It is amazing how his family becomes your family after marriage. The dynamics that you’ve had all of these years now need to be shared with a new group of people. The closest members of your tribe become exposed and everyone is vulnerable. I’m fortunate enough where our families have meshed well. Maybe it is the distance, maybe it is the personalities, we’ll never know. Regardless I’m grateful how easy it is when we’re together.
Last week, we had the opportunity to visit some of my father in law’s first cousins. They live a couple of hours away and coordinating schedules isn’t always easy. We were able to meet up with three of them (and families) and the stories that were shared and the memories that were relived were special even for an outside to see. Before we headed back we were able to visit with Yiayia Georgia. She is my husband’s grandmother’s sister. Unfortunately all of my husband’s grandparents, as well as my grandparents are deceased. So it was amazing for the kid to be able to connect with someone of that generation. Yiayia Georgia is 92 years old and God bless her, she remembers things better than some people half of her age.
My FIL asked her to tell me the story of the deer, since I had never heard it. I’ll preface the story with they live on a farm with many acres so seeing wildlife is an everyday occurrence for them. She recalled a day when she had gone out for a walk and a deer had the same idea. She stood still as really what else could she do. The deer proceeded to come closer to her. She couldn’t run so she stood there until the deer came close enough where she could grab it by the neck. So here is this woman, in her 60s holding the deer in fear it’ll hurt her. Luckily her daughter was on the property and saw this from a window and came running down. Yiayia asked her daughter to go grab some rope so they can tie the deer’s feet. Once that happened Yiayia could finally let go of it and not be scared. Quite honestly she didn’t say she was scared I used that word as really, nothing else fit. Women of that generation didn’t have the same fears that you and I do. They didn’t have to fear online bullying of their kids and sexual predators in their neighborhoods. Their kids played outside until the streetlights came on and usually since they were all immigrants they tended to stick together. They lived two to four families in a home, they worked the land, they tried to have the best life that they could. Their fears were about the boat journey to come to a new country. They worried about not knowing the language and leaving family behind that they could only communicate to via letters and then telephone. They worried about keeping those Greek traditions alive while assimilating in their new country. Yiayia Georgia is what I would call a νταρντάνα γυναίκα. She was one tough cookie and I am just lucky enough to call her family.
While yesterday was the official Mother’s Day on the calendar. I don’t think that any mom waits for one day a year to receive recognition for her good works. It isn’t as if she’s not working, cooking, cleaning, raising the children and/or helping to impact the lives of others the other 364 days a year. Yes it is nice to be acknowledged for what you do but if you got into motherhood for the thanks and praises then I have to tell you, you have another thing coming. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very fortunate to have a partner who frequently tells me that I’m doing a great job with our child. I have friends who will comment, what a good job we’re doing with Miss K. The reality of being a mother is it is messy (and I’m not just referring to the poop and puke stage). It is messy raw emotions running around both on the part of the mom and the part of the child. If you’re like me and your child is in the toddler/pre-schooler stage, every day is a battle of wills. Your little person is trying to exert their independence, while you as the adult are trying to allow them to do this but also keeping them safe. There is a standstill at the front door because you won’t let them wear the water shoes (you bought over the weekend and didn’t put away) to school this morning. There are meltdowns because you put them in the car seat and they didn’t climb in themselves. Then you decide to sing while the radio is playing Sunshine in my Pocket and let me tell you, mommy should not be singing (according to my child). Then there is the jacket/no jacket decision because one minute they want it on and one minute they do NOT want to be wearing their jacket. But of course along with all of these emotions are the pure raw ones. When your child grabs your hand to cross the parking lot. When they whisper, “hold me mommy.” When you’re dropping them off to school and they come running calling you, because I need one more hug and a kiss. This is what being a mother is all about. The one hug that feels like it sets the world in motion for it to be an amazing day. The kiss that you know comes with so much love. The words, I love you mommy, that come with a look that lets you know for that one moment, all is right in the world. Ladies and gentlemen, that is what motherhood is about. It is raw, it is emotional and it is real. There are moments that you want to pull your hair out, that you second guess your decision and you worry and wonder about the world that these little people are growing up in. But then there are the pure moments that make it all worth while.
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank all of the women who are in Miss K’s life. It takes a village and we’re surrounding ourselves with our tribe. I know that Mother’s Day isn’t an easy one for everyone. For those ladies who have lost their moms, may have a strained relationship with them, who may have lost a child, have had a strained relationship with their child, who have chosen not to be a mother or who are trying so hard to be a mother, I hope that you were able to get through the day and know that you play such a huge role in the lives of so many.
And remember it shouldn’t take another 364 days before you say Happy Mother’s Day to your mom or thank you for all that she’s done to make you the person that you are today.
It has been a hectic couple of weeks at our house. Last time I wrote Holy Week and Easter were approaching. We were fortunate enough to have my parents and brother and his family visiting for Easter. It was wonderful to all be together and have the cousins be able to hang out and do all of the things that a an almost three year old and four year old would do when they are together. There were so many great snapshots of their trip including Miss K’s first ever Easter egg hunt! Melissa did a phenomenal job organizing everything and of course it went off without a hitch expect for the baskets that I forgot to bring. Fitting that the kids ran around in shopping bags to fill up!
The week continued with yiayia and pappou staying on which meant early morning snuggles and of course a morning koulouraki for the kid. Yes I know it isn’t the breakfast of champions but hey when they visit they get to spoil her and I’m okay with that. I swear regardless if my family is here for three days or two weeks the time flies by. We were lucky to have yiayia and pappou here for Miss K’s third birthday. Yes you read that right, my baby is three. Well now she tells me that, “I’m a big girl now, but don’t worry mama, I’ll always be your baby.” Yes you will be. We are so lucky to have a healthy, smart, funny little girl full of personality and yes sometimes attitude. She definitely speaks her mind and lets you know who is in charge. There are days that this drains me to the core, I won’t lie, but on the other days it makes me so proud. I want her to be feisty and fiery. I want her to challenge and always question in order to learn. I want her to have compassion and the courage to speak her mind.
My wishes for her as she enters her third year are: first and foremost health, because without our health we are nothing. Secondly I hope that she can see the love that her father (along with so many family members and friends) have for her and bring that with her in everything she does. Remember that she’s good enough when the other little girl doesn’t want to play with her. Remember that she can climb the rock wall when it looks so scary through her little eyes. Remember that she can sound out that word in the book, as she tells me, “I want to read it mommy.” And thirdly, I want her to grow. Obviously that is a given you’ll say, she’s three of course she’ll grow. But I mean more than in height and weight. I mean into the little lady that she is becoming. I mean into the compassionate child who wanted us to help the birdie stuck in the neighbours vent on the side of the house; who wanted us to go back when we saw the ambulance wheeling out a lady from her house, to make sure she was okay. This is what is important in life. You can have all the money in the world but if you don’t have your health, you aren’t surrounded by love and you don’t have compassion, what is the point of living?
Happy Birthday Little Lady. I love you to the moon and back. And yes, you will ALWAYS be my baby!
In a few days it will be March 25th. This day marks a very important day in the life of a Greek as it is Greek Independence Day. If you live in a city with a large Greek population there may be a parade to commemorate the day. Boston, Toronto, New York, all have parades where thousands line the streets and shout ZHTO H ELLADA! ZHTO H 25H MARTIOU! I remember growing up as a little girl dressed up in my Basilisa Amala outfit and being presented with a poem that I needed to memorize either on my own or with a partner to present at our Greek School program. I remember the nervousness about the room. From the kids–would we remember our lines when the time came. From the parents–would their child represent them well in front of the entire community. Somehow that two passed and I guess sparked my love for public speaking. When you’re getting up in front of a couple of hundred people at the age of six and seven, really what is a couple of thousand people when you’re in your twenties and thirties. I remember being a member of the Hellenic Society and marching in the parade when it started in Boston. I still have a favourite photo of mine with me, ready to march, and my dad, a former evzone, ready to march.
I know many of you will have your Greek Flag as a temporary cover photo on Facebook this week. You’ll make sure you have your blue and white clothes on this Saturday as you represent. But what can you be doing year round to commemorate this day? Can you be teaching your children about it, more than just once a year? Can you represent by giving back to those in our community who need help, either by giving of your time or services? I know that there are many programs in Toronto for elder Greeks and even a Greek nursing home. Is there an opportunity to volunteer and make a plan to visit once a month and read to the seniors? I know in Boston (Canton actually) there is a Greek nursing home as well or what about Philoxenia House? Can you volunteer to go cook a meal for the individuals who are staying there? My point being that being Greek or rather celebrating your Greek heritage shouldn’t be a March 25th event only. It should be an everyday event. How can you use your talents and relay to the world how amazing we truly are?
At a time when the world is seeing Greece as problem country with all of the debt it has, and the refugees that have fled to this country, let us show them how amazing and wonderful the people are. Let us show them that we haven’t lost our sense of philotimo and philoxenia. Let us show them that the pride that we carry in our hearts doesn’t turn off the other 364 days a year.
The Greek National Anthem
Σὲ γνωρίζω ἀπὸ τὴν κόψι
Τοῦ σπαθιοῦ τὴν τρομερή,
Σὲ γνωρίζω ἀπὸ τὴν ὄψι,
Ποῦ μὲ βιά μετράει τὴν γῆ.
Ἀπ’ τὰ κόκκαλα βγαλμένη
Τῶν Ἑλλήνων τὰ ἱερά,
Καὶ σὰν πρῶτα ἀνδρειωμένη,
Χαῖρε, ὢ χαῖρε, Ἐλευθεριά!
For my non Greek speaking friends you can find a translation of the Anthem here.
So lately the Drama Llamas have been out in full force. I don’t know if it has to do with it being winter and people are spending more time indoors or what it is, but I don’t have time for them in my life. All of the Drama Llama craziness has gotten me thinking about friendships versus acquaintances. When does someone change from being an acquaintance to a friend? Most of us are lucky if we can count our friends on one hand. Even luckier if we can use both.
As the saying goes there are friends who come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Obviously I’m grateful for those who I interact with and come into my life but am very selective about who I allow into my tribe. I joked with a friend that I’m too old to go through the work. At this point in my life if it isn’t easy to hang out with someone, or if it becomes too much work, I’m out. We all have lives, we all have our own problems, who wants to have to take on the problems of others? Obviously we do for our close friends and family but what about these acquaintances who try so hard to wiggle their way in? I think you have to stand your ground. It takes work to maintain a friendship, as I’ve mentioned before. You make time to see them, take time to text or FaceTime, maybe even write a handwritten note (although I know that ages me). If you have 20+ years going then this time can pass and you can pick up where you left off. But if it is a new friendship, in my opinion, the interaction needs to be there in order for the friendship to be sustainable.
Recently a mommy friend that I was once close with deleted me on social media. When I first found out I was curious as to why she would do this. Later, I found out she had done the same with another friend. It got me thinking that I hadn’t put any effort into continuing a relationship with this woman, and quite honestly neither had she, so I guess sooner or later it was bound to happen. But it also got me thinking, was she really a friend or was she an acquaintance? Were we ‘friends’ because of our similar circumstances (new moms) or would we have become close if that wasn’t the case?
So how long does it take you to let someone in? What is your guide to calling someone your friend? Would a few interactions count? Would it take more than that? Someone told me at a very young age that I was jaded. Interestingly enough that comment has stayed with me until today some 20+ years later, so I’d love to hear your take.
If you’re wondering I didn’t come up with the Drama Llama saying, I’m honestly sure who did but there are some cute Drama Llama tee Snorg Tees. Be sure to check them out.
Three years ago today I sat down for the first time in front of my computer to write. I had no idea what I would really write about or honestly if anyone would read my blog. All I knew is that I was pregnant, in my third trimester and had this crazy idea. My husband who is my biggest supporter purchased the domain name, my good friend who is my go to techie helped me set it all up and there was no turning back.
It is hard to believe that today is my three year anniversary of blogging because so much has changed. I went from a scared pregnant woman to a mom of a toddler. I went from questioning could I do this to being confident in my parenting choices and decisions. I went from doing what I wanted when I wanted, to being mindful of this little person that was now my responsibility and changing my life in ways I had no idea she would. I went from searching for a group of mommies who were in the same situation as I, to creating a group of mommy friends that I wouldn’t change for the world!
Life, regardless of the stage has ups and downs. I’m grateful to be in a place where I can sit behind a screen and write about mine. I’m grateful for my upbringing so that I can share those ideals with my little one. I’m grateful for you, each one of you taking the time to read, comment, send me a text or email letting me know that you got something out of my blog. And of course I’m grateful to my hubby and the kid. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have the content to keep doing what I’m doing.
So as I sit here and type I am trying to figure out the best way to continue the Greek language with the kid. Obviously I want to make sure she can communicate with her grandparents and family members in Greece. I try to think back about my upbringing and I can remember being in first grade doing spelling words with my tenant because my parents couldn’t help me. Thinking back to that moment, I’m sure I’m not the only first generation American/Canadian/Australian who was in that boat. Our parents immigrated to other countries so that we would have ‘a better life,’ which really meant more opportunities. Greek was my first language and I do believe it helped me learn English. I don’t want to have a Mr. Portokalis moment alla My Big Fat Greek Wedding but the root word of many words is in fact Greek. Saying all that how did my parents know how much to push me to make sure I learned Greet to not sound like an EllinoAmerikanaki and in my daughter’s case to have her not sound like an EllinoAmeriKanadezaki. Yes I totally made that word up but if you’re Greek, you get my point. I don’t want her to have that accent. I don’t want people in Greece to think of her being any less Greek because she wasn’t born there. A difficult thing for me to grasp is why so many programs and Greek Schools start at a later age. Most language is grasped in the first two to three years so why wait until the child is four or five years old? Would it make sense to come up with a curriculum that is play/song based to get our little ones going?
So help me out parents, at what age did you put your child in a Greek program? At what age did see your child engage with their Greek friends/family members in Greek? Do you think we should be doing more, earlier?
Last week was one of ups and downs with me. I had an amazing birthday full of wonderful moments that truly will carry me throughout this year. I woke up the morning after to a text from my cousin in Greece that our aunt, Theia Maria, had passed away. She was the oldest of my father’s sisters. She never married and was the one who took care of my grandparents before they passed and my uncle George before he passed.
She was the one who came to America when I was born and again when my brother was born. I vividly remember her coming to my elementary school to tell me (in Greek of course) that my mom had has the baby and we had to get to the hospital to visit. I was in the third grade and Lester, my classmate, had brought an idea forward that we should make green placemates so we were in the middle of that and I didn’t want to leave. Plus she told me that I had a baby brother and I was promised a sister so I really wasn’t into the whole thing (sorry bro you know I love you!). I remember going to the office and having the principal call us a taxi because how else would we get there?!?
I remember calling her on September 11th after those planes hit the World Trade Center as my parents were in Greece and staying with her. With the realization of how fragile life truly was I wanted to find comfort in my parents’ voices.
She answered the phone like she always did with a “λεγετε” (speak)
I replied γεια σου θεια. (Hello Auntie)
Ελλα Ρουλιτσα μου, τι κανεις; (Hi Roulitsa, what are you doing?)
Καλα θεια μπορω να μιλισω στους γονεις μου; (I’m good Auntie, can I speak to my parents please?)
Δεν ειναι εδω ειναι στο θεατρο. (They aren’t here they are at the theater.)
And I vividly remember saying to her, εδω ο κοσμος χανετε και αυτοι ειναι στο θεατρο; (here the world is ending and they’re at the theater?)
I explained to her what had happened and to please have them call me.
Of course with every passing birthday for me, there was also a passing birthday for her as well and although we want our loved ones to live forever the realization is that they won’t. We can only hope that they are gifted health for as long as is God’s will. Well my Theia was called into God’s arms last week. I have no doubt that she is joined with my grandparents, my uncles and my cousin George. I can only hope that they watch down over me and my entire family. We have another angel among us.
Αιωνια σου η μνημη θεια. May your memory be eternal.
I found this tattoo image on Pintrest and thought it was fitting as it states: She flies with her own wings.
October 11, 2016–I have realized that this post didn’t publish so I am back dating it.
October is my month. It has been for as long as I can remember. If you don’t know me personally it is my birth month and I like a big deal made about birthdays. I don’t really care about the gifts, although I’ve never seen a gift I didn’t appreciate, but for me it is more about the cards. A well picked out card can mean more than a $1190 (CND) pair of Gucci flats.
This October has unfortunately been full of the phases of life. We met a friends one week old who immediately stole everyone’s heart by entering this world. Later we visited a friend’s two month old who was just starting to get into an every day routine of feeding, cooing, sleeping, pooping, and repeat. And found out two other loved ones were pregnant. These are the happy phases. We remembered loved ones lost both honouring their birthdays and anniversaries. And unfortunately we dealt with sick family friends and went through the phase of life where we lost them as well. I guess this year October for me has been a month of reflection. If you saw my post last week you saw my take on friendship. What about family? What is your take?
If you’re like me you have an extended family that you might see once or twice a year, or once or twice a decade depending on where they are. You try and use social media as a way to stay connected and you hope that when you’re together again it makes it less awkward but really are your friends more like family and your family more like friends? We all have those BFFs that know more about us than we remember ourselves, so certainly we need to keep them close. This usually is the case with a sibling or a close cousin. But what about parents? If you’re lucky enough to still have your parents with you, are you close to them? Have your roles reversed where you’re worried about them because of aging? Do you worry about whether the last time you told them you loved them might be the last time you speak to them? Do you make an effort or do you like many take them for granted because after all their your parents and they’ll always be there for you?
As I sit here typing this, the sun still not up yet, waiting for my hubby and little one to wake up, I ponder.
I recently had a friend who is very popular on social media tag me in a photo of us. He stated in the photo that we’ve been friends for 20 years. This photo prompted an acquaintance to message me asking me what the secret was to being friends with someone for so long. I wrote back saying that I actually had friends that went back more years than that and not to sound to cliche but in order to have good friends you need to be a good friend. Friendship should be easy when you’re together. It should be comfortable. But never think for a moment that friendship is without work. The older you get the harder it is to coordinate schedules, spouses, children, jobs, etc.
This conversation got me thinking about those people who I know I can count to on anything. The people who if I texted in the middle of the night (because really who calls anymore) would respond ASAP. The people who you don’t have to explain your feelings to because they’ve been through the roller coaster of life with you and they just know so you can pick up where you left off and keep going. I am so fortunate to be able to say that I have a few of those people. I hope they know that the feeling is mutual and they have this friend in me as well. Don’t get me wrong, I have also had friendships slip through my fingers. It seems that every 7/8 years a friend cleanse happens and people go their separate ways. At the beginning it really bothered me. I wanted to know what I did and what happened. Now at this phase of my life I realize that it just happens. People grow apart. People don’t want to put the effort in, and that is okay. I’m a believer when one door closes another opens and I have had many amazing people come into my life since I’ve moved to this country. Nothing can replace those 15, 20, 25 years of memories from my ‘forever friends’ but I can tell you that these newer friendships I have no doubt will be just as amazing.
I leave you with a few of my favourite friendship quotes: