I love new beginnings! That’s why I’m always excited as we approach a new year. It’s a good time to reflect on the experiences lived and the knowledge gained in the year that is ending, and to consider how that will shape the plans and expectations of the new year. 2017 witnessed two important events: Giggles and Cuddles starting kindergarten and me starting my masters of advanced studies program. As I reflect on those events, two things that we all hear countless times really hit home – how fast children grow and the importance of self-fulfillment.
As we walked to school on the first day of kindergarten, seeing the beaming faces of Giggles and Cuddles, who were so proud of being the “big girls” who are going to the “big school,” I was obsessed by one thought: when did all this happen? People tell you about this feeling all the time, but somehow you need to experience it yourself for it to really sink in. The girls are in separate classes, which is working really well, and they’re both happy. They miss each other in the mornings so they fight a bit less. Hurrah! And they’re making new friends, so I get to spend one-on-one time with one when the other is at a friend’s place. I feel that they’re getting older and more independent. They are easier to manage now and I really enjoy the time we spend together. I wish I could hit a pause button at this point, but unfortunately it is not possible. It is a reminder, however, to slow down and enjoy the present, because it really does go fast.
Another experience that had a big impact last year was going back to studying and my feeling of self-fulfillment now that I finally started doing something for myself. Studying now is not easy, I must say. The problem is not so much the juggling of responsibilities. With time management and being organized, it works. The challenging part is shifting mentally from concentrating your thoughts on a certain topic, reading, and writing to the entirely different mood of organizing activities and play dates, resolving girly conflicts and negotiations around set boundaries. And then using the few hours in the morning to quickly shift back to the topic of studies. But the whole experience is extremely rewarding: the knowledge acquisition, the interaction with professors and colleagues, and the sense of achievement make it all worthwhile.
Those two events are interrelated. Because Giggles and Cuddles are a bit older and are easier to manage, I am able to go back to studying. Furthermore, being self-fulfilled has energized me in many ways, and I feel calmer and able to enjoy the girls more. At some point before I decided to pursue my studies, I was panicking about when I was going to go back to work, but then I realized that I still had over 20 years to work; so it was OK if I needed more time with the girls or if I wanted to study something for a couple of years. Seeing things from that perspective allowed me to ponder what I really wanted to do and how I could pursue that. I am still not sure where this will lead, but I trust that when the time comes things will somehow fall into place. It is a delicate balance between not losing sight of the future and simultaneously enjoying everything in the current phase. It is not easy, but this is my goal for the New Year.
By Didi in Zurich
Didi is an Egyptian mother of twin girls living in Zurich. Before having the twins she worked in the field of economic development. She is currently a stay-at-home mom focused on the growth and development of her daughters.
Illustration by Lara Friedrich
Lara has been a freelance illustrator for Mothering Matters since early 2013. She is in her third year of university (majoring in psychology) where she’s currently working as an assistant in a research project in pedagogy. Lara is also an assistant translator from German to English for various fiction books, and also works as a demo singer for the songwriter Kate Northrop.