Brace Yourself. School Holidays Are Coming.

Yesterday was day 1 of school holidays. I was working from home as I had taken a days leave to photograph at a birth, but it all happened so quickly that I was home by 8:30 and decided to just work from there instead of heading into the office.  Every year Carter’s school closes for the full month of December, and like every other parent out there, I shit myself. 30 days is a very, very long time for a small human to be at home. Lord, coming out of a long weekend with a kid feels like a scene from Braveheart.

This year we have had to hire full time a nanny just so she can watch him for one month of the year (most expensive salary, ever, right?). She started with us a few months ago and is absolutely fantastic, so I am feeling slightly better about leaving him alone as she’s great with him, and he simply adores her. But still, she could be Chicco the Clown made of actual ice-cream and he would still get bored after a month.

Yesterday was hectic. I take my hat, and all other items of clothing, off to stay at home moms. As for creche teachers? My god, they should be paid in Bitcoin and rainbows. Apart from trying to work and get my job done I was also trying to entertain a very busy, very active and very bored toddler. We filled his pool and swam, we cleaned the big pool we swept and mopped and scrubbed. We puzzled and read books and made dinosaurs out of playdoh. I took him to the shops to get baking ingredients and then we mixed and battered and rolled and cut out intricate Reindeer shapes and then decorated those and then we showered together because we both looked like a unicorn had sharted food colouring on us and then we cooked supper and ate fruit and fed the birds and played with the dogs and spoke about ‘Chippy’ our Elf On The Shelf and built pillow forts. And then it was only 6pm and I felt as f I had been hit.by. a.bus. What made it even harder was that his usual 2-3 hour nap just did not happen, so that felt like another eleventy hundred hours to fill.

And flip, after he went to bed and I cleaned and got back to my study and worked some more, I reflected on what a flipping fun day it was with my son. Fun, but not something I can repeat daily. Sorry, new nanny.

So now, back at the office until Christmas I’m in a slight state of anxiety about how I’m going to fill his time until 2018. I know I may sound like one of those moms who’s kid cant entertain himself, but its more just trying to keep his busy brain and body stimulated enough so that he’s tired enough t fall asleep at night. The biggest issue is that I’m not home and Kelly, our Nanny, cant really do much with him apart from in the house.

I popped over to the Crazy Store earlier and bought my body weight in arts and crafts supplies, playdoh, paper, paint and pencils. But let’s be realistic, that’s going to cover him for 2, 3 days tops.

Help, moms. What are your holiday solutions for keeping kids busy? Would love for you to share them in the comments section, and perhaps you will also be helping a fellow bewildered mom with some fun activities to do with their kids (or, for someone else to do, because, grown-ups have jobs) over the holidays.

PS – No moms were harmed (too much) on day one of school holidays.

‘Honest Dad! All I said was school holidays!’

 

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The Toddler, The Carseat and The Mother F*ing Sandpit.

I’ve often read posts by other bloggers where they take us (the reader) through a day in their life. And I LOVE those posts. I’m fascinated by peoples routine, what they eat for breakfast and how they run their day. I’ve always wanted to write one about my own life. It’s slightly narcissistic I know, but I figured if I’m as intrigued by your daily bowel movements and dogs walks then you might be the same about me.

This is not one of those posts. I was going to, until I realised that it would be the longest.post.known.to.mankind. Why, you ask, when everyone’s day only has 24 hours in it? Because, dear readers, I have a 2-year-old, and anyone who has a toddler understands that there are stages in your kids life when time actually just fucking stands still.

Let me talk you though one of these times.

It was yesterday, and I was fetching my son from creche.

4:45 – Pull up at the school, park and walk in

4:47 – Arrive at Carters classroom and observe this angel, the love of my life, for a few minutes. Agh sweet man, look at how nicely he’s playing on his bike and listening to his teachers, I think.

4:50 –  Walk into play area and Carter catches my eye. Drops bike and runs over to give me my hug/high-five/kiss combo. Yussis but he’s cute man. All dirty kneed and grubby footed.

4:50 –  Chat to his teachers about his day and what he did. Out of the corner of my eye see another kid grab the bike my son was on and start to play with it.

4:50 –  Spend several minutes trying to remind my son that we are going home and he doesn’t need that bike until tomorrow. Alternate between loving and scolding his teacher for then finding another bike that now looks exactly the same and making a song and dance of putting this now new bike in a secret place for safekeeping. (2 year olds, masters of manipulation since forever).

4:59 –  Have child, bag, tag and keys. Somehow manage to lose keys to child. It’s Ok, anything to now start the long walk to freedom.

5:01 – Magically manage to walk out of playground gate. Brain on high alert as I know just how many obstacles lie in store between me, the 250 m walkway, and my car.

5:01 – Child spots sandpit. The goddam sandpit.

5:01 – “Mommy, I dig”

5:01 – “No baby, you can dig at home, come we need to go.”

5:02 – “No mommy, I dig here.”

5;02 – Mommy with willpower of a legless Octopus concedes and makes small human promise to only 2 minutes. He is very sincere and I almost believe he will honour his commitments.

5:02:10 – 2 shoes off child has launched himself into a sea of sand and buckets.

5:06 – Perched on edge of sandpit, overlarge belly and all making small talk with other downtrodden and weary parents who also just now want to go the fuck home.

5:07 – Rationally tell him we have been here for 5 minutes, and not 2, and we must now go home.

5:07 – Alot of no’s and general toddler sounding moaning.

5:08 – Must stick to guns. Tells him in no uncertain terms that we are going home now, and proceed to walk away. Listen to the sound of his wailing get softer the further I walk.

5:10 – Try to not make eye contact with horrified parents who are witnessing this angelic little boy, clearly stranded in the sandpit, with no parent in sight. I am now half submerged in a jacaranda tree to A) avoid said parents and B) hide from my child. I am still convinced the panic of being deserted by his second favourite parent will make him run out to find me.

5:12 – No sign of son growing larger as he runs towards me. Only the sign of the nursery school gardener now carrying my inconsolable child to me in a bear hug.

5:13 – Snot everywhere (him, not me). Not even Orphan Annie puts on this good a show. Slow clap for the little terrorist.

5:15 –  Kneel down on unsteady hind-legs and look into his eyes. Try to rationalise with him about why we have to go. Throw in self pitying statements like ‘mommys had a shitty day at work and just wants to go home’ to ‘daddys waiting with sweeties!”. I will stop at nothing now.

5:17 – A glimmer of understanding, if not compassion in his small tear stained face. I even get a hug and a ‘love you’. Clammy hand in mine we actually start walking, I can sell the Q20 on the gate we are so close.

5:18 – Puppies. MOTHERFUCKING PUPPIES. Two of the adorable bastards. When did the school allow this sort of child heroin into its grounds? Christ almighty we must now stop and play with the most adorable jack russel siblings you have ever laid eyes on.

5:25 – Dogs thoroughly tackled and tickled and assaulted we are finally on the home stretch. People, I am so close that my pregnant bladder lets forth a drop or two.

5:26 – Aand we are at the gate. My god I have never been so excited to see these maroon bars. Excited high fives for all the guards and it’s next stop motor vehicle time. Yes, you baby!!

5:27 – Crap. He has my car keys. It must now unlock the vehicle and enter the front seat at a speed a sloth would find agonising. I’m-A-Big-Boy-Mommy must now insert key into keyhole and start the car. Very clever, praise, well done, go you go. Now get the fuck into your car chair.

5:29 – Again, with the sloth dance, it crawls from my chair to his chair in a ground breaking speed of minus kilometres per hour. We are now actually going against the speed of light. The earth has officially stopped moving. Winter is coming.

5:35 – Realises it doesn’t actually want to be in his chair. It wants to be back in the sandpit.

5:35 – With the strength of Grace Mugabe in a hotel room with an extension cord, I pin him down under my heaving bosom and sweat lined face and try to strap him – a 12 armed rubber toy fuelled by Red Bull, into his car seat. Both now crying.

5:36 – Reverse car at rapid pace with music so loud. Never has Highved Stereo sounded nicer than it has drowning out my sons screams as he unleashes the wrath of his mothers meanness on the world.

5:41 – The 2.1 km commute home has been filled with despair and decibels of glass shattering proportions.

5:42 –  Ironically, in a last minute plot twist, it now doesn’t want to get out of its car seat and starts clawing me with tiny toddler finger nails to stop the unbuckling of his chair. I attempt few hard klaps but end up hitting myself twice instead.

5:43. Leave him in chair and walk into my house which is currently a construction zone. Place myself under the sound of a metal grinder and breathe in the sweet sweet sound of something other than a 2-year-olds-tantrum.

** Disclaimer **

No children were harmed in the making of this episode

The child was removed for the vehicle by his first-favourite parent

Mom only sniffed tasted the wine that night.

 

 

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Aaand, There Go The Nipples.

It happened this morning. As I lifted my pyjama top off my head to step into the shower, I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror, and there they were. My brown marie biscuit sized nipples in all their dinner plate glory. “Barry” I shouted “Fuck!”. “What?” he asked, from the comfort of the bed. I stepped into the room and within seconds his face, full of expectation, had changed to one of barely concealed horror. His wife had ‘turned’.

I remember this happening with my first pregnancy as well, I think I stared at my boobs for close to 30 minutes. Overnight they had changed from perky 34Cs to heavy swollen appendages. And the nipples. Oh my god guys. You would think I would have remembered the fucking nipples!

So, barely 12 weeks in and my body has already decided it’s going to fast forward into alien mode. I think with a second baby your body is prepped and ready to go, so you get less time to feel normal before the changes set in. This time around it’s also been rougher on me. Debilitating exhaustion – to the point where there were days I would get home from work and be physically unable to run Carter a bath. Nausea, which I didn’t seem to have with my first, was always there. Brushing my teeth is still a battle of the gags and the constipation could win some awards. Poo’ing is such a great achievement that I may even tweet about it. Also, the anger. I pretty much hated everyone for several weeks. Normal conflict averse Kate was telling people to ‘go fuck themselves’ and I could barely contain my eye rolls in meeting. I could visualise stabbing people and I got into such a bad altercation with a taxi last week that I though I was going to be murdered on William Nicol.

However, it’s such a freaking thrill to know that I’m growing a another human bean in my belly. Fondly referred to as ‘Pip’, I count down the days between scans and am already rubbing my little belly. I don’t quite know how I’m going to have the patience to wait to meet this little he/she, but what I do know, is that Bulldog farts, food aversion and hubcap sized nips aside, I am totally in love already.

‘Hi!’
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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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The Time He Told Me He Loved Me.

When my husband first told me he loved me we had been dating for about 11 minutes. I remember it as if it was yesterday. We were celebrating his birthday at the now-closed Cantina Tequila. A huge storm was coming in and we were sitting at a table outside. Everyone was hammered, especially Barry who was about 18 tequilas down and speaking fluent Mexican. When he told me, even though I knew he meant it, I laughed because it was possible the least romantic timing. Seems it was a tend, because the day he proposed wasn’t much better.

When Carter told me, he wasn’t drunk (thankfully). It happened last week during our recent bedtime ritual of: Kid in bed, bottle, book leave the room. Repeat 100 times. Night light on, off, blanket on, teddy changed, “mommy more milk“. repeat. Fetch giggling child from behind the couch, place back in bed, repeat again. Give child a vegetable of choice to cuddle with (we prefer baby marrows most nights) repeat. Guys, this kid has more stall tactic than Zuma in court. I had been playing this avid game of bedtime Olympics for about 20 minutes at this point, and was totally over it. My wine was getting warm.  So, when he called “mamaaaa” for the 20th time I grumpily stormed in the room and said “What Carter, it’s bed time boy!”. So you can imagine the subsequent guilt slash clean-up-in-aisle-five moment when – instead of asking for a root vegetable or Nesquik- he said “eyeruvyu” (I Love You). He then said it again, said “sorry penguin” rolled over, and fell asleep.

BE STILL MY BEATING HEART.

So, here’s the thing. These kids can drive you to the brink of absolute insanity, and just before you feel like you’ve made a horrible mistake by having children, they bring you back down to love laden earth by doing the most incredible things.

I recently blogged about the ‘terrible twos’ and guys, no jokes, the first few weeks were a dark time for me. I felt terribly alone and worried. Nothing was going right – work stress, car accident, money stress, friendship stress and then a kid who shat in his pants instead of the toilet, urinated on the floor instead of a potty and screamed like a trapped goat everytime he had to get dressed. At one point I even seriously considered anti depressants. That was my proverbial edge, and I was about to jump.

But, since the ‘I Love You’ declaration of ’17 we have had nothing but smooth sailing. This adorable small human has whipped out all the charm cards and executed them perfectly. From glorious emoji shaped turds in the potty (apologies to everyone who’s house this has happened at) to impeccably timed hugs, cuddles and kisses. He even stayed in class last week to clean up the beanbags. Basically, he’s short one pair of angel wings.

So, if you are going through the toddler induced hell that I was just a few short days ago, let it be known that ‘this too shall pass’ And also let it be known that even if we have never met, and you live in some small corner of Uzbekistan, I’m here if you ever need to chat. Because you know whats worse than going through the bad times? It’s doing it alone. So whiles it may seems small fry to others, it isn’t to those who have been there. And to those who dismissed my dramatic appeals for help – go fuck yourself. Just joking, I hope one day when your kid sets fire to your couches in defiance of getting dressed that you remember this. Also just joking. Sort of.

With Love,

A-Temporarily-Smug-Mother-of-A-Two-Year-Old.

 

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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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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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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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On This Sickness Thing.

Everyone is a perfect parent when they don’t have kids. Then you have kids, and everything you thought and said pre-spawn files right out the window and hits some poor unsuspecting low flying duck in the face.

When I was a non-mom, one of the biggest ‘my child will never be like that’ thoughts I had was around sickly, snotty kids. Everywhere I looked there were babies and toddlers with runny noses, unwell children, coughing children and people bailing on social events due to said snotty coughing unwell children.

When Carter was born I handed him around to everyone within sight like a bad scene from the Lion King. “Touch him” I would screech, “hold him” I proclaimed “let him be exposed to all the germs” I yelled. And he did, and he was, and he was fine.

Even when I sent him to crèche at the tender age of 119 days I was met with disgust from most people, people horrified at just how many germs he would be exposed to. Steadfast in my belief that my child was a Kearney, and therefore healthier than a pot of organic yoghurt, I insisted that crèche would be the best thing for him. “immunity building” I think is what I said. And for the next three months it was great. I had a healthy, happy contented kid. Until one day – when he was seven months old – school phoned. Carter had a temperature. I was more panicked than Trump on a windy day, I raced to the crèche, fetched my utterly miserable child and spent the rest of the day wondering how he could have gone from farting and happy to 40-degreed and miserable in the space of a few hours. A few days later he was A-Okay, back at crèche and everything was just dandy. Except his immune system seemed to have been activated – like breaking that wee seal at a night club – and suddenly the crèche calls were more frequent. Not to say he was always sick (in-fact, he’s more healthy than not) but if there was a bug or virus doing the rounds, then my kid was bound to catch it.

We had our fair share of colds, eye infections and UFBD (Unidentified Filthy Baby Disease). In June he got gastro turned dysentery and in the past week he’s been off school with sinus infections and semi-bronchitis. Yes, that’s a thing.

He’s not alone, kids are foul creatures, and all the spitting, drooling, toy swopping and face touching means that germs will spread faster than a gossip session at ladies night. So, is my child more healthy or sickly than his peers? Absolutely not. Around 98.7% of my phone data is used up on mommy chats discussing our small humans bloody stools, projectile vomit and gunky eyes.

I already have game plans for illnesses that don’t exist. His medicine box is stocked for everything from a sore toe to a tsunami, Life hospital will be my destination of choice should he ever need to be admitted (they have beds and food for parents!) and bedtime vitamin administration is a mini assembly line.

Not that any of this will work, because they’re kids, man. And their small little bodies mean that they have much weaker immune systems. What might make us sneeze four times could cause them to need an antibiotic drip and a 5 hour nap. We have to remember that essentially they need to get exposed to everything at least once – so whereas you and I are revolting tainted grownups, our pink footed little munchkins still have a long way to go.

So, whilst Winter may be a hell pit of sickness and snot, at least I know his immune system is getting an excellent workout, and slowly building itself up to Kearney standards.

PS – If you are looking for a list of medications to stock up on for your little one, for those ‘just in case’ moments, may I suggest using this handy list I’ve complied, below.

Sally 6/5/9 126

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