To Kate, On Your 33rd Birthday.

You know you’re getting older when you get woken up at 5 am on your birthday by your 1 year old, and instead of jumping up ready to open a hundred presets, your only wish is for 20 more minutes of sleep. Naturally that didn’t happen, and to be honest – the best part of my day will probably be snuggling with Carter while he was still drowsy and playing with my hair and running his little fingers over my eyelids, and into my nose.

You also know you’re getting old when your birthday present is an electric toothbrush. something you actually wanted. Other wish list items – apart from the ‘you’ve got to be joking’ camera lenses and other such fancy-ware include dishcloths and ‘some nice new crockery’.

Last year, on my 32nd birthday, I wrote myself a letter. I purposefully haven’t gone back to read it incase it sways the tone of this post. Hopefully, after having published this one, the message will be that life has trended upwards. Hopefully.

Celebrating a birthday in Janu-worry is rough.People are still broke, hungover and reeling from the previous year. For some, 2016 was their worst yet, and while for me it wasn’t the absolute best, it was a pretty good one. The biggest achievement I made in the last 365 days, between two birthdays, was the startup and introduction of my photography business. To think that its not even 5 months old is mind blowing. It’s done really well and people seem to actually, really like my photos, a lot. So much so that bookings are flying in and I’m having to now turn down a lot of work – which is both sad but also a lovely feeling. I love it so much. It’s so hard to explain the feeling I get when I know I’ve landed that perfect shot, or when a mom is so grateful to have memories of her with her kids (a rarity) to treasure forever. I pinch myself daily and am so so so happy, grateful and relieved I finally took that little leap of faith. So, as a side note – to each and every person ho has supported me for it – I thank you from the bottom of my overflowing heart. Your comments, likes, shares (and bookings) mean the world to me, really.

33 is an interesting age – it’s a slow creep towards 40 – and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it is still a pretty scary thing. Alas, I still have pink floor tiles, no holiday home and endless amounts of bills, but I’m feeling like financially I’m going to get on top of things this year. Really. Cross my heart and hope to invest.

Body wise I’m still a shit storm in leggings. I can no longer blame hormones, but hell, I was last in line when God handed out genetics. Do you know how hard it is when your entire family are skinny as fuck? Crisis. Also, I eat my feelings. So in my 33rd year on earth I need to have less feelings. Apparently that’s the only answer.

I’m also going to look after myself more – in a long term kind of way. So, I’m planning on swopping superficial spending for long term spending. Out with the nails and in with the botox, out with the Pick n Pay clothing splurges and in with the ‘it costs how much??‘ Bodytec. It’s all about preserving, reversing and prolonging at this stage.

We recently lost Barry’s granny and it’s been a reminder to not take my two for granted. They have so much wisdom and so many stories to impart and being around them so often and having them available means one tends to not really appreciate how rare that is. Just last night, as she has done for the past 33 years, my 92 year old Oma sang a pre-birthday song to me in German. That’s pretty special and to be honest, I love it as much now as I did when I was 7. Same for all family. I want more meaningful relationships with my family. Yep, guys. Strap on the big boots, we are going to bond, hard.

We want to spend time with those who value us, and treasure us and less time with those who don’t add value and joy. Luckily we don’t have many people like that in our lives, so not much room for improvement here.

I want to be at home more. I want to decorate and DIY and make my house into a space I love. Pretty hard when you are a triathlete widow with a 1 year old clinging to you at every second, but try I will. I vow to finally knock a hole into the cottage and extend our home, get rid of our revolting floors and buy some grass. All things I’ve been told to be patient on for 3 years. It’s enough. Life’s too short for sandy patches and pink terracotta.

Then, travel. Again, very hard when weekends are spent working or training, but it is something I want to do more of. Even if we keep it local and lekker for now. I want to go out more, see more, photograph more.

And less? I want to waste less, spend less, weigh less and stress less. Less drama, less salt, less traffic and less being polite.

But first, donuts and champagne. Because, Happy Birthday to me. I love you.

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Win a Kate Rankin Photo Shoot Valued at R2500!

It’s my birthday week (25 again!) and I’ve decided to reward one lucky person with an awesome prize – a professional photo-shoot from Kate Rankin Photography – AKA me 🙂

For those of you who have followed my photographic journey you will know that it’s one of my greatest loves, and to be able to give a shoot away just makes me so happy.

The value of the shoot is R2500 and can be for pretty much anything – family, newborn, kiddies party, maternity, couple, engagement… you name it! Have a look at my website to see the sort of photos I take, it may just give you some inspiration.

It’s really easy to enter:

  1. Like KateRankinPhotography on Facebook
  2. Like KateRankinPhotography on Instagram
  3. Comment on either the Instagram competition post or the Facebook competition post and tell me what shoot you want
  4. Share the Instagram or Facebook post

Then, cross fingers and toes and vaginas (if you’ve had a baby and pee when excited) and wait until 27 January when the winner is announced… on my birthday!

The Ts and the Ts

  1. Shoot to take place in Johannesburg Northern Suburbs. Should the winner be residing elsewhere he or she to make their own way to the shoot/venue/location
  2. Shoot has to be booked and claimed before 30 April 2017
  3. Winner will be drawn at random
  4. Only those who follow competition mechanics will be eligible for the draw
  5. Winner consents to having his/her photos published on my blog and Facebook pages
  6. Shoot duration will not last longer than 2 hours
  7. Shoot details will be at the final discretion of the photographer

Good Luck!!

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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.

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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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Goodbye, Mr President.

Dear Mr President. Last week the lovely, kind security guard at my sons school was held up and robbed at his home. I assume he didn’t have many belongings to begin with, but what he did have was taken. He was assaulted and beaten up. We got together as a group of moms and raised some cash for him. Not millions, but hopefully enough to put a smile on his sad, bruised face. This is the gentleman who greets every.single.child by name on a daily basis, high-fives grubby hands and patiently co-operates with toddler nuances. You didn’t walk into his humble home, steal his things and beat him up, but I blame you.

Dear Mr President. I was warned against taking photos at certain venues over the weekend – because there are bad men who will try and hurt me. Rob me, assault me. I know it’s not you waiting in the shadows eyeing out my camera or lens that I work every day to pay off, but I blame you.

Dear Mr President. Students are burning the very buildings they claim to want to sit inside and learn in. They are torching buses and historical places and rioting in the streets. They are turning a noble cause into something very big, and very frightening. You aren’t in the streets burning cars, or assaulting policemen, but I blame you.

Dear Mr President. We are in the midst of a very worrying drought. Responsible citizens are kicking dust in their once-green garden and letting it mellow-if-it’s-yellow. You aren’t kicking dust are you? I bet your fire pool is full and floatable. I know you didn’t physically kill my poor sun damaged plants, but I still blame you.

Dear Mr President. It’s taking me 3, sometimes more, hours to get to and from work every day. Taxis driving in the emergency lane of highways while I sit and listen to 90% local shit on government radio and news about fire pools and droughts and feesmustfall. It’s cool though; those eTolls you insisted would improve our quality of road experience still look helluva pretty with their cobalt blue lights. I know it isn’t you in-front of me in your unlicensed vehicle, but I still blame you.

Dear Mr President. Pinterest is the closest many of us will come to a holiday in the foreseeable future. Gosh, the Rand is like a toddler on steroids, up and down and in and out. What fun you must be having chuckling away as your people scrape cents for bread and beg for food. I myself look like a bobble head when I prey for the traffic light to turn green before I have to apologetically shake my head ‘no’, again, at another beggar lining up in the intersection. My wallet is dry, MR president. Between the taxes and the double jobs and the charity and the constant doling out of money to save our citizens, to help as much as we can, while you sit sipping champagne in full blue pools and flushing your number 1’s. We are spent, exhausted, tired.

But, I must apologise. You don’t always do nothing. You aren’t always this apathetic.

When you sent your wolves on poor Pravin, the only honest one amongst you. When you willingly let your country slide and wobble. You cut the brakes of the vehicle Mr President, and then you handed over the keys to criminals who would speed feely, knowing full well there was no safe stop in sight.

When you used your power and friends to stop Thuli. When you kind of eventually paid back some of the money. When you slept through budget speeches and laughed your way through Parliamentary debates. When we lost track of your wives and mistresses. When you took that shower. It’s time to go. It was time to go the day you started.

Surprisingly, you have done one great and very powerful thing; you have united the citizens of this country in our mutual dislike and disrespect for you. No-body wants you here, we all want you gone. So please, leave. Flee. Run. Resign. Just go. I’ve had enough. South Africa has had enough.

Totsiens. Hamba Kahle. Sala hantle. Sala kakuhle. זייַ געזונט. Lamtumirë. Sbohem. Αντίο. Hyvästi. 再見. La revedere. Au Revoir.

Fuck off.

PS – I treated myself to a manicure over the weekend, and by Tuesday it was already chipped and peeling. I don’t know how it’s possible to, but I still blame you.

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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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