Crushing on 22 Months

There are some days of being a parent where I wonder what the hell I’ve gotten* myself in to, and other days where it’s decidedly the absolute best thing I have ever done. I’ve had one of those days-turned-weeks recently, and I don’t know if it’s because I’ve bred a #LegendChild or because he’s at a certain age, but my little human has hit champion status, and I am absolutely loving him at the moment (not to say I don’t ever love him, but he’s just even more awesome than normal lately.)

Here are a few reasons why i’m totally crushing on 22 months.

  • He can understand, comprehend and communicate. Have you ever heard a parent say to their small child “I am so proud of you“? I remember hearing moms say it and I would puke a little bit in my mouth every time. What the actual fuck could you be proud of in a toddler? Proud that they didn’t shit their nappy? Proud that they didn’t have a tantrum? Proud that they were beginning to look like small adults? I totally get it now. When your child gets to the age where they mimic, talk, learn, copy empathise and communicate, when they start acting out instructions and learning routine and doing clever things like acknowledging life, you actually think your heart might explode from the proudness. I promise. It’s real. So don’t mock charge next time you hear a mommy coo’ing over their child’s seemingly mundane behaviour, because your kid learning to put a lid back on a toy, unplug the bath, wipe up a spill, tell you who their best buddy is  or hand you a steak knife that you’d accidentally left on their plastic dinner plate (not my proudest moment) without slicing their arteries open, is pretty much the equivalent of them bagging an MBA or receiving a job offer from Richard Branson.
  • They can be bribed. Which means resisting a nappy change can be halted in one fluid sweep with the simple threat of confiscating their dummy. Giving them medicine can be easily done with the promise of a sweet (or a raisins in my sons case) afterwards. Suddenly, every day goods become bartering gold mines. As long as the bribery object in question is treated with excitement and an air of pricelessness, your child will want it, and therefore will do everything to get it.

“Carter, if you don’t stop shouting I will not let you hold this plastic comb!”

  • They do things that are hilarious and video-worthy. Like the day my son learnt to say the word ‘fuck’, see below. It is both my most and least proud moment.

(I wasn’t going to share this as we had just returned home from overseas, my house is in shambles and I still have those nightmare inducing pink tiles, but hey, what the fuck right? PS – any flooring companies out there willing to do a makeover in my home? Let’s chat.)

  • They travel well. You may or may not know that we recently returned from a week away in Mauritius (blog post on that coming soon!)  and despite the “are you batshit crazy?!” comments from other moms who couldn’t believe we would be travelling with a kid under 2, he was better behaved than most of us. He even travelled well on an aeroplane, which may or may not have had anything to do with the ice cubes he was sucking from my breakfast GnT.

 

  • They can be trained. I may have lost a set of crystal goblets along the way, but my son can now bring me a glass of wine and replace said empty glass on the table when I’m done. I mean, if that alone isn’t worth having a kid, then I don’t even know what is.

*Dad, if you’re reading this, then yes ‘gotten’ is a word and no, I shall not replace it with something more satisfactory.

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Milestones Vs. MILESTONES.

Raising humans is all about milestones. From the second you conceive to the 12 week scan, from trimesters to hospital bags. From birth to burping and rolling to sitting. From standing to walking, to running. Teething and solids and sleeping and laughing. Every single thing out child does as they grow up is checked off against an invisible board. Carter hit his milestones beautifully, like a well oiled machine, and as proud as I am that he is the smiling owner of a full set of teeth, sleeps through the night (jinx that and I will cut a bitch) and has the hand eye co-ordination of a small genius, it’s the lesser known milestones that have truly blown me away.

One such giant leap of success happened this past weekend. Keep in mind that before he was an hour old he had been handed to a complete stranger in the recovery room to be ogled over and snuggled. Before he was a day old he had been passed around like a joint at a music festival and before we left the hospital after 4 days (also known as the one time I had 24 hour help) he had been met, kissed, cuddled and pawed by 51 different visitors. And I loved it. I wanted to raise my son to be outgoing, independent and attracted to strangers (nice strangers, not men in sweetie-van strangers). Alas, Nature had other plans, and despite my relaxed parenting style my son grew up wanting no one more than a select few teachers at school, grandparents and his mom and dad. Child friendly restaurants were wasted on us as friendly minders offered to watch him while we caught up over precious conversation wine, and instead he chose to sit on our laps and cling to our legs like an octopus monkey. He didn’t want to play alone and many an hour was spent literally sitting with him as he tentatively explored jungle gyms and swings. He is in no way strange, just slow to warm up, and most social events were spent coaxing him to interact with other adults and him only obliging as we were about to leave.

On Friday however, things changed. We went fora quick bite to eat at a kid friendly restaurant across the road and as we arrived my child spotted the sandpit. Excited squals of ‘san san san’ and he happily trotted off on his own to play. A few minutes later he voluntarily ran inside to watch a puppet show and actively chose to find a minder and sit on her lap. My heart grew and broke at the same time and like any sleep deprived irrational mom I then had to go in to check on him several times and take a all the photos. Barry and I stared at each other like dumb-wits from across the table and verbally declared our astonishment. Since then he has taken to independence like a duck to water and now treats the world slash garden as his oyster. Who knew that watching your child ramp his green push bike up a stair could make you feel like you’ve won gold at the Olympics.

So, thats it really. No major epiphany except the fact that I can marvel at him daily. People always say it gets better, and I never ever believed them. I thought they were just trying to make me feel better about the fact that they were always dirty and sticky and doing dumb things. But I can personally endorse this theory now – it gets so much better. Hell, these small humans are great hey?

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CPR and Your Baby. Are You Prepared?

I read a story today that I don’t think I will ever forget. I got half way and had to put my phone down because – even though I knew what happened at the end – I physically couldn’t bring myself to carry on reading. A mom in Cape Town recently lost her toddler to drowning and bravely shared her very personal, very real story. Devastatingly, her, along with thousands of other parents will experience the same thing on a yearly basis. I don’t know her, I don’t know her family, but I want nothing more than to give this family a hug and try to take away some of their pain. My soul feels weighted down.

My mom-worry has kicked into triple overdrive. After reading her story I wanted to go straight to Carters school to pick him up and hug him and tell him how much I love him.

This post is nothing more than a reminder that accidents can happen to anyone. That no-one is perfect, and in a country like South Africa where swimming pools are the norm, we can never be too careful.

It seemed like fate but a few minutes ago someone shared the below video on my Facebook timeline. Its a short 2 minute cartoon based song that teaches you how to perform CPR on your baby. It’s catchy, cute and memorable. If you do nothing more today please just watch this. It could save a life.

I’ve also found a few other useful bits of information to share with you. print it out, educate your spouse, grandparents, and nanny and make sure everyone who looks after your child knows what to do in an emergency.

EMERGENCY NUMBERS

Nationwide Emergency Response – 10111

Dial the telephone number 10111 from anywhere in South Africa and a call centre operator will answer the incoming call, take all necessary particulars and assign the complaint to a Flying Squad patrol vehicle, or the local police station, to attend the incident.

Cell phone emergency – 112

For emergencies, you can call 112 from any cell phone in South Africa. You will then reach a call centre and they will route you to an emergency service closest to you.

When you dial this number you will reach an automated menu. Don’t let this frustrate you. The menu acts as a form of triage (priority of treatment) control and filters out abuse of the medical and emergency system.

It’s very easy to get caught up in distress but remember to stay calm and make sure the emergency medical services team knows exactly how to reach you.

Ambulance – 10177

This number can be used in the case of a medical emergency and can be called in conjunction with both the fire and police department respectively, depending on whether or not there are casualties.

If you don’t have them stored already, we recommend that you put these three numbers on your phone. In fact, you may want to store them all under ‘Emergency’ as follows:

  • Emergency – Ambulance (10177)
  • Emergency – Cell phone (112)
  • Emergency – National (10111)

Other emergency numbers

CPR INFOGRAPHIC

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To Second Baby Or Not To Second Baby. That Is The Question

I’m surprised it’s taken me so long to write this. People are normally a lot more impatient with others peoples lives. You know the drill. Go on one date with Tim* from Tinder and its all ‘Omigdwhenareyouseeinghimagain’, then Tim and you move in together and people are making drunken bets on the proposal. Ring securely on finger and it’s ‘whens the date, where’s the venue, show me photos of your dress!’. Sheets are still damp from the Honeymoan consummation and the pregnancy questions start happening. God forbid you ever go on detox or skip a drink, because sure as Trump grabs crotches all assumptions will be on the fact that you’re knocked up. So, my shock at having not really been asked by too many people about when another baby is coming is quite evident.

Then, as much as other people are desperate for your uterus to be full again, there’s also that fine line between ‘having a 2nd baby too soon’ or – god forbid -‘having more than 2 babies at all’. So I guess 18 months is the safe zone when the chats start happening. At first it was one or two comments about “sooo, whens the next one?” or “are you thinking about a second?” but lately it’s become a gush of words. I’m barely in the door before someone looks at Carter, looks at me and asks about my ovulation cycle.

I get it. Pre baby you speak abut the weather. “Hey Susan, jeepers it’s hot out hey?”. “Gosh yes Carole, so warm for this time of year”. After kids, things change. “Hi Susan, how’s that basal body temperature and your ovaries, all good?” “Sup Carole, they are so swell! I cant wait to put another fetus in there!”.

I’m at that stage of motherhood when the topic of baby number 2 is now becoming more and more prevalent and something to actively think about. Just the other day, while at a braai, I commented to my husband about how Carter needed a friend (as in a friend at the braai. To play with. At the braai) to which he replied “Oh, I’m happy to start trying for a friend for him if you are”? To which I replied by opening up a 4th bottle of wine.

So, in order to help me – and anyone in the same boat – decide if now (or ever?) is the right time to have another human, I’ve put together a little list of Pros and Cons.

The Cons

  • Financially one child will ruin anyone not earning eleventymillion like Zuma. School, education, food (“don’t throw that banana on the floor Steven! It cost me R4!”), clothing, presents, trips, marie biscuits. It’s a no brainer that having a second child would probably mean I would have pink floors in my home for the rest of my life.
  • Time has always been an issue for me. I do too much, work two jobs, write this here blog, exercise, see friends and have a hundred other hobbies that give me great joy. I live on the brink of ‘pretty sure tomorrows the day I crack’, so a second kid would probably mean a constant state of anxiety and stress. Also, my photography. The last and first few months of pregnancy and having the kid would put me out of action. Which means even less income.
  • Space. Where would it sleep? In the spare room? We wouldn’t have a spare room. Oh shit, we wouldn’t need a spare room. Who wants to sleep over when there are two small children running around?
  • My attention span with one kid is about as short lived as no-carb resolution so I often wonder how I would cope with two kids. I’ve already proven that I’m not the most excellent mother I thought I would be, so would I be doing more harm than good bringing another life into this world?
  • Am I thinking of having a second child for the right reasons? Am I doing it because I have a sibling, because two is that nice round number, because my in-laws want more grandkids?
  • It’s a battle and a half to find a babysitter as is, so would anyone even want to look after him if it was him + 1?
  • Fat. Ya, still am, shit myself for getting even more so.

The Pros

  • I’ve only ever pictured myself with two kids. It feels so right, like something would be missing of we didn’t at least try. Two kids can play together, entertain each other, klap each other on the head and then blame the other one. Two kids will also (hopefully) have each other to lean one when Barry and I kick that proverbial bucket.
  • Carter would make an excellent big brother. He is obsessed with babies and giving loves and hugs and I would want to see how he is with a sibling. He’s also somewhat needy and demanding of our attention and I wouldn’t mind him using a brother or sister for that role.
  • We have the stuff already, so technically it would be as expensive the second time around… would it?
  • I loved being pregnant (weight aside) and those 4 days in hospital after having him were some of the best days of my life. It makes me sad to think that’s the last time it would ever happen. Also, I could totally perfect my newborn photography skills on the next one!
  • I love being a mom to my son. I never knew watching a small human learn, grow and engage could ever be as rewarding, humbling and wonderful as it is.
  • Everyone else is doing it, some as many as 4 or 5, so why am I so worried? Everyone also says that you just make it work, and that their second child filled a void that they didn’t even know was missing.

So, whilst I’m very far away from actually trying, I am now thinking. And drinking. Because I’m really terrified of another 10 months sobriety.

*No Tims were met, laid or married in the making of this blog post.

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Actually, It Gets Harder.

I dropped Carter off at school this morning and it was so buy that I had to park on a road down the street. It’s day one of school for all the bigger kiddies which meant hordes of smartly dressed children in oversized skirts and shorts, crisp white socks and heavy backpacks. The moms on the other hands looked like me – disheveled, eye bagged and a bit teary.

Have you guys seen how much stuff a Grade R and Grade 0 kid needs for school? Apart from 27 tubes of Pritt stick (do they inhale them that they need so many?) it’s the bags and books and uniforms and individually labeled pens and swimming towels and lunchboxes and things to go inside the lunchboxes and and and. It’s exhausting. Mothers formerly known as composed are losing their shit over A4 lined books and sew in labels for dri-macs. I’ll take my current situation of only having to remember nappies and a change of clothes, thanks.

Which leads me to the not-so-new but oh-so-true- realisation that I think we have it all wrong. Wrangling children gets harder, and actually not easier. I bumped into a social media acquaintance this morning and he was lamenting about his lack of sleep. He has a 5 week old. I hated to be that person but I gently reminded him that newborns are in fact the easiest age. Sure, they are very demanding for something the size of a large margarine tub, but if they aren’t eating they are sleeping. If my 20 month old son isn’t eating he’s either sitting in the dog food bowl, scaling an electric fence, eating a dead spider, trying to break into the pool gate, unraveling a dishcloth, cleaning up the rain with said dishcloth, taking the (still wet) washing off the fence, stealing salticrax and their accompanying weavils out of the pantry, re packing the coffee cup cupboard or yelling his chosen word of the day while zooming up the passage chasing the dog. FYI, todays word is ‘key’

You also can’t just put them down and leave them – they’re incredibly fast and incredibly sneaky. Like very small, very adorable magicians. I lose Carter, on average, once a week. They’re also incredible strong, both physically and in willpower. My newborn never kicked my uterus from the outside and my newborn also never jumped on my boobs so hard that a nipple shot out my arsehole. My newborn didn’t smear banana onto my new couches or hurl a Le Creuset mug at a flying insect. My newborn couldn’t cling onto my leg/neck/foot like a wet spider monkey and my newborn also never bit me, hit me, shushed me or smashed a wayward foot into my head.

My newborn was also dull in comparison. He couldn’t ‘help’ feed the dogs (read, drop one pellet at a time into the metal bowl because he enjoyed the sound of it). ‘help’ hang the washing or ‘help’ with other chores around the house. He didn’t communicate with me and couldn’t tell me what his needs and wants were. He didn’t stamp his little feet in a Michael Flatley impersonation when I was peeling a banana too slowly, demand all the music goes ‘off’ if it wasn’t to his liking or stop in his tracks and stare with wide-eyed-wonderment when he saw hail for the first time.

I’m both loving and despairing at this age. 20 month toddlers are tricky – they can talk but cant really communicate, they love other small humans but they don’t as yet play very well – which means there’s a lot of tugging on mom or dad for everything, and they are incredibly needy. They also don’t sleep through all that often, and don’t for one second tell me they do, because I belong to a Whatsapp group of 13 moms who will attest to this fact. They do not sleep through. Final.

So, if you are a mom to a newborn or a tiny baby and reading this, I implore you to embrace the easiness of your babies age. Get out the house, take them with you, go to dinner and parties and social gatherings. Before you know it they will be running yelling shouty things with minds of their owns and opinions of one. And then, before we know it we will be mourning the loss of our tiny little running yelling thing as we pack their oversized back pack with individually labelled pens and 27 Pritt glue sticks and sobbing into our cold coffee because our children are growing up, right before our eyes.

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Let The Shopping Fun Begin With Toy Kingdom.

If you are anything like me – still stuck at the office until the 23rd and working frantically until Christmas, then you’re probably also really stressing about how you are going to get everything done in time.

Me. 2 days before Christmas.
Me. 2 days before Christmas.

We went shopping this weekend and fought the masses as we tried to check off a million to-do items from our list. Short of the actual kitchen sink we are almost up to speed on the shopping list. The only person left to buy for is my hubby, but I can throw a pair of running shoes at his head and he will be happy. Sometimes I also throw a pair of running shoes at his head because he’s being an arse, but that’s beside the point.

Unfortunately, trying to find the perfect gift for everyone else, 2 days before Christmas, looks a little bit like this:

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Luckily, shopping for the littlies will be the easiest thing you need to do this year. Because, let’s face it, they leave us fat, stretchmarked and poor, so splurging on gifts is as much for them as it is for us. If you are stuck with all the amazing choices this festive season, you can choose from the Festive Season gift guide in-store and on the Toy Kingdom website or get a Toy Kingdom gift card.

We headed off to Toy Kingdom in Sandton City a few weeks ago and my jaw literally hit the floor when I saw the goodies on display. When I was a kid my folks tied some ribbon to a stick and that was my entertainment. Growing up on a farm was tough, guys.

Carter, on the other hand, has no idea just how lucky he is. Going into Toy Kingdom to buy him a present brought back childhood memories of birthing sheep and said ribbon on sticks, and a definite lack of toy store visits, so I really had to hold myself back from buying everything I wanted (A Furby Connect and everything Barbie) and I had to rationalise (read: wrestle him away) with the husband that a Gold Hoverboard was probably a little bit too advanced for our clumsy 19 month old). Eventually we settled on something to keep help with his creativity and hand eye co-ord – so a mega-pack of ‘Bunchems’ it was, as well as something to bring out on special occasions – and something that will hopefully stop him stealing my iPad and lowering my street cred points on Youtube – a LeapPad Tablet. Then we got him something to wrap and open in a few years time – a Meccano 5 Model set car.

bunchems leappad-epic meccano

So basically, Carter is going to be living his best life come 25 December.

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It may sound like all fun and games but I have to be honest, choosing age appropriate, quality presents was actually very stressful. Barry at that stage was lost in a toy truck aisle and no amount of whistling for him could get his attention. Luckily I had the most awesome shop assistant helping me – he even went to far as to unpack several boxes of things for me to have a proper look.

I would highly recommend Toy Kingdom – there is something for everyone, and if they had top open up a wine bar next to the Build-A-Bear section I suspect I would never leave.

I can’t wait to share photos of Carter opening up his pressies on Christmas. For now they remain safely wrapped and tucked under the tree.

You can find Toy Kingdom in Jozi Town opposite Clicks in Sandton City or in Cape Town, Shop 407 in Canal Walk.

If you are really pressed/stressed for time then have a look at their ‘Top 50 gift guide‘. It helps to whittle down your choices and guarantees a great buy. It’s what we used – along with recommendation from in-store staff – to decide on what to buy. Pop in to their store and tell them I sent you – then share your purchases with me here or on their Facebook page.

PS – Next year I’m going back for a Furby. I don’t care what anyone says

PPS – I’m also going back for a Gold Hoverboard. Don’t tell my husband.

ABOUT TOY KINGDOM:

Toy Kingdom is Africa’s most loved toy store with 14 retail stores nationally, offering the latest and most recognised toy brands to families. Toy Kingdom brings together unrivalled quality toys, beautifully designed stores and friendly and knowledgeable staff who encourage children and parents to interact and play with the toys. Each store is designed not as a retail space but rather around the concept of play, creating a unique in-store experience of ‘toadally’ charming fun.

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Christmas is Sorted with Fisher-Price.

The perks of having a niece and nephew a few years older than your child are the copious amounts of free toys and hand me downs he receives. 99% of the time these hand me downs are amazing, appreciated and leave me feeling a tad less broke. The other 1% of the time, these hand me downs, well, make me want to throw them under the closest on-coming vehicle.

Not-so-fondly-referred-to-as ‘Push-Turtle’ was one such toy. Given to us by my sister in law and something which soon made me realise that she truly must hate me. Push-Turtle is, well just that. A plastic toy designed to help kids learning how to walk, walk. The problem with Push-Turtle is that he quite literally doesn’t shut up. The second problem with Push-Turtle is that he has been through two kids before him so by the time we got him the noises coming out of his creepy green body were more ‘haunted house of horrors’ and less ‘happy fun kid friendly’ ones. Turtle would often break into (creepy) song at 3 in the morning and during bouts of trying to get our son to sleep. Eventually, I found a screwdriver and removed the 2 x AAA’s that gave push turtle life. Sorry, not sorry.

Fast forward a few months later and the scars of battery-operated toys were slowly starting to fade. So it was with some trepidation when Carter received a Fisher Price Puppy Piano to play with. Because, batteries.

At first, Carter showed as much interest in his new piano as he did all other toys. The box was far more interesting. I was initially worried that it was too young for him, but it turns out, he was probably too young for it. About a month after receiving the piano he started coming home and racing to it to play all the nursery rhymes and songs – turns out he had been learning ‘dance and sing’ at school and coming home to listen to familiar music and sounds was so comforting to him.

Another perk about this particular toy is the fact that its solid, stable and doesn’t sound creepy and run down like poor push-turtle. Songs are easily identifiable and don’t sound at all murderous.

I love how you can switch between two models – so the boredom factor hardy ever sets in. It’s also light and easy to transport – always helpful when travelling with a toddler requires a 4×4, trailer and an entourage of 8.

I grew up with Fisher Price toys and they are one of those brands that are just synonymous with quality and durability. This poor pint sized piano as been dragged along tiled floors, through bushes and gone on more road trips than I can remember. It’s even narrowly missed a bath, but even then, I’m pretty certain it would have still survived.

fp-phone fp-cash-register

Fisher price have brought me fond memories since as far back as I can remember. My favourite toy from them was the cash register and I’m so exited to have my son grow up with their products as well. In fact, our Doctors rooms have one of those old school telephones in the reception area, and Carter makes a beeline for it every time we are there. I love watching him learn and grow, and I love the fact that these toys help him to do so. Especially since it frees me up to have a glass of wine and watch him learn at the end of every day.

Fisher Price Puppy Piano
Fisher Price Puppy Piano

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fisher-price-1-of-3

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I’m Not The Mom I Thought I Would Be.

We all have a picture in our head of how we think we are going to raise our children, even before we have them. I’d say a large percent of that is based on the way we were brought up as kids, as naturally, we tend to model our parents – willingly or not!

I grew up on a plot. I played with newborn sheep and ate fresh apples out of the bowl. A weekend treat was a glass of Halls juice concentrate and once, after 7 days of solid begging, my parents actually took us to the shops – Fourways Mall – so I could buy a glass tank and some hamsters. I always had the best lunchboxes – gigantic sized things, several ice-cream tubs stacked on top of each other kinda size. My grocery-box consisted of morning, afternoon, lunch and in between treats. Fresh toasted sandwiches still warm and in foil. Individually cut slices of veggies and a homemeade dip. Frozen water that began to melt perfectly in time for hockey practice and thermos’s of soup in winter and for after early morning swimming training.

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Fast forward 31 years and I’m 9 months pregnant and so organised you could hear a pin drop on my day planner. Carters little newborn outfits are packed into individual zip locked bags, labeled, colour coordinated and sized. Clothes smell like baby scented Sta-soft and his room is the nicest place in the house.

Maternity leave was also quite peachy. All that time (ha!). I specialised in martyr and in between baby yoga and baby massage and baby reflexology I baked from-scratch cakes and whipped cream for the top, I hosted and wined and dined and exercised and maintained a home. I blogged and studied and got a diploma or two. I was practically the Martha Steward of Mothers, folks.

Things actually carried on quite smoothly even after going back to work. Barry and I passed like ships in the night – we still do – but we still each got to gym once a day, cook, parent, socialise and not drop any balls.

And then suddenly I was working and studying and training for a Half Iron Man and planning a first birthday party that had to be Pinterest-worthy and then planning my mom’s 60th and interviewing for a new job and maintaining a large circle of friends and then somewhere, something just cracked. It wasn’t a monumental explosion or a giant noise, I just suddenly lost the ability to do everything, all the time. If it hadn’t been for our full-time nanny who started in April I think I would have thrown myself off the nearest Pappachinos jungle gym before Winter hit.

The thing is, I take after my mom – we carry a specialised ‘A-Type gene’ where we are totally convinced that people will simply not like us if we aren’t perfect, all the time. The other thing is, that when we are like this we tend to alienate the people closest to us in order to make space for almost relative strangers. I often find myself moaning at my mom that we never do anything just the two of us, but the same can be said for me. I feel like I’m alienating my own son to try and make room for everything else. I’m missing his last day of school today because I have a career. He has never been to the zoo. On weekends I find people to watch him so my husband can ride his bike and I can go off to do my photography to try earn more money to buy him things out of guilt. We don’t have bowls of fresh apples (very often) and he eats more Marie biscuits than I could begin to remember.

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I feel like I’ve become lazy with the most important person in my life – my son. This past weekend I cleaned the sheet on his cot and was appalled to see that it had a face (literally) shaped hole in it. I’ve defrosted more frozen meals than I’d like to admit and the greenest thing on his pate at the moment are frozen peas. He doesn’t like books and I need him to like books. I don’t push it though because I’m always in a hurry, always rushing from one thing to the next. We both end up in frustrated tears every morning as I’m clipping him in his seat and he can feel the tension vibrating off of me. Meetings, traffic, late late late. I’m sure that’s all he ever feels.

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Oh, sheet!

I’m inconsistent in my discipline. I go from a smack on the hand to a ‘no’ to a ‘here you go’. I put the iPad on when I should be teaching him rhymes and songs. I beg him to play on the jungle gyms at restaurants so I can have half an hour to eat my food. I don’t feel like I’m doing very well at being a great mom.

Don’t get me wrong, my love for this cheeky little human is so big I wonder how it fits in my heart. He is my greatest achievement and my greatest blessing. But I need to treat him with more respect. I need to make the time to spend with him and have the patience to just be with him. Not looking for an out, or a distraction, or picking up my phone, just to be.

Last night we did something totally out of the norm and took him to a Christmas themed event and pantomime. It was late, and out of his routine and quite a drive. It was one of the happiest moments of parenting. The venue was decked from top to bottom in lights and decorations if every shape, size and colour. Carter was mesmerized and after about an hour decided he was brave enough to explore. He made a beeline for a display on the lawn. A few hundred lit up flowers. And for close to half an hour, he moved between every-single flower and stopped to smell each and every one.

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My little wonderful 18-month-old literally showed me how to slow down and stop and smell the roses.

So, my commitment this Festive Season is to try and take a deep breath and find some special time where it can just be us, our little family. Where we can take it all in and remind ourselves of just how lucky we are.

 

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What Is It To Be A Mom?

It’s repeatedly telling your child to please not eat the computer mouse cable, to please not sit in the dog food bowl and to stop wiping their macaroni fingers on new couches.

It’s casually referring to their poo’s as ‘chicken korma’pre-gastro for sure’ and ‘bok pellet hard’ with your partner nodding their head in sage agreement.

It’s thinking a lie-in past 5:30 am is a treat

It’s going to the shops, on your own, to buy something or yourself and returning with baby sunblock, nappies and a new toy

It’s yelling ’keep making a noise, I’m coming right back’ as you leave them in the bath to quickly find towels/soap/facecloths/your wine’

It’s understanding what they want, and when they want it, even when they cant say a word

It’s having someone watch you got to the loo – even for a poo – for the rest of your life

It’s wanting them asleep when they’re awake, and then watching them when they sleep willing them to wake up.

It’s not so subtly rolling your eyes when non-parents tell you how busy/stressed/broke they are

It’s secretly being relieved when your child is the bitee and not the biter

It’s the sweet-grab-to-shut-them-up in the middle of the shopping aisle even though you swore you never would

It’s the catching them doing something new and feeling you might burst from pride

It’s repeating the same thing, for hours on end, just to get them to laugh again and again

It’s wondering why you ever thought you were poor when you didn’t have kids

It’s admitting that you can no longer wear white, or anything that costs more than R300

It’s cursing them for the state of your body, while eating more chocolate and staring into your 3rd wine glass

It’s berating yourself for being a working mom and wondering if the guilt will ever really end

It’s the magical limb stretch you do when driving, just to retrieve their dropped dummy/water bottle/tree leaf

It’s the automatic stop, freeze, listen motion you make whenever you hear a small child cry

It’s the promise to yourself that tomorrow you will be stricter, better, more attentive, more aware

It’s the greatest, hardest, best, most fun adventure you will ever go on

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The Magic Of Mom Groups

About a year ago I wrote this blog post on Mommy groups, and the absolute drama that generally accompanies them. Although I was referring 99% to Mommy groups on Facebook, I still alluded to WhatsApp groups. And I now need to retract a little bit of that article.

You see, for the past 8 months, I’ve been a part of a mommy Whatsapp group that has completely changed my previous perception.

At first, I was skeptical. The constant videos and posts chewed through my precious data and I confess – sometimes annoyed me. So I changed my download-over-wifi-settings and adjusted my mindset and watched as these ladies on this group turned into friends, confidantes and trusted advisors.

When you have a child, things shift. Friendships will alter. What you once had in common (last minute after work drinks, spontaneous Saturday braais and long lazy brunches) become less and less so. I often hear child-less friends talk about friends with kids and moan about how they’ve changed and how the friendship is different. And I totally get that. But there’s also a little bit of blame that needs to be placed on the friends without kids, because they – without realising it – do pull away. I have best friends who’s house I haven’t been invited to since Carter was born, friends who don’t even think of inviting us out because they assume we will say no, and friends who just don’t understand that I’m now a permanent +1. And that’s OK. I was that friend once too, and no matter how hard you try and try, the empathy can never be there until you are there.

So the slight shifting (albeit temporarily) of one friendship means there’s room for another – and I’ve found that in a group of moms who I tell my deepest darker secrets and fears to. Some of these ladies I’ve never met. Some are younger than me, older than me, some have 1 kid, some have 3. But the one thing we all have in common? Our children. We are a group of moms who – simply by having kids at the same school – have formed the most incredible bond. These are the people who check in daily about things, remember job interviews and dietician check ups. They were the first people to jump on board and support me when I took up photography as a serious hobby and who talked me off a ledge when I sent screenshot after screenshot of before and after photos. These are the ladies who are the first to offer help and food when your baby gets sick, who cheer on your child’s milestones and who have your back when you’re going through a rough time. These ladies know more about my son than friends of 25 years do. They share recipes and milestones charts, photos of cellulite and memes on motherhood. They smuggle Pick n Pay animal cards into your sons backpack and scour the shelves for swimming nappies for everyone an hour before the lesson is about to begin.

I’ve spent the last 2 days in hospital with a very sick baby, and the hourly messages of support and gestures from these ladies have meant the world. We laugh over post baby vaginas and cry over virtual glasses of wine whilst we share out lives through a smartphone screen. They have become an invaluable part of my life, and I’m forever grateful for the empathy and love they show not only me and my son, but each other as well.

So, whilst I treasure each and every friendship I have, it’s these ladies who have seen me through a few bumpy patches lately and I couldn’t be more grateful.

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