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My little boy is turning three years old this summer. That means he will start kindergarten in the next fall. It seems unbelievable to me how time flies. I still remember the start in nursery school and now, soon a new stage in our lives will begin.

Looking for the right kindergarten is a real challenge over here. There are so many factors to consider. The location, the opening times, the rooms, the pedagogical concept and so forth. However, what is most important to me are the teachers. I must feel sure about having my son being taken care of by people who are kind and loving. People who respect children and who are humanists like me.

I have visited a total of 6 kindergardens in Graz… I am probably the only mother who did so. I even visited one of them twice because my little fellow really liked it there and I wanted to be really sure before I indicate that kindergarden as my first choice. Because here you can indicate three in order of preference. The chances you get your kid attending your first choice are not that great, so you need to really take a careful decision.

Until today I was unsure. BUT today I am happy. I got to know of a “hidden gem” and I am very impressed. For the first time since I started this quest for the right place, I actually felt like I wanted to go to kindergarten myself. For the first time, and I mean the first time ever, the director did not waiste my time talking about administrative issues but she really explained to me how important children are to her. For the first time I heard a director saying “working with children is not work, it is a vocation!”. And for the first time I had the feeling diversity is not just a word but it actually is part of the lives of the children and teachers in this kindergarten. Indifferent of their religion or colour. And for the first time, I was introduced to all the staff in this kindergarten. Shouldn’t that be standard I asked myself? How was I supposed to choose a kindergarten if I don’t even know the names of the people who will support me in raising my child? How strange, I thought to myself.

Through all this process I often wondered if I am alone on this boat. I mean, am I the only one putting human relationships in front of all things? When it is about trusting my most precious treasure to those who will be caring for him, I am not supposed to expect warmth and a loving atmosphere? Now, after having visited this kindergarten, I am happy and relieved. It seems like at last we have arrived.

In the information folder for the parents I found this beautiful poem, which immediately made me cry. Sorry for not having it in English, maybe one day I will translate it. It is about feelings being like children and how you should care for your feelings, listen to them and give them the room they need.

Ein Gefühl ist wie ein Kind…
Ein Gefühl ist wie ein Kind,
das in uns lebt und weint und lacht,
Hunger hat und bemerkt sein will.
Wer zu seinem Gefühl zu oft sagt:
„Sei still, ich habe jetzt keine Zeit für Dich“,
dessen inneres Kind sitzt eines Tages
in einer vergessenen Ecke und trauert,
wird krank und verkümmert.

Mit Gefühlen soll man umgehen,
wie man mit einem Kind umgeht:
Man sieht ihm freundlich und aufmerksam zu,
man hört, was es klagt,
man leidet mit ihm, wenn es leidet.
Denn Gefühle sind die lebendigsten Kräfte in uns,
und keine andere Kraft in uns
bringt so viel Lebendiges hervor.

Ein Kind hat auch Wünsche,
die nicht immer zu erfüllen sind:
berechtigte, gut und schöne.
Dann nehmen wir es in den Arm
und sind mit ihm traurig.
Aber wir schicken es nicht weg.
Ein Kind kann verstehen,
dass es nicht alles haben kann.
Aber lieben muss man es,
ihm Mut geben und Fröhlichkeit
und Raum, seine Kräfte zu regen.
Joerg Zink

Children face countless moments of pain, frustration and anger. This sounds dramatic but it is a completely normal thing and it is part of growing and becoming a social being. They suffer when we have them vaccinated, they experience frustration for not being able of doing things they want without your help, they get angry when stopped by intrinsic barriers imposed to all of us, not only as children but our whole lives actually.

As a mother (probably as a father too but maybe in a different intensity?) you suffer with them EVERYTIME. If you could, you would make the world a better place for your kid and well, for all children too. You would move mountains and raise bridges where needed for your child to get where he/she wants. You would protect him from getting sick, being disappointed and heartbroken. As a mother I personally developped a much more critical view on many societal issues because I see the child’s perspective. When you go to the doctor you cry with your baby as he experiences the pain of getting an important vaccine and you know, there’s just no way you can explain WHY you didn’t safeguard him from feeling that pain, so you feel guilty inside, even if you believe that it was important for him and society that he got the vaccine.

If you could, you would give him all he longs for and when you are the one with the power to decide he’s not getting something, even if it’s good for shaping his personality, you still feel you said “no” but you wanted to say YES. I have met a mother of multiples (2 boys and 1girl) and she once confessed to me “I wish I didn’t have to say NO all the time, I don’t want to but I must!”. I saw it in her eyes how she struggled with this duality we have inside of us. This saying NO although you’d much rather say yes.

And even if you are fully aware that life is hard and you should not create an artificial world around your baby, otherwise he will not be fit to survive, you still hurt everytime your child hurts. Everytime.

I wish myself and all other parents the strength to stay calm and the inner ability to be strong and to stand mighty as a rock when all you feel is like crying together with your baby. Empathy is vital for their development so lets not be cold and heartless, but let the Universe give us mothers and fathers the strength to be their rock when their feelings hit them as a high wave.

This week I read a hilarious post on a very original blog called “Liquorstore Bear”… I’m not sure if I should tell you this but the name is about a bear with a drinking problem. But it’s so funny and actually pretty normal too, so do have a look at: www.liquorstorebear.com

The post is about parents who disappear down a rabbit’s hole, which is a very good metaphor to describe my own social life since I became a mom… Here’s how it goes:

You don’t call your friends anymore and they don’t call you either because they either have their own offspring to drive them nuts OR they don’t have kids and are too busy going shopping, brunching, partying and sleeping until noon on Sundays, which is FOR US parents the ideal time to go out of the house and try to mingle with others. 

You don’t call anybody because you are too tired and you absolutely don’t feel like having small talk. If you do, you start to stray and to mentally write your next post for your blog.

You don’t go out at night because even if you have a babysitter, you’re just not in the mood for socializing anymore… you know you must get up early the next day and your mind is filled with so much stuff that you wouldn’t be able to concentrate and carry out decent conversation anyway…

You feel outdated and have no idea about all the new bars, drinks and cool phrases hip people are saying.

And the worst: deep down you don’t even want to go because (here comes the awful truth) you fear not having enough conversation which is NOT about kids… ouch, I said it and it hearts my own ears! 😉

I have some friends who don’t have kids yet. Yes, maybe it sounds strange because as a parent you almost only have friends with kids, but there are a few childless acquaintaces left.

Every now and then my single friends and I talk about things like “what is it like to be a mom” or “why having a child does not mean your life is over”. These discussions are sometimes difficult for me because they put me in this situation where I could just say the one sentence almost everybody who is either older or already a parent likes to say:

“You have no idea unless you’ve been there”.

Now I am not the kind of person to say that. I am a teacher and therefore I truly believe that sometimes it’s my duty to help other people UNDERSTAND things, so I do my best to give them a hand by coming up with examples, which are so obvious that even Paris Hilton would scream “yeah!!! I want KIDS TOO”! And I’m not being cynical here, believe me!

Anyway, I still remember how scary some aspects of parenthood sounded to me before I had my son, so I completely understand. I even have a good laugh during those conversations, especially when these single friends roll their eyes at your child’s poo accidents or that one time he threw up at your last company’s summer party (yes, it happened to me). I laugh because I KNOW that for a mother that really doesn’t matter! You get so used to using wipes that you start cleaning everything with them, even your shoes, which by the way works great.

So when I get serious and I try to convey the beauty of having a child, I would tell them real examples like these:

1. Having a child is like having your own private cinema at home. You can watch them the whole time and you never get tired of that sight. Especially when they imitate those tiny gestures you make but are not even aware of, it’s absolutely incredible!
3. You really know what love is when your child looks at you in the eyes and says “I love you”!
4. Special moments like when your baby sticks his little finger in your belly button and says he wants to live inside your belly again are just breath taking…
5. looking at another human being and being entitled to say YOU have not only genetically formed him, but more importantly, you have raised him, fed him, loved him, protected and cared for him and he is turning out fine is THE reason to make you proud of your achievements. Everything else is just not big enough to fill you with this pride and satisfaction.

…this is just to name a few because after all, you don’t want them to start hating you 🙂

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