I squeezed this blog out of my loins …. well almost

Yesterday was my blogs birthday.  My first blog post ran on the 21 August 2009 – so Reluctant Mom is four years old today.

For those who don’t know me, it’s okay, I often wake up at night wondering if I know myself.  I do often wonder how I managed to get myself into this position – the position of being mom to three children.  When the number one issue is that I don’t actually like children (sure I like my own now, but I never played with dolls, and really tend to cringe back in terror when a young snotty happy faced short person runs towards me), and more importantly number two, I was very sure that I never wanted children.

My partner – Kennith – wanted children from the get go, I was very very reluctant and every time we had the conversation would wrap it up by saying “next year” knowing full well that next year was not going to be coming.  Six years into our relationship we had reached a cross-roads/an impasse and I fell pregnant with our first child when I was 28.  It was a totally planned endeavour.  This did not stop me sitting in the bath and crying like a knocked up 15 year old.  Read the rest of the post here …….

In blog years four is ancient.

Not the oldest, but definitely in the zimmer frame and spittle on the bottom lip when you talk category.

I have seen blogs that have come and gone.  Blogs that I have enjoyed and then started to peter out.

I have watched new blogs blossom, grow and then look like they were going to take over the world.

Then there is this one, that putters along at it’s own pace.  Some days willing itself to die, other days rising above it all to find true love in Tokai Forest.

I read through some of my earlier posts and I wonder how I could be so worried and so worked up about something then, that now would barely get a snort out of me.

I change, I learn, I make mistakes, I have the occasional emotional vomit.  I have tried to be disciplined about what I say here I would say to your face over dinner …. usually after two bottles of wine.

I never go back and delete a post, because when I think or say something at the time, that is how I feel.  I realise that as time shifts so does my perception of events and also my emotional reaction to something usually lessens, and with 20/20 hindsight it did look like I was really getting my panties into a bit of a knot.

This blog has helped me to process shit.  This blog has helped me to think out loud and have somewhere to put it.  This blog has connected me to so many people and their lives that I would never have encountered any other way.

Many of those people have move out of the “imaginary friends in cyber space” kind to the ones I sit and have dinner and wine with.

Thank you to the nearly 500 000 views that my blog has received.

Thank you to the 6 908 comments that have been left.  I hope both these numbers double!

Thanks to all the funny comments, the really clever comments, the comments that have made me examine my thinking in a constructive manner, the snubs, the rebukes, the odd stalker and heavy breather who came along and left his/her little bit of sticky on this blog.

I was thrilled to have spent a few cyber seconds with every one of you.

Thank you for sharing my love of books, and supporting some of my hair-brained schemes and ideas.

I can’t promise I will be here in 4 years.

I can however promise that future posts will be peppered with questionable grammar and too frequent use of fuck/fek/fkc/friggn/freakn and anything that rhymes with tomatoe.

Happy Birthday Reluctant Mom Blog – you are sort of awesome in all sorts of ways!!

Hip-hip-hooray!!!

funny-cyanide-happiness-com

 

Sleep outs and play dates ….

I am a bit more lenient when it comes to “allowing” the children to attend play dates and sleep overs.

A bit more lenient than Kennith.  A but more lenient than all most moms I know.

Connor has been sleeping out since Grade R – he made friends at his new school.  I met the moms/dads and then playdates became sleep overs.  There were two kids that he slept over at, and those children also slept over at our house.

Connor is now 10, and he probably has about three friends who he sleeps over at, and they sleep over at our home.  I am fine with it, and I don’t get all flustered if he is away from me – I know where he is, and I know he is having fun and he is safe.  And I have one less bum to wipe and child to scream at to brush their teeth, so it is all good.

Georgia has one friend (her bestie) who she is allowed to sleep over at.  She also stays over at Kennith’s sister’s home on occasion.

Kennith is not a fan of Georgia sleeping out.  The two places she stays at I trust implicitly and Kennith, I think, just gives in to me overriding his wanting to say “no” …. and the hope we may get an extra hour of sleep at some point.

I recall going to a drop off and go party with Connor.   I was not quite ready to drop off and go with parents I did not know.   I was the only mom there and I hung around in the kitchen like a bad smell.

The parents of the child whose party it was I am sure thought I was demented and they promptly ignored me.  I hung out with the housekeeper who was washing dishes, she was kind enough to make me tea and suggest I steal pieces of cake.  It was a very long three hours!!

I realised at that party that (a) Connor is old enough for drop off and go parties (b) Hanging around with other moms at a party for children milling around talking, usually about their child, is almost the least unfun thing I can imagine doing, drop off and go parties are pretty cool for the moms!

At this juncture I do wish to ask why is it that moms always get given this thankless and actually really not fun party-duty task?  Taking kids to parties, and then hanging around for 2 -3 hours making chit chat with people you would never chit chat to, and to cap it all you are normally served tea instead of wine. How is it we get all the sh&t jobs of parenting ….. but let’s get back to the subject at hand.

I have started doing drop off and go parties with Georgia.  I go in, steal a cupcake and a sausage roll, scope out the scene and if it looks fine, then I am outta.

Georgia was invited to a weekend away with her bestie this weekend.  Initially Kennith said no, he did not think it was a great idea.

I sold the idea and explained that Georgia would be safe and and and ….. I was really chuffed she was going, as I knew how excited she was and a weekend with her bestie was going to be the treat to top all treats.

K (Bestie’s mom) contacts me on Tuesday and explains she has decided to invite a friend of hers along for the weekend.

Me: {deep breath} huh-huh ……

K explains that it is a man person, but there are three bedrooms, and Bestie and Georgia will be in one bedroom.  She assures me she will not let them out of her sight for a moment.  And I do not doubt it for a moment.

I think Georgia will probably be more closely monitored with K than she will ever be with me.

The previously-near-perfect plan now includes a man person who I do not know.  What was a brilliant idea is now a less than attractive option.

I want to say “sure, I trust your judgement … I am sure it will be fine” but there is this feeling that just is not sitting well with me.  I do not know this guy, and even if I met him for 15 minutes today, will that be okay for me to pack my daughter off with him?

To say it went down like a lead balloon with Kennith might not hint at the extent of it.  We spoke about it, and I had little in the way of “pro’s to upsell this idea.”

Last night at bedtime we sat on the bed with Georgia.  Kennith suggested we not tell her, I went with the “rip it like a plaster” approach.  Kennith bravely opened it with: “Georgia, Mommy has something to tell you..!”

I proceeded to break Georgia’s heart, she cried like I had wrenched her leg off.  I decided to stick to the truth, there was a “stranger to us” man there and we did not know him, and we could not give her permission to go.

She sobbed, she howled, she blew snot bubbles out her nose, she begged, she pleaded, she promised she would be good.  We let her come lie in our bed and play on the iphone!

We spoke about stranger-danger and that was all we could say.

We did not want to indicate he was a “potential bad man” but the reality was that we did not know him, and that was it in a nutshell.

I am comfortable that the choice of her not going was the right choice, but not a “nice” choice.

The thought that gnawed at me a bit today, was how are we preparing our children in this rather unforgiving terrain called Life.

When I was Connor and Georgia’s age, I was arranging my sleep outs, weekends away and everything else.  No one asked if there were going to be strange men there – cripes the world was full of strange men and I negotiated my way around them as best as I could.

I know the quick response is “But times are different now…”

How are they different and why?

Are there more predators now than there were back in the 70’s?  Or does it just seem like it because through the immediacy of information, we are hit with a daily dose of how-shit-the-world-is-and-why-you-must-protect-your-child?

Are we not conveying to our children that the world outside our house is a dark and foreboding place?  Full of danger and threats.

When was the last time you saw children playing a game with a ball in the street?  When was the last time you let your child play in the street like we did as kids?  Well never I am afraid.

When was the last time you saw kids playing and building a “gang hut” in a veld or a bush? Definitely never – I am sure I saw a movie like that and it did not end well for anyone.

My kids aren’t permitted to play outside in my drive way without someone watching them.  And we have a large gate at the end of our driveway.

I do not allow Connor to ride his bike in our cul-de-sac ….. unless one of us sits with him.  He is 10.

At 10 I was hiking into Cape Town or catching a bus alone to go and shop in the Golden Acre!

When I left school, kids in my era were backpacking all over the world, and trusting their fate to strangers they met along the way.

{All/most} of the people I knew who headed out the front door to unchartered territories returned unscathed and un/mol/este/d, with stories of adventure, and adapting to life through Europe or where ever they had gone.

Are we possibly teaching our children to be afraid of everyone – to not trust anyone?  To not dare go anywhere without a parent firmly within eyeshot?

Does all of this not make teaching our children to be self-reliant and resourceful because they have to be, a bit tricky.  The reality is we never really let them wander off  further than the umbilical cord can stretch?

The thing I am taking away from all of this is, are we cotton-wooling our children in layers of terror/fear of the unknown/fear of strangers/too much caution, which will impede their spirit of adventure and healthy curiosity as they grow up, but we rationalise we must because it will “keep them safe”?

<note this post was written last week Thursday, I delayed publishing it as I kept amending the copy>