In Thirty-Five Years

Last week, my in-laws celebrated their 35th anniversary. I was in search of a greeting card that adequately reflected their journey, but I wasn’t able to find one. So I wrote one. 

In 35 years…

You fought wars. Sometimes against one another; but, the most valuable battles were fought hand-in-hand, while you faced life’s challenges, endured sorrow, and overcame obstacles. You found strength in two hearts, when one was not strong enough.

You found friendship. You spoke words of encouragement in moments of darkness. You offered solace to thoughts of worry and angst. You gave meaning to the words commitment, companionship, and unconditional love.

You gave life. You cuddled tiny bodies, held tiny hands, and tickled tiny toes. You heard first words, took delight in little laughter, and witnessed first steps. You strove to make yourselves the best people you could be to teach your children good values. You watched them grow into hardworking, intelligent, and loving men.

You learnt to love. You learnt that real love doesn’t sing songs. Real love has little to do with romance, and more to do with compromises, sacrifices, and acceptance. It is unconditional and unwavering. It strengthens and grows with time. Real love puts others above the self and rejoices in simple truths.

You built a life. For 12 785 days, regardless of the conditions life presented, you worked tirelessly to make sure your family ate warm, home-cooked meals. You made them feel safe, loved, and special. You took on the burden of making the right decisions for your family, no matter how difficult it may have been. You created a home that was full of love.

In 35 years, you have created something exceptional. A marriage is more than the sum of all that you’ve accomplished. The days can be counted, but the memories cannot. Your marriage is about the lives you have touched, the values you have imparted, the lessons you have learnt, the examples you have set, and the respect you have earned. For that, you should be proud.

Love

Dear Toy Industry, What About the Boys?

It wasn’t until I had a child of my own that the invisible line running down the middle of toy stores dividing the boys toys from girl toys really irked me. Fortunately, this last year has been the year of change in the toy industry. Sparked by a seven-year-old Charlotte’s letter to lego that went viral, the topic of gender stereotyping on toy shelves and the industry at large has been brought to the limelight. Most recently, seven-year-old Maggie was pictured pouting and unimpressed with a toy alarm clock’s label: ‘fun Christmas gifts for boys’.

Photo credit: Marie Claire Nov 2014

The toy industry seems to be listening. Let Toys Be Toys, a parent-led campaign that grew out of parents’ frustration with the gender-based marketing of toys and books, is working with Toys R Us to revamp their marketing. As a result, new Toys R Us locations in UK do not have any explicitly gendered signs and are stocking toys according to type rather than gender. That means Lego Friends is finally placed with the other Legos, and is no longer being placed with the dolls. In addition, companies like GoldieBlox, Roominate, and littleBits are reminding the veterans in the business that building sets aren’t just for boys. The gender stereotyping that we see in the aisles of the toy store today is one that has developed relatively recently, over the last four decades.

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There has been a great deal of focus on encouraging young girls to explore the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subject areas; so much so, that building, coding, and activities that the previous generation deemed as boys-only is now the “cool” thing to do for girls. I, for one, couldn’t be more ecstatic. Growing up with two brothers, I often enjoyed their “boy toys” more than my glittery, pink counterparts. I wish I hadn’t felt as if I was on the wrong side of the fence whenever I chose to build with my brother’s K’nex set instead of combing my Barbie’s hair.  I often wonder if the gender stereotyping played a role when I decided to drop computer science in grade 12, despite having the highest grade in the class. Even scarier is the idea that these stereotypes have gone on to shape my career choices.

The toy industry is slowly understanding that this generation of young females won’t be pigeon-holed to limiting their toy choices to Easy Bake ovens and Barbies. As this generation outgrows their toys and begins making course selections and career choices, the hope is that we will see the gender gap close in STEM occupations. However, in all of this, I have to ask, what about the boys?

Read the rest of this article on Masalamommas. 

‘Are You Going to Give Him a White Name?’

I am ecstatic to have my writing in the New York Times today: http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/12/17/are-you-going-to-give-him-a-white-name/

Feel free to leave comments in the comments section of the post. Did you end up giving your child an ‘ethnic’ name, or did you go for something more ‘western’? Was it a non-issue for you? Do you think parents’ personal experiences play a role in the matter?

That Boy, This Mama

That little boy,

The one with bright eyes,

Wide and filled with wonder,

Watches ever so closely.

 

When he sees her

Mind her manners and

Speak with love,

He does the same.

 

When he sees her

Confidently swap her apron

For a tool belt,

He does the same.

 

When he sees her

Voice strong opinions and

Stand up for what she believes in,

He does the same.

 

When he sees her

Chase her dreams

Relentlessly,

He does the same.

 

When he sees her

Treat all of God’s creatures

With love and respect,

He does the same.

 

This young mother,

The one with tired eyes,

Kind and filled with love,

Watches him ever so closely.

 

When she sees him,

Gleefully singing off-key and

Dancing about freely,

She does the same.

 

When she sees him

Be honest and

Say what’s on his mind,

She does the same.

 

When she sees him

Turn strangers into friends

With a heartfelt smile,

She does the same.

 

When she sees him

Take on challenges

Without fear of failure,

She does the same.

 

When she sees him

Love wholeheartedly

Holding nothing back,

She does the same.

 

That boy, this mama

A generation apart

Walking, teaching, learning.

His little hand in hers.


Happy motherhood Photo credit: MyTudut / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

A Letter to My Future Self

Dear Future Self,

You’ve seen it all, haven’t you? From diaper, to toddler, to school days… You’ve heard the laughs, the cries, the hollers and shrieks, the whines and the wails. You’ve been the maid, the doctor, the teacher, the cook, the cheerleader and the doting mother. And, what seems like all of a sudden, you’re left with an empty nest. Your little bird has spread his wings to wander the skies with all the adventure and promise of youth.

Want to read the rest of this letter? Check it out on Yowoto, Your World Tomorrow, where it was originally published!

Lessons from the Playground

Watching my son grow and learn has been the greatest joys of my life. It has also been the greatest learning experience; time and time again, I am reminded that adults are clearly the inferior beings. Children are far happier, healthier, and—as I recently realised—wiser than the adults responsible for them. We could learn a thing or two from the little munchkins.

They speak their minds
“Go away. I don’t like you.”
“I made a big fart-y!!!”
“I want to hug you!”
These are just a few of the phrases I hear almost daily when I take my son to the playground. Things we wouldn’t dare say in a million years for fear of being labelled brazen, or worse, ostracised from polite company are casually tossed around when the kids are talking. Kids aren’t afraid to say it like it is. They aren’t tainted by social convention, and they certainly aren’t worried about what other people will think of them. They are who they are. Take it or leave it.

The rest of the story can be found on Yowoto…

girltunnel Photo credit: phalinn / Foter / CC BY

Why I’m Glad I’m Raising a Child in a World Where People Pour Buckets of Ice Over Their Heads

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, someone you know or have heard of has poured a bucket of ice water over their head. What started out last year as a challenge between college baseball teammates has snowballed into rather entertaining videos that are popping up all over social media, from A-list celebrities taking part to just about anyone with access to WiFi and a bucket. It’s all for a noble cause, of course. With every frigid pour, 3 more people are nominated to do the same in an effort to raise awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It is a disease in which the neurons that control voluntary muscles rapidly degenerate and invariably die.

Read the rest of this post on Yowoto…

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