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.

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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.

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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.