear slide down my cheek because I honestly want it just as much as you do. I can’t provide that as easily as I can other things—I can’t magically snap my fingers and make it happen.

But I do have faith that when it’s meant to be—and at the right time—I will find us a good man.

For now, all I can do is love you my deepest love, not to make up for the fact that there is only one parent to kiss you and tuck you in at night, but because you are worth this type of love.

To say that you are from a broken home implies that you would have been happier and healthy if I had stayed in a marriage that I’d outgrown.

The reality of two adults who aren’t truly in love with one another is not as good as being single and modeling how to exquisitely love myself.

I know that what I say doesn’t mean a damn thing if I am not willing to do the hard work to back it up with action.

What good would I have been to you if I had preached to you about finding love, loving yourself, following your heart and all of the magic that is worthwhile in this life if I wasn’t willing to follow my own advice?

The truth is, my loves, we need make mistakes to learn lessons.

If I hadn’t followed my heart and decided that I wanted my life to be the greatest example for how to live, then I also wouldn’t be the mother that you truly needed me to be.

How differently would you have grown up if I taught you to ignore your heart?

If I instead taught you the value in keeping your mouth closed just to keep the peace?

You wouldn’t be the type of women who will one day change this world.

My goal from the start has been to raise amazing young women. I never intended to keep watch over you, teaching you your ABCs while you learn how to best blend into society so that one day you might get a mortgage, and an IRA and find yourself settled down but empty.

You’ll grow up to be young women with soul.

Women who have vision and ambition who know they will have to work through blood and sweat to get the life they want and deserve, because nothing is ever given in this life for free.

Women who follow their hearts no matter where it leads and who possess the courage to help others to do the same.

You will be game-changers and status quo destroyers.

I first had to become this type of woman to raise you.

So, no my darlings you are not from a broken home.

You are from a home full of love and soul that will teach you how to navigate life and have one helluva time while doing it.

~Author: Kate Rose

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THE MYTH OF THE GOOD OL BOY AND THE NICE GAL

The good of boy myth and the nice gal are a kind of social conformity myth. They create a real paradox when put together with the “rugged individual” part of the Success Myth. How can I be a rugged individual, be my own man and conform at the same time? Conforming means “Don’t make a wave”, “Don’t rock the boat”. Be a nice gal or a good ol’ boy. This means that we have to pretend a lot. 

“We are taught to be nice and polite. We are taught that these behaviors (most often lies) are better than telling the truth. Our churches, schools, and politics are rampant with teaching dishonesty (saying things we don’t mean and pretending to feel ways we don’t feel). We smile when we feel sad; laugh nervously when dealing with grief; laugh at jokes we don’t think are funny; tell people things to be polite that we surely don’t mean.”

– John Bradshaw On: The Family

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Family

“One of the problems was my belief that family were always there for each other. That was the cause of my pain and my guilt. The fact that I no longer had them in my life meant that I was going against a code I held close to my heart. I had to modify that belief. I had to change my definition of family. It was no longer those to whom I was linked by blood. My family now became the friends who had been there the whole time. People who I knew I could count on when things went wrong… Finding and surrounding yourself with people who truly care for you is your gift to yourself. You deserve that. You will be okay. I no longer believe that I have lost my family. I have only now finally recognized who they truly are.”

~Anonymous

“Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.” ~Edna Buchanan

A few years ago I ended all contact with my parents, and I have not seen or spoken to them since then.

The truth is I am actually okay with that. Initially, I thought I was going to lose my mind. I had been brought up to believe that family comes first. Children should respect and take care of their parents. Family should—and will—always be there for each other.

Those beliefs were based on love, and I cherished them.

I wanted so much to feel that connection—that unconditional love those beliefs promised. It was never there.

Our lives were filled with so much fear, pain, hurt, betrayal, and lies. Manipulation and deceit were at the core of our home.

I told myself that all families have degrees of dysfunction, and our family was no different. I could not allow myself to believe that our family was different. I believed that one day my parents would realize what they were doing and change. I desperately wanted their love and approval.

On the night when my husband and I ended up inside a police station explaining why I thought my father was about to come to my home and hurt me, while my two grown sons waited in the car, I realized I had to wake up.

My fantasy was over. I could no longer go on pretending our family was just like everyone else. That night I said my last goodbye to my mother as she lied to protect my father. The next day I spoke the last words to my father as he screamed into the phone repeating the lies from my childhood. It was over.

Giving up the hope that things would get better was the hardest part. I was terrified that I was doing the wrong thing. I thought I was being a bad daughter. I was going against every cherished belief about family.

It broke my heart to know that my life had been based on an illusion. The picture I had created of my parents was shattered. They had never been there for me, and they never would be.

I had lied to myself to protect my fantasy and keep them in my life. Now I could no longer do it.

Over time I began to understand why I had fought so hard to live out the lie, and I began to forgive myself for not being brave enough to stand up earlier.

One of the problems was my belief that family were always there for each other. That was the cause of my pain and my guilt. The fact that I no longer had them in my life meant that I was going against a code I held close to my heart.

I had to modify that belief. I had to change my definition of family. It was no longer those to whom I was linked by blood. My family now became the friends who had been there the whole time. People who I knew I could count on when things went wrong. That was never my parents.

I also realized that I was afraid I was not lovable. In my mind if my own parents could not love me, there had to be something wrong with me.

I did everything I could to minimize disagreements between us, keeping quiet just to keep the peace. I knew that if I spoke up we would argue, they would get mad at me, and they would not love me. I failed to realize that this was something I only experienced with them.

It was hard work just to be around them. I was always on edge, cautious, and scared. That was not a loving relationship. I came to accept that if they could not love me, it didn’t change anything about me. I had created other loving relationships around me, and they were the scaffolding holding me up.

My first Christmas after was hard. I had always gone to my parents’ house to live the fairy tale of being surrounded by love.

It was always hard to ready myself for those days. We would act out the roles of happy family, hoping in some way that was our truth. It wasn’t. I had no idea how tense I was at these interactions until I no longer had to do it.

Part of the hurt was that I now had no tradition, so I decided to start a new one. Christmas is no longer a day of obligation. I now spend it with the people who are my true family.

I’ve come to realize that the love I had for my parents was based on a childhood need for safety and security. I had to see them as the parents who loved me, despite the things they did. I could not accept that the people responsible for my well-being were also responsible for my suffering.

So much of the world I had created around my parents was simply not real. I have had to accept that truth and move on with my life.

One of my fears was that by breaking contact with my parents, I was setting an example that my sons could repeat with me. I’d like to think this won’t happen because of my parents.

The pain of my childhood taught me how important it is for a child to truly feel loved, safe, and cherished. I’ve tried to live that truth with my boys. I don’t know what the future holds for us. I can only hope that the love I’ve shown them will have created a space in their hearts where I will always be thought of with love.

I try to imagine how I’ll feel when I find out that my parents have died. I honestly don’t know. I’m sure that part of me will be sad that we did not have a better ending. However, I know in my heart of hearts that I tried for over forty years to make it work. In the end, it just wasn’t enough.

My parents were never who I thought them to be. I have had to let it all go. The fantasy of the perfect ending with them is over. I am setting out on a new horizon where I have redefined my world.

As abused children, we may feel that it is somehow our responsibility to fix the broken parts of our family. It’s not. Sometimes there is no fairy tale ending where our parents realize how truly wonderful we are.

The hard part is recognizing that and moving on. Sometimes it’s the only way to find real peace. It’s heartbreaking. It’s not easy. Finding and surrounding yourself with people who truly care for you is your gift to yourself. You deserve that. You will be okay.

I no longer believe that I have lost my family. I have only now finally recognized who they truly are.

By Anonymous

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A Milestone

Yesterday after not speaking to me since she got married, that was three years ago, my daughter called me to say that she’s pregnant. I’m not surprised. I know from my son that she and her husband were trying to conceive. I’m happy for her. 

She told me that I was the first to know. I’m not surprised with that too. It reminds me of three weeks ago when I was talking to my son after his musical/theater performance and he said that while he was presenting and singing up there he was worried if I was going to like the show or not. He thought I would find it banal. He was happy when I said that what he/they did was memorable. He hopes for the same effect when he finished writing his first book he said.

I know that my relationship with my children is far from ideal and we hardly see each other, but it is touching to know that they still value my opinion the most. Out of thousand of people watching my son’s performance, what he was worried about was what I was thinking. My daughter could let her father or anybody know first but she have chosen to call me instead. That means a lot to me.

In the past, they accused me of being hard to please and economical when it comes to giving compliments, but in my defense, I only give credit where credit is due. I don’t want to give or encourage false hopes when in reality there is none.

I know I will never be the mother they prefer to have and I doubt if I’m going to be the best grandmother but this is me. My grandchildren will know me like my children have known me_ honest straight-forward maybe harsh but fair. I hope they will appreciate the person that I really am because I am not planning to change myself for the sake of acceptance.

Let’s wait and see… 

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Micro

I’m a big big girl
in a big big world…

My daughter tends to be self-centered. Her focus seems to be evolving around herself. The rest is side issues. One time I mentioned my thoughts to my son. He said to me:

“Mama, it doesn’t matter how small and mundane her problems are or if she is overreacting or not. The bottom line is for her they are extremely serious and that what counts.”

He also said when I asked him why he always gives in to the whims of her sister that it is because the tears are real and he can see the pain in her eyes.

He was talking about a bed. A double bed he just bought for himself but his sister fancied for crying out loud. I cannot say I understand but I guess I have to be thankful that they get along fine. Tragedy brings people closer they say. I guess that’s what it is. They share a very strong bond through painful experience.

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Leftovers

Dear M.

Now that I’m staring at mortality straight in the eyes, now that I am beginning to realize I will not be here forever and my expiration date comes sooner than I have expected, I remember you. I remember the time you saved me from drowning. Twice. The first time was when my so-called cousin Rosana (which I never knew existed and have met for the first time) tried to drown me because of the ring you gave me. Remember the ring? The one you fashioned from copper especially for me? The same ring you have thrown away in the sea for safekeeping and promised the waves will deliver it back right at my feet when the time comes. Unknowingly, that must be the reason why I spent so much time on the breakwater when I was growing up, just staring at the sea. But you lied. The ring is still out there lost.

The second time you saved my life was a major, major case. I almost died. I didn’t know anymore why I decided to follow my eldest sister out in the sea that day. I saw her having a good time with a fella and they seemed to be walking in the water. I thought the water was not deep. I forget they could swim and I cannot. And before I know what was happening, I found myself sinking. I had no idea that drowning feels like that. As if you’re spiraling endlessly down a very dark abyss. I remember calling my father, then nothing.

The next thing I knew I was laying on the sand and you gently slapping my face telling me to wake up, as if drowning was a funny joke. But that’s you. Everything is a joke to you. Maybe it’s your way of coping with the circumstances that we were in. I will not go into detail with that. There are certain things that better left buried and forgotten. I’m sure you understand what I mean.

You said you saw me disappeared from the surface and grabbed a big zinc basin which is normally meant for transporting fish and rowed as fast as you could where you saw me vanished. You had to search for me down there for seemed like ages you said before finding me at the bottom unconscious. For a moment there you were scared, you told me. I don’t believe it. You scared, a seasoned Huckleberry Finn… no way! You even teased me about it afterwards, saying you’re my first kiss. In my book it doesn’t count.

Anyway, I never properly thank you for saving my life twice. In fact, I never talk about it. Not even to you my best friend. Perhaps I was too young to understand it all. I was barely eight years old. You were twelve.

I don’t know where you are now. Fate separated us oceans and continents apart. I wonder what happened to you and what you become. The last time I saw you I was aboard a moving bus. My family decided to move again. You were running alongside the vehicle calling my name. You handed me something through the window before you let go. It was another of your creation. A copper pin name.  My name. I lost it in the bus. I must have fallen sleep. Sorry about that.

Once again, wherever you are thank you. If you didn’t save me, I would not have this rich and multi-coloured existence. I hope we see each other again so I can say this to you face to face. M. you’re one of the few people I didn’t regret I’ve met.

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 I wrote this yesterday for the daily prompt: Never Too Late but decided not to post it. Now, here it is, Daily Prompt: Leftover Sandwich.  And by doing so I’m killing two birds with one stone.