Tag Archive | family

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?

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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?

Just A Mom

Image

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.

 

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. 

Nourishing the Soul

So much of my life has been running a race towards health and happiness.  Always running, but never winning the gold.   The ultimate marathon.

I’ve always been an all or nothing type of girl, but recently have been trying to become the turtle in the race.  Slow, but steady.  Focused on the end, but not in a hurry to get there.  One excruciating baby step at a time.  Accepting falls as the learning curve.  Not an excuse to give up.

Why is it that as parents of young children, we tend to put everyone else first, and then wonder why we don’t have energy left to take care of ourselves?  Why is it so hard to put ourselves first?  If we don’t put gas in our cars, we know they won’t run.  We need to properly fuel ourselves in order to function fully for our family.

I noticed this past week that my energy was waning again.  My desire to do anything was next to nonexistent.  A few years ago I would have just fallen into this downward spiral and sunk lower and lower.  My mood would plummet;  I would be angry at everything and everyone—myself most of all.

Now, as soon as I feel my mood sinking, I do a self-evaluation.  How have I been eating?  Have I been engaging in physical activity on a regular basis?  Have I had “me” time?  My answers at the end of this week are that I have been sliding to “fast food” (boxed meals or breads/pastas) and not including those nutritious, energizing fruits and veggies.  I also haven’t been engaging my body in regular physical activity, which amazingly, is the best way I now know to boost my energy.

So, today I focused on the healthy eating and getting the whole family active and moving.  It’s the perfect weather here in Southern Ontario for hiking, so that’s what we did today.

 lookout trail

Two hours of braving a narrow path that had tree roots, rocks, hills and valleys along a precarious edge of the escarpment had my heart pumping out of my chest—not because of physical exertion, but more for concern that one of my three children would slip and fall over the edge.  All this, so that we could reach a look-out point over the town and capture the magnificent view below.  Yes, the view was amazing, enthralling even, but oh so short-lived with three kids.

the Lookout
the Lookout

I did let nature soothe my soul.  Deep breaths of (hopefully) fresh air.  Managing to block out any whining, complaining, or bickering, I thoroughly absorbed the serene feeling of being in the forest, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.  Everything was blocked out but the feel of my feet pounding the packed dirt path and the sound of the wind whispering through the leaves in the canopy of trees overhead. Further on, the gentle swooshing of water cascading over a cliff in the distance further soothed my senses.  Rays of sunlight flickered on the path in front of me, as the  breeze cooled my warm skin.

 the waterfall

It was a great outing.  I feel great today.  I have taken care of myself, both body and soul.  Who would have thought that a simple hike could be so “nourishing”?