Friday, September 19, 2008

Family First Days

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I left home when I was 15 to go to high school in San Diego... I am desperately attached to my parents. At the age of 34, the thought of spending a few hours with them makes my day, and yesterday, as I sat on the edge of the Bosphorus with my dad, eating grilled meatballs in my Beşiktaş uniform and then walked to the stadium to see the game (in which we kicked Ukrainian Metalist's orange clad butts 1-0) I definitely felt happy. Truly happy. Yelled and screamed and cursed and jumped and cheered the Beşiktaş style among the raunchiest fans ever. Had a great time. Wished we had more tickets so my sons and husband and mom and brother and his son and wife and my in laws came as well, but just being with my dad was also enough.
I will tie this to Rebecca's and Kristen's shower, I really will.
When I was pregnant with Arda, 3 weeks before he was due, I went to my routine check up where I was informed that I was 3cm dialated and the baby looked and sounded great and not to make another appointment, that Arda would probably show up that week.

So I called my parents, who were living in İstanbul, while Burak and I had been living in NYC for the past 6 years and at the time enjoying the wonderful 175,000 degree NYC weather. My mom came two days later. Arda had other thoughts in mind, though, so he decided to show up a whole month later, a week after he was due. That made everyone's plans a bit tighter than then had planned, my brother, sister in law and my dad got on a plane the day Arda was born and arrived the next day.

So for Arda's first days at home, I was surrounded by all my family. It was wonderful to see everyone precious to me there to witness the most meaningful creation I had brought to this world. In that tiny one bedroom apartment, 3AM nursing sessions (no matter now painful and frustrating) turned into family chat times when my mom told me of my first days in life. The sporadic "this child is hungry and your milk is not enough" comments faded the second I told them I was determined to give it a serious try - they trusted my instincts. Arda was fussy, sleepless and I was such a novice - but having my very supportive family around for the first few days made me a more patient, more sufficient mom. With Arda's every whim, with questions about his umbilical cord, circumcision, breastfeeding, everything, they saw me, day by day, learn to be a "mom." We went to Bryant Park together in the afternoons for lemonade and sandwiches, and Arda was luck enough to spend his first days of life with everyone that I love.

It was the same with Tunca - this time it was easier and much much more fun because we were living in İstanbul then, and everyone could hang out at our house for hours, playing with Arda, eating, watching soccer games, taking walks, yet everyone had the chance to go back to their homes at night to leave me with my beautiful sons. But when the morning came, someone always dropped by, sometimes with a juicy watermelon, sometimes with some DVDs but more often, chocolate and ice cream.

So, I don't know Kristen's family relationships, but as far as I can tell, Rebecca has a wonderful time with her parents, and I do wish for both of their babies (and other children) to be surrounded by loving, supportive extended families as they grow up.

On another note, the seeds of the virtual community of "mom bloggers" probably soared from the pregnancy and playgroup forums back in the late 90s. I still keep in touch with some wonderful women from my June 2000 pregnancy (and then playgroup) IVillage board, and I am profoundly proud and lucky to have such a support group, no matter the thousands of miles and the millions of opinions that separate us.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"What Happened to Me on My Holiday"

This is a short story by Martin Amis. I read a Turkish translation of it in a literary magazine back in 2004 and actually have been looking for the story for the past few weeks.

Tunca and I found a dead fish in the water back in Bodrum. Actually Arda saw it first, swam by it, then went surfing with friends while Tunca begged me to go and get the dead fish. So I did. I assumed he just wanted to see what it looked like. He examined it. It was missing an eye, but other than that, there were no apparent injuries (I did watch enough CSI and Bones to determine "no apparent cause of death") so I told him that the fish probably got sick and died and another fish ate his eye. Tunca thought another way - the fish had an eye injury and because he couldn't see, he couldn't eat, so that's why he died. From hunger.

We ended up taking the fish back home, so he could show it to his dad.

At home, he said, "I will keep this as a pet" just like Pablo said in Amis' story. I told him the fish stank, that he was dead, and that he could show it to his dad and then we could "free" him back to the seas where he would be happy. "Other fish will eat him," said Tunca. "They will eat his other eye as well. He'll be more hurt than he is now."
He is dead, Tunca. He is not hurt anymore.

Tunca cried. Cried and cried and cried some more. Then we made a deal. He could keep the fish until after his nap. Then he could either toss it back to the sea, bury it, or feed it to the stray kittens in the yard. So he cried some more. Like Pablo, he said he could stop the fish from smelling. He would clean it every day and put perfume on it and stop it from smelling.

I did not understand. Similar to Pablo's cries of "I'm a lion costume" Tunca has a different sense of reality from me most of the times. Probably all children do at some age. It is when I realize that I have lost that special sense of reality that I feel old.

The kittens loved the fish by the way.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Chair Issue

I have this chair. A simple, burgundy office chair that Başak, my sister in law gave me as a birthday gift back in 1995 when I was a Senior in college. I spent thousands of hours writing on this chair. Probably more playing solitaire. A few hundred just spinning it with my sons. It has an suspension system with a lever that allows you to adjust its height with adjustable lumbar support- but that broke back in 2001 when we were moving from NYC to İstanbul so its just a wiggly back now. Still, it is the most comfortable chair I have. My beloved chair. Looks like this:

Tunca was watching a movie on my computer yesterday while Arda and I watched a basketball game on TV and he somehow broke the suspension system while trying to make the chair higher. So everytime I sit on the chair, I have to adjust it and the moment I get up, the chair moves, by itself, to the top position. Then I sit on the darn thing and it slowly lowers itself down to the bottom. It is just annoying. And weird.

Somewhere and sometime along the hazy days and nights when I was devouring baby and toddler books, I read that as a parent, you have to pick your fights. One of those fights, for me, is the "breaking stuff" issue. Kids break things, by accident, it's a given. That's why I don't have expensive furniture or vases or mirrors or plates or glasses and such at home and never make it an issue when they do accidentally break things. So Tunca thought it was very strange that I was upset because neither him nor his brother have seen me upset over something that was broken. I explained to him that I really liked the chair, that the suspension could be fixed quite easily, but that he was not a baby anymore and should stop messing with the furniture (he has a thing for jimmying locks and clocks and washers and vacuums and writing on tables and what have you).

It really was not a fight worth picking. It just made him sad and he really did not do it intentionally. So even though I knew deep inside that I should not have made a big deal out of it, I couldn't stop yapping about it.

When I realize that I have done something wrong with my children, I feel totally helpless. I know I can't be a perfect mom, there is no such thing and my children will always have a memory of me doing something wrong, no matter how hard I try. The point is, I try my best. But I do fail at times.

But come on, my beloved office chair?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hamam Stuff

Our sweet friend Müge gave Burak & I the coolest (and only!) anniversary gifts ever from Bodrum Havlu - robes and peştemals (loincloths used in Turkish baths) that are so soft, so quick drying, so absorbent and oh so sooo wonderfully luxurious:

These got me thinking that I could get similar things for Alexis' wedding gifts when I go and visit them in October. I am looking online, but have already found a couple of stores in İstanbul that sell similar products. Let me know if you have any suggestions as to what to get for baby Hannah (almost 1.5) and İlayda (will be 3) as gifts as well.


Here's what I could do with one of the videos:

Reality check.

Well, we are back. The grueling two hour drive from a friends house that's about 20 miles away proved that. İstanbul is back to its chaotic days, with the wonderful addition of school buses to traffic and Ramadan rush hours. Upon my return t my beloved blogmarks, I learned that my friend Ahu started to teach nursery school, though her plans were something, well not that, so I need to catch up and be a better friend. And Susan seems to be having problems with her theme and photo quota stuff, so stop by and let her know if you know a cool theme with a gigangic photobucket quota. (I don't even know if that's possible but hey :)

Arda is trying to finish his never ending summer homework. I was actually thinking that it is not fair to expect him to finish all the stuff they gave - I was not about to ask him to give up on swimming and playing in the sand and hide and seek at night to go home and do homework. Today, the PTA meeting I was put at my right place - "that homework needs to done, by Monday" said his teacher. Ugh. So we are back to doing homework again. what happened to just reading books for the summer? Anyways, she has a point. But so do I.

Tunca started school today, after spending the past two days whining about not wanting to go to school. I was sad that I couldn't be there for his first day in his "big" class because I had to go to Arda's school, but Burak says that he seemed happy to go back. He is in a different building, but with the same teacher so that should work out fine, I guess.

Our month in Bodrum was great - once again, I was able to see how the boys grew so much and were so happy with all the swimming and the clean air and the playing and being with family and friends.. My uncle was there as well for about 10 days and they really loved hanging out with him. My dad played with them in the water, my mom told them stories, my brother advised them on how comfortable it is to hang out without underwear, and lots and lots of friends showed up for great lunches, dinners, and just hanging out. Here are some pictures:
On the boat..

Surfing with Emre, Tunca's friend.
View from our rental.
Learning the multiplication table with grandpa.
Water sports with friends. Scary.
Snorkeling gear ready. That's the little boat Burak's sister lent us - we ended up having a great time with it actually.
Arda on the boat.
Waves... Very rare at the beach where we are. There's a video of this as well - if I can figure out how to make it smaller, I'll upload that as well.
Yes, that is a finger. And its not for me, it's for grandma.
Tunca snorkeling. There's a video of that one as well.