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What’s up with Caterpillar Cafe?

red and black caterpillar

For this blog I thought about telling you more about me, my education, my experiences and what motivated me to start this Café, but once I finished writing it dawned on me that this isn’t just about me and my kids, it’s also about you and your kids and I don’t expect you to hand in your resume as you walk in the door! It’s about what we as women and mothers value in life. I spent all my life trying to push myself beyond boundaries, to learn more about anything that interested me, and this is no different. I am pushing myself to do something I feel is important, vital in fact, because I believe in the power of play, I am convinced that it is absolutely crucial to allow for kids to meet, play together, share and get to know each other, and for moms to watch them through it and let them dive in. Play is children’s psychology at work, a mom can learn a lot about her kids by watching them play, especially when they play with other kids. But it’s also important for kids to feel that they have some independence and that they can be trusted to take care of themselves for short periods of time, and for moms who are at home with their kids 24/7 this is of the essence. Socialization is learned by kids observing their parents deal with other people, so it is also important for your kids that you get some social interaction as well. As moms, especially with infants and babies, it can become exhausting, as a new mom or as a mom with older kids who compete for your attention as well. It is indispensable to feel like you have some sort of support, be it in the mere distraction that the kids get from seeing different toys, games, books and kids, be it in the extra couple of hands that might come in handy the moment your baby is crying and the toddler needs the potty, or maybe just in knowing that you have a place where you can sit, drink a cup of tea or coffee and simply get out of the home without fearing being judged, told what to do, or stared at by unscrupulous bystanders. Mi casa es Su casa. I won’t accept that you judge me and I won’t judge you. I may have been in your shoes, and can lend a hand if you want it, a word of comfort if you need it, or a sincere smile if that’s all you want and if I haven’t, then maybe you’ll grace me with some useful knowledge. And maybe you’ll find another woman, in your shoes, going through similar paths you are going through and you can share ideas, discuss shortcuts, laugh it off or just be there for each other, exchange numbers and keep in touch afterwards. Maybe everything is fine and dandy and you just want to meet different people and see where it takes you. Or perhaps you’re bored with all the other play opportunities and want a change. I could have probably subscribed to any of the above, at some point in my life as a mom, and this is why I see this need and am trying to fill it.

I believe that this kind of place is for a special kind of mom, an extraordinary mom who pushes herself to be more, to be all she can be and to do it consistently, but in order to be this kind of mom, you also know what it’s like to fail, to stumble and have to dust yourself off, because if you go out of your way, you are bound to find obstacles, to get lost and have to find your way back, just as if you stay put, you will never know what lies beyond your walls. With this wisdom comes respect, patience and understanding, and such lessons are invaluable to us as human beings but more so as women, mothers and care-givers. So I am very confident that you will find very special women here, who may look very different from you on the outside, but share this chore belief in the importance of what they are doing right this moment. Moms who are raising amazing little caterpillars that will break out of their cocoons to become fascinating butterflies of various sizes and colors, all beautiful and all mesmerizing. So you don’t have to know what my cv looks like, just as I don’t have to see yours, because it’s not about what we studied, where we’ve been, what we’ve been doing with our time, but about how we feel about life, where our priorities lie and how we see ourselves and our children now and into the future. This is not to say that I’m a closed book or that you should be, but maybe we can discuss these particulars over a cup of coffee and some scones, everything is so much more interesting over coffee!

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Why Caterpillar?

caterpillar-meat_w520

Some of you may be wondering why a Cafe would be called Caterpillar? What does a bug have to do with that sumptuous, delicious hot drink? Actually Caterpillar came to me long before Cafe did, in fact Cafe was an incidental last minute addition! A Caterpillar is a bug that comes from an egg and after growing sufficiently, wraps itself into a cocoon and eventually turns into a butterfly. I love the idea of the various stages it undergoes in order to become something beautiful and admirable. This is how I see childhood, and this is what I would want for my kids, a healthy upbringing, complete with all that makes life whole (love, play, community, friendship, sharing, laughter, strong morals and a proper education along with healthy nutrition, sleep and physical activity), so that they can then go out into the world and make it a better, more beautiful place. For me, growing up in Switzerland, was amazing in many ways, but there was a magical place, where kids could meet other kids and play with intelligent toys they either didn’t own or had nobody to play with at home, I took this place for granted as a child, but when I had kids of my own I realized how many toys I could remember playing with, but never owning. Here we learned responsible handling of toys, because if we ruined them we’d have to pay for them, and it all came out of our allowance, this place was called Ludoteca (library of toys). When my oldest son was born I lived in Montreal and I liked to take him to a very similar place called the Joujoutheque (same name, same idea, but it also offered a wide variety of courses related to parenting and running an efficient household). I realized quickly after moving to Libya that good quality toys were practically non existent here and the social structure is such that comfortable socializing for women with young children is extremely difficult. I yearned for a place where I could take my kids to play with quality toys and socialize with other kids like I did growing up and my oldest son did as a toddler. I yearned for a place where I could sit and actually talk to their moms without feeling stared down by anyone and without having to worry about my kids getting bored or hurt. So I got busy and collected as many toys and books as I could carry and brought them here, found a place, made a plan and got going. I cannot give my kids my childhood, but a ludoteca, joujoutheque, or something like it, I can, this is something I can offer them, and with them other kids in the area who might also be yearning for such an outlet. This is an exercise in sharing for my kids, but surprisingly enough they were all to glad to do so, if it meant they’d make some friends. So Caterpillar is a description of childhood (including my own kids’), but also an idea that wants to help make this a better and more beautiful place, it’s a small project in its infancy that wants to open new horizons and opportunities for children and mothers alike. In many ways, it’s everyone’s story, it’s everyone’s potential, it’s a hopeful approach in a place where hope is a lifeline fueled by optimism, and what is more hopeful than childhood? And… of course anything looks and feels better over a nice hot cup of java!