At times there is so much love in my heart I don't know how to contain it. I don't want to contain it. I want to sprinkle it all over the world. I want to wrap my children in it (forever) and pile it up around my family and friends until it builds a house that can withstand an earthquake (easily). I hope that after I die, all this love won't be wasted but instead will float up in the air and turn the sunset in those ridiculously breathtaking colors that will make people pause and take a photo and feel grateful for being alive. There are many things I haven't quite yet figured out that I want (to become) but what is becoming clearer every day is that I just want people to know the love. If I could I would tap the source, like a maple tree, and built the network to distribute it everywhere, because I swear on a night like this the supply is bottomless. Drink it up, drizzle it over pancakes, add a pinch to your soup, powder your face with it, spritz it like a perfume. Anything goes. (Put it in a jar and store it for later. Expiration date – never.)
Here I am, a stay at home mom for more than five years now.
What was the plan before the kids came? I'm not sure, honestly. I don't think there ever was one. We moved to a different state right after the first one was born, so there was no return-to-work-date hanging over my head. I could certainly find a new job now, but the current set up is working out well for our family.
Other than the wear and tear of a stay at home mom. Other than the occasional yearning of having to worry about something more critical than dinner that someone is going to refuse to eat anyways. Other than the sting of "I go to school, Daddy goes to work to help people, and Mommy hangs out at home."
And when you're about to lose your marbles over the tiresome monotony of it all, people tell you that you should treasure the time. That you will miss these days. That the life will move way faster than you can, trying to catch that coffee mug flying off the table.
But we are speaking about different things.
I will miss their gentle faces when they snore peacefully next to me. I won't miss being woken up several times a night every single night for years. I will miss the laughter. I won't miss the constant noise that never lets up. I will miss their trust with which they want me to witness every dangerous idea that crosses their minds. I won't miss having to watch them fall off the monkey bars and break their bones.
I will miss their witty comebacks, but I won't miss the never ending arguments. I will miss their absolute love and its physical expression (oh how much will I miss that!) but I won't miss being trampled by them to the point when I want to sleep alone in the guest room just to get some space. I will miss the constant attention they are giving me but I won't miss finally going to the bathroom alone (and without them banging on the door).
I will miss our dinner conversations, but I won't miss the constant dilemma of what to serve them that is healthy enough by my standards but acceptable enough by theirs. I will miss teaching them new things, but I won't miss the tantrums they throw when they don't want to hear it.
And then people say: "No, you will miss even those things." Will I? I guess I can't tell for sure, because I am only here, and they are already over there.
But I think for them the experiences blended into the years of living with little children, when one instance can't be separated from another. Where it all blends together, because - and that is true - you can't have one without the other. You can't have the laughter without the tears, you can't have the playfulness without the mess. (Oh my God, the mess! The mess!)
Right now though, I live every single minute of it on its own. They are delightful little angels and I love that. They are miserable mean devils and I hate that. I'm a kind forgiving master and I love it. I'm impatient screaming failure and I hate it.
Some days are full of laughter.
Some days are full of screams.
In the end, they balance out. That's why I'm still doing what I'm doing.
But no - I won't miss all of it. I already know that, because my younger one is starting to do the things my older one used to, and I don't feel blessed that I get to experience them again. No, I go - shit, not again! and then I ask my husband: "How do people survive more than two kids? Why?"
Yes - I will miss the puzzle. But some pieces are just bitches that won't fit in no matter how hard you try.
But he didn't die. He will be turning 16 soon, the same age that my sister was when she met her husband. He is smart and caring and accomplished and funny and handsome. He has two younger brothers and a sister that will turn four next year. I love them all to bits. And I've completely missed out on their lives.
To keep my relationship with my sister is easy. It still hurts to be so far away. It always will. But we have an established relationship that can withstand that. My nephews and my niece - they are the ones I missed out on. They are the ones I was supposed to babysit, feed them ice cream and watch scary movies with. And I never did. And I never will.
To leave one's country is living a little death. Yes - everything still stays there. Yes - people still talk to you. Yes - we live in times of emails, Skype, FaceTime and social media. But it doesn't get you there.
All the things you left behind.
Not the things. The things don't matter.
All the memories and laughs and tears and hugs and fights and relationships and jokes and references and wisdom and words and language and scents and scenery and accomplishments and failures and needs and warmth and frustrations and dreams and DNA that will never let you forget. That will never let you stop regretting.
The very guilt of not being there.
The guilt of not being there in need.
The guilt of not being there in joy.
Maybe not every single day. Because there are days when you are just too grateful and too amazed and too thankful and too excited and too happy. Some days you are just too happy. Until it catches up with you.
Until your parent gets sick or your sister struggles or your friend has a baby. Until the one you love dies. And you are thousands of miles away, saying "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry but I am over here."
All the things you have to relearn. All the things you have to accept. All the things you have to embrace. All the changes. All the time.
And all the while, listening to "you are so lucky to be here" and "if you don't like it, just leave. Go home."
But I am home.
It just doesn't always feel the same.
It never will.
It will always be the music to an immigrant song.
I was born in 1979 in communistic Czechoslovakia. We were a family of four living in a crammed, two bedroom, one bath apartment. It was one of those typical square communistic apartment buildings where you could hear different neighbors argue every night.
We called our teachers comrades. On state holidays, we wore blue uniforms with red scarves and pioneer pins.
We didn't have brands or supermarkets - grocery stores had milk, bread and butter. One choice. We could only buy jeans in special stores with special currency that my parents never had. I didn't know much about the Western world. My only trip abroad - before the Velvet Revolution - was to Ukraine.
We were most definitely brainwashed growing up. Why did people not stand up to the regime? Because there was too much in stake. They were afraid for their lives and the lives of their dear ones. Eventually, the iron curtain did come down anyways.
Unfortunately, things went down the hill from there. Corruption soared. Economy plummeted. People were disenchanted.
After finishing college, I left to the United States as an au-pair. The Long Island family I worked for didn't really care about me. Their kids were spoiled. New York City was filthy and alien to me. It never felt like home.
I fell in love, got married and moved to Colorado. My marriage didn't last. Going through a divorce in a foreign country, without family and close friends to help, was one of the hardest things I've been through.
I live in California now, married again and with two children. My husband works a lot and even though we are taken care of, I often feel like I've wasted my potential and became just a housewife.
I am too far away from my family. I miss the Slovak culture - the sense of humor, the references to movies and books nobody here has even heard about, the cuisine, the customs. I still feel like an outsider here. I'm not sure it'll ever change.
I was born in 1979 in communistic Czechoslovakia. The apartment where I was brought up is still my parents' residence. Every time I visit I'm flooded with memories. Apartment living has some great advantages - even today, scheduling play dates is not necessary. You just walk across the hall and ring the doorbell.
When I went to school, everyone had more or less the same amount of the same things. Nobody was really poor and nobody was really rich. In that regard, we grew up as equals.
I still miss the fresh baked bread. A slice with butter was my favorite meal (and still is).
Despite the regime that punished those who criticized it, people never gave up. Putting their lives - and the lives of their families - on the line, they were never completely silenced. Thousands of people - young and old - marched in the streets in Velvet Revolution. The iron curtain came down at last.
People started fulfilling their potential and following their dreams. I decided to set out on my own adventure and left to New York as an au-pair. The two girls I took care of were old enough and didn't require much work. I had a car for my own use and plenty of free time to get out and explore. New York City was exactly like in the movies and I never stopped being in awe when I walked down the streets with a cup of Starbucks coffee in my hand.
I fell in love and got married. We moved to Colorado. I've always loved mountains and Colorado didn't disappoint. Unfortunately the marriage didn't last. It was one of the hardest times in my life, but so many people stepped forward to help - they offered me their support, their homes and their shoulders to cry on.
I live in California now. I am married to an amazing man and we have two beautiful children together. I couldn't ask for more.
Living in a different country allowed me to see the world from a different point of view. It's probably the single biggest non-material gift I was ever given. I'm forever grateful for that.
The stories above are not an example of a pessimist versus an optimist. The stories above present an infinite number of combinations that my life has been.
Every sentence in each version is completely true. Every feeling depicted was lived.
You could mix and match any sentence from each version and the story you'd come out with would still be completely true. Yet each such story would give you a different impression about my life. And even that impression would be influenced by the infinite combinations taking place in your own life.
Because that's what life is - anything but a single story.
A lot of heated discussion is taking place at the moment. With Europe facing the worst refugee crises since the World War II, emotions are flying high. Fear, anger, sympathy, anguish, distress, heartbreak, uncertainty, helplessness and so much more.
The point of this fundraiser is not to answer questions, nor is it to take any kind of stand.
The point of this fundraiser is very simple - to help people in need.
UNHCR recognizes the difference between refugees and migrants. "Global migration patterns have become increasingly complex in modern times, involving not just refugees, but also millions of economic migrants. But refugees and migrants, even if they often travel in the same way, are fundamentally different, and for that reason are treated very differently under modern international law. Migrants, especially economic migrants, choose to move in order to improve the future prospects of themselves and their families. Refugees have to move if they are to save their lives or preserve their freedom. They have no protection from their own state - indeed it is often their own government that is threatening to persecute them. If other countries do not let them in, and do not help them once they are in, then they may be condemning them to death - or to an intolerable life in the shadows, without sustenance and without rights."
Please, help me reach the goal of $3,000 raised for the UN Refugee Agency. Give $10. Click on the picture above, or the widget on the right, or this sentence. Help me spread the word. Share this with your friends and family. You will make a difference in this world. Your willingness to help is what makes this world a better place.
Even though the fundraiser is in my name, the money you donate go directly to USA for UNHCR. Your donations are tax deductible. 3% of the money raised will go to Crowdrise.
Soon, I will be throwing in some rewards for donors. A bottle of wine and a box of chocolate is definitely in the mix and you can win it - while helping those in need.
Thank you for reading this far.
Lots of love and all the best.
"The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was established on December 14, 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide.
Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country. It also has a mandate to help stateless people.
Since 1950, the agency has helped tens of millions of people restart their lives. Today, a staff of more than 9,300 people in 123 countries continues to help and protect millions of refugees, returnees, internally displaced and stateless people."