Thursday, June 11, 2015

Seeing the world through eyes of colour

I am being racialised..
im not sure if that is a legit word but it works for what i'm feeling..
for the first time i'm living in a city thats not big and international,
one where multicultural doesn't mean the same thing as it would, say, in my last home;London

i have to say this isn't an anti sweden rant..
in fact unlike most people that moved here,
i chose to be here because i loved Sweden
i love the seasons, including the winter
i love the green parks everywhere
i love the pastry
i loved the islands
i love the feminism that exists here in a real way
i love that sports newscasters can all be women and thats normal
i love that pregnant women can still be tv presenters with their tummys so big theyre ready to pop
i love the constant hot water pressure and functioning indoor heating
i love that my husband is equal to me as a parent in the eyes of the law and society
i love that i got one year parental leave as a mum
i love that my husband gets one year parental leave as a dad
i love the working healthcare and public transport
gosh i love it here

now after 4 years , im finally seeing myself in sweden
and i dont like what i see
I may not look like a minority but i feel like one here
Because really i meet swedes everyday who look like me. .
Still,
i  looked for work for 4 years in my field and didnt manage a single interview
i see colour within a stratosphere of power plays that i do not appreciate
the questions and looks make me feel different in a way that is unappreciated.
in london being different is the norm, in sweden being different is not
Instead, to get ahead one must
Confrom ,conform,conform

I worry not at being a curiosity, but that my daughter will be one,
that her skin will be questioned
that her hair will be touched
that she will one day say 'I am swedish' and society will give her a questioning look

That she would then turn to her parents  roots for acceptance  and find she doesnt quite fit there either..

when i gave her daycare teacher a pot of sheabutter for her on the first day,
i was ready for the explanations necessary, i know they think it odd,
but there you go ,thier education begins just like hers
but you have to wonder how long we are willing and ready to ' educate ' those around us
because if we're being honest there are other places in the world albeit filled with problems of thier owns but at least i can get my hair conditioner from the regular local store like a normal person.
And i guess that  is what it boils down to..
I want to be in a place where it is normal  to look brown,speak italian and be Indonesian. .
I dont want people to see me or my family and be surprised that we speak three languages
That we have  an education
That we are kind..
Or simply  that we now speak swedish

In  a place which  seems so inclusive from the exterior  there seems to be intrinsic discrimination once a layer is peeled  back..

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Babyfro Routine!

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while..
I wanted to share our step by step routine for sorting out little Ella’s hair..
I feel like I need a disclaimer though..
Hair of African Origin is diverse.
Basically think rainforest..
think leaves..
see how many different ones exist..
that’s about as much different textures of hair we have..

therefore..what works for us in terms of steps can only be guidelines for you to then leap on this baby-fro-learning curve..

first the tools:

you need a wide tooth comb,
you also need a shampoo and conditioner
and we use loom bands to keep our braids and styles in place
and patience..lots and lots of it

These are the combs i use


and these are our products

I've tried alot of brands and to be honest the tresemme from ICA works brilliantly on mine and her hair!

you also need a plan.. my lil one is not patient so shampoo day is bath day..she gets all her toys in the bath with her, at times the laptop is on site to play a lil movie to distract her or even grandma on Skype to chat with her so I can get the hair clean.
be flexible!
we live in Sweden so its not really dusty ,so we wash once a week unless she’s had an very artistic day at school where there is glitter/glue/feathers or other assortments to be found in her curls

depending on the type of week she has had, I generally wash with conditioner ..lather and rinse
then put conditioner in the hair, lather and then give her ,her sponge bath to allow the conditioner to seep into her curls and all the way down to the scalp.

I then use the wide tooth comb to slowly detangle section by section. once that is done I take a normal come and run it through just to see if there are any knots hidden in there..

then we rinse..(not her favorite moment)

if she’s having lots of fun in the bath I towel dry her hair , whilst she’s still in the tub and begin styling.
I feel that with the lack of moisture and daycare combo, leaving her curls out leads to lice, breakage or worse..play-doh-accesories so we try and put it in a little style for the week.

I begin by oiling it with some coconut oil and add a little curling crème
the oil is from the health store and the creme from my local 'african shop'
then I part the hair and braid..
sometimes I start a braid in the tub and finish in the living room..
sometimes I have to wait until she is in her baby chair having dinner to braid
sometimes she braids on my lap
sometimes I braid running around behind her as she dances..
we are flexible..
but we are consistent so she knows the routine..

I make sure that she gets to touch my hair and comb it too in the weekends..
I blow out my curls and let her love it.
we try not to spend a fortune or let it feel like a chore which is why they is often music on and dancing during hair moments..

that’s our routine for learning to love and care for our curls
feel free to get in touch if you have questions!!

Healthcare

Many..Many..many people have asked me with bewilderment
" why did you ever leave London..for Stockholm!!"

I know it sounds a little crazy...unlike most of the migrants/expats/foreigners I meet, there wasn’t
anything really pushing us away...or a job offer.... we simply liked Sweden and what it had to offer for family life.
That’s not to say life is perfect in Sweden, in fact I have a draft blog post where I’m ranting about how I’m exasperated and ready to leave because of the job situation but in typical Emily - fashion..I wrote it and decided to pause and think on it..

this weekend I was reminded of one of the main reasons why I moved to Sweden.
Healthcare.. I know its lame but its everything..
on Friday my daughter was sent home from daycare with a fever..by Saturday she had awful rashes and a fever..
by Saturday night she was screaming and barely recognized us..
I called the online medical service and was told to see a dr. asap... so I called the emergency services
and they came right over , reassured us and spoke to a Dr directly who told us to let her sleep that night because she’s most likely too contagious for the ER.

Today its Tuesday, she’s seen a dr..she had Impetigo and chicken pox..she will be fine.
Shes home for the week.
Im home for the week because I could contaminate the kids are school tool.
This time I spend at home will be paid as ‘sick leave’ at 80 percent of my normal salary.

Everyone we dealt with was professional and calm . The system worked impeccably and all of it was free.
Even with my loss of income , I still get a really good deal..

As a parent when your child is sick you need a system that works and one that’s affordable..
the fact that these services around my child are free are worth every blistering winter we face.

I remember feeling the same way when I came home with my baby after my C-section.
how could it be that I had impeccable service, 6 medical professionals with me , major surgery, stayed in hospital for 5 days and paid absolutely nothing.

Natural we pay higher taxes, but we also get higher wages
and yes there’s discrimination and racism and all sorts
but when you're a mom something’s are simply worth much more.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The 'Tummy Bug'

yup..the Tummy Bug is capitalised because it is that major,,
since we moved to sweden ive been around parents and kids and have heard of this 'Tummy Bug',
kids apparently are super contagious, they have runny poo and throw up everything they eat..add a fever to the mix and you have our current situation..,
to make things even more spectacular there is literally no medication to give,,
you just have to ride it out..swedish style ,
,
my little girl was sent home on friday from daycare because she had a fever on friday... ,
from friday to today monday evening we have: ,
- changed the sheets on my bed 7 times,
- she has thrown up every single bit of food that has touched her lips,
- she has done so many number twos that i lost count..,
- i dont know if its the african in me, but when all this eewyness happens i am literally stuck to her so her and I got to shower together quite a few times,
- i slept 10 hours this weekend and showed up for work like a totally functioning zombie,


Im hoping things begin to cool off and stop before i loose my mind, but ive been thinking of all the love involved in this weekend.,
because i tell you, nothing else will propel you towards projectile vomit quite like love. all this time stuck to me, including out baths together has given us skin to skin contact that we havent had since her first weeks.,
it is beautiful ,
Feels wierd that seeing her so ill and tired and honestly eewy has brought my love to the fore even more. ,
before she fell asleep tonight she but her little arms around my kneck and with a tight embrace she gave me a kiss right on the lips.. shes only done that once before,( the first and last time i spent a whole day and night away from her)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

First Day at School

So its actually day two
Ella Marie is one and a half and on Monday she started her education journey.
Unlike other countries, Sweden once again is incredibly pedagogic when it comes to starting day care.
We the parents have to be at the school with our little ones for at least three days.. we shadow them and make sure that the transition isnt abrupt.

I have worked in preschools so i've been on the other side of the fence,
I know that the best thing a parent can do really is just be there and be boring,
let the teachers find a connection with our babies, let them play with you little one, help feed them, rock them to sleep..
let them find each other in the safety and assurance that mummy or daddy or both are right there in the background.
Many have been asking me how ellas first day went,
I find it hard to five a straight answer,
the truth is it went super well,
and thats what makes it super hard

I prayed that she would feel at home and build that connection with her teachers
that she would feel comfortable enough to nap there from the first day,
my little one can be a major introvert, she can be shy and not say a word for hours if she feels uncomfortable,
i was worried, so worried

well it went great, she played all day
she interacted with the other kids
she cuddled her teachers,
she ate by herself
she feel asleep in teachers arms, woke up and wouldn't even let daddy hold her
she basically had the best time and didnt cry once

When they cut her umbilical cord an invisible cord remained
that cord was stretched even further this week,
she waved goodbye at me without a hint of sadness
she didn't need mummy or daddys cuddles to find solace
she was confident and not my little baby anymore..
sigh
talk about bitter sweet

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me

Thank you for the birthday wishes..
I love birthdays,
the older i get the harder it gets to celebrate,
on my birthday i worked from 9.30 to 1800 and then went to a meeting immediately till 2000ish..got home at 2130 totally deadbeat,
I am however not complaining,
apart from missing my daughter beyond belief i am totally fine.
i still have so much to be grateful for.
its all perspective, just the day before my birthday a young friend, a kind heart passed away in his sleep..
he wasnt even 35.

we are alive
we are healthy
we are in love
we are kind
we are free
and we together
we can dance in our pyjamas
we can laugh through our phones
we can reach for our dreams

so happy birthday to me,
cheers with a glass of water
im so blessed and happy to be right here.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

In two weeks

I looked at the calender this morning and my heart skipped a beat.
It wasnt the usual birthday excitement.
I realised we had two more weeks and thats it.
In two weeks someone new would wipe her tears
In two weeks she would play hide and i wouldn't seek
In two weeks she'll fight her first battles
In two weeks she'll grow a little more confidence
In two weeks her hair will be pulled,
She'll throw her food everywhere
She'll laugh in someones arms
She'll discover new adventures
She'll find a new besty
In two weeks neither mum or dad will always be there..
In two weeks her world will get a little wider
In two weeks our cocoon of safety will be cracked
Im two weeks the reality of the world slithers in
In two weeks my baby starts preschool.

As if she knew what mama knows.she looked at us today. Bundled her confidence ..and started walking. 

All by herself