Toddlers Are Quite Lovely When They’re Your Own.

I was listening to an interview on a podcast this week, where the interviewer asked his guest if the good in children outweighed all the hard shit. I haven’t stopped thinking about this comment. Because, it is hard. Not ‘parallel parking hard’ but hard in that fact that everything – when you have a kid – always seems as if it takes that much longer. It’s mind boggling when I think about how one times 2 year old has completely thrown our lives out of sync, but for the better.

So, to answer your question, Mr DJ, yes, the good absolutely does outweigh the bad.

I feel like my last few blog posts have been somewhat negative. I’ve been writing a lot about the ‘busyness’ of it all. But I don’t often reflect on this little person and just how amazing he is.

I’ve never really liked other peoples toddlers. Babies are adorable, all peach fuzz hair and soft skin, but toddler? What’s there to love about some one else DNA with miles of snot dripping out of their nose, too long and always dirty fingernails, slogan t-shirts and irritating mannerisms. Call me harsh, but (and I’m a kid person) they’ve never really held appeal to me. When people share videos of their kids doing nauseatingly annoying things and then narrate it in baby talk “Tommy wikes wapples”, I could actually just vomit in my mouth. Except now I share all the videos of Carter (except, shoot me if I ever talk to him in nonsensical rhyming ridiculousness).  I used to think that when people told me ‘the best was yet to come’ it was to make themselves feel better, and I would look smugly at my sleeping infant and think never. Never could it get better than this.

But then he turned two and all the potty-training, new bed, will-he-ever-sleep-again drama came and went, and what emerged was this incredibly smart, conscientious, aware, loving, kind, wonderful little boy in my life, and I simply cannot get enough of him.

Motherhood is a complete oxymoron. I miss him terribly during the day and cannot wait to see him after school, but a sense of me also dreads the hours until bedtime. He’s going to need me, and want me, and whine and then want food and maybe then wont eat the food I cook and then he will moan when I want to go wee and want a sweet before supper or hug the dog too hard and be demanding of my attention when I just need to edit some photos for client and then type up an email for my boss but oh my god I only have him for 2 hours a day what is wrong with me.

So often I take the time I have with him for granted, and so I’ve been consciously trying to spend a solid 30 minutes a day with him, uninterrupted. I know that sounds ridiculously short, but you try put away your phone, your distractions, dinner and work and actively just sit with your child and chat.

I try start from the moment we leave the school. I love the way he runs into my arms, proudly pointing at me to his friend saying ‘my mom’. He wraps his arms around me and stands on my crouched knees to give me a kiss. Getting out of a school is a minefield of distractions, from creche dogs to sandpits and wayward two-year-olds vying for this attention. I have mastered the art of bribery and now always have a treat on me to tempt him to the car faster. Once home I try and ignore the carrots that need julienning, the rice that needs steaming or the bags that need unpacking. Instead, if I’m early enough we make a pt of tea, sit outside and catchup.

Carter is incredible. The things he knows and says and shows me. His little sentences are now 4, 5, 6 words long and his attention to detail is amazing. He has this way of tilting his head when he’s trying to convince you of something, and a little frown he he’s genuinely confused by something. Everything that I don’t want him to do, that he wants to do, gets met with a ‘5 more minutes’ plea from his earnest face and god forbid there’s ever a mess or spill of any kind, he will spend years cleaning it up.

He dances like his mother (badly) to music but dawdles like a sloth in peanut butter walking into school in the morning. He adores babies and dogs and will spend the majority of his time looking for either one to love.

He is so independent and insists on doing everything himself (this, my friends, is why parents are never on time). He fights bedtime like a purple star recipient and sat through is first theatre show better than a 5 year old.

This kid he is bloody terrific. Even with a runny nose and always-dirty-fingernails.

Toddlers. You really do like them more when they’re your own.



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Brace Yourself. The Terrible Twos’ Are Coming.

I remember watching a friend of mine battling with being a mom. Her vacant haunted eyes terrified me and I never knew how to help her. She made parenting seem awful, and hard and I was terrified that one day I would find myself in a similar situation.

Then Carter was born, 2 years and 11 days ago, and he’s been a 99% wonderful human. All conscientious charm and manners. He slept well, ate well and basically made life pretty freaking easy for us.

Until 2 weeks ago when – true to the textbooks – he turned 2. Holy hell in a hand basket, it has been rough AF. Not only did he start potty training, he moved into a new bed and also decided that to get dressed in the morning was not for him. And not in a ‘no thanks mum, this isn’t for me’ way. In a “I will beat your motherly compassion out of you with a hockey stick until you want to strangle me” way.

Guys. I am at my wits end. I spent the majority of my 90-minute (because also, fuck you traffic) drive to work in guilt-ridden state. Never mind the 2 hours this morning just trying to actually get him dressed for school. Will I ever be on time again? When I dropped him at crèche this morning I was truly happy to palm him over to anyone who wasn’t me, and up until about 10 minutes ago I would have very happily left him there for a week. Because I actually don’t even know if I’m cut out for parenting, let alone parenting a 2 year old.

Newborns by comparison are possibly the easiest you will have it. I’m sorry to break this to you. It gets really hard, like really hard. Granted, it’s adorable when they start to talk and engage and participate in real-life activities – but the down side of their newfound abilities is the realisation that they have an opinion, limbs and a really, really strong will.

Keeping him in his bed at night (which entails 4 stories, strawberry milk, 75 pickups and bed put-back-ins and about a gallilitre of wine), getting him dressed every day, taking him home from a fun environment and trying to prevent volcanic meltdowns on a daily basis – along with juggling two demanding jobs and trying to also not look like a heroin addict have me absolutely farging exhausted at the end of every single day.

It also doesn’t help that t’s been a pretty rough year culminating in my Mothers Day ending with me leaving work (because yes, money doesn’t grow on spouses nor trees) and being hit by a taxi. Not only did he hit my car but he then proceeded to verbally assault and intimidate me, along with several of his charming taxi driver buddies. It was a horrific and terrifying situation and by the time I got home from the police station, shaken and drenched in rain, I was determined to emigrate and leave this ‘hell hole’ of a country.

I am so angry lately, and I suspect that my son is picking up on my emotions. But then he screams like a hadeda with a grammar phone and wrestles me with his 18 limbs and I can’t help but get more and more stressed out. I’m surprised I’m even able to make conversation at the moment. And I have only one human, only one. How are the moms of 2 or more actually coping?

I’d like to point out – one page into this rant – that I desperately love my son and that he has only been like this for 2 weeks. And he’s also only an asshole for a few hours a day. The other 22 he’s a delight, and then I forget about the asshole phase and go ‘let’s make another one!’. So no, I’m not really going to actually take him to school naked, or throw him out with Pickitup, but I do need to know, from other well oiled and experienced moms that this too shall pass. And before you come to me with your tricks, I’ve tried them. They don’t work

  • Bribery
  • Putting him to sleep with school clothes under his pyjamas
  • Naughty corner
  • beating Smacking
  • Ignoring
  • Hugging
  • Shouting
  • Wine
  • Distraction
  • Protein laden snacks
  • Mommy groups
  • Vodka
  • Rescue Remedy (for him)
  • Xanax (for me)

Help. Please.

 

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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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One.

 

Bella kept me up all of last night. She’s constipated, so I pretty much spent most of the night letting her in and out the house to drag her sore bottom around on the lawn for 20 minutes at a time. (Bella is a dog, for those wondering why I would assist a small human in using my grass as an arsehole scratcher at 2 am*)

Excellent way to open a story, I realise, but the point I’m trying to make is that last night brought back so many memories of your first few months. Of setting my alarm every 3 hours to breastfeed you, change your bum and clothes and rock you to sleep. I’ve forgotten about just how broken I was in those early days, and just how much you needed me to literally keep you alive during the night.

Fast forward a year and your dad and I had to wake you from your deep slumber at five past seven this morning. Eventually, we roused you with a badly rendered version of ‘Happy Birthday’ to which you responded with bed hair and a skew smile.

You are one today.

One.
One.

One year of memories that I can’t even begin to touch on, but let me try.

The 5th of May 2015 was the happiest day of my life. Those 4 days in hospital passed in a blur of people, photos, tears, laughs, gifts and heart-stopping joy. And then we brought you home and the family engulfed you in their love. Four months of maternity leave meant 24/7 bonding and addiction. I could (and did) watch you for hours on end, took you everywhere with me, to baby massage, baby reflexology, gym, lunches and even a couple of bottomless champagne days with the girls. For 4 months I made hundreds of cups of tea and coffee for the endless stream of visitors, washed a never ending stock of bottles and changed a lifetime of nappies. You smiled at 4 weeks, rolled at 11, lost all your hair and grew some back like Baldy Man. We did a newborn shoot, and 6 week shoot and I broke my Instagram on your sweet, sweet smile. Your eyes stayed blue and your face stayed beautiful and your character grew daily.

Then I went back to work and realised that I was OK with that. You started at crèche and teacher Anne and Akhona loved you like I did. They still do, all your teachers and their (much better) rendition of Happy Birthday when I dropped you off this morning left me grinning but you not quite sure.

At 5 months you popped a tooth, and another one and then you had 4. By then you were sitting and sliding and I knew my days of ‘relaxing’ were limited. You had visited the bush house, the dam and been on your fair share of dinner dates as well.

In December you started crawling and chose a time when the whole family was together to do so. You spent most of your Summer months naked and in water and are still happiest when doing both.

I remember being exhausted when you were about 7 months, it was a hectic time for all of us. Thanks for still loving me even when I was snappy and grumpy.

You’ve been standing for ages now, but unless supported by an object are still too scared to take that first step.

Your curiosity for life amazes me every day. You still startle and then grin when you see your reflection, and still howl like an injured duck when I pluck you from the bath.

Eventually that 5th tooth popped and you started sleeping again.

You’ve been to triathlons and the beach and running races and cycling events. You’ve wormed your way onto guest’s laps at a wedding and drunk their champagne. You still have so much more to explore.

You are cheeky, and fierce and have that second child syndrome, even though you’re my first.

We gave you a chocolate cupcake this morning and you hated it. But I’m sure the Flings I packed for your class party will go down a treat as they always do.

Carter, happy first birthday my magical boy. Keep smiling, keep challenging me and keep being fascinated by the world.

I love you, so so much.

 

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Born

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xmas with grannies
Granny time at Christmas
first haircut
First Haircut

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christmas

beer

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beach

 

bum

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Cousin Love
creche
Creche ready

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Baldy

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cake

 

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