I tried to write an appropriate introduction for this piece… but I couldn’t. It speaks wholly and perfectly for itself.
For All Mothers
This is for all the mothers who froze their buns off on metal bleachers at soccer games instead of watching from cars, so that when their kids asked, “Did you see my goal?” They could say, “Of course, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” and mean it.
This is for all the mothers who have sat up all night with sick children in their arms, wiping up barf laced with Oscar Meyer wieners and cherry Kool-Aid saying, “It’s OK honey, Mommy’s here.”
This is for all the mothers of Kosovo who fled in the night and can’t find their children. This is for the mothers who gave birth to babies they’ll never see and for the mothers who took those babies and gave them homes.
For all the mothers who run carpools and make cookies and sew Halloween costumes and for all the mothers who don’t.
What makes a good mother anyway? Is it patience? Compassion? Broad hips? The ability to nurse a baby, cook dinner, and sew a button on a shirt, all at the same time? Or is it heart? Is it the ache you feel when you watch your son or daughter disappear down the street, walking to school alone for the very first time?
The jolt that takes you from sleeping to dread, from bed to crib at 2 a.m. to put your hand on the back of a sleeping baby?
Is it the need to flee from wherever you are and hug your child when you hear news of a school shooting, a fire, a car accident, a baby dying?
I think so.
So this is for all the mothers who sat down with their children and explained all about making babies. And for all the mothers who wanted to but just couldn’t.
This is for reading “Goodnight, Moon” twice a night for a year. And then reading it again, “Just one more time”.
This is for all the mothers who mess up. Who yell at their kids in grocery store and swat them in despair and stomp their feet like a tired two year old who wants ice cream before dinner.
This is for all the mothers who taught their children to tie their shoelaces before they started to school and for all the mothers who opted for Velcro instead.
For all the mothers who bite their lips (sometimes until they bleed) when their 14 year olds dyed their hair green.
This is for all the mothers who lock themselves in the bathroom when babies keep crying and won’t stop.
This is for all mothers who show up at work with spit-up in their hair and milkstains on their blouses and diapers in their purse.
This is for mothers who teach their sons to cook and their daughters to sink a jump shot.
This is for all mothers whose heads turn automatically when a little voice calls “Mom?” in a crowd, even though they know their own offspring are at home or are grown.
This is for mothers who put pinwheels and teddy bears on their children’s graves.
This is for all the mothers whose children have gone astray and who can’t find words to reach them.
This is for all the mothers who sent their child to school with a stomach ache, assuring that they would be just FINE once they got there, only to get a call from the school nurse an hour later asking them to please pick them up right away.
This is for young mothers stumbling through diaper changes and sleep deprivation. And mature mothers learning to let go.
For working moms and stay-at-home moms. Single mothers and married mothers.
Mothers with money and mothers without.
This is for you, so hang in there. The world would be a terrible place without the love of mothers everywhere. You make it a more civil, caring and safe place for the precious children in our world.
I may have named a previous post by the same title, but I am not sure because I simply cannot remember as it seems like we’ve been playing this game forever. The crying game. Previously, it was just Liam who liked to play this game. Now it’s Liam AND Hannah. And we’re playing doubles – them versus us.
To be emphatically clear, I do not mind crying if you have been injured or if your feelings or ego have been bruised or if you are over tired and just plain down miserable because of it – this I can understand and relate to and FIX for you. But when you cry just BECAUSE… I can’t deal with that. Or rather, my way of dealing with it, will upset you even further to the point that you will be crying because of an injury… usually to your bottom, administered by my hand.
Liam and Hannah have taken to crying for EVERYTHING. Scan through this possible-reasons-that-will-bring-on-the-waterworks list, and please tell me if you think I am being too harsh here?
Liam finishes his juice. I ask him rather nicely to take his bottle to the sink. He doesn’t feel like it so he cries.
Hannah wants to sit on the couch. Alone. The big two seater? Yes, she wants it to herself. I, too, want to sit on the couch so I move over into the littlest corner, giving her enough space to stretch out as much as she likes. This is not good enough so she screams until I get off the couch. So the three of us must sit on the other couch, while she gets this particularly BIG couch to herself.
Liam wants to watch one DVD while Hannah wants to watch another. I explain that there’s only one DVD player, and that we must take turns. They BOTH screamwailgo 666 cry in protest.
Hannah wants to go for a ride in the car. We.are.not going.anywhere. We are at home, no one is going in the car and petrol is too expensive to be handing out rides for nothing. She stands by the door with the keys in her hand and cries and cries… and cries.
Liam starts to cry when I say no. No to him touching something he shouldn’t, no to him putting something dangerous in his mouth, no to him playing outside in the rain. This sends him off. When Liam starts to cry, Hannah starts to cry too. And when you have two small children chorusing together, you have to have nerves of steel not to snap.
I am pretty good at zoning out and turning the crying noise off in my head, but it’s gotten to a stage where it isn’t even about the noise, it’s about making them understand that this is not on. That no problem was ever solved by people crying around a boardroom table – that’s just not how the world works. Ignoring the crying doesn’t help either, they simply tone it up if you are ignoring them. Have you seen that YouTube clip where the crying child actually follows the parent around the house to show them a point? It was funny when it wasn’t my child. Yes, that’s my house now. And Scouts Honour, they can cry for up to 45 minutes at a time. I know because we have timed them; crying for 45 minutes for no good reason – can you IMAGINE!
So this weekend, at the end of his tether, my husband yelled a profanity when they just wouldn’t stop. I wasn’t in the room, but when I got back there was absolute silence and as soon as Liam saw me he piped up “Daddy said a bad word!” I didn’t want to rock the boat just then. I told them that they made us very mad when they cried for no reason and now Daddy was very cross and it was THEIR fault that he had said a bad word (talk about shifting the blame). They were very remorseful and full of apologies and behaved like perfect angels for the rest of the day. Later that night, while tucking Liam in, I asked him what Daddy had said. After having to explain about 37 times that it was fine for him to say it THIS time because Mommy was asking him to say it, and no I wouldn’t be cross if he said it THIS time because it was a different situation (yes, it was a crazy explanation like that), he eventually told me that Daddy screamed “SHUT UP” very loud! I used the opportunity again, to explain to him that crying for nothing isn’t very nice and that we didn’t like it one bit. My speech didn’t work because the very next morning we had a no-reason-crying-episode.
But yes, this is where we are at. It is driving my husband and I crazy. They aren’t crying because a need hasn’t been met, they are crying just because! I have tried everything; I have threatened them with their lives, I have even threatened them with MY life, nothing works. I’ve tried the art of distraction, I’ve tried ignoring, I’ve even tried crying louder than them – N.O.T.H.I.N.G W.O.R.K.S
I accept defeat, I admit that I suck at fixing this problem. Please give me advice, please help me/us out, I promise not to cry.
Oh and look, I have blogged about this before. Right over here. Last year on the 19th July! Do you see how long we’ve been enduring this torture!
Every so often, a friend of mine sends me a copy of Rod Smith’s “You and I” column as seen in The Mercury newspaper. He is a family therapist in America and I find his views insightful and so true. He hits the nail on the head and this week’s column was no different.
He wrote an article on how we as parents are doing our children a disservice by making them the centre of our universes. Of course, he received a lot of flack for it – we mothers take these sort of comments seriously! Do you think we give up our lives, sacrifice our time, money and sleep because we want to? We do it so as to provide the best for our children of course! So when a man someone comes along and says that by so doing, we are creating monsters, it’s offensive!
Alas! The simple truth is that Rod is right. I read this article a few times; at first I thought he was being a bit brutal. I mean every mother (in her right mind) wants to over provide, rather than under provide for her children, right? Every mom wants to meet her child’s every need, and sometimes that means sacrificing a lot of yourself and your needs so that your child wants for nothing. Having a child means that your social life gets put on the back burner and instead, you spend your time at kiddies parties and school meetings. And your free time is no longer spent reading a book, but sowing name labels on little clothes and washing and sterilising bottles. We don’t do it selfishly, but rather selflessly… for our kids. Right?
But then I realised where he was going with this. And then I started to think about that show on TLC, World’s Worst Mom and then I thought about how I freak out if my kids get hurt (freaking out should be reserved for blood or big lumps only) or how I jump to help them if they are in a sticky situation – like Liam not being able to pull his underpants up properly after being on the toilet and Hannah not being able to thread the string through the hole in the cubes with her threading toys. By constantly jumping to their aid, I think we are prohibiting them from learning and understanding the bigger life lesson. And it’s a number of lessons that you could be teaching in such a situation:
Slow and steady wins the race – let them learn and understand that not everything is easy but that practice does eventually make perfect.
It’s ok not to be the winner, as long as you have tried your best.
It’s ok to be frustrated, but freaking out when you don’t get your own way or you can’t reach the toothpaste or you can’t put the CD into the DVD properly, is not cool and doesn’t help the situation.
And most importantly. Mommy loves you, but I want you to LEARN to do these things for yourself. Because quite frankly, I am not going to be around forever, and I need to equip you to DO life.
And I think children love the independence of being able to do things for themselves. And by constantly butting in and doing things for them, we are giving them less credit than they deserve. And I get Rod’s point, I have seen children whose parents do everything for them, who fuss and fret over them, and who treat their kids like demi-gods. I’m not judging (ok I am), but these kids are plain down BRATS. There I said it. In today’s society the parent / child role has become so distorted. In trying to be the best parent, and over compensating for other areas of lack like time or money, we are creating little monsters. I am a helicopter-parent, no doubt, but I’m taking this as a wakeup call; tough love isn’t a bad thing. And I don’t mean tough love as in boot-camping your kids, I mean letting them do age appropriate things for themselves, letting them make mistakes, letting them battle things out before jumping in and saving the day. Teaching them that mommy and daddy have lives outside of them, that staying at home with the nanny so the big people can go out and let their hair down is necessary, and that the TV is not only for them and Disney Junior, and if mommy and daddy want to watch something else, you must obey and go play outside without throwing a hissy fit (I bought a TV for them, instead of teaching them this lesson– what a sellout, but I’m working on it).
So Rod, kudos to you. You are right, it is a travesty to watch parents scurry around their children and jump at their every demand. And it’s embarrassing. I know this because even in a two year old “normal” toddler rage, when Liam and Hannah go 666 on me in public, I am embarrassed by my children’s behaviour and feel like a complete loser when I sheepishly give into them to shut them up. So if you are allowing your kids to rule the roost on the regular, they WILL embarrass you one day, and truth be told, it will be your own fault. Read Rod’s article for yourself, below.
On Friday night Liam and I went to church, while Hannah and Daddy stayed home. Church was awesome, Pastor Wilma shared on “the gift that keeps on giving” and how special it is to give meaningful gifts and gifts that will bless the receiver not only once, but over and over again. A simple example being a pot plant that will bloom over and over again if well looked after, as compared to a bunch of flowers (not that there’s anything wrong with getting a beautiful bunch of flowers of course!). Jesus was a gift from God – a gift that keeps on giving, as more and more people come to know him every day, even over two thousand years later. We each received a stunning black shopper, with the Sisters logo emblazoned on it. That night, as I tucked Liam into bed, he grabbed my cheeks in his hands and said “tomorrow, you are going to buy me a dog, ok goodnight mommy.” I’m not sure where that came from, as we hadn’t been discussing dogs or pets or anything related, and the complete conviction with which he said it, made me burst out laughing. I explained, as I had explained a million times before, that we’d only get a dog once we moved to our new house. He was ok with that and went to bed.
On Saturday, everyone slept until the sun came out, which is pretty late considering that the winter sun has started to rise much later these days. We hurried to get the family dressed and fed because I wanted to be first in line for the clinic at Dischem. Hannah needed her second flu shot, Liam needed his first and I needed my “baby-prohibiting-shot.” While on the topic of the flu injection… Hannah has yet to have a runny nose, a cough, or any other cold/flu like symptoms, even though Liam has come home with his second mild cold this season – Hannah usually catches every bug that bites Liam at school. Now I am not willing to say that the flu jab works just yet, as I’ll leave that judgement for the end of the winter season, but the first few signs are promising. I am just mad that Liam missed the first dose because he was on antibiotics at the time, and this has set him back a bit. Liam cried like a girl, while Hannah was yelling “solly(sorry) Liam!” And then I did what any mother would do when their kid is causing a scene in a shop, I took them to the kids aisle and let them go wild, because of course it’s easy to cave and just buy them something, rather than trying to shut them up in the shop. We left with Barney face cloths, Barney bubble baths, shampoos and body washes. When the hubby tried to give me a lecture about giving into the children every time they make a peep, I plugged my fingers into my ears and started singing loudly to drown him out – I am not stupid, of course I KNOW that, but sometimes we do what works, not what’s right.We spent the rest of the afternoon, trying to get some winter shopping done for the kids. That experience deserves a blog post all on its own. We took them to the park for an hour to let off some steam, an hour I spent swinging on the swing. I wouldn’t even get off for the little kids who were waiting for a turn. I made Liam jump off every time a little kid appeared to be waiting. It was good fun. The hubby made a delicious dinner of stuffed chicken, baby potatoes and a mushroom sauce with ciabatta bread on the side. Carbs, glorious carbs! We tossed a coin to decide on who got to do the bath and bed routine – I won. So I spent Saturday night watching two movies, one being City of Angels, remember that movie? Still makes me sad!
On Sunday we went to church and onto Papachinos for lunch. I’m not sure what was better, the bacon and cheese nachos followed by my seafood pasta, or not seeing my kids for close on 3 hours except for the odd check in for a bite of pizza or a sip of juice. Seriously, I have developed this deep emotional attachment to Papachinos, so much so that I want to make a monthly booking in advance for the last Sunday of every month, because they get so busy and unless you have a reservation, you can wait up to an hour to get a table. This way, I’ll know I have a standing date with Papa’s. We got home and I had a nap while the kids played outside and the hubby assumed his favourite position for a Sunday afternoon – in front of the TV watching the English Premier League. My mom arrived this morning, so I spent some time changing the linen, making space in the cupboard for her clothing, spraying my fabulous room spray from the African Pride Hotel group (thanks to our wonderful rep who always drops off these special goodies for us!). Last night I washed Hannah’s hair with my fabulous new products which I received last week (I need to blog about this too) and everyone was in bed early after a full and busy weekend.
The next few weeks are going to be awesome! My mom is here, my sister and her family arrive next week, as does my dad. I’ve taken some time off work during the Easter break and I can’t wait to unwrap the red ribbon and gold bell off my Lindt bunny. Happy Monday, ya’ll. xxx
When your kids are still babies, and you are in the throes of breastfeeding, diaper changing and burping, one gives very little thought to what lies ahead. Things like education, extra mural activities, holidays, exercising your child’s potential on and off the sports field – you don’t really think about these issues when you’re low on sleep and high on love for your little baby. Yes, you may have a policy here or there which will mature in 15 years, giving your little cherub about 6 months worth of good schooling, but you don’t really consider the implications of having this baby, beyond the expense of a cot, a pram and milk and diapers for the next two to three years. Because I had no intention of sending Liam to a school where he needed to be on the waiting list pretty much from the day after he was conceived, I didn’t worry too much about “big” school. However, now that he goes to pre-school, I am exposed to other parents who have registered their kids at such schools, parents whose children (3 year olds) are involved in a different extra mural activity everyday to “expose” their kids and to “understand and develop” a future South African rugby player or footballer. This got me thinking about the cost (physical and emotional) attached to raising a child.
I’ve always been of the mindset that I’d like my children to attend a public / government school. Everyone usually gasps in shock and horror when I say that. But the truth is, I want my children to be surrounded by the common people, the plebeians! People who are the same as we are. I want them to be aware of the world as it is. Private school would create a false idea of my children’s world. Because our world is unfortunately not skiing holidays in the Alps, or Mini Coopers for their 16th birthdays or a wardrobe full of Gap, La Coste and other preppy labels. As much as I would love this for myself and my kids, it’s not our reality. And even if I won the Lotto tomorrow (because as it stands, I couldn’t afford private schooling anyway), I’m not sure that I would swop our reality for that reality anyway. This said, I want my kids to go to a school where teachers are dedicated, in my opinion whether you’re at a public or a private school – it’s the mettle of the teacher that really counts. I’d like them to attend a school where life skills are as important as algebra. I want them to be proud of their Alma Mater, not because of the number of lawyers or doctors who passed through the school, but because they were groomed to be high standing citizens who value the privilege of a good education.
Education is expensive, but I think the real cost comes from the time, effort and dedication that you, as the parent, devote to ensuring that your child is getting the best education, no matter what educational establishment you enrol them in. I believe that by getting involved at cake sales and other fundraising events, by getting to know your children’s teachers, by attending parent/teacher evenings and checking homework every night – YOU are already setting the foundation for your child to get a great education. Even now, I think I may be the thorn in Liam’s teacher’s side, but in order for Liam to reach his potential, she has to teach well, as I have to parent well – so all of us have to pull together. I know the schooling years are the toughest and most gruelling years (the baby years have nothing on it) for both the child and the parent and the cost attached to this phase often goes way beyond your pocket and your heart can stand. I want my kids to go out there and be awesome. Whether it’s in the classroom or on the sports field, whether they suck at maths and prefer home economics (is that still a subject?) or they battle with spelling, I want them to enjoy (for the most part) their schooling years. I want to choose a school where they are pushed to their limits in order to achieve the best results that they can, and be the best person they can be. Yes, I want them to play sports, because activity of the body is as important as activity of the mind, but I don’t need them to be the next Hansie or Bennie. Yes, I would love them to go to university, get degrees and be head hunted for wonderful careers, but if they prefer to go back packing through Europe, then I’m ok with that too. My point is that the education you give your children, in my opinion, has very little to do with the school fees you are paying. You may disagree, but I’m more concerned with finding the right teachers under the right leadership in a well rounded school, than a school who can boast of an in house stable filled with award winning horses.
In terms of extra mural activities – the list is endless. Your child can learn to play a musical instrument or play a sport. They can join Monkeynastix or Playball or KiddiesChef. Go on and Google it, this doesn’t even scratch the surface of the extra mural list, and the more I investigate options for my children, the more nervous I become. Yes, I want my children to have equal opportunities to all things fun. Yes, I want my children to develop their hand / eye coordination and their balance and their left and right brain. Yes, I want to give them the opportunity to perhaps be really good at playing the piano or doing ballet. But where do you draw the line? Besides the expense of enrolling your child in extra mural activities, what about the physical demand on this little person to be on the go all day, every day, flitting from one activity to the next. What happened to just kicking a ball in the back yard and playing hide and go seek with the other kids in the complex. Surely the lessons you learn in the play ground are the same as the ones you learn in an air conditioned indoor soccer Astroturf building? I am pretty sure about what sort of school I want to send my kids to, but when it comes to extra mural, I am stumped. I do believe swimming is critical, firstly and most importantly for safety, and thereafter for fun and enjoyment. But after that? I’m not really sure. And I most certainly do not have the time or financial resource to enrol both of them in EVERYTHING. My husband and I agreed we’d see which way their interest swayed and make a decision from there. But they BOTH love arts and crafts, they BOTH love to mess in the kitchen, they BOTH love playing outside, they BOTH love swimming, they BOTH love dancing whenever a beat comes on – I like to think of them as the perfect all rounders. Ha! So what we have decided to do is let them enjoy a different activity per school term or for as long as that activity cycle runs. Then the next time, they can try something else. And unless we see an innate desire or talent, we’ll move onto the next activity. This may or may not be good, after all without perseverance or persistent training, how do you ever become good at something, but I think this is the route we’ll go, simply until something gives.
So while you may think that life cannot get any worse, when you are up in the middle of the night with a colic-y baby or you are changing the 10th diaper in as many hours, I do believe that the hard part is yet to come. The little taste I’ve had of the schooling system, has left me feeling very overwhelmed and even a little intimidated. We all want the best for our kids, no doubt, but the trick is to give them the best, with the resources you have, while still making them feel like they are missing out on nothing!
And THIS my friends, is why they say parenting is not for sissies!
After a few minor hiccups – which were totally expected considering the excited frenzy which was created by the launching of Naartjie online shopping – I finally got my shop on! The site is user friendly and easy to navigate, well laid out and uncomplicated – so simple that your kid could probably shop for themselves (hide your credit card). The FAQ section is very helpful and just about covered every possible question I could think of. The payment page, hosted by PayFast, was fast and efficient.
This beats going to the shops any day!
And of course, the winter range is to die for, or at least to cuddle for!! Here are a few items I picked up for my love-bugs, cute hey?
Can’t wait for my purchases to arrive! What are you waiting for? Get online, register and get shopping!!
I received this in an email the other day, and it really resonated with me… trust it will touch you too xx
Too many people put off something that brings them joy just because they haven’t thought about it, don’t have it on their schedule, didn’t know it was coming or are too rigid to depart from their routine.
I got to thinking one day about all those people on the Titanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to cut back. From then on, I’ve tried to be a little more flexible.
How many women out there will eat at home because their husband didn’t suggest going out to dinner until after something had been thawed? Does the word ‘refrigeration’ mean nothing to you?
I cannot count the times I called my sister and said , ‘How about going to lunch in a half hour?’ She would gas up and stammer, ‘I can’t. I have clothes on the line.. My hair is dirty. I wish I had known yesterday, I had a late breakfast, It looks like rain’ And my personal favorite: ‘It’s Monday.’ She died a few years ago. We never did have lunch together.
Because people cram so much into their lives, we tend to schedule our headaches. We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves when all the conditions are perfect!
We’ll go back and visit the grandparents when we get Steve toilet-trained. We’ll entertain when we replace the living-room carpet. We’ll go on a second honeymoon when we get two more kids out of college.
Life has a way of accelerating as we get older. The days get shorter, and the list of promises to ourselves gets longer. One morning, we awaken, and all we have to show for our lives is a litany of ‘I’m going to,’ ‘I plan on,’ and ‘Someday, when things are settled down a bit.’
When anyone calls my ‘seize the moment’ friend, she is open to adventure and available for trips. She keeps an open mind on new ideas. Her enthusiasm for life is contagious. You talk with her for five minutes, and you’re ready to trade your bad feet for a pair of Rollerblades and skip an elevator for a bungee cord.
My lips have not touched ice cream in 10 years. I love ice cream. It’s just that I might as well apply it directly to my stomach with a spatula and eliminate the digestive process. The other day, I stopped the car and bought a triple-decker. If my car had hit an iceberg on the way home, I would have died happy.
Now…go on and have a nice day. Do something you WANT to…not something on your SHOULD DO list. If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?
Think about it…
Have you ever watched kids playing on a merry go round or listened to the rain lapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
Do you run through each day on the fly? When you ask ‘How are you?’
Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done, do you lie in your bed with the next hundred chores running through your head?
Ever told your child, ‘We’ll do it tomorrow’ and in your haste, not see her sorrow?
Ever lost touch? Let a good friendship die? Just call to say ‘Hi’?
When you worry and hurry through your day, it is like an unopened gift … thrown away.
Life is not a race, take it slower. Hear the music before the song is over.
Zoleka lives with us. She has a lovely little room, just off the garage, which has built in cupboards, a shower and a toilet. She has room for her kettle, her radio and all her other belongings and she is content. I think. When we get home from work, after a brief chat and catch up, Zoleka retires to her room and we don’t see her until the morning. On occasion she watches the kids, if we have an evening engagement or if we need to work late, but I’ve always felt bad to leave her with both of them at night time because they require quite a bit of individual attention (they don’t require it, but I like to give it to them) and we’ve always followed a set bedtime routine, and my MG (mother’s guilt) won’t allow me to loosen the reins on our habitual practice. Fast forward to last night.
The hubby sent me a message at about 2pm yesterday afternoon, inviting me on a date for that evening (yes, text messaging is still our top form of communication, even when we’re under the same roof but in different rooms – crazy hey?). I got on the line with the first number in my speed dial directory – Zoleka. I told her that we would still bath and feed them and all she needed to do was put them down and hang around in the house, until we got home. I think I sounded slightly hysterical and kept apologising and all she kept saying was “fine mam, fine mam.” On the way home, I kept explaining to Liam that Mommy and Daddy were going “out” and that Zoleka would be looking after them, and that he needed to be a good boy especially when Zoleka was putting Hannah down to sleep, and I told him that he could watch TV in Mommy’s bed until Zoleka was done with Hannah and that if Zoleka reported that he was REALLY good, I’d get him a treat. My husband was rolling his eyes and sighing deeply as I went through this whole theatrical performance with Liam. He thinks I get hysterical every time I need to leave the kids anywhere and I think Liam agrees with him because he was utterly bored as I explained what the night would hold. When I was done, he started his 20 questions: where were we going, what were we going to do there, what time would we be back, what was Zoleka going to give him for supper, what TV programme could he watch, could he get under the covers on our bed, who was going to brush his teeth and on it went. When he was satisfied he said “ok” and smiled at me and went back to sucking his thumb. We got home, bathed and fed them, and left them propped on the couch as I once again began to explain that we were leaving. My husband was flapping his arms and telling me to just get into the car. I was expecting tears, but nothing. I was at least expecting them to follow me to the door, nothing. They waved me off like an irritating fly, as they sat glued to Mickey Mouse yelling “oh Tooooodles.”
It’s not the first time we’ve left the kids, but usually I will at least put Hannah down before we leave, so that Zoleka can focus solely on one child and keep as much to the routine as possible – for the sake of the child, not her. After three years, you’d think my panic would have eased off, but I find that the older Liam gets, the more I need to explain things to him, and I guess it’s more HIS questions – which he really asks more out of curiosity, than out of his concern for his and Hannah’s safety, that get me into a tizz. When he asks things like “who will kiss me good night” or “who will close my window” or “will you be back when it’s dark-dark-dark outside” I just want to cancel all my plans and tell him that Mama is here and she will do alllll those things for him. Bless!
Anyway, we went off and had a grand time! It’s amazing how out of touch you become, we caught up on each other’s lives, we synced our calendars for the upcoming month (I know, I know, its crazy!) and we just enjoyed each other’s company without having to smack little fingers for soaking the linen serviette in their glass of juice, or chasing a kid around the restaurant or removing all the cutlery from the table lest Hannah stabs Liam or herself. Really, it was great.
So back to my opening paragraph. When we got home, everyone was sound asleep. Zoleka gave me a lengthy speech about how the boss and I (yes, that’s what she calls the husband) need to go out more often in the week, and that she doesn’t mind putting the kids down because it’s so easy, and they are so good and she doesn’t do anything really in a her room at night, so she doesn’t mind sitting in the house. PLUS she doesn’t have a TV in her room (I felt a strong hint at this point) and at least she gets to watch the news and her programmes once the kids are in bed. After that speech, I thanked her and we parted ways; she to her room, and me to check on my babies who were sleeping peacefully.
This morning I asked Liam if he had had a good time with Zoleka and Hannah last night. He was nonplussed, and I took this to mean that it went ok. Believe me, Liam would have sung like a bird if he had had any issues. On the way to work, I announced to my husband that I think the kids are growing and possibly do not need me as much as they used to. I acknowledged that the routine, although a great way to interact and spend time with the kids, was no longer Law, and we could deviate from it now and again, without much upset from the kids. And having received Zoleka’s consent to go out and let our hair down more often, I declared that date night should become a more regular occurrence, in fact, date night should become part of the routine. After he had recovered from the shock of my statement and steered the car to safety, he looked at me with a look that could have said “wow, you are growing up” but I can’t be sure if that’s what he meant.
So that’s another apron string that I slowly unwind. With every milestone reached, I do get that bittersweet tug that reminds me that my babies are growing and that soon they won’t fit into my lap. But I must admit that with each milestone comes some relief that MY life is starting to be more normal, and less crazy. Look at me, getting my groove back! … And it feels so good!
I’d like to compare the taking down of Hannah’s cot, to the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, but I do believe that that would be insensitive for many reasons. So I won’t. But what I will say is that the emotion we I felt as I disassembled her cot, was almost the same. Not quite, but that’s the comparison I’m using so humour me please.
We had been talking about it for a while. Hannah had been sleeping in the double bed in her room for the last two months or so, so it wasn’t like her cot had any use or that she needed to be “weaned” from it. Zoleka would still put her down in her cot for her day time naps but that too was more due to habit than necessity. I also felt that Hannah was restricted in her cot; she is a wild sleeper, and I wanted to give her room to thrash out in her sleep if she wanted to.
The reason we didn’t do it sooner, is because it’s a BIG deal and I wanted to give the ceremony all the pomp and glory it deserved. Taking down the cot – for mother and child – is a momentous occasion. Any mother will tell you that. Any mother can attest to the fact that the coming down of the cot, is a major milestone in the life of her little bunny. The move from cot to bed almost always signals the move from baby to big girl or boy. We even speak to our children in that vein: “wow, you’re a big girl now! you sleep in a big girl’s bed!” I know my hesitation was because I knew this was probably, and most likely, and almost definitely, the last cot I would take down. Ever. There are no more babies. I won’t have to fight with my husband, as I tower over him with a huge belly, shaking the directions in his face as he battles to put it together (and we have camp cots, they aren’t that difficult to assemble), I won’t ever stare in wonder at the empty cot, all decked out in new fresh linen, with cuddly toys planted in the corner, as I wait for the pink squishy baby to be born. Or stand over my baby’s cot, winding a mobile to shush her to sleep. For me, that cot symbolises my pregnancy, my birth experience, MY BRAND NEW LITTLE PUDDING who used to look lost in that big open space of frilly linen; it represents sleepless nights when the cot stood empty because I paced with a restless baby in my arms sometimes from dusk until dawn. The cot reminds me of how HARD it all was, but also how quickly it has all come to an end and how rewarding it all was and how accomplished I feel for making it through ALIVE, and the kids are still alive too (!!) … the baby-baby days are over. I kick myself every time I use this corny sentence but it’s true: they grow so fast!
So for me, it was more a case of saying good bye to one of the best things I’ve done in my life: raise babies into toddlers. It may seem small, insignificant and silly – I mean it’s only been three years – I can hardly call myself an accomplished mother, I’m still new at this actually, but I do believe that these three years have probably being the most difficult, the most heart wrenching, the most rewarding, the most AMAZING years of my life. To conceive in itself, is a miracle, people brush off too easily how intricate and complex and remarkable it is to actually conceive a baby. To carry this baby in your womb for 9 months and to bring him or her to birth. To watch this pink ball of love-mush grow and develop into a walking, talking being with a personality to boot, and, as a mother, to be super instrumental in that WHOLE process – come on, that’s bloody miraculous! I think the move from babyhood to toddlerhood, is as significant, if not more so, than any other stage in development. To think that in two short years your ball of mush learns to eat, walk, talk, feels emotions like love, sadness, hurt and pain, knows faces and voices – there’s not that level of growth in such a short time span, for the rest of their lives. The growth which takes place in these two years (two being the general age that your child will be labelled as a toddler and no longer a baby) is astounding. So when they reach this age and you look back and marvel at how far they and you have come, it does make one emotional! And for me, the cot is symbolical of ALL of this! So I trust you now understand just how big a deal the taking down of my last born’s cot was for me. Not so much for her, but definitely for me.
Hannah has handled the move from cot to bed, with such ease; she really is a super star. She giggles when I ask her where her cot is and tells me “cot gone” and swipes her chubby arms from side to side to indicate “no more.” She loves that she is able to get off the bed and waddle over to us in the mornings, without having to yell for someone to take her out of the cot. She loves to jump-jump-sugar-lump on the big bed, and most importantly she loves that she is one step closer to being more like her brother. Big girl and boy! The room looks a bit bare without the cot, so I’ll have to find something cute to fill that spot – because less is never more with me. In fact, Hannah’s room doesn’t look anything like a little girl’s room because it also serves as a guest room when we have visitors. So perhaps I’ll use this as an opportunity to girly-up her room a bit – but not too much because we have to be out of this house by August, remember.
So that’s a wrap folks! Cots, prams, feeding chairs, walking rings, Bumbos, bouncy chairs – ALL GONE. My toddlers are toddling along, and my baby checklist is fast reaching completion. Next stop: Operation bye-bye botty. Watch this space.