Just like me!

I love being a mom.  I truly do but there are days, the days in which you specifically remember asking your child if they actually searched for the overdue library book.  Or did they pull everything out of their backpacks, those are the days that even though in the grand scheme of things do not mean much, can ruin any chance of a good day.

My sons are a little older, they are at an age where they don’t need mom following behind them picking everything up.  They can grab the bowls from the cupboard, they do not need me in the mornings to get their breakfast.  But this morning, this morning was a particularly frustrating morning, I literally wanted to pull my hair out.  This month has been crazy, activity, after activity.  Everyone is tired except for my youngest and he lately has developed a thing for talking back.  I can’t stand it!  When asked if he did something, he says yes.  When it turns out it is the opposite, I am wrong!  Ugh!  Are you kidding kid!  It has been none stop and I don’t get it.  This morning he had to get his swim bag ready and complained that he couldn’t find his swim trunks.  So immediately the search began.  He cried that he hung them up on the towel rack, which is odd because if he did they would have been there.  In his world he does everything he is told, it is someone else fault.  Someone else took it, he did everything as he was told.  And so when it turns out that he was wrong, disbelief sets in.  What!  No fair!  Yeah, mom is not fair, she found your stuff where it didn’t belong.  Ouch!

And no sooner does that happen, I am reminded of something from the past, me at his age doing the same thing with my mom.  I saw it in his eyes, the look of “how is that possible!”  And I hear myself, in my mother’s voice, all of a sudden I jolt because of the weirdness.  The circle of mother and child is never done, it keeps going.  And I am sure that when my kids have their own family, they too will jolt in the weirdness.  Being a mom, a parent is a unique.  We often see ourselves in our kids at the best and worse times. It is cool to them do things you have done in the past and yet, the moment they turn, there you are back as an 8 year old!  Ugh!  But they are my kids and are a by product of how I raise them.

Part of me gets scared, because I always worry that my kids will become the adult version of me.  I have had a hard time adjusting and now in my late 30’s, I feel more adjusted and more mature and like an adult.  I am always scared that I will screw my kids up.  And there are those time where I see them, so happy, adjusted and so smart.  I tear up at the thought that I am doing ok, I do not ever want to fail them.  I want to give them a normal life, different from mine.

In a way it’s cool that they are in some way, just like me.

Third

I was looking through Facebook statuses yesterday, just seeing how everyone was doing.  Looking at pictures, killing time before I finally got to bed and something a mutual friend said that stuck out to me, she stated that her kids were Third Culture kids.  I have heard of the term but never really knew what it meant, so I looked it up and it means a child raised in another culture outside of their parents.  As I read the definition, I wondered if maybe my kids were.

I continued reading and after reading the characteristics of a TCK, I realized that yes my boys are!  They are American kids, living in Belgium, attending a British school.  They have friends from Spain, Germany, Turkey, Ireland, Wales and Poland.  They interact with so many cultures here that at home, transitioning into our routine is weird.  I speak Spanish and teach them certain customs, they are beginning to develop a British accent.  They are experiencing things that I never in my wildest dreams think it could ever happen.  To raise kids is hard enough!  Add that we are a military family and who knows how they might turn out.  I get excited that they tell me what they had for dinner (that is what the brits call lunch).  I get excited that they are picking up new phrases, that they enjoy going to someone’s house and learning a new language and culture.

Could they experience this in the States?  Maybe but not like how they would here.  Military kids are the highest percentage of Third Culture Kids.  With so much moving around, these kids get to see much of the world.  They get often asked where are they from and they cannot tell you because they have moved around so much.  But can that be a bad thing as well?  I have read that they may have problems when they get older.  Not knowing who they truly are, not being able to interact with others, low-esteem.  As a parent I do not want my kids to suffer in anyway so to read this it does concern me.  Because if we are overseas again and they graduate from high school. I want them to be able to thrive and adapt.  Knowing that they will be safe and be able to take care of themselves, and continue to live awesome lives.

I am proud and happy to be raising Third Culture Kids.  They are going to have an amazing journey, I am glad that I can be a part of it!

Teaching

So it turned out that my youngest had homework during the week long break.  He forgot it and I told him that first thing Monday when they started back up with school, that he needed to put it in his backpack and bring it home.  Easy right?  No, he forgot it, the work is due Wednesday.  Now this is where it gets real (?) He finally brings it home last night and it is 6 pages.  He tried to avoid it, he played with the dog, he used a broken pencil.  I finally lost my cool and told him that he needed to start because it was due the following day.  He grumbled and started.

Now, it was math, the times table.  He is usually good at math and loves it but because he realized how long the work was going to take and that he had to do it himself, he started whining and getting upset. This was the teaching moment and I had to hold back helping him by giving him clues.  I needed him to learn that 1) he had a responsibility to bring home his work and finish it with a good amount of time so he wouldn’t be where he was last night, half way done at 9pm and crying because he didn’t finish.  2) That it is important to learn that sometimes mom isn’t always going to be there.  He grew frustrated and kept beating himself up because he forgot and was procrastinating.  He was not happy not in the slightest and when bedtime rolled around, part of me wanted to hug him and tell him that I would talk to the teacher and then I thought no.

I was never pushed to take care of myself, I was told that as long as I didn’t get pregnant at 16 and actually graduate from high school that odds are that I would be ok.  I just had to do those two things and my life would be awesome.  I wish my mom had more faith in me, but how I grew up as long as I didn’t follow the crowd, I was good, by my mother’s standards.  I wish she saw something in me, maybe I would have turned out differently.

I want my kids to be more self-sufficient and to take more responsibility.  Even though to be honest, I just want to protect them, keep them safe in a little bubble.  But I can’t!  The goal of a parent is to raise healthy, strong, respectful, smart and kind adults.  I want my kids to change the world in the best way they know how.  I want them to make amazing contributions to the world.

Last night was a teachable moment for me and my youngest.  The teaching for him, be more responsible and to remember that if you have something to at a certain time, never put it off.  For me, that I sometimes need to let them go every once in a while.  They will be ok!  They are so smart though, I always wonder how they got so smart.  Honestly, with them I learn something new every day!  The teachable moment taught me that they are okay kids and I am luckier for it!

Crossage! No not corsage.

On Ash Wednesday I became a local!  I participated in a game called Crossage!  This was so fun, there is no score keeping, all there is, is fun with a great group of people, local and delicious food and of course beer!

Crossage is like croquet but on steroids, tons of people in this particular region of Belgium play it.  What is great, that the town of Chievres, which houses the garrison for our region hosted and welcomed the U.S. with open arms.  There was no starting point, you just figured out where the closet keg was and off you went.  Each point was sponsored by a local group.  Each group provided a meal or a snack, one group was a motorcycle club, so sweet and they made an awesome onion soup, so good!

The entire gets into it, the houses board up their windows afterall you are going through actual neighborhoods.  Some people whacked the ball hard and got it to where it needed to be, others (me!) did the best they could but it was all in good fun.  To be able to be a part of something like this was fantastic and I hope to do it next year.  Getting to be a part of something like this you get a bit of culture that will stay with you.  Crossage has a great community feel to it, it was relaxed and overall fun.  It was a cold day, but after awhile, you didn’t care.

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This the view from the playing trail. It is the Notre Dame of Chievres

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Time for a holiday

It is not what you think!  Ski week is next week here in Belgium and guess what, we get one week off to well go skiing.  Well we can’t do that BUT we can do other fun stuff because ski week also falls during CARNAVAL!  Yes, Mardi Gras as they call it in Louisiana, and Fasching in some parts of Germany.  I am so excited!  Some people go to Venice, where they wear the beautiful masks for this wonderful event.

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It is a fun time!  In Belgium the city to go to is Binche, this city is a UNESCO Heritage city and are known for their celebration of Shrove Monday.  What is Shrove Monday you ask? Also called Rose Monday or RosenMontag in Germany, is the Monday before Ash Wednesday every year. A part of the English traditional Shrovetide celebrations of the week before Lent, the Monday precedes Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras.

In Germany, it is like Halloween, everyone gets dressed up in costumes, they have parade, town parties at the local hall.  It is truly an experience, I hope we can go to Binche as well for their festivities but for now, we will be going to Aachen for their Shrove fun.

Aachen is a very quaint city, known as the Charlemagne city because of its rich history with Charlemagne the Great.  The have a museum dedicated to him and his history, they even house his jewels.  They have beautiful cathedrals, their Rathaus (city hall) is unique and beautiful.  We are excited to get experience this once again.  Event though it is a religious holiday, their is something fun about shaking the demons out.  The last hurrah before you go to church on Ash Wednesday and start anew.  People have been doing it for centuries, every year it is a different reason, a different method and every year we start over and become renewed in our faith, our sense of being, our life as a whole.

It doesn’t have to be a religious thing, often religion isn’t part of this whole renewing of the soul.  It can just be you need a fresh start, so you go, shake out all the demons or old feelings or past mistakes and you begin again.  Start the new chapter!  Go on a holiday as they say around these parts and have some fun!  Who knows, you might come away with a whole new lease on life.

Happy Carnaval!  Happy Mardi gras!  Get out there and have some fun!!!

It’s handled!

I am taking a page out of the Olivia Pope handbook.  I handled it, the best I can.  We got some not so happy news yesterday.  I was down in the dumps, I did really well at not showing it for the sake of my spouse.  Deep down?  I wish the outcome was what I had hoped for but it is what it is.  The husband is fine, even though I think he is not happy with the outcome.  He is stronger than I am, one of the many reasons why I love him.  I have it handled!  I have ranted and shouted up to the sky asking why?  In the back of my head, there is a reason for everything.  What that reason is, we will find out in due time, for now I am holding myself back and really focusing on the positives in my life.  I have to!  If I do not, I am no good.

I was not expecting the outcome of the news of my spouses career, he still has a job, but the position he wanted just wasn’t his, yet.  Again, not his time, he will continue to rock the position he is now and that is okay. As I see fellow military friends happy for their spouses, I will congratulate them and know that my spouse will be there next.  I will always be proud of the hard work he has put into his career.  His love for his country and family is intoxicating.  I cannot and will not dwell on the bad.  All good moving forward and enjoying the ride till it is his turn.

I still think I may have put something bad out into the universe, the envy I felt because another fellow military spouse is popular than I am.  That our car is not so great, I have no career.  I was not a good mom to my kids.  Maybe I am just not a good partner to the husband.  What did I do wrong?  He doesn’t deserve all the bad I put out there.  I can’t think that,  it is not his time.  I can go through all the negative things I have thought about but none of it is the reason.  I also have to remember, it isn’t my career!  It is not about me, my feelings!  I am being selfish.  He is okay about it, I have to be as well.  Handle the feelings, get over it Erika!

So it’s handled.  Life happens and all we can do is enjoy Belgium.  Until next year!

What have I learned?

So I did my 30 days of grateful and during that challenge I learned that I am too hard on myself.  I need to let go of a few more things and lighten up!  Life is too short and I need to appreciate what I have, I have live my life not someone else’s!  I also need to understand that sometimes, kids have bad days and I need to be more positive with them.  I strive for them to not live how I did as a kid, I want them to be confident and vibrant adults.

I love to volunteer and I need to step up more.  I take on something, I need to do what I said I would do and not slack off.  Step up or get the hell out!  My new mantra!

I live a great life!  To have the opportunity to see other parts of the world, that’s awesome.  To share it with my kids, even more awesome.  Military has its ups and down, but I can’t imagine living any other kind of life.  Hooah!

I am an ok person.  I am almost 40 and I am coming to this age, ok.  I will always keep learning more about myself and will always be grateful that I am getting to where I need to be, as an adult.  I have learned that having a thicker skin is good.  Letting go of the past, even better.  And that I am not a perfect parent, but I am a loving and caring and protective parent.

I cannot wait for what the rest of 2015 has in store for me.  I look forward to learning more about them and await for them with great delight!