Dear Daughter.

Daughter. Daughter. Daughter.

I can say it a hundred times and yet it doesn’t feel real. I am so used to being a boy mom. I buy shorts and dinosaur t-shirts and endless spades and diggers and trucks. We spend our time peeing in the garden and our bath time ritual consists of ‘bum and ball cleaning’. Boys are easy and laid back and get on with it. Girls? Well, they terrify me.

I’ve been referring to this baby as ‘Pip’ since conception and up until Wednesday as ‘it’. Even though doc has confirmed multiple times (Kate, see no penis) I’m still in denial that I will be bringing a female into this world, and just what that means.

I don’t know if you’ve seen this ‘Rules for my daughter’ post that has been circulating the Internet lately – it’s a list of 35 ‘instructions’ for girls, from their moms. I’ve read a few and whilst some are sweet (“Reserve I’m sorry for when you truly are” and “Question everything except your own intuition.”) there are some that are just so bullshitty. Like ‘always wear good underwear’. Please, I’m not even wearing a bra today (sorry, colleagues) and I can promise you that doesn’t make me less smart or womanly than someone in a R1000 boulder holder from La Senza.

So, whilst you may not be nearly ready to enter the world, your turns and flops and kicks remind me that, ready or not, in 3.5 months you will be here and I need to chat to you about the kind of person I want you to be, and the kind of girl mom that I want to be.

My Rules Advice, For My Daughter. 

  1. Don’t let them take advantage of you. Ever. Take this from someone who, for 33 years, has been a people pleaser. It gets you nowhere
  2. That being said, be generous. Not with money alone, with time and character and kindness.
  3. Don’t let the sexist win. Again, from experience and something I am still dealing with daily. Do you know that I got this in an email last week:

Bad of him, right? Even worse of me. I have done nothing about it. Remember this when your turn comes, as it will. Do not let people bully you on account of you having a vagina, a pretty face or double x chromosomes. Do not accept discrimination, lesser pay or lesser respect. Only you, and your peers, can change inequality around.

4. Lunch with me, call me, Let’s hang out. Sure – I am and will always be your mom but I want us – at a reasonable age – to be friends as well. I want us to talk and laugh and do stuff together, not for any occasion, just because. I am going to love your company.

5. You are not a princess. Don’t let people treat you softer because you are a girl. If you start it, finish it. if you fall down, pick yourself up. I will treat you the same way I do your bother – with a fierce sternness and love. I vow to not go soft on you just because you are pink and he is blue. Don’t lessen yourself because of your gender.

6. Work really hard. Please don’t go by the ‘marry rich’ mantra that some may.

7. Learn how to manage money. I was never taught and at the tender age of 21 plus some I am now finindg myself drenched in sweat on sleeless nights as I worry about my financial future.

8. That being said – treat yourself and buy nice things. I will try to not berate these decisions, but will try respect and encourage your financial independence.

9. Be polite, always.

10. Be interested. Learn. Explore, Be inquisitive. Check your facts and do your research and don’t just let a question linger. be so hungry for information that you feel like you will never be satiated.

11. Eat healthily. Enjoy your food. Splurge on junk but long for balance. It’s all about the 80/20

12. Hug me. All the time

13. Never ever let yourself be in a position where you feel like you are being a bully or are amongst bullies. These people are not good for you, despite what you may think or feel at the time. Be fair to everyone. Support the underdog. Always take the position of empathy.

14. If you are ever being bullied, tell me. I want you to talk openly and freely with me without fear of feeling judged.

15. If you want to play with trucks and diggers and spades, I encourage that. If you want to dress in pink tutus for 8 days in a row, I also encourage that (slighly less ;)). Try not to be defined by gender – your brother has a doll that he adores and I am so proud of him.

16. Use your wit and brain and character to get ahead.

17. Enjoy being a kid. Dont rush to grow up too fast. Adulthood is a no return purchase that really isn’t as fun as they all make it out to be.

18. Look after yourself but don’t feel bad about your weight, your looks or your figure. There are much bigger things to worry about – like which country to explore, which book to read or which retirement village to put me in when I’m old and crazy.

19. You are amazing, And fiercely loved. And you always will be.

I get to see you every 4 weeks, and it is the romantic date of my life. I can’t wait to be able to see you daily, for the rest of our lives. You are going to be the perfect addition to this little triangle-turned-square.

 

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A Farmyard Themed First Birthday Bash

We all know my day job is Digital Account Director, and my fantasy job is party planner, right? Well, it’s true. So with Carters first birthday on the horizon I decided to put my hobby to good use and plan him a little farm themed birthday bash at our house this past weekend.

I had the best and worst time making all the decor and baking everything. I say worst because it took forever, and best because, well LOOK AT IT 😉

Thanks Pinterest for the sheep and pig cupcake ideas!

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Luckily Im a massive hoarder so I used old formula tins which I wrapped and decorated, bread boards, platters and containers I had lying around. I also bought a lot of stuff from China Town – like paper lanterns, plates, napkins straws and bottles.

The harvest table

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9 months of Carter, and as my husband so delicately put it: “Glass bottles for small children, fucking smart”.

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The kiddies eating area

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They look more like ‘Angry Birds’ than chickens…but I decorated paper lanterns to make farm animals…sort of. 
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Let’s talk about the cake, shall we. I have never baked more than a vanilla sponge, but was adamant that I would make a 3 tier monstrosity that I found on Pinterest. So I did. It may have taken me close to 20 hours, but the result as SO worth it… and the cake was delicious to boot. I did have some help the day before when two friends came over to help me ice and assemble… and drink several litres of wine in the process.

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Boys will be boys. My dad and Carter having a blast on the jumping castle. 

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Little farm dudes all dressed up 

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The jumping castle we hired came with a free Granny and her assortment of small children

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I scattered hay bales around the garden, and covered them in hessian and checkered fabric. 

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What Is A Mom?

It came to my attention at 3 am this morning, as I leant over my baby’s cot – for the 18th time that night – that motherhood is a multi-faceted thing. To be a mom is to be provider, protector and parent. But it’s also so much more than that.

It’s holding in a wee, even though it feels like your bladder might burst, to rather spend some quality time with your child

It’s putting their needs before yours. Forever

It’s starting dinner late, if at all, because a thousand things need to be done before you get the luxury of eating

It’s overcoming your OCD tendencies as your 5 month old smears sticky porridge in your face, your hair, and over your not-so-white work shirt

It’s feeling like you will always do more for him, than anyone else. It’s being mom martyr for the rest of your life

It’s sacrificing your free time to rather lie outside with him on a blanket, and sing silly made up songs.

It’s re-applying your makeup for the 4th time that day, because something like bath water, vomit or more baby porridge has smudged it. Again

It’s crying over anything you ever see about sick babies, sad babies, dead babies or happy babies. It’s about never being able to watch Grey’s Anatomy with an air of detachment

It’s worrying about something 24/7

It’s about sacrificing your holiday savings in favour of pool fences and day-care

It’s about rubbing your nose over his soft cheeks while he slumbers, even though you risk waking him up

It’s about going against every bad parenting action you swore you’d never do, just to get them to give you 10 minutes of sleep

It’s about buying bigger jeans, stretchy bra’s and one piece swimming costumes. It’s about wearing your hair in a mom-bun, and investing in concealer that never actually hides the caverns under your eyes

It’s about letting go and giving them the space to grow, knowing that their games will probably end in tears

It’s about saying ‘no’ to things like adult dinners and get-togethers, because your baby’s routine comes first

It’s about squealing when you watch him roll over for the first time, but dreading each day that he gets bigger

It’s about the deals you make with the devil when he just won’t sleep. And the gummy smiles that greet you at 2 am.

It’s about planning his first birthday, before he’s 4 weeks’ old.

It’s about having the weight of the world on your shoulders, as you burden the responsibility of being his mom. It’s about knowing that you will play a very large part in shaping the person he becomes.

It’s about hosting 20 people for a raucous get together, knowing full well that you won’t have the luxury of sleeping in past 5 am the next day.

It’s about learning the value of a love so large that you struggle to breathe

It’s about learning to love, but not smother. To live and let go, and to trust that you are good enough. Every single day.

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What is a mom

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Today I Feel Like The Worst Mother In The World.

Kid, you and me, we’ve been inseparable these past four months. Even before that, when you were physically a part of me for 38 weeks and 4 days. From the second you were born, your body has always found a way to be connected with mine. From the way you rested on my chest, just seconds after taking your first breath, to the way your fingers will always find mine. When you sleep, you curve your proud little chest into me, and when you wake, your hands swat my face in play.

I’ve always battled to be without you. Not in a ‘helicopter parent’ kind of way, but because I miss you when you’re not around. From the very beginning, being your mom has been my proudest role. I love how we read each other, and how happy you always are to see me (although, you’d smile at a brick wall if given a chance and I’ve watched you flirt with anything with a face, so I guess you’re not quite at the monogamous stage just yet.). Even when you were tiny, and the pain meds from my C section forced me to sit on the loo for hours on end, you would always be nestled on the bed within earshot, whilst I coo’d sweet nothings from behind the closed door, holding back tears of pain. Soon after, I stopped taking the meds altogether.

Maternity leave for me, albeit not ‘leave’ in the true sense of the world, has been the most intense four months of my life. You have come pretty much everywhere with me. Ive 4×4’d your pram up steps to friends houses, I’ve plopped you in a Pick n Pay trolley to buy groceries and you’ve experienced the sounds of the bush house more than once. You come to the gym with me 3 days a week, and you watch me from the floor of the kitchen while I make dinner.

I wont lie, at times I’ve dreamt of a nanny, to help relive my aching arms at the end of a long day, to watch you for “just 5 minutes” so I could shave my legs or to unscrew the lid of your bottle when my hands were needed for rocking you, but we can’t afford one (have you seen the price of education?). I’m proud of the way that we’ve done this together, you and me. Thank you for your patience when I nearly let you fall off the changing mat, or when I placed you in a way-too-warm bath. You’ve made this easy for me.

Tomorrow, I go back to work. I’m trying to rationalise with myself that I’m not a bad mom. That me leaving you for a full day in the care of strangers is acceptable. That this will make you a well rounded boy, and that you will know that it wasn’t without severe deliberation or self blame. The thing is, a part of me wants to go back to work. My brain has fossilised these past 4 months. My friend Sheena and I (also a new mom) laugh about our ‘mum dumb’ daily. I love my job, I’m excited to see my colleagues and meet my new team. I’m excited to reunite with my favourite client, and push myself again. I am happiest after a busy day and I hope you know that you will always still be the favourite part of my day, and that when I see you, it will always be the best of me. I know that your new creche teachers and carers are going to fall into the Carter trap. You’re bloody cute, and everyone who meets you is taken in by your comical smile and sweet nature. I know you’re going to a place where you will be treated with love and care. Your two cousins are some of the greatest kids I have met – and I know that the school will help you get here too.

I also know that there’s a good chance that the only thing I’m going to achieve tomorrow is trying not to spend half the day in the bathrooms, sobbing. That I’m going to be looking at my watch every hour, counting down the minutes until I can fetch you from creche. That if Eskom initiates load shedding and I get stuck on Jan Smuts, that you may be visiting your mom in a state prison.

I also know that in a weeks time, and a months time, I probably wont cry anymore. And that in a few years time, you would rather be at school with your new friends, than stuck at home with ‘boring dad and me’.

Kid, you are going to be so great. So am I. We are not the first mom, nor the first baby to have to do this. In fact, I have a feeling being a working mom is going to help me more. You’ve given me a new found strength and set of balls. I want to work for me, and for you. I’m working so that I can be an employable and well rounded person, and so you can get that fancy new cricket bat when you need one.

So, while I may feel like the worst mother in the world today, I know I’m not. I also know that when it matters, I will be there for you. I’m going to be at your parent teacher days, and your first swimming lesson. I’m going to embarrass the shit out of you at your first athletics day, and your art is going to drip off every available surface of my fridge.

Here’s to new things, kid. But please, just always remember, if you have a bakerman day at school, your mom bloody better get that first cupcake.

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Sheena, my partner in ‘mum dumb’ gave me this ‘back to work’ survival pack.
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My mom gave me this beautiful locket, so I could always keep Carter close to my heart.

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Babys Best Buys

Remember Bonnie from Bonnies Best Buys? This is exactly the same, except entirely different.

Bonny.
Bonny.
Not Bonny
Not Bonny

Leading up to having Carter, I was kindly gifted with so many ‘must have items’ from fellow moms. And once he was born, I discovered a few of my own. 

In the spirit of promoting our GDP – here are several baby items I just cannot live without:

1. Towelling nappies. To be used for everything except actually nappy’ing. These bad boys soak up any liquid, from baby vomay all the way to your snot and tears when it’s 4 in the morning and you’ve put the nappy on backwards for the 3rd time in a row. 

2. Itzbeen ‘Pocket Nanny’. I didn’t really start using this bad boy until a few weeks ago after I attended a sleep talk, and decided to start enforcing a stricter day time sleep routine on Carter. This handy little device times everything from feeds, to naps to nappy changes. It times up to 24 hours, but if your baby happens to nap that long I would seriously consider getting sterilised.

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(In this image you can clearly see that Carter has been sleeping for 1 minute. He sometimes like to show off like that)

3. Baby bouncer. Another revoltingly coloured plaything with a repetitive jingle? Check. However, this crafty bouncer is probably the only this that occupies my child for longer than 2 minutes. I can pop him in there when I’m pouring a glass of wine writing a blog and he merrily pulls, bounces and stares at the plastic loops for minutes on end.

4. Plastic loops. I think these are called linking loops? I call them presents from Jesus. For about 40 rond you can grab yourself a pack of these ingenious little toys and attach them to just about anything. (like a baby bouncer). In about 2 weeks Im going to try use them to hold him down on his changing mate so he can’t roll over while I pour another glass of wine scour the house for a nappy that fits

5. Formula. Im still giving him ye old boob juice, but for days when its inconvenient to breast feed (read – ANYWHERE in public) I simply give him baby protein powder. It’s helping to make the transition for when I go back to work easier, plus it keeps him fuller for longer (hello 10 hour sleeps!)

6. iPad apps. Yes, I’ve introduced my child to the iPad. No, I don’t think Im going to kill him by doing so. Fisher Price have the most incredible apps for each stage of babys life – I’m currently using one called “Contrast Colour’ which is a series of interactive black and white and colour images designed to stimulate baby. I used it on him for the first time last week. About 2 minutes in he was fast asleep and I was gleefully hopping from one video to the next. (addendum, it’s great for adults too)

7.Clever clothing. Fark you onesie manufacturers who make putting your outfits on tiny wriggling humans a sweat inducing challenge. Your buttonless outfits are about effective as Donald Trumps combover. Enter – the clever and oh-so-cute companies like Tous Les Jours who actually put thought behind their products. Like this little outfit – cute, practical and easy to use. 

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Oh, the packaging! Tres chic.
Oh, the packaging! Tres chic.

8. Honey Dummies. Often met with ‘erm, thats an interesting thing in your babies mouth’. These dummies are the red headed step children who turn into Prince Harry. Super cheap, ugly as sin, and a firm favourite with my kid. The best part? If he loses it I don’t have to fork out a small fortune to replace it.

9. Bibdannas. I don’t know if it’s his age, or if he simply gets a kick from me changing his outfit several times a day, but my baby is a drooler. Thankfully, bibs have come a long way from the ugly square plastic neck accessories they were. Mamma and Nanna make some awesome ‘bibdannas’ which double up as gob-catchers, whilst looking trendy at the same time.

10. Car seat mirrors. I am paranoid about my baby and his breathing. In hospital I would sleep with him in his bassinet next to me, and wake up every 18 seconds to put my hand in front of his mouth to test if he was alive. So, you can imagine my paranoia when driving with him in a  rear facing car seat. A mirror that goes on to the head rest of the car seat that he’s facing allows you to view him through your rear mirror. Plus, my baby is incredibly vain, so he gets to gaze at himself for hours on end. 

What am I missing here, moms? Any ‘must have’ items on your list? (and don’t worry, I already have vodka on it).

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