Dear Son (holding you in confinement)

Dear Son,

In this moment of confinement where I find myself holding you and feeling your love through my bones, I am able to plunge into your gaze and see what we humans call “Eternity”.

In this moment of confinement, I have never felt so at peace.

It’s like the rules constructed to make human sense out of unfathomable phenomena no longer exist in your eyes,

and there is a time space continuum travelling in and out through you evoking light where man has never been.

You are the worm hole that leads me to the divine in a heartbeat.

And just like that, confined in the blink of your eye, I feel free.

I love you, my son.

Mama

Confinement with your man

Confinement with your man

Sorry – Confinement with your kids and your 2 seconds of romance with your man in an endless quarantine

As you all know, the whole world is on lockdown. If you are a child, you are probably having the best time of your life. Your parents are too exhausted to bathe you everyday. A little dirt on a 4 year old won’t kill nobody. You do not have to wake up early for school BUT FOR SOME UNGODLY REASON YOU STILL WAKE UP EARLY and do what you feel like. Yes, you do because your parents are still trying to catch up on their very short night’s sleep.

Night is when you can finally get some proper work done.

If you are a child in a grown up body, aka an adult: life is not as much fun. Bills won’t pay themselves if you twiddle your thumbs (or anything else you like to twiddle). So you try to set boundaries and rules and breaks —> Wake up in the morning, take a shower, eat a fruit. Then you scream at your kids so they eat a fruit and don’t only eat half and leave the rest on the couch underneath the blanket….because you may or may not have sat down on half a banana the other day. Hey! At least it was ripe. 

Anyway, now that you may or may not have had to change your clothes to get rid of a squashed banana on your left butt cheek, you have lost about 30 minutes of your time and more emails have come in your inbox. When you finally get to start it’s about 10.30, you’ve only written 3 emails and been interrupted 99 times because there is a little person who loves to chat with you, but only does it when you are trying to have a professional phone call. You excuse yourself from your team for the 35 seconds you took to mute your mic so you could shout and threaten to turn the TV off or take away somebody’s (won’t point any fingers) toys.

Meanwhile, your man is doing a very very good job.

Well, you are making him think that you think he is doing a very good job. Your man needs to feel like his mere existence, his socks in the living room and his shirtless (luckily for you – muscular) torso are doing a very, very good job. What’s important at this point is not that you stay together at all times (whether it is parents, siblings, mates/spouses or children, nobody likes to be with somebody 24/7). What’s important is….that you make sure your time together is positive and potentially romantic.

Meaning, right after lunchtime is the best time to get the kids to nap. This means that you have time for one kiss and possibly more. DO NOT use that time to talk about kids or bills! DO NOT talk. Talking time is going to be a different time, preferably when the kids are awake. Kids nap time is for your romance. Make sure their bellies are full to increase the chances of the nap lasting more than 20 minutes. 

And there you have it guys, confinement with your colleagues in one ear, your kids in the other, and your man in between the tiny breaks.

I predict there is going to be a lot of “Confinement” babies by the end of the year 🙂

Letter to my son (Dear Son)

Dear child of mine,

yet again my love for you overwhelms me. Yet again your eyes enlighten me. Yet again your smile and every breath you take inspire me to be…

To be.

I have never known a better sense of self and identity before you. And as you lay before me I realise I had no life before you. I realise that before made no sense until I had to be, for you.

I feel like there is a power greater than my own and it keeps me going. I feel like there is a borrowed strength passing through me and I lean on it effortlessly. And as I lean yet again, I am shown the hardest path, but I walk on it easily.

Today you hurt yourself as any child would when he learns to walk. As I merely approached, you put your arms towards me, you knew that I was coming for you. How did you know? How do you know? How do you caress my heart sometimes and breathe? Who told you that my heart was heavy? How do you lock eyes with me and smile on purpose when you see me pensive. How do you carry the sun in your gaze and shine light on me? Who told you that my soul was lonely?

Anyone who knows me knows that I write. Anyone who knows me knows that I write only when I’m inspired by the good, by the bad. Not so long ago I used to write whenever I felt deep sadness but I did it in such a way that no one who did not know me would know. Anyone who knows me now knows that my new inspiration stems from pure love no matter how hard it may be. 

Child, I pray you keep inspiring me as you do now. I especially pray that I will somehow inspire you to be a man of honour, a man who helps and a man who shares. I pray that I will inspire you to be a man who loves even more so than I love you.

Your mommy,

How to be a supermom amidst a global crisis

I had been home with my son 24/7 in the past. But that was for the first 3 months of his life. 

Well, 4 months – he was born prematurely and had to spend his first few weeks sleeping at the hospital as I watched him being poked and probed for testing and monitoring. Once he got home it was fairly easy: Eat, poop, sleep, cry sometimes, repeat. Anyway, that’s for another publication on premature babies big or small.

So in between then and now, what changed? You might ask. Well, my son has had time to adapt in day care, then in school. He has been maintaining social connections and learning from very competent people. Meanwhile, I have been adapting as a member of society, working and paying bills, and coming home to a very physically exhausted boy with lots of tales to tell because he had a fun exciting day.

The Corona virus changed everything.

Schools are closed and my son has been home for over a month now. I’ve had to battle work with motherhood, and then sickness with motherhood. No matter how high your fever is, you cannot turn off being a mother.

Thankfully I am not alone. I have a wonderful partner who is an amazing father but still, sometimes too lenient with his firstborn son. I’m still able to shower and take a quick nap while they’re out in the yard playing ball, thank the heavens.

I’ll take this quick opportunity to give a shout out to all parents, especially single parents out there. You are doing an amazing job!!!

I digress. This virus CHANGED EVERYTHING! I am no toddler teacher. I do have some years of teaching behind me, but my students were teens one could more or less reason with. I do not have the space in my house, the energy, or the qualifications to keep a toddler’s mind focused on learning all day. Especially while I’m working. There have been three main activities so far: drawing/colouring, Netflix (for him to keep up with English), and story time with toys. He won’t listen when I want to do the alphabet or count to 10. I even bought things for fine motor-skills so he can practice zipping up, clipping buttons and making knots. He has a 3 second time span of interest and then moves on to do something else. It’s so frustrating! 

There are adult things that are always at the back of our minds like: Will we still be able to provide? Have we paid all the bills? Is this too much bread in one week? Paracetamol will become a dear friend for headaches. The mirror becomes an enemy and your mind is all over the place. 

I’m guessing you are waiting for the part where I tell you how to be a supermom…

So sorry about the misleading title!

There is actually no way you can be perfect generally speaking, much less during a never-before-experienced crisis affecting the entire world.

The truth is you are already a supermom!

Is your child healthy? Is your child fed? Is your child mostly in a good/happy mood even when it pisses you off? If you answered yes to all these questions, please, give yourself a pat on the shoulder and a big praise in the mirror.

On your CV for your next job application you can definitely add: Work well under pressure. 

Now keep it up moms! Let’s make sure the world doesn’t crumble, one home and one child at a time.

COVID-19 (How I got over Corona)

As this era reigns with a global pandemic, natural disasters, wars, and lots of people dying, it really seems like a chapter out of the revelations in the Bible. Every time you turn on your TV there is something horrible happening. Actually, this was always the case but lately, with the Corona virus crisis, it no longer seems distant. You are bound to know someone directly, or someone who knows someone who is affected by the virus.

On Thursday, March 12th 2020 we heard that the virus had officially impacted Belgium and that we may have to work from home the next day and test our equipment to ensure it worked, should we have had to stay home indefinitely. On March 13th, the government explained that we were officially on confinement, closing all social places such as bars, restaurants, theatres, etc. as well as all non food stores. Only businesses deemed essential such as supermarkets, pharmacies and medical places would be open. Goodbye plans to buy new trousers for work. Hello no bra, no makeup and bad hair days!

This meant that I had to rethink the way I did my work, learn to prioritise even more and especially balance my work with motherhood because, oh yeah, schools are closed as well until further notice.

Did I mention I’m a mom? Well I am, to a lovely stepdaughter and a 4 year old boy. For a few weeks I grew more and more guilty because I could not focus all my attention on work, nor could I focus it all on the children. You don’t want the kids to miss out on a school year because you’re not equipped to get their attention for more than 20 minutes! The alphabet is not going to learn itself! So, between the breaks that weren’t breaks because I use them to cook and make sure the kids eat, between the laundry, the dishes and aaaall the emails, it was becoming very emotionally draining.

After a few weeks I realised I had to change my outlook on things. I stopped getting frustrated when my son wouldn’t count from 1 to 10. I’d put on Netflix, preferably in English (he learns french at school), preferably something that makes him learn lots of things without him realising it. I’ll get my stepdaughter to write or draw and I’ll look around and be GRATEFUL. Gratefulness is such a peaceful state of mind! Just stop and think: Do you have food? Do you have shelter? Do you have love, even through virtual distance? If you answered yes to all these questions, then you will be fine!

While I was working from home, my partner who works in an elderly home in maintenance (can’t do it behind a computer at home) had to keep going to work. I’m guessing he must have carried the virus on him because I eventually caught it. Or should I say it caught me. I had been home for a few weeks so the only places where I could have been exposed were at the supermarket (the two occasions I went), or at home with my partner. Turns out there had been lots of cases, and deaths, at his workplace because they are generally not planning on saving the elderly but rather let the the situation pass as comfortably as possible.

I had been feeling muscle pains, mostly in my legs and didn’t think anything of it until I became generally very tired and a little short of breath for simple things. And then muscle pain in my entire body. I still didn’t think anything of it until I felt chills and dizziness even though I was sitting down. Then I woke up with a congested nose and thought, let’s give my doctor a call. At this point, no doctors are seeing patients face to face unless absolutely necessary, so consultations are done via the phone or video conference. Told him everything I was feeling, he asked if I had been exposed. I told him I didn’t think so, but my partner might be exposed at work. He confirmed the cases at the elderly home and told me he was sure it was the virus, ruling out the common flu or cold because I had already been home for 3 weeks and no one around me had symptoms of anything else. At the moment, they are keeping tests for people who are in a really bad shape, so impossible to get one, but I am making sure I obey the quarantine rules nonetheless.

The fear was not so much that I would get ill and die because I’m generally in good health. And they do say if you are in good health that the common flu might be worse than this. But mostly, the fear was that I might pass it on to the children or to someone who is much more at risk.

Overtime I started feeling much worse, especially pain in my sinuses, feeling like my head was going to explode. Simply going to the toilet or going downstairs made me short of breath but I could otherwise still function, more or less.

After about 6 days my temperature had gone back to normal. The muscle pain was gone. My sinuses gradually became decongested with time and vicks inhalations. I still have about 3 days of quarantine but I feel recovered already!

If you believe you have the virus it is important that you isolate yourself as much as possible from your family. Although with small children it is nearly impossible. You still have to bathe and feed them. Do not feel guilty for not being able to get away, do not feel guilty for getting sick because you were careful: this is a new thing nobody really knows how to fight. You are doing the best you can given your emotional and financial support. You are doing good.

In this time it is important to keep a spiritual connection with higher forces, whichever they may be for you. There is something bigger than us. Tune out of anything external filling you with guilt, doubt and fear. Take some deep breath. This too shall pass….

Letter to my son (one of MANY)

Dear Son,

I like to lean over you when you are sleeping to whisper in your ear and tell you that mama loves you. I always ask, gently in your ear, still softly like a watery murmur at the seep of a spring transforming slowly into a powerful river: 

You love mama?

You nod.

You nod…

Every

Time

And I wonder: Do you see me in your dreams holding you in a tight embrace and asking you for reassurance on your love for me? Do you know how much, in that moment, your head moving moves me?

Or do I interrupt one of your many nightly adventures climbing and conquering the world with my trembling voice?

I will never know.

But your quick nod, even as your mind flows into another world, shows no hesitation.

Sometimes, you even say it to me with your eyes kept shut and your slow inhalations. Those are my most peaceful nights where I know that if I do not wake, your words would stay with me forever.

And every night, I will whisper that I love you.

I love you

I love you

I love you

Mama