Majda’s sewing kit

My bestest friend Katarina had a mom. Like we all have had moms – or are lucky enough to still have them. Katarina’s mom was called Majda and she sadly died of cancer in her early forties. She was a doctor and a warrior. She battled this fierce disease for a decade, just long enough to see her daughter become a woman. And I am absolutely positive that she would have admired her daughter … and would have been proud of her.

Over the few years I have known Katarina, I have learned a few things about her mom. She was exigent and determined. She was sweet and caring. Someone told me she was the nicest woman he had ever met … and for a long time, she was the love of someone’s life. But then life takes a different turn and great people don’t get to stay with their loved ones forever.

The idea of dying was something that I ran away from as fast as I could. It was – most fortunately – something that I didn’t need to confront in my young life. For a long time I even did not like discussing it, as if it was a disease that I was afraid to catch. One does not talk about death or one will provoke it. At least that is what I thought.

Then I became friends with this girl who had lived through losing her mom at a very delicate age. And she was left alone with a grieving father whose life had been shattered. Katarina talks about her mother with complete honesty. And I ask questions. I want to know how it felt, how it happened and what is to be done when it happens. I wanted the brutal honesty, the honesty that often made me cry and actively feel the loss. Because even if the years pass and the pain fades, the loss is still here.

Story after story,  I am starting to feel like I know Majda as well – or better said – I feel that I am getting to know her little by little. I have met her parents, Katarina’s grandma and grandpa, I have worn her cardigan and read her gardening books. And now that I am a mother, I decided that I want to sew. So, Katarina gave me her mom’s old sewing kit. And when I examine every little item in the box, I feel like a historian getting to know this woman who I will sadly never get to really meet. And I can’t help but wonder – who was Katarina’s mom?

Here is what I found out.

Majda liked sewing. She also liked to keep her clothes nice. If a button fell of of her shirt, she would sew it right back on. She had this little thing that protects your finger while using a needle. She had neat little scissors for cutting the thread – and a white pencil for drawing on fabric. She had tons of different colour threads and elastic bands of different widths. Basically, she had everything that you need to have. Majda was like that, a perfectionist.

original sewing kit

Majda loved her garden. She had all the utensils one might need. And she had books about gardening because she wanted to educate herself on what she was doing. Today she would have probably watched gardening shows or looked for meaningful clips on Youtube. Although I also flipped through these same books, a love for growing plants did not settle in my heart. I did love to harvest the vegetables though. On the other hand, I did not like all the work that this took. Majda loved the work too – because she knew that it takes hard work to achieve something. To achieve anything.

Majda wore about my size, but she was way shorter. She picked her clothes so that they were practical and good-looking at the same time. I have her woollen grey cardigan that I imagine her wearing at work. She put it on when it got cold in the office. I wear it for the same reason.

Majda had a daughter … just as I do. The love you feel for your child is out of this world and I can’t begin to imagine how it must have felt for her all those years when she knew that she will eventually not be strong enough to fight. To be there for the broken hearts, the moments of success … for the grandchildren.

Sometimes life just isn’t fair. But we are still here so let’s be grateful for it, m’kay? That is just the best way to honour it.

And I will get back to sewing. Because I like to sew too. Thank you Majda for your kit, it’s awesome.


My Father

How much do you love me, I asked.
More than anyone else, he answered.

I was satisfied with that answer. And even though you know that somebody loves you, it’s nice to hear it often. If I don’t hear it when I need to – I ask.

The game of ‘how much’ and ‘who do you love more’ is a thing that I learned from my father. Even though it was meant primarily as a joke, I often had to answer the question of who I love more. My answers were of course always diplomatic (I am obviously my father’s daughter), but I did adore my father. He was often away, paving his career that would lead him to his dream, and I was always left with a sense of adoration for a man who was handsome, smart, witty … And I was the one who got to have him as a dad!

My father is the kind of person who doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve and emits a sort of rigidity that has scared the hell out of many of my friends when I was growing up. Especially boys. Hm, perhaps that was the goal? But despite of all that, he is one of the gentlest people that I know. Someone really emotional – even though emotions can also turn real sour, real fast.

mala zala

My father is not the kind of person you talk to about your feelings, he is a man after all. But I always know that I can count on him. One of my favorite memories of us dates back 15 years. At that time I was a happy teenager living in a cozy protective bubble, but was often bothered by a sort of uneasiness that I couldn’t quite explain. A sort of longing that had no subject. I never talked to him about it, but whenever I wanted to I asked him to take me out for a drive. I sat in the right hand back seat and listened to music, sometimes for a few hours while he drove us around Copenhagen – through little cobble paved streets, by the sea, pass the lakes and so forth. Not a word was said, except for the ‘let’s go home’ at the end. Nothing actually needed to be said, it was enough to just be. When I moved to Ljubljana soon thereafter, those were perhaps the moments that I missed most. To this day, I love to think back on those hours and feel thankful for them.

Of course, as most fathers and daughters, we also have disagreements … Mostly because I grew up to be just as stubborn as he is. I am lucky enough to have formed my own opinions and ideas, to have grown up into a person that I am really beginning to admire and be proud of. I think I got that from him as well.

But of all things, I am most proud of his achievements and of his relentless courage to reach for his dream. He is the proof that dedication can get you what you really want. However, I also know that that takes a lot of sacrifice and even more sacrifice. He chose a path that I am probably not going to follow, but I respect it and try to encourage him to stay on track.

One of the best and worst parts of growing up is realising that your parents are just people too. They are not superheroes, they are real. Just like us. The most devastating thing here is that your illusions are broken – but the best reward is when you find out that you can be there for them too because you are strong and because you love them. For me knowing that I can help my parents when they are in need is perhaps one of the most encouraging and strengthening processes of my life. It is how I learn to be a good parent in return. Hopefully.



Our House


When they were roughly my age, my parents saved just about enough money to buy a new Lada Samara car. Then someone told them they were selling some land where they could build a house. So, they bought the land – having absolutely no clue about construction. It took them a long time. A really, really long time. And then, sometime in 1998, we moved in. It was summer and we had just returned home from living abroad for four years. The place was empty so we slept on some provisional beds placed in the soon-to-be kitchen. We washed dishes in the bathroom and lived so for a few months. It was awesome.

Today, our house is a place of memories. My old room is full of mementos that help me to cling on to moments whose proof of former life lives only there. Old clothes that still fit me, but my life from that time doesn’t. CD’s notes passed during class, journals, teddy bears, candid snapshots stuck to the walls… You name it.

However, most recently, it has become the home of our family’s precious memories. The place where we had our annual picnics, the place where we were last happy. And together. Things will never be the same again and I guess that is how life goes. No family is perfect and we can never expect it to be. And sometimes the people that hurt you the most are your brothers or sisters – the ones who should love you unconditionally.



We Are Parents

It was near the end of April of last year that he looked at me beneath the full moon, on our evening walk over the bridge, and said ‘this is perhaps the last April that we spend just the two of us.’ I told him that what he said was beautiful, unaware of the fact that there were already three of us on that bridge that night. I think about that walk often, think of where it brought us – I think of where we are going.

WeAreParentsBeing a parent is a love story. You begin to love your child in a way you thought impossible. It started slowly for me … and not at the very beginning. But I felt the love growing – just as I had felt her grow inside of me. Ironically, it started with worries – worries for her well-being. Emotions awakening – and then eventually, a mere touch of her cheek next to mine makes me truly happy.

Being a parent is a love story. Your partner then really becomes a partner. Someone you talk to when you are happy, someone you discuss with when you are worried. He is your accomplice, he is in all of this with you. He is a new man; he is a man in love. The warmth I feel when I see him holding her, playing with her and even just looking at her comes next to nothing. I see him as I never did before – and it is him and me that have created this lovely new creature. This little being who can become anything if we can be a good team. And I love that hope that lies in us.

Lastly, being a parent is a love story. You learn to love yourself – the new you. The person with responsibilities not only for taking care of your child, but also of being a good role model. I am not the same woman I was before, I am more than that. I am many women and together we stand strong. There is now little room for fear and weakness, I learn each day to overcome them and become someone my daughter will be proud of. There is now more than just me, more than just us.

There are days when I wake up or even if I just look at her that I still think with amazement:  yes – we are happy, we are proud, we are tired, we are petrified, we are in love, we are determined … We are parents.



Yes we can!

Yes we canToday at 6 AM, after a month of taking care of me, making sure I eat right and drink while I breastfeed … my mother flew back to her home over the Atlantic ocean. During this past month she had been away for a few days in a row, but I always knew she will be back soon – now, I will see her in July. Although sometimes annoying, I will miss having some grown up company at home – especially someone who can’t get offended if my hormones turn me into a demanding beast.

When she was at the door she hugged me and said ‘come here you mommy’ and that is when it hit me – I am a mom! My mom telling me that I am a mom obviously did the trick. The baby started crying so I had to go do my duty. As I heard the door shut, with the baby in my arms  I suddenly felt so alone – so out of this world. So I sat there looking at my little girl like I saw her for the first time. Feeling my angst she started crying her lungs out and I kept looking at her like someone needed to tell me what to do. Then I pulled myself together for her sake and for mine, we both fell asleep. When I woke up, I walked into our kitchen and wrote down a catchy phrase that has been resonating in my head for a few days now: Yes we can! Quite a few times my life had faced me with difficult situations that I thought I couldn’t get through. But I did and all these moments serve as a great reference when I am once again faced with the feeling that I won’t be able to handle things.

So, on my path to realising that I am now a grown up woman who has a family of her own, I will share with you some of the beautiful things that come with becoming a new parent. Well, a new mom.

1. If you are a mother you will know that once you bring a baby into this world, you enter the club of mothers. This group manifests itself as a special feeling of empathy that you feel for every other mother you know. You can now share advice, talk about things that you never thought about before and most importantly – if you are lucky – you get a group of wise women who you are free to call at any time of the day if you feel confused, happy or if you feel like giving it all up and joining the circus. Even more importantly, you feel like you can be one of those people too. You are ready to share all your newly acquired wisdom and you offer your help to others, you feel the need to let your MBFFS’s (mommy best friends forever) know that you are there for them as well. It is a beautiful feeling of symbiosis.

2. Your body makes you to incredible things. Sure, you have a floppy belly, stretch marks and a behind that would make J-Lo jealous (well, not really) but you have also gained some incredible strength. I remember being at the hospital for the third day and thinking that I couldn’t possibly get up once again to hold Eliza and soothe her the best way that I can. I was so tired that I couldn’t even talk or hum anymore – but I managed to get up at least half a dozen more times. And I thought…so this is motherhood. Even when you think you can’t possibly do any more – you do. And you keep on doing it. Every morning, no matter how rough the night was and how tired I am, I am there to greet my toothless little sucker with a smile and a happy voice. That is just what mothers do. No matter what life brings you, you are a mother for life. And even after 31 years I could still see the pride in my moms eyes because she felt that I needed her and that she was able to be there for me.
On top of it all, I am still amazed that I can feed my baby and feel an incredible sense of pride when I realise that I have the nutrition that my baby needs always on me.

3. Your partner also becomes the father of your child. At some point you realise that you and your man have managed to create a whole new person that connects you for life. Out of thin air (and out of a sperm cell and an egg) a new life was born. A little being that has your mouth and his eyes. Someone you can both poke fun at and not be offensive. Someone that shows you a different side of your loved one. A little person that has the best parents in the world.

4. You discover online shopping. Let’s face it, these things can happen. Because I am not really able to go out and spend time in a mall I spend hours (especially at night when I fail to fall back asleep) looking at waterproof parka’s that I will wear in April while strolling in the park with my baby. I now have two apps on my phone which allow me to order stuff with just one click. I must warn you that this is extremely dangerous behaviour that needs to be monitored by a rational adult.

5. You eventually overeat on doughnuts and now the mere thought of them makes you slightly nauseous. You do, however, discover some new craving. In my case it’s muffins from a bakery around the corner. The other day I gave them such praises for them that I got a free one. Yay for me! Yay for muffins!

I would like to dedicate this post to my mom who is the best mom I could ever hope for. She went through all of this with my brother and I. Also, she was the one who discovered the yummy muffins.

The Irony of Motherhood

motherhoodSo… It’s almost been a year since my last post. I remember having this full on drive that made me feel like I could do it all. Work, write, be in a committed relationship, lose weight and all in all have a ton of new hobbies. Well, that didn’t happen. I did – on the other hand – have the time to conceive, throw up for a few months, worry, be happy, be involved in two car accidents and finally become a mom. Yes people, I am a mother. After a whole month I still can’t believe it. Seriously – me? Someone trusted me enough to make me take care of a poor innocent beautiful little being? Ok, that means that I can do it.

I can’t say that a buzz of happiness and utter joy went through me when I first saw my daughter. Actually, I had a rush of adrenaline that left me shaking like a leaf on a windy day for over two hours. Then there were a few hard days, a few good days, a few meh days and now I can say that it is starting to sink in. Meaning, I am gradually starting to forget life before Eliza and hoping for my speedy recovery that will enable me to show her the world as soon as possible. Also, I would love to get rid of that extra fat that I managed to accumulate pre and post-partum. That’s the thing. I LOVE food now. Especially doughnuts. I dream of doughnuts. Mmmm…Doughnuts.

Anyhow, I realise that my writing about becoming a parent will be less interesting for you if you are not a parent, a soon to be parent or just a baby enthusiast. But, I like to write about my life and at the moment, Eliza is my life. I wake up when she does, I sleep when she sleeps, I eat healthy (uhm…forget that thing about the doughnuts…) and drink a lot so that I have enough milk and in general… I am a milk factory obsessed with keeping track of peeing, pooping and feeding. I inevitably put on pause my life as a friend, as a lover…and my life as a fearful little girl. See, that is the thing – I don’t get to be the little girl anymore. Something perhaps most difficult to accept.

But aaaanyway, I wanted to write about some of motherhood’s little ironies that I have discovered so far. I am sure they will just keep on coming.

  1. The babyy bump – albeit very small at the beginning – that I was so eager to show off before … well, that turned into a floppy fat belly that I am desperate to hide. My C section completely messed up with my abs (well, my abdominal muscles) leaving me to wonder how to pull in my stomach. I still wear my pregnancy pants, which I am sure I will need to wear for a little while. But before I wore them with pride, now I wear them with shame. I know, I know..these  things take time. Luckily I am very patient and dedicated. Not.
  2. Being pregnant was a blast. I will be honest, I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I should have. I worried quite a lot, I was my old pessimistic self…and I needed to be reminded to be happy. But on the plus side I was told to rest a lot, no one looked at me funny when I said I wanted to go to sleep at 8PM and in general people were kind, understanding and curious. That was easy, the baby was still inside of me and all I needed to take care of was myself. So why the fuss? Now, I don’t get to sleep, I need to start doing house work, I have to take care of a newborn practically 24/7 and rarely someone asks me how I am doing. Today I told my father that I was tired and he asked me why. Hm, jeeze… I wonder, dad. Also, I am now really bitchy. And that is not really in my nature. On the plus side, I still have all my hair. Yay!
  3. I had really wanted ‘us two’ to become ‘us three’, but then I suddenly found myself missing my boyfriend. In one single day, our relationship changed dramatically. I wasn’t able to be focused solely on him and although he was around, at the grocery store or just in the other room … I missed him tremendously. I missed him with my whole body, my whole mind. I missed us and seemed to forget that I wanted something more. Now, I am starting to realise that there is an ‘us two’ even though we are three and I am sure that soon I will also remember that there is a ‘just me’.
  4. Although I am completely clueless about being a mother, I really don’t want any unsolicited advice. Deep down, I feel what I need to do and how I need to handle my kid. And someone doubting that or telling me to do things differently – well, it really pissed me off. Pediatricians excluded, obviously. I do want my child to live and become a strong woman. Kind of like me.

Well, the baby started crying now. My alone time is done. For now. God bless, I say in all irony.

I was Here

i was herePeople took very few photos back in the day. If the were poor they probably couldn’t afford them at all. Maybe that is why looking at old photos is that much more special, especially if you are looking at photos of your own relatives.

My family really isn’t big on exploring the family tree or holding on to photos of long-lost ones. Sure, we do have the occasional great-grandfather memorabilia but it ends there. So, last week I visited my aunt Maja and my cousin Vesna (note to self: a blog of how I met them must be written in the near future) who are, on the other hand, very into knowing where they came from. I guess that is something I take after them – that unsettling feeling, that wanting to belong. Anyhow, they were showing me pictures of my grandfather’s brother and telling me the story of how  he died in battle during World War I. There is only one photo of him, he took it only a few months before dying. He went to town to get photographed by a professional (which was the only way, actually) while he was still serving, supposedly to send to his mother so that she will have something to remember him by. Listening to that I thought of only one thing, the thing that is inevitable : we are one day going to be merely faces on a photo. With a good story, hopefully. Life will go on for others, children will be born and one day there will perhaps be a (digital) photo of me hanging (or floating, I really don’t know where technology is going) somewhere. And someone will perhaps think of me and tell my story.

One of my favorite Kashmir songs tells of how a Polaroid photo is a ‘frozen glimpse’, a memory trapped on paper. A moment that has passed. Needless to say, my sometimes morbid mind often makes photo viewing kind of sad. I can’t stop thinking that immortalizing something only reminds me of my own mortality. But maybe, just maybe I should rather concentrate on the story that is going to be told of me. Who was I? What did I do? And most importantly, will I make a difference … that’s what makes it all worth while, no?

I always thought that having children is the way to go if you want to be remembered. Well, although very egoistic, this is partially true. But I have come to realise that they will have their own stories to create, their own path to find and their own fears to face.

This made me think of a great song. So, enjoy. It’s my gift to you.