What a weekend!

This weekend was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Like candyfloss and Lindt chocolate amazing. Like babies who sleep through the night amazing. Like winning the Lotto amazing. Ok maybe not that amazing, but you know what I mean. It was enormously AMAZING!!! Ok, now I promise never to use the word amazing again, throughout this post. 

It started off on a bit of a wobbly.. Hannah was asleep when we left (of course she would choose this morning to have her longest nap EVER) and I was upset because I didn’t get to say good bye properly with lots of hugs and kisses. I was also hurt because Liam didn’t seem to be as distressed as I was, at the prospect of a night apart. And then we had the usual trouble involved with a weekend away.. me packing the bags, the hubby complaining that I had packed too much, me unpacking the bags, the hubby complaining that I was going to make everyone late. We eventually made it to my sister in law’s, where Liam would spend the night, and after a rather theatrical good bye worthy of an Oscar  – from me, not Liam – we were off on our kid-free weekend. 

After cocktails on the Sandton Sun Deck, we were whisked away in Mercedes Benz Vito mini buses to the stunning Legend Golf and Safari Resort, situated on the Entabeni Safari Conservancy. Even the car ride was a pleasure – no whining or crying or dry Cheerio’s being thrown at the back of my head. On arrival, our bags were taken to our rooms and we hopped straight onto the truck for our first game drive. I did feel the tears well up every time I saw a baby lion cub snuggling up to its mother, or a young cheetah looking for his brother who he had lost in the wilderness, they reminded me of my own cubs back at home. My husband rolled his eyes and sighed annoyingly every time I made reference to the kids looking like the cute cuddly animals, geez he is so cold and heartless! Back in our rooms, I was mesmerised by the sheer opulence of our living quarters. When I spotted the massive corner bath, my first thought was that the four of us would fit comfortably in it, but I didn’t voice my thought because the hubby would have thrown a hissy for mentioning the kids AGAIN on our weekend away. The his and her shower with a shower head the size of my whole shower at home, and since we’re talking about size.. the bed was elephantine with big fluffy white pillows and a duvet that you just wanted to bounce into and wrap yourself up in – Liam would have LOVED it! Granted we are not accustomed to five star; when you are a family of four, you usually opt for the three star or self catering at best, but in my world I was in the lap of luxury. The fully stocked complementary bar fridge, the white gowns, the full DSTV bouquet, the under floor heating, and the little choccie on my pillow – just added to the luster of the whole experience. YES I sat in the bath until my fingers and toes shriveled, YES we laid on the bed and just watched tv mindlessly in silence, and YES I leisurely paged through a magazine – even though it was the in-house brochure because I had nothing else to read, I still enjoyed reading at my leisure! We enjoyed an extravagant buffet dinner, and anyone who knows me well, knows I love my food. I tasted everything and I ate slowly, savouring every hot bite. After dinner we  sat around a huge blazing outdoor fire, with a man and his guitar serenading us, he was pretty good until he started with Lalalalalalabamba.. then I had to excuse myself. The next morning we were up early for another game drive, although the game drive was optional I knew my internal alarm wouldn’t let me sleep in anyway, so I forced the hubby to join me – he apparently has no internal alarm and was quite miffed that he still had to get up early, even though there were no small mouths who needed breakfast, or bums that needed changing. Highlight of the weekend was my helicopter flip, and seriously, I kept thinking Liam would have LOVED this!!!

 All in all, it was a wonderful time away from our humdrum mundane routine. It was a much needed break away from the kiddies, and I enjoyed reconnecting with my hubby and discovering that we still do have things in common other than DNA our children share. And now that I know they can survive without us overnight, I am happily planning our next getaway.

Oh, about the kids.. Hannah gave me a slap hello and stuck her dummy in my mouth, that means she missed me, I think? Liam gave me a blow by blow account of EVERYTHING I had missed out on while we were away.. he was still talking after I had put the light off at bed time…

Roll on the weekend!

Looking forward to a night away with the Hubster tomorrow! Besides the fact that it’s a free night away with all the bells and whistles that a game lodge offers, it’s also a night away from the babies! The first night without BOTH of them since before Hannah was born – which feels like FOREVER! I won’t lie, MG (Mother’s Guilt) has set in and I feel bad for leaving the kids over a weekend – the only real time we have to spend together – but I will not be sucked in, we DESERVE this break, we NEED this break and I will make up for it with lots of kisses when I get back.

I think I am more worried about the babysitters than the kids. Hannah will be at home with Zoleka, poor Zoleka who has worked hard all week and still has to work on the weekend, bless her heart. Hannah loves Zoleka, sometimes I think she loves Zoleka more than she loves me, so really I am not too oconcerned about her well being. Liam will be with his aunt and cousins, whom he loves very much. He has been talking non stop about his pending sleepover so I’m not overly concerned about him either. But should Hannah and Liam decide that they miss Dad and I, then the worse that could happen is that they would cry. A lot. For a long period of time. Crying is yet to kill a person, but it may just kill the person who has to listen to it, hence my concern for the babysitters, more than for my children.

Anyway, my bags are packed! I’ll be sure to blog about the trip as well as how the babies coped without us. I personally, cannot wait to lounge in the bath for as long as my heart desires, without the water toys being thrown in my face and water bombs messing up my hair. Or lay with my feet up reading a trashy magazine without interruption while the hubby feeds me strawberries. Or sleep in, without a small finger poking me in the eye, asking for Milo. I’ll miss my little mites but I think this time apart will do us all good. 


Yummy Mummy

Today at work I casually picked up a fashion magazine and started paging through its silky covers.. I was gob smacked at the ridiculousness of what I read. Firstly, I gawked at the fashion pages in disbelief – these pages were labeled “colour pop” and “cowgirl couture” and “tribal goes neon” and every item was just ghastly! Is this what the trendy people were wearing? Then I turned to some of the articles: “meet the woman addicted to sex” and “how to walk tall, get that raise and climb that corporate ladder” – where in the world do the people who read these magazines come from? Planet Utopia? And then, like a slap in the face with a wet fish, it hit me.. The more I read, the more I realized how far removed I was from life outside of Momville. A parallel universe where people dressed for pleasure and to feel good about themselves, and not just to cover up fat rolls left over from childbirth. A world where people enjoyed sex, to the point of addiction, and didn’t just use it as a reward for doing child related chores. A world where a woman could spend hours agonizing over a menu for a cocktail party she was hosting, instead of calling Mr Delivery to deal with the catering. Where in the world is this place?

My husband thinks I am a yummy mummy, he tells me so all the time, but the truth is, I am NOT! Apparently yummy mummies are “colour blocking” their outfits and wearing heels everyday and it’s their au pairs who wear tracksuit pants with food stains. If this particular magazine is to be believed, yummy mummies spend time at the salon getting their hair and nails done while the kids play quietly at their moms’ feet. Yummy mummies go to the gym at least four times a week (the international recommended standard) and do all those fancy exercises.. like cardio vascular thingamabobs or weight resistance or Pilates or rumba/zumba/WHATEVER!! They don’t eat junk food and they NEVER EVER feed their families anything other than a gourmet meal prepared by yours truly. Rumour has it, that they never get headaches and are always up for IT. So no, I am definitely not a yummy mummy!

Are these magazines created to make women feel like complete losers? Am I the only one who finds it all so plastic and superficial? I am all for improving myself and feeling motivated enough to make a change in my life.. but I just feel like an absolute chop after tearing through this magazine. It appears that unless you can apply eye shadow like that weird looking man on the Style Network and you have a walk-in closet like Kimora Lee Simmons, then you my daahhling are considered a plebeian.

Nonetheless, I do aspire to yummy-mummy-ness. One day. One day when my kids don’t use my clothing as a dish rag for their dirty hands and snotty noses, when I have time to turn this jelly in my thighs into a hard mass of bulging muscle, when I have the energy to sit at a salon, without falling asleep and publicly drooling while sitting under the hair dryer. One day when my husband says “here babe, use the grocery money for a complete makeover, and we’ll survive on manna from heaven this month.”

One day, without the help of a fashion magazine – because I am not chasing that synthetic look – I will transform this mound of fleshy, pulpous leftover baby fatness into a lean, mean yummy mummy machine! Dadadadaaaaaaa!

Sleep Like Babies

I didn’t want to blog about this. I didn’t want to tempt fate, or give Murphy a reason to rain on my parade, but if truth be told, I actually cannot keep my mouth shut about it. I am so consumed with what’s happening in our household – or rather what’s not happening – that it’s all I talk about, I dream about it, I wake up smiling because of it. You see, this journey has not been an easy one, and I will not say we have “arrived” yet, because there are still teeth to be cut, nightmares to soothe, grouchy babies to placate – but it seems our journey has turned a corner, and this new road we find ourselves on is blissfully hushed. 

Our household has been mysteriously quiet during the twilight hours, so eerily quiet that I’m afraid to turn in my bed lest I shatter that beautiful silence. For the last few weeks (bar one night where Hannah hit a wobbly) our babies have been sleeping like.. well.. like babies. So great is my paranoia, that I feel that by talking about it, the sleep noo-noos are going to come and bite us in the bottom for prematurely smacking high fives and breaking out the bubbly. This is not the first time we have experienced an uneventful full night of sleep, but in the past, it was usually because we had drugged them. No seriously. THIS time is different because it has hit a record breaking two weeks, with no medication, no promises of a surprise in the morning, no coercing or force necessary. It seems that our babies have just come to understand that night time is for sleeping. We still prepare their night time drinks as we are still very cynical about this whole sleeping debacle, and after the last two years of sleepless in Gauteng, who wouldn’t be? We try to remain calm when we wake the next morning to find the night time drinks untouched, just where we had left them, but this week I did allow myself one pyjama jig and a double high five with the husband. This is BIG! 

Any parent with a baby can relate to at least one time (if you are lucky) in your baby’s life where you felt like your eyeballs would roll right out of their sockets due to being so utterly exhausted from sleepless nights. It really is a pernicious disease that inflicts almost every household with a small baby, and in our case TWO babies. I’ve waxed lyrical about what a bad sleeper Liam is (was?) and Hannah, although a good sleeper, enjoys torturing us occasionally with her all-nighters, so now that we are getting a good eight hours in at night, I sincerely feel like a new person. I’ve noticed the impact on the whole household, we smile more, we no longer grunt/bark/snarl at each other in the mornings, and we are drinking way less coffee to keep us going.

Initially, I would still get up to make sure all was well, that they were warmly covered, and I’d put my little finger under their nostrils to make sure they were breathing. However these days, I sleep through the night myself, I dream about how I am enjoying my sleep and when I wake up to the sound of my alarm, I no longer have the urge to smash it against the wall because I feel like I’ve had my full quota of sleep – I wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the day!

It’s a beautiful thing.. I hope this is the start of a long and promising season for us! At the back of my mind, I know that Hannah still has a mouthful of teeth to cut and I know that it’s normal for a kid to wake many times during the night and they are not always able to successfully put themselves back to sleep, but at least I know that they CAN do it. My babies are not insomniacs, they can sleep like the best of them; they do not need psychiatric assessments as I had often thought during those sleepless nights because yes, they can sleep like babies!

Mothers of little boys work from “son up to son down…”

Dear Liam

You jammed your finger in the door today and you screamed so loud, that you actually turned a weird shade of purple, and I feel like a horrible piece of stinky poo for allowing that to happen! Then last night, Dad was cleaning your ears with an ear bud and he pushed too far and you almost puked the way you cried so hard from the pain. Dad also felt like a complete and utter loser for hurting you like that. We are so sorry!!!!

It really has been a series of unfortunate events, because a few days ago you were jumping on mummy’s bed and you bounced into the wall and had a big horrible lump on your head and it was close to bed time and I was too afraid to make you sleep because I didn’t know if you had a concussion or not. And in the same day, Hannah beat you up (well she gave you a few hot slaps), and you are so good, you know not to hit your little sister back, but it hurt so you were very upset.

You fall off your bike quite often, because you think you are a professional racer and you try stunts that you clearly have not practiced enough. Your fearlessness makes you believe you can fly off ledges and jump off chairs which are far too high, and you don’t believe me when I tell you that the water coming out of that tap is STILL TOO HOT, and you often scald your little fingers. You love spinning around and around to make yourself dizzy and you think it’s funny to fall all over the place, that is until you fall into a piece of furniture and hurt yourself. Your little legs and arms bare the evidence of your injuries, you look like you play rugby, bar the cauliflower ears.

I know you are a little boy, and that I should expect these wild and adventurous antics from you, but please boy, you are going to give mummy an embolism (that’s a very serious booboo) if you keep this up. How about we stick to reading books, doing puzzles and colouring in for a while? I know these aren’t half as much fun as seeing how fast you can roll down a grassy bank or sliding down the slide backwards or seeing if your finger can fit through the keyhole (only for it to get stuck), but we really need to find other outlets for that pent up energy you have.

One last request, please can we try to preserve the medical aid? We have to make it stretch until the end of the year and at the rate you are going, we are going to have to patch you up at home and although I have witnessed you getting stitched up before, I don’t think I have the stomach to do it myself.

Other than that, please remain the little comet you are. A comet is a bright spark that zooms across the sky, it doesn’t orbit the sun like the other good little planets, but instead follows its own path. Like you, it too has a mind of its own.

Love you my little soldier.

Xxx Mom

Good Bye Teacher Ane!

Totally bummed!

Liam came home with a letter from school today which stated that his teacher would be leaving at the end of the month. Now I always give Teacher Ane grief in my blog, but that’s because I’m secretly envious of her calm and loving nature, her ability to look after 13 toddlers all day and still remain intact and of sound mind, with not a strand of hair out of place. She speaks slowly and softly, she hugs everyone hello and goodbye and she finds the lesson in everything – like of course there is a valid reason for Liam to be throwing a tantrum at 7.30am and “let’s see what can we learn from this…” But really the thing I love most about teacher Ane is what she’s done for Liam, both mentally and emotionally.

I was forced to send Liam to school way before I was ready to. I had plans to keep him at home with my helper, until he was at least 3 years old. I thought he’d benefit from the one on one interaction, and with the hours that my husband and I work, I didn’t see how we would be able to drop and fetch him and he was way too young for the school transport system. However, Hannah came along quite unexpectedly and during my maternity leave, with my two babies at home, I knew there was no way I could leave my helper with both of them. Firstly because I think she would have walked out of the job on day 2 – it’s way more difficult looking after a 15 month old and a new born than it is looking after twins; they don’t have the same schedule, they don’t eat the same things, they can’t occupy each other, they can’t bath together and they don’t sleep at the same time – its hard! Secondly, I knew I would be doing the kids a disservice, either Liam would be sidelined while Hannah was been seen to, or Hannah would have to learn to cry it out when Zoleka needed to attend to Liam. I felt like my only option was to put Liam into school.

Without naming and shaming, the first school we enrolled Liam into turned out to be a disaster. It really was more of a babysitting service and it was the saddest thing to watch.. my 18 month old baby would walk in and plonk himself on the mat and just wait for the next order. It broke my heart every time I had to leave him there. He would come home SUN BURNT every day, even though I lathered him up with sun block before he left in the mornings, AND packed it into his school bag. I was LIVID! After four months, we decided to pull Liam out and try another school. So the second time around, we did a bit more research, visited a few more schools, I too was wiser and had a better idea of what I DIDN’T want in a school. And when we found this school and our dearest Teacher Ane, we knew we were home.

Liam has grown in leaps and bounds, through play-and-learn, he has developed skills that I know I would never have had the time or patience to teach him. His fine and gross motor skills, his vocabulary, his self esteem, and even his imagination are being exercised and utilised in a way that blows my mind and I am amazed at the potential that ALL little kids have and how great and endless the possibilities, if we but just give them the opportunity to use their minds and bodies! Please don’t get me wrong, I am in no way undermining the idea of a child staying at home until the age of four or five, remember this was my initial plan for my own children, but I do believe (and quite sheepishly admit) that my lifestyle does not lend itself to a lot of one on one time with my kids in which I can focus on teaching them new and exciting things every day. So I am eternally grateful to Teacher Ane who has helped my little boy blossom into a confident, wise beyond his years, happy go lucky, bubbly, boisterous toddler. He can’t wait to rip himself out of his car seat in the mornings, we have to endure hours and hours of what Teacher Ane said and how Teacher Ane sings and can we go visit Teacher Ane on the weekend, etc, etc..

So we will miss you Teacher Ane!! I feel like an important family member is going away and never coming back! I know of course, that Liam will have many more teachers in his life who will leave a lasting impression and impact his life positively – I still remember some of my own special teachers who encouraged me and made a huge and positive difference to my life, both in school and out – but I also know that he will miss Teacher Ane for what will seem like an eternity in his mind (probably a week) and I hope that her replacement will be able to fill the rather big red wellington’s that our special Teacher Ane leaves behind. xxx

Happily Ever After…

I love weddings! I love how they make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Weddings make me feel so sentimental, so maudlin! Partly because it’s wonderful to witness two people who are in love, declaring publicly and before God, that they want to be together forever and ever, but also because it always reminds me of my own special day, and it evokes all the emotions I felt on that day, how surreal everything felt, how I felt like I was positively going to float away because I was so light with happiness! My husband is way less emotional (about EVERYTHING) than I am, so he poo-poos my syrupy gushings about how wonderful weddings are and complains about having to wear a tie on a Saturday. Anyway, we attended a wedding of a dear friend last week, it was a beautiful wedding and hit my wedding-junkie sweet spot good and proper!  

We tied the knot on a crisp June afternoon in Durban, it was a huge affair with 300 guests – half of whom my husband and I didn’t know or hadn’t seen for years – but a wedding is more than just the bride and the groom in the Coloured community, it’s a family affair. Nevertheless, it was the happiest day of my pre-kids life, although my memory may be a bit hazy (kinda like how you only remember the good parts of childbirth and forget the bad and the plain down ugly bits). I do remember looking at certain things and thinking “when did I ok that?” but on the whole, our wedding was perfect.

I loved my dress from the moment I laid eyes on it and in fact, I still have it in a box in our garage – purely because I can’t find anyone who wants to buy it off me, and not because I have developed some sort of emotional attachment to it. But when Hannah was born, I did have this weird wistful notion that she would one day want to wear my dress, but let’s be honest, if fashion is anything to go by, in 20 odd years my daughter will not want to be caught dead in my dress, no matter how classic and timeless I think the style is. I had a blast choosing the décor, invitations and party favours, the husband-to-be had very little involvement other than handing over his credit card and nodding yes in agreement to everything I said. In fact it was more like MY party than OUR wedding, he was like my fabulous accessory of sorts (I’ll probably have to pay severely for that comment, sorry babe!!). All the same, he showed up on time and looked dashing in his suit and made an endearing speech that almost caused my very expensive mascara to run off my very fake eye lashes.

The thing about weddings is that, after funerals, it’s the next biggest event that brings a family together. And I think it is this, more than the glitz and glamour, that I really love about weddings. It’s a chance to see cousins and grand-aunts and uncles that you hadn’t seen in years. It’s a chance to meet the next generation (who are only invited to the church, because you do pay per head at the reception!) and it’s a chance to reminisce about the past. I always cheekily say that if I could do it again, I’d have a small affair and splash out on a fabulous month long honeymoon instead; because let’s face it, the two would cost about the same! But truthfully, I believe a wedding should be as grand an affair as your budget allows, with all the bells and whistles – and this doesn’t mean expensive and Top Billing-ish, it means it should be everything spectacular that you’ve always dreamed about, surrounded by the people you love.

It’s an auspicious event, and the start of your life long journey with your life long partner, and it’s something that indeed needs to be celebrated in these times where love, relationships and family ties have become more like fast moving consumable products, rather than like the “cast in stone” relic it should be. Call me a sentimental dreamer and a hopeless romantic if you will, but I do still believe in happily ever after.

Another day, another milestone..

How do you know when your child is old enough to sleep out? Old enough in the sense that they make the decision for themselves, understanding that it means they won’t see mom and dad for the WHOLE night, until the sun shines the next day? My kids have only spent the night away from me, at my parents home. I know that they feel as safe and secure with my mom, as they do with me. In fact, Liam spent 10 days with my parents in Durban when he was about 18 months old, this gave me time to bond with Hannah, who was only three months old at the time and it also gave him a chance to be the one and only favourite again and he basked in the attention. Moreover, it gave me the much needed reprieve from my toddler who was not yet used to having a little sister who also demanded my attention ALL the time, and his transition to big brother was taking its toll on the whole family. But other than with my parents, Liam hadn’t slept out before. So when he announced that he wanted to sleep by Nana’s house (his other granny), I was taken aback, and a little amused because I didn’t think he’d go through with it.

The husband and I agreed that there was no harm in letting him spend the night out, he loves his Nana to bits, and we were close enough to make the midnight drive, if we received a distressed phone call from Nana. And because they don’t get to see their grandparents that often, I know that both the kids and the grandparents really treasure their time together. So I dutifully packed his overnight bag, I kept explaining that I’d only see him the next day, when the sun came up and that he’d sleep in Nana’s bed and that the rest of us wouldn’t be there; he seemed un-phased and blissfully happy at the thought of leaving us behind. We dropped him off, and I had to physically restrain myself from giving Nana a lecture on how to care for my baby. Nana had raised three children quite capably and I married one of them, so she kinda knows what she’s doing.

Once home, I sat with my phone in my lap, almost willing it to ring. Eventually I messaged Nana to ask how Liam was doing, she replied that he was “gone to the world.” Wow, she was good, he had said good night and went to sleep without a fuss, Nana reported. Whereas we had to sing, dance and put on an entire theatrical performance before Liam would go to bed. I put my phone on vibrate and placed it under my pillow, but we received no late night distressed calls.

He called me the next morning, and I felt hot tears welling up behind my eyes when I heard his voice (silly I know, but I missed him!!). He was fine, he told me he had picked flowers for me in Nana’s garden and that he was eating his porridge and that he would see me later and then he put the phone down in my ear. Nice. No I LOVE YOU, no I MISS YOU. Nothing!

Eventually I begged the husband to go and fetch him because I missed him so much. I didn’t want to go; I didn’t want my mother in law to see me cry like a sissy when I huggled (cross between a hug and a cuddle) my boy. When he arrived home, it was evident that he wasn’t too thrilled to be back. He gave me his cheek, side glanced at his sister who had CLEARLY missed him, as she tried to claw at him for a huggle and he asked where his bike was. Undoubtedly, he didn’t miss us, like we had missed him.

So the answer is simple, your child is ready to sleep out, when he says he is! I underestimate my kids; they do something new every day, they far outrun my expectations, so much so, that I actually feel guilty for not giving them more credit. So another bittersweet moment as we tick off another milestone reached for my big boy!

Good job Liam!

Five things I’m loving about you guys right now…

Baby girl Hannah

  1. I love how cuddly and soft you are, with your delectable baby fat deposits behind your knees and the back of your neck…sooooo good for nuzzling!
  2. I love how you pat my back rhythmically when I am putting you to sleep – which technically means you put ME to sleep, but that’s ok.
  3. I love how you love to eat! Anything and everything! The minute the fridge door opens, you mosey on over with your mouth open and you say “hummmm” to indicate that you’d like some. So when you don’t eat, I know that you are feeling out of sorts.
  4. I love how you smell. Even when you’re dirty from playing in the sand, and rolling in the grass, and even when you have a stinky diaper, you still smell amazingly and wonderfully delicious. How do you do that?
  5. I love how you wonder around the house alone. And when I come and find you, you’ll be looking out the window at the traffic passing by, with your chin resting on the window ledge. Or you’ll be in your brother’s shoe cupboard, trying to put his shoes on. Sometimes I find you in the bathroom, wrapped in toilet paper and I want to smack your bottom because 2 ply toilet paper is expensive, but you look so cute, that I can’t help but laugh.

Mommy’s Big Boy, Liam

  1. I love how smart you are! I know every mom thinks their kid is smart.. but really boy, you are SOOOOO smart. You know your colours, even the hard ones like silver and grey. You know the days of the week and the alphabet, and you can identify letters like T for Tommy Tall and M for Magic Melon and C for Curly Clown.
  2. I love how I am your favourite – even when I shout and give you a smack – I’m still your favourite! And I love how you tell Dad that Mama is your best BEst BEST, and Dad is just your best.
  3. I love how you want me to tell you the same story over and over again and you always laugh like it’s the first time you’ve heard it. Ok, I must admit that sometimes this endearing quality does annoy me, because it’s the same old story of Ellie the Elephant who wants a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk which I made up months ago to keep you quiet. And if I forget one line of MY story, which I made up, you make a point of correcting ME, the author of the story.
  4. I love how you correct us when we make mistakes. If Dad and I are having a tiff, you remind us to TALK NICELY to each other. If we don’t say please and thank you and bless you, you reprimand us immediately. If we don’t say our prayers and kiss good night, you make sure that we do. You tell Hannah not to pick her nose, or eat from the floor and quite recently, not to pee in her diaper (it has been difficult to explain to you that while Hannah CAN wee and poo in her diaper because she is still a baby, you are now a big boy and you need to go potty).
  5. I love how you remember people and places, and how you place value on people, even complete strangers. You always smile and say HELLO or HI and you ask how they are. You remember all your aunties and uncles names – even the hard ones like aunty Adele, who you call aunty Tinkerbell. And when you haven’t seen a particular person for a long time, you ask me where and how they are.

You two are the best BEst BESTEST! I love you forever, I love you for always, as long as I’m living, my babies you’ll be.

Door of Hope

 “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. And He took the children in His arms, placed His hands on them and blessed them.” Mark 10: 14 – 16 (NIV)

Last Friday, I had the honour of spending some time at Door of Hope, a home for abandoned babies. It was incredibly sad and disheartening but at the same time it is a place full of love and happiness and you can’t help feeling like you’re sitting on that silver lining of an otherwise very dark cloud. Presently, there are 29 little puddings housed at Door of Hope. They range from just a few days old, to about two years old. These babies all have tragic stories; some were found in plastic bags, others were left on the side of the road, some were thrown from high rise buildings, while others still have their real moms who visit them there, but these moms can’t financially or mentally afford to keep their babies in their care. The experience left me feeling utterly grateful for my life, for my beautiful babies, for LOVE that I so often take for granted.

Door of Hope opened their doors over 10 years ago. They operate purely on donations from generous people and organisations, with lots of overseas donors. The South African government have yet to provide them with any sort of subsidy, which breaks my heart, because I’d much rather my tax contribution be funnelled through to organisations like this, than to another road upgrade that does nothing to alleviate the traffic anyway. They have dedicated staff and young volunteers from all corners of the globe, who love and care for these precious babies around the clock. Their adoption success rate is phenomenal, with 90% of their babies being adopted by foreign parents. The babies are kept on a fantastic routine of eat, sleep and play, they are happy and healthy (except for the few special needs babies who are mostly HIV infected) and they have beautifully decorated nurseries and lots of toys to keep them busy. Their caregivers spend lots of time just holding and cuddling them, and it’s easy to sense that it is a place of love and hope.

While I bottle fed and cajoled with Njabulo, a 6 month old baby boy who tugged immediately at my heart strings, I wondered which cruel mother would ever have been able to give up such a gorgeous little thing. But the truth is, these babies are victims of grave and very unfortunate circumstances. I can only imagine how desperate, how completely hopeless a mother must feel to have the strength to dispose of this baby whom she carried for 9 months. What terror and almost insanity one must experience to have the will to commit such a dastardly deed. I can, in no way, judge these mothers. I will never know the trauma that she must have endured, and probably still endures to this day, at having to give up her baby. I will never know the levels of desperation that she felt, but I do know that the mind is a powerful thing and in the midst of anxiety and depression, it is possible to make yourself believe that wrapping your baby in a plastic bag is a rational thing to do, rather than letting them live through a life of hardship and struggle. Mothers who were raped, mothers who are uneducated so they don’t know they have other options, mothers who can barely afford to feed themselves, let alone a small baby. So I can’t judge.

Door of Hope encourages mothers who feel this way, to rather leave their children in their legal care. There is a hole in the wall, lined with a soft mattress, and a weight sensor that immediately sounds the alarm, when a baby has been placed on it; the mother who left her baby remains anonymous (sad face!!!!). Or the mother can legally sign over her baby to Door of Hope and the little one is placed on the adoption list.

I cried when I left that place, I cried for those beautiful babies who wait for loving families to take them in, I cried for the volunteers who take time out of their lives to give back to the world in a positive way, I cried for the wonderful families who adopt these babies, I cried for my own children who are such a blessing and who thankfully will never have to endure that feeling of being unwanted or unloved.

I cried for myself… how wrapped up I am in my own little world, with ALL my problems. How I walk around with my head hung low, moaning about traffic and my babies who don’t sleep through the night and my husband who doesn’t pack the dishes away even though he promises to, and my helper who doesn’t clean the bathroom tiles properly and my job that demands so much from me. This is how wrapped up I am in my own problems – my problems that are minute and silly and stupid – that I fail to understand the depth of the problems other people are facing. HOW can I compare having debt that I can’t shake, to a baby who will most likely never know his birth mother? HOW can I compare a speeding fine, to a mother who has to give up her baby because she can’t afford to keep her? HOW can I compare having to eat peanut butter sandwiches for lunch for the second day in a row, to a little baby who is found on the side of the road, starving and dying?

So today, love your family for just being THERE. Look at your “problems” and have a good long think about how bad it REALLY is. Give something back. Volunteer if you can, donate what you can, pray whenever you can, for whoever you can. You see, the sooner we realise that life is bigger than just our “problems,” the sooner we really start to live.

“If you give ,you will get. Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use to give – large or small – will be used to measure what is given back to you.” Luke 6:38 NIV