Tag Archives: milestone

Date Night


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!

Operation: Bye Bye Cot


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.

 

Liam in his cot
Hannah in her cot
Get me out of here!

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!