Saturday, December 5, 2009

In the winter darkness

In all the countries sharing Sweden’s latitude the winter darkness is a striking factor. So much so that many people talk about winter depression. Having living in Sweden for 11 years I can really understand. Some of the people I know try “light therapies”, which basically are about being exposed to strong artificial light in order to counter arrest the lack of sunlight. (November usually has between 5 and 10 hours of sunlight during the whole month.)

So what to do to keep the spirits up besides going to light therapy?

If you have any useful suggestions please don’t hesitate in writing back. You can do it by clicking on comments.

Our family’s way of keeping up the spirits is spending lots of time together. I try to pick up the children from school and daycare before it’s dark (around 2.30 pm) in the hope of giving them a sense that the day is not over just because it’s dark. My younger children (4 and 2 years old) ask me at 3.30 pm if it’s time to go to bed, since it’s so, so dark.

We try to plan different activities, many times at home and sometimes at other places. Fridays, in special, are our cosy days. Then I try to pick up the children after lunch and during the winter we go swimming (indoors, naturally) or out skating in the ice or just playing in the snow a few hours before it’s dark again.

Indoors activities are nothing special really, but they become special because we are together and have fun in a unpretentious way. For instance baking a cookie-house. This one on this picture represents an old house from Gamla Stan (the old town in Stockholm). I let the children decide the house they want to build; they decide the decoration and make it. I try to let them decide and do as much as they want and I help them when needed.

Our next project (somewhat delayed) will be to make our own calendar for Christmas. I’m not sure other countries have that, certainly not my home country, Argentina.

I hope I can tell you more soon…

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The light of life

It was a while since I wrote last, I'm sorry for that since I like writing and sharing my thoughts about motherhood and life.

Our baby girl is now 2 years and going a few hours a day to a very sweet nursery using Maria Montessori’s pedagogy. A very inspiring Italian doctor and teacher who died aprox.50 years ago. The last year I tried to get mentally used to the fact that she would start nursery. For many Swedish parents it's not at all strange to leave their children in day care much before they turn two. But I am quite certain that in many other countries they find it difficult (probably for a variety of reasons) to leave so small children to other caretakers than family. I wish I could persuade more of my friends and acquaintances to wait more before they leave their little ones in other unknown hands. Some small children spend many hours a week away from home.

The fact is that there is, contrary to what many believe, studies that show that a strong attachment has many positive outcomes. In order to keep attached with small children we need necessarily to spend time with them. If they are away many hours a day, and we meet them when they are tired and we are tired from our jobs, how good can that equation in the long term turn out?

On the other hand if we make an effort to work less, and of course get paid less (less to buy also) and prioritise our small children (older ones also need prioritising, no doubt) we will surely reap good fruits later in life and we will be giving our children a very good platform to jump from later on.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The vocation of motherhood

When I talk about motherhood as a vocation some stir at me in a puzzled way. Others very openly ask what I mean with vocation. Vocation is a call, mainly related to God. God calls us to different things. Being a doctor is also a vocation. Being a normal worker in a common job is also a vocation. Since God can call us any time in life and in any situation. But even when I talk to my friends and relatives who haven’t met God and say therefore they don’t believe in God I can still talk of a vocation to be a mother or father.

As parents we are the living examples for our children of what is important in life, what’s right or wrong, not so much with what we say but with what we do. Therefore to strive to be shining examples might sound too much but in the end that is what we all would like to be for our children, for the next generation and for others.

As a mother I’m not only an example for my children but also an educator. Three months ago we moved and our children got vacancies to start at a nursery in the area. My husband and I didn’t think the nursery had the required quality and therefore decided not to send them there. Since we didn’t get any other vacancies our 5 and almost 3 year old boys are at home with me.

I soon felt I wanted to make something extra out of it. So I planed a weekly schedule with “nursery” activities (calendar, story telling, singing, going to the woods and meeting children of their age). Shortly I realized the big task in my hands, being not only a mother to them but also an educator. Making them learn not because they have to but because it’s fun.

Together with learning the months and days and weather and numbers, and so much there is to learn I have introduced the life of prayer to them. Something that gives them serenity and the sense that there is something greater than ourselves.

Monday, November 5, 2007

When life wins

Seven weeks ago my family and I were blessed once again. This time by the birth of a girl.

It was a wonderful delivery. Such moments in life that become a lifetime memory, full of emotions. It was early in the morning, once again. From the delivery room I could see the autumn trees and the falling leaves. I felt strong in my soul to go through the pain but I felt weak in my body. It was a Friday. Particularly the celebration of the Holy Cross. I then prayed to Jesus and he made me strong.

My husband was with me all the time. He was so great. The last 45 minutes when I was in a lot of pain he held me all the time. It really felt we gave birth together. I felt so strong next to him. The way I hope our marriage will always be, two individuals but one team.

How important to take care of the relationship between spouses. It’s a constant difficulty marriages with young children have to face. The first couple of years until the children grow are very demanding for parents (not to mention the tiredness from endlessly sleepless nights). It becomes then even more essential not to loose the important space between husband and wife. Time to be alone, time to talk, time to nourish the relationship. My motto is “because I have no time, I’ll give you time”:

I think about it specially now. The birth of our baby and the first couple of days where so smooth and caring and full of peace, even though we had lots to do (buying house, selling apartment, preparing baptism). It felt as if we were floating on smooth cotton as everything around us moved fast.

Now it feels as if we have landed and more everyday issues have to be taken care of. It’s back to everyday life.

Though a much richer life!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The coming miracle of life

A week ago I was counting down days left to delivery. According to the ultrasounds baby was to be due four days ago. But baby seems to like it where he/ she is and now I have stopped counting in order not to become more anxious and more eager than I already am. At least now I now that if baby isn’t born by the end of next week we will get an appointment with the hospital to induce the delivery. It doesn’t feel completely satisfying to be induced after two normal deliveries. At the same time it feels good to know that this new date is final and that hopefully there won’t be more waiting.

What does an expectant mother do during all this waiting? If it had been our first child I would probably be climbing up the walls in total anxiety. Luckily I have two lovely children that keep me busy. On top of things we have recently bought our first house and have lots to do. As a matter of fact I’m quite occupied.

Nevertheless I think about our baby and his/ her coming to our world at least every hour. In a way it’s quite exciting to imagine that any time, any minute, contractions could start and one of the most wonderful happenings in life will be occurring.

I keep picturing these lovely images from my previous deliveries, holding our baby for the first time in my arms, loving him/ her with all my heart, looking into his/ her eyes saying everything in a silent look, caressing the tiny hands, and being so overwhelmed and so extremely grateful for the new life.

I have heard many times that no delivery is quite the same as the previous. I must say I agree. However the feeling of complete happiness has been there for my husband and me the two previous times. I pray everything goes well even this time and I try not to anticipate too much and let events guide me.

I wish all the best of lucks to all expecting moms and moms near delivery dates. At the same time I send my happiest wishes to couples that have recently gone through the miracle of life!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bond and nurture through baby wearing

Only 12 days to go to delivery… approximately. I think our baby will probably come around the date determined by the ultrasound but nevertheless these last days I plan as little as possible. I start my mornings considering that baby could be born today and go to bed relatively early prepared for an earlier delivery.

Everything seems to be in place, baby’s name, arrangements for baptism, baby’s clothes, pram, etc. I try to include my sons in as much preparations as possible, including choosing baby’s name. They seem so thrilled. My husband and I have gone through delivery routines. We feel quite prepare I guess. At the same time we try to keep our minds open to things developing differently than imagined.

This week I ordered through the Internet a new baby sling. Mine is 5 years old and looks worn out. That’s because both my husband and I have used it so much. We find it so comfortable, easy to use and so extremely cosy. It gives us this close proximity to our baby that makes baby feel more secure and cry less. We find that this particular baby sling we bought is so wonderful because baby can adopt lots of different positions, it can be used from baby’s birth until your child is as big as 2 years. (You can see it in the picture although not so clear, so if you’re interested in buying one don’t hesitate in contacting me).

Baby wearing in slings was not at all common here in Sweden 5 years ago when I bought my sling. I got lots of questions. Now it is more a question of fashion than really understanding the benefits of carrying your baby in a sling. In lots of other cultures it’s been for centuries the natural way of bonding with babies.

I got to learn about baby slings while reading about attachment parenting. Research shows that babies who are touched and cuddled frequently, cry and fuss less. Content babies are more alert and show more readiness to learn. It helps the slow-weight gaining baby because it helps mom respond easily to baby’s feeding cues. It develops deeper bonding between dad and baby. The sling lovingly embraces baby keeping him/ her close to mom or dad or older siblings, developing a feeling of caring and trust.

I look forward to wearing our baby in the sling!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Family bonding

Only a month away from the coming of our third child my husband and I have been talking about how we have bonded with our children and how we can keep bonding in the future.

When our oldest boy was born my husband spent a lot of time with him as a baby. When I was at home it was difficult for me to let go. If our baby boy would cry, and I could feel he wanted to breastfeed, it was hard for me to let go and let my husband try to calm him in his own ways. When we look back we realize how precious those moments between father and son where for both. It developed a natural trust from my son to his father and self-confidence in my husband that he could learn our son’s signals and in time understand them. Gradually my husband himself would come to me and say: “Our son is hungry”. With time I found it fascinating that my husband lacking all the feminine hormones that were rushing in my body due to pregnancy and later to breastfeeding could still understand our little baby so well. The first time I left them alone for one hour or so, encouraged by my husband, was when our baby was two months old. I left breast milk in a bottle (previously I had trained our baby to drink from it) and left, talking my cellular phone with me in case my husband needed some mom-advise.

How did it work? Horrible! Wonderful! It worked horrible because our little one didn’t take the bottle and desperately wanted mommy. I felt bad for not being there. But it worked wonderful in the long term because my husband fed our baby with a spoon and our son developed huge trust for him that can very clearly be seen even today.

So bonding worked wonderfully.

Two and a half years later our second son was born. And we wondered how are we going to bond to him when we have another little one that needs attention?

Bonding in this case worked differently, it had to. My husband and our second child haven’t spent as much time alone. And as a fact I haven’t have as much time alone to spend with our oldest boy since we had our second child. I carried our second baby with me everywhere. I still do. Our oldest child was at day care and I had time alone with our youngest child. So how did we bond? My natural bonding has been through breastfeeding. I breastfed our youngest boy until he was 18 months. As often as I can I take time alone with our oldest child, like when we went to the “learning work with chocolate”-class. My husband has bonded in different ways, by feeding him, taking him biking or trips in the car to see the aeroplanes in the airport.

Now so close to a new birth we think about these issues again. Talking about them helps us get insight. I would say it’s a good first step. How will it work? I cannot answer yet. All I know is that both my husband and I are full hearted into bonding and bonding from the beginning. I guess one natural issue in bonding is wanting to bond and using everyday activities to bond, while bathing, feeding, changing diapers or clothes, going for a walk, singing, reading a book.

Siblings also bond. Our children talk to their baby sibling in my belly, they caress baby by caressing my belly, they have even bought presents for baby (and baby will give them presents when he/she is born, of coarse).

And husband and wife bond . . . all the time. It’s one of the most important types of bonding for the family to work properly, to be safe and strong, to raise up self-confident children. How the couple bonds is very individual for every couple. As a principle of bonding they both need to want to bond, spent time alone, even if it is by having some tea when the children have gone to bed. It doesn’t need to be fancy, going out to restaurants all the time.

I will now go and do some bonding activities by packing some stuff for the family to take a trip together to spend the day outdoors! Wish us good luck with future bonding and feel encouraged to send your experiences of bonding!