The ridiculous stuff my kids fight about …

On the way back from fetching the kids from school. Connor and Georgia in the back seat of the car. One on either side of the back seat.

Georgia screaming in a shrill voice – reserved only for little girls, and nuclear fallout sirens – because Connor is looking through her window. He retaliates by making his eyes bigger and staring all the harder out of her side of the car ….

Georgia is screaming at the top of her lungs – C O N N O R! Don’t look through my window!! C O N N O R! Don’t look through my window!! C O N N O R!

He is only doing it to get a rise out of her, and I really can’t tell him NOT TO LOOK out of the flaming window.

What is left of mom’s sanity goes | POP| Mom dreams of having enough money one day to employ a driver to do these menial tasks while she lies on the bed at home and reads her book.

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Why more than two children is challenging …

  1. They outnumber you – and can flank you and infiltrate your weak points.
  2. You only have two hands – so if you are holding two of them, then that means a third is allowed to run free with disastrous results.
  3. If you have one in the front of the trolley and two inside the trolley, there really is no space for groceries.  If you are me, you try to then push one of those small trolleys with your free hand – which you do not have.
  4. Two kids and people smile at you politely, three kids and people look at you as if you have single-handedly been the responsible for the ice-caps melting.
  5. The kids always argue about who will sit next to mom – three means someone is going to be sitting on your lap, which leaves no space for mom’s sanity.
  6. Backseats of standard cars don’t lend themselves to three safety seats, so one of your kids lives dangerously on the edge sans car seat.  The option is baby is in the front seat in a rear facing seat, while two are in the back, and then you sit in the backseat like a toddler.
  7. You never quite get on top of what is going on – and always seem to arrive at places to realize that either one of the kids did not brush teeth, is still wearing jammie bottoms or you have totally forgotten the nappy bag.
  8. The chances of all three children E V E R sleeping at the same time in the day is such a statistical anomaly that it is not worth calculating.  The chances of you ever getting “time to yourself” has finally left.
  9. It’s pretty easy to hire a babysitter when you tell them you have two, when you tell them you have three they get that scared look in their eyes, and that funny buzzing sound of the telephone as they put it down on you.
  10. Kennith calculated that if my kids all attended the same primary school – I would be driving to the same school for thirteen years!! We might have to move just to spice things up ….
  11. Evening and bedtime is about as logistically challenging as the D-Day invasion.
  12. Having five in the bed for a cuddle means that you have to have either a Queen or a King sized bed, double beds are just not feasible.
  13. Even with three I still fall under South Africa’s fertility rate of 3.3 kids.

Why more than three children is cool …

  1. When someone starts giving you baby/child rearing advise, you can just say “I have three…” in a condescending voice, and they sort of scurry off into the distance and stop offering you more useless advise.

Close the fek’n door ….

Yesterday I attempted to go the bathroom.  For me there are a lot of attempts.  I am like the dog you see who just has to find the right spot before it can go.

So I dash in from work, thinking I can throw the kids out of the car and make a quick b-line.  I try to go past Isabelle, but she starts to cry when she sees me.  Thinking quickly on my feet – I don’t have much time now – I grab her and some toys and take her to the “little girl’s room” with me.

No points for hygiene here, only for making a plan when there are pressing issues at play.

I think I have it sorted – it all seems to be working out nicely.  So I think.

Connor – my 8 year old – then pops in to tell me something so irrelevant that I was speechless.  He leaves, and leaves the door open – so I am screaming at the top of my lungs “Connor, Connor, close the DOOR!!”

“Connor!”

“C O N N O R ! ! ”

This goes on for some time as little boys appear to move out of ear shot really fast.

Connor does return at least two more times to ask me totally inappropriate questions considering the location:

“Can we play on the computer?”

“Can you watch me swim?”

In between his visits, Georgia pops in only to argue with me that her sister is using her toys – also leaving the door open.

The final straw was when Connor came back in – and gave me a jar of yohurt and a spoon and said: “Pepe said to give this to you…”   (it was food for Isabelle)

Tom Thumb and Ogres who eat Children

Last night I read Tom Thumb to my kids before bed.  First recognize that I am showing off that I found the time and some semblance of order to actually read to my kids before bed – so right there I get a gold star.

Tom Thumb is the smallest of seven kids : Right here we start to wonder is it because he is not getting sufficient nutrition and this has affected his growth. Did his mom smoke and drink heavily during her pregnancy?  Did she not have this boy checked regularly at the clinic?  Are his parents of a faith that does not condone birth control?  Can his mom just so no for once?

His parents realize that they do not have enough money to feed the children so decide to leave them in a forest nearby: Why could his dad not have got a second job, because clearly this woodcutter gig was not working out for him?  Surely if you can’t feed your kids, leaving them to starve to death or get ravished by animals in the middle of a dense wood does beg questions regarding your ability to parent and make mildly good decisions.

Tom, being the clever lad that he is, makes it home by dropping stones on the path.  All 7 kids get home and the parents are disappointed as they will have to take them out to the woods again tomorrow: I really was amazed at this turn in the story.  Surely if you have dropped your kids off in the woods to die, you are not just going to skip home and go to sleep.  Surely you are going to drink a little, maybe be a little depressed, nope not these two.  Mr and Ms Thumb are cut from a very resilient cloth.

On the next jaunt into the woods, Tom leaves bread crumbs as a track back to his house: He unfortunately did not learn anything from his mate Hansel (which might further allude to his mom drinking while she was pregnant with him, which may be the cause of his not-so-fast-learning speed.) No crumbs = no way to get home  Tom his 6 siblings can’t get home, so knock on the door to a house out in the forest.  Again clearly Tom and Hansel are not Facebooking  or Twittering each other.  Tom has no idea that a house in the middle of the woods often spells doom and the sound of children being eaten.

Cut a long story short, there is an Ogre who eats kids (I can’t believe this is what we read to our kids when we are trying to get them to go to sleep – night terrors begin here).  The Ogre has magic boots so in one step he can go seven leagues (no I do not know how far seven leagues is, but I imagine pretty far).  Tom  steals the boots, him and his siblings escape and run back to his parents. The same parents who abandoned them twice!!

Said parents are really happy to see Tom (and his magic boots) so happy in fact that they send him out to be the Kings Messenger – as the boots allow Tom to travel quickly.  The book ends with a happy picture of Tom who is holding lots of money.

What the hell happened in this story?

  • Parents abandoned kids twice.
  • Children went into a stranger’s house and ate food.
  • Ogre-who-eats-kids came home and chased kids.
  • Ogre fell asleep – as you do when you are chasing kids.
  • Smallest child steals boots and take siblings back home to parents.
  • Parents send youngest off to work to support the family

The issues I have with this book are: bad parenting, abandoning children, lazy parenting, no internet access for youngest, threat of being ravished by wild animals, stranger-danger, stealing from others and child labour.

    I am  planning to read Cinderella next …..

    Mommaliciousmammas

    A new website that encourages communication between South African moms – still getting off the ground, so not a lot of members.  But they also have a blog area which is nice to link to other MWB (moms who blog – I might have just made that acronym up)

    http://mommaliciousmammas.blogspot.com/

    and a forum – which really needs to get going, but has promise.  Always good to encourage moms doing the web thing in South Africa.  Could use your assistance in increasing membership.  They run fun competitions that encourage moms to stop by which is a good idea – might just steal their idea

    <she looks around the room wondering what she could competion off…. I have an electric can opener, never used and an electric 8-egg boiler – so watch this space, might run a competition soon and you may just be the proud owner of these two wonderful pieces of kitchenware!!>

    Before I was a mommy…

    I saw this line on a blog recently and it really made me sit back and ponder what there was before I was a mommy.   I would acknowledge the blog, but did not bookmark it, so I apologise for that.

    I know I existed and was happy in my childlessness.  I recall the free and easy manner I would go for a shower – on the drop of a hat.  Spend a  few hours lying in the bath reading a good book.  I would even go to the toilet by myself – and finish what I needed to do …. oh the good old days.

    I had time to sit and stare into the distance. I could and would wander around stores uninterrupted.  I could go out late at night and not worry what time I was going to wake up the next morning.  I could sleep late and if I wanted to go and have an afternoon sleep.  I ate my meals in peace.  I would even decide on the spur of the moment to drop in at a corner shop for a loaf of bread and some milk, and it would be easy and non-complicated.

    I really can remember the “before” part.  The “after” part has become a bit hazy with the fury at which it has evolved.  Some days I feel like I am starring in an episode of 24.  Sidebar:  I really would like to have Jack Bauer skill set – when he stares at someone and his eye twitches, assume that person has less than 15 minutes to live.  Imagine if you had that as your super power! But I digress. 

    I know that you can never wish to go back to a “before mom” stage as that would mean you are then wishing for your kids not to exist, and well that sort of behavior is only condoned for a few people – Mr and Mrs Hitler Snr for instance.  So it really is socially improper to ever voice that longing.

    I have been a mom for just over 8 years, and I really have no idea what I am doing.  Like no idea – still!  I keep thinking that there has been a terrible mix up and some how I have appeared in some one else’s life and mine is going along in another direction without kids and blissfully unaware.

    Here are some of my thoughts around

    Before I was a Mommy…

    … I never thought I had any sort of maternal instinct. The idea of a small person coming near me would fill me with dread.  Never held a baby, babysat only once and it was a frightening evening – for all concerned.

    …. I knew I never wanted to have children. (How’s that working out for you then?)

    .…  I had no empathy for mothers who worked and were struggling to balance the two.  I would get really annoyed and wonder why these women could just not balance their lives.

    …. I thought I had a handle on how to juggle home, work and all things relationship.  Throwing a baby into that mix, has showed me that I am totally fallible.

    …. I could look at a child who was abandoned or in need, and it would not affect me.  Now I see all these children as someone’s son and daughter and I always seem my children in them.  It makes me so deeply sad and my soul bleeds.

    … I had not factored in how much puke and baby poo would actually become part of my day, and somehow it would be considered normal.  I often end up with poo under my finger nails, and it does not bother me as much as I thought it would.

    …. I did not realize that some days I would be so busy that brushing my teeth, combing  my hair and getting out my jammies would feel like a luxury activity.

    ….I didn’t understand that no matter how much you try not to be like your parents – part of you is wired to behave just like them.  It’s not always a good thing, and takes a great deal of self-control and awareness to break the cycle.

    …. I did not appreciate how easy it was to get in a car, start the engine and drive away.  Now if I can get everyone in, buckled up and not have to return to the house three times for shoes, underpants and my cell phone, I am making a fast get away.

    …. I did not realize how something so miraculous and life changing can be treated as such a pedestrian event.  To have and raise a child is awe-inspiring and is often taken for granted.

    … I did not realize how much guilt I would feel.  It starts when that baby is in the womb and never stops. 

    … I did not realize how having a baby would make me question who I was and how I fitted in to society and really make me ask the question  “who am I?”

    … I did not realize that I could look at another human being and literally feel my heart swell.  I think we love our partners/husbands/significant others and we love them dearly, but when you are lying there at night with your soft baby in your arms and feeling that weight of them sleeping, your soul turns to jam.

    “Motherhood is like Albania— you can’t trust the descriptions in the books, you have to go there.” – Marni Jackson

    Hello Everybody ….

    Sometimes I feel sorry for Kennith, he never knows what he is coming home to.  The thing that I admire about him is he thinks on his feet and does not show fear (much) in the face of a potential massacre.

    I try not to lose control at home with the kids – for me it a very slippery road to drinking two bottles of wine and screaming profanity at the neighbours, so I do attempt to contain myself, we live in a reasonably good neighbourhood and all.

    I usually try to keep a “happy disposition” thing going.  It is a total farce, but I give it a go none the less.  I dash from work to fetch the kids, and the truth be told I am quite excited about seeing them.  Each day I drive the distance from my office to fetch Connor and Georgia.  I try to put on my happy face and really want to give them the impression that they are dealing with a competent mother who may get voted on to the PTA.

    Georgia is usually an easy pick up.  She is such a happy little soul, that when I fetch her she is all love and hugs and dirty pants.  She hops in to the car and off we go.  There might be a small wobbly about her eating her lunch in the car 45 minutes before dinner, but we have that fairly contained.

    Connor however is like dealing with a surly teenager and he is only 8 years old.  I go in to school bracing myself, as it can be a little challenging (she says politely.)

    He will either be chipped off that I arrived too early, or too late – I can never quite work out the correct timing that coincides with his need to play with his mates.  So we get in the car, there may or may not be sulking at this stage.

    The drive home is an exercise is patience and good motherhood skills that I fail daily.  It will usually start with Connor asking to do something that he knows I am going to say no to “Mom can I fly my kite in the electrical storm?” “Mom, can I please watch WWF on television naked?” “Mom, I know it is 8 degrees outside, but may I please swim?” “Mom, I know there is a cooked meal at home waiting for us, but can we stop at McDonald’s” 

    Unfortunately what ever I say no to is actually irrelevant, because it will just pitch him in to the next request which he knows I will so no to – which leads to the negotiating segment of our little road show. 

    By the time I pull into the garage, I have Connor sulking or in full-fledged crying.  Georgia may or may not be crying – by the time we get home it is all a bit of a catastrophe, and we do not actually get out of the car as much as we fall out of the car in various stages of anger and frustration.

    Getting kids in the house and to sit down for dinner has its own set of challenges.  A side effect of the fighting is that by now I have probably banned television and am so desperate for a large glass of wine and a lie down, that I just want to kill.  Isabelle is tetchy because I am tetchy – she refuses to be put down so she is firmly implanted on my hip.  I am trying to warm a bottle for her while I am making wild gestures in the air with my free hand (as you do when you are trying to threaten children to finish their food or else.)

    I am watching the clock tick by as each minute brings me closer to getting this lot into bed and having a moment for my head to stop ringing.  Usually at about this point Kennith will come walking in (late from work – again) saying something chirpy like “Hello family – how is everyone?!”

    Shame …..

    The one about the Anesthetist …..

    I deal with things well if I am given time to digest them and work them over in my mind.  I can pretty much do anything given the time to mentally prepare.  I however do not react well to being put on the spot.  For this reason and this reason alone, the odds of me winning “The Weakest Link” are remote at the best.

    While pregnant with my third child, I really enjoyed the pregnancy – or shall I say I lived in the moment through the pregnancy. I enjoyed each week and the development and the changes in me.  Sure there were parts were I felt pretty grim, and I am sure bitched and moaned because I was so sore, but I lived the experience.

    The experience I shunned was the birth.  I had experienced two elective c-sections and they were both fine, there really was no problem.  It was an odd experience in terms of feeling the sensations, but not feeling the pain, but overall it was a good experience.  For some strange reason, I decided that I would not mentally deal with the birth the third time around. I would keep blocking it out and deciding than I would deal with it later.

    I was busy planning, and organizing and all of that, but decided that when I went on maternity leave – before I had the baby – I would spend a few days allowing myself to think about it and deal with it.  Well, it seemed I didn’t.

    Even on the day I was going to hospital – I spent my time planning and organizing what would happen with the house and the kids in my absence.  I just took no cognizance of how they were going to get her out and that process.

    Even at the hospital in my “gown that opens the wrong way” I quietly sat there talking to Kennith about other things.  They came along and took my blood pressure and gave me a little tranquiliser – bless – and still I put it totally out of my mind.

    Wheeling me down the passage to the theatre, started to set off little alarms in my head, as my body was going “er brain, you have not mentioned this part ….. we are getting a little concerned here…er brain, BRAIN are you even there??”

    Right up to pre-op I was lying on the trolley bed and trying not to deal with what was going to be the inevitable proc ess, slowly, slowly the panic started to set in.  I was trying to look really calm and relaxed as I had Kennith there and my friend Dave who was going to do some photos.

    I think the final straw the broke the camel’s back was the anesthetist.  You know how they come over and reassure you, and tell you it’s all going to be fine.  Not this guy.  He came over and asked a few questions, which I duly answered.  Then he started to explain to me all the things that could go wrong – including the fact that a spinal block doesn’t always work.

    It pretty much had a similar effect to police firing bullets into a crowd in the hope of calming them!  Do you think at Riot Control 101 – there is a class where the lecturer does role play where they police fire bullets into a crowd and they calmly go and take their seats??

    After the anesthetist left, my sanity seemed to leave the room at the same time.  They wheeled me in and then they prep you for the spinal block, so it is you, anesthetist guy and anesthetist nurse person.  By some act of mercy, my OBGYN came in to the surgery and asked if he could stay there and then he held my hand and let me cling to him while they jabbed a giant needle into my spinal coloumn.

    Any semblance of restraint and comfort left me about then – things start to move swiftly once that is done and you have lost feeling in your legs.  They lie you down, pop up that screen, and suddenly a large group of theatre people enter the room and everyone starts doing things.  Moving trays, wiping me with iodine, putting blue/green sheets everywhere and just being busy productive people.

    My anesthetist guy suddenly became my best friend, as he was the guy who single handedly was going to be responsible for me not feeling pain!

    I started to panic – like really panic.  Kennith was holding my hand, or I was grabbing his arm – I can’t recall now.  But I just recall being panicked.  I felt like something was going to go terribly wrong – what I am not sure, but I did not feel ready for them to do anything.  My heart rate picked up and the anesthetist guy gave me an oxygen mask and tried to bring my heart rate down.

    I was telling Kennith to make them stop.  Kennith looked over the curtain and explained that they had gone a bit far, and they sort of had to finish.  I was so anxious and just wanted to sit up and go “Ookaai everyone, let’s stop, take a breath, calm ourselves and talk a bit ………….” Clearly none of that was happening, what was happening was they were cutting through what felt like my entire body, and then the pulling started.

    The not-so-funny-part was I know this part, I am well verses in this, I’ve been there, got the t-shirt and went back to get the commemorative silver spoon.  But because my little brain had not decided to deal with this and had instead packed this issue in a box, and kicked it under the bed, I was in full fledged panic mode.

    It really was one of the more terrifying experiences of my life.  There was nothing about the procedure that was bad, I had just chosen not to deal with it and prepare myself to go through it. It is strange how your mind is such a strong controlling force when you experience something, and has a direct effect on how you experience that moment.

    Lesson learnt:   Stop procrastinating and deal with your stuff – I was going to say shit, but decided not to – for your own sanity.

    The one about Rachel and Dutch Courage ….

    Yesterday I saw a forum posting that was asking for assistance at an Orphanage in Hermanus – they had a set of twins who were 8 months and a tiny baby that they needed assistance with for either fostering or adoption.  I nearly wept, who am I kidding, I really did have a little cry at work hiding behind my monitor (I also just got a new monitor that is one of those large flat big screen numbers, so it allows me to duck down and not be seen – handy that.)

    One of the side effects of having your own children, is that you become this emotional vessel that can be tapped in to by all other children.  You can happily watch a man been mowed down by a bus and feel very little, but when you see a child hurt or abandoned, your urge is to go over there and pick that baby up and just smother them in love and care.

    We had dinner with friend last night and our one friend Rachel is one of those Godsend-good-people.  She is sweet and lovely, and generous of spirit, and she makes the best baked goods as gifts.  She is also a nurse – and her last job was working at an organization that deals with HIV-POSITIVE babies and children.  Many are abandoned, or do not have parents so the organization she worked for cares for these children and does all sorts of other things i.e medical care, counseling etc.

    I was telling her about this forum post I saw, and I wanted to know what was involved in being able to adopt – I didn’t understand the process, and if anyone knew she would.  Rachel explained the process, and really it comes down to a social worker who is so overloaded with cases, that they often are not able to work effectively.  One of their roles is to research and check that the baby/child does not have any living relatives and then they start with the adoption process with the prospective parents.

    Unfortunately being overloaded and having limited resources means that they can’t always do it.  Rachel said that sometimes the prospective parents do the “detective work” and then present it to the case worker to speed up the process, which makes sense.  Of course this does make it sad to think that there are these kids sitting in limbo because the “investigation” is taking a long time.

    Kennith felt I was being way-way-way too interested in adopting anyone or anything, and gave me a few loud glances to ensure that I understood that he was not so keen on adding more off-spring to our already cramped car.

    While we got home, I had a bit of dutch courage (probably brought on by the two or more bottles of Chenin Blanc) and was able to say what had been ticking on in my head for some time. I knew it was there, but thought if I told Kennith, he would be so vehemently against it that I would feel this conflict – because I was not sure what I wanted, but I did not want him to stand and tell me that I could not have it.  I wanted to feel that I could explore this until I was sure what I wanted.

    What I said, was that I feel that I am not finished with children.  I do realize that I can’t cope with the three I have, I realize that I may soon be institutionalized, and I realize I often want to run away.  But something in my heart tells me that there is a possibility that I might want a fourth child! 

    I can’t really fathom where this is coming from, or what is driving this.  I have had many soul-searching wanderings in my head regarding this topic.  It is just this urge, this little push that I feel inside me. 

    I am also about to be 38, so if I am planning on having a fourth I do not have much time – if I haven’t already shot over the time allowed.  But at the same time I am not one hundred percent sure that I want to go through a pregnancy, and risk the stress, anxiety and the risk that at my “advanced age” maybe my eggs are a little old to work properly. I may decide to have a child join us through an adoption process.  I just don’t know.

    Before I get the “how crazy are you” comments – I do know how insane this sounds.  I can stand and argue with you, why it is probably not the best idea I have had.  I can help you list the reasons of why it is a really really bad idea. 

    But on the other hand .. there is this little tap-tap-tapping inside me, and right now I am just going to sit and listen to it and see where we go.

    The one about one starfish and surprises …..

    My mom called me last week and told me that the lady who works for her twice a week, found out she was 7 ½ months pregnant! My mom was astounded – less so than Alice no doubt. My mom had been amazed that Alice had not known.

    Alice (a different Alice from my friend Alice referred to from time to time in these posts) said that she had been ill for some time. Had been battling with blood pressure issues, and a few other health issues. She spent three days in hospital about a month ago and had been going to doctors for a few months due to all the problems she was experiencing.

    She is in her early thirties, has a three year old daughter and is in no way dim-witted. She said that her illness had masked the symptoms, and there really weren’t much in the way of symptoms even when she thought back and looked over the period. She has put on a bit of weight, but who hasn’t? She had been spotting each month, so there was no reason for her to think she was pregnant as she thought that it was her period.

    My initial response was “How can you not know you are pregnant? I mean how mentally slow must you be?” I really kept running this through my mind, and everyone I spoke to had the same reaction.

    Earlier this week I was on a blog site and stumbled across an article that was written about a woman in the States – Tina (can’t recall her surname and forgot to bookmark the site). She was regaling a story of a woman who was experiencing a particular heavy period and after extreme cramping, made her way to the nearby hospital – only to pop out a baby.

    She was more surprised that the staff who were attending to her as she had no idea she was pregnant.

    At the end of the blog, people had written their comments and many had either experienced something similar or knew someone who had been surprised by a baby. Tina herself has responded. She started her comment with “I’m not a stupid person ….” And explained that she had two children, was carrying a bit of weight, and also had experienced what she thought were periods, so there was no reason for her to think she might be pregnant.

    To add to the story, she has some sort of ovarian issue where she could not have more children, so at no point had she realized she was pregnant. I wish I had bookmarked the page to refer back to it, but I tried to look for it this morning without any luck.

    Anyway, back to Alice. My heart really goes out to her. Can you imagine having 4 weeks to prepare for a baby?

    To add to Alice’s situation her husband had abandoned her a few months earlier, which adds to the financial strain of her coping with her daughter and making ends meet. It turns out he was of the abusive sort, so she was not exactly crying at his departure.

    Her story really struck a chord (or is it cord?) with me – and I decided to assist her financially and materially as much as I could. I have bought her some baby things, and I had quite a lot of things that I could pass on to her. This week my mom and I are buying her a cot and some friends that have recently had boys are generously giving their baby boy things for me to pass on to Alice.

    I get overwhelmed by the fact that there so many people in need. You really do not know where to start. It is like standing in a sea of despair, where the onslaught is so great. However by taking this one tiny step forward to help Alice and her son, it feels like I am doing something.

    It’s not a lot in the bigger picture of all those who need something, but it will hopefully make a difference to this one mom and this one little boy. If Alice knows that someone cares and her situation is just a little less bleak, she will have more energy to care for her son, more reserves to face the challenges that await any new mother, and hopefully be able to feel less afraid.

    It reminds me of that fable/tale where the little boy is walking along the shoreline and there are thousands of star fish that have been washed ashore. He is walking and throwing them back one at a time. A man walking by, comments on the fact that are so many and really what difference is this boy going to make by throwing one or two back. The boy picks up a starfish and throws it back and goes: “I made a difference to that one….”

    It’s a good message – though I might have dubbed it up by my paraphrasing, but you might get the gist.

    Baby Shower

    I realise that this has no relevance to my blog and posts, but I thought this was very funny.  I have so many Zuma issues, I would not know where to start, so I prefer not to touch it, but I can live vicariously through Zapiro.

    No kids and the big green flying machine ….

    This past weekend Kennith and I escaped from our lives for a few days.  It was not impromptu. I am not going to try to appear like we live these carefree lives, where we run off into the sunset like teenagers and drink gin and tonics in the afternoon.  Nope, this was a weekend away sans kids that was planned down to the last detail.

    It was the first time I was going to leave my 7 month old baby, so that was quite traumatic for me.  I was convinced I was going to pull out at the last minute, and end up giving Kennith an ultimatum about not going without her.  I managed to wave goodbye – albeit with much difficulty and a large lump in my throat – on Friday morning as we headed to Cape Town International and risked life and limb flying with our airline of choice (financial not personal).

    By the time I got to the check in queue I was a little tearful – both because I was about to fly and because I had left Isabelle behind.  Almost on cue a woman appeared behind us with a  tiny baby in a pram.  This little thing was bleating at the top of his lungs.  As the baby cried, the more I started to cry with him.  I also started to release milk, which is not the ideal look one is trying to pull off in the airport.

    I managed to compose myself sufficiently to eat an extremely yellow lemon-and-poppyseed muffin and drink some bad tea, before we found our rather narrow and cramped seats on the large green carrier. 

    There were three kids on the plane – none mine – and I really felt sad when I heard them cry …. in the beginning.   

    I realized that I might have 30cm width to sit in and the guy in front of me practically in my lap, but the little space I had was all mine.  I managed to bend my body like a contortionist to get my book from my bag, and then sat with my book reading.  Now if I had a child anywhere near me, this would have been a totally different picture.  I would be imagining reading,  and would have been sorely disappointed when reality played out – with kids going wild within the confines of the metal box I was flying in.

    I would be stressed from the three hour preparation to get to the plane.  I would be sweaty and exhausted.  Further agitated that the kids would have played with all the entertainment I had brought with to keep them occupied for the duration of the flight – the plane had not even taxied off yet.  Things would be looking terribly bleak for the next two hours or so. 

    I would be wondering how I was going to get the air hostess person to serve me a bottle of wine before 9am! 

    I would further be stressed by the looks I would be getting from my fellow passengers – who would be travelling without kids – because like captive buck, they would be looking at me nervously wondering when my predators were going to strike.

    Instead, I looked down and continue to read my book.   A certain bliss and peace came over me.  It was shattered as soon as our pilot, who no doubt got his license from a correspondence college and had not completed the practical leg of his course successfully as yet.

    We spent the weekend acting like we had no children and drank way too much – all because we knew that there was not going to be a snuggly bug coming for a cuddle at 6am, or my daughter announcing to me at about 5:30am that she was going to the bathroom.  I browsed book stores, we hung out with friends, and we even managed to sit and stare at the television uninterrupted on Sunday morning watching Fawlty Towers – it was all quite idyllic.

    It was great to act like we were childless and care-free!  Of course we missed our sprockets, and when we finally got home around 10:30pm it was lovely to find them all knotted up in their duvets oblivious to us giving them good night kisses.

    Maybe being a mommy is not so bad, if I can run away from home every now and then.

    Speechless this morning…

    Connor is in Grade 2 and he has a little homework book that he brings home every day. Because I work and often have things after work, he attends aftercare and there they have a great homework programme.

    The result is that by the time he gets home he has done his homework – bless – and I can focus on getting him to eat his dinner, get in to the bath and argue with him about whether he has watched too much television. I do have to sign the homework book, which I also try to do each day and may spend a few minutes just touching on some of the homework revision.

    But I will confess to being happy to outsource this to the aftercare programme. Trying to do homework with Connor while his two sisters are vying for my attention gets a bit challenging and chaotic.

    Last week I was really not compus mentis and really should not have been operating heavy machinery on any of the days. I was having a bit of a depression low ebb funk that lasted all week. I glanced at his homework book and signed it , but did not take cognisense of what was there. What with trying to co-ordinate his chess lessons, getting him to and from his swimming gala, co-ordinating his tennis practice, practicing his numerics and his reading, all while trying to work full time, do the other stuff that moms and normal folk do.

    There had been a request to send a box of smarties which I had overlooked. When the teacher placed the note ?smartie box? I had not understood what the hell she was referring to. Only afterwards did I realize my oversight. Well I duly apologized to all concerned and felt like a real tosser for signing something and not reading it (I realize that this alone might make me qualify to work in government) and I thought that was that.

    This morning I am looking at the homework book to sign it, and Connor starts talking about the smartie box. I remind him that that was last week’s issue and there is nothing in this week’s homework that says he needs smarties again.

    He then says: “My teacher says a SENSIBLE mom would read the week’s homework and get everything for the week, that’s what a SENSIBLE mom would do.” I think I responded with “What! She actually said that…” (I might have said “What the Fukc!” inside my head….)

    Connor said yes, and merrily went on his way, our maid Pepe started giggling under her breath.

    Note to self:

    1. Go and see smartie teacher and give her a smack against the side of the head.

    2. Reduce Xmas bonus for Pepe!

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    Today is my struggle and The Truth behind the Mommy Wars …

    This year has just not started off on a good wicket.  I ended the year under severe stress from work and what felt like an attack on all fronts.  I limped into this year wounded and bleeding.  The time of rest over the Christmas/New Year period unfortunately did not allow for much in the way of rest, and if anything drained and exhausted me further.

    I have started this year of work and kids with next to no reserves of energy to cope with what gets thrown at us – I feel raw and on edge.

    I had forgotten that I had experienced a pregnancy and a baby only seven months ago.  The toll it had taken on me and my psyche had not been unaccounted for, especially by me.  I literally forgot I had had a baby to deal with – talk about being removed from your situation!!!  I feel that I do not allow myself the space to really “feel” and “work through” my stuff, so I am dragging hordes of baggage into 2010.

    I have felt totally out of sorts this past week – I am in a real funk.  I have been distracted and my mind has just been out of the zone.  I made a few mistakes at work which I have castigated myself endlessly for.  I also forgot things about the kids and their stuff at school – which all adds to the sense of just not finding my feet.  I feel exhausted and drained ….. already.

    On Friday we went out to attend a comedy show, and left the children with a babysitter, who I knew, but still did not feel totally comfortable with.  I think if I explained the situation to anyone I would get the platitudes of “I am sure it will be fine..”

    Unfortunately in my mind I had her snatching my kids, especially my baby, and making her way to the closest place “where they sell blonde blue-eyed white babies for muti” meeting point.  I am not sure such a place exists outside of my head, but you get the gist of where my paranoia takes me.  I realize how emotional and unrealistic I am being, however it is what went through my head all night while trying to enjoy a stand-up comedy show.  The result is the for the entire evening I was feeling stressed and on edge.  I really wanted the show to end, so we could rush home.

    I kept trying to reassure myself that it was probably fine. The key word there is “probably” when in fact I was feeling disturbed and edgy the entire night.  I even opted for a McD drive through dinner instead of eating proper food and a place that served alcohol – one must realize my state of mind to endure McD food by choice!

    When we arrived home I flung myself out of the car before it had come to a stand still and raced upstairs to check on my baby.  For some reason this paranoia did not seem to flow over to the two older kids.  I did not feel the same irrational fear for them – though they are all together, and why would harm come to one and not all of them?  And why would my baby be more at risk than all of them?

    Saturday : I felt like my skin was crawling in irritation the entire day.  No reason, and thus no solution.  I just felt aggravated and techy all day.  Fortunately my son had a play date out of the house, which allowed a certain amount of peace, but for the balance of the day I just wanted to hide from the masses.

    Sunday : Kennith let me sleep-in late this morning.  I lay and dozed while the house awoke and watched BBC’s and had breakfast.  I sort of just lay under the covers and drifted off inside my head.  When I did open my eyes and the family descended on me, I immediately felt that the extra time out had not improved my state of mind

    I am busy reading a new book (new to me that is): “The Truth behind the Mommy Wars” by Miriam Peskowitz.  I am about half way through it, and it has enlightened me in certain areas.

    There are things regarding being a mom and balancing this off against work and society, that I have been aware of for some time.  Miriam Peskowitz has expressed what I have thought, which is very exciting to read.

    I paraphrase, but the gist of the earlier chapters are that women – vibrant, well-educated women who have worked hard for their careers – leave their careers when they have had a child or children, partly because the work place does not support mothers.   It is written from an American perspective, so I am using that as a reference point.  South Africa has another 20 to 30 years to go before we even dare get as progressive as them in terms of protective and social support for mothers.

    The author raised the issue that women in the working place, do not have social or childcare support should they decide to continue with their 45 – 70 hour work weeks.  There is little or no childcare support, no option to work part-time, and little support in terms of moms leaving the work place and returning later.  Their only option is to leave thier careers to look after thier babies – so it really is not a choice.

    It’s a bit like saying a guy who is on a boat that is burning, chooses to dive into the freezing water where he risks dying from hypothermia.  Sure he chose to, but what really were his options?

    She highlighted how hard women from previous generations had fought for equality in the work place for women.  How these women who were lawyers and MBAs were finding themselves in this situation where they had been studying for decades, and been climbing this ladder and now wanted children and the dilemmas they faced.  The issue was not only about hugely successful women, it also dealt with women who had every day jobs.

    The issue she raised was that there was this conversation regarding the “choices women had made.”  And what she was trying to convey in this book, that women “choose” to leave positions and careers, and really are not making a choice.  They are doing what they have to do because they have family demands, and it is next to impossible to balance caring for a young child against leaving for work at 7am and returning at 7pm.

    I have always felt this way, and it is a real bone of contention between Kennith and myself.  Kennith feels I chose to take a job that might not pay so well to be more accessible to our kids.  I chose to not be so ambitious at work.  I chose not to stay late as he does, and I chose to do what I am doing.

    He suggests that if I wanted to, I could choose to be more career ambitious, work overtime, pursue an MBA or an MDP or something of the like.  His feeling is that I have chosen this path and now should not complain or feel dissatisfied in any way.  He feels I had full freedom to make the choices I did.

    To say I am frustrated with my situation is probably a mild understatement.  I feel totally exhausted as this internal struggle wages within.

    I have three children and desperately want to support them, and be there for them in a “good mother” role.  I want to be more present and more involved in what they do.  I do not want to outsource all the parenting roles to a nanny, the school, and the aftercare.

    On the other hand, I want to have a career that drives me and pushes me to excel, and pays me accordingly.  I want a career path and have it mapped out in my mind as to where I am going to go and how I am going to get there.

    Unfortunately right now, I feel like I am being a fair-to-mediocre mother.  I feel like I am being a do-just-enough employee.  I feel dissatisfied and frustrated, and pulled in several directions.

    I also feel frustrated that Kennith does not hear me. Instead he argues with me like a capitalistic business owner, who wants an employee who arrives and works.  His feeling is that if women want to be treated equally to men, they need to act equally to men, and work as hard as men and not bring their “mother” issues to work.

    I am so frustrated I could scream – or at least run away for the remainder of the day.

    Kennith can go to work every day.  Shower, dress and pick up his bag and what ever happens with the kids will be sorted out.  His day is not affected.  His argument is that as I am the lower wage earner out of the two of us, my time has a lower earning rate than his, so I can take an unpaid days leave to attend to the kids more easily than he can.

    Part of why I am angry is that this entire situation smacks of being unfair, and I am seething. But I cannot find the correct reasoning in my mind to be able to explain why it is unfair and unjust.  I feel pushed and cajoled into this position and the role I hold, and right now very frustrated.

    Possibly by the end of the book I will be able to formulate a better argument.  And maybe convince Kennith of the validity in what I am feeling.  Unfortunately right now, I am just frustrated and feel an overriding urge to scream!  I really would like to run away today ….

    However my baby is waking up and I need to go attend to her, so its time to switch back to the reality that is my life.

    I wish someone had told me …..

    … how exhausted you felt once the euphoria of the birth had worn off.

    …. how strange your body will feel to you now that it has all this extra padding and Pamela Anderson boobs.

    … how difficult breast feeding can be, and how rewarding it can be if you get it right.

    …. how much space the pram, the babyseat, the mobiles, the feeding chair, and all the other stuff really take up in your house.

    …. how much of an impact this little person has on your relationship and your life.

    … how alone you feel at 3am when you feel like you are the only person awake in the entire world.

    …. that you are going to cry, and probably a lot – as it is all a bit overwhelming, and you know it is okay to just bawl like a baby with a snotty nose.

    …. To start buying packs of nappies in the first month of pregnancy so I could build up a healthy supply – as the cost is exhorbitant.

    …. To ignore everything and lie in bed with my tiny baby and have an extra long cuddle instead of rushing around and attending to the house and life.

    … that pregnancy is the only time where you can just say “no” to things guilt free, and spend the time just resting – as you are going to need all the energy you can muster to get through those chaotic first three months.

    … that trying to claim for UIF benefits through the Department of Labour might well send you into early labour or to jail for killing someone. There are companies that specialize in this (not the killing – though there are – but I am talking about companies that claim benefits on your behalf – try momsuifassist.co.za) , use them and do yourself a favour – you really do not need the aggravation!!

    ….that you do not have to be “fine” every time someone asks – it is okay to admit you are struggling and it really is hard.

    … that the only mom’s who look perfectly turned out with beaming smiles and great hair, are those mom’s who have had two hours of makeup and hair, and the photographer is using soft lighting in the L&L magazines.

    … that the woman in many of the pregnancy magazines have been retouched to hide their big blue veins on their boobs and their giant stretch marks on their stomachs. (I used to work at a company that retouched those pictures…)

    …. that if you can afford it go for a wonderful photoshoot with your pregnant tummy. You might feel a bit like Orca, but you probably look wonderful and having great photos to remember that time are going to be absolute priceless to you.

    … that in one moment you will get so angry with this little baby for keeping you awake and reducing you to a wet blubbering mess, but the very next moment you would lay down your life for this person without any hesitation.

    Of clichés and “Just be happy” ………….

    I am not a fan of clichés – no doubt I use them, however I do try to check myself and work them out of my language suitcase.

    When I hear clichés I experience a similar sensation to that of biting wool – my personal favourites include:

    • Always look on the bright side
    • You can’t have your cake and eat it too
    • Good things come to he who waits

    But the ones that really go right to the top of the list for me are:-

    • It happened for a reason ….. errrr tell that to a raped six year old girl.
    • It’s all part of God’s plan …… really, he has a plan that included the above…. really??
    • Decide to be happy….. excuse me while I go and get some more bullets for my gun!

    What I am building to, so how people gloss over people’s sadness and ill feelings by passing off some meaningless cliché.  I think this is especially galling for people who are struggling with depression and “being happy” ui is not really a choice, it is an unattainable dream.

    People who have not suffered from depression, think that if I plaster a smile on my face, and put a look of eagerness on my mug that things are going to just feel okay. Possibly these are the same idiots who think a migraine is a little head ache and IBS is an upset tummy.

    Depression is such a feeling of despair and sadness that envelopes you each day. Its like sliding down a black hole. At some point you do hit the bottom, and then you need to start the long and painful journey of literally clawing your way out of it.

    I describe it as mourning for a death that never occurred. You feel bleak and sad, and no matter how much you smile and think happy thoughts, your default position is rather black.

    Socialising and relating have always been hard work for me. Initially I put it down to shyness. Social interactions can be EXHAUSTING for someone suffering from depression. It takes a huge amount of courage and energy to fake happiness and an interest in people’s small talk. You learn to wear a public face, and become rather an accomplished performer, with various interchangeable masks.

    One of my favourite shows is Dexter. Dexter Morgan is a covert serial killer governed by a strict moral code who works for the Miami Metro Police Department as a blood spatter analyst. The part I can relate to in this show, is when he is doing something socially, you hear him talk to himself, giving himself instruction that he needs to “smile now” and “place his arm here” and so on.

    The book is more descriptive and you get a real sense of how he play-acts to fit in and appear “normal”. I relate to Dexter, not because he has a “dark passenger” that talks to him and encourages him to go and maim and kill bad people – not so much …. However it is the way that he needs to cue himself on how to behave and react to fit in to normal society. In a social setting I have been doing that for years.

    As soon as I saw Dexter, I was able to really connect with this guy. I also realize that I am feeling better because I have similarities to Dexter a fictitious serial killer … that may well need therapy at a later stage.

    The other thing that was a real “light bulb” moment was doing a Myers-Briggs personality profile about three years ago.

    It is a longish process, but the bottom line is that it has an introvert/extrovert quota as part of the personality profile. The I/E ratio has nothing to do with whether you like people and enjoy a good party and a great glass of wine.

    What is important is where you get your energy from (I para-phrase slightly, but if you are interested in a more technical discussion pop along to http://www.myersbriggs.org/).

    For me socializing especially with people I don’t know – is draining and requires the use of large stores of energy – I also put this down to depression. With the Myers-Briggs profile it basically allows for the fact that some personality types socialize well because they gain energy from it, while other personality types can socialize, but for them, it requires energy, and often leaves them drained and wanting to go and hide in a dark corner somewhere. EUREKA – get the Myers person and his/her friend Briggs a glass of wine!!!

    Before I close off, I stumbled across these statistics on depression in women come from the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) which I thought were really interesting:-

    • One in four women will experience severe depression at some point in life.
    • Depression affects twice as many women as men, regardless of racial and ethnic background or income.
    • Depression is the number one cause of disability in women. (Wow that is a bit of a shocker when you see it set down like that.)
    • In general, married women experience depression more than single women do, and depression is common among young mothers who stay at home full-time with small children.
    • Women who are victims of sexual and physical abuse are at much greater risk of depression.
    • At least 90 percent of all cases of eating disorders occur in women, and there is a strong relationship between eating disorders and depression.
    • Depression can put women at risk of suicide. While more men than women die from suicide, women attempt suicide about twice as often as men do.
    • Only about one-fifth of all women who suffer from depression seek treatment.

    Okay, so that is pretty much my rant on depression and my inability to be a social butterfly.

    However that being said, this weekend I did manage to wear my hair like Pippa Longstocking and make it through a party and not be the first person to leave – its all about progress done in baby steps.