On Motherhood & Sanity


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

on leaving


I took this photo just before my last trip. It was a weekend, so everyone was sleeping in while I got myself ready. This for me is the hardest part, the leaving part, when the whole stretch I will be away lies before me empty and bare, and feeling too long to bear. It's probably the only time I fully empathize with my children on how they view my absences.

At the airport everything reminds me of them, but soon I'm on the plane and it's like superman with the phone booth, I come in as Clark Kent, and come out superman. In my case, I come into the plane as a mom, and come out as an aid worker.  A change of suit, of continent, and my  mind lies elsewhere with ease. Skype helps. Phone calls were frustrating because I could barely understand them or even tell them apart. Often they were happy going about their own business when I called, and crying unconsolably when I hung up, making me wonder (and trying on occasion) if it would not just be best to be 'out of sight and out of mind'. Now they can see me, even if the time difference does not allow talking I'll send a video. I hear they talk back to it.

They view my absences as normal. just like they assume  that everyone speaks more than one language and has lived in more than one country.

'when we are done here, can we go live in india?' asked the princess.

Our work is clearly giving them an entirely different perspective of the world and how it works. But I can't help thinking that it will be an increasingly common lifestyle. That it will provide them with perspective and tolerance, so necessary in this increasingly  intolerant times.

Nevertheless, it weighs on me that every time I leave for work I leave a vacuum behind, just like the empty  space in the bed of where I used to lie. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012

on siblings, because life is better in company

because life is better in company
I didn't always know if I wanted to have kids, but I did always know that if I had one, two would be the minimum. I can't imagine my life without my siblings. They have been an integral part of every step and of who I am. They taught me to share, resilience, and were also key allies in the nomad life. The only people that knew my story. This  made us  very close to this day.

I always tell my kids that the greatest gift I'll probably ever give them will be each other. Knowing that you have a partner in crime,  an ally, a friend that will be there rain or shine. And the comfort for me, to know that once I am gone, once their father is gone, they will still have each other.

That, to me, is siblings.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Yes she can (or on why we can’t help but love Michelle Obama)



First off, let me just clarify I’m not American and I’m not voting.

Second, this is not a political blog and, normally, the US election would have no place here.  But that was before  the first lady - Princeton University cum laude 1985; Harvard Law School degree 1988; Chicago law firm; assistant commissioner of planning and development; and community outreach worker- closed one of the key speeches for the Democratic Convention with:

-You see, at the end of the day, my most important title is still "mom-in-chief."

That night a feminist icon was established.

It’s not hard to guess why we can’t help falling in love with her. She is beautiful, yes, but she is also sharp, witty and smart, like scary smart. She is irrefutably successful and (to add insult to injury) toned, fit and funny.

She is also happily married to a (handsome, smart, smooth as silk and somewhat successful) man, who clearly and very publicly adores her.

Really we should hate her, because she does it all so gracefully she makes the rest of us seem like fat lazy slobs by comparison. But we don’t.

I grew up in a time where it was not acceptable to quote “family” as a reason not to be able to do something work related. Even if that something fell outside the official duty requirements of the job, or outside office hours. A mentor taught me to say “I had other commitments” instead of  “I have a school play” or “my kid is sick,” a trick I have used for years. It was a kind  of  “don’t ask don’t tell” situation. You don’t ask me what my engagement is, I won’t spell it out and my reputation wont suffer.  So to have her stand up and say that she was not sure this whole being-a-president thing was good for her daughters, well, it sets standards. But mostly, it sends a message: you can be fabulous, professional AND a present mother. That family IS a legitimate priority  and it  does not mean that you are not serious about your job and your career.

I also have to credit her for having the balls (I guess ovaries would be more appropriate in this context), to stand up and against the traditional role expected and almost required of a first lady. When Obama was first campaigning she was viewed as a  risk and something that had to be managed. Her strength negatively perceived and portrayed, with main stream media sometimes going to the most negative extremes of convention, referring to her  as an "angry black woman." Unacceptable by any standards (well, apparently some people just don't have standards). She was undeterred. Although she was in the spotlight she opted to write her own speeches, and although she reduced her professional responsibilities by 80 percent to support his candidacy, she limited her involvement and only traveled to political events  two days a week,  and  overnight stays only if their daughters could come along. She proved that the American people are smarter than they are often given credit for.  That they could both understand, relate to and appreciate the value of a strong, independent and smart woman. Her popularity has consistently remained above that of her husband, and now, above that of her husband's opponent. 

Mainly, we love her because she  took the rule book and used it to prop herself up to reach for the sugar, bake some wholesome  (whole-wheat and organic) brownies, in a Jason Wu outfit. And women all over the world, American or not, white, black blue or green, are indebted to her because she showed us with her example that we can be successful and feminine. We can be professional and maternal. We can be serious and fashionable.

Yes we can.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

GO see art in Brooklyn


This weekend hundreds of artists across Brooklyn opened their doors to the public in the hope that they would win –by popular vote- a show in the Brooklyn museum.

It was amazing.

First off, it was amazing to see just how many artists live in Brooklyn, and how many lived just on our block. Like little fairies green dots appeared everywhere to remind us that we are surrounded by those that are committed to seeking beauty and meaning within it.

Then there was the fact that you could waltz around following these little green signs and their arrows, a little like Alice in Wonderland, go up the stairs, down the corridors, scroll and dial, decipher passages, and then, when you least expected it, come face to face with the art.

I imagine most people did their research and thought in advance what they wanted to see. I didn’t. I didn’t have the luxury of much time, so left it to chance, and got to see a life-size tapestry tank (which took over three years to build), home made clothes as a form of rebellion to consumerism, photography trying to use the body as sculpture, no more than a malleable form, and paintings that tried to twist, represent, alienate, or build by hiding…



we saw an angry sea under the sunlight, and where told the story of the canvas. We saw 20 layers of color that sought to create a shadow of something so familiar you probably would not even recognize it….

The added beauty to this was getting to meet the artist, and getting to see the home of the art. It was fun to see  where it all came from, who the artist was, why they did what they did, how it all came together. It was interesting to hear how other people interpreted the art, and I imagine much more so for the artist.

It's the first time that the Brooklyn museum does this, and I really, really hope that they will do it again.


 Can’t wait to see  who is selected. I can’t wait to be able to go on a ‘nocking once again. 



Monday, September 10, 2012

September family self portrait, now for real



subway ride back from Coney Island

***


This project started in January 2011.

I take one portrait of the whole family, myself included, once a month.  Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, whatever we are wearing.

Sometimes it's planned. Mostly, it's not.

I started doing this mainly because I realised that I was never in any of the family photos. 

It was meant to last  for the duration of 2011, but we are  enjoying it so much that it has carried on into 2012. Don't know when or where it will end. 

Every family should do this. Won't you give it a try and share with us?

To see previous months click on the links below:


2012
August - Park Slope
July 2012 - Matherland
June 2012 - hope
April 2012 - castaways
March 2012 - hell is the other
February 2012 - lazy mornings in bed
January 2012 - mimes

2011
December 2011- Occupy your life
November- BAM!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September family portrait .... teaser

I have loads of concepts that I want to try for this project, but I also try and go with the flow, so when we found ourselves in Coney island for the last weekend of summer, I could not let the opportunity pass by. I remember having gone there over ten years ago, and already  had that long wooden  boardwalk in my head before we set out. In the end, although I like this photo, the "official" September portrait ended up being something that happened out of the blue, as usual.

Still editing it, but thought I'd share this in the meantime.

Coney Island Boardwalk 




***


This project started in January 2011.

I take one portrait of the whole family, myself included, once a month.  Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, whatever we are wearing.

Sometimes it's planned. Mostly, it's not.

I started doing this mainly because I realised that I was never in any of the family photos. 

It was meant to last  for the duration of 2011, but we are  enjoying it so much that it has carried on into 2012. Don't know when or where it will end. 

Every family should do this. Won't you give it a try and share with us?

To see previous months click on the links below:


2012
August - Park Slope
July 2012 - Matherland
June 2012 - hope
April 2012 - castaways
March 2012 - hell is the other
February 2012 - lazy mornings in bed
January 2012 - mimes

2011
December 2011- Occupy your life
November- BAM!