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a missing side February 21, 2011

Posted by sunflower71 in Life with 3 princesses.

I often find myself missing a side, a hand, an arm…. Don’t know about you other moms of 3 or more children how to solve this problem? What do you do when all your 3 children want sit by your side, hold your hand, to be lifted?  How do you solve our perennially present seating problem at a rectangular table that normally seats 6 but being 5, TP or TC complain there is no one at their side?  I still need to have TS at specific angle from me.  It seems the older two sense this and complain at each and every meal we have together.  This sibling rivalry is constantly manifested and at times I have not patience for it and unless the fighting escalates, I let them sort differences out between them. But when the issue is to be lifted by my man…. do we have to actually count the minutes he has one of them in his arms so he give each of the other 2 the same amount?  Should I spend exactly the same amount of time getting each one ready…. yes another issue is who gets changed on the nappy changer like TS does.  When TP asks to be fed should I always give in?  She is over 5 now and has been capable of feeding herself without (making a mess) for a number of years!  But then, there are days when she throws a tantrum just so that I/we give in… Should I run to wipe their bottom every single time they ask just so that they have me with them alone for a few minutes when they are perfectly training in this specific routine?

Alternatively, I might try to look at things from my princesses’ perspective… it probably is not easy for children who have a strong character like my 3 all have to cohabit in a family where you are not the only princess.

Yet another point of view could be that of actually enjoying the noise and the fighting for attention now, before they start drifting away from me and my cuddles.


Fingers crossed June 15, 2010

Posted by sunflower71 in Life with 3 princesses, my opinions.
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Weighing options is always challenging.  The level of the challenge changes with the subject of the options.  For example what to wear, what to cook, etc would be on the easy side.  Other issues could be diametrically opposite.

Yes, I’m still on the see-saw of whether to go back to work or not.  I am currently working out the logistics of the 3 Princesses who will be (and this cannot be otherwise) in 3 different schools/play groups.  This country is boasting that it’s encouraging women to go back to work but when we come to the details, well, to put it mildly, in our case, it’s starting to look quite complicated.

We do not have the luxury of family members who could give us a hand so unless the school hours match my working hours, then I’d have no option but to extend my stay-at -home mom period.

That is unless, I’m posted in one particular school that is located within walking distance from two and potentially 3 of the schools/play groups we’ll be using.  This would simplify matters no end.

Now how do I get sent to this particular school?  First of all by asking to go there and then by keeping fingers crossed that the vacancy arises. And praying that if this is a good thing for my family and me, the puzzle pieces will fall into place.

PS Some background: before The Princess was born I was a state employed teacher.  The state gives us the possibility to avail of a 5 year career break to raise our children and can be used until they are 6 years of age.  Additionally, we are also given another year for every child.  So technically I could take up to 8 years of parental leave. I believe this to be a very good deal and helpful for families.  But there are 2 catches: the first is that one cannot do any form of paid work during parental leave and that  after it expires one has to work (or pay back the salary of) at least 6 months.

Privacy May 27, 2010

Posted by sunflower71 in about me, my opinions.
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Why am I able to publicise each post on Twitter but  not on Facebook? (I have far less T friends than FB ones)

Why is it taking me so long to upload a picture of me in the gravatar?  What would this change?

Why am I ever so careful to ‘hide’ my princesses’ face when I photograph them for the blog?  I don’t use any of the hundreds of pictures we have of thembut only ones specifically taken.

Why does it still seem like I’m sharing my darkest secret when I ‘tell’ a friend or a relative the address of this blog?

These and other questions along the same lines have been bothering me for a while until one fine day I come across the photos of one of my favourite bloggers in her post The Gallery that she wrote in response to Tara’s prompts .  And today I finally found the time to write about it.

On flipping through the different photos of the different bloggers, I couldn’t help but feel like I was spying.  I could see them but they couldn’t see me (obviously).  So first step was to first ask myself why I still had not put my own picture somewhere on my blog…what difference could this possible make to anybody except that maybe anyone who stops by could put a face to the words.   So first decision in this regard taken – I’m putting my favourite picture up.

I know my blog reads like a diary. At times its about my feelings, at others my opinions, at others a mother’s reflections.  Mostly it is my thoughts shared with a few other mothers with whom I have shared this ‘secret’.  But this is not an email sent to my friends but a piece of me shared with the world. And what I write I’d be able to discuss easily with my friends whom I finger-twiddled long to tell. Still I hesitate and take my time.

The more I tinker with social networking sites (FB and Twitter) and now this dabbling in blogging, the more I get the impressions that we are not really aware of the implications the digital world could have on us.  I don’t want to infer that all implications will be negative… on the contrary.  I have, to date, only had what I’m going to call a positive eye opening experince, unlike what has happened to a new friend of mine (she is thinking of going private because of people who visit her blog to check her out and then act very unfriendly when they meet).  But then a couple of days ago all news networks took up the privacy settings on FB to task and dedicated many minutes and lines to explain the issues involved. Also recently, locally, a young man was prosecuted in court for his comments on a FB group. From all this I can only conclude that while many millions continue to log on, not everyone takes the time to look at the implicationsof their cyper actions. This of course leaves undiscussed but definately not forgotten issue of crime, be it stolen identities, child porn, viruses, etc.

That said, Ialso need to say that I believe in a responsible use of all inventions, internet and its’ facilities included and conclude that anything that I woundn’t say/do face to face is not to be written neither here nor elsewhere.

Do unto others as you would have then do unto you. Matthew 7:12

 The last issue is the princesses.  I love it when I read other mum blog and come across their children’s photos – they somehow give a context to the stories.  But I’m not ready to that myself.  Call me over protective, call me cyber stupid, call me what ever…. I simply can’t.  I only hope that in time, I will come to understand more how to use this medium better to feel comfortable enough to overcome this too.

Should I stay or should I go? May 17, 2010

Posted by sunflower71 in about me.

where to?

Back to full time employment in September.

I have recently started experimented with myself and to deal fairly and squarely with my heavy feeling of going back to work in a few months time.  I told myself, ” No one is asking you to go back (this is the truth – promise), so try to see how it  feels thinking that you will not be going back to work next Septmeber”.

The minute I had this thought, I felt a lump lift from my chest.


Must mean something.

Back to this topic in a few days with some possible conclusion.

Happy Birthday to The Pill: She is 50 May 2, 2010

Posted by sunflower71 in my opinions.
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Finally the sound of silence prevails in this house….

I came across Richard Stengel’s introduction to the cover story of Time of May 3, 2010 dedicated to The Pill, entitled ‘Revolution in a Pill’, earlier today. I dare add nothing to the story Nancy Gibbs wrote in this issue.  I have only had time to skim through it but she is too good and will definitely cover all there is to be said.  It’s one of Richard’s statements that inspired me to write this post.  He states:

Countries that educate and empower women tend to be less violent and unstable and more likely to develop socially and economically.

I take this to be a fact.  Moreover, my gut feeling is that the human race has only developed roughly half the potential it could have developed had women left the kitchen earlier and took a more active role in society earlier.  However, sadly, we will never know how it could have been. 

Sadder still is the fact that there are still numerous situations that I sense miss the contribution of women in the country where I live, a country we like to call modern, developed and democratic.  I will not go into specifics except to say that too often I find myself thinking…”only a man could have thought that up…it’s so stupid”.  My excuses to all intelligent men but there are some circumstances that if we had to go into them one by one  I am sure any man reading this would agree with me.

In the jobs I held before I took this current break from work (to raise my 3 princesses) I never thought of myself as a female this or that but only as my job title.  But I have to admit that I’m in favour of gender mainstreaming and not completely against positive discrimination for women.  From my unscientific observation of how things proceed in my country and in some others,  there are still people men in key positions who need this to be imposed on them, although I’m also sure that no matter what legislation says, unless one believes and practices the equality creed, women and tokenism will be always be, for them, interlinked.

A popular blogger recently wrote about precisely this issue.  She quoted a conversation with (then lawyer) Ena Cremona, now a judge at the European Court of Justice, who she interviewed in the 80’s.

“I never pigeonhole myself as a woman lawyer,” she told me, “and I avoid participating in seminars, interviews and articles that pigeonhole women as special cases. It implies that men are the mainstream and women are not, and it is self-defeating.”

To this I can add nothing.  In its simplicity this reasoning is spot on.

However not there are still women living in countries where despots rule and weirdos say that promiscuous women are causing earth quakes (remember the Iranian cleric?).

Where am I rambling today?

What is the link between the Pill, gender mainstreaming, positive discrimination and the cleric?

Put simply, the common denominator is women and me being one of them.  However radical the Pill has been in giving women power over their bodies, there are still millions of women the world over who have  not yet tasted the sweet taste of freedom – to be, to work, to study, to have fun. May all women (and men) have the possibility for education, advancement and choice to be able to fulfil their potential.  Sounds utopical? Mabye.

A penny for your thoughts…

What is worth doing, is worth doing well. April 25, 2010

Posted by sunflower71 in about me.
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This post has been begging to be written since I started ..em…blogging and even before that since what I’m going to write about today is probably the main stumbling block I had.  It is a real difficulty not a perceived one.  So let me explain.

My first language is Maltese.  I was brought up in a household where Maltese and more precisely the local dialect, was what we spoke.  The language spoken at the schools I attended in the same town where I was brought up was also Maltese.  Lessons were all conducted in Maltese (if not also in dialect) including languages.  Can you imagine learning English and French through Maltese?  Well it is true. The only person who taught us a language as it is supposed to be taught was my teacher of French of 3 years – Mrs Daly.  She managed to pass on to us not only a love for the language and the culture of the country but also the proper way to speak this beautiful language.  Unfortunately this was not the same for English. I don’t want to blame my teachers for their attitude.  I want to think that they genuinely thought they were doing things right.  All the class got their O levels on time including English often deemed as the main difficulty for proceeded to further studies.  So they weren’t doing it all wrong.  But I belive they lacked the passion for the language and the grammar I learnt helped me to write correct sentences not beautiful ones.  (Mind you, I think there were fellow students who could write better than me.) I remember my feelings towards English at the time.  It was sort of necessary subject to get somewhere decent in life instead of some factory’s assembly line (with all due respect and more to all factory workers past, present and future) as parents and teachers alike used to warn us. 

(Factory work popped in and out of my thoughts several times in my life, but more about that some other time.)

Back to English Language and its sibling subject English Literature that made it’s appearance on my school timetable when I was 14 years old.  This latter was surprisingly and uncharacteristically my favourite.  I remember looking forward to the two sessions a week dedicated to poems and prose, Shakespeare, Keats, Silas Marner, Brutus, The Eve of St. Agnes …. . I still have in my small library my treasured and densely annotated copies of my old text books.

In spite of this new-found aspect to English, my further studies focused on Mathematics and Physics.  I was however lucky to have studied at a time when a new subject was introduced to our curriculum during our Advanced Level studies.  This subject was called Systems of Knowledge.  I think it is to date a controversial subject that most students hate and try to scrape through.  But I loved it.  I’m glad I have had it and I will be eternally grateful to my lecturers of the time.  A downside to this is that I’ve been since then aware that in my education I have the equivalent of the Black Hole – the absence of  a real understanding of the arts.  I know it is there, I know it’s vast, I know it’s beautiful, I know I miss it.  With it I know that while I can verbalise my thoughts in writing in English, I know I will never be able to this in a beautiful manner.  

So why choose English as the main language for this blog? I am not aspiring for a vast international readership but this language remains the one that I feel most comfortable using for expressing myself.  

This time what is worth doing (as I’m still thinking this blog is for me) is worth doing even if maybe not perfectly well.

Quality time April 5, 2010

Posted by sunflower71 in Life with 3 princesses, my opinions.
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One of the things I enjoy most of all the tasks motherhood entails is initiating my daughters to different experiences. I try to follow them in their development and in their questions to lead them to start appreciating the things I love.  I might be sounding manipulative but in reality I’m not really….or so I try not to be.

Last Friday I took TP to the ceremony that marks Good Friday for the Roman Catholic church, the faith in which we’re trying to raise my children.  I’m not using the word ‘trying’ lightly here.  In this country it’s the norm to baptise babies in their first months of life (at least this is true for a very high percentage of the population).  This is a responsibility that my man and I don’t take lightly.  We don’t want our girls to follow the religious traditions (of which we have many and counting) for the traditions but because they actually believe in their meaning.  Consequently we are trying to instil in them an appreciation for nature and its beauty and an awareness of a greater being that loves us all unconditionally.  I was always against exposing the girls to the grimness of the crucifixion of Christ and tried hard to keep them from the viewing the myriad of statues and images we come across regularly in our daily life here.  But the assistants at the school they attend thought otherwise and one fine day (about 4 weeks ago) TP and TC came home telling me about what happened to Christ and about what the bad people did.  Both aren’t yet 5!  Knowing there was no way of undoing this, I acknowledged the story and reinforced whenever I could the  ‘Jesus our friend’ part.  I really don’t know what goes on in the head of children.  I had thought they would be disturbed by the brutality but they were not and I still don’t know why.  So come Good Friday, I took TP to a beautiful short ceremony.  She enjoyed the music and the atmosphere of calm in the tiny modern chapel I chose.  And for the first time in her life realised there are prayers adults know by heart and that she would like to learn them.

On a lighter note but similar issue, today I took TP to a story telling session at one of the most beautifully restored (in my inexpert opinion) locations in Malta – the Sacrestia Vault at the Valletta Waterfront.  One of the main reasons I prefer and actually love living on Malta (the larger island)  instead of on Gozo (where I was born) is that there are different events taking place that sometimes (though this is not the rule really) we are spoilt for choice.  Today we attended a story telling session – Ronnie the rocking horse.  A short but delightful event that TP enjoyed to the full.  Schumann’s music in this restored vault accompanying the magical story of a toy and a little girl is simply enchanting.  I don’t think I can be called manipulative when I seek to encourage my children to appreciate and enjoy the timeless beauty of classical music through events like this. 

I have to say I enjoyed both outings with The Princess who lives up to the nickname I gave her to the full.  She gets interested in things, wants to dress appropriately for where we are going, and asks a million questions before we get there and after we leave.  She is a great observer and misses nothing.  She is a joy to be with and I find myself looking forward to’our’ next quality time appointment.

Being a mother means also shouldering the responsiblity for passing on a value system to our children.  To do this, our own value system needs to be in more or less good shape. I hope mine is not seeming or is skewed.  I try hard to keep a level head and to understand the community we are living in.  Maybe the fact that I reflect on my choices helps.  Maybe I need confirmation that my efforts are in the right direction.  Maybe I’ll only understand if what I’m doing is right (or wrong) after it is too late to do anything about it.  Maybe this is why parenthood is said to be the most difficult job in the world.

Pride and Prejudice March 23, 2010

Posted by sunflower71 in Life with 3 princesses.
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TS was unwell yesterday.  So I let her monopolize me all morning… and in between her napping and occasional coughing bouts I watched the film Pride and prejudice with Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen that I had been postponing for a number of years!  But I can’t say I enjoyed it.  The Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth BBC version will remain my favorite. Probably the film is closer to how things looked in reality then but somehow I prefer the ‘cleaner’ more romanticized version of the mini series.

How much simpler life was then.  In reality, how much simpler life was not that many years ago.  I’m obviously referring to girls’ life expectations.  In terms of everything else, I believe life then was difficult without the whole plethora of machines and gadgets we have today to make tasks about the house easier.  But girls just had to get married, have babies, bring them up and marry them off.  Along the line they cleaned and cooked and shopped and were wives and of course got older (until they died).

Now it’s different.  Our new freedoms allow us to study and work, start off careers and buy property, travel and generally have more fun. We have choices thanks to the different movements that have fought to give women rights equal to those enjoyed by men.

My trail of thoughts today follows this freedom juxtaposed by the frustrations when circumstances limit it, when it feels that these freedoms and rights were won for others but not for me.

Choices are real when one can actually choose them.  If choices are not real options, they stop being choices and become myths.

Being a stay home mum is admired by some (usually by members of a generation or 2 or 3 older than me) and frowned upon by others (usually by my generation and 1 or 2 younger).  We the younger generations (i’m in may late 30s) seem to now be programmed in a way that makes a stay home mum seem like someone who has opted out, given up, ‘chickened’ out even.  We seem to believe we are superwomen and can do what that, that other women before us have failed to do or understand. So while we want to be proud parents (of 1 or maybe maximum 2, well spaced, also well-timed kids), but we also want/need to:

  • keep climbing the career ladder;
  • keep adding on to our academic achievements;
  • have perfect figures well dressed in the latest colours, trends, labels;
  • travel;
  • sport well-kept stylish hairstyles/hair colours;
  • be well read and up to date both with news that matters and trivia;
  • have healthy relationships with our partners;
  • keep old friendships, make new ones and  entertain  both sets ‘stylishly’ and regularly; 

And on and on I could go. Lest we be seen as not quite, je ne sais quoi. 

Caught in between the prejudices of my family, friends and acquaintances as well as my own preconceived ideas of wife-cum-stay home mom, I often feel not quite here and not quite there.  I know the princesses will soon grow and I will be able to have a full-time job again but in the mean time I feel so caught in a time warp.

Let me explain: Last May, when TS was 4 months old, I left the house quickly to get milk from my corner convenient store, conveniently situated 50m from front door.  I was wearing one of my tracksuits, my hair held in place with my sunglasses. The lady behind me in the queue kept trying to get TS to smile to her.  When I acknowledged her asked me if I was the grandmother or the mother of the baby. I was too taken aback to answer… just mumbled something like “I’m in hurry” and came home and had a good cry. After which I asked my man to take the afternoon off and booked myself an appointment at my favourite hair salon for that same afternoon. 

This incident comes to mind very very often.  I know that technically I can be TS’s grandmother but I most definitely don’t want to look like my kids’ grandmother!

Since then, because the princesses are older (anyway a little more manageable), because I took to listening more to my older Italian friend whom I’d like to look/be/behave like when I’m older and because of something else that for now I’m keeping as my secret, I’m taking more care of what I put on and what I look like when I walk out of the door.  And mainly, I’m doing this because it generally makes me feel so much better.  I don’t go anywhere much. During the day my outings are to the supermarket, to pick up the kids (apart from the occasional coffee with my journalist friend) and sometimes the playing fields but I still take time to dress up.  Somehow I walk taller when I’m not in tracksuits and running shoes. 

Now the other stay home moms at the school gate are starting to ask me if  I’m working again or if I’ve been out during the morning just because I turn up in black pants, a nice top and lipstick!

“Sneaking Beauty” March 14, 2010

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For the umpteenth time TC ask me to put on The Sleeping Beauty (she calls it sneaking beauty) dvd.  Every time she finds the living room to herself (TS is taking a nap, TP is out with the man), she takes the book of this ‘timeless’ fairy tale and asks for the dvd as she did right now.  She then follows the story on the book and on the dvd….and as she does every time she covers her face with the book at each ‘fearful’ part such as when Maleficent interrupts the party, etc. and then like a true woman peeks a little to see just a little bit….as she’s just too curious and can’t miss anything!

(picture from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Disney%27s_Sleeping_Beauty_characters#Flora.2C_Fauna_and_Merryweather I still have to understand the best way to give credit when using pictures from websites)

Maybe I should have encouraged her to take up a game and I thus dedicate these few quiet moments for some me-and-her quality time.  But i’m already too tired this morning (Sundays are no holidays for moms!) to be proactive so i’ll let her watch and snuggle up to me.  I guess this will have to count as undivided attention. After all every 3 year old needs to be cuddled and the fact that I watch it with her instead of letting her watch and me heading off to do something else will appease my conscience.

So now I stop writing and move closer to her….

Maybe one day, when she’s angry at me for something or other (i’m sure we’ll have many of these moments given the character she is showing already), she might read this and maybe understand that mummies try hard to be perfect but don’t always manage.