Raising a girl with old fashioned values but an open mind

I absolutely love Women’s Day, not because we get the day off, but it makes me think a little bit about what it means to be a woman, especially in today’s world where anything and everything goes. Not that I am or ever was an angel, but I do look back at where my experience as a woman started and how it was guided by a mother who made sure I have a good foundation, regardless of teenage rebellion or mid-life crisis moments. The basics are there and I can always go back to it when I struggle with moral issues or more importantly have to raise my own daughter.

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This is no easy task, and I am sure every generation has their challenges when it comes to raising a child (I’m thinking walkmans, hard rock, roller scates and bubblegum for my mom). For me, definitely the challenges of excessive information available at all times to everyone by the click of a button, so give her a mobile phone and she will have access to a world I simply have no control over (well not exactly, but very limited control).

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What will she learn from that world of information? What will she take from it if I don’t give her the proper looking glass and filtering skills, to keep what is good and discard what is bad.

It is such a fine balance between making her street wise but locking in good old fashioned values. I see no point in raising a daughter sheltered from reality, she needs to be equipped to deal with whatever is out there, but she needs to do this through the eyes of innocence. What a task! How do I do this?

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I go back to my upbringing, there are things that I wouldn’t repeat in raising my child, but there definitely are things that I am passing on to her, because it enriched my life and it gave me tools to survive tough times, both mentally and financially.

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One of my friends always challenges us by asking, what would your value be if everything had to blow up: no electricity, no cellphones, no internet, no laptops, no credit cards, no codes. How would you survive or earn a living? I know, ridiculous question right, like that would ever happen! Or is it ridiculous? It is a question about what other things you can do except scroll on a phone and make calls and swipe a card. In other words do you have some skills sister?

The skills I want Mishka to have are very simple but very useful and that is why I involve her in everything I do in and around the house. Not chores, fun! She’s been sitting in my kitchen since she was old enough to sit by herself, watching mommy gather ingredients for cakes, stews and some very complex french cuisine. I didn’t force her, I simply included her. Today, as a seven year old, she gathers her own ingredients and asks me for recipes. I am so proud!

This weekend my mom completed an heirloom crochet blanket, our whole family was in awe of the detail and skill that went into that work of art. What does it take to make something so astonishing. Firstly the desire to create, then some skill picked up from someone who had the patience to teach you, then all of your extra time and love, woven into every block and stitch. It doesn’t get more special than that. I am lucky, because my mom showed me the basics, I can build on it, and now I can show my daughter, and she will one day want to show hers. So its not just a skill, it’s a gift to pass on. Does it have a place in a world of artificial intelligence and everything quick and easy? Who knows what life will be like for her as a 45 year old? I only know that I gave her something that she can use one day.

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I was happy to come across this when I did some research about old fashioned values:

Young people are starting to see the value of etiquette. Some like to write this off as an old-fashioned concept, but etiquette will always be relevant, because it’s about human interaction.’

As middle-aged parents, we have come a long way, raised in the 80’s (the start of anything goes), all the way through the technology driven 90’s and millennium, to now where organic, authentic, handmade, plastic-free and community driven projects are hip and in. In a way we are lucky, we are street wise but also old fashioned. We can give our children so much in terms of old fashioned values but keeping an open mind.

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I am a keen supporter of tea parties and crafts as much as I am of technological advancement. I want Mishka to have it all, but I never want her to lose her ability to recognise value in people, in nature and tangible life.

Being a mother

Every mom has a unique experience, from the day you find out you are expecting a child to the day you die. Sometimes we forget that as women, our whole make-up, from our endocrine system to our physical appearance, all of it is part of the intricate honour of being able to bear and mother a child.

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The incredible and overwhelming emotional connection that starts, for some from the first sight of that positive line on the pregnancy test, for others somewhere in the second trimester, yet others when you hold your baby for the first time. It doesn’t really matter when, but that connection is undeniably the most important one of your life. And this happens with every child you bear. Not all women make good moms, but most women at some stage of their lives think of having a child, or consider what it may be like. Well, all I can say is quite simple and cliche, it changes you forever.

The month of May is all about Motherhood, it is also my Birthday month and that always reminds me of my mom’s experience as a mother to me. You see, its not just about being a mother, it is about being your mother’s child. So much of what shapes you as a person starts with your very first relationships and of course this starts with your family. We form our world views from what we experience in our family culture, and to me the culture in a two-parent home is often set by the mother. It was the case in my family.

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I can go on forever about what it means to me to be Mishka’s mom, but I can’t begin to think about my own motherhood without thinking about my mom and what motherhood meant to her. Yes, generational gaps sometimes cause us to misunderstand each other and our parenting methods, my mom certainly does not always approve of mine. But I learnt so much from my mother about sacrifice and about unconditional love. Raising five children is no easy task, and whenever I feel exhausted from a day driving around to get Mish to all her activities I remember my own mom taking an afternoon nap, after making sure all of us were properly fed, dressed in our sports attire and at our desks doing home work. I remember going into the off-limits grown up sitting room, where everything looked pristine and untouched, there on the couch, my mom with her eyes closed, at peace – I couldn’t get myself to wake her to let her know it’s almost time to get up and start taxiing us around. But never ever did she not wake up on time, it’s as if she had a built in alarm clock, it absolutely amazed me, to this day I am so grateful for every dress she fixed for me, every cake she baked for a school event, every beautiful word she said to make me feel better about disappointing life events.

Being a mother means you no longer think about yourself when you open or close your eyes, it means you never sit down without first thinking if your child has what she needs Being a mother means your heart breaks on a daily basis, and not the silly kind where a boy hurts you, no this heart break is for the little struggles your child faces everyday in the process of growing up, but you can only be there, you can’t change their experiences, because it is what they feel, not what you feel. Being a mom means constantly thinking about your child’s future and what you can do to make sure its a good one.

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I’ve also come to realise that all the things I wanted my mom to do differently, I now judge much less harshly, in fact, I now see how she must have felt or thought when she said and done the things that drove me so mad. Being a mother means you learn to see other’s point of views and be more empathetic, less judgmental. Being a mother means you have to say goodbye to all your preconceived ideas about what a good mother is supposed to be.

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All we can do as moms is our very best. We will be judged, by other mothers and worst of all by our children. But I take comfort in knowing that today all I have for my mother is respect, despite mistakes and fights and misunderstandings. Being a mother changed me.