iamtheinvisiblehand

Posts Tagged ‘parenting

One year after she was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, and after months of unimaginable pain, my mother finally let go.

Upon her diagnosis, I would cry a lot, mostly because I was scared. After a few months, when the doctor finally told her there was nothing left to do, I would cry less frequently, but on the few occasions I did, the waterworks would last forever. I guess I believed that crying would make the whole thing more real. It meant accepting that there was no hope left. And now that all has been said and done, I find myself crying while I write these words.

I saw the cancer eat my mother – the strongest woman I’ve ever known – alive, and although it took a whole year to do so, when it was done there was nothing left but skin-wrapped bones and a severely swollen abdomen. Her mind, however, was untouched, which I think was even worse, because I can’t even begin to imagine what my mother must have felt when she saw herself in the mirror this last year.

And I still can’t believe that this happened to her. Or to me. This is the kind of story you hear about other people’s lives and sufferings, not your own. This is the kind of tragedy that happens to others. And yet it happened to me.

I know whoever is reading this must be thinking that I should be grateful that at least my mother stopped suffering and that in itself is a blessing. I know this is true. I saw her in pain almost every single day of this year and I am glad that this is all over. But still, I am selfish: I wish she was still here with me, nagging my ears off or constantly calling me about one thing or another, like she did while she still had the strength. I miss her more than I ever could have imagined. It’s so bad it hurts.

I find myself in her apartment expecting to hear her voice. Smell the lingering scent of her perfume. And yet I know that I’ll never get to hear her voice or smell her perfume ever again. I’ll just have to make do with whatever my memories can conjure up for me.

Why she held on for so long is a mystery to me. My sisters and I said our goodbyes many months ago and felt that she was in peace with all of us. And yet she hung on.

I guess that when you know you’re about to leave, you want to make sure that your life was worth something; that it made a difference, that you have left behind something worth remembering. Well, I am certain that my mother left an indelible impression on everyone she knew: I never knew or heard of anyone who disliked her.

Anyone who has suffered the loss of someone close knows that sometimes all you need is to say these things, get them out and sort of purge yourself of these thoughts and feelings, because they have a way of creeping up on you when you least expect it. I know this too. About 10 years ago, my dear uncle was killed in a bombing. A few months later, I was at the supermarket and came face to face with a wide variety of blue cheese, my uncle’s favorite.   All of a sudden, I found myself crying and couldn’t stop the tears from falling. Gushing, actually. Other shoppers passing by me would suddenly swerve their carts away from me. I must have terrified them, poor people. My husband had been choosing some vegetables and was quite alarmed when he saw me. I was crying so hard I couldn’t tell him what happened. My dear husband is a good man and knows me well, so he just hugged me and waited until I was done. No questions asked. I did tell him later and he didn’t get it. Go figure.

I’ve come to realize that even when you know what’s coming, you’re never fully prepared for the blow. I knew how this story was going to end, and yet when it did, I felt like a helpless, abandoned child. Now that I think about it, I realize that at the young age of 38 I have become an orphan. Sigh. I know people will say that I should be grateful that I had her for such a long time, when there are so many who’ve lost their parents before they even got to know them. I know this is true. But again, I am selfish. This was not supposed to happen to me. At least not like this.

I am grateful that she was an important part of my 38 years of existence. I am grateful that she was my mother – I could’ve done so much worse. I am grateful that my 7 year old daughter had the chance to meet her and make the most of their time together. I am grateful that my mother was such a loving and caring grandmother to my daughter. But most of all, I am grateful that I had the chance to say goodbye. To tell her how much I loved her. To thank her for all the sacrifices she made to give all of us a good life.

I’m behind the news as usual, but I was lucky enough (?)  to catch about 45 minutes of the interview Lance Armstrong gave Oprah a few weeks ago and even though it was just a tiny piece of the whole thing, I’m pretty sure I caught the gist of it.

Like everyone who has seen the news in recent years, I’d heard a lot about the accusations against Armstrong regarding the use of steroids that allowed him to win 7 Tour de France. I guess I was always a little suspicious, especially since he was a cancer survivor, and now that I’ve seen the toll cancer treatment takes on its victims,  for a while there I was truly impressed despite my doubts.

But after seeing his interview, if I had to say one thing is that although it was supposed to be some sort of act of contrition to come clean about his doping past, I have never seen more a more calculated and rehearsed speech in my life. And Oprah, with all her years of experience said that she had been surprised by his candour, or something like that. I may not be an expert journalist or have a degree in Psychology or in any field remotely related to human behavior. I am, however, a consummate introvert. I’m  the girl sitting in the corner quietly, paying attention to everyone else, observing their attempts to attract attention and be in the spotlight for a while. I may not have many personal or social skills, but I am definitely a good judge of character. And I can say, without any doubt, that Armstrong did a fine job at fooling everyone.

It was clear that he was mortified for getting caught, but not for what he’d done. That he’d lied over and over to everyone and that when anyone hinted at the possibility that he’d been doping himself he’d retaliate like a spoiled child who is denied the pretty shiny toy he wants and showed no mercy until he got his way, no matter what the cost might have been for others. And for that he showed no remorse, no regrets.

He mentioned his kids, and how he’d finally come clean because he saw that he could no longer have them defend him when all the accusations made against him were in fact true. And again, what I saw was that he was almost angry he’d had to tell them the truth, but not truly remorseful. And you know, now that I’m a mother, I’ve learned one thing that has guided me through a lot of situations, and it’s this: if you can’t tell your kid about it, or have to lie about it and risk them getting hurt as a result, it’s probably not a good idea. If we do something that we become ashamed of and can’t afford to let our kids know about it, then we’ve definitely done something wrong.

He also said it was impossible  to win the Tour de France without using steroids, or whatever it was he used to win. That was a hard slap in the face for all the others who have competed honestly and trained long and hard every year to win that competition. What would legendary cyclists like Bernard Hinault and Laurent Fignon think about that? For that matter, what about all the other cyclists who never had the chance to win the race while he was competing because he was on drugs and they were not? Furthermore, the other competitors still fought their way through the competition even though they knew they slim to no chances of winning while they had to race against Armstrong, and that is a tough psychological component to beat.

I’m not naive, and I’m sure doping has become more common in competitive sports than it used to be before. Nevertheless, Armstrong had no right to imply that everyone was doing it if he was not going to present proof to back his words. Actually, I’m kind of shocked no one from the race-cycling industry has come out yet to set the record straight, but I’m pretty sure they won’t – and can’t afford  to – stay quiet for much longer.

Anyway, after all has been said and done, I’ve concluded the many of us out there simply chose to believe that he was a hero, the kind of person everyone admires and wants to be like, because he is the ultimate survivor, living proof that if you put your mind to something you can accomplish anything. What’s really sad is that I’m sure that he would’ve been just as highly regarded and respected no matter what his ranking was at the end of these competitions, because he’d already accomplished su much and gone so far. It is definitely much easier to see a hero, even though we know deep down that there is nothing more than a liar there.

I read an article last week on a mother that was charged with child abuse for “smooshing” (I don’t really know what that means but that is how the article described it) the kid who had recently bullied her son.

It appears that she’d heard that her son had encountered some trouble with a bigger kid, so she escorted her son to take the bus in the morning. The bully showed up and started arguing with the boy before even boarding the bus. The mother took action, the teen retaliated (!!!), and then the mother followed the bully onto the bus and pulled his hair. All this was caught on video and all the mother had to say was that she didn’t really regret it. 

The bullying topic is permanently discussed on parenting sites and blogs and the consensus seems to be the same: even though schools have established policies regarding the topic, at some point someone else has to do something about it (either the parents or the child have to eventually take a stance) because the law constrains the authorities way too much to truly be able to take care of things.

My take is that there is something essentially wrong with the way the issue is being dealt with and with the lack of consequences (or enforcement actions) that somehow conveys the message that bullying is ok.

I mean, bullying isn’t new. It’s always been present and is a part of many kids’ daily routine. The thing is, nowadays, it’s just so much more difficult to straighten up your kids when everything is now set up to “protect” the children, even in the cases in which they are the bad guys. And I’m not even talking about spanking the kids, which is not allowed anymore, but about truly and unequivocally letting them know why and how this is unacceptable behavior and making sure they never abuse anyone in any situation again.

Would I have done what the mother in the news did? Probably not. And I’m the mother who shamelessly shouted at another toddler on the beach for throwing sand at my daughter’s face. But it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have gone to the bully’s parents and the school to tell them all about their son’s cowardly actions.

People are always trying to explain bullying by stating that bullies have low self-esteem, are insecure, their parents usually pay no attention to them, and the list goes on and on forever. However, no one ever tries to analyze what happens with the bullied child, or what the long and short-term consequences are. The problem is always focused on the perpetrator and never on the victim. What does that say about us as a society?

In my opinion, there are two types of bullying: traditional bullying, which usually involves boys violently beating up other (smaller) boys. The other, is bullying among girls. This is a lot harder to spot, because it’s subtle. You’ll never see any bruises or scratches. And yet, bullying among girls is just as dangerous because it strips the bullied girls of any self-confidence they may have. It’s more if-you-don’t-bring-me-the-English-paper-by-tomorrow-I-wont-let-you-sit-at-our-lunch-table. Or in the case of smaller girls, if-you-don’t-come-to-school-with-a-ponytail-we-won’t-play-with-you. That is really dangerous, because if you aren’t truly alert, you’ll never see the signs until the damage is done and it’s probably too late.

The topic is way too broad and has so many takes that it’s impossible to condense it in a few lines. I will say, however, that I’m convinced that bad kids who aren’t taught that actions have consequences, turn into bad adults. Not being the religious type or a believer in divine retribution, there is, however, one thing I’ve instilled in my daughter and that is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. The good part is it’s easy enough to understand and I know she gets it because when other kids treat her or someone else badly she always asks them if they would like to be treated that way too and it usually stops the offender.

But then of course, she’s only 6 and at some point it will no longer be enough. That’s why I’ve also told her to defend herself or fight back if someone does anything to hurt her. It’s not ideal, and my daughter’s school strongly disapproves, but kids have to learn that it’s ok to stand up for themselves if they are being attacked, because the world isn’t an easy place and not all people are good. What’s the alternative, turn the other cheek? No thanks. But even though they have to learn to stay out of trouble, they must also learn that it’s ok to tell a teacher or an adult if someone else is being mistreated. We can’t allow our kids to be bystanders just for the sake of protecting them.

I heard from a friendly couple whose son attends my daughter’s school that last year there was a bully in his class. A full-blown bully who would beat up other kids in the bathroom or in the corridors on a daily basis. Mind you, this was happening in second grade, not junior high. Anyway, the problem was spotted early enough during the year and the bully’s parents were instructed to take the boy to therapy to deal with it. The school told those affected to be patient, that it was being handled, but it just went on and on and it wasn’t until the end of the school year that the kid was expelled.   

As a parent, to be informed that your child is a bully that is physically or psychologically hurting other kids must be a fatal blow. However, seeing it as the parent of a bully’s victim, how can you be told to “be patient” and expect your child to understand that it’s going to be ok, even though he gets slapped around every other day? How can you just stand aside and allow you kid to get hurt? I honestly don’t know how the victims’ parents handled it, but I know I would have pestered my daughter’s teachers and the school’s principal every single day until some effective action was taken. So the bully was expelled? Big deal, he was given a whole school year to inflict pain on so many of his classmates that I’m pretty sure the damage to those he bullied will last longer than the bully’s punishment (if any) or remorse (if any).

Anyway, regardless of the reasons why a child becomes a bully, I’m convinced that the parents are the only ones who can nip the problem in the bud. Sure, schools and the authorities may lend a hand, but if a child doesn’t get the message at home (loud and clear) that abusing others is wrong and unacceptable, there’s really nothing left for the others to do. 

from topnews.in

I was doing my usual “tour of the news” this morning when I found the following headline on msn.com:

White births are now the minority in the U.S.

America has long known this moment was coming, and now it’s official. According to the Census Bureau, white births are now the minority in the United States. Data released today shows that white births represented 49.6 percent of all births between July 2010 and July 2011, with births of minorities tipping the scale at 50.4 percent. Overall, white Americans are still the overwhelming majority (63.4 percent), but, as the population ages, it’s expected their proportion will ebb rapidly
I know governments must keep track of what’s going on, even if only for the sake of statistics, but really?
I’ve always been part of the “minority” wherever I’ve been: as a child in the West Indies, I was part of the white minority. Later on, in South America, as a foreigner (even though I’m a citizen) mainly because of my name. As an adult in Europe, again, the immigrant minority. And even though the only place I ever truly had a hard time was in Europe when I was trying to get a job, I have to say I´ve never thought where a person came from or what their color of skin was should make any difference at all. We can’t control the place where we were born or the color of skin we inherit, so why should it be an advantage or a shortcoming, especially since it has nothing to do with the kind of person we are?
I’m not going to get dragged into the whole “immigrants steal jobs from citizens and don’t pay taxes” discussion because that is not the point here, even though I do have a lot to say on the issue, seeing as I’ve seen and lived enough of it to have an informed opinion. I will say, however, that even more disturbing than the way the headline was written, were the comments made by the people who read the article.
I can’t believe there are still people out there who think that belonging to a certain ethnic group makes them somehow better or superior.
A famous Argentinian comic book character named Mafalda once said: “it’s amazing how far humanity has come and how little intentions have changed”. She couldn’t have said it better.
The world is one big melting pot composed of several smaller ones in each country, there is no denying that. We are all a mix of foreigners blended with the indigenous populations of the places where they finally settled (except maybe the pioneers), so where exactly does “purity of the race” lie or that annoying sense of entitlement come from?
If we are still focusing on this, then as a people we deserve no better than our current fate. If we continue to disregard the lessons of past mistakes, then history will definitely repeat itself with a vengeance.

I went to my daughter’s school yesterday for a conference with my daughter’s teachers and the psychologist. 

The meeting with the teachers was to give us our daughter’s report card; we met with the Psychologist for something else, I’ll tell you in a minute.

Anyway, the report card basically stated what we already knew: our daughter has a hard time concentrating and staying put; she’s a chatterbox and gets easily distracted; she also has a huge, dominant personality that is difficult to handle. However, all learning goals were achieved for this term, regardless of all the BUTs.

Blah, blah, blah. Anyone with a 5 year-old knows that part of being a 5-year old entails focusing on something for a few minutes and moving on to something else just as quickly. Granted, some kids are more focused than others, but I’ve rarely seen kids this age truly engaged in anything for more than 15- 20 minutes. So no surprises on the report card.

The Psychologist was there because we were worried about our daughter’s pre-adolescent behavior (mommy I don’t love you anymore, etc.), so she had been doing some tests and talking with our daughter to figure out what was going on.

And so there was a hint at ADHD. Hubby and I decidedly ignored it, so the Psychologist dropped the subject as soon as it had been brought up, mainly because our daughter doesn’t entirely fit the profile.

Growing up, I took care of a 6 year-old boy who had been diagnosed with ADHD . The kid could be a handful, but once you found ways in which to keep him busy, he would indeed, keep busy for long periods of time, albeit always under a watchful eye because he could turn his bedroom upside down in a matter of minutes. He loved reading, puzzles and building stuff, so that is basically what he’d get to do after, say, finishing his homework.

Based on my experience, ADHD exists, but it is harder on the caretakers than on the child. The child has no way of grasping that he/she has a condition that makes it difficult to focus and stay focused.  I also believe it is getting harder with every passing day, because kids are exposed to a million things each day, a lot more than we were at their age, so it should be more difficult to concentrate.

I’m not in denial, because I know my child isn’t perfect, but I don’t think kids should be slapped with ADHD at the slightest indication of poor concentration. What’s worse: it seems that most of the parents of my daughter’s classmates were told that their kids also got easily distracted and had a hard time focusing. So what is it, then? All of our children are on the road to ADHD or is it a generational thing that we, as parents, will have to deal with?

And then came the rest of the conversation.

It appears that our daughter has a strong personality and is always on the dominant side, a natural leader. But of course, since she is not always the most well-behaved child, she often steers the other kids into mischief. Don’t get me wrong, she’s not the devil reborn either, not even close, but she certainly does enjoy telling others what to do.

This, obviously, is a problem for any caretaker, be it a parent or a teacher. As the parent, I can tell you she can be quite difficult to handle at times. However, I firmly believe a strong, assertive personality is rather a good thing if we manage to deal with it properly. She knows what the rules are at home and she usually follows them, so I know that as long as there is structure and that she respects it, she’ll be ok. I refuse to be the one that crushes her spirit, bans her spontaneity and makes her become a follower instead of the leader. Sure, achieving the balance is hard, ongoing work, but hey, who said parenting was easy?

Anyway, at the end of the conference, adding insult to injury, the Psychologist suggested we have another child as a way to harness our daughter’s rebellious tendencies.

Wow.

Even though the question was dealt with swiftly, because it is a real physical impossibility (due to my hormonal, metabolic and spine-related health issues), I can’t see how this even concerns her at all.

First of all, in what world does having a second child help resolve “behavioral problems” with the first child? I thought people had children because they wanted to have  a family, and love them and raise them and give them what they need so they could grow up to be decent human beings.

It appears that the notion of having an only child is far from beneficial, because only kids have way too much of everything and tend to be dominant and selfish because they have no one to challenge their turf. I thought having an only child meant I could dedicate more time to her instead of having to clone myself trying to be available for anyone, and providing solid financial security (at least for her education) .

Does that mean that children who have siblings are easier to handle? Are they not dominant and selfish as well, in addition to other stuff? Is it true that having more than one child guarantees that the siblings will have a close relationship and accompany one another?

I have 3 sisters, and I honestly don’t think that it was a pivotal fact that made me the way that I am, even though it probably played a part. I also disagree that just because you have a sibling you will automatically be close and will accompany one another. Again, even though I have a cordial, healthy relationship with all my sisters, I don’t consider them my friends and I don’t even consider them close to me. Sure, there must be people out there who are on both sides of the spectrum: there are those who consider their siblings their best friends, and those who want nothing to do with their siblings. Generalizations don’t seem to apply here either.

And there’s another reason why, even if I could, I wouldn’t want another child.

I already have the life I always wanted. I manage my own business, which allows me to organize my schedule according to my needs. I get to spend as much time I want with my daughter and husband. I get to take care of (almost all) our family’s finances. If I had another child I’d have to start over again and things would never be the same.

And I’m not being selfish here. I’m just well aware that I would never be able to give that second child the same type of life I’ve given my daughter, and that would definitely be unfair. Sacrifices would have to be made, and I’d have to make all of them.

I’m not really complaining about my husband when I say this, it’s just the way things are.

To illustrate my point, I’ll tell you that last week I was reading some magazine, and I found a picture of Ben Affleck with one of his kids (maybe Violet?). Anyway, the caption said something like “Look, how sweet of Ben, babysitting his daughter”. I almost choked. Babysitting? I thought Ben was the father of his children and as such, what he was doing was called parenting, not babysitting. But see, the common mistake here is that since the mommy is supposed to take care of the kids, she is the one doing the parenting and dads are only babysitting. Great.

And that is exactly the underlying issue here. When children are involved, mothers are always expected to step up and take over, while no one expects the dads to do much of anything. Again, I’m not criticizing or generalizing, but let’s be honest, even when dads pitch in, the feeling that they are already doing enough is so ingrained, after centuries and centuries of being told that their duties entail taking care of the family (financially) without really being involved, that it’ll take a few more centuries for them to shake off those teachings completely. 

If another child comes into the picture, guess who’ll have to stop working, at least for a few months and probably start over again. Guess, who ‘ll have to keep doing everything as before and add another million tasks to her everyday life. Guess who’ll have to make sure our daughter doesn’t feel left out and jealous with the arrival of a new baby. Guess who’ll have to suck it up if she never gets her life back.  All of this is added to the smaller things mothers do everyday and go unnoticed, like setting up and taking the child to medical appointments; knowing the date of every single past and upcoming event; knowing which medications and how much they need to take; knowing when your child has had a bad day or is just out of sorts; knowing exactly what clothes are too short or which shoes are too tight. You get the picture. 

It may sound cold, putting it this way, but honestly, I’d rather learn to deal with my spirited daughter and not jeopardize everything we’ve already accomplished as a family. I’m aware of my limitations and I’m not about to ignore my instincts just to see if things could get better. If I knew, without a doubt, that having another baby was not going to be a task that was exclusively mine, that I could maybe drop a few duties to handle everything else, I’d rethink it, although I’m sure my decision would still be the same.

So no, no more children here. AND, no more psychologists either. Three is OUR perfect number.

I read that last week Mr. Karl Lagerfeld, the man behind Chanel, recently stated that Adele was “a little too fat”. And what did Ms. Adele do? She just won 6 Grammys and looked absolutely fabulous in the process, wearing Armani I might add. Ha!

When the movie Titanic was the hype, I read that James Cameron would call Kate Winslet, Kate “Weighs-a-lot”. Nasty. And what has she done since then? Every single time she is a part of something she gets nominated for an award, and more often than not, she wins. She also looks like a million bucks every time she’s on the red carpet.

When I lived in Paris, and English friend of mine had a French boyfriend who used to say that Cindy Crawford had “big” thighs. Also in Paris,  I was at the movies watching “Mickey Blue Eyes” with Jeanne Tripplehorn, and at a certain point she is wearing a little something to seduce her boyfriend, Hugh Grant, and the ladies behind me said, “Oh My God, that actress is fat”. I remember thinking that if that was the French standard of beauty, ordinary women like me were doomed.

In what universe are these woman fat?

My younger sister, thin as a stick and childless said, upon watching Heidi Klum hit the runway about 2 months after the birth of one of her children, that all new mothers should get their old bodies back just as quickly as Heidi had instead of making excuses not to do it. My older sister and myself, knowing what childbirth entailed, jumped at her immediately, obviously. Not only is it difficult to focus on anything but your child, let alone yourself, but also, normal women don’t have million-dollar contracts forcing them to be in tip-top shape to parade VS underwear (with all due respect to Heidi and VS), nor the helping hands to get you back in shape while someone takes care of your little one, etc..

How is it that men (mostly, but not exclusively) get to dictate what women should look like and what beautiful means? I mean, why did we gave them the right? But also, why would they impose on us things they don’t really care about when it comes to themselves?

If women had a true say in what beauty should look like, we wouldn’t be subjected to unbearable high heels that make walking, let alone standing, a miserable experience;  we wouldn’t feel the need to wear body shapers to fit into clothes that are usually intended for women on the catwalk; eating properly and exercising would come naturally, since no woman would feel so bad about herself to sabotage her own body for not feeling pretty enough or for not having the stick-thin figure we are forced to believe is the only beauty standard worth living up to.

I’m not trying to criticize or judge, but I do firmly believe that our health and beauty standards have been so distorted throughout the years that we are endangering the future generations’ perception of themselves.

I say it because I’ve seen with my own eyes preschoolers that are worried because they think they have a big belly and refuse to eat to avoid “getting fat”. Ergo, the anorexia this population has been increasingly displaying in recent year. And yet, I don’t see anyone alarmed.

My 5 year-old daughter hasn’t shown any of these signs yet, but if this trend continues, I’m sure it won’t be long for her too. The worst part is that even though as parents we try to instill that beauty is an inner condition, that she must love herself for who she is and that looks mean nothing, if she gets it into her head that she doesn’t look like she is supposed to, nothing we say or do will change that.  Our kids are so exposed to pictures of “perfection” everywhere they go that the voice of the minority – their parents – can’t be heard over the din made by the media.

And so in my house, there is now a blanket ban on saying that people are fat or ugly, on criticizing people on how they dress or look and in general, on anything that demeans another human being on how they look vs. what we think they should look like.

Beauty, as it is frequently quoted, is in the eye of the beholder and I hold that statement as my beacon (along with another: live and let live). As long as you think you are beautiful – in the ways that count, anyway – and love yourself as you are, then everything will make sense. Let the others concern themselves over minor stuff if they like.

I’ve seen so many friends of mine trying to change to look like their husbands or partners wish they would look like, working out their butts off at the gym, starving themselves to death, or letting their hair grow out when they’ve always preferred it short, that it breaks my heart. These women, all of them powerful and extraordinary in their own way, and with so much to give, are constantly insecure about the way they look and feel like they are worthless if they are not appreciated by their significant other.

I understand that our perception of ourself is a great part of our self-esteem, but we can’t expect external factors to boost it if inside we feel like the tiniest grain of sand on the bottom of the ocean. Our appreciation of ourself must come from inside, and it must encompass not only what we are, but who we are. Any changes required must be motivated from the inside, not the outside, because, how can anyone that hasn’t lived inside your body and mind know what you need to feel better about yourself?

Recently, a well-known model (locally, I should say), a stunning beauty, went public on some problems she had with a butt filler. It appears that the doctor who put the hyaluronic acid in her butt used a far-from-ideal product, even though the product itself was duly registered and approved by the local equivalent of the FDA. So while the doctor is suing the lab, the model is now telling everyone that she has now had to endure several surgeries to remove the stuff (or at least that’s what I’ve understood so far).

The irony is that when asked what surgeries she had before, she stated something like this in the following lines: “only breast implants and a nose job, the normal surgeries women get done”.  I wanted to slap her square in the face for saying such a stupid thing. Yes, I know, cosmetic surgery is a reality and millions of people get things lifted, augmented, eliminated or reduced every single day across the globe. But does that mean that cosmetic surgery is now a normal thing for people to do? If it is, then stupid me for thinking that people still cared about the important stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, I know cosmetic surgery changes the life of many people every day, such as burned, disabled or maimed people, but these people truly need it to be able to fully live their lives and regain their self-esteem. Elective cosmetic surgery, such as the model’s choice, is exactly that: elective. You can either choose to live with what you have and make the most of it, or live in misery because you don’t have a bigger backside, smaller breasts or that button nose you think you need to be complete.

So, basically, my thought for today is, forget what other people have to say or what they think. The only opinion that matters, is yours. The only person’s appreciation and approval you truly need to get you through each day is your own. And don’t let anyone try and convince you otherwise.

Before motherhood, going to the movies each week was a given. No matter what was playing, I was sure I’d see it.

Things have changed a lot since then.

The last time I saw all the movies in the run for the Oscars was 6 years ago, right before my daughter was born. That was the year “Crash” won for Best Movie.

Since then, I go to the movies once or twice a month (instead of four or five times) , usually with my daughter in tow, to see The Muppets or Puss in Boots, etc., you know what I mean. And even though I’m not complaining, because I’ve always like kids’ films and never missed a premiere even as a childless adult, I think I have now become an expert in recognizing every single actor’s voice used in animated movies.

Whenever my husband and I find a movie we want to see (The Dark Knight, Inception, Avatar) we set in motion our organization skills so we can have a night out and a few hours to ourselves. And it’s not that it’s difficult, it’s just that we believe that spending the weekend with our daughter is really important, since our time together on weekdays is more restricted.

The other thing is that since our outings are few and far between, we now choose what we’re going to see very carefully so we don’t end up ruining it and wasting those precious hours by not enjoying the movie. That’s why most dramas (the ones requiring tissue and entailing ongoing sobbing) or serious award-winning movies (specifically those awarded in Cannes, Berlin, etc.) are out.

For instance, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” will premiere this Friday (yes, very late compared to the rest of the world, I agree) and we are already setting up the whole thing so we can go. I read all three Stieg Larsson books in a few days and thought they were the best I’d read in a very long time. As if that weren’t enough, my husband and I are huge David Fincher fans, so I seriously doubt we’ll go wrong with this one. 

All this to say that just as these past five years, I haven’t seen any of the movies nominated to the Oscars this year, so I don’t have a clue as to who should win. (That is, other than in the animated Feature Film Category, which I believe should be awarded to Kung Fu Panda 2. If you haven’t seen it yet, do it now – it’s worth the while!).

I saw “Slumdog Millionaire” two weeks ago on TV and thought it was an excellent movie, well made, excellent soundtrack, despite the crude portrayal of what the children endured, which I’m sure is as real as it gets. I also saw True Grit and ended up exhausted with the long journey and the anguish, albeit quite impressed with the Hailee Steinfeld’s performance. I saw “The Hurt Locker” on TV as well but can’t say I particularly enjoyed it. We bought “Black Swan” on DVD, courtesy of my husband, who has a severe weakness when it comes to Natalie Portman AND Mila Kunis, so you can imagine what he thought of the movie…

As a huge “Harry Potter” fan I went to see all 8 movies as well, the last one last year, none of them with my husband because he can’t stand them. I also went to see “The King’s Speech” without my husband (ok, I understand why he wouldn’t want to go), and “Alice in Wonderland”, “How to Train your Dragon”, “Inception”, “Toy Story 3”, “Rio”, “Rango”, “Tangled”, “Kung Fu Panda 2” and I think that ends the list. Please note how many of them are G-rated movies.

So if anyone asks me who should win, I’d have to base my comment on my appreciation of prior roles and on what has happened before. Taking that into account, I would say that it would be nice if a movie that breaks with the tradition wins the Best Movie category, e.g. “The Artist”.

As for the Leading Actress, why is it that Meryl Streep and Glenn Close keep getting nominated each time they’re in a movie? Don’t get me wrong, I believe they are two of the greatest actresses of our time, but the Academy should open the view of their periscope because they are not the only ones out there.  Hopefully, any of the others will win for a change.

About the Leading Actor, I am completely biased, seeing that Gary Oldman is my favorite actor (and sexy as hell) and although he has played many outstanding parts he has never been nominated before, so he should take it home. He is, however, competing against George Clooney (again, he’s good but not thAt good and yet Hollywood seems to idolize him), Brad Pitt (why he hadn’t been nominated before is also a mystery to me), and Demian Bichir and Jean Dujardin, who appear to be just as worthy.

That’s another thing: the press always seems to favor Americans over anyone else, even though the others are just as good. I clearly remember the year fellow Colombian Catalina Sandino was nominated for her part in “Mary Full of Grace”. She was up against Hillary Swank, Annette Bening, Imelda Staunton and I think someone else. It was clear to the press that the only ones competing were Hillary Swank and Annette Bening. None of the others were ever mentioned. Of course, they were proven right in the end, but honestly, I assume the others were nominated for a reason, not just to fill out a minimum. And they are now doing the same thing with Clooney and Pitt. Shame.

So anyway, another year has passed and I am still out of the Oscar-loop. Sigh. Oh well, there are worse things.



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