My Bitter and Sweet Year

We live in a safe country full of opportunities, where putting food on the table is not an issue, because working hard and having a beautiful home to relax in after a busy day is a sweet reality for many of us. We should feel blessed and lucky, despite the challenging time that we all are currently experiencing. I was asked to write a few words about my resilience as a first-time mom during these challenging times. I hope my story will give some hope to all moms who need it.

I consider myself a positive person. My parents taught me to always be grateful for what I have. Transitioning from communist times to democracy, my family and I lived through many events and changes. We prayed and studied religion in school after having worn rigid school uniforms and recited poems for the supreme leader. It was a sudden change. My parents hoped for better times, and they finally achieved well-deserved freedom. We went through a lot as a family. Later on, I found the courage to leave my cozy home at a fairly young age. After many years of working and studying in the U.S. and later in Switzerland, I worked very hard on a career and co-founded a business away from my loving family. However, nothing could prepare me for the year 2020, and for me, it was a bittersweet year. 

2020 had a sweet start, because we celebrated our winter holidays with my husband’s family, who traveled from the U.S. with our little godson. The good events continued: my niece was born at the beginning of January, and there was a beautiful baby shower to honor our expected baby, who arrived at the end of February. The whole family was ecstatic. The new year promised to be amazing! 

Our miracle baby arrived safely, and so did the pandemic. Being a first-time mom, I wanted to shout out loud for joy, go places with my daughter, visit our families, baptize our baby, see friends, travel the world… but everything faded into a dream, as the world had to cover its face and close down for a while. To stay healthy and safe, I had to create a world where I could hide from cruel reality, where our baby could see some smiles and not be affected by our daily pandemic-related stresses. Along with everyone else, I tried more and more to look at the bright side: for example, my husband was around more often, and we bonded as a family of three. 

We moved into a magical place, surrounded by nature. When spring arrived, all I wanted to do was be outside, although I suffer from pollen allergies. The outdoors became my escape and my place of mindfulness. I took many photos of the rejuvenated trees and flowers while our baby was happily napping in the stroller. I will never forget that feeling of freedom. I felt just as I used to back in the old days after communism fell. Although I was only a child back then, I felt that I was free – free to buy candies and do whatever I wanted. I felt free to breathe and run into my mother’s arms, away from all worries. But this time, it was much different, and my mom was not around. I was the mom, and no matter how hard it felt, I/we had to move forward. I had to recover quickly after the birth, pump and pump my milk, but I also played a lot with my baby. I had to stay strong for my husband, family, business, employees, and especially for our baby. Returning to work was not so easy, as the invisible enemy was still in the air. No matter what, I always had to see the bright side. 

A year passed by, many events happened worldwide, and the invisible enemy is still among us. The world continues to wear a mask and stands more or less still. There is a small light at the end of the tunnel, and we all have to stay positive. I can’t wait to wake up one day and feel again like I used to feel as a child… free! Free to travel, see my parents, relatives, and friends, and free to make some funny crafts out of those surgical masks. 

To all mammas out there: stay strong! But if you need to, from time to time, shout, cry and release and relieve bitter feelings. Brighter days will come. I see this in my child’s eyes and smile, even when I am wearing a mask. Let’s not lose hope! Our children are the future, and a bright one indeed… 

By Adriana Niculescu 

Adriana is a passionate early childhood and kindergarten teacher and the co-founder and director of KiddieLand Bilingual Childcare and Kindergarten. Together with her husband and daughter, Adriana lives in Zurich, a city she adores because it reminds her a bit of her Romanian hometown. In her little free time, Adriana enjoys playing guitar, painting, and writing songs, poems, and stories for young children. 

Illustration by Aleksandra Koroleva

Aleksandra, originally from Moscow, Russia, now lives in Adliswil with her husband and 6 year-old son. She specializes in clinical psychology and started studying illustration after her son’s birth. In her free time Aleksandra likes sleeping, just like all mothers do.

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