On Motherhood & Sanity


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

dedicating the October family self portrait to Frankenstorm Sandy

Boerum Hill, Brooklyn

***

I had all these ideas in my head... and then came Sandy. Nobody invited her, and she left without settling the bill, so good bye and good riddance.

Also, I blame Sandy for the disappearance of  half of the month of October which slipped by without my noticing. I'm pretty sure her whaling goblins took it.  

and  yeah, three days ago we were in short sleeve and barefoot at night. Damn you Sandy for reminding fall it was time to move in.


***


The family self portrait  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.

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
September - Coney Island
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!
August - waiting for Irene, yeah, the hurricane

Sunday, October 21, 2012

on life's little detours....




with the flip of a coin you're invited into a dream. 
the heavy metal doors open to let us into a forbidden world.
we are surrounded by spirits that peek from insider the black binders.
or we peek at them. One of the two.

Time slips by hurried and disrespectful.
we are too busy to notice.
visions clash, and  like with waves foam splashes us all. 
in the shadows we  try to decipher the clues.
and then the climax.
...and it ends. 


so  we walk away, begrudgedly,



while the heavy metal doors slowly slide to close behind us.

and we awake back in our world, like alice in wonderland, wondering how much of the dream was real.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

cowgirl, photo post



hot-pink cowgirl boots with glitter hearts.....    it was just a matter of time before this happened


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

rise and shine - photo post

click on the image to enlarge

so in love with this photo right now

something borrowed, something new

Today I tried on  all sorts of news.

And the shoes did not fit, and my hair looked all funny.

Today I tried, but mostly failed.

But I tried. I tried something new. And that made me happy.

ridin' home late at night after a long first session at Magnum with  Chien-Chi Chang where I'll be spending the next five days

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Celebrate the First-ever International day of the girl

......because every little girl's life should be filled with rainbows. 

celebrating international day of the girl

(click photo to enlarge)



ok, I know this is naive and silly and there are much more important things to wish for, like food and safety from abuse or slavery, and I wish that for them too, and I will try to add  my little two cents to achieve it or at least move things in that direction, but today I just wanted to celebrate girls everywhere fighting their corner,  for their strength and their unwavering  conviction. 

Today is the  first-ever United Nations International Day of the Girl. "It’s a day to celebrate the work being done worldwide by and for girls’ rights." (Pat Mitchell, President & CEO, The Paley Center for Media). “In reserving a day for advocacy and action by and for girls, the UN has signalled its commitment to end gender stereotypes, discrimination, violence and economic disparities that disproportionately affect girls... including gender violence, early marriage, child labor, and discrimination at work.” (the day of the girl website). 

So in that vain, won't you do one thing today to make one little girls life better? (any girl, any little thing counts).


Monday, October 8, 2012

on family - photo post

so much could be said about this photo.... hopefully there is no need


these are a few of my favourite things....
(click on image to see full size)

Monday, October 1, 2012

On trophy kids and tiger mothering


my version of tiger mothering, sweatshirt by www.kukisfiesta.com
 This post was prompted by yet another article on the book “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.”  Let me start off by saying I read the book. I knew I’d mostly disagree with it, but I read it, not to find holes or to criticise it, but because I know that my faults lie in the opposite direction.  I believe we are all born (or grow up with) a parenting style, although it only becomes apparent once the children come around. I always knew I’d be a lot like my mom. I hoped for a slightly stricter version having taken queues from my father, but  no, I’m just like my mom, a freakin’ softy, and this is what motivated me to read the book, the hope I’d find arguments that would strengthen my resolve to be more discipline oriented, at least some of the time.

And I did find some interesting arguments, like how empty praise benefits no one and  sometimes you just have to say “that’s not good enough” when it’s clear that no effort has been made. I liked the idea of looking at this as not as a criticism but as refusing to treat the child in a condescending manner, choosing to believe in their ability to do better.

However,  for the most part, I think the book is based on a flawed premise that tiger moms make more successful children. Yes, Chinese* children often excel academically at school and music recitals. This academic advantage often carries on into college, but if you look at the top CEOs, at self-made entrepreneurs, successful artist, inventors, musicians, etc.,  then there is absolutely no clear dominance of the Chinese. There is no proof that this system based on ten rigid rules produces better results.

The focus of the book to me seems off centred. There are continuous references to how hard it was on her to make her children do what she thought was right. See, I don’t think raising a child is about you, the parent, it isn’t about moulding them into a preconceived idea, but about helping them become the best version of themselves, and that requires letting them explore  in order to to understand who they are and where their strengths lie.  (rule #6, never allowed to choose their own extracurricular activities)
Recent research on business shows that people benefit most from focusing and building on their strengths  rather than their weaknesses.

There is also a misguided assumption that western parents tip toe around their children, somehow afraid of them while, in her words, “Chinese parents believe that their kids owe them everything. The reason for this is a little unclear, but it's probably a combination of Confucian filial piety and the fact that the parents have sacrificed and done so much for their children. (And it's true that Chinese mothers get in the trenches, putting in long grueling hours personally tutoring, training, interrogating and spying on their kids.)”

I chose to have children, just as I chose my husband and my career. I don’t expect anyone else to take responsibility for my life choices, least of all a child. I believe in taking responsibilities for your actions, and believe that consequence and accountability is a crucial lesson I hope to teach my children early on in life. I hope my kids will look after and accompany me in my old age, but I’d rather they do it out of love and respect and not a sense of debt and obligation.

Research is also consistent on the benefits of having musical training early on, (rule #10: never allowed not to play the piano or the violin) as is the acquisition of a second language, but this applies equally to the violin, the piano, the guitar or the drums. (rule #9 never allowed to play any instrument other than the piano or the violin,) but I guess you can’t get into Carnegie Hall playing the drums. I don't view my kids as something that’s there to make me proud. They are not a trophy or something for me to brag about at parties. I view parenting as a responsibility I’ve taken on, and to believe it is any easier to be a western parent, just because we don’t impose ourselves and our beliefs forcefully, is both simplistic and na├»ve. We both have 24-hour-long days which are mostly dominated by our parenting choices. Whether they are spent screaming at the piano or playing at the park.
Most psychology professionals agree that theatre provides training on both                   management of tone, delivery and body language, (Rule #3: never allowed to be in a school play. Rule #4: never allowed to complain about not being in a school play) and is great training  for public speaking, be it for business or political life. Further, there are proven benefits in regards to emotional expression and ability to empathise.  Research also consistently shows that ability to socialise and communicate with friends is a key indicator for healthy manage of stress and to overcome trauma. These skills, like playing a violin, need to be practiced and developed. (rules #1 and 2: never allowed to have a playdate or attend a sleepover.)
Increasingly  the ability to adapt is cited as a key skill necessary to survive in this fast changing world, and you don't get that from rigid discipline. Social skills and emotional intelligence account for the fact that many not-so-great, and even flat out crappy students become a success once they leave the school system. (Rule #7 and 8: never allowed to get any grade less than an A, and never allowed to not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama).
I see parenting  as my job, and the goal is to help my children  be all that they can be, regardless of what I would like them to be.  I have a responsibility to model the values that I hope they will inherit, because in the end they will make their own choices, and it is my job to give them the necessary tools to help them make good ones.  My goal is to make happy, successful and fulfilled individuals that can question the status quo and go against convention if need be.  Notice the difference,  my focus in on “them” not “me”.

There is also something to teaching children about tolerance, and modelling an authority figure based on always being right and imposing your way even if it is through force, well, isn’t that what the religious and cultural intolerance that is causing so much suffering these days is all about?

We are all different, our children are all different, and all we can hope for is that our chosen parenting style works for the both of us.

Yes, my mom was a softie, but I still got accepted into an ivy league university, and then went on to have a fulfilling career as well as a loving family. I’ve found plenty of time to focus on me, but not through my parenting, rather  through those hobbies that were nurtured in my childhood, like reading, painting, playing instruments and photography.  Apparently there is time to do both, and although I did miss out on playing in Carnegie hall, I’ve been part of discussions at the Security Council. You win some, you loose some.

*this is the author’s use of “Chinese”  not mine