writer and author at The Girls in the City 

Dessy and I met at the beach of the Aegean Sea in Greece. Like many other precious encounters in my life, this one started as a carefree holiday experience. If we were 20 years old we would have shared a bottle of Rosé, discussed boys and love, favourite books and films and our dreams to travel the world, but instead we had a rushed conversation over a bowl of freshly cut watermelon and a cup of coffee on the beach, while splashing sunscreen over our boys naked bodies (and I don’t mean boyfriends, I mean kids), occasionally interrupted by our husbands curiosity and our children’s abrupt demands. We never made plans for anything, never went dancing or sailing on one of those chic Greek boats, but we kept exchanging emails long after we left Greece, bashfully peeling off the layers of our carefully curated social images, slowly getting to know each other beyond the roles of the mother, the wife, the friend and even the writer …..

When I heard Dessy telling me that she left her corporate job in a big advertising company and a bank to become a full-time mom and do what she loves – writing, reading and traveling, I was shocked. For me, that equals a bungy jump experience except that they leave you hanging down the rope for days.

Because this interview is very long but worth reading every word of it, I separated it into two parts. The first one is dedicated to Motherhood and the second on Dessy, the woman, the girl and the dreamer…

No one is ever quite ready; everyone is always caught off guard. Parenthood chooses you. And you open your eyes, look at what you’ve got, say “Oh, my gosh,” and recognize that of all the balls there ever were, this is the one you should not drop. It’s not a question of choice.”, Marisa de los Santos, Love Walked In

Tsitaliya: Dessy tell me what do you remember from your childhood? What direction did you take right after school?

Dessy: I remember the summer holidays with my grandparents, their quiet conversations late in the evenings, the freedom and the trust they gave me. I remember the crickets. I remember our neighborhood in Sofia where I grew up, my first day at school and the warmly baked bread with cheese, which was so popular at the time. There was a street phone near Dondukov ( a famous street in Bulgaria) which was working with small change so I could call my mother every day from school. My childhood was uninterrupted and peaceful, there wasn’t much ambition and what I see today as a rope we are tightening around the childhood of our kids.

I loved to hear all kinds of stories and I never went to bed before the grown ups. I was afraid I might miss something. It is still the same today. My life evolved in the world of story-telling and words. Part of my life was spent working with numbers, but that happened only because I have a very strong sense of discipline.

Tsitaliya: Here at Mums in Heels we talk a lot about modern parenthood. I wonder what did you keep as a method from your parents and what did you changing in raising your kids today?

Dessy: I have to admit I am one of those women who arrived into parenthood “theoretically fully equipped”, I’ve read many books before I had my first child about parenthood and based on that I had a lot of criticism towards my mother in my mind. I kept thinking I need to do a better job as a parent than her. Then my daughter arrived. And my theoretical strength and confidence started evaporating. We have this saying: Where you are heading now, I am just returning from…”

So this is how emotionally I became really close to my mother, but in practice, even today we are very different. I have the feeling that my kids are growing under some sort of a glass lid – they are so satisfied and so entertained. I am trying every day to change this. I don’t know if I manage every day, but I believe children need to make their mistakes and learn their own lessons. Their grandmother, may be exactly because she is their grandmother is trying to save them from every little inconvenience on their way.

The one thing I still am learning from my mother is the unconditional love.

Tsitaliya: What is the hardest part of being a mum today?

Dessy: For me, the hardest part of modern parenthood is that we drowning in information, theories, recommendations, guidance and diagnoses. Just look at the latest research from a few years ago when everyone was saying how important is to keep our children busy and active. All physiological and psychological theories kept encouraging us parents to keep children busy with learning and sports. Today there is a new theory, that we have to leave them to feel bored in order to encourage their creativity. I wonder which theory is the right one…

My feeling is that parents themselves turn into confused children who are not sure what direction to take. I know parents who have raised two, three children and even they start doubting their decisions after reading most of the things published out today. This abundance of information sometimes creates some wrong ideas.

Tsitaliya: Every mother feels guilt at some point in her life, if not all the time. How do you deal with the feeling of guilt?

Dessy: I started feeling the guilt as soon as I returned to work after giving birth to my first one. Coming back in the evenings I was feeling not only exhausted but my brain kept thinking about work. I missed my children beside feeling guilty that I don’t spend much time with them. I used to work I a bank and when my schedule became more complicated because of traveling and late hours I felt this was not the life I wanted. I also remember a friend who told me at the time that there is no better mother for my children but myself. I had any chances in the next year to think about these words.

Tsitaliya: What do you want to teach your children?

Dessy: For several years now I’ve had a text I wanted to sit and write: Surviving Skills. For me Surviving Skills mean from being able to swim to being communicative and social; from driving skills to be able to make new acquaintances. I wish I can teach them to keep moving forward, finding directions and not to give up. I wish they understand that being weak is ok, but they can move out of that, looking for a solution and simply enjoying life in the moment. Sometimes I think this is very hard, mostly because parents are not the only people who have influence over their children. We often don’t realize how uncontrollable is the influence children have from their friends and the environment at school and out of the home.

Yet I hope I can teach my children self-respect and I realize I need to show them how to do it by being their role model. They always have to find time for themselves, even when they have their own children. I think this is one of the biggest differences between my generation and my mother’s.

Tsitaliya: What do you do at the time you make for yourself?

Dessy: I love watching movies but most of all I love reading. Because reading is addictive, I am trying to control it and lately, I’ve been hiking a lot. Last year in spring and early summer I would get up early and climb Cherni Vruh (Bulgarian mountain hill in Vitosha, near Sofia), then return by lunch and ready and fresh for work.