Monday, February 27, 2012

How NOT to Raise Bébé

When a friend recently told me that there is a big hoopla in America about a new book (Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, by Pamela Druckerman) that praises French parenting, I couldn't believe my ears.

I can understand how someone might praise the French for many things, including an efficient health care system, many helpful social services, and we mustn't forget their great cheese, to name just a few, but parenting? Non. Non. Non. At least, mostly non. I was raised by a French mother (and a German father) on a tropical island, have lived in France for 11 years, am married to a Frenchman, and am a stay-at-home mom raising our five-year-old son.

I love living in France, but one of the things that makes me cringe, is the way many parents raise their children. The way they hem them in so much that they have no room to breathe.

France is the land of the philosopher Descartes of "I think, therefore I am" fame. France is a country filled with thinkers; people living mostly in their heads. And because this is a land of thinkers, it has been decided (by whom, I don't know), that children are supposed to be adults, albeit tiny ones, no matter their age nor their developmental capacities. They are supposed to act and behave according to the same rules and regulations that are in place for the grown-ups.

And just as the children follow a set of rules and regulations, so do the mothers. Most French mothers follow a well-worn path. You go to work (feminists fought for you to have this right and being a stay-at-home mom is medieval), you have a baby, nurse for a proud two months (if at all), at which time you stop nursing, put your child in daycare or with a nanny and you go back to work, with a lot of your income going to childcare, since it is not only not entirely free as is often claimed, but sometimes quite expensive. In the evening, you pick up your child, feed it, bathe it, put it to bed, often as quickly as you can, so that you can have your adult time. And as early as six months (some even three months), you go away for a weekend with your husband (or partner - many French couples are unwed) to rekindle the flame, while the child stays with a grandparent.

It is normal to follow this path, and most French women I know, don't even consider questioning how it's done (Those who do, cringe as much as I). These women are simply built this way. And I can see why the author of the book, an American living in Paris, might envy that.

But what the envy seems to miss -- or perhaps chooses to ignore -- is that even French moms and dads get frazzled. Even French children have tantrums. And big ones, in the equally big supermarkets à la Walmart. Even French parents yell at their children. And a lot. And loudly. And by yelling things such as, "You are mean" or "You are evil" (yes EVIL) for the slightest disturbances, such as at a toddler who doesn't want to share his new birthday present.

The parent rules in France with an iron fist. If the child speaks her needs or desires, she is systematically dismissed. I've seen it again and again and again. As a matter of fact, the child generally has no say, period, regardless of whether she is four or 14.

A lot of French parenting is fear-based and what-other-people-think-based. During a recent visit to the pharmacy, my five-year-old tried to climb up on a low ledge next to the counter.

The pharmacist looked at him and said, "Get down from there." I thought she was asking him to get down, because she was worried about my son breaking the ledge, which in my book is a perfectly valid request, but instead, she added, "You are going to fall." Sigh.

Going to fall. I hear that one a lot. Don't do that, you are going to fall. Don't climb up that tiny step, you are going to fall. Don't try to follow your dreams, you are going to fall. Going to fall. Going to fall.

Instead of showing a child how to do it safely, within his capacities, French parenting is almost always about, "DON'T!" And not just "don't" to keep the child safe, but "don't" because "I am worried about what other people are thinking of me," because you know that they are judging you harshly.

Just yesterday, while my husband, my son, his friend Leo, Leo's mom, and I were at a local park, a toddler came over and touched Leo's bicycle. The small, wooden bike fell over gently, and didn't get damaged. Because I knew what was coming, before the toddler's mother had a chance to say anything, I told her the bike was fine, that it was nothing to worry about and that her child was welcome to touch the bike if he wanted to.

Unfortunately, my words and my smile didn't have the desired effect. The mother simultaneously apologized profusely to me, almost genuflecting, as she scolded her child rather harshly. Probably with reason, because someone else would have harrumphed and glared at her for letting her child toddle over to touch the bike. What stress! I know. I live it often.

Another aspect of "DON'T" is, 'I don't want to be bothered." That is the flip-side of French parenting. On one hand, the child is systematically micro-managed, stifled and suffocated, and on the other hand, the child is pushed to play by himself...certainly not for the sake of the child, but because the parents want their adult-time. And not just a little time. A lot of time. As much of their own time as they possibly can.

It is almost as if parents and children live side-by-side, not with each other. Yes they spend time together. Yes they eat together, and rather tasty morsels at that. Yes they go on vacation together (the French have at least five weeks a year). And yet, somehow, looking from the outside in, there seems to be a distance between the adult and the child.

I wonder where this comes from. I ask around me and I don't get any answers. But I do sometimes see cracks in the veneer. On occasion, I hear mothers saying that they wish they could stay at home with their kids, but they don't, because they need to earn money or because a woman has earned the right to work. When I tell these women that they do have a choice, that we have made that choice, they reject the idea.

They have decided they don't have a choice and so they must grin, bear it, and put it out of their minds. They leave their two-month-olds in daycare and proceed to live their adult lives alongside their child or children. They shut off their emotions and do it the way it is supposed to be done.

Hmmm...I wonder where they learned that from?

Even author Pamela Druckerman has her concerns, "...I'm not even sure that I like living [in France]. I certainly don't want my kids growing up to become sniffy Parisians."

If you are a somewhat logical person, wouldn't you deduce that French adults become this way because of French parenting?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Love Letter to my Childless Friends Who are yearning for Children

This is a love letter to all my childless friends who are yearning desperately for children. I love you and I understand this yearning. And while you wait for the day when your children arrive (if they arrive), here something to ponder:

Having children can be the most wonderful, heart-opening experience (at least it has been for me), and it can also be the most difficult, hair-raising, hair-yanking-out, going-bald challenges you will ever face.

Before I became a mother, I had often heard it said that, Your life will never be the same and Your life will never be your own anymore. When I heard those things, I thought, No problem, I can handle that.

But there are days were I couldn't and where I didn't, because I had no concept of what I was getting myself into.

It was the deep, dark secret that no one told you about before you crossed over to the other side; after it was too late to turn back.

§ I had no idea how exhausted I would be.

§ I had no idea that teething could be so painful...for me.

§ I had no idea the worry I would feel when our child got sick,
especially with a "new" sort of illness that we had no experience with.

§ I had no idea how much my buttons would and could get pushed and how crazy it would make me.

§ I had no idea that I would get hit, bitten, spit on, scratched, and kicked so much, by this little person I love so much.

§ I had no idea that -- even though I swore high and low that I wouldn't -- I would spank our child (though that really didn't help matters).

§ I had no idea how much I would scream.

§ I had no idea how angry I would get.

§ I had no idea what a lunatic I could become.

§ I had no idea how much I would beat myself up for all the ways I thought I messed up as a mother and for all the ways I thought I could do better.

§ I had no idea that a child could make such a scene in public.

§ I had no idea how much pressure people would put on me to spank our kid, when he acted up in public (at least in France).

§ I had no idea how much others would meddle in my parenting style, increasing the pressure and the self-doubt.

§ I had no idea that I would feel like I was the only mother who didn't have a grip on her child.
(Not true. Other mothers lose their minds just as much as I do).

§ I had no idea how stressful it could be to feed your child, when suddenly all the foods he loved, he now refuses.

§ I had no idea how difficult it could be when your child is sick and refuses even the sugary homeopathic granules that dissolve under the tongue.

§ I had no idea how difficult it could be to get your child to put on his pajama bottoms, or his sweater, or his shoes, or his socks, or his gloves, or his bonnet, or his hat, or his shirt, or a clean shirt, for that matter. Or to brush his teeth, or to use the toilet before going to sleep. Or to get in his car seat.

§ I had no idea how difficult it would be to have a normal conversation on the phone.

§ I had no idea how much work it would be to get the things done that I wanted to get done.

§ I had no idea how much mess could be made, and how much cleaning I would be doing for this mess that I didn't create.

§I had no idea how little I knew about child-rearing and how much trouble it would cause me.

§ I had no idea that a vacation with a child is not a vacation.

And on and on.

I am not complaining. I am just saying it as it is for me, and for many mothers I see around me.

I love our son more than I ever imagined I could love him. I am growing as a human being in ways that I never thought I could or would. (Yogi Bhajan says there are two ways to reach enlightenment, one is to get up early in the morning and do yoga, and the other is, to become a mother.) I am gaining more and better tools that help me stay more centered. And yet, there are days were we -- son and mother --have those meltdowns that seem insurmountable.

And so, while you wait for the day that you yourself become a mother, ENJOY your time. Enjoy each precious moment you have to lounge and linger in any way that you choose. Enjoy your quiet time. Enjoy the freedom you have. Enjoy this very moment for exactly how it is.

I do. It's just different.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Break those Rules

I grew up with a lot of rules. They were so seamlessly put into place, that I didn't even notice that they were there. I lived by them and only rarely ventured outside of their perimeters. And this tendency lives in me right into adulthood.

I've had an inkling of the way I operate for a while, but it is only now, that I have a four-year-old, that I truly realize how hampered so many of my actions are as an adult, because of all those rules that were placed on me when I was a little girl.

Because so much of my life has been ruled by fear, insecurity and limitations, I try to give our son as much freedom to discover and create as is possible, safe and reasonable.

I try to stifle the gasps when he dumps 20 hazelnuts in his grape juice (knowing full well that he will eat only a few of them and that the rest will be wasted) and try to remind myself that he is learning about mass, weight and flotation.

I gaze in awe when he stuffs a heap of raisins into a tea infuser shaped like a little house.

I marvel when he takes his marbles and lets them roll down the spiral road of his parking structure, all over the floor.

I succeed often at giving him the space to discover.

And then there are days where those rules from the past just clash with the way I would like to parent our child. Today, was one of those days.

When I saw the Little Man bustling intently over to the shelves in the kitchen, I wondered what project he had come up with for himself. He reached out for the aluminum foil and my first thought was, aha, it's road-building time.

This was followed by a slew of self-dialogue along the lines of:

If he puts the foil on the floor, it will get dirty and then I can't reuse it.
Yes, but, he's already used this roll before, see how it's all crinkled.
Well, maybe I should tell him to put it on the rug, instead of on the tile floor.
Like the rug is cleaner than the tile?
Well, that's true.

And so after some more back and forth, all in the span of a few seconds, the two voices came to the same conclusion.

Give him the freedom to experiment. It's just one (recyclable) roll of aluminum foil.

I looked at my husband, sensing that he was going to say something about putting the aluminum foil back on the shelf, and gently shook my head.

He understood and instead of making him put it back on the shelf, he joined our son in building a fancy aluminum foil road that ran across the rug and then up over a chair, creating a ramp that was then used for much joyful play, which involved rolling cars down it, and later the rim of a cake pan.

Who knew cake pans could roll so beautifully!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Broccoli à la Little Man

Just last week, I made an unforgivable faux pas. As I prepared dinner, our four-year-old son asked me to cut off the bottom of a raw broccoli so he could prop it up on the table and pretend it was a tree. He played with it for a while and then walked away to play with something else in the living room. Thinking he was finished with it, I did what came naturally, that is, I chopped it up and threw it in the steamer.

The minute I threw it all in the steamer, the Little Man came back to the kitchen table and asked me where his tree was. You should have seen the look on his face when I told him I had cut it up.

He let out the most pitiful "NOoooo!" and walked away utterly crushed.

Thankfully, he ate the broccoli once it was ready, but I vowed that the next time I would do it differently.

So come yesterday evening, I was once again preparing broccoli. And once again, the Little Man played "tree" with it. This time he even disappeared for a moment, only to return a moment later with a small Lego figure of a little man. He put it under the tree, and after a while he put it on top of the tree. And when he was done playing, he looked at me sternly, "Mom, don't cut it up!"

And this time I was ready.

"Do you want me to try cooking it whole this time, Honey?"

His eyes grew big in wonder at the possibility.

Why not? Who says that we have to chop up the broccoli and cook it in the same way we've always done. Who says that we have to eat it in the same way we've always eaten it?

I had no idea if it would be cooked enough, or if it would fall apart when we took it out of the steamer, but wonder of all wonders, not only did it stay in tact, but it also stood up like a tree. Albeit a cooked tree, but a tree nevertheless.

And the Little Man leaned over and bit right into it while it stood up in its full, glorious, cooked broccoliness.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Into the Vortex and Then Back Out, Sort Of

The last time I posted, other than to say that one could now subscribe to this blog, I shared the news that I was pregnant with our second child. I also said that I was going to share more stories about being a mother.

And then silence.

On this blog.

But not in my mind, nor in my heart. There was turmoil, noise, anguish, sorrow, despair, like I have never experienced before in my life.

Our second child, our little boy, at six months in the womb, was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder that would have left him seriously debilitated, both physical and mentally, and he would also, most likely, have developed leukemia.

In our modern age of technology, as parents, we were faced with the most painful decision a parent could ever make.

Do you keep your child or do you send his soul back to the heavens?

Twenty years ago, an acquaintance I didn't much like, ended her pregnancy in her sixth month, because doctors discovered that her firstborn had Down Syndrome.

I judged her very harshly for ending the pregnancy. For someone who was hell on wheels towards others, I found her weak and spineless, in this situation.

She is the first one I thought of when the doctors confirmed that our baby boy was very sick.

It was only when my husband and I were faced with the same decision all these years later, that I could begin to understand the suffering that this woman must have gone through. The old dictum goes, "You don't really know a person until you've walked in their shoes."

Well, if I could have given those shoes back, I would have.

I don't wish the choice on my worst enemy.

You come together with your partner with the deepest sense of love, you conceive a child that is wanted, a child that will become your son and the brother to your firstborn. And then that child has a condition that will cause him tremendous suffering. And so, out of the deepest love, you send him back to the angels.

And then you are left here on Earth to live with your choice.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Subscription To This Blog

If you want to be kept up to date when there are new entries on this blog, you can now sign up via the subscription feature on the top right of the page.

The Hiatus is Over...I hope

I've been on hiatus from this blog since we moved our family from Paris to Southern France. We lived in an apartment hotel for four months, and in that vortex of uncertainty and expensive telephone lines, I disappeared from Earth for a while.

At the beginning of January, we moved into our new rental home, and I am coming out of the vortex, pregnant with our second child, ready to start sharing my tales of Motherhood again.

Speak with you soon.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A World to Discover

When I saw my friend Madelyn Cain, author of The Childless Revolution: What It Means to Be Childless Today and First-Time Mothers, Last-Chance Babies: Parenting at 35+, earlier this year in Los Angeles, she told me that now that I have a child who is entering the toddler years, I will experience an incredible world of discovery.

I shrugged off her comment with a, "Oh, I've always felt the excitement of discovery, so I'm sure this is nothing new." Madelyn, polite that she is, just responded with a simple, "Oh!"
Boy was I wrong. I had no idea that long, round pieces of foam could be used not only as drumsticks creating a muffled sound against the hardwood floor, but also used for surfing on the floor.

Nor did I realize that a Radio Flyer Scoot-About could be used not only for riding around the house, but also, when propped on its side, that its wheels could be used as a steering wheel.

Nor that a now-empty and cleaned bottle of laundry detergent could be propped against my ear to hear the sounds of the ocean as if in a shell.

I am in awe and wonder at the way my son is allowing me to discover the world that I often already found to be quite awesome and wonderful.

How We look at Our Children

Today, once again, I heard a woman yelling in the street below our window, "Viens ici maintenant!" ("Come over here right now!). So, of course, I just had to stick my head out the window to see what was going on.

I saw a woman frozen in place like a hunting dog pointing his snout towards his prey. She was waiting for her, I would say, eight-year-old, son to come stand next to her. After a few squawks, he finally sidled up to her. She glared at him with so much hatred in her eyes and then reached out and twisted his eyebrow.

He raised his arm in anger, growled, she glared harder, and he dropped his arm.

I'm grateful to what I witnessed today, because it reconfirmed something I'd noticed in our own family structure.

Recently I noticed my husband, who is very loving to our child, glare at the Little Man. There was so much anger in that look. It made me realize how careful I have to be not to look at my son that way when I'm mad at him, especially when my anger stems mostly from my own fatigue.

And watching that woman today, made me even more committed to always be loving to my son, or as much as is humanly possible, even in the most challenging of moments.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Finding the "Yes"

I always wanted to be the kind of parent that gives my child confidence; I definitely didn't want to be the parent who is always saying "no" and scaring him into behaving.
Now at almost two years of age, the Little Man has noticed that he can look out into the street much more easily if he climbs up on the window ledge. Even though there is a good-sized railing, my husband and I have implement a new family ground rule: the Little Man is not allowed to stand up without us being there.
This has caused him some distress because we don't always feel like spotting him. So, periodically, he's turned to see if we were watching, broadened his smile into a Chesire cat grin, and quickly climbed up to a standing.
In these moments I stay calm (so as not to startle him into a fall), slowly walk over to him, reach for him, put his feet on the ground and gently say, "Honey, one of our ground rules is that you keep your feet on the ground. If you want to climb up and stand, then you ask us to be there with you. If you want to climb on your own anyway, then I will close the window. I know that's frustrating for you, but we want you to be safe. Thank you very much."
Sometimes he cries as I speak my parenting lines...but I know he always listens because at a later time he'll do something to surprise me in direct response to our "talk".
A few days ago, I saw him pull himself up by the railing, then slide his feet along the ledge, placing his buttocks as firmly as possible against it. It was an awkward position for him, but he stayed there.
I was proud of him for finding a compromise that I would not have thought of.
Now, don't get me wrong, he still tests me from time to time to see if he can bend the "no-standing-on-your-own rule," so I still watch him like a hawk when he climbs on the ledge. In the process though, more than anything, I want to teach him how to do what he wants to do, in the safest way possible.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Happy Mothers

I just found this quote in my German page-a-day calender and thought it appropriate for this blog:

"Glueckliche Frauen lieben ihre Kinder;
unglueckliche haengen gerade verzweifelt an ihnen"

by Henry de Montherlant

That is to say:

"Happy women love their children;
unhappy ones hang on to them desperately."

I try to be a happy mother so that my child doesn't have to behave in any specific way to snap me out of my funk. Or at least, when I do have some challenging moments, I don't expect my child to help me get out of it.

His job is to grow and play and run and learn. Mine is to give him the confidence to walk on his own two feet.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

My Son Inspires Me

What can I say. My son inspires me. My husband gives me the space to pursue art, and my son gives me the propulsion, the fuel to not only create, but to begin venturing out into the "real" world with it.

I'm stepping up to the plate in great part because I want to show the Little Man that he can live his dream, his truth, no matter what it may be. But how can I encourage him, if I don't do the same for myself? The best way to lead is by example, right?

So, on June 14, 2008, the Red Earth Centre is hosting my first photo exhibit in Paris. And come this fall, I will start sending out short stories to literary magazines.

There is no going back now.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


The Little Man and I love playing hide-and-seek. Well, he hides and I'm supposed to seek. He'll suddenly disappear leaving silence behind, which is my signal to go look for him and say, "Little Man, where are you?"

Even though I generally spot him immediately, I pretend I don't know where he is and continue asking, "Where are you?" Periodically I get a little squawk or a little head sticks out from his hiding place.

Today I heard the silence again and went looking.

I laughed so hard when I "saw" him. Can you find him?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My How Time does Fly and other Challenges...

Dear Readers,

I apologize for not posting for many months. I'm getting flack about it, and rightly so! Thank you for keeping on me to write. I've been remiss, and I also haven't been able to get into my Blogger accounts. It seems to be working now, but it did take me a while to log in again today, so please bear with me. Hopefully, we'll work the technical challenges out.



Friday, January 4, 2008

Where did the Brain go?

Since becoming a mother, I have no mind left.

I should have seen it coming. It started in the early stages of pregnancy, when I couldn't do simple mathematical additions. Somehow I thought that things would get better once my body returned to normal.

Well, I'm back to my former pre-pregnancy weight, but along the way, in shedding the kilos, I must have shed some from my brain as well.

I not only can't do mathematical equations (7 + 9, for example) without using my fingers, but I burn pots and pans, I leave the refrigerator door open, and today, the coup de grace, instead of putting my own return address on the envelope, I put the address of the friend I am sending the card to.

Boy oh boy...

And the other day, one of my Mommy friends came over for a playdate. As our children played, I started telling her a story, then turned my head for just a moment to check on the kids.

When I looked back at her, I had to pause, search my mind and then ask for help, "Um, what was I saying?"

She gave me the same blank look that I'm sure I had on my face at the time, "Um, I have no idea!"

And we both broke down in peals of laughter.

Do you have any Mommy-memory-loss stories to share?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year's Eve

This year, the Hubby and I decided to stay home to bring in the new year. We didn't want to go to the trouble of trying to find a babysitter (probably an impossibility anyway), and I didn't want to tire myself out any more than I needed to after months of on-again, off-again illnesses doing the rounds of our little family.

And so on the stroke of midnight, the Hubby and I smooched for a while. We then snuck into the bedroom to kiss the Little Man and stare at him for a while. I looked at the Hubby and I know I had the same goofy grin on my face as he did.

We were in peace and bliss as the sounds of celebration erupted in the street.

Sometimes you miss out on things as parents, but often, you are enriched beyond imagination with the simplest of things.

Do you have a story to share where you gained by "missing out?"

Monday, December 31, 2007

Whew, it's over!

I don't remember the last time that I was so looking forward to a year ending as I do for this year 2007 to be over. We have 35 minutes to go and I'm thrilled. The Little Man (no longer The Babe because at 15 months of age, he has been walking for four of those) is sleeping, the Hubby is whistling as he listens to music on his computer, and I take a few minutes to post for the first time in a long time.

The last six months have been as rough as they have been joyful. In June, I threw out my back and had to take a wheelchair to travel to our vacation destination; the Little Man got chicken pox; when we returned home, I felt so lonely and depressed (all my friends were on vacation and I had no good television to watch) I slipped into a real emotional crisis; I am tired all the time (yes I take supplements), then the Little Man and I alternated being sick (bronchitis, grippe, ear infections) for two months out of the last three; and all of this culminated in an early-morning hospital visit at Christmas.

Whew. I had no idea that my heart could be so full of love after the birth of our child, and that my body and mind could be so down and out.

Finally, in the hospital at Christmas, something clicked and I realized that I just had to snap out of this funk. So, even though I'm still tired, my mind is in good shape. I've also decided to start taking cold showers again (a yogic tool for all-around good health and against depression), a tool in my repertoire that I had forgotten about when I was in my funk.

So, I wish you more than anything else, as much as I wish us, HEALTH. Without health, there is just no life.

Happy, Healthy 2008 and beyond.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What were They Thinking?

Today, as I was bustling to an appointment -- with baby in tow in the baby carrier --in a part of Paris we've never been to, we passed in front of a kindergarten just as school was letting out.

One little guy, who must have been not much older than three, scrunched up his cute round face under a brown mop of hair and whined his displeasure to a woman I presume was his mother.

She turned towards him and said:

If you don't be quiet, I'm going to give you a spanking as big as a house.

He instantly stopped whining...and started crying.

I would have too, if I were in his shoes.

How about you?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Listen to the Silence

Baby was playing with two yellow plastic funnels that he had dug out of the bottom drawer I left open for him in the kitchen. He was so happy, he toddled over to me, gave me a slobbery kiss and cooed as he chewed on the plastic.

Suddenly, we heard the garbage trucks coming down the street, as they do every day at around this time. I was busy amusing myself by looking at The Sartorialist's blog, when underneath the clatter of the garbage being dumped into the truck, there was silence.

The Chinese put little bracelets with bells on them on their babies' ankles, so they know where their children are; I have one that was given to us as a gift. But I don't need it. I know that when the Babe is silent, that I need to pay attention.

So even though I was totally submerged in what I was doing, I heard the quiet underneath the noise. I knew that I had to check to see where baby was.

For a moment, I couldn't find him. Then, through the white curtain, I saw the cute bug. He had climbed up the one step and was looking out the window, checking out what was going on in the street.

I guess he takes after his mother!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Feeling Better

I think what was so difficult for me last week when I had my meltdown -- along with lack of sleep -- was that I felt alone. There is no reason for me to feel that way because I have a wonderful husband and terrific friends; but I did.

And then I posted on the blog, sent out some e-mails, and I was so supported by friends from all around the world. Thank you all for your kindness and thoughtfulness, and most importantly, for reminding me what kind of mother I am and want to be. Along the way, I had forgotten. I had forgotten to use sense of humor when the Babe was upset, as well as when I was upset. I had also forgotten to go into that deep place of love in my heart.

And all of this while the Babe was sick for the first time in his life.

I'm still a sleepless mom, but I'm back to my center, and so grateful for this beautiful child in our lives.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Sleepless Nights

It's 2:48 a.m. and in a four hour span, the Babe has woken up, cried and/or nursed three times in that time.

It's during these times that I am close to losing my mind. And I wonder, am I doing something wrong? All my friends who nurse and have their babies sleeping in the same room seem to wake up many times during the night. I hear them say things like, I wish I could have four consecutive hours of sleep or If she wakes up only four times in the night, then it's a good night.

Dr. Sears says that it's normal for a baby to wake up once or twice a night until the age of one. That would be heaven. Mine wakes up anywhere between five and ten times.

Sometimes it's hunger, sometimes it's the need for comfort, sometimes it's a street noise, then it's a nightmare, then it's the urine in the diaper. And on a bad night, it's my sanity.

Some people look at me with accusing eyes because for them it's simple: put the baby in another room and let him cry. He'll get over it in two days.

Is that really the only way?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Walking Alone

My friend, Jai Hari from Los Angeles, wrote this comment and I find it so interesting that, with her permission, I am posting it in the main part of the blog:

I was once in a room where [healer] Guru Dev Singh said that learning to walk is one of the hardest things we will ever do in the human experience & that parents should never put their child into a "walker" or any type of training-wheels-for-learning-to-walk type vehicle during this critical developmental phase.

He said a child who learns to walk on his own without the aid of one of these gadgets is left with immense self esteem & the experience of serious self accomplishment which will serve & motivate him all of his life.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Lessons learned From the Babe

Sleep isn't always easy to come by when you have a baby; not for the little one and not for the Mommy one. And when we are tired and cranky, life just seems harder and more bleak.

But as soon as we are rested, what was challenging when we were tired, is now easy as peachy pie.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


On one of the only sunny days we've had this summer, Baby was doing his own thing, by crawling from the living room to his high chair in the kitchen.

Along the way, something stopped him in his tracks. He was puzzled by the change in the color of the wood floor. He was minding his own business and then right there, under his hands and knees, was something new. Something unfamiliar. Something fascinating. Something puzzling.

He looked along the length of light, scrunched his forehead, looked at me with big eyes, turned back to the streak, and then stroked his hand along the length of it.

Just marvelous.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Sitting at my computer, I hear giggles, squeeky- and deep-voiced, coming from the room next door.

Ah, the happy sounds of Papa and Baby Boy goofing around sure warm this mother's heart.

Who knew?

Today baby was fascinated by me doing single and double leglifts. He couldn't figure it all out, so he climbed on my belly and started crawling up my legs towards my toes.

Baby got a good laugh, and I got a good workout!

Friday, August 3, 2007


I've had all sorts of jobs in my life. I've worked as a photo sales rep at People Magazine; as a photo editor; manager of a photo agency; a journalist whose beat was the soap opera, "The Bold and the Beautiful"; as an assistant to alcoholic and/or rude producers in Hollywood; as an accountant; as a yoga teacher; as a driver for a cancer victim getting radiation treatments and blood transfusions; as an Arthur Murray's ballroom dance teacher, and more.

These days I have a job that is non-stop work, the hours are long, I get spit-up on, my muscles ache, my memory is shot, I'm often tired, I have little time for myself and there are no vacations.

I'm a full-time mother and I'm happier than I've ever been.

Now if only I could get paid for this job...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Parade of Ancestors

When my son was born, I figured he would look a little bit like me and a little bit like my husband.

What surprises me is that he looks different at different moments of the day; a look of fear, a mischievous grin, an innocent gaze, a boisterous laugh and I see my grandmother, my father, my mother, my grandfather, my uncle.

I see my ancestry in my son's face.

I am connected with not only those that are still here, but also with those that have passed on.

Monday, July 16, 2007


I observe my son. I see how hard he works to try to stand without hanging on to anything; a precursor to walking.

And then I think about how we all learned how to walk (unless we had some serious illness or disability), which in turn reminds me that no matter where we are in our lives right now, how deflated we might feel at times, we did at one time in our lives have enough drive and determination to reach an important goal that took quite a while to get to.

So if we could do it once before, we can do it again.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Every Day

Every day I am in awe of this child who is in our lives.
Every day I admire his determination to learn and grow.
Every day I respect him more for how aware and alert he is.
Every day I love him more.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


For years after turning 20, I didn't know if I should refer to myself as a girl or as a woman. In our youth-oriented society, women are generally referred to -- and refer to themselves -- as girls.

That hadn't felt right for a long time, but I didn't feel consistently comfortable with being called or calling myself a woman. I'd teeter between the two. I'd find myself saying, I'm a gir...woman. Or I'm a wo...girl.

And then yesterday, I found myself confidently referring to myself as a woman. My mind tried saying girl and I couldn't even bring myself to say the word.

Becoming a mother, made me a woman.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Remember to...

As my life revolves around the ever-growing baby, I remind myself to pay attention to my husband. I don't want to end up like those couples that live side by side raising a family only to find themselves as strangers when the children leave the nest.

It's easy to get caught up in all the "chores" of family life, and so the hubby and I meet once a week for our family meeting to reconnect. We started our weekly meetings many months before the baby was conceived, and continue now more than ever.

We end the meetings that discuss our individual and joint lives with the section, One Thing I Love About You; a great way to rekindle the love that might get lost in the events of the day.

Friday, May 25, 2007

24 hours

There aren't enough hours in the day for me to show my son how much I love him.

Every day I love him more. Every day I want to be a better person. I want to be kinder and gentler. More thoughtful. Live my dreams so that I can show him how to live his.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Dressing a Boy...Oh Boy!

Today the Babe and I were waiting in line to pay in a children's clothing store. I lay the items I was purchasing on the counter and was startled by a woman behind me cooing loudly at the stroller.

I turned to her quickly to make sure she wasn't the umpteenth person trying to touch the Bub. She wasn't, she kept her distance, while she held some cute baby outfits in her hands.

Being female, I couldn't help saying, "Cute clothes."
The woman looked at me with surprise, nodded and cooed some more at the Babe.
After I paid and was about to leave the store, the woman became chatty.
"Do you have a hard time dressing your boy?"
Huh? I assumed she was referring to the dire lack of happy colors in the mini-male clothing collections, beige being quite popular in many stores.
"Oh, no. I find lots of colors for him in this store."
"Yes, but don't you wish you had a girl?"
"" I wasn't sure what she was getting at.
"But a girl you can dress up, you know, really cute."
Ah, now I got it. There are mothers out there who think their babes are dolls. Right. I'd forgotten about that.
Clothes are to me, albeit as cute as they can be, a practical matter. I dress the Babe in warm clothes when it's cold. I take the very same clothes off him, when he's too hot (which is often, therefore he usual sports the nickname Tarzan Boy).
I also try to choose clothes that match his personality: serene with great bouts of griggles and laughter.
And to answer the question, no, I wouldn't trade my beautiful firstborn who happens to be a boy, for a girl, just so I can dress him up.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Wonder of It All

Today I found myself breastfeeding and peeling organic, white asparagus, all at the same time.

Amazing what a well-placed infant in a handy baby carrier (Hug-A-Bub) can do on a mom who cooked a birthday dinner for her hubby.

If you had told me a year ago that I would be doing this, I probably wouldn't have believed you. If you had told me a week ago, I might not have believed you.

I felt like Earth Mother today.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Monday, March 26, 2007

It's not a Miracle!

I've been criticized for:

1. Holding my baby too much
2. Wearing him in a sling
3. Not letting him cry (Watch out, you'll be manipulated)
4. Resigning from my job to be a stay-at-home mom
5. Having him with me too much
6. Letting him suck his thumb (he's actually rubbing his gums as the teeth come down)
7. Not giving him a pacifier
8. Not having him sleep in a separate room
9. Having him sleep in our bed

And I've been complimented for:

1. How secure he is
2. How much he smiles
3. How happy he is
4. How tranquil and peaceful he is
5. How joyful he is
6. How interested and curious he is in everything around him
7. How alert and aware he is
8. How little he cries
9. How easy-going he is (we went on a 10-hour flight and he didn't cry)

Hmmm...seems pretty obvious to me.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Toy Treasures

In the beginning, the favorite toy was a book that not only crinkled, but was also chewable, had little plastic pieces around an easily graspable handle, had a tag on it, plus plastic tabs. This toy brought much joy (to big and small alike) for two months.

Then suddenly, without warning, that toy fell out of favor, and this one became the new joy for all. A chewable antennae, plastic handles for holding and gnawing, a mirror, and sounds that chuckled and sang when you pressed the numbered buttons occupied the little bub for many minutes. (Papa washed the toy one day at Mama's behest and the sounds didn't work anymore -- to Mama's great distress...Papa was off the hook once the toy recuperated from the water shock after a night on the radiator).

It lasted about three weeks, only to be replaced by...

a water bottle?!
Before baby arrived, I had a panic attack when a friend sent me a list of everything I needed to get for baby. It was eight pages long.
Then another friend told me that one actually needs very little "stuff" to welcome a child into this world; a drawer as a bed would do and a whole bunch of love.
I'm finding this to be so true. We have "stuff", but I also don't fret about having enough or the "right" stuff. The angel loves the way the water swishes inside his "new" toy.
And today, I discovered another "toy" that is now on the hit list:
(Cotton Squares)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Who Says...?

Who says that you have to cook the evening?
I'm the one who (generally) cooks in our household. We eat a hot meal in the evening when my husband comes home from work. This means that I need to start chopping the veggies and banging the pots at around 5 p.m., right during the babe's AND my very much needed nap time.
Sleep generally wins and so the good-sport-of-a-man I married is left with morsels of cheese to contend with for dinner (albeit it we live in France so the morsels are quite tasty), or he would offer to cook for me instead.
I love cooking, and I love nurturing the easy-going hubby with a home-cooked meal and so I meditated on the subject to see if I could come up with a solution that would make everyone happy.
The light bulb went on and so now I cook supper in the morning (everything but the rice, pasta or quinoa)! Imagine that! What a concept! I can cook the meal in advance and then reheat it later! (On the stove top...not the microwave).
Sometimes it's just so simple.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Noise Shock

A friend just sent me this quote from Yogi Bhajan Every Day™ Inspiration for a healthy, happy, holy life, dated 3/17/2007.

Any time you shock a child's brainwave length, you reduce the capacity of his neurons to function. Never, ever use a high pitched punching tone of voice with your child. You disturb his brain wave length and create an electric storm in his body. For that felony you should be imprisoned for a minimum of seven years. 9/20/90

Our babe hates jarring noises and cries at the top of his lungs when he is startled. To make his life a little easier, whenever I can, I give him a preview of the loud noise that is about to assault his senses. For example, before I turn on the vacuum cleaner, I will try to replicate the noise as best I can, progressively increasing the volume. And only then do I turn on the vacuum cleaner.

Sometimes I forget and I will, out of the blue because I've thought of something, shout to my husband who might be doing something in the other room. The babe will just look at me and cry, especially when he's tired. Now I try to moderate the volume when I call to the hubby.