On Bilingual Mothers who Are Not Really Bilingual

I’m Polish. Bred and raised. Yet my daughter (now almost 2.5 years old, as she says: she’s “two o’s”) wields only her own mother tongue (aka English) , except a few occasional: “kocham”, “czesc” or “dzieki”.

Since Arya’s day one, I have been feeling guilty about this fact although I consciously made a choice not to speak to her in Polish mostly out of of convenience (I don’t have Polish speakers around me to converse on a daily basis). The guilt is coming from the societal (and sociolinguistic) view on raising children in a bilingual family. I’ve heard million times: “You should speak to Arya in your language, it’s really bad you don’t”.

And for the whole list of the reasons I have learnt when studied linguistics I do know they are right. Yes, Bilingual children are smarter, geniuses and they know a second language by default.

For years now I t has been hard for me to speak Polish. I don’t speak Polish daily. My family doesn’t call me regularly for chats in my native tongue, I don’t work with Polish people, I don’t have many Polish friends who I meet often. I breathe, think and speak English (far from RP, but I still do). I have been for over 12 years now (even in the Uni before than we spoke English all the time because we studied in English). How am I supposed to suddenly switch? 

And yes the dark cloud of guilt follows me every day and I don’t need gurus on trains and occasional encounters telling me “YOU SHOULD” like I’m depriving my daughter of her basic rights. Go back to your lives and let me live with my guilt in my own world. I promise, Arya will speak Polish before I die.

 

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Screwing you Over Mums, BIG TIME

I’ve got two jobs, my husband is a management consultant, our baby is in a nursery and as much as there’s only benefits of the latter I cannot digest the thought that I pay £1500 each month for this. She’s having fun there and very much enjoying the time spent with her teachers and peers but almost each day I cry over this £1500 per month. 

£1500

Do you realise… DO YOU REALISE!!! that nurseries charge more than an average university for an MBA degree and yes, some mothers will jump on me saying that my child is the most important to me and money has no meaning when it comes to happiness of your child. Well, fuck it does because for this money I could get my daughter lots of things that inspire her, or, what would most of you say I could SAVE for her “real” education. 

You have to be realistic about the costs. Wake up and realise that the government is f***ing you like a prostitute (what? A mother shouldn’t use a language like that? Oh oh oh let me tell you something, who are people to judge?) 

Let’s see… If I pay £1500 per month she either comes out from it with a secured pension plan for me and my husband or 

she knows Chinese and AT LEAST basic programming 

or

she knows how to figure out what the next Euro millions results will be.

I cannot comprehend it – the newborns are our pension providers, mothers are some of the kegs in the economy wheel (still undervalued and underpaid but they are) and yet they fucking charge the FAMILIES for that. 

W-T-F?!!! I say?

Do you know, parents, we are being ripped off, big time. FUCKING BIG TIME (and although I’m a parent I will fucking swear here, just because I’m a human. Not a woman, not a baby… but a fucking human… who has a brain, who is believed to have a brain, as opposed to women and babies).

There I had my rant. 

And I’m actually considering moving out of this country – as a mother. #brexit to the win (short-term win)

And you know what – I know lots of women with babies who, with their families, decided to move out too.

Families, babies, women are not wanted here. 

Hm, if most of us leave who will pay for your pensioner holiday, Britain?

Macabre Visions

I promise I will be back as soon as summer is over. I’ve been in too lazy mood for the past couple of months but this will have to change.

Now however I wanted to write about the topic that has been a part of my life since Arya was born – involuntary macabre visions.

Yes, everyone has heard about mother instinct and that the mind of a woman changes as soon as they become mothers but to me this was just a piece of dry information until I (FINELY, sorry but I cannot stress that enough) became a mother myself. 

Since Arya was little those horrible flashes of images hit me out of the blue, when I was walking with Arya in a buggy or leaving her for a second in her seat while turning my head to reach for something. Gruesome figments of my imagination where I saw Arya in exactly the same situation as we were at that moment and an accident or a scary incident with the most vivid details of this horror – all in the split of a second. The scenes were so horrid they were bringing chills on my skin and heart palpitating faster as if I was getting panic attacks. And each time different (because the actual situation was different) and each time as intense and lucid that it became my massive worry. I also started thinking that perhaps on some level I wanted these things happen or enjoyed them. Felt so embarrassed, scared but at the same time intrigued. I sort of knew what they were referring too, but as I always question everything about myself this was not an exception.

I once told Sanj about all this and he said in the most causal way as if I was trying to share with him that the we are married or that the rain falls from the sky: “Of course. This is mother instinct. You are a mother and you love your baby so much that your brain is constantly alerted.”

From then on I have understood it more and more and at the same I became so fascinated with it.

I always proclaimed how much animals we humans are and how amazing it is. But since Arya was born the experience of all this is so much more transcending me than ever. 

The fact that I have these gruesome thoughts is the higher level of intelligence which to us humans is still not fully explored. The fact that my mind puts the worst case scenario of the moment I am in with my baby in front of me especially when I’m completely oblivious of any possible danger around me and my baby is perfection. Not very pretty one but these signals simply keep a mother on her toes. 

Our primeval nature is more intelligent than we think and I can bet all my money that female primates have far more of such intelligent apparatuses in their minds.

If all that was only combined into one…

Things That Make a Mother of a Sick Child on Holiday Happy

Just how women have their secret menstrual cycle diary I should start Arya’s sickness cycle calendar. Hardly two weeks have passed since her last cold, just to arrive at Amsterdam with accompanying two green candles  continuously sticking out of her nose. 

And here is the list of anomalies that have made me happy while on this holiday:

– when your husband throws your baby worryingly high because the snots perfectly come out so you can wipe them out to clear your baby’s nose

– being against too hasty medicine application, on this occasion shooting Nurofen into your baby’s mouth to help her enjoy holiday

– your baby devouring fatty pizza (which you normally consider a no-no food chasing your baby with carrot and organic chicken but at this point you’re ecstatic that she’s at least eating something)

– your baby way past her bed time hoping that the next morning she would wake up at least this tiny 32 minutes later than the usual 5:58

– ZARA just around the corner, when your baby’s nappy has just leaked wetting the underwear, tights and the dress and after changing the body and covering your baby with just a jacket (not counting shoes) you perform the giant slalom stunts among the tourist crowd in order to quickly get an alternative outfit. You’re reaching ZARA with a massive “PHEW!!!” only two slow down a pace to carefully choose the right dress or trousers and top. 

– your baby still not knowing how to speak because watching a cartoon in Dutch is as perfect as in her native language. You on the other hand go beyond your intelligence levels to figure out the remote control just to find a language changing option. Thank god, the Dutch prefer the original version with subtitles. 

Any other mums and similar oddities?

 

Mothers to the Mole Hole

Becoming a mother has been the most wonderful thing that happened to me and I cherish every moment of it. However being a mother in a society is not a pleasant experience. Still. Sadly. We are in the XXI century, fighting for equal rights to every group left right and centre, you name it. But mothers are very much neglected on the social and professional map. When you say: “I’m a mum”, depending on the situation, it’s perceived as an excuse, a plead for special treatment, nuisance, hindrance, disturbance of others’ daily life.

Your baby is not allowed to many restaurants due to a very likely noise she will be producing interfering other guests. Automatically thus you are not allowed either. Unless you leave your baby outside, tied to a tree… Like a dog. Although probably your dog has more chances to get in than your baby.

And yes, of course, I agree – I can eat lunch in most pubs, labelled “family-friendly” (are the other ones “family-hostile” and they poison each member of a group composed of a tired looking man and woman pushing a noisy buggy?)

And yes, I have even managed to dine for dinners in London with Arya present, sitting everywhere except the high chair (her personal choice). Most of them were hotel restaurants though.

But I have experienced the horrible, anger raising feeling of rejection when I was informed that babies are not permitted at the premises. And it hurt. And it exasperated me. I understand crying and all this commotion but these are HARMLESS HUMANS who did nothing to deserve this banishment.

Don’t try to argue because they will put you into a straight jacket or so their look tells you that.

It’s like it’s acknowledged that yes, you gave birth, you have kids but if you’re a mum (meaning, you are no longer a singular) you have to adapt… Adapt to the world where we don’t want you. Be a mother in a mole hole. We don’t want to see it, we don’t want to speak about it, we don’t want to deal with it.

I must admit, I was one of those people who very often thought like that – motherhood, buggies and childcare issues were like a plague. Mostly because I was going through a depression related to having no children so whenever I saw them I wished they disappeared. And I’m sure everyone else has a similarly valid argument for resenting mothers. But nope. None of them are valid. Neither my depression was.

Now I’m given the experience from the other side of the mirror and I’m really thankful for that. Not only for the obvious reasons but also because it taught me again TO NOT JUDGE IF YOU HAVEN’T EXPERIENCED SOMETHING YOURSELF.

As a mother, I cannot travel easily on the tube. And yes, as every mother I have to search for positives here, so I’ve got one: “At least I build my muscles and strength”. Every time I carry the buggy up the stairs with the speed of light I hear behind me: “Oh my God, I would never be able to do this. The buggy looks so heavy”.

And I take the compliment but really am I really not allowed to the centre of London pushing the four wheels? You can count central stations with wheelchair or buggy access on the fingers of one hand. We are simply not allowed to zone 1 or 2. Stay at home mums should stay at homes. Forever. Or maybe from time to time they can meet up with other mums but somewhere baby related so another mum’s house, a playroom attached to a church, some libraries, play soft centres and maybe a few other venues.

As a mother, I have to know when to put my first baby into the nursery and to make sure it works perfectly to not hear from the boss that this settling in process is “a little bit” long and swapping working days means I need to think about how I want to work things out in future but “no pressure”.

Thank God, I’m not a single mother, but what do they do? How do they go to work and pay for the childcare through the nose. If they can’t afford it because their salary is lower than the fees, are they judged because they don’t do enough for their children? And a single mother has such a pejorative connotations. A single mother is not necessarily a promiscuous woman who had an “accident”. My mum was a single mother – my father passed away when I was 2.5 and my mum was 9 months pregnant. Thank God she had her mum living with her, but this is such a small percentage.

What do single mothers do? How do they live? These are real troopers who will never get a medal. Even posthumously. BECAUSE THEY DO NOTHING ACCORDING TO THE SOCIETY.

If you’re a stay-at-home mum, never, never NEVER say: “I’m just a mum”!

It is a job and it is hard. Not so much because of your children, but because of the society.

You couldn’t even compare yourself to Leonardo do Caprio who is a brilliant, talented actor but who never got the Oscar. Because he eventually will.

Bubble Beyond Time 

It’s been 11 months now since Arya is in our world. I have no recollection, not awareness of the time that passed. I have experienced a timeless bubble of baby development. My baby. There has been no time. It’s only been an indicator of the duration of Arya’s feedings and sleeps. It hasn’t mattered if it was 01:00 or 15:00, day or night. Ever-changing sizes of Arya’s clothes have been happening. Shorter feeds and fewer sleep breaks have been happening. Cooing, grabbing, growing hair, walking have been happening…

I’ve lived in this bubble beyond time and my mind has no ability to frame this whole (almost) year into a memory of a passed days and months. 

Recently I catch myself more frequently staring at Arya while she sleeps and going back to the picture of her in that first snowsuit of hers. The one that I was so dreading to buy before she had been born to not jinx it. That very snowsuit that was too big for her on the very first day, when we were taking her home. She was such a little stranger from the universe, somewhere out there, with her mind completely blocking the memory of who she was and where she was coming from, so lonely, thrown into this world on her own… She looked so much different from what she looks like now and it is so hard to comprehend that it’s the same little creature. 

It’s not been a journey, it’s not been a year time… It’s been a bubble where nothing else exists. Just me and her being together…

New Era – When 2 becomes 1 and then 2 Back Again

The number of times I have been away from Arya you can probably count on one hand. The number of times when I have been away from Arya for more than 2 hours you can count on no hands, (until yesterday). Because it’s 0. The first time I left Sanj with her I probably sent a googlilion (yes, it is a number… Made up by me… And it refers to as many searches as Google can come up with for all the searched words and phrases ever searched on Google) texts to him asking if she’s ok. The first time was one of those: “I don’t wanna!!! I DON’T WANNA!!! I DON’T WANNA. But I have to” psycho moments which you can compare to the situation when your arm is chained to a block and suddenly you see a swarm of zombies approaching you, hunger in their dead eyes, and you grab a saw that just happens to lie there… casually… nearby and you come up to a conclusion (in a split of a second) that you either save your hand or your ass. And you choose the latter because according to the English idiom your ass is a metaphor for your life which is so philosophical in many ways but I won’t elaborate on that in this post. (This whole saving your hand or your ass is actually a thing, and it did happen, not to me personally, but as an observer… An audience, more like it, of the Walking Dead series, which I’m a massive fan of, by the way).So I went. For 45 minutes. 45 minutes and not a second longer. Phone in my hands and fingers warmed up to type. It was the day of Vogue Fashion Festival when Charlotte Olympia and Roksanda Illincic (my muse) talked on How to Make it Big in British Fashion and I, both excited and scared, was sitting there thinking How to Make it Big in Being a Mum and not to Feel Shitty about Yourself When You enjoy the Fashion Event.

Fashion has been my life since I was a teenager (before that not so much, unless you consider dressing like a tomboy throughout my whole primary school period a brave style move and my baby years – my mum’s amazing dressmaking skills, by the way – my mum was the biggest fashionista of all times when I was little, nowadays… I would say she’s better at planting her beloved plants whose names I cannot even pronounce), I have stacks of Vogue magazines in every corner of my house (Every now and then Sanj threatens me that he would burn them all because they take most of his precious space but quite frankly he even has issues with furniture taking too much space) and now do I have to choose between fashion and my greatest love of all – my daughter? Do I have to choose? Can I not love both and never feel guilty about it?

Each time I left my Arya it was something related to fashion (for my work – to be honest, but yes, for fashion). And each of these times, when I came back to her I could only see this judgement on her face. The imaginary (I hope) judgement – just a reflection of my own perception in her eyes. In reality it was probably a look of “give me milk, woman, it’s high time you give me your bloody boob to suck on and hurry up, woman. “

Today, when Arya is almost 9 months old and I can see she’s doing absolutely fine when staying with her daddy I somehow feel that this fear is slightly subsiding. And last night I went for a consultation with one of my clients and it seemed, as freaky as it sounds, like I’ve never been a mum, like I’m back to the times before pregnancy. Without a bump in front of me. Without a worry. About the bump or the crying. So frikking awkward but so liberating. A time of freedom. A time of me. In singular. As one unit. It felt so good. I needed it with every cell of my body, mind and heart…But I knew she was there in my life, that I was coming back to her (I didn’t lose my marbles, don’t you worry about that) and that was the difference from before. The purpose. The fulfilment. THE PEACE!

I think it’s a new era that is coming. The love while regaining myself.