I love Cup of Jo. The blog content and the community of readers that gather around it. It is a very beautiful space on the internet and what I secretly wish for this here little space.
She recently had a blog post on family rituals and I decided to steal a few to start with my child(ren) as they get older. So here goes and please also check it out.
To keep things simple at Christmas, we each get 4 gifts: something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. I am planning to use this model with my children (someday)!
My MIL had three curious kids who would shake gifts put under the tree before Christmas day. She invented Christmas “code names” to write on the presents. From then on the kids didn’t know whose presents were whose and would stop peeking. On Christmas day each kid gets to guess who’s assigned to each code name and she reveals the results at the end. My husband is now 33 and the tradition is still alive! She always chooses a different theme. Sometimes they are so abstract we spend hours just trying to guess what the theme is. Last year it was types of dairy cow (Holstein, Normande, Guernsey, Belted Galloway) and the year before it was cities in Ireland (Cork, Killkenny, Limerick, Dungarvan). One year she did locations of WWII battle sites. She keeps us on our toes and I always look forward to it.
“When my (very adult now) kids were smaller, I began asking for their self-portraits as my birthday gift. Many years later, I enjoy the most incredible archive of their growing artistic skills, evolving concepts of self, and interests at the time. It’s still what I ask for, and they happily explore new media, formats and methods each year — often their portraits coordinate incredibly well with no overt communication. Can’t recommend this enough. Only wish we’d begun even earlier!”
A nice tradition I have started with my kids is giving a special book on their birthday. Instead of a greeting card, we pick a book that means something that year (a book we borrowed many times from the library, a little story about a place we travelled to, about getting a sibling, etc) and we write a note on the front page or wherever we can fit it talking about memorable things of that year and hopes for the year ahead. I plan to give my kids a book with a love note every year for as long as I live
She doesn’t know it yet, but I invest money each month for my goddaughter, in the amount of her age. $1 a month when she was 1, $2 when she turned two, ect ect. She will be 11 next month! I plan to give her the money when she graduates high school or turns 18. It is a fairly low financial commitment from me each month, but should hopefully be a very nice gift for her one day. AND it will be a great lesson in compound interest and investing in your future 😉
The night before the first day of school we eat under the dining room table instead of on top of it. My kids are little (4 and 7) so they find this exciting and a wacky way to end summer and start the year!
In person, these feelings and reflections on the past year are mostly joyful but definitely extremely emotional. I cannot put into words what this year has been like but I would like to try.
Motherhood takes a village. You can do it alone but it is so much better when shared with people you love and trust and with whom you can point your children towards. A pal of mine shared with me that you need four or five people that you trust enough to say to your kid if you cannot talk to me about anything, you can speak to ….. I definitely have those people, both in family and friends.
Pregnancy takes a toll on you the mother and it takes a while for your body to adjust, both physically, emotionally, hormonally and just. Be patient with yourself also, don’t stress too much about your looks.
A baby’s personality develops at birth, observe and work with that.
A friend told me about a mothers’ instinct at my baby shower and I was doubtful. It is true that it does kick in and that I am the best person equipped to be her mother. No one can be a better mom than me.
The dynamics of your relationship shift significantly. Talk about it, review where you both are/ how you are feeling and to discuss. Little people can otherwise impose a lot of pressure on your relationship.
Having a baby helped me refine how much I love people. I also finally understood how much my mom loves me. If she loves me even a little of what I feel for her then I am loved. I also know what it means when I miss someone because I sometimes miss her so much my heart and body actually aches. How does my mom cope?
I learnt that I can be efficient with my time. I commit better to things immediately. I can function with little to no sleep.
A friend is waiting to have her first baby any time now and a popular blog I read often asks participants what advice they would give a first time mama and only now am I kind of ready to attempt answering that.
Over the holiday I got a bit tired of listening to the same subscribed podcast content so I challenged myself to listen to shows I wouldn’t normally do or I had heard but did not want to commit to full subscription just yet. So here are some of those fantastic episodes.
I felt my back stand up when I first listened to her views on infidelity so I wasn’t open at all but I liked it so much I listened to this other episode on sexlessness.
Radio Diaries’ Teenage Diariesrevisited. I love that kind of radio soooo much. I was hanging on the edge of my seat listening. Definitely subscribing. As a teen I would have loved to participate in such an activity, to be honest, even now I would.
This being the last week of my maternity break, I thought I would share some of the lessons I have learnt as a new mom. Please share your own lessons in the comments, thanks.
Newborns make interesting sounds right from the beginning. Leaving the hospital the little one giggled … we should have known she had grand plans for us later that night.
They try to turn their necks from side to side initially, at least she did.
They are your co-partner in breastfeeding. FACT.
Breastfeeding makes you feel insecure – get a good lactation consultant on standby and attend a good birthing class that included breastfeeding lessons.
It does take a village, first kids are naturally born resilient coz how do they survive with parents who don’t know what they are doing????
… but you should also control the type of visitors you get. In the early days I caught myself making lunch and teas for visitors, very very sad.
Trust your instincts always. This took me a while to get used to but it does kick in, thank God.
You fall in love with them coz they pin you with that intense penetrating gaze and then one day they just smile and you are captivated.
I will honestly admit to the fact that I did not initially fall in love, like day one. It took me a week or two but when I got there, I was fully in love …
Newborns aren’t fazed by hiccups.
They hate to bath, at least she did. It took three full months for it to become bearable.
You are initially tired, lack of sleep and childbirth, but you soon learn to cope.
The nature of the relationship with your partner will change. The most important thing is to talk about it and give each other some grace. Also, get some zzz when you can, lack of sleep exacerbates errrrthing.
Baby breath and baby farts don’t smell at all
Changing dirty diapers is actually not the worst thing.
The best part of it all though is getting to know her an experience that I would liken to a slowly opening rose bud.
As friends of mine are in that phase of having babies, I enjoyed this post and felt inspired to copy a list of things I would take with me when I next go to visit as in that moment you are often at a loss of what is appropriate.
Time – to listen, help out with her errands, carry baby, fold laundry or cook. Just time.
Easy to warm and eat with one hand food. Also drinks.
What food did she miss during pregnancy that she can now eat? Stock up on that!!
A cozy gown as the new mom will be nursing or up in the cold of the day or night.
Comfy chill at home shoes/ other clothes.
Hand cream/ hand sanitiser because new baby = washing hands often.
A beautiful mug or water bottle as she might be drinking a whole lot more if she is breastfeeding.
When you had a baby, what would you have loved OR what great gift do you get new moms?
I read this book over the December holidays and was sooo excited, I am not sure what happened and it’s almost four months later that I am here gushing about it. Urgggh!! Please see below my thoughts under the different themes, page numbers are provided in brackets for you to follow.
This is a book for us women, refugees, blacks (6) and I totally totally agree.
I love that our time in Nairobi overlap – when she returns from Canada. I know all the landmarks she mentions of Nairobi. It felt so good to read a book about a place that I knew and know of so intimately. Double yay!!
I thought it was odd that she kept referring to her folks as Mummy and Baba??? So odd coz those are two different languages in my head and I would have gone with either Mummy and Daddy or Mama and Baba.
I wondered also why she protects the names of her own kids but not Simon’s eldest two. Not sure what that’s about is it maybe that they are adults and the other two are minors?
The things said to them about a male child being preferred to daughters. And how this is often blamed on the mother in a way that gives the husband carte blanche to stray in the name of looking for a son (pp 7 – 27). I know this reality all too well and all I think is Biology lessons are important for all.
It’s so subtle but her talking about not participating in the street games and fights as much as the local kids do coz it could turn on you:
“I had to choose how I would distinguish myself and I knew that it had to be safe.”(9)
The plight of house girls and domestic workers – all too relatable ( 50).
Having read Pumla’s Rape, it resonated with me how she spoke about the incident of being sexually attacked: her response and that of the adults around her (52 -55). Also, in the light of #MeToo, I thought it quite bold that she opened up about this incident.
The urgency for them to receive their citizenship. Yeah, I get that (67 – 68).
I remember the following events but was probably too young to consider their true impact on history: Chris Hani, Mandelas release, the IFP-sponsored murders and the election.
Growing up Foreign
Being called an African monkey. While that did not happen to me, I know about being called a refugee almost as though it was a dirty swear word.
And the rules that their mom had them follow because growing up in another country with parents working full time, there is not a big social infrastructure to support the parents. So rules are key or in young people speak, rules are bae.
“… the immigrant child knows that outside is one thing but home is another country.” (83)
“The immigrant child knows that the key to survival is in the inflection points. … The key to survival is in blending in first, in learning how to be just like else as a first step to freedom. You have to know how the inside works before you can stand outside and make everybody laugh.” (90)
“The immigrant child doesn’t make any noise. … She is preparing for the day when she will have mastered the art of being normal so that she can stand out.” (90)
How she always talks of her sisters, so beautiful and in some way the story is as much about them as it is her. Yay sisterhood.
Being foreign in South Africa has shown me that White ones are still preferred to Black ones. Sad but fact!
On discovering that your mom is not just a role – mom, wife, friend, daughter – but actually a woman with dreams, feelings and thoughts quite apart from me even. GASP, SHOCKING.
How their mom almost became like an older fourth sister but their dad remained a dad. I find this to be the truth with us too.
“To know your mother as an adult is to finally see that she has lived many more years as a woman than you have been alive. To be a grown woman who loves her mother is to understand that it is no easy thing to raise children so beautifully that they don’t worry about you until they are grown up and ready to carry the complex burden of that anxiety.” (304)
Class: I enjoyed reading about her relationship with her nanny especially when they were both pregnant. I thought it was the most honest tale by a middle class Black woman that I could totally relate to.
So please go out, buy the book read, it, share it and enjoy it.