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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Motherhood. And The Demise of Friendships.

I’ve read so many articles, written by moms, where they profess massive apologetic outbursts for ‘losing themselves’ in the first year of their child’s life and for being ‘bad friends’ during that time. And every single time I read something like that I get more and more pissed off. Because I call bullshit. Because – and it took me a while to realise this – but the demise of a friendship after one of you becomes a parent is in fact (gasp) not always the new moms fault.

When Carter was born, and in fact during my pregnancy, I tried my hardest to prove that I hadn’t changed as a person. I became the martyr of “normal-dom” and insisted on being at all the dinners and events. I sipped my alcohol free beer and sparking water and made chit chat until the last guests had left, even though many times I as so dog tired I wanted to cry. I had dinners and arranged get togethers and had people visit my home and watched them get drunk and silly and had fun while doing it.

The night after my son was born I had (non mom) friends visit with fancy red wine and cheese and we giggled in my hospital room until the nurses kicked them out.

When he was a tiny week old infant we had friends for diner and we drank champagne and I burnt the food and it didn’t matter because we were doing this. We were being parents and friends and adults and functioning members of society.

When he was a few weeks old I went back to gym – with him in tow – and met people for lunch – with him in tow again – and enjoyed every last second of my maternity leave while I could.

When he was 3 months old I went on my annual girls trip – willingly – and loved every second of it – despite my overweight body and leaking breasts.

We’ve been to friends houses for lunch and ended up staying until early hours of the next morning – with our son sleeping on a duvet nest in the room next door. We’ve gone away and strapped his car to game vehicles using cable ties and a prayer. We’ve traveled overseas with him, rocked him to sleep in fancy restaurants and bathed him in sinks and basins and Jacuzzis at braais.

And now he’s almost two, and I’ve barely dropped the ball. I’ve yet to use him as an excuse for not participating, and on the few instances I’ve left a function early to put him to sleep or arrived a little bit late because he has a routine I’ve chosen to ignore the comments and eye rolls. In fact, the reason I sometimes do decline an invite is because I’m working too hard. Which when you are child-less is heroic, but when you’re a mom is an excuse.

But I’ve also come to a realisation that some friendships have changed – friendships that I thought were rock solid. And I have spent the better part of nearly two years trying harder and making more effort and saying ‘yes’ to girls nights. And the more I tried the more disconnected I’ve felt and it’s taken all of this time to realize that I have actually done nothing wrong. And that sometimes people with no kids do not want to spend time with people with kids. And that is actually OK.

I haven’t been invited to some friends houses since the day Carter was born. I haven’t cracked the nod for an after work glass of wine or a holiday or a movie or been called for advice. Because I think that some people think that we change, and they immediately assume we will have no time for them. And perhaps we don’t, all the time, but we do some of the time, and even though my life is more structured and more-often-than-not revolves around a school run, a bath time, a feeding or a nap, and I cant just do a lot of the things I used to do pre-baby, on a whim anymore, I’m still here, and available. Even if I’m sometimes I’m only available with a plus one. And I can promise you this much, if you need me, when you need me, I will always be there. Because I am still the good same person that you fell in friendship love with all those years ago.

So to the new friends with kids who just understand broken conversation, broken sleep and broken wine glasses at dinner parties, but who welcome us anyway, I say thank you. To the friends with no kids who totally get that sometimes I just cant get out, but who come to me with wine and pizza and who bath my child while I pour more booze, I say thank you. And to the friends with no kids who don’t come to me, or let me in, or invite me over please know that I haven’t changed. I still drink as much Merlot (if not more), I still talk shit and love being social, I have interests and careers and things to talk about that I can promise you are not even close to baby related, I still need your advice and and shoulder to lean on and to bitch about husbands and work and finances. I just now have a small human, who I call my son, who is now the best part of my life. And I hope one day you will see me not just as another mom, but also as Kate, your friend.

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Crushing on 22 Months

There are some days of being a parent where I wonder what the hell I’ve gotten* myself in to, and other days where it’s decidedly the absolute best thing I have ever done. I’ve had one of those days-turned-weeks recently, and I don’t know if it’s because I’ve bred a #LegendChild or because he’s at a certain age, but my little human has hit champion status, and I am absolutely loving him at the moment (not to say I don’t ever love him, but he’s just even more awesome than normal lately.)

Here are a few reasons why i’m totally crushing on 22 months.

  • He can understand, comprehend and communicate. Have you ever heard a parent say to their small child “I am so proud of you“? I remember hearing moms say it and I would puke a little bit in my mouth every time. What the actual fuck could you be proud of in a toddler? Proud that they didn’t shit their nappy? Proud that they didn’t have a tantrum? Proud that they were beginning to look like small adults? I totally get it now. When your child gets to the age where they mimic, talk, learn, copy empathise and communicate, when they start acting out instructions and learning routine and doing clever things like acknowledging life, you actually think your heart might explode from the proudness. I promise. It’s real. So don’t mock charge next time you hear a mommy coo’ing over their child’s seemingly mundane behaviour, because your kid learning to put a lid back on a toy, unplug the bath, wipe up a spill, tell you who their best buddy is  or hand you a steak knife that you’d accidentally left on their plastic dinner plate (not my proudest moment) without slicing their arteries open, is pretty much the equivalent of them bagging an MBA or receiving a job offer from Richard Branson.
  • They can be bribed. Which means resisting a nappy change can be halted in one fluid sweep with the simple threat of confiscating their dummy. Giving them medicine can be easily done with the promise of a sweet (or a raisins in my sons case) afterwards. Suddenly, every day goods become bartering gold mines. As long as the bribery object in question is treated with excitement and an air of pricelessness, your child will want it, and therefore will do everything to get it.

“Carter, if you don’t stop shouting I will not let you hold this plastic comb!”

  • They do things that are hilarious and video-worthy. Like the day my son learnt to say the word ‘fuck’, see below. It is both my most and least proud moment.

(I wasn’t going to share this as we had just returned home from overseas, my house is in shambles and I still have those nightmare inducing pink tiles, but hey, what the fuck right? PS – any flooring companies out there willing to do a makeover in my home? Let’s chat.)

  • They travel well. You may or may not know that we recently returned from a week away in Mauritius (blog post on that coming soon!)  and despite the “are you batshit crazy?!” comments from other moms who couldn’t believe we would be travelling with a kid under 2, he was better behaved than most of us. He even travelled well on an aeroplane, which may or may not have had anything to do with the ice cubes he was sucking from my breakfast GnT.

 

  • They can be trained. I may have lost a set of crystal goblets along the way, but my son can now bring me a glass of wine and replace said empty glass on the table when I’m done. I mean, if that alone isn’t worth having a kid, then I don’t even know what is.

*Dad, if you’re reading this, then yes ‘gotten’ is a word and no, I shall not replace it with something more satisfactory.

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Milestones Vs. MILESTONES.

Raising humans is all about milestones. From the second you conceive to the 12 week scan, from trimesters to hospital bags. From birth to burping and rolling to sitting. From standing to walking, to running. Teething and solids and sleeping and laughing. Every single thing out child does as they grow up is checked off against an invisible board. Carter hit his milestones beautifully, like a well oiled machine, and as proud as I am that he is the smiling owner of a full set of teeth, sleeps through the night (jinx that and I will cut a bitch) and has the hand eye co-ordination of a small genius, it’s the lesser known milestones that have truly blown me away.

One such giant leap of success happened this past weekend. Keep in mind that before he was an hour old he had been handed to a complete stranger in the recovery room to be ogled over and snuggled. Before he was a day old he had been passed around like a joint at a music festival and before we left the hospital after 4 days (also known as the one time I had 24 hour help) he had been met, kissed, cuddled and pawed by 51 different visitors. And I loved it. I wanted to raise my son to be outgoing, independent and attracted to strangers (nice strangers, not men in sweetie-van strangers). Alas, Nature had other plans, and despite my relaxed parenting style my son grew up wanting no one more than a select few teachers at school, grandparents and his mom and dad. Child friendly restaurants were wasted on us as friendly minders offered to watch him while we caught up over precious conversation wine, and instead he chose to sit on our laps and cling to our legs like an octopus monkey. He didn’t want to play alone and many an hour was spent literally sitting with him as he tentatively explored jungle gyms and swings. He is in no way strange, just slow to warm up, and most social events were spent coaxing him to interact with other adults and him only obliging as we were about to leave.

On Friday however, things changed. We went fora quick bite to eat at a kid friendly restaurant across the road and as we arrived my child spotted the sandpit. Excited squals of ‘san san san’ and he happily trotted off on his own to play. A few minutes later he voluntarily ran inside to watch a puppet show and actively chose to find a minder and sit on her lap. My heart grew and broke at the same time and like any sleep deprived irrational mom I then had to go in to check on him several times and take a all the photos. Barry and I stared at each other like dumb-wits from across the table and verbally declared our astonishment. Since then he has taken to independence like a duck to water and now treats the world slash garden as his oyster. Who knew that watching your child ramp his green push bike up a stair could make you feel like you’ve won gold at the Olympics.

So, thats it really. No major epiphany except the fact that I can marvel at him daily. People always say it gets better, and I never ever believed them. I thought they were just trying to make me feel better about the fact that they were always dirty and sticky and doing dumb things. But I can personally endorse this theory now – it gets so much better. Hell, these small humans are great hey?

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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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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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The Magic Of Mom Groups

About a year ago I wrote this blog post on Mommy groups, and the absolute drama that generally accompanies them. Although I was referring 99% to Mommy groups on Facebook, I still alluded to WhatsApp groups. And I now need to retract a little bit of that article.

You see, for the past 8 months, I’ve been a part of a mommy Whatsapp group that has completely changed my previous perception.

At first, I was skeptical. The constant videos and posts chewed through my precious data and I confess – sometimes annoyed me. So I changed my download-over-wifi-settings and adjusted my mindset and watched as these ladies on this group turned into friends, confidantes and trusted advisors.

When you have a child, things shift. Friendships will alter. What you once had in common (last minute after work drinks, spontaneous Saturday braais and long lazy brunches) become less and less so. I often hear child-less friends talk about friends with kids and moan about how they’ve changed and how the friendship is different. And I totally get that. But there’s also a little bit of blame that needs to be placed on the friends without kids, because they – without realising it – do pull away. I have best friends who’s house I haven’t been invited to since Carter was born, friends who don’t even think of inviting us out because they assume we will say no, and friends who just don’t understand that I’m now a permanent +1. And that’s OK. I was that friend once too, and no matter how hard you try and try, the empathy can never be there until you are there.

So the slight shifting (albeit temporarily) of one friendship means there’s room for another – and I’ve found that in a group of moms who I tell my deepest darker secrets and fears to. Some of these ladies I’ve never met. Some are younger than me, older than me, some have 1 kid, some have 3. But the one thing we all have in common? Our children. We are a group of moms who – simply by having kids at the same school – have formed the most incredible bond. These are the people who check in daily about things, remember job interviews and dietician check ups. They were the first people to jump on board and support me when I took up photography as a serious hobby and who talked me off a ledge when I sent screenshot after screenshot of before and after photos. These are the ladies who are the first to offer help and food when your baby gets sick, who cheer on your child’s milestones and who have your back when you’re going through a rough time. These ladies know more about my son than friends of 25 years do. They share recipes and milestones charts, photos of cellulite and memes on motherhood. They smuggle Pick n Pay animal cards into your sons backpack and scour the shelves for swimming nappies for everyone an hour before the lesson is about to begin.

I’ve spent the last 2 days in hospital with a very sick baby, and the hourly messages of support and gestures from these ladies have meant the world. We laugh over post baby vaginas and cry over virtual glasses of wine whilst we share out lives through a smartphone screen. They have become an invaluable part of my life, and I’m forever grateful for the empathy and love they show not only me and my son, but each other as well.

So, whilst I treasure each and every friendship I have, it’s these ladies who have seen me through a few bumpy patches lately and I couldn’t be more grateful.

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Why I Can’t Have Nice Things (And other motherhood realisations)

I had big plans yesterday. I went to gym and hit the grocery shops straight after – which meant I would have a solid 2 hour break when I got home as Carter would go down for a nap. Two hours guys, clearly the peeps who built Rome weren’t moms, ‘cos if they were it would have been done in 90 minutes with time left over for (hot) coffee. Sadly for me, in an effort to get Carter to sit still in the trolley long enough for me to buy toilet paper and dog food, I bribed him with a strawberry milkshake.

A milkshake which, 10 minutes later, ended up all over him, his car seat, my car interior, me and the groceries. So instead of the blissful 2 hours off that I had anticipated, I spent it scrubbing my son, hosing down the car chair, vacuuming my car seats and trying to calm a screaming toddler with heartburn. Once he was sleeping passed out, I was already up to my ears in vomit and reflux juices so I decided I may as well take advantage of my dirty state and wash the dogs, do the dishes and clean the house.

Yesterday, a friend and fellow mommy-blogger Sheena posted on Facebook about reprimanding her son for standing in his spaghetti bolognaise. I read it, barely blinked (because naturally that’s what kids do with pasta) and moved on. But it led me to realise one very important thing. We took so much for granted before we spewed forth a human.

I will never again take for granted things like being clean and wearing white (I know, because I wore a white shirt yesterday. To a 3-year-olds birthday party. 14 seconds later it was covered in blue sucker spit and mud. 144 seconds later it was also then covered in more vomit and water, as my son had decided to throw up in the kiddies plunge pool.

I will never take again for granted the luxury of a completed conversation. Chats with other adults last no more than 4 seconds before you’re dashing off to rescue your kid from getting stuck in a trampoline spring/wrestle 2 mops and a dog leash from their hands/run off to stop them from falling in a pool/grab a knife out of their fingers/pluck a small stone from their mouth/stop them from shoving 3 pork sausages into your handbag*

I will never again take for granted shiny gadgets that once belonged to me. My iPad met an untimely death yesterday when (mid Paw Patrol) it was flung off the couch and on to the tiled floor and my computer mouse – now Carters favourite toy – got thrown in the bath.

I will never again take for granted the smell of a clean car. Somewhere, in the last 16 months something has died in my motor vehicle. I suspect a half chewed piece of biltong that will forever remain mysteriously hidden between two seats. Also, it now smells like strawberry vomit.

I will never again take for granted a solid nights sleep, eating food off a plate that’s not being grabbed at my grubby paws, shouting ‘don’t pull the dogs nose/ear/tails’, not having to padlock the grocery cupboard and having a disposable income

I will also never take for granted having my son, because the mess, exhaustion and poverty is all so worth it. Except, maybe not the poverty. Momma really likes nice things.

*All actual things that happened on Saturday.

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Proud.

I don’t have a Facebook account or an email address for my son. I have this blog, and from time to time I write only things about my son. This is one of those times.

You always think that you will remember every single second of your child’s development and life. But honestly, you don’t, and even though he’s only 15 months I’ve already forgotten the exact age he was when he walked, talked or hit a milestone. I don’t know what his first words were – everything in the early vocabulary stages sounded like ‘mom’ and suddenly, before I knew it, he was learning so much that it was hard to keep up and make notes of everything new he was doing.

What I do know for certain is that he is awesome, and my physical love for him is so large I feel it might suffocate me. He is funny, like really funny. He mimics and jokes and goofs around that sometimes I wonder how I made this great little kid. He eats non-stop – from sandwiches to snoek and kefir milk. He has this way of walking, while carrying a handbag that makes you snort laugh and he is interested in absolutely everything. He watches birds and ants and when not trying to eat miniscule grains of god-knows-what off the floor he is wobble-running and exploring and marveling at his surrounds.

Fiercely independent, he often drives me mad with his insistence of doing everything himself – from manually eating rice, to (badly) brushing his teeth and washing his face. He tells me what he wants and how, and lord help us if we don’t agree.

I enjoy spending time with him so much, but bedtime is still my favourite occasion. He’s become my number one photography subject and I fear I may need a million terabyte hard-drive to save every memory I’ve every captured.

I still walk in his room every night before I go to bed to kiss his little face, untangle arms and legs and cover him with a duvet that he never keeps on.

He’s my reason for wanting to better myself.

It’s not his birthday, or a special age, but it’s been a week – where big changes are happening as I’m leaving my job after three and a half years – where I’ve had a lot of time to think and count my blessings, and Carter James is by far my biggest.

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