Saturday, November 17, 2012


Apparently Superman isn't wearing a cape - but his baby. At least that is what I was invited to promote on Facebook recently. And it wasn't the first post that praised Daddies who wear their babies. Despite the fact that I dislike the saying "wearing a baby" especially in relation to "showing off" and "being super Daddy" - because that's what those posts implement if you ask me - I don't think that any child would say that their Daddy is great, cool or wonderful because he has "worn" them as a baby.

Instead my Dad sat me on his lap in the car when he drove me to the creche in the village we were living back then.
What else he did I don't know but probably not too much. That's the impression I get from the stories my Mom and Dad tell me. And well, since they got divorced when I was only 2 years old I can't really rely on any of their stories because they are mixed with their feelings about their own relationship at this time. But I can tell you that:

My Dad didn't spend regular weekends with us but he was there for our birthdays and Christmas. During winter and summer holidays we spend weeks at his parents' - our grandparents'- house in the countryside and he came and visited us there quite often.

From what I remember he cared for our education and later kept asking how things went in school. He was there when I finished High school and supported me throughout my studies - despite his opinion that women don't need to study at all. Yes - he has his views on life and I have mine. Many of them differ but we know that, we talk about them and we respect them.

When I split up with a boyfriend he asked me if I wanted to talk about it.

When he calls me he knows within a minute how I feel and even says things like: "I hear you are not in a good mood. Do you want to tell me or shall we talk later?" I am 34 and it still surprises me how well he knows me.

When I was a student I regularly went to visit my Dad and stayed with him for a night or two. It wasn't rare that we'd spend the night talking up until 1 or 2 a.m. And by talking I don't mean the weather. He told me about our past. About his divorce from my Mom. How he felt back then and what went wrong. He told me his feelings about my brother's sudden death and about everything I am doing. He talks about his parents and their relationship. And I know that I can tell him everything. He knew when I was in therapy and he knew that it would do me good.

When I was little my Dad took my brother and me to football matches or other sports events. I always thought he did that for my brother. But I enjoyed it too and later when my brother was dead he still took me. At some point I realized that he loved to go to sports events and enjoyed it that I joined him.

I was the only one supporting his crazy hobby of riding a motor cycle like a maniac until the age of 60. I supported his crazy decision of buying a new one after he crashed his and was flown to hospital where I visited him at the ICU. I won't deny that I was relieved when he sold the machine but I also knew that if he would have died riding it - he would have died doing something he loved.

He loves his grandson and is sad to live that far away so he barely sees him. He does not agree on all parenting decisions we go for but he tells me that, we talk about it and he respects them.

He supports my decision to ditch my Diploma and the job I had and I studied for with (partly) his money. Because he wants me to do something I am happy with.

He has the best sense of humor - one, that sometimes only I understand.

So no, my Dad may not have been the best Dad when I was little. He cheated on my Mom when she was caring for their children. But that is their story. When it comes to what - FOR ME - was a good Dad I wouldn't trade him for the world.

And therefore I don't care if a Dad is carrying his baby in a sling or pushing him in a pram. I wish for every child to have a father that - from birth on - tries to understand him and his feelings. That is a person to look up and talk to. Talk about the good and the difficult things in life. One to laugh with but one to be quiet with too. One to share joys with. And concern. One that knows his child. Even if that means getting to know him again and again over time.

Monday, November 12, 2012


The other day Leander was playing with his cars on the floor while I was lying on the sofa. He came over and said: 'Mama, come, wanna show something.' I was tired and couldn't think of what he could possibly show me that I couldn't see from the sofa myself. I told him that I am tired but he insisted: 'Mamaaaa! Come! Wanna show something!' for at least three more times until I got really curious and slowly rolled myself from the sofa down to the floor where we then sat down next to his cars.

Well. What he wanted to show me was that he had parked them all. In line. I could see that. I already watched him do it and saw the result from the sofa. But for him it was really important that I got up, came close and most importantly: shared his joy! And so I did. I looked at him and smiled and said: "Yeah, you parked them all in line." and he nodded and said: "Yeah!"
It was something he had done like a million times before. But he was excited about it NOW. His eyes wide open, sparkling. And he told me that the police car did not fit in that one spot but instead he put it over there! And the more I let his excitement overcome me the more I got really excited myself. He ran away and found a tractor that he needed to park too. And then I needed to help him rearrange the whole parking situation. And we continued parking the cars for a while. Sometimes he told me what I did wrong but mainly we had the same idea of how the cars should be arranged. And more: I had fun. I actually felt some satisfaction in this game. His game. I was where he was and he enjoyed me being there. Not just around but right down there on the floor IN his game. The two of us in one universe.

Two weeks ago I attended a course in which we experimented with Hengstenberg toys and climbing materials for children. But it wasn't just about climbing and playing. It was a lot about going back to our own awareness and how we have become so goal orientated. That we always wonder: "What is that for? What am I supposed to do with it? What is it good for ?"
Heinrich Jacoby, a German educator on sensitivity and awareness, used to say: "Thing - what do you want from me?"
And while - in this course - I was lying on the floor playing with a simple wooden object for 45 minutes, discovering its shape, smell, weight, sitting and standing on it, holding it - all blindfolded - I had so many thoughts going through my mind. I was wondering along an unknown path so open minded feeling so light and curious. So many ideas on what to do and explore with this piece of wood came to my mind that suddenly I did not just remember Jacoby's saying but also felt it. Deeply.

And amongst all this playing I suddenly heard Leander saying: 'Mama, come with me.' to what I used to respond with: 'Why?' or 'Where are we going?' And I realised how sad that was. How sad for me not being open for the unknown. Not being curious. And how sad for Leander - always having to "convince" me with a certain reason to follow his excitement.

Obviously I don't always have time to follow him. But the more I allow myself to do so when there is nothing else the more often he accepts when I really have to refuse his begging for a particular reason. And then he goes off, maybe doing something completely different than what he had in mind. Because he still is open to the unknown while I am re-learning hard the joy of saying "Ok. Let's go!" instead of "Where to?".

Sunday, November 4, 2012


This weekend we spent with the grandparents and they live in an area with many spas. So we decided to enjoy a day in there. Leander has been rather respectful, mostly scared of water for most of the time and we thought if we are careful it can't really harm anything anymore but maybe help him get a little closer to liking it.

When we arrived at the spa he was all excited and got changed. He carried his little toy bucket and a ball we took for him. He looked around a lot and held my hand. Tight. Very tight.
Inside it was loud and very busy. Fortunately we found the kids pool pretty soon. It wasn't too busy so when I walked a step in he quickly followed me. He stopped on the top step. And when he tried to go down the second step I could see his little foot carefully measuring the depth until he felt the stone floor underneath. He was checking how deep he would get. And if it felt safe enough. In the end it was not even knee deep and Leander felt comfortable. Still holding my hand. Tight.

He walked around the outline of the pool a few times, getting to know the place and carefully observing what the other children were doing. At some point he figured that there was a deeper square in the middle of that pool so he decided to give that a try. Again he measured the depth with his feet before actually setting his foot down. Now in the water up to his belly he looked at me. And Smiled. He walked through this deep square a number of times. Now even without holding my hand. You could actually see his confidence growing. And his joy.

When water suddenly started coming out of several columns and walls he got frightened a bit and we went to the outer steps, sat down and he started pouring some water with his bucket over his legs and feet. Something he wouldn't even do in the bath tub (where he preferred to stand rather than sit).

A while later Jan asked him if he wanted to check out the bigger pool for adults. It had a very long slope going in so he could try and walk as much as he liked and what felt ok for him. I was sure they'd come back in a wee while. Well - I was wrong. On Jan's back he was actually up to his neck in the water, holding tight like a monkey but enjoying himself. A LOT.

When they got back he told me to come with him. To the big pool again. And he started walking into it himself. Step by step. Deeper and deeper. Until he was standing in the water up to his chin. Swallowing water. Trying hard not to fall. When he turned around there was this big smile in his face. I had to make sure that it was really him who was standing there in front of me. My son.
I stayed close by so when he would slip and fall I could bring him back up. He fell only once and pulled himself back up. He cried a little but when I told him what happened and he realized that he was actually ok he kept walking. And smiling.

He wasn't going under water again. Not by accident and not on purpose. But that's nothing I'd expect. He's done a great step for himself yesterday. And the way he mastered it all by himself without us pushing or encouraging him was just so overwhelming to watch. We must have looked like the weirdest family on the planet. All just quietly watching each other. All smiling and enjoying Leander's new discovery.

Boundaries and fears accompany us for most of our life. Some a little longer, some only for a short time. Many boundaries we never stretch, many fears we never overcome. Some boundaries we don't even recognize as such. Or we let others step inside our comfort zone without feeling good about it. Children are much more honest. What feels weird or strange they do not allow. If we respect that they might be more open to overcoming fears on their own before they can foster and harm them all their life. Something many of us adults have unlearned.
Today I decided to overcome my own fear of water eventually. I don't even know what the reason behind is, what the real problem is and how to start. But once I am no longer carrying a baby belly I will go for it and figure. Stepping into my son's tiny footsteps.