Monthly Archives: October 2014

So, I guess this is our new normal. For the first time in, what, more than seven years, I am working on a Wednesday morning, for a couple of hours, from home, while U and N are at school. I really enjoyed Wednesday and Friday mornings with just N and I, they were too short to do something big or go somewhere far, so we mostly stayed home or went for a walk in the forest in our neighbourhood or play in the park there. We took it slowly and just enjoyed being together. Now he is out there, trying to find his place in the big school and big world and I am alone in the house that is far too quiet (even with the crazy kitten chasing the left over balloons from N’s birthday party).

Things change, children grow, go with the flow, I know all that jazz. But, right now, I just miss my baby so very much.


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Three never again

Turning four is quite a big deal for children living in The Netherlands. Turning four means that you get to go to a big kid school, no more daycare or preschool, no more being a peuter. And from the time you are about three and a half, everyone and their cat keeps asking you “So, almost time to start school for you? Spannend hoor!”

So it is no wonder that for a good couple of months, Nestor has been patiently waiting for that magic day when he gets to turn four. In the last days he wasn’t even asking about the gifts he was going to get (everyone knew that it had to be a dragon in some form or the other anyway) or the dragon cake I promised to make for him. He

And the day came. My baby turned four yesterday.

And we celebrated, with his best friends and lots and lots of dragons. Dragon cake, dragon games, dragon crafts, dragon gifts… When the cake came out and it was time to blow out the candles, he said that he would like to make a wish, closed his eyes and whispered: “I wish I could see a real dragon”. So if there are any real dragons out there, please do swing by, you would make this FOUR year old’s birthday wish come true.

This morning he woke up before dawn, pitter-pattered to our bed and asked visibly worried: “Mama, am I still not three any more?” I reassured him that he is definitely four and does not need to worry, he will never be three again.


What is the first thing that the birthday boy does in the morning? Open the gifts of course!


Toothless all ready for “pin the fire on the dragon” game


Dragon egg hunt


The eggs all found, now let’s put the map pieces together to find the treasure


Dragon balloons crafts


They were pretty pleased with the results


“I wish I could see a REAL dragon”


Dragon cake (sans wings, they were put last minute as they were quite heavy)


The group photo (the three “big” kids, Una and the brothers of two of Nestor’s friends graced us with their presence for a group photo)

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Look what came in the mail yesterday…


This is a welcome card Nestor received from his teachers-to-be. It is happening, my baby is starting school.

Tomorrow and Wednesday he can go half days (wendagen), the week after is autumn holiday and the week after that, the day after his birthday, he starts first grade.

As much as he is full of questions and uncertainties about his new environment (“will I get lunch there? will they also not let children take away toys from each other? perhaps there will be children who aren’t so nice?”), the excitement trumps the doubts. He is SO ready.
I am SO not. I’d better catch up with him.

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Taken by the hand

One summer day, many years ago, I was in my early and my sister in her late teens, my mum called the two of us to the attic of our holiday house to have a “serious talk”. My mum was a loving but rather strict parent, so a serious talk would imply you were in some sort of trouble. She told us that she wasn’t feeling well and while it was probably nothing serious, she wanted to tell us a few things, you know, just in case. For whenever it happens. Now, this sounds quite morbid, especially for my mum who is an eternal optimist if there ever was one, but put into perspective it makes more sense. My mum lost both of her parents in her twenties, within a couple of years of each other, and a lot of things had been left unsaid which made her loss even harder to bear. So she went over a few practical things, on the level that was appropriate for us, drilled some more of “you have no one closer than each other” as though the previous 13+ years weren’t enough (it worked though, my sister and I are very close) and to our huge surprise totally skipped the studying hard/making sure we could provide for ourselves thing she made sure we grew up with and instead dropped the unexpected “and my biggest wish for you both is to, one day, take {a child*} by the hand”.

Fast forward more than a decade, I brought my firstborn baby to the same house for the first time. I was in a bit of a delirious state from the exhaustion accumulated over the sleepless months, sudden weight of responsibility and conflict of my own identity. That first night, my mum told me how thankful she was that both her and my dad have lived long enough to see me with a child (my dad had suffered a massive heart attack when I was 8 months pregnant and the doctors thought he wouldn’t make it; her own health was declining and other than the fact that it was a neurological condition we didn’t even have a diagnosis yet).  And then she added that she doesn’t need to worry about me any longer. I wanted to tell her that she should actually start worrying now because I don’t have a clue what I am doing with that child of mine and that I am probably doing it all wrong, and that I find it so very hard at times and at the same time so exhilarating and that the depth and rawness of emotions I feel sometimes scare me and… I can’t remember how much of it I actually said, most likely I fell asleep mid-sentence.

Fast forward almost seven years,  on a Thursaday afternoon, my second-born and I are walking along Oude Delft to fetch my firstborn from school (that baby is now in fourth grade). Or better, he is running and I am trying to keep up with him; these days he says so seriously: “Mama, now I HAVE TO run” and runs off to burn all that energy of a three year old. I walk behind him, wanting to take it all in, maybe snap a photo, it is all so beautiful, the canal on the left side, Oude Kerk in the front, Uit de Kunst to the right and my running boy amongst all of it. But my mind is heavy with the events of the work morning and choices and decisions to be made, and deadlines and timelines and uncertainties and it all feels too much. I try to shake it off and come back to this moment but it won’t go away. Oude Delft is a long street, and my boy’s legs, however long for his age, are still small, so he gets tired and starts walking next to me. I praise him for running so long and so fast, he says that he is just taking a break and will run some more. He walks a few more meters, turns to me with a sparkle in his big brown eyes and says: “Mama, give me your hand, let’s run together!” He takes me by the hand, pulls me and we start running. He holds my hand tightly and laughs with the full heart of a three year old and I feel the weight of my self-inflicted worries lifting off, I can’t even remember why they were so heavy after all. He laughs louder and louder and I join him, and we eventually stop running, exhausted, still laughing. And while catching my breath I finally catch the true meaning of my mum’s words. She doesn’t need to worry about me, I am taken by the hand.



*(in Serbian the phrase take by the hand implies taking your own child by the hand)

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Filed under Cherished moments, Life in Delft, Mindfulness, not such a zen mama, Out of the mouths of babes