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

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!

demotivational_posters_teenage_mutant_ninja_turtles-s500x400-80169

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!

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.

Getting your kids to help with chores

After years of saving and living on top of a landfill, we finally saved enough money to get our garden landscaped and suitable for human use. It took ten days, 14 bags of cement and 110m2 of instant lawn but we finally got the garden we always knew it could be! We’ve had picnics and drunken afternoons lounging on the grass, it really has been the best improvement we’ve made to our house. But with all my health ups and downs lately, we’ve stopped watering it as often as we were. Now you might be wondering how unbalanced hormones might influence the frequency with which you water your lawn, but believe me, when you’re spending the better part of your Friday afternoon in the emergency room being tested for stroke and heart attack, the garden moves down to the bottom of your priority list for the rest of the weekend.

aging cartoon

Kind of like an over ripe banana

Don’t panic, it was neither a stroke nor a heart attack. It was a migraine combined with a tension headache. So I had migraine symptoms, along with the left hand side of my body from the top of my head to my knee going numb. Scariest. thing. EVER! All blood tests came back clear for infection, and of course all dangerous scenarios were ruled out. So I have been prescribed some schedule 9 376 486 338 587 painkillers and muscle relaxants so that it hopefully never happens again. Ah the joys of getting old.

During a lucid moment on Sunday, I realised that we have been letting a few things slide because we’re basically exhausted from all the other crap we have to deal with on a daily basis. Nevermind the fact that all three of us now have a cold… Anyway, my solution to it was to create a chore chart. For all three of us. I told the boys that seeing as Tyler is SO big now, and that he’s going to be going to Grade 1 next year, it is WAY past time that he started helping out more at home and being rewarded for his efforts. We employed the use of a “Naughty or Nice” chart when he was going through his terrible tantrum stage and it worked like a charm. It basically taught him that it was better to take a breath and speak nicely to Mommy and Daddy instead of acting like a complete depraved animal when he didn’t get his way. The exercise taught us all to be more patient with each other, we are all just human after all!

Chore Chart

You really can find ANYTHING on the interwebs

The Chore Chart is basically an extension or upgrade of the Naughty or Nice chart. But we are all on it. So I have my chores, the Jeffersonian has his and Tyler has his. It is broken up into days of the week and split between the three of us. At the end of every day we tick off our completed chores, and if they’re all done we each get a smiley face, if you didn’t complete yours your spot remains blank. I wanted to have all three of us on the chart to show Ty that chores are not a form of punishment, rather that we are all working together to make our home lovely. There are rewards for 5 smiley faces in a row, and for 10 smilies we get to go out for dinner – CAN YOU IMAGINE?!?!! What a treat! (Mostly for me hahaha!) But the best part, one of Tyler’s chores is to water the garden! So basically it’s a win win for me, I get some help around the house AND ensure my new garden stays healthy and hydrated. I mean, what is the point of having children if you can’t make them do shit for you!?!??! And hopefully I can teach my son something about responsibility and taking pride in where he lives in the process.

Teaching Children Respect Meme

I know a couple of grown-ass people whose parents should’ve been told this…

I am Tyler’s RAGING Mother

So I was begging Jeffsta to help me with a topic this morning, but oh boy, I should have known. As long as there are stupid people on this planet I will always have plenty to talk about! I have a couple of pet peeves, namely (and in no particular order, they are all just as equally off pissing as the next):

  • Racism
  • Ignorance
  • Busy bodies who want to always know your business
  • People who do charitable things for the wrong reasons
  • Yorkies
  • and of course, IDIOTS WHO DON’T SECURE THEIR CHILDREN IN CARS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Guess which of these I experienced on my way to work?!?!?!!? Here’s a picture of the stupid cow and her poor, poor child who’s well-being she obviously cares nothing about:

Irresponsible Parent with kid in car

If you know this woman, please rescue her child and bring him to me post haste!!

I. I Just. I. I don’t even know where to start!!!!!

I hate seeing kids standing between the front seats while their parents are talking on their phones, smoking and “driving”. But THIS… wow. I hate it when dogs are allowed to lounge on the backboards. I can understand why you’d let your Yorkie lounge on the backboard and “accidentally” slam on brakes every now and then in the hope that little thing turns into a fluff ball missile. But your CHILD!??! YOUR OWN CHILD?!?!!??! That you spent 9 months (technically 10) growing inside of you, who you loved even  before you met??? That one human being that you would sacrifice your life for if it would save them?? I just don’t understand why we don’t have an exam that people need to pass before they’re allowed to pro-create. Because THIS WOMAN:

Irresponsible Parent with kid in car

She would’ve definitely failed the “Are you fit to raise another human being?” test

should not have been allowed to have any in the first place!

Adoption is SUCH a lengthy and exhaustive process. Every bit of your personality, marriage and physical health is scrutinized and put on  public display for all to judge. Your values, your morals even what others think of you! Why? Because you are going to be responsible for the upbringing, caring and moulding of another human being! It should be the same for people who want to have biological children as well!

Now before you spew about “Why did you have your phone ready? You shouldn’t be fiddling with your phone while you drive!”. Yes I know that. And no I didn’t “have it ready”. I was following this woman for a couple of blocks, and when we stopped at the robots, I had to reach for my bag and rip it out. I do not call/text while I drive. People get annoyed because I refuse to answer messages or calls while I’m driving. It still surprises me the surprise in people’s voices when my answer to “where have you been?” is “I was driving!” Anyway, I’ve gone off topic.

Common sense says that if your child is not strapped in when you have an accident, they will turn into a “child missile” and just torpedo straight out through whichever window is nearest and be smeared all over the road. Tyler is still using his Booster Seat. First of all, he is a little kid. It is MY JOB to make sure that he is safe and protected at all times. Secondly, he does NOT dictate to me how we travel. He has always known, you can cry all you like. Spit and throw things, I don’t care, you WILL be strapped in. Tough luck buddy. “Oh I just didn’t feel like fighting” is not a good excuse in this case, and will not fly with me. Sure there are times when you pick your battles with your kids, but it should never, EVER be when it comes to the matter of their safety. Be an adult. Use your brain. Think of your child, instead of having an “easy” morning with them, teach them to be responsible and show them that you believe in what you say. They will end up respecting you more for it.

 

Oh boy…

Ah the excitement and thrill of young love. I’m sure you remember the first time you fell in love. The butterflies. The nerves. The terror. The horror to discover that you had obscenely large sweat patches the whole time you were chatting up the object of your affection. And of course, the shame you experienced the morning after you got so hammered that you got up on stage at open mic night and professed your undying love for that person. No, I don’t miss that at all! At least back then though, if you did something mortifying it was only known to the lucky few who happened to be in the vicinity, or if you were super lucky, just the two of you. But these days, within a matter of seconds that video/pic is uploaded to each and every social network and BOOM! All of a sudden your desperation and heartache has 1 987 469 980 284 views on YouTube and Ellen DeGeneres is calling you to do an exclusive.

drunk baby meme

Today’s new measure of social success

Relationships have changed so much with the advent of new technologies. You no longer have to spend your afternoons and weekends hanging around at home waiting for someone to call you on the home phone. Or driving by people’s houses to make sure they are all still alive and haven’t been wiped out by an explosion of some sort. I mean, why ELSE haven’t they called yet!?!?!?

Overly Attached Friends

Yes, I didn’t reply immediately because you’re the worst person in the world and I hate you. This is allllll about you.

Even friendships have changed. People get so pissy when they see that you’ve read a message but don’t immediately respond. Bitch, I’m BUSY! All of a sardine, if you’re not immediately available to everyone at all times it’s the biggest social snub. Um, no. I have my own family, my own commitments and my own things to do. I really don’t want to have to hear about it every time you have a bad hair day. And usually, the updates are so inane that I don’t actually think they warrant a response. But hey, that’s just me. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my S3, and the freedom of expression and information that the internet gives me. I could not live without it. I just want to be treated like a human, instead of a robot designed to immediately respond to your every message.

So what does this mean for the future generation and how they relate to each other? After an incredibly fun evening at Spur last night with a little friend from school who just happens to be a gorgeous little girl child, Tyler Bear brought up something I was excited and shocked to hear. His exact words were “Guys, I get nervous when I see a girl”.

O.

M.

G!!!!!!!!!

kids face paint

It appears my son has incredibly high standards when it comes to girls!

WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?!?!!? Three minutes ago he couldn’t stand the sight of girls and very pointedly told me once that “Listen Mom, girls play with girls and boys play with boys”. It was too sweet. And of course Jeffsta and I had to seriously hold in the “Awww cute Tyler you’re in looooooooove” teases and just tell him calmly that it is perfectly normal. I then asked him if he was extra nervous when the girl was very pretty, and the gorgeous thing shyly answered “yes”. How bloody amazing is that!??! My little boy has discovered that girls are more than just annoying creatures that nag you to stop making a mess and boss you around all the time. This got me thinking about my first crush and how times have changed since then. When the monkey is big enough, he’ll have a cell phone. We already have three computers (four if you count the RaspberryPi) in the house, nevermind our mobile devices and tablets. So chances are, he will have no problem chatting online or messaging the object of his affection in years time. Without the worry of sounding like a complete d-bag over the phone when he runs out of things to say or his voice cracks a little, it is going to be so much easier for him than it was for his daddy. BUT it will also be way more mortifying for him if something goes incredibly wrong. How do we, in today’s world, teach our children to keep private conversations just that… private. And how do we help them recover if their horrible, self-recorded video of them singing a terribly off-key love song goes viral and becomes the butt of the school’s jokes?

kids-with-cell-phones

Little Daisy couldn’t wait to tell everyone how David had tried to kiss her under the swing set

I guess the answer to that is still the same as what it would have been when I was that age. It is not just how your child sees themselves that you are responsible for. How they treat others is a reflection on you as well. Teach them respect. Respect for themselves and for others. Teach them love. For themselves and others. It is the most amazing and beautiful thing to see your child treat others with kindness, patience and respect. Think about how you would want to have been treated when you were putting your heart on the line. It is of course, the time that you are the most vulnerable. If you can get your children to understand and recognise this in other human beings, then I think (in my humble opinion) that you have done the planet a world of good. We need to remember that we are all just human beings. And the sooner we do, the better off we’ll be for it.

 

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.

 

 

 

What happened to Baby Showers?!?!?!?

I can’t believe that this is actually going to come out of my mouth, but “back in my day” Baby Showers were a very different beast to what they have become today. Traditionally a baby shower was an interactive experience, where seasoned mommies and aunties of the mommy to be got together, had some koek-en-tee and shared their knowledge and tricks for colicky babies and how to cope with teething etc. Necessities were given to the new mommy like nappies, wet wipes, bum cream and bottles. Because let’s be honest, those are really the most important things you need and the LAST things you want to find you don’t have in the middle of the night.

Baby Shower

Where did the shared joy go?

I’ve been to three baby showers in the last year that really have only been fun for the Mommy. While she’s unwrapping presents everyone else is at the snack table or sipping on champers outside with the smokers. Because Mommy has chosen all the gifts and put them on a registry there is no more “I got you this because I found it really helped when baby had this”. There is no more advice and story swopping because Mommy already thinks she knows what she needs and can actually tell you what your gift is used for! In today’s world of the interwebs, we have so much information at our fingertips at any time of the day that gone are the days when we actually relied on our moms, aunts and friends to answer our ridiculous questions. That is of course, if we remembered to call them!

Babies

True dat Duck! True dat!

Being a parent to a newborn has become so scientific. We have forgotten that babies, like the rest of us, are human. They are just brand new and inexperienced at living. Not every baby is going to like the R300 orthodontic teat that My Baby Magazine recommends for bottle feeding. They have their own little personalities and preferences. Tyler Boy hated the expensive dummies and teats and only took the R3 ones from PEP. So I wasted my time and very precious nappy money on a LOT of unnecessary crap we never even opened. Now please, before I get all these huffy comments about how times have changed since I had my baby, I am not saying that any of the things you’ve chosen on your “baby registry” are in any way futile. All I am saying, is just remember you are having a baby. A baby human. Who has feelings and emotions. Who above all else has four basic needs: hunger, safety, a clean bum and to be loved. If you can give assurance of these four simple things to your baby, you will be fine. I promise.

Mother reading bedtime stories to child

Reading will never go out of fashion

I have always had one basic philosophy for gift giving at a baby shower, go have a look at the registry. If you see something on there that as a mom you know she will use, no matter how boring it is (nipple pads) get that and then buy your own thing. My staple was always Bepanthen, Telament drops, Lansinoh Nipple Cream and a cute gender appropriate outfit for 2-3 year olds. It used to happen that I was asked why I chose these things, but no longer. Now I go for gifts that can be used all the way to adolescence. My favourite of course, is books. There’s nothing better than bedtime story cuddles with your little monster. It is the time of the day when you have their full attention, and them yours. It is when I get the most cuddles from my Tyler Bear, and when he honestly recounts the events of his day. It is during this time that he will confess a naughty deed, a funny story or of course, how his hero alter ego saved the planet from mutant aliens. It’s one of the few quiet times I have with him that we really learn about each other.

Babies are babies for a very short time, but your children are yours forever. Again, I’m not saying that these new age baby showers are bad in any way, just that it would be nice for it to go back in time a little to when it was an actual knowledge sharing session. If you can’t do that, go for the next best thing. Try to give a thoughtful gift that has longevity. That will be used over and over again, treasured for many years to come.

If we could give a first time mommy what she really needed once “best and brightest” came along, patience would be sold in bottles.