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The Gift

My most prized gift

My most prized gift

           We all have familial roots, that particular human chain to which we belong that is central to our individual identity.  Some of us care about our origins more deeply than others.  I happen to harbor a tenacious sentiment for my familial roots.  But my roots have traveled a long way over the years, at times seeming very elusive to me.

My Mom immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands in 1953 at the ripe age of 19, leaving behind her parents and 7 brothers and sisters.  Mom boarded the Rijndam for a 10-day boat ride heading for Halifax.  She spent nine of those days suffering from seasickness. Staying above board in the fresh air seemed to alleviate the symptoms somewhat, but not get rid of them altogether.  I am sure that Mom was glad to land in Halifax and board the train to Toronto.  The final leg of her journey was another train ride to Burlington where Mom joined her brother and his wife.

               That brother and sister-in-law of my mother’s were our only relatives here in Canada for many years.  We would have intermittent visits from other relatives, and for me, this was always a big deal.  I loved meeting family, even if there was a language barrier.  As a result of these visits, I did learn some Dutch.

               This teddy bear is a very sentimental treasure from my past.  My maternal grandmother gave it to me on one of those intermittent visits, when I was about a year old.  From stories I have heard, she is the one who taught me to walk when she was in Canada, that summer in the 1960’s  This was also the last visit my maternal grandparents made to Canada.

I didn’t have grandparents around to spoil me, or to pass on the wisdom only grandparents have gleaned.  I didn’t have a Grandma to run to for a comforting hug when life got tough, but I did have the teddy bear she gave me to hold close and offer the comfort she could not.

I could not talk to my grandparents (even on the telephone, since there was the language barrier) but I could pour my soul out to the teddy bear.  This would somehow provide a sense of clarity and soothe my troubled spirit.

 I never did get to meet my grandparents that I remember, but this teddy bear is the embodiment of their influence in my life. Via this teddy bear, they not only attended my grade one talent show, but also actually had a starring role in it!  They have had a “teddy’s eye view” of the many other stages of my life.

Many people have memories of their grandparents to hold onto.  I have this teddy bear as a tangible manifestation of my grandparents.

            I wonder if my grandmother realized the monumental significance this teddy bear would hold to the granddaughter she bought it for. 

What is your most prized gift and why?

Should Kids Be Allowed to Lose?

awards          Recently it has been proposed here in Canada that a certain University remove the Dean’s List since the students who do not make it on the Dean’s List may suffer psychological repercussions.  Naturally, this is the next step after handing out trophies for just attending a sports programme and the fact that there are reported incidents of grade inflation going on in the schools. This leaves us with a coddled generation who feels entitled to the best life has to offer without putting in the necessary effort.

            Just showing up for a sports programme does not deserve a reward.  Being part of a team could earn a commemorative ribbon or pin, but each person has not earned the right to a trophy.  When little Johnny comes home and says that he didn’t get anything out of his sports programme because he didn’t get a trophy, the parent can reassure Johnny that he did indeed get something.  Johnny learned a new skill and he most likely improved in that skill.  My dear Johnny, you don’t always need to win, but learning something new and improving is very important.  You have also learned that you will not always be the best in life.  But, that’s O.K.  As long as you did YOUR best.

              Teachers have confessed to grade inflation in schools.  A certain grade point average has to be met in order to receive sufficient funding.  This results in college/university students who feel entitled to a “B” just for attending class.  If they don’t get the mark they expect on a test they argue with their teacher, “But I studied for that!”  They fully expect their teacher to up their grade on the basis that they studied.

            This makes Sally feel that she is entitled to that job she applied for.  “Have you not seen my resume?  It’s outstanding!  I am known for regular attendance and doing background work (even if it’s not always right, at least I do it!).”

            Making mistakes is a part of learning.  When we make a mistake, hopefully we will remember what the correct solution was and in this way we have progressed in our learning.  But, if we don’t teach our children that mistakes are ok, how are they going to progress in life?  They will fall apart the first time they are told that they did something wrong.

            Now they want to remove the Dean’s List so that some students won’t suffer self-esteem issues because they don’t make the list?  Shouldn’t they already know that they are not always going to be on the top?  Have they not learned that we will lose more than we win in life?  Of course not because they have always had that trophy handed to them, or the grade bumped up for them.  Now we must take away the next obstacle for their narcissistic personality to continue blooming.

We are living in a society where everything is too easy.  We can access anything at the tips of our fingers via the Internet and cell phones.  Credit cards make it easy to purchase things we cannot really afford.  This creates the need for more.  Happiness becomes elusive, as it is always just 10% more than we have.  We look for quick fixes in all areas of life.

How about teaching the younger generation the three “P’s”—Patience, persistence and perseverance?  Life is a journey, not a race.  We will not always win, but we must keep going, learning from our mistakes and moving on with our head held high knowing that we have done the best we could with the talents we have received.

Precious Moments

 

ImageMy kids are growing up.  This is something I wished for when they were toddlers.  Now, I see those chubby little explorers who are filled with the exuberance of life, and I sigh.  They are so precious,  cute, and full of happiness.  As an added bonus, toddlers still go for naps!

This past Monday my youngest (who is almost 7) climbed onto my lap for a cuddle while we were watching a movie.  I thought at that moment, “This is what I am thankful for today!”  I know those snuggles aren’t going to be coming for that much longer.  Time has a way of passing way too quickly.  These 7 years have passed in the blink of an eye, and I know the next 7 years will pass just as quickly, if not quicker.

Generally, I do not think that boys tend to snuggle as long as girls do.  Hopefully I am wrong on this, for I love to have my kids on my lap and hug them tight.  Even though there are times when they drive me crazy, I love them madly and those precious moments are becoming fewer and farther between. So, I seized the moment, cuddling my son tightly while imprinting the scent and feel of him forever in my memory.  After a hectic day of cleaning and cooking and cleaning again,(it was Thanksgiving Day here in Canada) this is just what mommy needed to recharge her tired spirit.  That single moment made it all worthwhile, once again reminding me that it is the simple things in life that are the most precious.

What are your most precious moments?

Finding Closure from the Past

ImageThis weekend is Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada.  It is also the weekend that will forever be etched in my brain as the weekend my father passed away.  This year will be 16 years since he left this world.

             My dad left the family home when I was about 2, so I don’t really remember him at home. Because of the circumstances, my dad was made out to be the bad guy.  As far as I remember, my siblings never went to visit him, but I went to visit him on Saturdays until I was about 8 or 9, maybe 10….my memory is a little fuzzy on that one.  I never really had a close relationship with my dad.  Yet, he left an indelible mark on my heart.

I have had many conversations with my dad over the past few years.  Not literal ones of course.  I guess it is more like I feel my dad is a guardian angel for me now.  Because of my own life circumstances I feel a strong bond to him. I find it strange how I think of him more now than when he was actually here.  In a sense it seems that he is even more involved with my life now than he was when he walked on this earth as well.

There are many times when I wish I could have a real adult conversation with him.  I want to let him know that I do truly love him and I realize that things are not always as they seem.  I want to tell him that I understand why he left, and that although not having a father figure in my life has marked me in many ways, I know that there was nothing he could do.  I know he did what he could with what he had.  And that is all any of us can do in life, is it not?

Just A Mom

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I just came across this, and I have to say I love it!  For so long I have always dreaded the question, “So what do you do?”  I wish I could have come back with an answer like this, for it is so true that a Mom has many different job descriptions.  Instead, I would cower and say that I was “Just a stay-at-home mom”.  Why did I feel inferior?  Why did being a Mom not mean that I was an amazing person?

As much as so many people want to climb the corporate ladder, I think that I am making an amazing contribution to society by taking the time to raise intelligent, well balanced adults who will contribute to society in a loving, giving manner.   So, I guess being a Mom is important!  And, might I add, one of the hardest jobs in the world?  But also one of the most rewarding.

So, cheers to all the moms in the world!  We are amazing, strong, instrumental contributors to our families and society, and we should be proud of it.

 

Priorities

wallkingNow that the kids are back in school, I feel like I can get into some form of a routine. My first mission is to establish regular daily exercise. (#1 on the “Tips for a Beautiful Life” list) My exercise of choice is walking. I love being outdoors feeling the sun recharge my tired spirit as the breeze caresses my body. As I move on, I begin to feel my blood flow as my muscles engage, helping to wake up my entire being.

It really is amazing how just a bit of exercise can have such a huge impact on your day. My otherwise sluggish mind feels rejuvenated and ready to go. From past experience I know that I will have more energy as the day progresses. My motivation to get things done will be magnified. Since I get more done, I will feel a greater sense of accomplishment which will make me happier.  I will sleep better, which will provide more energy for tomorrow.

So, why do I fall out of this routine if I know it will have such a huge impact on my day-to-day performance as well as on my health? Life gets in the way. I don’t make myself a priority. I have so many other things that need to get done. There are so many excuses in my arsenal, it is shameful. From today on, no more excuses! I am worth the time. There is nothing else more important than my walk. This will be my mantra whenever one of those nasty excuses pops up in my brain. My daily walk will be #1 on my priority list..

Mom with Control Issues

I’d like to know how I became the personal servant of everyone in my family.

My nine-year old daughter was doing homework last night.  When she made a mistake which needed correcting she turned to me and asked,  “Mom can you get me an eraser?” She was convinced that this was my job. I proceeded to tell her that God gave her two feet, and she was perfectly capable to use them to walk over to go get an eraser herself.  She actually got upset with me!

This is just one example of many that I have been noticing lately.  “Mom, can you get the ketchup?  Mom can I have a drink? (which means mom has to get it) Where is my knife/fork/spoon?   The list goes on and on and on.

I have to face reality.  I have been an enabler.  I have let this go on.  I have to step back and allow my kids to be more independent.  I need  them to be more independent.  I find myself getting frustrated with the constant demands.

I guess I am still stuck in the toddler era, even though my kids are well past that stage.  Granted, sometimes it is just easier for Mom to take care of things, so I won’t have to listen to the complaining, won’t have to nag them to do things right (aka Mom’s way), wont have to deal with the mess that is almost inevitable to ensue.  But, with four people constantly relying on me (hubby equals kid number 4 at home) it does get tiring.

Sigh.  I confess.  I have control issues.  I must let go so my kids can grow up.  Otherwise they won’t see the need to be independent and won’t experience the self-confidence that comes along with independence.