To Kate, On Your 33rd Birthday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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