When I think back on my childhood I feel melancholy. The overarching thoughts in my head being about how I wished things were different. I appreciate that I was able to go to swim lessons, dance classes, I had lots of clothes, shoes, and material items, but if I had to be 100% honest, they did nothing for me. I spent a large chunk of my years with my grandparents and they were great but I do not recall ever being hugged, told I love you or receiving any sort of real affection from them.
Internally I was a sad and nervous child that really always second guessed herself all the time. I always tell my husband stories of going on field trips and seeing moms chaperoning, or about the birthday that my mom wasn’t there for but she paid for me to have a really nice party. Or about how I really had no one to talk to about my feelings or play with being an only child. I lived in my head a lot, thinking and overthinking.
Despite how I felt, my feelings were never actually communicated to anyone because nobody ever asked me how I felt. Yes, I had stuff, but when I think back on my childhood I don’t remember any of it. I remember feeling sad, anxious and lonely. I remember my feelings not my stuff. I remember that my mom was not there at the party but not one detail otherwise, I remember feeling sad about never having a parent involved in the mundane school activities but not the activities themselves. So when I had a daughter, I felt compelled to not recreate history, and to do what it takes to not be a perfect mom, but a mom who does her best to create a stable, happy and healthy space for my baby to grow up in. Some of the things I plan to do are:
Communicate, because kids have feelings too
One day on his way to work, my husband overheard a conversation between a mom and her son on the sidewalk. She asked him why he seemed so deep in thought and he said “because I have a lot on my mind”. His mom’s response was “you can’t have a lot on your mind, you’re fiveeeeee”. It was a cute little story but I definitely don’t share the same feelings as this mama. Ever since I was pregnant I was aware of Eden’s feelings, because she is a person. So I was always thinking about how she felt and what was best. So when she is able to actually talk to us, we will begin talking to her about feelings, to ensure that we establish healthy lines of communication. I want her to be able to come to us with anything, because things that may seem small to us are actually big in the world of kids. Plus, if she is ever in a position of needing to talk about a bad experience, whether bullying or some other type of hurt, I want to be her safe place.
Show her lots of affection
I love my baby, and I let her know exactly how much every single day. So much so, that she might think that my lips are a permanent part of her face. Both my husband and I are beyond affectionate with her and she loves it. We have so many pictures of her squealing with excitement as we kiss and cuddle her. I plan to continue to hold her hand, kiss her, hug her and tell her I love her 37464833 times a day. I hope that it will be the foundation for her future relationships and a daily reminder that I do care about her. I will also show her affection when she does something wrong, so that she knows my love is unconditional, regardless of the circumstance.
Be a model mommy
Not like Naomi Campbell or anything like that. But the role model type of model. Children are super perceptive and pick up on everything. So I plan to constantly work on myself to be the best person I can be. I plan to speak to her father with respect, treat people with kindness, and to watch my words and how I speak to others. I also plan to love myself because I want her to view herself in a favorable light, from her hair, to her skin, and everything in between. I feel strongly that this all begins with me. I want her to be kind, respectful and confident so that when she faces the world she can hold her head up and be proud of who she is.
Give her lots of quality time
Literally 4 months before the birth of my daughter I got a promotion. The promotion I always wanted! I work at a prominent medical center and moved to America in 2015 so this was an achievement for me! I was so excited at all the possibilities and thought of all the things I could do with the extra cash we would have. But now I see things totally differently. The thing is, if I keep my career momentum going I will be able to give my daughter so much, but I will also miss out on a lot. So my husband and I had to discuss what was truly best for our family. We ultimately decided that best was for me to give her more time as she grows up. By no means do I plan to stop working altogether, but in the coming years I will no longer be in charge of a department. My primary job will be chaperoning field trips, planning birthdays, holidays and making sure I’m healthy mentally and physically so that I can be there for my family. It was not the easiest decision for me, because I wanted my daughter to see her mom as a boss (lol), a leader in this amazing organization. But, ultimately when she looks back on her childhood, I want her to remember her fun childhood experiences, and I do not want those memories to be tarnished by the fact that her mother was not there.
Create meaningful experiences
Speaking of experiences. I plan to travel with my little family. We have so many places we want to see. Right here in New York, the US and around the world. I want Eden to see, learn and respect other cultures. I want her to see how other people live so that she can have a greater appreciation for her life. I want us to travel and get on each other’s nerves and just be outside of our comfort zone together. These are the types of memories that will last a lifetime and I hope to God her father and I can make it all happen.
Cultivate a safe and comfortable environment
When I was pregnant I was obsessed with the idea of finding a nice home to bring our daughter to. It was SO important and we definitely cut it close. So close that we closed on a purchase just two weeks before her birth. It’s in a nice quiet neighborhood with huge trees, good schools and parks nearby. She has her own room that we plan to make into whatever she wants it to be, so that it can be her sanctuary, a place to chill alone or with friends. We won’t be fake perfect parents but we also plan to not expose her to animosity, yelling or fighting because it makes kids feel awkward and crappy, so that just won’t be a thing in my house.
I am really hopeful that creating this positive environment would help to develop a confident, emotionally intelligent and happy little human, who is not bogged down by shitty memories, and above all I think that’s my biggest goal as a mother.