Thursday, October 31, 2013

8 Month Update!

What a fun month we had! You're on the move, crawling on your belly like a little army commando! We've had to scramble to fine-tune our baby proofing as you clearly point out all the little hazards lurking around the house. Your new found mobility also means that you like to follow your Mommy around the house and hardly ever stay where we last left you! You've been doing pretty intense push ups and we're anxiously waiting to see if it's going to turn into a real crawl or you're going to sit up on your own.

We are discovering that you are quite fearless in your movement which results in many bumps and bruises as you try to pull up on items that are not sturdy enough, or pick up items that are a tad too big (toddler chair?!). You are just dying to walk and love being in the activity center and going round and round in a circle. When you pull up on the coffee table, we are seeing the beginning of cruising, just a few steps over to get you to the object. And you are happy to stand only holding on to one hand!


In the teething department we are happy to report that we have a tooth! Though it was a rough patch while coming in we love that little gleaming white spot. Of course, this month was marked by a bunch of new foods for you including chayote, puffs, bread, pineapple, pumpkin, hummus and white fish amongst others. You are getting really great at picking up a pre-loaded spoon and we are seeing that you're finally consuming a decent quantity of food! You've mastered pulling off your bib (with brute force), and figured out removing the top of your tray.

It seems that we can't go a month without mentioning how happy and smiley you are, and this one is no different. We're particularly enamored with the twinkle in your eye when you take off towards a coveted object. You love your older brother and look up to him so much even when he's not being so gentle, just entering his room makes you giddy! But usually he is, and it's you that bothers him: grabbing at him over the stroller median, trying to use him to stand up. Happily for now it's all in good fun. Other favorite activities this month: spinning the beads on the abacus, playing with balloons, and kicking the soccer ball in the jumper. It truly is a joy to spend the days with you and see you grow and discover what the world has to offer. We love you SO much!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I Want (Need) a Village

Recently, a women from one of the expat groups that I am a member of, posted an article about how hard it is to be an expat wife. To sum it up: losing your job identity, living in a place where you don't speak the language, and having to set up a life for your spouse and children is hard. So even though there are perks, the emotional toll is extremely difficult. And I had to laugh, because the other choice was crying.

The stereotype that the above mentioned article was try to dissipate is that all these women do is sip gin and tonics. But fortunately for them, the stereotype is not that far off. I have met many of them in person. They are here for their husbands' jobs'. Jobs which pay enough to live and then some. Most of them are older than us, so I understand that language acquisition is more difficult. Some need to set up children in new schools; I can definitely see that being a challenge. And moving in general is no piece of cake, so I definitely don't discount that. On the flip side, many have "helpers"- maids, nannies, drivers, or all of the above. While they might not be in the comfort of their home country, their time is freed up to join the county club, and volunteer and have adventures around town in their "exotic" surroundings. As much as I empathize with some of the individual struggles, I do not feel bad for these women, and actually feel that they are quite lucky to live this life!

---

One of my friend's favorite quotes is about becoming a mother:


The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. -Osho


The one greatest realization I have had since becoming a mother is that I cannot do it alone. It was cathartic. Me- the officer, the academic, the independent "I can do anything and I can do it by myself"- can not do it alone. A mother can be a child's many things but she can not be a child's everything. 

---

The modern nuclear family doesn't make sense. One person can not cook and clean and sustain the house (upkeep, decorating, holidays) and do that while also breastfeeding, playing (educating) kids, and not sleeping well at night. 

When I martyr myself and try to keep it all together, that lack of breathing space for my mind eventually gets so small that the whole system collapses. When I don't and I have a messy house because playing and cooking come first, I do a little better but the clutter also gets in my head and it doesn't quite work. The internet is full of affirmations of women admitting that they don't have it all together, and while I most certainly admire the candid approach, in my personal life I find it hard to live with. It's not so much about lowering expectation (and they most certainly have been lowered) but about being content with the things you're letting slide. 

When you're on your own there are two options to get everything back together. The first option is hiring your village: daycare workers or nannies, housekeepers or cooks or maids or just a cleaning lady, restaurants or take away, gardeners or drivers. The hired village has many forms: choose the ones that make the biggest impact for you and focus your energy on the remaining tasks. Some of the expat women have very big hired villages. I would take a hired village over no village any day of the week.

The second is having/making a village in the place you are living. This is the village I yearn for. In an ideal world, I want to be close to people that care about my children and their well being. I want to get a day off cooking because I'm going to eat at someone's house and not because I'm shuffling to a restaurant. I want to be able to ask someone I love to stay with my sleeping children so that I can go out. It's sad for me that I don't know what our city looks like at night, that I don't recognize the twinkling lights and the sketchy dark back roads. I am ready to plant roots and assemble a village. Or move. 

At this point in our lives, we cannot hire our village, but I really wish that we still had one. 



Monday, October 7, 2013

7 Month Update!

Wow! Another great month has gone by! Most of all this month marked our real segway into starting solids. You are already showing us that you have great self feeding skills as we explored fruits and vegetables. We tried: sweet potato, regular potato, watermelon, honeydew melon, carrots, zucchini, cucumber, apples, bananas, avocado, and salmon.

We also had a bunch of motor advances. You can pull to a stand! You do it so easily, like it's no big deal and it's a bit of an obsession. You are trying really hard to crawl, and in the meantime pushing backwards, but the real movement has been that you realized that you can roll over both ways! After several nights of back and forth you now settle into side sleeping fairly quickly.


You've settled into a nice routine and are quite enjoying the predictability that it brings. You love being outdoors, going on walks, watching the city go by in the stroller, flirting with anybody that flashes you a smile and pushing yourself into discovery. You lunge forward with no restraint and we're so excited to see you keep growing and developing. You are our joy-child and we love you so much!