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

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.