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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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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I Can't Remember When Last I Pee'd

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, being a mom is hard. Being a career woman is hard. Putting the two together and being a working mom is probably the hardest thing I have ever done.

For anyone who has ever really wondered why I, and thousands of woman may ‘change’ when we become mothers, I’ll give you a little glimpse of what really goes into the day in the life of a working mom.

Its 4 pm. I’ve been up since 4 am, and several times throughout the night tending to you, my baby, who needed a dummy, a blanket or simply a reassuring cuddle.

My husband was flying to Cape Town today, so I managed to squeeze in a 30 minute jog before he left home. It felt awesome. At 6 am I fed you, changed you, then changed you again because you decided your morning poo would be better in a brand new nappy. In between showering and dressing for work I checked emails, sang to you with my hair dryer, fed the dogs, made my lunch, packed your bags, packed my bags, and managed to leave the house to drop you off at crèche. All without you falling off the bed (again). I managed to avoid most of the traffic fuckery and got to my desk just after 8:30. There were a few raised eyebrows of course.

I worked hard today. I even landed a new client, and managed to get everything done on my list, and then some. I drove very far for a meeting, secured some budget for a new client campaign, and man, I enjoyed every second of my hot cup of coffee. I bantered with colleagues, ate my salad whilst typing a report, and declined the after work drinks invitation in my diary.

I work harder than ever before, baby. I guess its what happens when you feel like you have something to prove. When you feel that people assume you cant have working ovaries and a brain.

At 4 pm I bolted from my desk. There were a few raised eyebrows. I managed to get to your crèche by 5 pm, the time was filled with a call to a client. Yesterday I wasn’t so lucky. Yesterday I got stuck in a terrible hailstorm for 2 hours and reached your school last. You were so forgiving and gave me that toothy grin that melts my heart.

We normally race home from crèche, because you go to bed not long after. Today I had to pop into Woolworths for dog food and wine. The store didn’t have those baby seats on the trolleys, so I carried you instead. I couldn’t manage the dog food and the wine while carrying you, so I sadly put the Merlot back on the shelf. I really needed wine today.

The store is decorated in Christmas colours. I get a lump in my throat. I’m so worried about money. How am I going to afford Christmas presents this year? The closes I’m getting to a bonus is 2 for 1 tampon specials at Clicks.

At the till I remembered we also needed baby food for you, because after cooking 3 kilograms of organic mince on the weekend, you decided you hated mince. I got a few raised eyebrows from other women in the store.

We got home not too long after and the dogs went mad with joy. I lay you on the floor with them – surrounded by pillows of course, because you still topple over sometimes, for just 2 minutes so I could wee, but somewhere between yesterday and today you’ve realised when I leave the room, and the sound of your frantic screams stopped me midway to the toilet.

You’re in your high chair now and I’m about to feed you the overpriced baby food from Woolies. You’re very distracted and I realise I have to change your nappy. 5 minutes later you’re back in your chair and I’m a plethora of aeroplane sounds as I try and convince you that pureed chicken and broccoli is more exciting than eating the plastic of your chair.

We skip the chicken and start on the yoghurt and fruit. Then the finger biscuits, grated cheese and dried mango. All along I’m teaching you and chatting to you about your day. For every mouthful you swallow, another 4 mouthfuls end up on you, the hounds and in my hair.

There’s another storm brewing outside, so I start running your bath while cooing at you in the next room. The sound of running water reminds me just how badly I need to pee, except you start crying again. You really do hate it when I leave now. You love the bath and we splash for several minutes until the first lightning bolt strikes. I whisk you out and take you to your room where you fight me and the onesie to the bitter end.

It’s too early for your bottle, plus I haven’t made it yet, so I bring you to the kitchen where I try start on dinner for myself while trying to give you my undivided attention. Your father phones to tell me about his holiday work conference in Cape Town. He’s been on a wine farm all day. I want to stab him in the face.

We read a book. I choose ‘The Gruffalo’, because even though you’re too young to enjoy it properly, I love playing the characters and putting on the voices. You don’t enjoy the story too much, but the pages are apparently delicious.

I let the dogs outside and play with them and the Frisbee for a while. I almost threw you accidentally, you thought it was hilarious.

The smell of burning brings me back inside. I’ve scorched my supper, for the second night in a row.

It’s now nearly time for your bed, and I take you into your room to give you a bottle, which you refuse. Ten minutes later though I’m hanging over your cot feeding it to you again, because apparently that’s how you like it now.

Eventually, you’re asleep. Its 7 pm and I start cleaning the house, wiping yoghurt off the floors, walls and ceiling and steaming fruit for tomorrow’s meal. Dinner ends up being a box of popcorn and a beer. Your dad messages me to tell me about the curried pasta he’s eating at some fancy restaurant.

It’s 9 pm now and I’m signing off on a few emails. The house is quiet, and clean. I lock up the house, brush my teeth, and eventually I sit down to pee. You cry out, I think you’re experiencing nightmares.

That pee can wait.

 

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