A LETTER TO MY MOTHER ON HER 70TH BELATED BIRTHDAY

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Dear Mami,

This is my son other mother, Ibu Heri, my son called her Ibuk and called me Mamah daily. She is as much as a mother for my son as me.

She is my neighbour, Simbah Ngadinem second daughter, my landlord. She is my older sister, my most reliable and trustworthy person, my partner in the process of raising my son the last seven years. She never let me down. We both owe her as much credit as a real family is.

This is her, doing my son laundry in her beautiful morning rituals. Both Simbah and Ibu are batik tulis traditional woman artisans, they would make a beautiful one piece of batik cloth with malam for two months full. Sometimes with gamelan music in the background from an old radio that Simbah had while she blow her canting and draw softly the pattern in the cloth. Every single day they do this when they are not busy taking care everything in their life, including my son.

When woman do their domestic chores, I found them in their graceful light. This is how I know her: simple, patient, affectionate, reliable, dedicated and loving. I know my son is safe in her hand.

Lately I have been practicing morning rituals and this is one of my first morning sight. My neighbours doing the laundry, the whole family together. The traditional well is the source of the morning energy. And yes, I am not a laundry person (I prefer ironing), I am not the perfect mother at all. I am perfect when other co-exist. I am existing as a mother to my son because of my neighbour.

I remember the day when we come to this house. With Ibu Hatch-Barnwell and Steven Bino Basira when we went house hunting. I had a messy separation with Bhumy’s father, had nothing and only carry the 15 months old baby in a baby sling. A completely lost, disoriented young mother and in the verge of tears anytime people look me in the eye. They didn’t ask or say anything. They take me in gently.

Oh how they take me in.

Four months later, I had to go for my last presentation for my final paper in the university and my son had a fever. I felt I can’t go that crucial morning, since he just had his first febrile seizure attack first time in Jakarta two months before. Both of them said to me:

“Trust your son with us, do your sidang skripsi and everything will be fine. Trust us.”

I did. And because of them I got my university degree and graduated that day.

Or when I was anxious of going the first time to India for a festival, because its going to be my first trip again after 5 years of not even travelling anywhere before because I am too scared to leave my son. Simbah only said:

“When the mother is calm, the children will be. Leave with a peace of mind, it would be easier for us to take care of your child, focus and finish on what you are doing. Then come home.”

I keep this words in mind after so many years. And because of these words, I found myself again. I had so many interesting job/work/travel offers that I learn not to refuse just because I had a son. I learn not to limit myself. Our life gets better. I got better as a person and a being.

I crossed so many miles and walk my nomad path even as a mother. They both are my pillars throughout my travel. As strong as any influential woman in my family. As inspiring as any of my favourite author or public woman figures. Woman are resilience and strong. This is what I learn from them.

Both of them are widows. They understand well the meaning of loss. They understand that nobody can be a single parent. Its impossible to do. Even nuclear family concept is absurd already. Woman need support. We need to support each other. To raise children you need a village, I prefer to make that village, than being a heroic single mom of the century. Am not in the superwoman band. I am imperfect as I am a human.

I lost you when I was 23. Two days ago you meant to be 70 years old. A beautiful graceful grandmother of my son. He is also a Cancerian. A home and family loving boy growing up to be a little man. He has your skin. Your fragile gentleness that I learn to understand slowly.

Then I found a grandmother, mother and sister again when I am 27. Simbah Ngadinem and Ibu Heri, they are the woman of my life and my son’s family. And I want to share these stories with you. I want to share these women who raise your grandson and help me grow as a mother. Through them I learn the value of trust, that strangers can also means family, and I accept this facts. That we are all one.

I forgive you for not being here physically. But I believe you are here, through them. And I am grateful for them, for you who has deliver me into the world so I can experience all this human experience, thankful for all the motherly blessing that the universe is giving me.

I understand you much better when I am also a mother myself.

Thank you for all the woman in my life with their grace, beauty, gentleness, vulnerability, warm, home, strength, resilience, anger, madness, grief, sorrow, pain, sadness, inspirations, lessons, wisdom, love and compassion. For your all beautiful souls, my soul and heart is honoured to meet you in my life.

You are loved. You are love. All ways. Always. #adaptingalexelle

Big hug, big love,

Astrid

Written last year, on her birthday, 22nd June 2016

new year’s finding at milas

 

today was parent’s meeting at milas’s playgroup. it was our first new year’s meeting. suprisingly at the end of the meeting, there are buckets of milas craft being on sale. so all the ibu-ibu went crazy. how could you resist the temptation of old batik handmade at 1000 – 5000 IDR per item. i went mad of course.

so these lovelies above are going to india on febuary for our lucky friends that we would meet there :D

the hottest end of summer

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it might be the weather. it might be the hectic things at work and trying to figure things out. it might the crazy load work that i’ve been handling. were the reasons i have not been blogging. but definitely it was the mood. that i need to travel out of myself to see a bigger picture on things.

anyway, things had been great lately. we manage ourselves to have our little luxuries of becoming a member in the melia purosani sports club. it’s cheap as hell for a year. one of jogjakartans biggest secret to get healthy. i know i need to swim to get my sanity now and then. and the fun part is that my boy are getting familiar with the water.

he’s been given lesson at school and i’ve been spending more quality time after his school. a dip in the water is always good for the body and soul. especially with the weather being hellish crazy lately.

my three year old boy going to school

it’s entering his three weeks already. my son going to school the first time. this means i have to change to a morning person in a more discipline manner. his first day was amazing because it only took him 30 minutes to adapt with his surrounding without my help at all. the second day, he is fine without me. the fourth day he have his 3rd birthday at school. i baked spinach and carrot brownies for his schoolmates. everyone took another portion :D (huge success) we were given gift such as children classic song that i haven’t heard for so long. his fifth day, i was not allowed to take him to the gate. i practically drop him off and he say “mom, stay in the motor cycle. i can go myself.” those were those kinda moments that you want to cry as parents. children grow up so fast.

i feel like an eagle, letting their little ones the first time to learn to fly.

ending breastfeeding and parenting crisis

No one knows what they’re doing as parents. We’re all faking it, and hoping we’re getting it right. Some people obsess about the details, and miss out on the fun. I just try not to mess them up too much, to show them they’re loved, to enjoy the moments I can with them, to show them life is fun, and stay out of the way of them becoming the amazing people they’re going to become. That they already are. ~ Leo Batuta (zenhabits)

My son have gone for five days without breastfeeding. He is thirty four months old. I was meant to stop it when he reaches two years old. But things got carried away. I mentally think breastfeeding is our privilege bonding. Especially since I decided to become a single parent for my son. I had to work and could not spend time 24-7 with him. It become some sort of my emotional compensation. Getting closer to his birthday next July, I somehow experienced some wake up call. Things had been going on all over the place, the pace of life has been rolling unexpectedly. Some things are near completion, some things are just started.

Being involved emotionally again with someone, somehow had put my feelings to be out in the open. I realized I still kept my fears if things did not work out. A wound that had not yet heal properly. I felt vulnerable in the same time. When I was just myself, I had nothing to lose. Nothing at stake accept myself.

I endured my worries and decided to chuck it away. Fears, worries and anger would not get me anywhere. I just had to believe life is a never ending process. The only security you have is that you belief in yourself, no matter what happen. I learn to conquer my fears. I resolved all my past, letting go my anger and pain. Be aware with my own self and my emotions. Heal. Forgive. Move on. Live on.

I was worried with Bhumy sometimes, being a single parent has never been an easy process. It’s easy to fall into the prey of people who did not understand what they are talking about and got hurt by it. I don’t care anymore. Others does not responsible with my own happiness. My son in the end would learn about life, all the good things and all the bad things. I could not stop things from happening, but I could give him all the understanding, knowledge, wisdom and above all, my undying love.

There is no right or wrong in parenting sometimes. There’s no manual or blueprint for it. I teach myself to become a mother which I never picture myself before. I make mistakes. I learn from them, over and over until I felt I got it right. Motherhood had become my own version of myself. The only faith that I have is that I’m what my son needed the most and the best he have. I should not let other things disturb that faith. I believe at my own way of raising my son.

Ending breastfeeding is like seeing my son stepping out from his comfort zone for the first time. Like all things in life. Your children grow amazingly.