Tag: parenting

October Chat with a Dad: Simon of Man VS Pink

Tell us something about yourself (your blog) and your little one.

I’m a stay-at-home dad to a 4-year-old girl. I’ve been home with her since she was 6- months old when her mother returned to work. I mainly blog about gender stereotypes in relation to girls. As a Star Wars & superhero fan-dad, I was frustrated at how all merchandise was being overtly categorised & labelled for boys. I wanted to call this out, as well as demonstrating how girls such as my daughter engaged with these characters and stories too. I also blog about being a stay-at-home dad, as fathers also fall prey to lazy gender stereotypes.

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What was her birth story like?

The birth went well – my wife’s waters broke in middle of night, but she waited until morning when I woke to tell me and go to hospital. Our daughter was born about 12 hours later. My wife’s comment after giving birth was “Well, that was easier than I thought it was going to be…”

Post-Birth, my wife had very high blood pressure, so I took daughter home a couple of nights to give wife a chance to sleep and help bring it down. After 5 nights both were home, but less than 24 hours later my wife was rushed to hospital with complications related to her blood pressure. It was a horribly unreal experience as my wife was in a great deal of pain – we went to hospital separately, and let’s just say I was more than half expecting to be told my wife had died. Thankfully that wasn’t the case

But my wife did stay in hospital for anther week and I took our baby mosts nights. Memories of that time are bittersweet – while the stress and upheaval of what my wife was going through was awful, in hindsight there was another aspect – I had an intense period of one-on-one bonding with our baby. Perhaps that was a key moment in subsequent decision to become a stay-at-home dad?

Eventually, all came good and my wife was back home. One thing we decided on was to give up on breastfeeding, as it removed an element of stress that helped bring her blood pressure down.

What you wish you knew about being a Dad before becoming one?


I guess one thing, which has partly motivated my blogging, is my assumptions about girls – I’m embarrassed to say I assumed they were pre-disposed to like pink, princesses, etc. I’m not sure when this opinion changed, but reading the likes of Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein (a book I highly recommend to anyone having/with a daughter) made me question that in a positive way.

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How do you balance your time between work/blogging and fatherhood?


In the early days, I would blog at weekends. I would be craving time to myself after a long week home with our child and blogging was something I did for me. The luxury of having an idea and being able to follow it through to the end was immensely satisfying after a week of half finished tasks. When she started at pre-school, then nursery, this became another important blogging time. My daughter has just started school, so that has freed up a lot of time for me blog and pursue more writing gigs. I’m also an early riser – anything past 5am is a lie in!

Any favourite anecdotes of your kid?


I shared one recently on the blog. Our daughter gets quizzed a lot by men (dads) when wearing superhero or Star Wars stuff – I think these men don’t believe a girl really can be into this stuff. It’s known as the Fake Geek Girl syndrome. Anyway, she was dressed as Rey from The Force Awakens and a guy started quizzing her about her lightsaber – but she answered every question he threw at her including how they’re built, what powers them, etc. The guy was pretty shocked she knew so much.

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What is it about fatherhood you love about?


It’s hard to pin it down. I love helping her grow. I love introducing her to new ideas and experiences. I love cuddles with her. I love what she teaches me. Being a father is something I have wanted to be for as long as I can remember, and I love being one.

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If there is anything about fatherhood you dislike about, what would it be?


The main thing I dislike about fatherhood is the way it is perceived by many. I think there is often a default in parenting to the mother. In fact, often the term parenthood and motherhood are used interchangeably. But many aspects of what people perceive as the preserve of motherhood are important aspects of my parenting and that of many other fathers.

 Best Advice you’ve received about Fatherhood?

To be honest, I can’t think of any.

If you can give yourself advice before becoming a Dad, what would it be?

Don’t worry. You’ll get better at it.

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Thank you so much Simon!

If you haven’t visited Man VS Pink, please do so now.  And you can also stay in touch with more of his musing through FB, Twitter and Instagram.

Have you read last month’s chat with a mum yet?  Do check her out here.

After School Activities: Too much, too soon?

I’ve mentioned in a past post that Little T is doing two after-school activities since she began going to school in September.  Three, if you count swimming, which she actually stopped going to, but will start again when school resumes after the summer.  At the moment she’s doing:

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which she absolutely enjoys and is doing really well.  In fact, a couple of weeks ago, one of the senior coaches approached us and said that they’ve actually singled her out from her group and thinks she has potential.  They actually mentioned that they would like to train her for competitions, but that would mean another extra hour of training and would like to do this after the summer.  It was certainly a proud moment for me and my husband.  We were really pleased, especially since she enjoys going to gymnastics so much.

Little T was also happy when we told her.  She also said “That means I get to wear a different kind of leotard!”  You see, girls who do competitions wear a different kind from the other girls.  We explained though that this will mean an extra-hour, not to mention hard-work.  At the moment though, I don’t think she understands that it is “hard-work”.  To her, gymnastics is all about fun, being with her friends, doing jumps, balancing and other gymnastic moves.

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Too young?  Too soon?

Later though, I turned to my husband and said “But she’s only four for goodness sake!”  He reminded me, by then she’ll be older.  “Yes, but isn’t five also too young?”   She goes to gymnastics on Fridays after class, from 4-5.  If she starts training, that will be from 4-6.  Won’t she be exhausted?  Then again, badge sessions are almost 3 hours and she seems all hyper and not tired after each session.

While I’m really proud that they think she has potential, I’m worried that the training will be too much and just want her to have fun at gymnastics.  Of course I won’t hold her back.  If she’s really into it, we will support her all the way.  Even if it means camping out in the waiting room with the other parents who actually bring their work with them, laptops and all.  Once I saw a woman bring her portable sewing machine!  Now I know why.

Starmakers

Almost all the kids in little T’s school all go to Starmakers.  It’s a drama/singing/dancing type of class which little T also loves.  At first, she refused to go.  But then she noticed all her friends were going.  She tried it out and really enjoys every minute of it.  Again, I guess it’s because to her, it’s all play.  She gets to sing and dance with the rest of her friends from school.  And not only that, it’s held at the village hall which is not far from their school and their home.  At least we don’t drive to get her to that, we just walk her which is always good isn’t it?  Starkers happens every Monday after school.

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Here she is with her friends and their version of the Lion King.

Cello Lessons?!

Little T’s village school offers violin or cello lessons to students who are interested in it.  Now that she’s turning five, she can actually join them if she wants to, which of course, she does!  I’m happy about cello lessons, especially since it’s just at their school, no driving to be done.  But with gymnastics (plus training), swimming (which she will start again by September), Starmakers, and then now cello lessons?  Surely that’s too much for a five-year old?  Something has to give right?  If I had my way, I’d want her to give up Starmakers, but she loves it though.  I can’t stop her from going, especially since she really enjoys it.  Should I?

I was chatting with another mum, her twin daughters who are close to little T and also goes to gymnastics mentioned that her twins also want to go to ballet and street dancing class.  They also go to the same Starmakers as T.  She didn’t seem to think that it was all too much.  Maybe it’s just me then?  Maybe I’m the only one who is finding this too much, too soon?  And I actually forgot to mention that little T also wants to go to trampolining class in her gym club!  But I think I’m going to put my foot down on that one, especially since that’s on a different day.

The question is, why do we need to cram so much activities after school?  How important is it?  With little T, all these are her choices.  We didn’t prompt her for it.  What’s wrong with spending time at home after school instead?  Admittedly, I don’t always have the time to sit with her, especially when there’s dinner to be made, and chores to do.  I do make it a point though to have a little chat and for some cuddles on the couch before I get up and do my chores.  During the weekends, she’s happy to potter around, do some painting (which she loves) and play on her own.  Sometimes, she has friends over, most times it’s just her, me and her dad.  Surely that’s enough?

What do you think?

Is it too much, too early to have so many after school activities for a four (turning five) year old?

Let's Talk Mommy

Nail Polish & the Little One

At age four, I already have arguments with my daughter about nail polish.  Four, yes, you read it right – four, not fourteen!  Goodness knows what kind of arguments I’ll be having with her at that age.  But I don’t want to think about it yet, lest it freaks me out and I know it will.  At the moment, it’s all about nail polish:

“You can’t wear nail polish to school!”

“But so and so does!”

“Just because so and so does, doesn’t mean you have to!”

I have that same argument with her every now and then.  It’s usually over the weekend, that’s the only time I allow her to use the nail polish her best friend F gave her last Christmas, but the deal is, she has to let me to take them off Sunday night.  I don’t like the idea of her wearing nail polish to school, it’s fine to have them at home, but not at school even though so far, I haven’t heard the school say anything about them.  I usually win the argument by saying “Do you see mummy wear  nail polish?”  She’ll shake her head and that usually ends it.

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I never liked using nail polish, not even as a teenager.  I don’t have anything against them by the way.  In fact I do find them pretty to look at, but it’s just a personal choice.  I didn’t like the way it feels on my nails, to me it feels unnatural.  The rare times I wore them in the past, I wouldn’t be able to sleep unless I took them off.  I’d be consciously feeling my nails and be bothered about how they felt under my touch.

Just like make-up I guess.  I never learned how to use make-up.  I’d wear lipstick and always, always end up unconsciously licking my lips and before you know it, not a trace of lipstick will be left on me.

Going back to little T’s current fave: nail polish.  I know all the girls in her class use them and I know too, that it’s a bit like “dressing-up” for them.  I’m just not very comfortable about the idea of my little girl wearing them.  I don’t want her to get used to it.  Like it’s all part of getting dressed, clothes, shoes, socks oh wait, must ask mum to put nail polish on me.  Perhaps what I’m really worried about is that I don’t want little T to think that she needs nail polish to make her feel “prettier” or feel good about herself.  At age four (or any age for that matter), I don’t want her to feel as if she has to give in, just because other girls are doing it.

When she’s older, hopefully in her teens, preferably late teens (am I pushing it?) and would still like to use nail polish, I’d be fine with that.  But not at age four.

What do you think?

Deciding on a mobile phone – How young is too young?

Little T may only be three, but she has four mobile phones already.

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Yes, I know, there are only three in the photo. Her favourite pink sparkly phone is missing – goodness knows where it is right now.  All these phones came as freebies in her kiddie magazines which she likes to buy or – let me rephrase that – which her Dada likes to buy for her.  She loves all of them and like all children her age, likes to make pretend phone calls and talks as if she is really in an actual conversation.  When she hangs up, she’ll turn to me and say “That was F” (her best-friend).

She may only be three, but I’ve been wondering lately, what would we say to her if she suddenly turned to us and asked for her own mobile phone – at what age do we give in?

In case, you’re wondering, I don’t really like the idea of children having it so early, then again, how young is young?  I asked my husband about this and as usual he grumbled, grumbled and replied fifteen, after a few seconds moved it to eighteen.   Then quoted a conversation between Gru and Margo in Despicable Me 2:

Gru:  Woa!  Hold your horses who are you texting?

Margo: My friend Avery.

Gru:  Oh Avery.  Avery?  Is that a guy’s name or a girl’s name?

Margo:  Does it matter?

Gru:  No, no.  It doesn’t matter… unless it’s a boy!

I have a feeling my husband will be worse than Gru!  Incidentally, I think Margo is probably between 10-12?  A bit too early I think!  Bear with me while I make a list:

PROS

1.  If we wanted to get in touch with our child, all we have to do is phone them right?  Who am I kidding?  Chances are, if they’re busy having fun, they’ll ignore mum’s annoying phone call to ask What time are you coming home?  Shouldn’t you be on your way home yet?  

I can’t think of any other … Can you?  I can think of loads of cons though …

CONS

1.  Addictive:  Too much texting.  See above conversation between Gru and Margo.  One thing I also dislike is how children/teens nowadays seem to have their phones permanently glued to their hands.  They can’t seem to survive without their phones.  They sit in the lounge and have conversations with you while actually texting.

2.  Bullying/cyber bullying:  You hear a lot of horror stories in the news about how children nowadays are bullied over text and online and a lot of these stories end in tragedy.  I know that not allowing your child to have a mobile phone won’t prevent any of this from happening, but I’m wondering if somehow it will alleviate the threat.

3.  Unrestricted access to the Internet:  Then there’s also the worry about your child browsing through websites that isn’t age-appropriate for them or downloading apps and before you know it, their mobile bill is off the roof, which of course, you will end up paying.

The good news is that mobile phones and companies alike such as Three Mobile have come up with phones or sim services that automatically restricts access to inappropriate websites.  And of course, as parents it’s also best to get a PAY AS YOU GO service instead of getting a contract for your kids that way it would limit their access to the internet and also teach them to stay within a monthly budget.

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As of writing, my husband and I agreed that little T may have a mobile phone at age eigtheen.  Just kidding of course, but no, we haven’t decided on an age yet,  too early for that, we will cross the bridge when we get there.  Besides by then, who knows, they might have invented something so hi-tech you won’t even need a phone anymore!  If mobile phones are still around, one thing is certain, she won’t be having it younger than 13.  Is that too old?

In the end though, if you’re a parent of a child entering into their teen years and is faced with that predicament – one must also consider that all children are different.  If you feel that your child is mature for their age and they can handle the responsibility of having a mobile phone, then maybe you might just consider giving in.

What about you?  Do you have a young child and what age do you feel is right for them to have a mobile phone?  And for those who have teens, what age did you give in?

This is a sponsored post, however, all photos and opinions are by Yours Truly.

 

April Chat with a Mom: Melissa Queyquep

Melis and I met on our first training as volunteers before being sent to Africa.  She was one of those people whom you meet and instantly get along with and you know that the friendship will always be there no matter what.  I was then sent to Ghana as a Media Communication’s Officer in a small NGO and she – to Malawi as Continuing Professional Development Facilitator also an NGO.  Then life happened and now we are both mothers – which we both consider the most important role in our lives.

Tell us something about yourself, your little one (age & sex)

I am a teacher trainer working for a non-profit in Arusha, Tanzania called The Foundation for Tomorrow. I was born in Manila but spent most of my growing up years in Pangasinan. I am currently based in Tanzania with my partner and young son. My son, Kahlil North, is 4 years old. His favorite activity is drawing—I spend about 30,000 Tanzanian shillings each month for pens and paper—and in return I get gazillion pictures of cars, trucks, steam engines, trains falling off a cliff, and portraits of him, his dad, and myself. He sleeps with his pens and paper and these are the first things he looks for upon waking up in the morning. Recently, he has discovered the joys of swimming and so we go swimming every weekend now.

North and Mum 1 Your child’s birth story:  What was it like?

It started really easy. Unbeknown to me, I was already 4 cm dilated when I went to my OB for my “routine” check-up. I was already a week overdue and so prior to the internal exam, my doctor and I were discussing labor induction and setting a date for it. So it was a laugh when we found out I was actually already in labor then. I even managed to go to the mall to do some last-minute shopping before I checked in at the hospital. But then after 8 hours of easy labor, it stopped progressing. My doctor intervened and had to burst my water bag. And then the pain came. It was horrible. I seriously thought I’d die. In the delivery room, I was crying like a cow asking my doctor to please, please just do a caesarian section on me because I can’t take the pain anymore. Fortunately my doctor didn’t listen to me. I never heard North’s first cry and didn’t remember anything about “releasing” him. I think they drugged me too much it was all a blur. J

But there’s a funny story here. My sister (who was in the delivery room with me) told me the doctor and the nurses were surprised when North came out looking fair and with straight hair. Kennedy, my partner, is Kenyan and so the people in the hospital were excited to see their first “African baby.” So it was a big surprise and I am sure they were thinking I have a lot of explaining to do to my husband. Two weeks later, North’s super straight hair started becoming curly and his complexion also started to darken. It was amazing this transformation. I later found out that it is really like that for African babies.

How do you manage “me-time”?

Between running a household that includes 4 foster kids of varying ages, a four-year-old, work, and my studies, me-time is something that has eluded me for some time now. It comes few and far between so I take the opportunity in any form it comes when it presents itself—this could be in the form of a trip alone to the supermarket, the occasional foot massage, coffee dates with friends, and going to backyard sales. But I don’t know if it is just me or are all mothers like this, when I am away from my little one, I can’t really concentrate on having fun. I always wonder how he is doing, if he’s crying, etc. My favourite activity though is reading novels and the good thing is I can do it anywhere, anytime even with North around.

Any favourite anecdote about your little one?

While waiting for a football game to start at the local stadium, I told North I have to go use the toilet in a nearby restaurant. After the game, we went to the same restaurant to eat. Upon entering, my son announced for everyone to hear, “My mum made poo-poo here.” The people laughed. North was 2.5 years old when this happened.

 What is it about motherhood you love about?

Getting kissed in all parts of my face before going to sleep. It is my son’s and mine’s nightly ritual—we kiss each other not just in the lips. Our eyelids, nose, both cheeks, chin, ears, and forehead also get one kiss each before we finally say our goodnights and i-love-yous. North is my number 1 fan—in his eyes I am the prettiest woman, the best cook, best baker. My little man is generous with his praises. He was not even two when he first complimented me on a shirt I was wearing for work saying my “shirt is prettyful.

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If there is something about motherhood you dislike – what would it be?

The loss of my Sunday ritual: sleeping in and reading the Sunday paper from cover to cover in peace while having a cup of strong, black coffee. It is getting better though—North is less needy for attention now than he was when he 2-3 years ago. I reckon I’ll get this ritual back in 3 years’ time.

What’s a typical day for you and your little one like?

Now that he is attending school, a typical day means the three of us (me, him, and his dad) waking up early to get ready for school. We eat breakfast together and then his dad gives him a bath and dresses him up, while I prepare his lunch bag.  On weekends we usually watch cartoon shows on TV or DVDs, go out to eat, and decide which hotel with a pool in Arusha to visit for swimming

Best advice you’ve received about motherhood or mothering:

No one has given me any advice, or if it happened I must have forgotten it—which means it is not the best. Does my mum saying “Magiging nanay ka rin” (Someday, you’ll know what it’s like to be a Mum) when my sisters and I are teenagers count? Now I understand what she meant. 😉

If you could give yourself advice about motherhood before becoming one, what would it be?

There is no such thing as a perfect mother. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Keep calm and trust in the promise that it gets easier as your child gets older.

How do you manage your time between work and mothering?

You know what, it is a challenge, especially now that I am also taking a post-grad course. There are times when I feel like a rubber band stretched to its limits. But no matter how crazy my schedule gets, dinners are always sacred. We use that time to talk about his day in school. Bath time before bed and bedtime reading are also Mum-and-North activities that allow me to disengage from the demands of my other worlds (work and school) and give him my undivided attention. When he was younger and not attending school yet, I took North and his nanny with me to out-of-town work trips especially if it takes longer than 2 days. But now that he is 4, it has gotten better. I have started to relax and not feel anxious every time I have to leave him home. It also helps that his dad has recently gone to full-time consulting and his time has become more flexible so he has more time as well to spend with North.

Thank you Melis!

Mothering, according to Mrs. Darling

Since tomorrow is Mother’s Day here in the UK, I thought it would be nice to share how Mrs. Darling does it. Yes, JM Barrie’s Mrs. Darling, mother to Wendy, John and Michael in the much-loved classic Peter Pan.

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Picture credit here.

Mrs. Darling first heard of Peter Pan when she was tidying up her children’s minds.  It is the nightly custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for next morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day.  If you could keep awake (but of course you can’t) you would see your own mother doing this, and you would find it every interesting to watch her.  It is quite like tidying up drawers.  You would see her on her knees, I expect, lingering humorously over some of your contents, wondering where on earth you picked this thing up, making discoveries sweet and not so sweet, pressing this to her cheek as if it were as nice as a kitten, and hurriedly stowing that out of sight.  When you wake in the morning, the naughtiness and evil passions with which you went to bed have been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind and on the top, beautifully aired, are spread out your prettier thoughts, ready for you to put on.

While I know it sounds a bit like the nosy kind of mothering (smothering), the kind who goes through her children’s things and reads through their journals, I still find it sweet though – the words and how it was written.  Don’t you think?

Happy Mother’s Day not only to the mothers out there, but as well as to women who have been like mothers to others!

Winter Chill, Sticks & Stones & Red Cons

Winter was desperately clinging on last week.  Everywhere in England was cold, even in Cornwall.  A chilly wind was blowing from the Atlantic as we packed our car and headed up to Bedforsdshire where my in-laws live.  We left mid-afternoon and by the time we reached Wiltshire where the world famous pre-historic monument Stonehenge is located, we were stuck in a slow-moving traffic.  It wasn’t just because of the mysterious stones (there is always a never-ending flow of tourists in the area which results to slow-moving traffic), but also because it was a sunday and people who have spent the break in Cornwall were also heading back to London.

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Arrived in Woburn Sands at 8pm to a lovely light dinner of sandwiches and little cakes.

To cut the story short, I’ve decided that it was just too cold for me to do London Calling.  Lovely readers, You must understand I’m from a country where the normal temperature is usually around 30C and in the summer it can even go as high as 35C.  So yes, the cold and I, we don’t mix well and yes, I’m still asking the same question as you are – Why the H are you living in England then?

Anyway, instead we spent a lovely relaxed time with family, friends and enjoying the convenient amenities city living has to offer – shopping in MALLS!

I come from a country of malls.  We seem to love them so much you can find a mall almost in every corner in the city and according to wikipedia, we have about seven of the largest malls in the world.  Yes, it’s crazy.

We went to the mall in Milton Keynes to look for red converse shoes for T.  The first shop had them in pink and I wanted them in red (I used to have red converse too when I was a little girl and wore converse till I was probably in my early twenties).  The shop assistant said that we could order them and come back for it.  We explained that we’re just visiting from Cornwall and he said, that we could pick it up in a branch where we live.  My husband laughed and explained that the only shops we have in our little village by the sea are tourists shops and he said “So it’s just sticks and stones then?  My husband proudly answered, yes!

After going from one shop to another, we finally found the much coveted red cons in a Shuch shop,  by that time I was completely exhausted!  To think that we have bigger malls back home, I’m just not used to them anymore.

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There she goes, my little shopper, proud of her purchase.

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I love my daughter’s red converse.

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Her cousin Mush back home has the same red cons, makes it even more special.

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For the first time in two years, six months and five days T finally slept on her bed in her own room THE WHOLE NIGHT.  When I woke up for the nth time to check on her, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that it was actually 4am and she hasn’t cried and demanded to be taken to Mommy and Daddy’s bed.  My husband noticed though that even if it was just the two of us, I still clung on to the edge of the bed – out of habit I guess.

IMG_1712We will just have to see whether this is just sheer luck and a one-time-thing or has she finally realised that her bed is actually meant to be slept on?  Wish us luck folks!

Thanks for reading!

March Chat with a Mom: Asanempoka

Just like Mariah, I met Asanempoka in Ghana.  She was supposed to be my house-mate.  But as all volunteers know, things don’t exactly pan out as planned.  So she ended up in Bolgatanga, a town located at the upper east region of Ghana and I was left in Tamale (the largest city in the Northern Region).  The distance however, didn’t stop us from visiting each other.  Feeling adventurous, Asanempoka and I travelled from Ghana through Togo to get to Benin where we spent Christmas ’07.  Yes, you could say it was a bit mad for us to travel through two French-speaking countries when neither of us could understand nor speak a word of French.  But we managed.

That was almost six years ago. Today, she is a mother of a beautiful and smart four-year old and I too have my own daughter and the best bit is that we are still friends.

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Tell us something about yourself, your little one (age & sex).

I am a teacher and performing artist who is moving into Public Health. I have lived in a small, remote town in northern Australia on and off for 10 years, in between my trips to Africa, specifically now Ghana. My daughter has just turned four. She was born in Ghana, as that is where my husband is from, and lived there for the first 2 years of her life before we all moved to Australia 2 years ago.  We try and return to Ghana every year or two. Both places are our home.  We are a bi-lingual cross-continental family who embrace both cultures but mostly hold Africa in our heart of hearts.

Your child’s birth story: What was it like giving birth away from family and home country?

I chose to give birth in Ghana and wanted a home birth in my husband’s traditional house. When that looked unsuitable I looked at clinics in our town but they were awful blue-tiled, silver metal-bedded rooms with high windows, so I went with my Obgyn in the capital and gave birth at his clinic. We travelled 850km to give birth and stayed in a guest house in the capital until she was a week old before heading back up north. I wanted a natural birth but found out a few days after we arrived she was breech.  I argued with my Obgyn but he explained the layout of Accra and the traffic situation: – ‘I live here, the anaesthetist lives here, and the matron lives here so if there was an emergency it would be problematic’. I caved and said okay and that tomorrow would be good like he’d mentioned.  He said, ‘Nope, I can fit you in today.’

That was the day the President was inaugurated in the capital so imagine the bad traffic times 10!  My husband had about 3 hours to go back to our guest house and return with things for the baby and for me.  He just made it as I was being wheeled into theatre.  I had been about to jump off the bed with my legs crossed.

I had an epidural whilst we all listened to Salsa music and joked about Mugabe.  Then before I knew there she was.  I looked over at her and… I knew her.

(Wow, I’ve never told that story in only 3 paragraphs before =)

What you wish you knew about being a mother before becoming one

To be honest I kind of took it as it came.  I chose to raise her in our town Bolgatanga when she was a baby because I knew that I would be left alone to figure it all myself and if I did need to ask something there were plenty of women around to give me advice which I could take or leave.

If I must choose something I wish I’d known just how much patience I’d require.  I would have practiced a lot more beforehand.

How do you manage your “me-time”?

Hmmm…. What is that?  I don’t really get ‘me-time’.  Well, I didn’t for years.  I took time out when I could see an opportunity and I guess it’s still like that.  I had to work from when my daughter was 8 months and that was extremely difficult.  Since then I took time when we came to Australia and didn’t work for a while to be with her and last year I took a school term at 3 days a week instead of 5 so I could spend time with her before she went off to school this year.

I count special time with my daughter as ‘me-time’.

I don’t look for time off as such.  If I am feeling like I need some space I may go to the café before I pick her from day-care or I may go there on the weekend.  I may go into my room and write or relax.  I usually inform my husband I am going out and he should stay with her. I take time when I can and as she grows older it’s easier because she will engage herself in certain things for longer but can be difficult because at present she is an only child and demands a lot of attention.  I am a homebody and I like my time around my family.  I don’t always want to be alone.

Any favourite anecdote about your child?

My daughter is hilarious! We knew from 5 months of age that she had a sense of humour.  I sometimes have to remember to not cut her off with impatience and let her be funny so she doesn’t lose that carefree spirit.  She is also a story teller and loves to make up stories as if they are fact.  I don’t often correct her on what we all know she is making up because it may squash her creativity and really she is connecting her knowledge and memories in threads that can make sense to her.  She is a child that needs to do that.  She is a very rational creature, always has been.  If she can rationalize it to herself then she can accept it.  I like that about her because she doesn’t just believe anything she hears.

She constantly amazes me, especially on our recent trip to Ghana, how resilient she is, how accepting and open-minded.  She reminds me how to view things simplistically and see them from ‘the mind of a child’.

I think the funniest things are when she says things to me and I realize that she is giving back to me what I give to her.  It totally keeps me in check.

What is it about motherhood you simply love about?

The unconditional love.  The affection. The hugs.  The kisses.  The softness. The gentleness.

I became myself the day I became a mother.  I know it’s not that way for everyone but it was for me.  I found my confidence and I found something worth standing up and fighting for.  I had the family I’d always yearned for.  It was worth waiting until I was a bit older (only 30) so I could appreciate what it is to be single and then what it is to have what I have today.

If there’s something about motherhood you dislike, what would it be?

The constant demands.  I have a book I’ve been writing for over 3 years but with full-time work, part-time study and motherhood… and wifehood, it is the one thing that keeps getting put on the back burner and I wish I could put more time into it.  It’s hard to completely stop and clear my head of the things I have to do so I can re-focus on something else entirely.  Lists of things I must do, want to do, really should do constantly run through my head.  I feel good as I go through them but with a family it is never-ending.

What’s a typical day like for you and your little one?

Workdays and weekends are very different.  Workdays this year are me up at 6.30am getting ready for work.  I will wake my daughter at about 6.45am and she will have breakfast and I’ll make her lunch.  I will go off to work and my husband gets up and takes her to school.  In the afternoon I’ll finish work anywhere from 3.30 to 4.30pm and go and pick her from her day care and come home.  I’ll make dinner and we all have dinner together.  Ideally she is in bed by 7.30pm but this never happens.

On the weekends we get up as we do.  Eat breakfast and hang around, visit friends, do jobs around the house and generally hang about at home all together.  We live in a town that is very transient and a lot of our close friends moved on at the end of last year so the beginning of this year is quiet and family-focused.  It’s nice.

 Best advice you’ve ever received about motherhood or mothering

My mother said when I was young that she always gave me more information than I needed to know when I asked questions.  When my daughter asks me questions I speak honestly and I don’t treat her like a child and have never talked to her like a baby.  As I said she is a rationalist so this suits her.  It can be exhausting though as it does take time and energy but the results are that she really understands things around her – from objects and how they work to people’s relationships to us, where they come from and who they are, etc.

If you could give yourself advice long before you became a mother, what would it be?

Motherhood is a gift and is not a given in life just because you are a woman.

If I’d known this I may not have suffered so much when I miscarried twins last year.  But I know it now because I have one beautiful daughter.  Whatever comes after her I cannot force it to come just because I want it. When it does though I will know what a gift it is and just how blessed I am.  If I could have clicked my fingers for the family I wanted it would look very different to what it is now but life throws things at you in ways you do not expect and when I do step back and look at what I have been given it is wonderful.

 How do you balance your time between work and mothering?

Day by day.

Thank you!

Do check out her blog here.

Gone Bonkers – A Dialogue

We were watching the news before bath time a few nights ago when I noticed T looking tired and sleepy.

Me:  Are you sad, sweetie?

(She uses the word sad when she’s tired or declares that she’s sad when she wants attention).

T:  No (said in her sing-song voice).

Me:  Are you depressed?  (This was me trying to be funny).

Husband rolls his eyes and says,

Would you like Mommy to read Sylvia Plath to you?

T:  Oh alright.

Husband:  But remember, we have an electric oven – so don’t get any ideas, your face will only get grilled on one side.

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I often wonder if our two-year old can really follow the “grown-ups” conversation?

I bet she does!