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.

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

In the beginning

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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!