Easter and all the brightly colored plastic stuff that comes with it 

I don’t know whether it’s because I’m a mom now and find myself paying more attention to these things, but I’m really noticing this year how Easter has become so much about stuff. The bunnies, the chocolate, the gifts (“Easter gift”?) and the kid outfits. My Twitter feed is full of ideas on what to put in your baby’s Easter basket (yes, babies get those apparently and if they don’t, you are a questionable mother), how to choose a cute Easter outfit, plan props for your Easter photo shoot and select the perfect Easter gift. Since when do people give Easter gifts? Was this always a thing? Was I just shielded from all the Easter commercialism because I came from an immigrant and somewhat esl family?

I came to Canada with my mom and dad when I was seven years old. My parents weren’t religious and we didn’t go to church often. We celebrated Easter because of our culture and Bulgarian traditions. My mom baked delicious Bulgarian Easter bread and cookies and we painted eggs. We did tie dye eggs, stencils, and other cool designs. I loved Easter because it meant spending time with my Mama and doing something fun and creative together. 

This year will be my baby girl’s first Easter. 

I want her to grow up the way I did – enjoying the simple and beautiful things in life. 

I worry it won’t be possible though. I worry our society has taken everything simple and pure and loaded it with consumerism and stuff. Just take one trip to your local supermarket this Saturday and you’ll see what I mean. Toys, ribbons, cards, stuffed animals, and every other brightly colored plastic you can imagine. 

As mothers, we are under so much pressure to buy stuff, exchange stuff with other people, and hoard the stuff in our house only to repeat the whole thing all over again next year.
Happy Easter everyone and I hope you enjoy the most beautiful thing about Easter – spending some time with someone you love ūüíöūüĆ∑

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It’s the little things that remind us of our loss

I am out for a walk today with my baby girl at the park. The sun is out, the famous cherry blossoms are blooming in their full glory, and the air is warm. There are lots of people out. I’m seeing so many grandmas with their little ones. It’s Spring Break and the parents are probably at work.

All of a sudden, I feel really, truly, overwhelmingly sad. The realization of my mother’s absence hits me in the face like an icy gust of wind. I remember that she is gone from this world. I remember that my baby girl will never meet her. I remember that my mom will never get to be her grandma in that way. 

She will never hold her little hand and feed  the ducks. 

All of a sudden, it’s like time has stopped. My loss is everywhere. It surrounds me and darkens this Spring day. It’s in the cherry blossoms and in the ripples of the lake. That’s the thing about grief, I guess. It sneaks up on you. It darkens a beautiful day. It hides inside the smallest things and causes them to cause the most intense, most painful reminders of our loss.

 

Mom Friends

I’ve always been a girls’ girl. I love having close female friendships, some of which I’ve been lucky enough to have since childhood. I’ve always valued sharing, venting, crying, and laughing freely with a trusted circle of confidantes. My circle has always been somewhat small yet flexible, finding that the older I got, the less time and energy I could dedicate to non-true friendships.

The friendship dynamic in your life undergoes a huge transformation when you become a mother. You still love and miss your pre-baby friends, but a part of you yearns to be surrounded by others who are going through what you are going through.¬†After the dust settles and the first couple of crazy, tearful, love-filled, exhausting months of motherhood are behind you, you kind of re-emerge. I felt like a hibernating bear, waking up from its long winter sleep, shaking off the dust, and opening its¬†eyes again.I felt my strength slowly return; My baby was growing and thriving and I was ready to be me again.¬†I started to miss the social interactions from my old life – simple things, like going for a quick coffee with a co-worker or a phone call with a friend on my¬†lunch break. I knew I couldn’t have those things again in the same way, so I looked for new versions of them.

As a new mom, you are stuck in a strange limbo, an in-between space between your old self and your future self. Your old friends are all busy with non-baby things, and yet the thought of putting yourself out there and making the effort to meet new people is daunting and scary. You are still fragile; You are still healing, vulnerable, and trying to make sense of all this newness. The friends you have that are moms with older kids are already out of this space – they are usually back in the workplace or have somehow resumed their pre-baby activities.

I found that in the past, a friendship in my life was created from a unique¬†combination of shared values, background, sense of humour, etc. Now, however, when I meet a new mom or exchange a quick smile with a fellow stroller-pushing woman on the street, I feel an instant connection. I don’t ask for much – if you are nice, I want to be friends.¬† This doesn’t mean I discount non-moms as potential new friends, it just means that there is a very special and very rare connection a woman feels towards another woman who has just gone through the same life-altering event as she has.

I understand now why so many of my mother’s good friends were ones she had met when my brother was a baby and little boy. My mom was an immigrant, new to Canada and uprooted from her family and friends. I understand now how my shy, soft-spoken mother formed such strong, connected friendships with a few special women she met at the playground, at the beach, and at preschool.

I get it now – why women need mom friends. I used to think of this as a sad rejection of a woman’s old life, friendships, and lifestyle, but it’s not like that at all. It stems not from a need to remove the old and replace it with the new, but from the need to be understood. A new mother is so fragile. She is so focused and dedicated on her little one that her life temporarily becomes not her own.¬†There is something so freeing and so beautifully simple about having someone to talk to about things like breastfeeding, pacifiers, and baby poops. A sisterhood is created – an understanding that she knows what it’s like.¬†