Love Letter to my Sons

Wow. I can’t believe it’s been so long since I posted last. Things have been busy, crazy, fun, hectic and I have been busy, crazy, fun, hectic. We’ve had major milestones happen in our lives, we moved across country, Ty started Grade 1, Hayden was born, we bought a house. Like I said, busy, crazy, fun, hectic. I have dearly missed my writing, but haven’t found the time or the inspiration to write anything meaningful. This past year has been an amazing journey of self discovery, realisation, reflection, love, pain, joy and peace. I am sure that going forward I will relate all our adventures and the lessons we learned from them, but I wanted to open the floor with a letter to my beautiful boys. All the past year’s life lessons have been so important for me, for us, and these are the things I want my boys to know as they enter adulthood so that hopefully they will be able to cope with it better than I did. So here goes, forgive me if it’s a little rough around the edges, I am quite rusty!

My dear, sweet Ty and Haydi,

You both have brought such immense joy and love into my life. I cannot even begin to explain. I know you think I am annoying and that I nag, question, hug and smooch you too much. But I see you both as my little spiritual advisors and I just want to glean as much knowledge and love from you as I possibly can. Without the two of you, I would never have learnt to look within for the answers I craved so deeply. Whenever you have stood up to me or questioned my actions it has made me stop and examine my motivations and intentions. I have learnt so much from the both of you, and these are the things I want you to know and remember when you are making your way through this beautiful, wonderful, mostly confusing thing called life:

1. Love yourself first.

I spent a good part of my young adult life bending over backwards to accomodate people; “friends”, family, co-workers. I thought that if I made everyone else happy and feel loved, important and valued that they would automatically do the same for me. Boy was I wrong. While it’s obviously good to make your most beloved feel this way, don’t spread yourself too thin because all that you will feel is disappointment and hurt when your love and generosity becomes the expected norm and people turn on you when you can no longer give it. This happens when you have exhausted all your reserves of love on undeserving people that you have none left for yourself. So as hard as you try, you just can’t anymore. People won’t understand this, because you have always been about them. Be about you. Not in a narcissistic way. In a self love way. You cannot, truly, love others properly until you love yourself. And this requires making time for yourself and not saying yes to everyone all the time.

2. It is all you.

When you feel like the world is against you, it’s so easy to blame other people/outside conditions for your problems. We never want to admit that it is due to a fault of our own or our way of thinking that things have gone wrong in our lives. This was a tough pill for me to swallow, but now that I have, my life is so much happier and filled with love and light because I know that it is up to ME to make it that way. It sounds cliché, but it is so true, it’s not what happens to you that’s important. It’s how you deal with it emotionally that makes it what it is. You can take everything to heart, and cry about the unfairness of it all at night, OR you can accept it for what it is and find a way to make it work for you. The same goes for when things go right in your life. Don’t give luck the credit. It is all you! Where you are in your life at any given moment is due to your past actions. Life is not random. Everything you do (or don’t do) today affects your tomorrow. Remember that. And take responsibility for your life. The good, the bad and the ugly.

3. Practise patience. 

Following on from the above, learn to accept the things you cannot change, about people, about work, about that annoying rattle in the car that you can’t seem to find. See them for what they are and move on. You will find more happiness in the freedom that comes with this realisation and acceptance than any quick fix you try to employ to make your external conditions more bearable. Every time.

4. Make TRUE friends.

TRUE friends are people that speak to your soul. They hold a mirror up to you so that you can see yourself for who you truly are. Even during your worst times. They are people who love you for the right reasons, and will be there for you without expecting anything in return. People who don’t constantly demand your attention, but are so thankful when they get it. TRUE friends are those that feel like you’ve known them forever, just after you’ve met them. When someone says “After everything I’ve done for you”, their motivations were not pure and true. The kind of person who constantly wants affirmation for their good deeds, is not the kind of person you want in your corner, believe me. Because when push comes to shove, there will always be a bigger and better cause for them to support for the glory of it. You are no one’s charity case. Except mine <— On that note, you are always welcome home if you have run out of money and are living on two minute noodles. I will never judge you or ridicule you for coming home for a good cooked meal or to do your washing. It will be an honour to know that I am still needed in your life, even if it’s only for silly things.

5. Your mind is your most powerful weapon.

Against hurt. Against anger. Against pride. For love. For happiness. For peace. Use it for good, your own good, not others’ evil.

6. A rich life is not one filled with material wealth.

A rich life doesn’t mean status, money and power. A rich life is one filled with experience, culture, diversity, joy, love, laughter and the hard truths that hardship brings. Life is about love. Love for yourself. Compassion and empathy for others (a healthy amount – see point 1). The sound of your laughter in my home has made me rich in ways that no high paying job ever will, and I have never forgotten that.

7. Never lose your enthusiasm or childish inquisitiveness.

Approach every new experience with an unbiased mind. This is a tough one, because we are predisposed to adopt our parents’ and friends’ attitudes towards things because they are the biggest influences in our lives. Always remember that my opinions are MY OPINIONS. They are not yours. They are based on MY EXPERIENCES. Not yours. If you ask for my advice, I will give it to you. But do not let it be the basis on which you make all your decisions. Dad and I can be examples for you in certain aspects. But don’t try to emulate our lives or be like us. We want you boys to have your own lives, and your own experiences. Sometimes the unknown is scary, and most people don’t understand it and react negatively to it. Forget those people. They are small people with small minds and will just hold you back. Open eyes, open heart. Let that be your mantra.

8. Never forget that we love you (and that you love each other).

No matter what you decide to do with your life. No matter how many “mistakes” (mistakes are subjective after all) you make along the way. No matter who you love. No matter where you live. No matter how you choose to practise spirituality. If you choose spirituality at all. Our biggest hope and dream, is for you both to be happy and fulfilled, peaceful and loved. How you choose to attain these states is up to you. We will support you along the way. We may not always like it, but that is our problem remember? Don’t ever feel like you can’t come to us for help. In any aspect. If we aren’t around anymore or if we just can’t help you, don’t ever forget that you have each other. Support each other, love each other and never lose contact with each other, no matter where in the world you end up. Even if it’s only sporadic contact. Let there always be contact, and let it be loving, understanding and joyful.

I hope you managed to read all the way to here without rolling your eyes and dismissing me. If you have, I just want to finish by saying that I can’t wait to carry on with this amazing journey with you and watch you both grow into the beautiful human beings I know you will be. I am already so proud of you boys, you are my light and my love and I did not live until you came into my life.

Love you munchkins, thank you for everything.

Mom

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Boys will be boys, no matter what colour their nails are

We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.  ~Gloria Steinem

Tyler came home from school yesterday with painted nails. Each hand and foot was a different colour, one blue, one red, one orange and one purple – one for each ninja turtle of course! I thought it was super cute and hysterical the way he was picking up his bags with that “just painted my nails and they’re still wet” hand gesture, haha, who said you can’t have girly time with boys!

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Jeff however, made him take it off this morning. And to be honest, I thought he was a bit more open minded than that. When Tyler asked for the nail polish remover I knew that it couldn’t have come from him alone. He wanted to wear it until his birthday, because he’s having a ninja turtle party so he thought it would be part of his costume! What’s wrong with that?! So what if the other kids tease him? He’s MY child, he is strong willed and very confident with who he is, always has been, and he will be fine. He’s going through a phase, figuring out what makes boys and girls different. He actually told me yesterday that he wants to be a girl, after I explained to him that he may have to sacrifice his willy to become a girl he very quickly changed his mind. Not that I was trying to change his mind, I just wanted to give him all the information. He would make a beautiful girl, those eyelashes are to die for. And if that’s what he wants who am I to object? My job as a mother is not to control him. All I have to do is love him, encourage and support him in all that he wants – except of course if it involves the rape, abuse and / or murder of animals or humans. But he just wanted to know why girls have such pretty stuff and boys don’t? And it’s true, why DO girls get to play dress up and “mommy”, “teacher” and “princess”? Boys get to dress up, sure, as super heroes and cops and robbers. All very gender biased roles.

According to this pic, a girl can't even graduate!

According to this pic, a girl can’t even graduate!

The other day I was telling him that our doctor had told us that he was getting a little brother. I mentioned “she said that…” and Tyler promptly said “She? So that means she is a nurse not a doctor”. I very nearly slapped him. After explaining to him that men and women could be nurses or doctors, that it didn’t matter, I realised that it’s not really his fault. Look at all the books and posters aimed at teaching young children about occupations, women are portrayed in roles like “secretary”, “nurse”, “teacher” but all the “doctors”, “engineers” and “scientists” are men. Hmmmm. I am no bra burning feminist, but I do believe that we shouldn’t teach our children to put men and women in the same boxes that we were taught to put them in. They shouldn’t think that just because they’re male or female that they can only do certain things and pursue certain activities.

If your daughter wanted to play action cricket or touch rugby, you’d encourage her because it makes her “tougher” and it’s ok if your little girl is a bit of a tomboy because it will help her relate to her male counterparts better in later life. But why can’t a little boy paint his nails or play with dolls? Wouldn’t you prefer, especially as a mother, that he learns compassion for others and acquires an appreciation for beautiful things? Teaching boys, or allowing them, to participate in more “girly” activities is not something you should shy away from or teach them to be ashamed of. If you think it’s weird, that’s your problem and you need to deal with your insecurities. But don’t, please don’t, force your small minded opinions on your children. It’s just as bad, if not worse, than forcing your racist views on them.

It’s your job as a parent to let them explore this beautiful world, encourage them to try new things, give them new experiences that open their gorgeous little eyes to the possibilities that are out there. And if my son wants to paint his nails, by god I’ll paint them for him!

Housework, if you do it right, will kill you

So after what has felt like EONS to me and I’m sure to my avid fan base (hahaha yeah right, I tell myself these things to help me sleep at night) I am finally back online. Due to a VERY hectic move across country to live at the ocean I haven’t really had time or interwebs access to blog. But I’m baaaaaaaack, and boy do I have news for YOU!

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As I mentioned, we are living the dream in Umhlanga. Jeff was offered a life changing opportunity, professionally and personally, and we would have been idiots to turn it down. Within five days we’d handed in our resignations, gotten tenants for our house in Pretoria and booked the moving truck for a date six weeks from then. So as you can imagine, we were “a little” manic dealing with all the admin that comes with moving. I can’t remember it all now, but we had a Wunderlist that was at least 30 tasks long. Thank garden for task based applications that you can share with your significant others, otherwise I think we would still be dealing with unfinished tasks from 600km (+- 380 miles for my friends on that island) away.  Looking back, I can’t believe we managed to pull it off so efficiently. Within a week of driving away from Pretoria for good, with Tyler and Thunda Cat in my car and the dogs in Jeff’s car, we were moved in to our new house, and were all starting at our new jobs and schools with full uniforms and completed applications. Just goes to show, if you want something bad enough, nothing will get in your way.

But the biggest surprise of all, in between the madness of “The Move of 2013”, we discovered that I was pregnant! After all our tears and heartache at not being able to conceive naturally anymore, then hope and excitement at the prospect of finding our adopted daughter, and the inconvenient timing of it all – it was just so unbelievable and perfect that it had to be true.  The irony of it all, I was actually at an appointment with a doctor discussing sterilization options as we were going to adopt, and while he was down there having a look he said “Well I think you may want to postpone that for a while”. And lo and behold, there on the screen was a little beating blob. The SHOCK, joy,SHOCK, fear, SHOCK, excitement, SHOCK, elation and SHOCK was unbearable. My body immediately wanted to perform all sorts of ugly functions that involve excrement at the same time. But there it was, against all odds and despite everything I had been told for the last year, we had another little miracle baby proving that no matter what you have planned for your life, you better be willing and able to change it in a heartbeat – literally. I don’t believe that your life is mapped out and that there is an outcome that is predetermined and no matter what you do you will always end up at your specific ending. I believe that your life and your destiny are yours alone to control. You make your experiences, you influence the direction your life takes. But sometimes, just when you think you have it all together, life will jump in and remind you that you are but a mere mortal. I often think that we humans think far too much of ourselves, and it’s during times like these that you need to remember to be humble and grateful for everything that you have and are.

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During the last 3 months, with everything that has been going on, I have had to force myself to really relinquish control. I am a planner. Those who know me well will testify that if you want anything done, and if you want it done properly, come to me and I will wave my magic wand and make it happen. Tyler says that I’m a scientist, and I guess in a way I am. I take instruction in words and make physical things appear seemingly out of thin air. It’s an occupational hazard that carries over well into my life when it comes to party planning, organizing admin and encouraging Tyler to think creatively when it comes to problem solving and making beautiful things to stick up on the walls and our fridge. But it can be detrimental too. I found myself struggling to stay calm when during the move I couldn’t pack/unpack as fast or as efficiently as I wanted to because I was exhausted and couldn’t force myself to just power through. When after the move I would get home from work and I wanted to clean the floors, dishes, cook dinner, make lunches for the next day and do a load of laundry but I was just so tired that I could barely function. Also the back- and headaches rendering me a little less useless than a deaf dictation secretary sent me reeling. I couldn’t deal with the fact that I couldn’t do everything anymore. And it made me angry when Jeff would step in and help but then didn’t do it my way! It sounds ridiculous because it is. I’d forgotten a couple very important factors:

  1. We’d just moved across the country
  2. It has only been 6 weeks since we moved
  3. I am now five months pregnant

cleanhouseI felt like I was letting Jeff and Tyler down because I wasn’t being the perfect wife and mother. I couldn’t keep a hold on everything and I was always shouting at them because they weren’t helping, and when they were, they weren’t doing it my way! How ridiculous. After a lot of sleepless nights, soul searching and a little (ok a lot) of self loathing at my inability to be perfect 100% of the time at EVERYTHING, it dawned on me that I’d forgotten that I am only human. I can’t control everything and that there are worse things in life than the laundry being done a day later than I wanted. We don’t HAVE TO eat a perfectly balanced meal every night.  And most of all, I wasn’t letting my boys down because I can’t do everything, I was letting them down because I wasn’t appreciating what they were doing to try and help my grumpy, ungrateful self.

The guilt that came with this realization was almost too much to bear. They were trying so hard to be really understanding and I was just throwing it all back in their faces. I don’t want to be that nagging fishwife and grumpy mommy who is always shouting and never happy.  What a horrible person I am! Jeff wasn’t really around for my first pregnancy so this is all new to him, the mood swings, the exhaustion, the never ending hunger hole, having to find a bathroom everywhere we go for the marble size bladder I seem to have developed. He is trying, and I should be too. Just because I expect perfection from myself, which granted is not the way to go, doesn’t mean it’s fair to expect perfection from others either. Especially from the ones who love you the most. God he MUST love me to still want to be with me after the last three months! OR he’s just a sucker for punishment. Either way though, I was forgetting that I wasn’t the only one who’d just been through a huge move, was trying to adjust to a new job and schedule, and coping with an unexpected pregnancy on top of it all. In my quest for ultimate domestic perfection and refusal to let the move affect our home life, I forgot that had we NOT moved, our lives would have drastically changed ANYWAY due to our little sparkle. What my boys really needed more than a well oiled domestic routine minutes after relocation was love and support, and a little humanity and understanding from me. They don’t care what the house looks like, as long as it is a happy place to come home to. That’s what I need to make our home. Not a sterile environment full of chores and timelines that cannot be deviated from no matter what.

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This epiphany only came to me recently, so for the last two weeks we have really started to fall back into sync. I no longer care if we don’t sit down to eat dinner at EXACTLY 7pm. There are worse things, we could have no food to put on the table for dinner. Shoes in the hallway no longer send me into a flying rage because no one else gives a damn about having a nice house to live in. We could have NO shoes or NO house to put them in. If we don’t get home in time for me to do 30 minutes on the Orbitrek before starting dinner, it’s not the end of the world. I am lucky enough to just be able to get onto the Orbitrek at 5 months pregnant. I am pregnant at all. Oh my garden we are having another baby! It has really only started to sink in now that Tyler is going to have a little brother (SURPRISE it’s another boy!) in February. He is so excited and loving already. He loves to put his face on my belly and tell his little brother stories. The other night he got a kick in the cheek and I thought his little eyes were going to pop out of his head in disbelief! It was the most gorgeous moment and I am SO looking forward to more like those. And to think, I would have missed it all worrying about the stupid things. I’m not saying that you should throw all self respect away and live in a pigsty, but maintain a healthy balance. You can’t control everything, and you need to learn to take a step back sometimes and focus on the really important things.

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So in short, I just want to impart a little of what the last three months have taught me; –

Be willing to jump when opportunity knocks on your door – This move, despite my moodiness, has been the best thing for our family. Your fear of change will only cripple you.  Embrace it. It is never a loss. Only change.

Expect less and you will receive more – Once I lowered my incredibly high standards that no one could ever meet, I found I had more time for fun, laughter and love.

Allow yourself a break, or you will break – If you constantly maintain this domestic goddess and organizer extraordinaire façade, no one will know that you are struggling and they won’t cut you a break. Ask for help, have a little cry and / or 1.5 hour bath if you need to. You’re only human. And your vulnerability will make you all the more endearing to your loved ones.

Love the ones you’re with – No matter what happens, remember that it is not what you do that is remembered, it is how you make people feel. Love and respect make people feel far more special, safe and secure than a clean pair of socks ever will.

We’re having a GIRL!!!!

Not flesh of my flesh, 
Nor bone of my bone,
But nevertheless still my own.
Never forget for a single minute
You weren’t born under my heart 
But in it.

So, those of you who have read my previous posts know that Tyler has won the prestigious spot of being our only biological child as my female parts have given up the good fight. As much as we love being the three musketeers, Jeff and I feel that one more child will complete our crazy little family. We always wanted to give Ty a sibling, seeing as we both come from families where we were blessed to have brothers (and sister’s in Jeff’s case). Sure, medical advances have made it possible to still have a biological child, through surrogacy and egg donors etc, but neither of us want to go that route. Why force it and cost ourselves years of financial and emotional strain when there are literally millions of children who have already been born, who are waiting for their “forever families”?

mother loves her childrenNaturally, and without any hesitation, we moved on to adoption. We have always spoken about it and agreed that we would rather adopt than go the medical turkey basting route. We so desperately want a sibling close in age for Tyler, and there are literally hundreds of thousands of children just waiting for a family and a home to love them. We met with an adoption facilitator a few weeks ago, who answered a lot of our questions, explained the process and put our minds at ease about a few things. We are still going to be attending a couple of initial “Adoption Discovery” and “Journey to Adoption” seminars where all the legalities, costs, pros, cons, hoops, hurdles and joys will be covered. They will be much more intensive than our inital, informal meeting was, but we are super excited to begin our journey. We are going to be attending these with other prospective Adoptive parents so we have the opportunity to make friends and form a support group with people who are going through the same thing as us so that we won’t be alone.

Obviously, we have discussed important things like age, race, learning / physical disabilities and HIV Status, and we feel that the perfect addition to our family would be a little girl, any race, preferably around 4 years old who is HIV Negative with no physical / mental disabilities. Mostly because we can’t afford to support a disabled child financially and more than likely, emotionally. We are ok with what is known as “learning difficulties” such as ADD or ADHD (please all children are either super hyper or just disinterested in their parents!). We have briefly broached the topic with Ty, and he is SO excited, he doesn’t care if she is “brown” or that she won’t come from my tummy. He just wants to go and “rescue” her from an orphanage NOW! He has even offered to help us get her “princess” room ready, because “she will need special love and care, after waiting so long for us to love her” *tear.

I knew I loved you before I met you

Never have these lyrics made more sense to me, or been more relevant

We are not under the romantic impression that this will be easy, or that it will be a fairytale story. This decision, although the natural choice, has not been easy. But it is something we feel very passionately about, and we can’t wait to find and bring our daughter home.There are going to be ups and downs, hurry up and waits, tears of joy and frustration, celebrations and tantrums (mostly mine). But this is a road we are willing and eager to take. We would give and sacrifice anything for Tyler, so why not for our daughter? Just because she is not biologically ours does not mean that she is not OURS. I love her already, forever and always.

Honour thy Father

Leading upto Fathers Day this Sunday, June 16 2013, I had a very interesting discussion with two of my male colleagues about why they think we shouldn’t have a day dedicated to honouring our Fathers. But first, here’s a little bit of interesting history on how and where Father’s Day began…

Father’s Day was founded in Spokane, Washington at the YMCA in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd, who was born in Arkansas.Its first celebration was in the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910.Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there.After hearing a sermon about Jarvis’ Mother’s Day in 1909, she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them. Although she initially suggested June 5, her father’s birthday, the pastors did not have enough time to prepare their sermons, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June.

It did not have much success initially. In the 1920s, Dodd stopped promoting the celebration because she was studying in the Art Institute of Chicago, and it faded into relative obscurity, even in Spokane. In the 1930s Dodd returned to Spokane and started promoting the celebration again, raising awareness at a national level. She had the help of those trade groups that would benefit most from the holiday, for example the manufacturers of ties, tobacco pipes, and any traditional present to fathers. Since 1938 she had the help of the Father’s Day Council, founded by the New York Associated Men’s Wear Retailers to consolidate and systematize the commercial promotion. Americans resisted the holiday during a few decades, perceiving it as just an attempt by merchants to replicate the commercial success of Mother’s Day, and newspapers frequently featured cynical and sarcastic attacks and jokes. But the trade groups did not give up: they kept promoting it and even incorporated the jokes into their adverts, and they eventually succeeded. By the mid 1980s the Father’s Council wrote that “(…) [Father’s Day] has become a ‘Second Christmas’ for all the men’s gift-oriented industries.”

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Father’s_Day

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So Tshepo, my fabulously talented User Experience Consultant, said something interesting to me this morning. “I don’t need to get cookies for doing something I’m supposed to do anyway.” After having a good laugh, I told him that perhaps when he had children he may feel differently (note: he’s 23). He doesn’t think so. I then asked him if he felt the same way about Mothers Day that he does about Fathers Day. And HE DOES NOT! He says Valentines and Mothers Day are ok by him, because it’s good to spoil women every now and then… !?!?!?!? I then called Michael (UI Visual Designer) over to ask him if he felt the same way… and he AGREED!

Both young men think that it’s a man’s duty to be a provider, a strong influence and a stoic paternal figure rather than a soft and squishy, emotional man who weeps at the arrival of Best and Brightest’s first tooth or solid poo. In their opinions, men should be strong and distant. They shouldn’t be showered with gifts and appreciation. But it’s ok to do that for women, because women are “cool”… hahahahaha! Now before all the feminists get on their high horses (fitted with all sorts of self pleasuring paraphernalia), I think this is merely just a cultural difference.

There’s a (Jewish?) proverb that goes “When a father gives to a son, both laugh. When a son gives to a father, both cry”. Tshepo has interpreted this to mean that it is not a son’s place to give to his father, that this somehow, wounds the father. Where what I take away from the quote, is that it is a beautiful and touching thing when a son can give to his father – be it a gift, or support (financial and/or emotional). Isn’t it interesting and amazing how different we all are? Now, another point I need to make here, is that Tshepo and Michael don’t think that you shouldn’t honor your father, but that you should do it out of your own accord. Not because someone or some holiday told you to. And you should do it in other ways besides buying him gifts or making him “cookies”. Which I am 100% in agreement with.

my hero my father

Me and my Daddy! Always having too much fun together 😉

My father comes from a generation of men who had to leave their families behind, whether it was because they were in the army or they were sent out on contract work to remote areas of the African continent. They did this because it was how they made enough money to be able to afford to clothe and educate us all. We didn’t see him much because he was always working, and although I’m sure we all have our regrets about how distant we were as a family back then, our bond now is stronger than ever. And we are all in contact at least three times daily, sharing experiences, jokes and insults about the ignoramuses we are forced to deal with on a daily basis. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Since having my own child, I understand the sacrifices a parent makes for their children. Even if it’s the hardest thing in the world to do, if it is for the benefit of your family, you do it. You find a way to make it work. And to be honest, I’m so thankful that this was how I grew up. I got to travel to places and experience things people double my age haven’t and probably will never have the opportunity to. Travel and experience is the ultimate education and lesson in life experience. As you all know (well if you don’t you’ll hear it here), Jeff also didn’t have the easiest introduction to Fatherhood in the world. He was 20 when I announced that I was preggers. I swear to this day, I have never seen a person break out into a total full body sweat faster than the poor boy did that evening. It was immediate green, sweat and weakness at the knees. His parents flew him back home to Uganda post haste, so that he could make a clear headed decision about his future. When he left I was still in my first trimester, when he came back, I was seven months pregnant.

Father and Son

How lucky am I!? My gorgeous boys, exchanging a naughty look.

He still had to study, and juggled working as a waiter while trying to pass first year. Obviously this didn’t work, but as soon as he made enough money to be able to afford to buy a cot he handed in his resignation and concentrated on getting his degree. He did not immediately move in with Tyler and I, as he had to focus on his studies and his parents were only going to pay for him to study a degree once. So he only saw the baby and I on Wednesday nights or weekends. He doesn’t remember the nightmare of teething the way I do, because he was only there for half of it. Despite the upside down nature of our little family relationship, Jeff was always a natural at being a father. He instinctively knew what to do with this squirming bag of snakes before I ever did. He was an amazing pillar of support, strength and patience when I needed it most. Because I was used to my dad being away, I wrapped my head around having a part-time partner quite quickly and we slipped into an easy and comfortable routine. Sure it wasn’t always rainbows and unicorn farts, but we knew we wanted to do this thing right. So that’s what we did.

Six (nearly SEVEN!!) years later, we are married, living together and enjoying the mundane life of an ordinary family. Yet he is still the most amazing, patient, loving, joyful and caring Father that I could have ever asked for for my child. He is my hero, just like my Father was before him. And I know my Dad is proud and confident to hand the baton that symbolises the caring and loving of his daughter and grandson over to Jeff. I am proud to call him my husband, and Tyler is blessed to call him Dad.

So on this soppy note, I’d like to say, that whether or not you celebrate or believe in the Hallmark holiday that is Fathers Day, take the time one day to thank that special man. Whether it be your biological/adopted/step father, or even just the first male role model you had in your life. They deserve it, for without them, we would literally not be here today.

I am what I am

Be strong, believe in freedom and in God, love yourself, understand your sexuality, have a sense of humor, masturbate, don’t judge people by their religion, color or sexual habits, love life and your family.

– Madonna Ciccone

 

Beagle Sorry Face

If only I was this cute

Eek! I have to apologise, it’s been a while. I blame the hormones. Honestly. I was booked off the whole of last week because the hormone replacement therapy I have been on rendered me completely useless. You try writing an article while you’re suffering from a 10 day migraine, complete with nausea and shakes. It was like the worst, unforgiving, unrelenting morning sickness I have ever had. Without the payoff of knowing that in 9 months it will all be worth it when you see your baby’s gorgeous, alien shaped face. Believe me, the only baby I have in my belly is a food baby. As the Jeffsta so lovingly told me though, that’s no excuse for neglecting your blog. I should’ve had a post lined up in case of an emergency. So I do apologise, wholeheartedly (dripping with sarcasm) for not planning ahead. I promise it will never happen again.

So anyway, this whole week has made me realise that one very important part of a successful marriage is having a partner who will humour you no matter what the problem is. It is very difficult for any man to understand what it is like for a woman when she’s feeling hormonal. In my case, thankfully, there was physical evidence in the form of spew, magical carrots and all, that I wasn’t upto the task of mothering, wifing and just general human interaction on any level. But what do you do when you’ve just got a case of the “weepies” or you’re “raging” for no apparent reason? How is your partner/child/friend supposed to respond to the mania?

crazy women

We need to start spreading our crazy around, or we will be swallowed up by it

Well, it’s hard to say. Sometimes I prefer that the Jeffsta tells me I’m acting like a moron and other times I want him to cuddle me and feed me chocolate. It just depends on the mood I guess. It’s hard on the kids as well. Poor Ty has had to learn at a very early age how to circumvent my many, unpredictable mood swings. Of course, outsiders only see me playing the part of the happy, friendly and insanely witty hot piece of ass that I am, but at home it is often a lucky draw.  We are so used to emulating the perfect image to our friends and family. For fear of being judged as not good enough. But I think we need to start embracing the fact that we are not perfect, and our imperfections are what make us human. And they are what make others love us, for who we are.

So the next time you find you are holding in a tantrum, or a LOL, just let it out! It is much healthier to face your emotions head on. It makes dealing with them easier, for you and for your nearest and dearest. In conclusion, I’d like to say:

I am what I am

I am not perfect.
I cry.
I flap.
I scream.
I shout.
I laugh.
I sulk.
I love.
I smother.
I dote.
I am me.
I love me.

It’s none of your business!

In light of three of my friends being pregnant with their first babies, I’ve been thinking about all the things that people say to new mommies. And mostly, it’s just plain rude and nobody’s business. Mostly because, guess what, it’s not your child. You are not the one who isn’t getting any sleep. You aren’t constantly worrying that your child may not be getting enough food or having enough shitty nappies. Your friend doesn’t need your opinion on how she should deal with this crazy new schedule and demanding boss. All a new mother needs is love and support from her partner / family / friends and a couple of those single serving booze sachets stashed in her feeding bra. For her of course, not the baby. So I’ve compiled a short list of questions you should NEVER ask a new mom, and if you have any emotional intelligence at all, you’ll stay away from them:

1. When are you due?

Ok, there is an obvious reason for this. Mostly because you don’t just magically pop back to normal after having a baby like “Pregnant Barbie” who’s stomach rotated. Or Brooke from Bold and the Beautiful. You still look like a pregnant woman for AT LEAST 4 weeks after the birth. I speak from personal experience here *cringe*, but please, PLEASE unless you see her actually CROWNING, do NOT EVER ask a woman when she is due. Especially while rubbing her belly. It will all just end in tears. Believe me.

Pregnant woman with tattoo

Take that Pinterest!

2. Did you give birth naturally?

Um, excuse me? Why does it matter to you? I know it’s like that sick compulsion us humans have to gawk at car crashes as we drive past them. But please, it really is none of your business how Mommy chose to bring Best and Brightest into this world. No matter if it was natural, caesarean or egg laying, it does not take away from the fact that this once mere mortal woman has performed the miracle of growing another human inside her and birthing it. Successfully. Just congratulate her and give her a hug. That’s all that needs to be said and done.

3. Are you breastfeeding?

Unless I whip my boob out and start feeding the squawking baby in front of you, this is also a question that you have no business asking. It is a personal choice first of all. Secondly, some women no matter how hard they try, just cannot get breastfeeding right. It is a difficult thing to get the hang of. Never mind if you are not producing enough milk. Women who can’t, for any reason, get it right already feel like a failure. There’s no need for you to keep rubbing salt in the wound.

4. Are you getting enough sleep?

This, by far, is the most ludicrous question anyone could ask a new parent. Because the answer is no. Unless baby is sleeping in 8 hours shifts already, and if that is the case, believe me, Mommy would be BRAGGING about it before you even had the chance to ask! Sleep deprivation starts during pregnancy with regular trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night. The body is an amazing machine. This is it’s way of getting you ready for interrupted sleep cycles. Then baby arrives and you’re literally shoving your boob or a bottle into it’s face about a hundred times a night. Eventually Best and Brightest starts sleeping through the night, but he is still wide awake and ready to play at 5am every morning. Especially when you indulged in seven more glasses of merlot than you should have the night before. At least when your child reaches their teens you will be able to sleep as late as you like on weekends again, but only because you’re trying to make up for the hours you lay awake worried out of your mind about what they were doing and who they were doing it with.

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Basically, once you have a child, you will  never have a good night’s sleep again. My mom can attest to this as her kids are all fully grown, but now she lies awake at night worrying about her kids, their partners and their kids. It’s a never ending vicious cycle. The things you do for love.

5. I can’t believe you just had a baby, you look awesome! 

Ok this isn’t a question, but it’s still incredibly infuriating and shouldn’t ever be said. Just say, “You look awesome”. Then it remains what it was meant be, a compliment. Otherwise it is just a reminder that you are dog tired, have refrigerated cabbage leaves shoved inside your bra, Dr Whites the thickness of the yellow pages in your panties and vomit down the back of your shirt.

So really, my advice when your friend has a baby, don’t storm her at the hospital with probing questions about the birth and the ins and outs of breastfeeding, unless of course she brings it up first. Don’t throw a surprise party for her when she brings Best and Brightest home for the first time. Give her and baby (and if she has a partner / hubby) their space. This time is super special for new families. They need to figure out where they all stand and what their new roles are. The last thing they need is someone invading their space every day giving unsolicited advice on how to latch. When Mommy is ready for visitors she will let you know. Then go over, tell her she looks amazing, and dear God please, let the only question that comes out of your mouth be, “Can I get you anything to drink?”, and don’t you DARE judge her if she asks for champagne rather than herbal tea. She’s been drinking enough of that shit for long enough. Mamma needs a stiff one.

 

 

 

Giving up on the dream

What do you do when you can’t run that marathon you’ve been training for because you lose your legs in a terrible car accident? Do you compete in a wheelchair or do you just change direction completely and learn a new skill like playing the guitar? Who knows, you could turn out to be the next Jimi Hendrix. We can’t always get what we want. And sometimes, no matter how hard we work, the universe will prevent us from reaching that goal we’ve been working towards to test our strength to the limit. That’s life right? So what do we do when that happens? How do we cope? Do we a) give up b) find another way to get there or c) work with what we have left to achieve a different goal?

I’m not sure actually. To be honest, it’s hard to stay positive 100% of the time. Harder still when your circumstances are unique to you. You can confide in, cry to or shout at your partner, friends or family (or all of them) as much as you like. You will still feel alone.

Ovarian failure

Thank you Douchebag Uterus!

We recently discovered that I have premature ovulation failure. It sounds like some sort of mechanical problem my Peugeot experienced a couple months back. But basically, I’ve stopped ovulating and have been experiencing menopausal symptoms like hot flushes (dear god I’ll never tease you again Mom!), major mood swings, massive weight gain, migraines, nausea, high blood pressure and just all round misery. Hahahaha! God I sound like such a whiney cow. Anyway I’m on hormone replacement therapy now to try and kick start the ovaries and postpone any further premature decline into the dreaded “change”. My problem is the treatment is making me feel worse! It’s scary to think that my body has been so deprived of estrogen for so long that even the slightest increase renders me useless for about two days at a time.

In the meantime, I’ve had to deal with the emotional fallout of pretty much no longer being able to fulfill the only biological function I was bred for. Yes, yes I know. I am so lucky already. I have the most amazing little miracle boy and a wonderful hubby who loves me. And I am SO grateful for the boys and everything that they have brought into my life. But it still hurts. It’s a pretty psychologically draining thing to go through. I am a logical, rational person. I know that no longer being able to breed does not make me less of a woman/wife/mother. So why do I feel that way? I love and adore my son, yet I still feel this great sense of loss at never having a screaming match with my teenage daughter because she is dressed like a slag. Most days I am perfectly fine with not having to worry about getting knocked up again. It is a bit of a relief actually. I was NOT a happy pregnant person. It didn’t help that I am only 1,5m tall and put on the equivalent weight of a Fiat Uno. But I still feel cheated that I will not feel another life growing in my belly again.

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I am a control freak and I have no problem admitting that. I plan things WAY in advance. I have an app for everything. I can plan a six month project on my phone, while getting a bikini wax. But I don’t have an application or program that can help me deal with this. Is the reason that I have been finding this so hard because the choice has been taken away from me? Is that all that it is? If I had had an app that could schedule my menopause, that would have been ideal.

I guess what this experience has taught me, is cherish what you have NOW. Life really does happen while you’re making other plans. Stop thinking about how you’re going to travel the world when you’re thirty. That may never happen, leave now! Learn that language. Climb that mountain. Live your life. Don’t let it pass you by. You only get this one chance so don’t screw it up waiting for better days!

Despite all the dreariness of this post, there is a beacon of hope. My boobs have never been bigger or better!

In the beginning

funny-kardashian-pictures

I’ve always wanted to have my own blog. Some place to talk about my experiences, and my reactions to them. But I’ve never had the right content to make it meaningful to anyone but myself. And if there’s one thing I hate it’s self-indulgent blogs. Of course the internet is all about self-indulgence. Just look at the Kardashians. They’ve built an entire empire utilising various social media platforms to publicise their every promotional gig, dinner date and after birth.

So I wanted to wait until the right time, until I felt like I had something meaningful. I feel like we could do with more substance in our lives. Please, don’t panic! This is NOT going to be a preachy Gwyneth Paltrow type blog. I mean come on, what does one of the most spoilt people in the world know about having to work hard for something!??!?!?! I want this to be a little page that you come to every now and again to read over a cup of coffee, for a quick escape from your daily madness. Whether it makes you laugh, cry or even if you can find something relatable in my word vomits, then I have achieved my goal.

So basically, I’m married to the man of my dreams, Jeff. I will likely often refer to him as the Jeffsta or the Jeffersonian. Coz I’m gangster like that. And we made this awesome little human called Tyler. Who I will often call “the monkey”, “Ty-Ty”, “Tyler Bear”, “It” or “STOP IT GET OFF THERE WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING!!!!!!!?????”. The above order is of course relative to the amount of affection I’m feeling towards him at any given time.

Ohana means Family

Lilo had it spot on!

Our little family has not been a conventional one. We did things backwards. After years of being told that I would probably never have children, you can imagine our great surprise when “Candice you don’t have gastro, you’re pregnant” was the diagnosis from our GP for my exhaustion, nausea and food aversion. I know right? I want this to be a space to get un-conventional advice. I feel like there is so much pressure today on women (and men), to be the best mother (father), wife (husband), employee, friend, pet-owner, driver etc all at once. It’s impossible to stay sane and immaculately put together all the time. And it is unfair on yourself to think that you can. Which brings me back to why I have started this little blog. I want others to see that just because you didn’t do it by the book, doesn’t mean it isn’t right. And just because your family doesn’t look the same as others, doesn’t mean it isn’t perfect.

I am not saying that the way we do things is right, NOT AT ALL! All I’m saying is that it has worked for us, and if you can find some small piece of advice that applies to a situation that you are in, then great! Instead of aspiring to be the model-family society says you should be, rather aspire to be the perfect family for you. If it works for you and yours, then that is all that matters. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says. Except for Child Protection Services and the law. You should totally take those guidelines seriously.

I’m sure you’re all poised and ready for my first inspiring pearls of wisdom then right??? Well, it may seem obvious, but we often forget the basics:

Love one another. Protect each other. Laugh together. 

Stuff Kids Write

This teacher seems relatively easy to please!

We tend to get so caught up in our everyday lives that we forget what brought us together in the first place. Love, safety and happiness. When you feel a little lost, focus on what you love about your partner or child (or in most cases, both) rather than what they have been doing to piss you off lately. Make them feel safe and secure. And don’t forget to laugh. There’s nothing like finding joy in the desperation on your hubby’s face when he realises you and the child have hidden all the toilet paper in the house just as he’s sat on the porcelain throne. Or snickering together at little sunshine’s crude handwriting that has turned the word “milk” into “milf”.

Anyway, I hope that this is the beginning of a long and meaningful discussion between us. I would love to hear your opinions and your stories as well. I am also learning as I go and need all the help I can get!

Chat soon!