Hey Beautiful Humans! Today I’m excited to share another fabulous mother as part of our Everyday Wisdom from Everyday Super moms series. Bethany from Biracial Bookworms is an international educator and mother who has raised a little one all over the world. Check out her amazing story!
My name is Bethany. I am married to the most amazing man, Tony, who I met overseas while teaching in Turkmenistan (Central Asia). My husband works for the US Embassy, so for the last 8 years, we have been traveling around the world together doing what we love most professionally. (We have lived in Turkmenistan, Egypt, Ukraine, Latvia, and most recently in Mauritania (West Africa).
My daughter was born in Cairo, Egypt in 2011; she is currently in Kindergarten. She has attended the International Schools I have taught at overseas, so moving to DC area with the vast diversity makes her feel right at home. We just moved back to the U.S. in June 2016, and currently live in the DC area (a 3-year assignment) and our second baby girl is due to arrive in just a few weeks.
With my oldest daughter, I loved everything pumpkin. I could not get enough! If anyone brought me pumpkin bread at school, I would cry and hug them, which thankfully in Egyptian culture, was acceptable!
With my current pregnancy, I love anything lemon. I had Lemon Ricotta pancakes at The Cheesecake Factory recently and was literally in HEAVEN. I have gone over 8 months without any aversions at all, until just this week when my husband was marinating steak recently and used apple cider vinegar. The smell took over the house and I went outside on the balcony in the freezing cold and snow just to run from the smell.
I was named after a city (Bethany, Israel) so I wanted to continue the tradition with my children. My first daughter, (Havana Jordan) was named after Havana, Cuba and the middle eastern country of Jordan. I will be giving birth to my 2nd daughter in about 3 weeks and we are still deciding between Laurel (California), Serena (Chile), or Victoria (Victoria Falls, Zambia).
We moved to Mauritania (West Africa) in 2014 and most of the streets are lined with garbage. People in the city are consistently throwing trash out their windows or down on the ground as they walk and it is culturally normal. I myself was shocked by this, but I did not realize my 3 ½ year old was soaking it in as well. After only a few weeks of living there, on a walk with neighbors, she threw down the juice carton she had finished on the ground. I immediately reacted and asked her to pick it up saying “we throw our garbage away in the trash can; it is not polite to throw garbage on the ground.” She responds with “but that is where Africans throw their trash.”
In Ukraine, all of the jarred baby food had a ton of sugar included. So, I bought baby cookbooks and a quality blender and taught myself how to make my own baby food. It was out of necessity, but because I started early with introducing my daughter to spices and flavors in her food. This translated into her being a fantastic eater to this day. In my classroom, I have a LOT of picky eaters. I thank God daily for my daughter eating whatever I make for her with no problem.
Recommended books for baby food:
Recommended baby food websites:
Do not buy into the guilt. There are so many who will judge you for being a working mother; this is not going to change. You know what your family needs and how to best meet those needs. You know if you are connecting with your children even when you work outside the home. Take time to reflect on the balancing act, but do not apologize to those who have chosen to stay at home. Both stay at home mothers as well as working mothers are rock stars and champions. We mothers need all the encouragement we can get; let’s all remember we are on the same team of raising amazing kids.
In March, 2015 (my daughter had just turned 5) we were on holiday in Sydney, Australia. We get in the elevator in our hotel where a man in a hat and his wife are inside.
My daughter Havana: (skipped inside) Hello!!
(The man turns around and my husband and I try not to geek out when we recognize it is Rod Stewart)
H: Watch, I can snap!
Rod Stewart: Wow, amazing! Can you whistle like this? (Demonstrates)
H: No I can’t whistle, but I can sing! (Starts freestyling a song she knows and then with her hip jutted out and all sassy then says); Can you sing???
Rod Stewart: Not like you, that was fantastic!
Havana: I know right!
My husband and I immediately dropped our jaws that our little one had just asked an internationally famous singer if he could sing as well as she could.
I didn’t start learning a second language until I was in middle school. Even then, it was a class you took for 45 minutes a day at school. I traveled to Mexico frequently (I grew up in San Diego), as well as had many Hispanic co-workers, friends at school. I wished I was more fluent then and now. I’ve taken language lessons overseas in every country we moved to, but learning languages as an adult is so much more difficult. For this reason, we started teaching our daughter multiple languages from the day we brought her home from the hospital. We hired a nanny that would only speak the local dialect to our daughter while my husband and I were working. My daughter speaks 3 languages and working on her 4th as a Kindergartener and I could not be more proud (or more jealous).
I could write a book about the things my daughter has taught me, but the biggest thing I think I have learned the past 6 years is watching her compassion for others and animals. She delights in helping, whereas I would either not notice or not care. She has taught me so much about slowing down to enjoy the smaller moments when I tend to be running a race all the time.
I feel humbled all the time at the mistakes I continually make with parenting. I have to remember that I will never get it exactly right and I have to apologize and move on in parenting just as I do in my marriage, my career, etc. Having your child repeat your behaviors and mistakes you are not proud of is very humbling, and a great reminder that I am only human. It makes me a lot less judgmental of a person when I see my weaknesses reflected in my daughter.
You know your child the best. Everyone you meet will have advice and you cannot possibly follow all of it or please everyone. There will always be a critic no matter what you do, and in this day and age where we google everything and the opinions make us think that we are failing at the parenting thing… do not be discouraged. You are your child’s best advocate and trust your instincts. Never back down from fighting for what you feel is right for your child.
Bethany Edwards has been a professional educator for 10 years with solid background in design and development of educational programs in literacy and curriculum development. Currently Bethany is taking a reprieve from classroom teaching to have another baby after returning recently to the United States. Her background includes teaching in grades K-8th, Curriculum Coordinator, Literacy Coach, Mentor Teacher, and Reading Specialist. She has taught in California, Turkmenistan, Egypt, Ukraine, Latvia, and Mauritania. She and her husband, Anthony, and their daughter live in Alexandria, VA and are enjoying spending quality time with their family traveling, playing sports, and cultural events.