I don’t play well with others …

I am not a group person.

I don’t really like to sit around with other moms and chat about my baby, and then their baby, and then whose baby rolled over first.  I actually really do not enjoy it.

I am barely interested in when my baby rolled over, I am definitely not interested in when your baby rolled over.

Sad, but true.

Maybe that made me feel a bit alienated from mommy and baby groups.  I am interested in chatting to moms about what they go through, and how they struggle and how they overcome the things that plagues us all.

When I sit and chat with moms the conversations seem to flick very quickly to junior and what colour his poo is, and that he is just the best baby in the world, and how much mom just loves being a mom, and that he is already walking and able to program the DSTV, and then the gushing goes on for a bit too long.

I love the fact that moms are proud of their offspring, but frankly I am just not interested.

I love my kids, I even like my kids, but I seldom share with the world when Georgia managed to sing all the words to “Peg Leg Jack” I am super proud of her and she does the actions.

But I am fairly sure no one else gives a toss, so I do not sit and tell them all about it.

Normally as I am being given a blow by blow rendition of how junior managed to pee into the potty on command, it is at this point I start to feel somewhat uncomfortable.  I  shift around awkwardly in my seat and start staring off into the distance.

Usually my mind starts to drift and I start to think of how I am going to escape, or what time the bottle stores close on a Saturday.

Basically I start planning my exit strategy quickly, but still trying to appear like I am interested in the consistency of junior’s snot!

I have always felt really different from other moms.  I have felt alienated from them, and I feel like I cannot relate to what seems to interest them.

Maybe this is why I have never made friends with moms-with-babes (or maybe it is just that my personality alienates them, or that I have body odour …. or ….. you can see how this can go on.)

I do not have any friends who have babies!  Seriously not one.

My friends have either chosen not to have babies, can’t have babies, or are not ready to have babies, or have not met the sperm provider with whom they wish to have babies.

Bear in mind I am in my late thirties, so my friends are not twelve years old, they are generally in the mid-thirty range.    But strange as it is, we are the only couple in our group of close friends who have kids.

With the result I try not to talk about my kids with them unless they specifically ask.  I can’t think they want to hear about the defaecate movements, projective vomiting and sleeping patterns of my brood.

I had a friend, who had two young children, and then when I had Connor, she and her husband moved away.  Not because I had Connor, you understand.  But because they had work obligations that sent them out of the country (or that is what they told us at any rate).

Before blogging I did not realize there were bloggers, I did not realize there were forums.

There are in reality tons of bloggers and tons of forums. (I was so naive about this entire sub-community that exists it is frightening and embarrassing.)

One tends to look around and then find and connect with the one (forum and/or blog) that most reflects who you are, or what you are interested in reading/hearing about.

I stumbled across www.pampers.co.za about 18 months ago, and it has a very active forum.

I joined and most of the conversations I saw were about poo and what colour it was.  But every now and then I would read a post and something in me would go “hey that sounds like a mom I can relate to…” and then I started commenting on threads and started threads.

Initially I felt awkward, but as time moved on I got a bit more comfortable with myself.  I realised who I was, and though I was different to the masses, it felt like there was a space for someone of my ilk on the forum.

I decided that instead of being the “mommy-and-baby mom” I will actually just be me, the reluctant mom, it was good, and it made me feel good to be me and be honest, instead of standing there with a saccharine smile on my face!

Pampers’ forum went through some changes and it no longer felt like a good place to be.

I started looking around for a new forum, as it was strange how familiar this little community of people had become.  I missed their chatter, and I missed the conversations and how good it made me feel, and I needed to find another forum and see if I could “move in there”.

Moomie came along, and initially I missed old  pampers, but in no time a lot  of the “old”crew moved over and lots of new moms joined, and the chatter and sense of community started again.

I am not a mommy’s mommy.  But, I have enjoyed the sense of community at Moomie.

I love it that there are moms on that forum who maybe want to talk about something else.  And who also struggle a bit like I do.

I have enjoyed the honesty that many of the moms have been brave enough to show.  Sometimes I get private message comments from moms that warm my soul.

Moms who feel a bit embarrassed to say something on the forum, but feel comfortable enough saying it to me, even in a private message, and that makes me feel pretty good.

Last weekend we arranged a moomie meet in Cape Town and some of the moms got together at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.  I only knew one of the moms by sight, but it was really nice to sit around in a spectacular garden, have a picnic, and have our kids running around and feel a connection with a group of people, who I would usually feel a bit alienated from.

I think what being part of a forum has shown me is that I am not as unique as I led myself to believe, there are more moms out there who struggle with the same or similar things that I struggle with than I realized.

And sometimes, it is nice to have an accepting group who understands what you are going to as a sounding board.

I am still not big on groups, and I do tend to hold myself on the outskirts, as that is where I feel comfortable, but I think the point I am trying to make is that a sense of community with other moms who are going through what you are going through – I think especially if you can find moms who are brave enough to be honest, is a very valuable thing.

Maybe Jesus did it …..

Georgia and Isabelle in the bath on Sunday morning.

Georgia has a sponge and is washing the walls and the bath.  Isabelle has an old wet wipe and is attempting to copy Georgia.

Georgia:  Look at the marks on the bath.  It looks like someone had a crayon and scratched on the side of the bath.

Me:  Yes, I wonder who that could be. (knowing it was her, and wanting her to admit it.)

Georgia:  I have an idea. I know who did it.

Me:  Smiling, as now I think she will admit to being the perpertrator.

Georgia:  I think it was Jesus who came down and did it while we were out.

Me: ……

Only a mother would know….

My friend Judith sent this to me a few moments ago –  and it was so true to life that I laughed out loud, and this is probably a good place to share it.

A Cup of Tea

One day my mother was out, and my dad was in charge of me. I was maybe 2 1/2 years old. Someone had given me a little ‘tea set’ as a gift, and it was one of my favorite toys.

Daddy was in the living room engrossed in the evening news when I brought him a little cup of ‘tea’, which was just water. After several cups of tea and lots of praise for such yummy tea, my mom came home.

My dad made her wait in the living room to watch me bring him a cup of tea, because it was ‘just the cutest thing!’

 Mom waited, and sure enough, here I came down the hall with a cup of tea for Daddy; and she watched him drink it up.

Then she said, (as only a mother would know), “‘Did it ever occur to you that the only place she can reach to get water is the toilet?”

Sunday was Chinese-water-torture Night

 

Basically the way the game is played, is that you are a little more stressed/exhausted than usual.  You are trying to get kids ready for bed, all the time while keeping an eye on the digital clock above the oven, as it flashes the minutes in large red letters.

Digital letters have never looked so alluring and sexy!

I know it is bad karma to wish for time to pass.  But when you are wanting kids in bed, and some time to yourself that does not involve the word “mommy” being used in a whiny voice, poo that is not yours and spilt milk, the minutes they cannot move fast enough.

I love that clock – I shout BINGO as soon as it says 19h30 (I shout it inside my head, I do not want to make the kids think I am any stranger than I already am)!

If your kids are young you can shout it earlier depending on when you have decided that  “Fek I have had enough of this, and these munchkins can go to right sleep now before I kill them!!”  So time is flexible at this point.

Older kids can tell time so once they are around 6 thistechnique of bending time gets more tricky. Unfortunately you only need one who can tell the time to spoil the entire thing for everyone.  This reason should be motivation enough for not training kids to tell time until they are about 11 or 15!

 Yes, you can set the clocks forward, but odds are you will forget as soon as kids are in bed, and you have finished the second bottle of wine, and then you are pretty stuffed the next day as you are then never on time for anything!  It’s a good idea but lacks in application.

Background:  Kennith had been away for a week, and two weekends.  Added to that I started a new job on Monday.  The kids started of a new school year.   Isabelle was having a reaction to the 18 month jabs I had done for her last week.  I get anxious when Kennith is away  – like really!  Combination = total stressed out me.

Sunday afternoon Kennith got home.  We did dinner and then started aiming the kids to bed.  There was the usual chaos.  Georgia was being Georgia.  I was at the juncture where our three child family was about to become a two child family with the mom at Polsmoor.

Got kids into thier beds – I might have thrown them a bit….but I aimed them towards where there were pillows and a duvet, so that must count for something.

I am doing stuff, Kennith is lying on the bed with his iPhone – one of the kids cries/needs a bum wipe or something – Kennith chirps “just because I am home doesn’t mean I am on child duty right?” 

What do you think I am thinking right now?  It’s not “I heart you” right now, that is for free.  He has been away for two weekends.  I don’t care where he was, he wasn’t here and that counts as a holiday in my book.

I got in to bed around 23h30 and fell asleep after less than a paragraph of my book. 

Isabelle started to moan, and I thought I would leave her and she would settle and then everyone would be asleep.  Happy days.

Then I listened and thought, well I should just go in and check on her to make sure her leg is not caught in the cot bars, or she has poo’d so much her nappy is leaking it all over her cot bedding – both of which has occurred.  So guilt got me out of bed, and I went down the passage to check on her.

If I settle her, she will go to sleep and then I can sleep, and that was my motivation and I figured, I do this one and we are sorted.  Right?  Not so much.

I go and settle her and head back to bed.  As I start to doze, I hear her moan again.

Again I think, should I leave her to sort it out or should I go in and just make sure she is fine, so she can go to sleep and I can enter Nirvana?

I go in and settle her.  She is sort of half sleeping half awake, and moaning, which is not a good sign.  But I pat her, cover her with a blanket, and exit the room.

The same process then repeats itself about five more times until about 1am.  By around this point I have lost what ever was left of my sense of humour.

Just after 1am, Kennith hears her for the first time, jumps out of bed, stumbles down the passage, comforts her and falls back into bed.

I decided to lie there and let him, I should have stopped him as I had just done that, but I figured he could get this one, I would get the next dozen or so.

The balance of Monday morning  was the exact same routine, over and over again until around 5am.

At that point she escalated the moaning to screaming.  I was past caring for her or being concerned for her at this point.  I was trying to work out how many Voyager miles it would take for me to go to China.  Not because I wanted to specifically go to China, I just did not want to be here anymore.

Kennith woke up, I suggested we fetch Isabelle and put her in our bed.  He said no.

Only because I was so sleep deprived at this point, I was past reasoning, and hoped/fantasized/seen once in a movie, that a couple slept with their baby in the bed.

Kennith said no, and was about to launch into a lecture about the evils of children sleeping in their parents bed, and the bad example it sets, and global warming and why Kim Kardashian is a great person to follow on Twitter.

I switched off (from him – I could still hear Isabelle clearly), rolled on my side, and continued to tighten the jaw muscles to see if I could actually snap off a molar.

Kennith woke up, he suggested we fetch Isabelle and put her in our bed.  I said that is a great idea.  He fetched her.

She did however continue to moan and thrash around the bed, and kick me and stick her fingers in my eye.  Fabulous if this is your thing, not so good if you are hoping for a slither of sleep.

Kennith managed to go back to sleep, albeit for a few minutes.

I would like to say that I was really happy for him, as he has been travelling and had been away, and really needed sleep.  But I was slightly less than charitable in my thoughts.

Isabelle continued to moan and be up for most-likely-to-be-packed-in-a-cardboard-box-and-given-to-gypseys.

This went on all morning  – of the little bit that was left.

Eventually  I picked her up, put her in the passage and called loudly/screamed down the passage: “Pepe, please come and get her, else I am going to do something with her that I am going to regret!” 

It sounded nicer that what I was thinking which was: “Pepe, come and get this fekn child!”  But I know Pepe knows Child Services telephone number so I am careful what I say around her some times.

Pepe fetched Isabelle.

I had a shower.  I dressed.  Fortunately my wardrobe is jean pant with a shirt and black shoes, so that often does not take much brain power.  Tried to drink a cup of tea which tasted like crap – because my taste buds were not functioning.

It felt like a sheep and peed in my eyes.  Why a sheep?  I don’t know, it just felt like livestock has been urinating in my eyes, and sheep just seemed the most likely to get up to that sort of nonsense.

Shuttled kids into the car.  Said good bye to Pepe and Isabelle and then tried to get through the next 10 hours feeling like dog crap on a pair of grasshopper shoes.  It was a very long day, and all I could think about was sleeping.

I seriously do not know how mothers function who do this for several days at a trot.  I often hear from moms who have not had a full night sleep since Julius did woodwork, and I am totally flabbergasted at how they function.

One night of this and I was ready to say or do anything just to get some sleep.  Yes, it was me on the grassy knoll –  it was me, now leave me alone and let me sleep.

I still do not know what was wrong with Isabelle.  For fear of repeating the same routine last night I packed her in her cot with a healthy dose of Nurofen for kids.   

I slept like the dead last night, and woke up this morning feeling a lot saner than yesterday, and almost refreshed.   Isabelle also looks like she is back to her chipper self.  Monkey!

This mommy gig is really hard emotional work….



 

Any one who knows me will easily be able to gauge that I lucked out when they were handing out patience.  I have always been wound just that little bit too tight.

My ability to appear/actually be patient is lacking at the best of times.

I am impatient with those I love.  I am decidedly impatient with those I can’t stand. And fools and call centre staff get the full onslaught of my wrath.

One if the problems (and there are several) is that my impatience and inability to maintain my composure makes me sometimes treat my loved ones with a disregard for their feelings.  Subsequent to the fact I am always sorry, but seldom say it out loud.

Instead I hold it in and persecute myself.  I go for a bit of self-flagellation, which makes me feel crapper than I do any way.  It is all a bitter cycle, that builds momentum and gains speed of epic proportion.  The more I am unhappy with myself, the more I internalize things, and the self loathing grows.

It just seems that while in the moment I am almost unable to control my zero-to-being- totally-fucked-off- in-eight-seconds-or-less reaction to things.

When I am tired, stressed and anxious it is worse.  (Right now I am tired, stressed and very anxious.)

The issue I wish to focus on today, is that I have lacked patience with Connor.  It feels like I have always lacked patience with him.

I am not sure exactly why.  But the truth be told, he is probably the child I reserve the least amount of patience for.

I am not sure of the reason, and I am sure it is not anything he has done.  It is totally a fault that lies in my character and my inability to deal with him in a rational and calm manner.

I love that child dearly.  I would die for him if I had to.  He is really one of the sweetest children – in character – that I have ever met.  

But I have realized for some time – and with much embarrassment – that there is something about him that sets me off.  He knows my triggers – consciously or unconsciously.  He knows them, and he knows how to apply the pressure that sends me off like a rocket.

It is a bit like that new guy who just started working at your office.  Helluva nice guy, friendly and very personable.  But there is just something about him that rubs you up the wrong way.  It is not what he says or does, it is actually just that he exists and that he exists in a 10 meter radius of you!

Initially when I had Connor  I put it down to the fact that I was overwhelmed/distraught/a shit mother and had colossal amounts of problems that I was hoarding away under beds and in cupboards.  I struggled with him – I struggled with me – and I struggled to be patient with him when I should have been more so.  Connor always knows I love him, and adore him – he also knows that unfortunately I am a bit erratic and quick to anger.

When I had Georgia and Isabelle, I realized that though they tire me, as kids do, they do not seem to set me off like Connor does.  With Connor I am generally rattled and frizzled (less now that I was).

I read a book several years ago – A Child Called “It”  by Dave Pelzer.

Long story but the short of it, was that he was one of five brothers, and his mother was the poster child for good mothers.  Very active mom.  She was the den mother for their scout group, and very involved with her children and the community.  But for some reason she started to abuse her one son, Dave.  Totally random, totally uncalled for.   She abused him in every conceivable way, she was vile and cruel.

I read it before I had my children, and I think if I read it now, it might be a bit too traumatic and I am not sure I would get through it having a little boy of my own.

There is this part in the book towards the end where Dave is trying to come to terms with why his mother abused him but left his four brothers alone.  What was it about him that set her off?  (Please bear with me as I am recalling this book and I read it more than 10 years ago, so I am doing a serious memory backtrack, and may be a bit off with the details.)

There was a psychologist/psychiatrist who commented that no one knows what makes a mom target one of her kids.  But it could be something as small as a smell, which triggers an emotion or a reaction in a mother.  It might cause her to react differently to one child versus how she may behave to the others in her brood.

When I realized that Connor managed to get under my skin, and he actually caused me to become angry, not upset, like blood-curdling- I-can- see-only-red angry.  I got fearful.  For me.  For him.

Maybe I might be Mrs Pelzer or a bit of Mrs Pelzer was living in me – and Connor might be “that boy.”

It is a guilt I have carried with me for a very long time.  I am really concerned that I might one day do something in my rage that I cannot stop, and will forever regret.   I have often done things in my “blind rage and anger” that afterwards I recognize weren’t signs of healthy behavior, and have given me many hours of purging on therapists couches.

When I say I struggle, I really mean I fekn battle with motherhood.  I know some very dark places, and I feel like I have been right to the bottom.

Connor is now nine years old.  He is a very sweet and even tempered child. He is naturally good and sees the good in others.  He loves nothing more than for you to be pleased with him.  He is gentle and loving, and appears secure and happy.

He values the praise of others too highly.  He needs affirmation from others.  I worry this will cause him pain and anguish moving forward in his life, and make his life hard.

But he is the way he is, and he really is a lovely sunny guy with the kindest soul.

Something I noticed in the last two months is that when he gets angry or impatient with Georgia, he speaks to her in the “angry” voice I used to use to speak to him (when I got angry and saw red – it does not happen often, but I will not deny that it still does happen).

When I heard him speak to her like that, I literally gasped.

I could have gone stomping into the room and demanded he apologise to her for being so abrupt and basically mean.  But it is difficult to do that when you have tears in your eyes and a lump in your throat, at the realization that your “horribly angry voice” is now speaking through your son, like a bad Vegas ventriloquist show.

It really was a pretty crap moment for me.  And made me sad right down to the fibre of what keeps my joints together.

It was one of those moments when I literally heard the car tyres screech in my head, as I gripped the steering wheel with white knuckles and thought “good gawd, what have I done, what now?”

The situation at home right now is that Georgia is 5 ½ and it appears that she has lost her ability to hear me speak.  I can speak to her until I literally have to scream at her because she has totally muted me out.

I speak nicely.  I speak in a measured tone.  I then speak with a bit more force.  I speak with animation.  I speak in a loud screechy voice.  I speak using only single syllable words.

I then progress to speak in an angry clipped tone.  When all of that fails – and Georgia just does not seem to be reacting, I screech at her in my “psychologically damaged do-what-I-am-telling-you-to-do-or-I-am-going-to-smack-you-into-next-week” voice.

The problem is that she is still not listening even though I do time out/deprive her of television/sit and reason with her/threaten to inflict bodily violence on her/threaten to throw Barbie and My Little Pony out of the fekn car window – she is impervious to it all.

 The final (or my final) resort is being this ugly mom person to try to get her to react or to comply.  The problem is the ugly mom person is too close to the surface for my liking and leaves me frayed and unfortunately very disappointed with myself, and angry with her, and exhausted!

The thing I have realized in the last three month is that maybe Georgia is going through a “phase.” She used  to be the “good one”  – she used to be the one who listened.  Now she is the one most likely to get a hiding over the weekend combined with time out!

What I have realised now is that maybe it was not Connor that was difficult (I would say he was challenging).  Maybe the problem was that when he  was going through his “I am not going to listen to mom unless she goes totally off her face” stage – Georgia was between 12 – 18 months.   So I was comparing him to a toddler – Georgia – who is generally a bit more compliant and easy to deal with that a young child who starts to express his boundaries.  Added to that I was going through so many things in my personal life, that I was raw and frayed most days, and had no facility for patience and being able to reflect on what I was doing.

(I am not excusing myself or making up a reason to fall back on.   I admit I am a crap mom most of the time, but I am less crap than I was, and hope to be less crap tomorrow than I am today – that is all I can do right now.)

Unfortunately my boy got to experience the really horrible side of his mom.  He saw the worst of me and I am embarrassed (and afraid) to admit, that I think his character has been “damaged” a bit because of it.

So how now?

I am not sure.

I feel terrible that I was so mean to Connor when he was a mite, and need to find a way to “unlearn” the behavior I have taught him is acceptable.  It isn’t and it wasn’t.

I am not sure how to go about it.

I am not sure if I can change, but there we are, such is the way it is right now in my neck of the woods.  I know this post rambles, but I feel a bit ramble and disjointed at the moment.

I think the summary is that I was not the best I could be for Connor.

I am sorry and I regret that I did not try harder and achieve more.  I am sorry that he had to endure me.  I am sorry that I was and am not more patient. 

I am sorry that I was not a more mature wise mother to realize that it was not him that was pushing by buttons, but that my buttons had been rubbed so raw, that any friction against them was agony and created a reaction.

I am sorry that I was not better, and I am sorry that I am still not the best I can be. 

 

I am not a fan of filling in lists … however ….

1. Why you started blogging:

I was weighing up whether I should throw my child against a wall so she would stop crying, and that maybe I could have 15 seconds of peace, or whether I should fill the second script of Zoloft or whether maybe if I sat and actually said the things out loud that bothered me it would make me feel better.

I had never read a blog – I was naive enough to think I was the only mother in South Africa who was blogging.  Well I sort of thought I was the only person in Africa who was blogging, I just had no idea actually.

2. What you love about it/ hate about it:

I love that people stop and read what I write, and I really get a “rise” when someone says “I feel just like you” about something – it makes me feel a little bit less alone in my madness.

I am not sure there is something I hate about blogging.

I think there as bloggers we place some pressure on ourselves to blog regularly and also to try to be better bloggers.  I am not sure what that means exactly – but I look back over the period I have blogged, and I think I have grown as a person, as a mother, as a partner because I have been blogged.

3. How you came to choose the name for your blog:

I can’t recall specifically, it was really just a name that came to me.  As with all things I think I am wildly original, and then when I registered the blog and the domain I realized well the idea of “reluctant mom’ was not that unique.

But I do like the name, and use it on forums and it is my avatar – my little alter ego.

4. Who would you give your last rolo to?

That would be tricky as odds are I would hide it and then sneak it in to my mouth when everyone has left the room, or no one is looking.

The reality is that one of my children would steal it, so it would not so much be a case of giving my last rolo to anyone as it being taken away from me by the fruit of my loins.

5. If I were a colour, which would I be…and why.

I am sure this is a very scientific question and will reveal much about me and how I relate to the world, but in short:

If I was a pair of jean pants: a dark colour

If I were a shirt: probably white

If I were a wine: definitely white

If I were an ink: indigo

If I was choosing a favourite: blue (or pink….)

6. What 3 moments defined your life and explain briefly.

Moment 1: I think the moment when I realized that I had a father and I did not want to have him in my life.

The moment when my mind said “sure you cannot pick your family, but you can sure as hell pick who you want in your world.”

I did not do it with peer pressure, or because someone sat me down and said that it is for the best or the worst, I just decided that this was the way it was going to be.

Moment 2: I think driving to Hermanus with Kennith in the car in 1999, and when I looked over to him and said “I think I am ready to start thinking about us having a baby.”  Kennith did proceed to get blind drunk with our friends and puke on the carpet in the room we were sleeping on to which I thought “What a total prick, why would I ever think of having kids with this idiot?”

Moment 3: When Kennith and I were at our lowest of lowest patches in 2006, and at some point I decided/realized that the worst that could happen was that I would have to walk out the door and leave Connor and Georgia with Kennith because I could not afford to take them with me.

It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make, and it was something I had anguised about for months.  But that moment of clarity when I realized “if this is the hardest thing you have to do, and you can accept it, and move on” – it was a very powerful moment for me.  It was the equivalent of facing my worst fear, looking it in the face and saying “I am not scared of you boogey man, I am  not scared of you any more!”

7. What song would best describe you?

I really do not have a life-theme song, so  I am really struggling on this one.

I have always enjoyed Smash Mouth – All Star’s and used to keep some of the lyrics pasted above my desk.  It is just a song that sits with me, but there are dozens of others that are more meaningful, and that make me cry.

But right now, this is the one I am thinking of.

The ice we skate is getting pretty thin
The waters getting warm so you might as well swim
My world’s on fire how about yours
That’s the way I like it and I never get bored

Hey now you’re an All Star get your game on, go play
Hey now you’re a Rock Star get the show on, get paid
(And all that glitters is gold)
Only shooting stars break the mold

8. If you could choose another career or job and money is no object, what would you do?

I wish I could combine writing, photograpy and aiding families to adopt.  Yes I realize the three do not connect in anyway, but we are talking “money is no object and what would you like to do.”

9. If the fairy comes with her magic wand and give you one wish that you have to use for yourself (and no one else), what would it be?

To be able to love completely, without the ever present darkness and shadows.

10.What are you looking forward to for 2011?

I want to feel – I want to feel with a sense of honesty.
I want to love completely, and with abadon.

I want to feel that I am enough.

11. What 3 things are on your wish list for the year?

I want to do something for me, without the guilt which I always attach to something.

I want to find a balance between work, love, children, friends and home.

I want to do something for children in an orphanage or a place of safety this year – I am not sure what.

13. Favourite book – one that you can read over and over and not tire of?

I know I should say something really deep and meaningful here, but the reality is that I read Bill Bryson over and over again – he is one of those authors that makes me laugh even when I read him 1 dozen times.

14. First blog you started reading?

I really thought I was the only blogger known to man when I started.  I will be honest and say that I really cannot recall the first blog I read, but I do recall stumbling across Laura, Sharon, Lisa (site unfortunately not up anymore) and also Wenchy fairly early on.

15. You get to make over one room in your house – which room would it be and why? Maybe add a pic of how you would like to change it!

I want to redo our bathrooms – we have these huge bathrooms, but they were done circa 1980 style, and I cannot wait until they are all sleek and modern.  I would be too embarrassed to post a picture, as odds are the picture would record the wee  on the floor and the unflushed floater left by a child.

The above was adapted from a blog post from Wenchy.

Sing out loud in the car even, or especially, if it embarrasses your children.

It is not that I can’t sing.

It is that I suck at singing.  I cannot hold a tune.

I sound like a very bad audition for Idols.  I am the “wooden mike” award who would actually make it on to the show, just for the laugh factor.

I have had these fantasies – yes, fantasies – that I would stand up and this voice would come out of me.  People would swoon in wonder and look at each other and smile as a tear ran down their cheek – that is the effect my “fantasy” voice would have on them.

They would murmur to each other that they have sighted the second coming.

It is all too much, it is all too much wine actually.

I can’t even hum without scaring little children.

I am not the “I can’t sing” and the then the crowd cajoles you into one last rendition of “Misery” and you bring the house to tears.

For sh*t sake, I seriously cannot sing!  I cannot carry a tune – even drunk, and often that is when people do their best work.

I actually mime “happy birthday to insert-child’s-name-here” when we go to birthday parties as I seriously cannot sing.

At my kid’s birthdays I try to look busy when it is time to sing as I do not want to scar them for life.  I usually scout the room beforehand and grab who I think is probably the loudest person and get them to start the sing along.

I make excuses about having to organise cake and candles, and well being busy-busy.

I am a little embarrassed by it.  Unfortunately since Jane Austin standing around the family piano and singing a medley has not longer been a necessity to finding a husband and being part of a social circle, there are far fewer moments where one is actually MADE to sing.

When I was at primary school I was in the choir.

I have no idea how.  It appears I have the gift of imitation on my part, or deafness and/or disinterest on the choir teacher’s part.

I found a way to sort of imitate the person next to me and follow their general sound.  I really enjoyed choir, like nerdy enjoyed.

A growing-up-scaring-moment for me, was when the choir teacher was suspicious that there was someone way off key in her little group of singers.

She let everyone sing, and then slowly “zoned” in … on me.

She cancelled out everyone and then stood in front of me and asked me to continue singing.  It was not even sad and embarrassing it was just tragic.

I had to stand there and sing all by myself as all my choir mates looked on – in horror.  Then as the chorus rose to a sort of Mariah Carey level, my voice totally disappeared.

I was so embarrassed, but carried on (the trooper I am) – even when I was doing that silent voice thing.  The part where you open your mouth and f*k all comes out.  Fond memories those.

My primary school was big on staging Operettas.

I am not sure how to explain them other than I think our headmaster had a thing for plays/dramas and writing really bad songs for school children to sing.  I am sure if he was still a head master, someone from ChildLine would have been giving him a call and raised some concerns.

I recall the teacher who was conducting the entire thing telling us that the headmaster had written them while he was in the army.  At the time we all made the obligatory “ooohhhh” and “aaahhhh” sounds, but bear in mind I was about 7.

If I knew now that a boy in the army was writing operettas, I would want to check the ruling parties policy on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the armed forces.  But at 7, I thought it was very cool and manly.

Any the who.

I was in this Aladdin play/operetta/stage show extravaganza.

During practice I realized I was a better than Belinda Dennison who was cast as Aladdin’s mother.  Sure she had 25kg on me, but I could totally upstage her.  Which I preceded to do in rehearsals.

It was quite a big supporting part, and had a ton of stage time.

Then the teachers who were organizing asked me to attend an audition where they wanted me to sing the opening song with a piano accompaniment, as the part required quite a bit of acting but (sadly  for me) quite a bit of singing.

I would love to say that as soon as the piano piece started I belted out the piece to audience applause.   Unfortunately the reality is that I sucked and even at 7 I recognized that I was going down without a parachute.

I could not hit a note – any note!

Instead of my big stage moment, I got moved to the understudy’s understudy of Aladdin’s mom.   As Belinda was not going to die from Influenza on opening night it seemed I would need to be satisfied with being cast to appear on stage in part 2, scene 4 as a Chinese palace guard.

Which would have been fabulous had I not forgotten I had a mascara-chinese-moustache on 2 minutes before going on stage, and then managed to smudge it all over my face!

Fast forward thirty odd years, I still can’t sing.

Tonight Isabelle was crying.  I went to pick her up and comfort her and soothe her to sleep.

Again I was reminded of the fact that I appear to know no lullabies.

I sort of stumbled through “Hush little baby” and then fumbled through “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” After the first line I was at a total loss and sort of hummed the rest, but badly and off key.

A few nights earlier I had been called upon to sing lullabies and realized that I did not know any.

Three kids and no knowledge of lullabies, what does that say about my mothering skills and my ability to comfort my children?

I did realized that I knew “Ten Green Bottles hanging on the Wall.”

The stuff that comes to you as you rock a child to sleep in the darkness, in the middle of the night.

Easy to sing.  Words sort of flow from there, and a really simple melody that even I could not muck up.

Tonight I felt that I did not want to try a bit harder and not resort to  “Ten Green Bottles hanging on the Wall,” so I figured I would try to work my way through a Christmas carol.

I realized I knew almost all the words of “Silent Night” and sung that as a lullaby.

Even I could hear that my voice was shockingly off key, I also did not know the words just after “all is calm, all is bright” and sort had to muddled my way through that.

I totally suck at lullabies, but Isabelle rested her head against my chest, put her thumb in her mouth and her eyelids got heavy as I tickled her back and totally massacred “Silent Night.”

If depression is creeping up and must be faced, learn something about the nature of the beast: You may escape without a mauling.

I don’t blog about depression often.  I prefer not to think of this as a blog about ‘moms who suffer from depression” – I prefer to regard it rather as a blog about a girl who struggles with motherhood.

The reality is that I do suffer/struggle with depression.

The reality is that most/a lot of days I struggle to get out of bed and through the day.

The reality is that most/all/some days I hate me, just because I am me.

The reality is that most/all days I do consider that maybe life would/might be easier/better/just not as hard if I was not in it.

The reality is that most/all/some days the pretence I put up to get through the day is exhausting, and takes more energy that I have available.

But I do get through the day.  And I do try to hide that it is a struggle.

I wake up. I put the alarm on my cell phone off.  Usually let out a great sigh.  Flick my feet onto the floor, and take a deep breath as my weight is conveyed to my feet.

I know that this is the start.  This is always the start of my day.

This is the start of my day where I will need to wait at least another 16 hours until I can go back to sleep.  Then I can close my eyes and sigh in relief that it is over – that I survived the day, that maybe tomorrow will be easier.

Maybe.

I often/usually have internal arguments with myself to convince myself that I actually do not suffer from depression.  I am fine.  I am really fine.

If I say it enough, then I might believe it.  However I do have several doctor’s certificates telling me differently.

The reality is that I do struggle with depression.

The reality is that it is this gnawing pain that exists.

The reality is that just waking up is a battle won.

The reality is that if someone tells me to “look on the bright side” I might actually stick the broken neck of my wine bottle (when I am finished with it, as it is pointless hitting it against the side of a table to get a ragged killing instrument if there is still wine in the bottle) and shove it into some jolly well-wishers jugular.

(Anger management classes start Friday)

No matter who I am today, no matter where I am, no matter what I am doing, it is this dark shadow that I am waiting to drift over the sun.

When the dark cloud does move over the sun, it is dark, it is cold, and I will quickly forget all the warmth I experienced before.

Every now and then there will be a little breeze, that will change the course of that cloud, and it’s direction of drifting over the sun.  I will get to sit in the sun and have the warmth of it on my face for a bit longer.

November and December have truly been a shocker for me.  I have been smacked to the floor more times than I can probably count.

Of course logic would tell you that I would be hit with a depressive episode.  But logic and depression do not necessarily walk hand in hand down the garden path.

It still hit me, and I still was not able to recognize it – could not see it coming, could not see it when it arrived, and could not recognize it’s destructive force.

All a bit shocking considering how bright I keep telling everyone I am.

I am very lucky that in general I have been able to manage my depression.

I have been able to hide it sufficiently from Joe-Public.

My methods are often to distance myself, to appear aloof, and to build what can only be described as a large moat, and castle walls around myself – to protect myself.  This “protection” has stood me in good stead.

But with all things good, there is sometimes the small print.

The protection means I have distanced myself from a great deal of other things – the result is I have been missing out.

I have convinced myself that this distancing is vital, and necessary.  And that the lack of feeling or connection of feeling is a fair price to pay for the “protection.”

New therapist (combined with some recent events) has shown me that maybe it is not a fair price to pay and it might be time to start breaking down my defenses.

It might be time.

I am not sure it is time, but, I do realize what I have been missing out on and what I have been standing away from.  Though it has served as a fantastic protection tool, maybe in the protection it has also held me back from experiences, both in joy and in happiness, and in itself done more damage.

So that is what I tackle this year.

I tackle the little steps in breaking those defenses down one brick at a time.

Am I scared?  Petrified.  Am I convince it will work?  No.  Am I keen to do it?  Er, no.  Will I attempt it?  Maybe – with reluctance.  Maybe just one brick at a time.

I think what I am trying to offer here, maybe to other moms who suffer from depression, is that if you have a support system that works, or even better a supportive partner who can assist you, and understands you, it goes a long way in you having more sane days than the days that are not sane.

Being a mom is frikk’n difficult.  I don’t mean like choosing a decent white wine for under R25.00 difficult.  I mean the kind of difficult where you start to wonder about your sanity, your sense of worth, and how the hell you got yourself in this position.

The problem is that often in the middle of all this insanity, is a partner who you love (or think you love, or maybe just mildly like right now), and a child who you know you adore, but who you are struggling to like at this particular moment in time.

Motherhood is not for sissies.

Motherhood with depression is actually easier if you recognize and embrace your insanity.  Lay down all your façades and masks that you use to hide who you really are.  It is time to dust off the little drummer boy hiding in your closet, and start moving to the beat of your own little drum(er boy).

Trying to keep up with all the super mommies and yummy mummies, and mummies who truly love to do arts and crafts all day is enough to make even the mildly insane certifiable.

The problem with ejecting a child from your uterus (or raising a child that you did not personally eject), is that one morning you are going to look over at your husband/partner who you love dearly and go “you f*cker how did you get me into this situation?” and then start to build up a mild dislike/resentment even total disdain for them.

At some point you may even look over at your child who is screaming their head off for a totally unknown reason and think ”I want to run away from you and from this all – I want my life back!”

But such is our lives, and such is the life of a mother.

We are filled with this sadness of “our (past) life lost” and in the same breath filled with a  sense of awe that we have got to be part of creating a new life, and being privileged enough to be a part of shaping a new person, who we hope will be a better version of ourselves.

The ying and the yang of motherhood.

Hot in the city, hot in the city tonight, tonight

Last night reminded me again that I had won the BEST Parenting BLOG and not the prize for BEST PARENTING Blog.

We went over to our mates Joyce and Leon for a braai last night, and met up with Lorna and Peter as well.

Cape Town is experiencing what can only be described as a heat wave at the moment.  If you do not have an air conditioner and access to a fridge with cold beer and a pool, then life right now is not dissimilar from Hades for you.  It is absolutely scorching.

Last night when we arrived at our friends home, at 6pm the temperature was 34 degrees.

At about 10pm I walked into the pool fully clothed and the temperature was easily 30 degrees then.  It was not hot as much as it was f*kn cooking!

Georgia has slept in her costume for two nights running!

Anyway back to my bad parenting moment.

Great evening, great food, great wine, possibly slightly too much wine.

But it was fine as Kennith had an ear infection and was on antibiotics so he was limiting his alcohol intake, and automatically made him the responsible parent and designated driver.

Kennith had also packed two bottles of wine for me – for one evening out!  I felt it was slightly excessive, but I also did not want to disappoint him.  Two bottles in one evening out is a challenge.  It is not impossible, but it is a challenge.

Any the who.  Great dinner, great wine, then when it was all over we went home.

Kids were exhausted with the heat and they had been swimming a lot, so they asked to sleep in the lounge.

Considering the couches still had their bedding on them from the night before, it seemed a sensible solution to just agree to let them sleep in the tv room again!

Our standards have really slipped during this school holiday.  I am not sure when the last time my kids had a bath – and Georgia is wearing a plait in her hair that I did on the weekend (today is Thursday!) – so that sort of comments on how personal hygiene has sort of got lost along the way.

Any the way, kids in bed, Isabelle into her cot.  She went to bed with just a nappy on as it was too hot to even consider putting anything else on her.

She fell asleep, or so I thought.  I stumbled to bed, put on my Ackermans nightshirt and fell into a I-ate-too-much-chicken-and-have-definitely-not-drunk-too-much-wine pile.

I fell asleep for what felt like five minutes and then I heard Isabelle screaming like she was being strangled.  I fell out of bed, picked myself off the floor, sort of fell over myself getting to her room, and burst into her room.

Arrived, and she was very upset (not because I had arrived you understand, she was upset and then I arrived – sorry I still feel a bit drunk clearly).

I proceeded to sit with her and rock her for what felt like an hour.  When her eyelids became heavy and I felt her breathing sort of slow (or my eyelids got heavy and my breathing started to slow). I placed her back into her cot and headed back to my bed.

Repeated the same procedure of falling into bed in a heap.  Only to be woken before I had actually slipped into rapid eye movement, by more screaming from Isabelle.

At this point I decided I was going to do the parenting-with-tough-love and would leave her to scream it out.  Eventually she will get tired and go to sleep.

I was desperate to sleep, so the room would stop spinning!  I lay there and tried to doze, but the screaming – she was screaming a loud, I was screaming on the inside – just would not stop.

I slammed my feet onto the floor as I heaved my mass out of bed.  Not only was I really tired, but now I was getting annoyed.

I march to Isabelle’s room to give her a firm talking to.  I flick on the passage light, open her door with just that too much force (so as to make an impression that I am clearly not happy), I enter her room wearing a very disapproving look on my face!

Only to find that she has caught her fat chubby leg between the bars of her cot and is screaming like a banshee!

I felt worse than dog sh*t left in the sun too long!  I freed her chubby little leg, rolled her on her side and patted her a bit until she dosed off, castigating myself for being such a bad person as I had let her scream while she was in distress!

Of course she proceeded to scream as soon as I got back to bed.  Of course now I jumped up like a Jack in a Box and did at least another four visits to her room.

Even when she stopped screaming and eventually fell asleep, the scream was still ricocheting in my head so much so, that I thought she was still screaming (even when I checked on her and found her sleeping three more times!)

I woke up before 6am this morning, feeling like death, and then because I could still “hear the screaming” I went to check on her again – and of course she was sleeping spread out like a Snow Angel in her cot, quietly sleeping as babies do.

I am now serving my penance. I really ate-too-much-chicken and have a pounding head-ache.  I am sleep deprived. And to show me that karma is a bitch, my right contact lens has got lost behind my eyeball, so it is like the itchy-and-scratchy show in my right eye-ball with reduced vision!

Fabulous!

(I have also just sniffed a bunch of my hair, that smells faintly like urine, so clearly at some point Isabelle also wee’d on me, which now appears to be in my hair!)

Some days are for living. Others are for getting through.

I hope everyone had a good holiday season with friends and family, and where ever you were when the clock changed to 2011.

I trust it was in a happy place, or at the very least spent with a reasonably good bottle of wine in what would pass as your moderately pleasant place.

I have been neglecting my blog duties in the last month, and for that I am slightly embarrased.

I have found that for the first time in a very long time that I just have not felt like blogging – which is odd, as I really do enjoy this blogging malarkey.

I do think November and December have offered me one too many challenges and I have struggled to bounce back from.

My natural tendency is to throw myself to the floor and weep: “why we, why me?” And this month it seemed allowed so many opportunities to do just that.

I feel like one of those blow-up-balloon-figurines (kids kind versus sexual ones you purchase from Adult World), with water in the base that children get so they can punch the crap out of them.

The figure bounces back and bounces back, until it eventually springs a leak and the water starts to get sort of yucky.  Eventually the blow up figurine is thrown into the bag of the wendy house and left there to gather dust while the air sort of “eep-eeps” out of it.

Not a bad simile for how I have felt these last two months.

I have felt “blech” and a bit too drained to do anything other than wallow in my self-pity.

The entire work situation has been on the forefront of my mind, and I also did not want to ‘emotionally puke’ about it here, so though it is all I wanted to talk about – as it was all I was thinking about – I also did not want to initiate a blow-by-blow update here.

But here is a basic update on where I am right now:-

My retrenchment: That is still in the process, but the process does appear to be coming to it’s end.

My company did revert back with a revised offer to look at a reduced salary position.

However this was after telling me in a meeting that I was retrenched, and then announcing to the entire sales/estimating and others that I was retrenched before the issue had actually been finalised.

So yes in terms of procedure, that did suck a bit, but let’s not hold grudges, sometimes the best laid plans do not go to plan.

Since then I counter-offered and suggested if they were going to cut my salary then I would like my working hours should be cut as well.

That went down like a lead balloon, but hey, if you don’t ask you don’t get.  And in this case, even if you do ask, you still do not get.

Then they counter-offered, and I went “mmm, that does not sound right” and at a certain point I realized “I am done” – it is actually time to go now.

I was (am) really disappointment, and though everyone said “don’t take it personally” of course I took it personally.  This retrenchment personally affected ME personally.

As things stand now, I have asked to depart at the company’s soonest convenience.  But that being said, I do not wish to burn my bridges there because all things were good prior to the ‘pack your bags and fek off” meeting, and have had an MD who I will think fondly of for all time, as he is and has been a really good guy to me.

I am in the process  of doing  a hand-over with the person who will be taking over my responsibilities.  I plan to leave my place-of-employment this Friday.

The humour is I am doing a hand over for a person I shortlisted when we were interviewing to expand the department.  So in theory I hired my replacement without even being aware of it – fabulous!

The issue right now is that I just don’t want to be at my company any more.  I do feel slighted.  I do feel rejected. And I do feel hurt about the entire process.  I feel a bit like the ugly step-cousin who has gate crashed the Xmas party.

We can argue for hours about how I need to “wear my big girl pant” and take it on the chin.  But you know, fek that! I actually don’t have to.  And that is the bonus of wearing “big girl panties” I can decide how this is going to play out and I can decide how I feel about something.

I just want to say that this process hit me for a total six.

There I was sitting happily working along.  Obviously having the occasional little bitch and whine about work, but I had no inclination of going anywhere, and though everything wasn’t “coming up roses” I was fine to just keep on keeping on.

Then the retrenchment meeting came, and I was left reeling.

Then there were the negotiation and I realized; what exactly are we negotiating about?  Me staying at a company that chose not to keep me?

Thanks, but I can find the door myself.

Kennith has been a good egg during this entire process.  He showed me support and solutions when I just saw black emptiness.  So he gets another star on the good egg chart – that boy is nearly on his way to owning a BMX!

The issue with my mom: That has not been totally resolved however we have since been in contact via sms.  Kennith, myself and kids stopped by to see my mom and my stepfather on the 27th December.

It was good.  I hope that we can move forward and things can revert back to what-passes-for-normal-in-most-families.  But I do hope that things get better/go back to what there were/not be as awkward as they are now.

I realized how long it had been for them since they last saw Isabelle and it made me sad that they had already missed out on so much of her development.  My mom and my stepfather hold such a close relationship with Connor and Georgia, and I would really hate for our issues to cloud their relationship with Isabelle and Georgia and Connor.

Depression: November and December have reduced to me to a pitiful mess of sobbing and anxiety. I have chewed the inside of my cheeks something hellish, and have been totally self-absorbed in my own anxiety and stress.

I wish I lost weight when stressed.

Unfortunately I tend to drink more than would be considered healthy, and then snack without being aware of what is being thrown in to my mouth.  I also tend to just want to sleep and sleep and …. sleep … and when I am not sleeping I am trying to work out when I can be sleeping again.

Kennith has been great and given me the space to wallow and not tried to push too much on me.

I just want to point out here that he made the entire Xmas lunch himself.  I sort of slothed through, set the table and then ate.  I did not peel one potato or stuff one chicken – it was bliss!

My therapist did suggest that I was in a depressive episode and that I should consider medication to just help me stabilize the situation a bit better.

But with all good therapists she proceeded to say something to me, which was the right thing at the right time, and it felt like a cloud had shifted off my horizon.  So with her guidance, and Kennith’s support I really feel much better and have decided to skip the need for meds right now.

Kids and School Holidays: Not my best time.  I get really stressed when it is time for us and the kids to float around our house and I do look around in fear that something is going to go horribly wrong.

I often worry that there is a bit of Andrea Yates in me, the part without the obsessive religious fervour.

But it was not so bad this year.

I also realized the reason it was not so bad this year was because our maid/nanny/right hand lady Pepe opted not to take her annual leave over Xmas/New Year.  I can’t tell you how divine it has been having her about while while we and our three kids wreck havoc!

She will take leave in March.  I understand that all that is happening is that the pain is being delayed.  Of course now I stare up at the ceiling at night wondering what I am going to do in March!

Over December we spent a lot of time around the pool and the kids have found jumping in the pool and who can make the biggest splash the easiest way to burn off energy.

All this whilst I sit under the gazebo and sip my wine, and try to smile affectionately as someone screams “Mommy, look at me, look at me!”.

The joy of giving: Connor received a Nintendo DS for his birthday (I am sure you wonder how exactly that is good for me, but wait, it actually is very good).

I am not a big game-fan, but this thing has made me clap my hands in glee quite a few times.  Instead of having Connor walking around me whining for me to entertain him, Connor has gone on to develop a close and what I hope is a lasting relationship with Luigi and Mario, as well as someone called Princess Peach (Super Mario Brothers and Mario Cart DS).

We can have another post about the evils of putting kids in front of the television or a computer game, so that the moms like me can lie on the couch and read.  But for all it’s evils, damn, I am a fan of the little game consol!

Christmas Day: Always get a bit stressed about this and always tend to spend too much time with my hand up a chicken’s bum.

We had Kennith’s mom over for lunch and it really was pleasant and just so low-stress it was divine.

New Years: We unfortunately did not have a baby sitter, and I was loathe to drive anywhere with the kids or to leave them with someone who we barely knew who was advertising themselves at R120.00 an hour.

We tried to find a babysitter and when all failed, we opted to accept we would be Johnny-no-mates at home this year.

We put on our best attire and headed to the Spur – Patrick served us, it was great, it was just us and about a dozen other people at the Spur – lovely for us, shite for the staff.

After we had eaten our body weight in chicken wings and ice-cream, we headed home and watched the A-Team on our new Blue-Ray thingy-ma-jig.  It was brilliant with the surround sound.

I would not have thought I would enjoy the A-Team, but I clearly had not given them a chance.  It was brilliant – cars ramping and exploding, thousands of bullets being fired, and barely any one dying!

Enjoyed it thoroughly – actually it was better than the television series!

Kids went to bed, Kennith fell asleep on the couch and I watched Sherlock Holmes – another fabulous movie.

Midnight approached. I woke Kennith up.  We stumbled out on to our stoep to watch the fireworks – we can see the mountain and a large section of Cape Town from our house.

We congratulated ourselves on a job well done and went inside.  It was great, might do a few more like that in the coming years.

So that is where we are on this third day of January two thousand and eleven.

Quick recap:

  • I headed back to work today to train the person who will be taking over from me – it’s a very strange situation.
  • Kennith is still on leave and he will need to go and buy stationery and school supplies this week, which usually costs us the equivalent of a heart and lung machine.
  • Isabelle is now 18 months, and for all purposes is a happy and healthy toddler.  Concerns: she does not use any words, none.  She still eats pureed food.  I feed her only vegetables and fruit, no meat.  More because once you flick them on to meat, it is like changing your grandfather’s nappy.
  • There has been no news on my missing dog, and that still makes me very sad, and sometimes I have a little cry when I am on the toilet (because sometimes it is the only place I can be alone).

Okay so that is my little catch up.

I am hoping my brain kicks into gear soon.  Apologies, as it really has been out to lunch for quite some time, and I can hardly string a sentence together, let alone do a decent blog post, so please be patient with me until I find my mojo again.

Contrary to popular belief, I have not off’ed myself with a broken wine bottle, I am here, I am fine, I just need to get my shit together, and remember why I put on clean underwear in the morning.