Trini Mom in D Middle was created as a space to express thoughts, concerns, ideas, jokes and random musings about what it means to be a Trinidadian mother, wife, teacher and national observer of life in this twin island.
In Trinidad and Tobago tonight is the eve of Divali, the Hindu festival of lights, the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil. Tomorrow Hindus pray to the goddess Mother Lakshmi for wealth and prosperity, for her to fill their homes which will be beautifully lit with deyas and celebrations will be had.
Today some schools (I say ‘some’ because I suspect not all) give children the option to dress in East Indian wear to celebrate and give significance to the East Indian community because the festival is largely cultural as it is a deeply religious observance. My gremz both attend Roman Catholic primary schools and the request is the same every year which is no big deal to me because like I said Divali is also very much a cultural thing and Trinidad and Tobago is chock full of different races and cultures mixed into one. So even though children are of African, Chinese, Syrian, European descent, East Indian wear is welcomed.
Now Mam’zelle wore East Indian clothing and Son-son didn’t. He said he didn’t want to be noticed too much which is fine with me while she was down for the fanciness. This afternoon I picked them up from school and in the car we had the usual banter of what happened during the day. She told me “Mummy ‘soandso’ and I wore the same thing, could you believe that?”. I replied “wow! twinsies!”, glad that she wasn’t mortified. She’s very particular about what she wears, but then she said “…and thennnn ‘soanso’ tell me ‘why you have on that? you looking ugly!'”…….I understood the underlying meaning and looked at her trying to gauge her emotional state at the recollection. Then I tested her by saying very matter-of-factly “And?”. She replied “I know right? I was still feeling sad though”. It was her first time wearing East Indian wear, last year she was sick and didn’t make it to school so she missed out. I told her that she looked beyond beautiful and anybody who couldn’t see that is probably blind.
I’ve arrived at my point. There is a blindness that pervades this Trinidad and Tobago society which is beyond irritating. I get that there are residual historical, societal and cultural issues and biases that affect and are passed down from generation after generation. But….have mercy……when will it stop? A next ten/twenty years and the same nonsense? When do we begin to teach our children or to reflect to them the appreciation of the beauty and culture of all races especially in this country? The Indian/African/Syrian/’Chinee’ thing is so played out. One doesn’t have to subscribe to a religion or be a certain race to show tolerance, understanding and appreciation. This doesn’t stand for Hinduism alone, I’m ‘African’ and Catholic, not Orisha which I guess makes me less of an ‘African.’ I’m blasted for what I believe and practice which by the way is a freedom I enjoy without having to prove the rightness and wrongness of Catholicism. Don’t even get me started on Islam.
So back to Mam’zelle. I posted her dress pic early on Facebook this morning and 38 people clicked like on the photo. It may sound trivial but those 38 people, though not children, reaffirmed what it means to be Trini for me. They helped me to make my point to her that it does not matter what some may think, in this country there are others who will disagree, do away with the blindness and still strive to make this country the rainbow that it should be.
Shine light in your hearts man, sounds good to me. What do we say about every creed and race in the National Anthem? We sing it twice for crying out loud! Sigh.
On Sunday night I got some devastating news about a friend of mine who passed away. Of course I refused to believe it at first but when I got confirmation I felt as though someone knifed me in the heart. I plunged into sadness because to me grief comes not when you know someone is going to die by illness or suffering, but when it happens unexpectedly. That is the worst kind. On top of that is where your mind tosses about the couldas and the shouldas and the wouldas and that this death that was totally unexpected happened under questionable circumstances, makes it even worse. Now I have all these how and why questions that no one can answer for me now and I think that is what hurts the most. I have no immediate and absolute facts to deal with other than the one that is most poignant, that he is dead.
Of course all of the memories came flooding back, all the occasions, the serious conversations, the laughs, the singing and dancing…I knew that it would be a lot to bear. Yesterday at work I armed myself with various distractions, couple of DVDs, games, so I managed to block out my thoughts for bits at a time but he came back in a few random moments. I managed to smile today as I remembered a few and sighed rather than cried. I don’t feel as devastated as I did on Sunday into Monday but the sadness is still there as I suspect it will be until he is laid to rest.
It doesn’t happen often but I embrace my sadness. I wallow in it because it comforts me and at a time like this, it is the only emotion, the only feeling that I am sure of. I give it the attention it needs and then it goes away eventually. It might sound strange but it works for me much like anger, anxiety and fear.
So my friend is gone. It pains me to believe and it’s difficult to accept but I will get there and I have my sadness to help me along.
It sure has been a while hasn’t it? Ah too shame but you know what they say, Sometimes life gets in the way of having fun…..
Now I think Time is the most powerful force on the planet. I doh even know if Time is a force but it’s clearly pretty important and damn near priceless because we are all using it, some wasting it, racing against it, begging for more of it, wishing we could go back in it, wondering where it went and trying to spend the remainder of it the best we could.
I am in a persistent race with time simply because I value it so much so I don’t like to waste it at all. I am hustling every single day and at the end of each day I still beat up about what I should have done or what I could have slipped in. Then I plan for the next day and the cycle continues. Some people (read: my husband) get annoyed by this but it is simply the way I am wired. I hate leaving home late, I am always strategizing the distance and time to and from places, trips to run errands, workouts at the gym. Imagine I haven’t gone to the new Chaguaramas boardwalk yet because I seriously dread the outcoming traffic and I won’t even be the one driving! One of my closest friends suggested “Parang on the Boardwalk!” And as much as I’m a Christmas baby and I love anything Christmas-related and not to mention FREE!, my response was “Do you have a boat?”
Now October is the month of the year where I always think about Time, it’s my reflection month. My two gremlinz go up a year, Mamzelle on Thursday, Son-son exactly one week after and this year he is entering double digits!!! The big 1-0! (Cue ensuing staring into space trying to recall all memorable moments and frantic watching of baby pictures from now until next week…..) These days I casually observe them even more, I look at how he’s almost my height and she’s getting thick in the legs like me. I listen to them as they watch TV and enter into this university-level discussion about why pirates are fake, or why Flow trying to teach people Spanish in smart. I watch her storming his room and sleeping on his bed every…..single…..night and as frustrated as I am about this, (dis chile doh like to sleep a full night on her own bed at allll!!!) clearly neither of them seem to mind. In time to come that will change so maybe I should just cool it.
I try to remember what my freedom was like before I had the gremz and sometimes come up short. I know I went out and partied a lot but I can’t recall what I used to do in my spare alone time. I tend to study what the future would be like once they grow up and buss out God spare life. These days I’m starting to envision them in secondary school and wondering what their career specialties will be, my version of putting it out there in the universe I guess. I remember once I was in a deep reverie about them having their own children and their own lives and then I would be old and then die and they would have to put flowers on my grave in Lapeyrouse and I wouldn’t be around to watch them anymore and to tell them that I only want lilies and not dem cosquelle chrysanthemums that always appear on coffins in these wide-ass bouquets which I hate. I won’t lie, I shed actual tears during this stream of consciousness that happened only in my mind with my obsession about time. It didn’t help that I also had PMS.
Although October makes me stop and think, there’s no sense in me telling myself that I will slow down to smell the roses, this only happens when I’m on vacation. I keeps it real but neither will I ‘sleep when ah dead’ either. Life is about maintaining balance I suppose and I am certain I’m not the only one who feels the same. In the meantime I’m living and the clock is ticking.
Last week Son-son was in a fight. This is the first time in his whole 5-year primary school career that he has ever been in a physical fight so I was understandably stunned. He didn’t start the fight but he was in it, and by in it, I mean he was punched and kicked twice by one boy while he lost his footing and fell to the floor. Now thankfully he was not bruised and no bones were broken but I quickly grew to rage as I saw his face swollen, imagined the visual and realized that there was nothing I could have done about it at the time as school was already dismissed.
He’s fine and the matter is settled now with the school but I think in all what really ticked me off was this expressed sentiment by a few that my son couldn’t have defended himself or that he ‘does take licks easy’ and that he’s too ‘sorf’ (soft). “He didn’t know to hit that boy some tap?” Now there was a point in time where it was just my son and I and since then my family has grown but there has always been this idea by some that because he grew up with me in his younger days, he was too ‘up under me’, too sensitive and not ‘tough’ or ‘fearless’ enough.
I don’t know why people don’t understand that my son is not a fighter and that is perfectly OK. He does not like conflict, he does not engage in it and does not want to be caught up in it and that is perfectly OK. He does not like karate and that is OK. He is not devoid of physical activity because he is always on-the-go, sweaty, smelly and speaks excitedly at break-need speed. He is normal, functioning and intelligent. When the time comes he will be able to defend himself wisely and nobody will have to teach him how to throw a punch or to block and that is what it is. I always thank God that he has never been the subject of the bullying that is so rampant in Trinidad and Tobago’s primary schools these days and this was a random, wild incident by a peer who temporarily lost his mind it would seem.
I asked him why he didn’t defend himself, he replied that all he was thinking in the quick time that it happened was that he didn’t want to be expelled from school. He suffered as a result of it but after the fact that answer worked for me especially as I see the result of the tit-for-tat school scuffles bleeding into the secondary school system. I’m raising my son to be a thinker not a fighter and the pure fact of the matter is that the thinkers, the ones who see consequence before action, are the ones who succeed in this life. Plain talk.
I looked at my husband, he looked at me. Casually I asked her still facing front in the car, “what did you say dear?”. She replied, “I smoking weed!” confirming what I thought I heard and wished I dreamt. Son-son who was having none of it retorted, “Do you even KNOW what weed is?”. She replied matter-of-factly, “Youuu doh know what weed is? Hm!” I was shaking but not externally. I turned around and saw that she had taken one of the paper napkin rings from the restaurant we just left and had rolled it up positioning it between her index finger and thumb. I turned back around and took a deep breath, “Who told you about weed honey?” My daughter then detailed that her BFF told her about weed, her brother smokes it, it looks like dried leaves, you put it in a little paper, you roll it up and smoke it. When she was finished I turned back around looked her square in the eyes and I told her, “Listen to me, smoking weed is a very adult thing, it is not even for children to pretend to do. You know what happens when you get caught smoking weed? The police arrests you because weed my dear is illegal! You can go to JAIL!” Yes, I crescendoed to make my point and I know it worked because the fear in my voice transferred to her now very wide eyeballs. I told her to take the information to the BFF and let her know too to put a stop to THAT game. That’s the best I could have done, mission somewhat accomplished, obviously more explanations to come.
Why Lord do I have to inform my 6 year old about the dangers of smoking and weed? I’m in the middle of 6-year old matters! Spelling and dictation, girls’ drama, negotiations for increased pocket money, ballet… Sex is a big enough hurdle to cross with trepidation even at 6, drugs is something you think you would comfortably tackle in the teenage years! Never would I have imagined that this is something that I would have to explain to her at this age. Am I naïve? What was also scary about it is the casual manner in which she said it which was unnerving but I needed information and I guess she was innocent to it all. However, the words for a conversation with her about this haven’t even been formed properly in my head so I just gave her the basic answer, it’s not for children.
You have to be so careful as to what your children are exposed to but there are times when it cannot be avoided. Yes you can turn off the tv or switch the channel from Disney and their growing filth, but are you in the schoolyard or on the playground when the children are huddled in their little corners having their powwows? More and more I’m realizing that it is beyond critical to raise my gremz who are independent thinkers complete with the morals and values that will enable them to stand up when the occasion arises. I’m not always going to be around. But worse than that is that there are things that we as parents are going to have to fully explain to children at ages younger than intended simply because of the way the world is turning nowadays. Are you ready? I hope I will find the correct words…
Another year is here of well wishes, gift-giving and general pleasantries by all towards mothers and all representations on this Mother’s Day 2015. Happy Mother’s Day to all and sundry and on this day! I hope that each and every one of you spends the day as you see fit whether it be with family enjoying company, being waited upon and eating to your heart’s delight or completely alone enjoying the escape and relishing the peace and quiet.
This may sound weird but I’m not a hundred percent sold on Mother’s Day. I’m not completely against it like some men and Valentine’s Day but let’s just say I can understand the sentiment. “Why do I need a day to celebrate what should be celebrated everyday?” I’m certain for some mothers it’s a tad weird being fawned over and getting praises heaped upon for all that you do as opposed to tomorrow when it will be back to the regularly scheduled programming. It’s a tad facetious don’t you think?
I mean I understand the recognition and I’m one zillion percent behind showing appreciation to mothers for not just what we do but for who we are. Being a mother is the hardest vocation thrown at me by life because there really are days when I feel like I have it totally on lock and then there are others when I wish I could call for a time-out and let the substitute run on and take a sweat for a while.
What I’m saying is that appreciation should be shown every day, not necessarily the doting, but a mother should definitely feel supported and loved all the time, rather than one day when all these flowery things are written and said giving hallmark extra revenue :D) . Let me know if I’m alone thinking on that wavelength.
That being said after a bumper breakfast I’m off to lunch with the fam (cuz Lord knows nobody else does cook in here but me!). Here’s to your special day lady whoever you are wherever you are, whatever you choose to do…
Me again! New thoughts have been processing but Lordt hav’ mercy the time! Anyways, here’s one of ‘em…
Everything goes through phases in Trinidad and Tobago. The ‘9-day wonder’ we call it where all of our attentions and passions are directed to something for nine days and after that we focus on another topic. These days the health care system is in for a rough ride as the Minister of Health Fuad Khan has recently revealed proposals to ‘shake up’ the health system in light of recent deaths of mothers in the public hospitals due to complications of C-section births. Among these new policies include fathers being allowed in the delivery room, increased visiting hours and a female relative being able to stay with the mother 24/7.
I feel it for the relatives of the mothers who died. I can’t even begin to imagine the trauma of entrusting the life of your precious wife/daughter into a shaky hospital system where she has to bring forth a child only to suffer the pain of losing her and in some cases, the child as well. It is a reality that the majority of the Trinbagonian society has no trust in the health care system. Very often from Port-of-Spain to Mt. Hope to San Fernando you hear tales of ‘hoggish’ nurses and nonchalant doctors intermixed with hours and hours of waiting, sparse pharmacy facilities, paltry bathrooms and no beds.
I had both of my gremlinz in POS although I live in the East and this was driven mainly by a lack of faith which was further driven by fear (I wasn’t going to Mt. Hope for nuttin). I wish I could have done the private room or nursing home thing in a comfortable room filled with flowers and family visiting only me but the reality is that my salary did not permit. So too are the MAJORITY of expectant mothers in the land. As an expectant mother you expect to feel comfortable to deliver your baby, you expect patient nurses, you expect professional doctors and you expect the help to guide you through this very difficult process. I got exactly that at Port of Spain General. When I had my gremz the staff was very satisfactory. I mean it wasn’t Club Med in terms of the facilities, but I had no intention of lengthening my stay longer than I needed to. I followed all instructions to a tee from clinic days to the delivery room.
It is difficult for me to paint a broad brush even though this is what I did at when I decided to forego Mt. Hope for POS and yes there are vastly numerous cases where the burden of the unstable hospital system is felt. However as a worker in a field where the glare of public scrutiny is definitely felt, I also feel it for the professionals in the hospitals. On the other side of this coin there are some doctors and nurses who are unfairly chastised for the work that they do or are unable to do based on the resources that they have and the public cases cropping up of pregnant mothers dying. (Substitute the ‘doctors and nurses’ bit there for teachers, public servants, police officers etc. and you will understand the general state that we are in). On top of it all, there is a Minister who jumped the proverbial gun and instituted his policies without relevant consultation and added more pressure to all involved rather than intelligently easing the tension.
I hope sincerely that all matters are resolved and that closure comes to all involved in this extremely sensitive area. We are on the tail end of the 9-days though and sadly soon we will be on to the next.
Happy Birthday to me! Or rather Happy Anniversary to me!!!
Yesterday marked one entire year since I decided to launch my adventures and thoughts publicly on the interwebz as Trini Mom In D Middle and I must say it has been a very interesting year thus far. More than a year ago I would not have thought to start a blog and during consideration I was still so wary that I even asked advice from an old school mate who is heavily into media of all forms. She encouraged me so much that if she didn’t I don’t think I would have been here 51 posts later. I can now say fully that all my trepidation about writing has waned somewhat but I’m still learning!
So this is a big deal for me, a whole year has passed, I haven’t quit or left my blog to totally rot. I knowwwww I could do a bit more posting and to be honest all sorts of things pop into my head and I say to myself “Self, you need to do a post” but sometimes circumstances (and carving out time!) get in the way….still learning!
So thanks for reading the few of you who do, I’m soooo grateful for the support you guys have no idea. Thanks to the peeps who encourage me on my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/trinimomindmiddle, thanks to those who also encourage me in my daily travails as well. Here’s to my second year!
This past week in Trinidad and Tobago has been really trying for my soul. as a Trinbagonian. I had to endure the police road blocks on Monday which effectively paralyzed the country (we made Yahoo news!), it’s the last week of school and the usual drama applies and now this nonsense in our national Parliament last night.
I don’t usually get worked up about what happens in Trinidad’s Parliament because as far as I see you have to have a certain amount of brain cells to follow what goes on in the Lower House and I don’t have brain cells to waste. It’s a lot of shouting, derailed “arguments”, unnecessary picong and time wasting. Yesterday this senseless motion of no confidence that was brought against the Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley was enough for me to steups but what that woman Vernella Alleyne-Toppin from Tobago said enraged me to the highest when I woke up this morning to the news. How the hell are you going to abuse the cover of parliamentary privilege to accuse another Parliament member of being conceived through rape which resulted in his aggressive, arrogant behavior. Hellooooo? You had that mess written on the paper from which you were reading??? You using the story that he was born due to RAPE to make a political point of no confidence against him??? Rape is a damn crime!!!!!!
Of course I heard the full broadcast on the radio this morning and I was beyond shocked and starting yelling in the car to myself and well the gremz in the back seat who kept asking what was ‘disgusting’ and who was a ‘damn fool’ and if I was alright. I was so damn mad. I started thinking about one of my relatives who was a victim of rape and how BROKEN she was months after being stripped of her dignity in her own home. I started thinking about one of my students who was a victim of incest and rape and how dehumanized she felt and the sea of tears that she shed in front of me. Rape victims have to deal with that act that crushes their soul and then be strong enough to deal with the possibility of disease and pregnancy. Do you know how strong you have to be to raise a child of rape? Do you know how strong you have to be not only to raise a child of rape but to raise him/her with strength and love and to destroy the residual feelings of resentment? Do you have any idea of the level of trauma facing rape victims and to a lesser extent their family members?
Whether this story is true or not, what kind of human do you have to be to decide to include that in your speech to “get one on him” in a parliamentary debate? And better than that, what kinda implication is that to make, that a child of rape is aggressive and uncouth and therefore cannot aspire to attain a lofty position as the Prime Minister of a country? To make it worse you are the Minister in the Ministry of the People and Social Development, a ministry with dubious beginnings but dreamt up to “care for the people”!!!!!
Vernella Alleyne Toppin, do us all a favour and get the hell out of office and take all those others who agreed with your atrocious view by thumping their desks in the house. Your statement was sick and repulsive, was an affront to all rape victims and children of rape victims and brought down whatever scraps of dignity that remained in the Parliament. I wish you well on your return to Tobago, you will have it to deal with across there. They waiting for you…
I wish there was a day I could come home with absolutely nothing to do, a hot meal waiting and all my shit already organised for the next day. I want to go even further than that and say that I wish this could happen for a full work week, I would be eternally grateful and would gladly return to the regularly scheduled programme the following week.
Today I understand why people hire people to do stuff they could very well do for themselves. My mother is a housewife. She has tons of responsibilities and many side projects. I’ve always seen her balance it like a pro even though there were days when she was beat. I’ve never had a ‘working woman’ example reflected back to me so I developed a routine that has worked for me inclusive of the ‘family care’ part which I learned from her. Balancing the work/home life is basically 90% of my life with the remaining 10% aptly titled ‘ME’. The thought never occurred to me that a helper would make sense, until today that is. After an exhaustive day I just wanted to faceplant on my bed but alas my gremz need to be fed etc etc etc
I’m so tired it’s like I have sand in my eyeballs but I still have to organise for tomorrow and noooooo I can’t do the extra mile on the weekend, it is loaded as it is. Noooooo I can’t wake up early in the morning either because then I would be using part of my 10% which requires that I be in the gym.
Sigh, I’m jealous of all of you with helpers, send one my way for the week nah. No? Fiiiiine… back at it then.