More Love

strand mai2

I never cry when watching movies; I never cry when reading books; I never cry over silly, sentimental words or pictures.

I cry when I am frustrated, stressed, or in the horrible-mood moment.

Yet this morning, the tears blurred my eyes when reading certain words. Today, my feelings gushed over inside, trembled and spilled, because I’d realized a painful truth:

I have become a yeller in the last few weeks.

Handsfreemama’s blog always brings me inspiration; today, her written words brought me that truth.

Again, it isn’t because my son has done anything so terrible at all, but it is a result of pent up stress, over-commitments and tasks I mark up for myself, hoping to accomplish before each day or week is done.

Last night, I yelled him to sleep, as he lay on the bed beside me—I wanted some peace and quiet to finish up my work in the late night hours, and it had already been tiring over the weekend with a new baby.

So I raised my voice repeatedly, using words that scare and intimidate—and as he naughtily laughed them off, kicking around his blanket, I yelled even louder.

I’m ashamed to say so.

When all I really want to do is love him, I find myself also taking out the day’s stress on him, just because he is the only person in the world physically close to me right now.

If you are also one of those parents who want to love, but everyday demands get in the way, please read her post right now:

The Important Thing…About Yelling.

We could all use a lot more love.

hugs

Advertisements

Two Week Wonder

SAMSUNG

Life has been on pause for the last two weeks, as I’ve slowly recovered from the surgery. I’ve had to depend on others to do things for me, accept that time must move slowly these days, and stay awake at nights for my tiny one.

It’s taken a new turn, this twist in adventures—and yet somehow, it doesn’t seem strange; just the natural flow of things.

It was my son who first broke the news to me. “I have a baby sister!” he declared, one sunny day in Lake Como, nine months ago.

“No you don’t,” I half-frowned at him.

But he did, already. I just didn’t know it.

Trusting his instincts, I asked him, shortly before the birth, “What color is your baby sister’s hair? Is it blonde, like yours?”

“No,” he stated matter-of-factly, without looking up from his puzzle. “It’s black. Schwarz. Like yours.”

And so it is.

SAMSUNG

Now, she’s here, the little lady bug, who sleeps so much I am secretly hoping she stays this quiet and lets me do my work. Her features already take on quite a mature look, though she is just weeks old.

And when she smiles in her sleep, it is the most beautiful thing on earth.

I told you, this is my journey.

Yes, I miss the days of past, of ziplining across gorges while travelling provincial terrains; of backpacking with just my partner, before there were babies; the days of going on a whim, and risking a lot without a second thought.

with orphans

I know someday, I’ll return to Africa, to the tribal regions of the Philippines, to the vineyards of Tuscany, to intoxicating India. But by then, I’ll have my new travelers with me, little feet marking their own path.

And by then, the journeys—as a family—will be even better.

+++

Now, something for smiles: Tina Fey’s A Mother’s Prayer for Her Daughter

What I Learned Living in Italy without Internet

lake como italy 1From May till September of this year, my small family lived on Lake Como in Northern Italy, where my husband worked at a water-sports center for the summer season.

The tiny apartment we were blessed to call home for those few months was charming in an old-fashioned way. It was a bright yellow centuries-old flat, on the corner of a narrow cobblestone street, so close to my neighbor’s window that not only could they see our underwear hanging out to dry; we could also hear their every whisper, laugh and (all too often) shouting marital disputes at 3am.

living in italy houseWe, like any normal people, wanted to buy a super-fast wifi connection for our temporary home. But in order to do that, we would have to sign a whole year’s lease. Knowing we weren’t going to stay in the country that long, we opted to not have it. (When we finally purchased a plug-in Internet device, it was so slow that it was worse than having none.)

This made for daily trips to the wifi-friendly Bar Pace café across the street, where we sipped creamy cappuccino, ate fresh, fluffy croissants, and checked our emails for half an hour.

Weekends on the lake got a little more active, with parachuters dropping down from the Alpine slopes, kitesurfers plowing through the rippled waters, sailboats in regattas, and dozens of sunbathers enjoying summer.

living in italy juneBut most of the time, life in Como was mostly uneventful; night-life was non-existent.

And after those slow-paced months, the realization hit me:

I didn’t miss not having Internet.

I didn’t miss not being “socially” connected.

I didn’t even miss texting!

I had a Twitter account, and a Facebook Page, and even a LinkedIn, yet never felt the urge to check my friends’ updates—never knew what was going on in half a thousand other people’s lives.

Here’s what I did do: life in italy beach

Ate chocolate gelato every day

Swam every day with my son

Read more books

Saw more sunsets

Did a lot of people-watching

Did a lot of listening

Went running every morning

Used my telephone only to book occasional dinners at restaurants, doctor appointments, and reach my husbandGera Lario painted by Nyx Martinez

Painted more 

Drank lots of prosecco and vino rosso with girlfriends, without distractions

Read more stories to my son

Fed swans and ducks every day

Watched Futurama episodes as a family on our laptop, every night

Learned a little Italian (“Bambini! Attentione! Macchina!”)

Got off my butt to exercise and lost 16 lbs

 

For those few months, I also did more dishes, laundry and house chores than I’ve ever done in my short history of being married and being a mom. It was exhausting, since I also spent every moment with my son. life in italy gravedonna

I spent every moment with my son.

And my husband, when he came home from work, did, too.

Today, I’m reminding myself of what life was like without an Internet connection there in Italy, because in a day or so, my world will change.

I’m buying a Smartphone.

Because of new changes, lifestyle moves, new work, travel and just plain Real Life, I’m getting back to being universally connected. I don’t want to be unrealistic about new business start-ups, career and family, and it’s essential that I strive for a balance (Main point: STRIVE.).

Yes, I’ll suddenly be ever-present in the online world, able to see all my updates and send out messages on the fly.

But I don’t ever want to forget the sweet life, the real Dolce Vita.

And that was, dear readers, being ever-present for my son, for my husband, and for myself—without distractions of modern living.

It was being able to hear myself think.

It was being able to hear both of my boys laugh, play, and even snore.

It was being able to silently pray, without static.

I’m making this note today so that maybe, even when Amazon delivers my brand new gadget, I can still find a balance-point–somewhere in-between real life, and the sweet life.

Maybe I can keep in mind what really matters.

life in italy lake comoIf you have helpful tips on parenting while still being realistic about other obligations, work, etc, I’d love to hear from you 🙂

“Play with Me, Mommy!”

live love adventure
We’re great at social networks, but how are we connecting with our kids?

“Play with me, mommy!”

My toddler said these words about five times today, and he says it just about every day.

“I’m baking you a playmate here inside my tummy!” is my immediate reaction—together with a sigh to myself that maybe when the second child really is big enough to play with him, they’ll both leave me alone to do my work in peace.

But today, reading HandsFreeMama’s blog got me thinking. And thinking. And realizing.

My son is nearly three years old. That’s not quite a toddler anymore. Before I know it, he really won’t be saying those words anymore. I’m also aware that the day will come, when I will want to play with him, and I won’t be “fun” or “cool” anymore.

Time flies too fast; you suddenly understand that when you’re a parent.

There’s a reason I opted for being a work-from-home mom, and only taking job offers which allowed for that. Essentially, it was so that I could be there for my child. When I had a 10-6 job in a cozy air-con office, it sure was nice getting a bigger salary. But I’d leave the house early morning, and then at the end of the day, when I came home to my kid, he was nearly asleep. I felt like I was missing out on his life. I wanted to take more charge of my parenting.

Problem is, now that I have plenty of time to spend with him, the opposite happens. He brings me joy and aggravation. I send him off to kindergarten so that I can have a few hours to do the work I need to do. And when he comes home, I am happy that my husband is here to take him outside and play, and do all those rowdy boy things.

I need to stop.

Stop trying to be properly productive, to have things to show for, to stop saying to my son, “Go play by yourself for a bit.”

Because these days will never come again.

Of course, we also need to be realistic as parents. It’s my choice to send him to Kindergarten, because we moms DO need time for ourselves (I was homeschooled, and have nothing against it, if a mom is 100 per cent focused on homeschooling and has the energy for it—like my mom was), and so that time is allotted to work on what I need to do.

But I also need to LOVE.

playing together
Autumn in Germany

Love him during this time when he still hugs me back, no matter what. Love him through each stage of growth, firmly.

I need to SPEND MORE TIME.

Time when he is around, to get down on his level and see things from his perspective.

I need to DANCE.

Like today, when we played kiddy music and spun around and around the room, holding hands and giggling, dancing like silly clowns and having the time of our lives being dizzy.

I need to BE MORE CONNECTED.

We talk about striving for better connectivity in our social networks; we put effort into cultivating adult relationships for career and profit; but how do we connect with our kids as parents? How aware are we of their feelings, their needs, or their dreams?

I just need to BE THERE.

Sometimes, when we wake up in the morning, my son, husband and I just lie in bed and HUG and CUDDLE. We often fall asleep again for a few more minutes, in each others’ arms and warmth. We just spend those moments being there, together.

In those moments, I can feel like nothing else matters—not the worries of last night, not all the going-ons in my head, not the trivial problems and challenges of life. It’s just peaceful. These are the moments I want to remember, and want my children to remember.

I want them to remember that their mom was there, and always had TIME to play with them.

Notes on Trading Security for Freedom

Being in the right place at the right time has nothing to do with luck.

I believe it’s all about the choices you made getting there which allowed you to be in that moment, to experience that miracle.

Getting together with another traveler is one decision I made that I don’t regret. But staying married at the cost of a literal lifetime journey, and raising a child through multiple countries and contrasting cultures in every continent has its challenges.

Last year, I left a well-paid job in the city to come out here to Lake Como and live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. I miss my nanny, my friends back home, my chicken adobo, soya sauce and rice. I miss my regular paychecks and that feeling of security.

But in place of that, I get to sit on this amazing lake and paint, and teach my son the importance of a global perspective, openness and acceptance of other people, nurturing relationships and embracing new experiences.

At two years old, he learns to not be tied down to any one set of regulations, or become stuck in a rut. We are constantly packing our bags for the next destination, letting go of things and physical attachments, saying our goodbyes, and—always—following the wind.

When this season is over, we will journey again…it’s not quite clear yet where that might be, and sometimes I get a bit anxious thinking about the future.

And then, I choose to just live in the happiness of today.

Because that’s what makes travel so magical: you don’t know what’s round the next corner, the next bend, or at the end of the tunnel. You’re not following a pre-programmed GPS device.

Choose your reality by taking risks, even if it means sometimes changing course. And when you let life surprise you, it usually does.

On Mood Swings and Mommyness

This is my 100th blog post. So, I wanted to make it really special. I thought to craft a post that would inspire or intrigue, or just interest…someone.

However, horrible mood swings are taking place this week (and thank God for female hormones we can blame it on). So instead of being anything fantastic or enlightening, or thoughtful, this note is just to say that sometimes, it’s hard work being a mom.

If you are a mom and reading this, I know how it feels—you want to please and nourish your family; you want to be the best you be—for them. Cook the right meals, set good appointments; get stuff done.

And sometimes, that just doesn’t happen.

Sometimes, you are horrible, moody, lazy, and do everything wrong. Your own standards can’t be reached, your love cannot get you through the day; you burn the cake and the kids wet their beds twice (no, thrice) in a row.

That’s just how life goes, and since we can’t force creativity or inspiration, or special moments, we learn to live and deal with them. Day after day.

But isn’t being a mom all about tending those special moments? Creating memories that only we can understand; seeing the good and potential in others that only we can see; giving and giving again of our love, even when it is tiring and our patience is running out, and there feels like nothing left?

Isn’t it about living anyway, and knowing that in the end, it’s all worth it? My reward comes in the little hugs and kisses at the end of a long day. The cuddles from my boys, who have their own ways of saying, thank you.

My reward comes in knowing that every day, I’m painting a canvas of a life—just letting it flow—without trying to reason or put it in a box. Without trying to force it. Just letting the colors of this new, little life mix into each other and produce their own work of art.

Yes, day after day.

…If you are a mom, what gives you the strength to go on another day?

South Tyrol Pt. 2: Traveling with a Kid

Traveling as a couple is much more different than traveling as a couple with a child.

Do you notice how kids make strangers smile, and the world seem a bit friendlier? Kids also throw your whole schedule off, force you to go at a slower pace; they test your patience and your spontaneity skills. They test your team-working skills, how you balance life as two separate people guiding another little life.

And if your child is a boy, you notice every truck on the highway, every crane on the roadside, every airplane in the sky.

If you have a kid, you can’t drink as late into the night as you’d like, or check out every bar that takes your interest. You might make stops at the dinosaur museum that you’d never wanted to visit before, or the zoo, or the local playground that had been there all this time, yet you never noticed.

You may wake up earlier, and see the sunrise…you may wake up many times at night, and enjoy the moonlight. You may be more tired when traveling, or more irritated…or, you may just have more fun.

If you are a parent, how has travel with a kid changed the way you journey?