Tag Archives: milestones

Hannah can tie her laces. Brag post. Look away.

Ok serious brag post coming up. If listening to others brag makes you queasy, as it does me, then look away NOW.

But hell, I have to say SOMETHING. And besides, I have to say nice things about the kids here and there because when they read this one day, it can’t ALL be about how HARD parenting was and how sucky they were as kids sometimes. So here goes…

Because I am not a mother who compares her two children. Me? No! Never… I went back on my blog to see when Liam learned to tie his shoe laces. It was on the 16th July last year. That would have made him 4 years and 4 months. And let me tell you, I thought THAT was bloody awesome. I thought he was a wonderboy for doing that.

So this morning we’re on the way to school after a SERIOUS meltdown of epic proportions over wardrobe issues (Hannah). To give you some background.. every evening the  kids choose their OWN clothes for the following day. Liam pulls out the first thing he sees, puts it out and moves onto the next thing. Hannah spends about 15 minutes deciding what to wear, then changes her mind, then changes her mind again, then goes back to the original outfit. So you can see she puts a lot of thought and effort into this. Her new favourite thing to do is to wear Liam’s hand-me-downs – every other day I’m throwing things out his wardrobe and adding it to the pile for The Grace Factory because he has outgrown stuff, and she’ll go through the pile and decide what she wants to keep. Now there are some items that this can work for, but because she is a girl and he is a boy (hello) there are some items of clothing that she CAN’T take over. Like big baggy boy jeans. And please, before you judge, I let her wear whatever, whenever, I don’t force her to wear dresses and the like, I’m pretty chilled about what she wears. But boy jeans that hang slightly off the butt, low slung with patches and seams – which look WAAAY cool on Liam, just don’t fit her nicely. She looks weird in them. Seriously. Anyway, after choosing her outfit last night, THIS MORNING she changes her mind and wants to wear these jeans of Liam’s. First of all, I was annoyed that she was making changes at the 11th hour. I DO NOT ALLOW morning changes, you made your choice last night now live with it because we are going to be LATE. Secondly, I didn’t like those jeans for her at all. Oh she CRIED. BITTERLY. I shouted. A LOT.

Anyway. There’s nothing else to say. She won. She wore the jeans. But we were both really pissed off with each other.

Right. So the ride in wasn’t exactly happiness and sunshine. Everyone was rather subdued and she pipes up from the backseat. Mama, I can tie my shoelaces. And because I have never ever shown her how, it’s not even come up yet, Liam or I just tie her laces for her, I didn’t take her seriously at all. I’m all like “yeh, yeh, that’s great, wonderful, whatever.” We get to school and we’re early, so she hops into the front seat and she says look, I can tie my laces! So I’m like OK, show me. And she DOES! I was like WHAT! WOW! WHO TAUGHT YOU THAT! THAT’S AMAZING! WHAT A GENIUS! WONDERGIRL! WOW! And she’s like “yeh, no big deal, I taught myself.” Ok, she didn’t say that, but the look on her face was one of nonchalance… like it was the most normal thing to do in the WORLD. And she did say she taught herself. So I took photos, made a video, posted online (but of course) made her do it like 548 times and then we went into school. I rush into the class and I yell “TEACHER DONNA, TEACHER VIRGINA, HANNAH CAN TIE HER SHOELACE! SHE’S A GENIUS!” And they look at me like, “yeh, we know, calm down.” And I say, WHAT, YOU GUYS KNEW  AND YOU DIDN’T TELL ME?!!! So apparently she’s been doing it for a few weeks now, along with a few other kids in the class (so she isn’t a genius after all). But still, THREE YEARS OLD AND TYING LACES? I think that’s bloody marvelous? Her little fingers are nimble, maybe I should sign her up for piano… or… sewing… ah, or picking out bad potatoes on a production line?

Whatevs, she’s a child genius. Love this child.

ps: check the jeans rolled up… arrgghh.

shoe 1

shoe 2

shoe 3

Milestone smashing over here…

When your child is little, every milestone is documented, photographed, and plastered across every social network. Us moms are proud like that. As they get older the milestones become fewer and further between… or so we think. While the obvious milestones of crawling, walking and learning to talk are most definitely amazing, I’ve come to realise that as your toddler transforms into big kid, there are BIG milestones which are as amazing and as exciting…

Liam reached two very big milestones recently which have brought him (and us) much jubilation! I think the best part about these two milestones is that he has been trying really hard and for a very long time to get them right. So for him, this is a big deal. A really big deal.

For the longest time he has wanted to whistle. He and Hannah would practice their whistling constantly, blowing big puffs of silent air day and night. It was hilarious, until it became frustrating for Liam. Hannah would get bored and move on, but Liam reaaaaallllyy wanted to get it right. I would show him how to round his lips and try to explain how it works, but he just couldn’t do it. About a month ago we were on the way home from school and as usual he was practicing his whistling in the back seat, when he let out the softest little whistle. He was stunned! Hannah and I were like “HEEEEYYYY, YOU WHISTLED!!” Of course he couldn’t do it again because he was so giggly and couldn’t get his lips together! Since then his whistling has improved in leaps and bounds, he can even whistle a false tune now. What an amazing feat! He is proud as punch, he thinks whistling is the bizzness, he even Skypes his granny to show her how he can whistle.

For the ease and simplicity of getting dressed, I have always tried to buy Velcro shoes as much as possible and only opted for lace ups because they were cute or because they were a gift. This year I started buying lace ups for Liam because I figured it was time to start learning how to tie. Again on the way home from school yesterday, he successfully tied his shoelace for the first time. We have been practicing the tying of shoelaces for quite a while and both he and I were just frustrated with the whole thing and I’d actually just taken a break from it because he just wasn’t getting it and my patience levels were not coping. I know, I know, I need help. But he’d still keep trying, sitting on his bed with his tongue poking out of his mouth deep in concentration, desperately trying to twist the “bunny ears” into a knot. And then yesterday he gave me the fright of my life in the car; I was driving them home from school and he yelled “LOOK” in that voice that is almost hysterical and I thought something was wrong. Turns out he tied his shoelace 🙂 I’m not saying it was a fluke because I don’t want to take this away from him, and he does get it right every few times, but we’re still at the stage where he gets it right sometimes, and then his fingers get all rubbery and he can’t get it right again – much to his frustration. I’ll give him a few days more and kid will be tying laces with his eyes closed, no doubt!

Liam has smashed two milestones that will probably make no real difference to his life… whistling and tying a lace… no big deal, right? People do not win awards for whistling and if you can’t tie a lace, wear Velcro and don’t join the Boy Scouts, that’s all. But for me, these milestones are amazing. My son continues to blow my mind with the incredible things he learns to do every day. I laud and celebrate the wonder that is you, my most marvelous boy child, Liam John.  Xxx

Second Child Syndrome

So Hannah decided for herself that she doesn’t want to wear nappies anymore. We didn’t talk about it, she just ripped her diaper off in the yard on Monday and went bare-bums. I took her lead and put a big girl brookie on her and she stayed that way all day. I took her to the toilet every hour or so and she made a wee successfully. No accidents all day. I told Zoleka that we should just go with it, and keep the panty on during the day. And that’s where we are. There have been a few accidents, but that’s to be expected. But the real reason for this post is to talk about how second children just seem to “get it” so much quicker and easier than first borns. I know they have the best example in their older sibling, but even besides that, my second child has proved completely different and easier than my first. Maybe it’s because I am not as crazy as I was with Liam, maybe it’s because I don’t have time to dote on Hannah solely and my time is always split so she takes it upon herself to do things? Maybe God makes it this way so that mothers don’t completely lose their MINDS while raising two or more kids? I don’t know. But Hannah is like this breath of fresh air who really makes parenting a breeze. Ok not a breeze. Just easier.

So far, I have had very little to do with any of Hannah’s milestones. She started doing most things of her own accord, without any coercion from me. So much so that I have very few home videos or photos of Hannah mastering anything! Besides the baby milestones of talking, walking, sleeping through the night, and the like (all of which she achieved much quicker than Liam), her other milestones just “happened.” One day I was feeding her, and the next she was feeding herself. One day I was rocking her to sleep, the next she was climbing into her big bed and putting herself to bed, one day she was wearing diapers and the next she wanted to wear panties. She is a very independent so-and-so and doesn’t need to be micro managed. I don’t think this has anything to do with my parenting style, I am the same parent to her, as I am to Liam, I just think it’s second child syndrome! She sees how her big brother does it and just falls into line, it is so simple for her which in turn makes it so simple for me.

Sometimes I feel sorry for her, because she doesn’t get that instant praise or validation for doing something AMAZING. Usually, our reaction is something like this:

Me: oh look, Hannah can do X

Dad: oh ok, when did she start doing that?

Me: I have no idea, must have been a while ago because she’s pretty good at it.

Dad: yeh, she’s smart innit?

Me: yeh totally.

Liam: Yay Hannah, good job!

Hannah: whatchu lookin at mama?

She knows her colours, she knows her animals, she is potty training herself, she goes to sleep on her own, and sleeps in a big bed by herself, she doesn’t have a bottle (although the dummy is glued to her mouth but I think SHE will tell me when she’s ready to give that up, and not the other way around), she feeds herself and happily so, even though my three year old still asks me to feed him occasionally, she is currently cutting her molars without much fuss, she hardly gets sick and she is one tough cookie. And I can take little to no credit for any of this. I mean who wouldn’t have more kids if they were all like this! She really is a pleasure, except when she is throwing tantrums and whining my ear off, but I guess that is age appropriate for any two year old – first born or not. I’ve chatted to many moms who say their second or third kids were totally different and easier.

Yes, it must be a mix of all the factors I mentioned in my opening paragraph, but I do think that second borns deserve a shout out and a high five, just for getting on with it and making their mothers’ lives so much easier, even though they had to wear hand-me-downs, got all their older siblings’ leftovers and nobody really noticed when they achieved anything major. HIGH FIVE TO YOU SECOND BORNS!

And just like that, it was over.

Up until last week, we were still putting Hannah to bed. By this I mean that we would lay with her on the bed, humming songs and patting her bottom, until she fell asleep. Then we’d slowly lift our big Heffalump bodies off the bed, hoping that the springs wouldn’t creak and wake the sleeping baby. We’d pry her cup out of her hand and remove Tigger from her grip and tiptoe out of her room. I hadn’t even given the idea much thought, or considered that she was getting big and no longer needed us to “put her to bed.” We were both happy to go with it and we just hadn’t had “that” discussion (like “that” discussion about giving up the night time bottle, or “that” discussion about potty training, or “that” discussion about sleep training – you know all the hard discussions that you know you need to have but just don’t have the energy to follow through on. Yeh that.)

So on our first night in our new house and anticipating the worst sort of night, what with a new environment for the kids, I tucked Liam in as usual and toddled over with Hannah to her room. My first thought was that I would not fit on her single bed which was against the wall on one side and half way against the compactum on the other, lest she fell off during the night. She was sleeping on a double bed prior to this, so we could fit comfortably then. My second thought was that I was just so exhausted from moving house that day, that I just wanted to shower and go to bed and I thought that if I laid my head on her pillow, I would never get up. So with that in mind, I tucked her in and excitedly confirmed how wonderful her new room was and how she was a big girl and how she was going to go to sleep in her new pretty bed. Then I switched the light off and left. I stood outside the door for about 30 seconds, and she was quiet. I bbm’d the husband to say he needed to keep an ear open for her and I got into the shower. When I got out, she was fast asleep. I was amazed. I put it down to exhaustion; they too had had a long day with the move.

The next two nights, we had visitors so she fell asleep on her dad’s lap the first night and on her gran’s lap the next. So last night, I tried it again, and voila she put herself to bed! Not even a moan or groan. In fact, it’s turned out to be so simple that I am suspicious! When we started this with Liam, it wasn’t exactly easy. He would call us back to tell us about his friend at school, or how he needed to make a wee, or how he was thirsty/hungry/scared – you name it, he had it. He would do ANYTHING to stall going to bed on his own. But this with Hannah? Too simple and too good to be true. I am waiting for her to jump out of bed and yell “SURPRISE – GOTCHA! Now come over here and lay your head on my pillow and pat my bum until my breathing regulates and I drift off to lala-land.”

Could it be that we’ve just successfully reached a milestone without one ounce of baby-drama? Come on, every.single.baby.milestone comes with some drama, doesn’t it? That this transition has happened so smoothly, and without me even initiating it, has me totally befuddled. I had to laugh, I’ve become so wary of my kids and how difficult everyday with them can be, that when it’s easy I immediately think there’s something fishy going on.

Anyway, one minute she was a baby, and then just like that it was over and she is a big girl. I now have an additional half and hour or so a day to do whatever I like. Alone. Do you know what I can do in half an hour? I can paint 20 nails, I can watch a show on TV, I can blog, I can lay in the bath. An extra 30 minutes in my day is like a gift, a special present that Hannah gave to me this week! Hooray! Long may the princess put herself to sleep, long may it last!

Letting go of the night time diaper

Liam’s been potty trained for almost a year now and I think it’s safe to say he has graduated to a PPP (professional pee-and-pooper), as we haven’t had an accident for as long as I can remember and other than still assisting him with a wipe and swipe after a poo, he has the whole thing down pat; he even understands that he doesn’t have to use the WHOLE bottle of liquid soap in order to make sure his hands are clean (that was becoming a problem). He still however wears a diaper to bed. This doesn’t faze me at all. Hell, if he wanted to he could wear his night time diaper until he was 20 years old for all I care, although I don’t think his wife would like that very much. His night time diaper doesn’t bother him or I, but of course he is a growing boy who needs to outgrow baby things. So here goes another milestone we have to hurdle over. Sigh.

There are mornings where he wakes up dry, and other mornings where he wakes up wet. This has nothing to do with how much he drinks or pees before bed time. Every night, his last drink is at 6h00pm with his supper, and even this, is a quarter cup of whatever liquid he chooses.. juice, water, milk or Milo. I can’t not offer him something to drink after he has eaten his dinner, and even on the odd occasion when he says he is thirsty after this time, I limit him to a few sips of water. He has his last pee just before jumping into bed. If he does make a wee, I know it’s not a big wee, because he is wearing the cheapest, most bottom-of-the-line diapers (no names mentioned) to bed and we’ve never had a leak – so I know he’s not like a hose pipe at night, but rather like a little watering can… just a little tinkle 🙂

So does this mean I have to wake him up in the middle of the night to empty his bladder? I get up to make a wee almost every night, so is this what we need to train our children to do? Then do I assume he will eventually wake himself up and go to the loo himself? Because I most definitely am not giving up my full night’s sleep to escort His Royal Highness to the toilet every night. Is that how it works? I mean we have just trained the children to sleep through the night, now I want to wake him up to make a wee? Or is the solution to not make your kid get up at all and to train their bladders not to pee for almost 9 hours? Painful if you ask me? Anyone else been through weaning a kid off their night time diaper? Or even if you haven’t, do you have any ideas on how to do it?

In the mean time, I guess I should get a good mattress protector hey.

What you’re getting up to these days…

This is one of those posts where I jot down a few of the more memorable things my babies are doing, firstly for us to look back on and laugh at and secondly to give me an aide memoire about how amazingly special and lovable they are. Our lives are always so crazy that sometimes I forget to just soak you in, and then you do something that just stops me in my tracks and reminds me how blessed I am to have you.

Last week, I came home and couldn’t find our couch. Then I realised that the blue block against the wall was our couch – it used to be brown but Hannah had scribbled all over it with a blue pen. And I mean all over. I was highly annoyed, I dragged her over to the couch, I was yelling and pointing profusely at her mess, using words like “naughty girl” and “bad bad bad” and “smack your bottom” a lot. When I took a breath, she pointed to one particular scribble and smiling broadly she said “look mommy, a LILON!” That means lion, and she was so chuffed with herself, that we all burst out laughing. Zoleka has since cleaned the couch, but I asked her to keep the “lilon” and whenever Hannah spots it, she yells “look, my lilon!” MY MELTING HEART!! I think she has a thing for lions, her new favourite show is Raa Raa the Noisy Lion on Cbeebies. Hannah likes to say morning to everyone, even when it’s way past 12pm. That’s her common greeting for any time of the day. She LOVES to wear shoes. As soon as she wakes up, she waddles over to the shoe cupboard to find her sneakers, or Liam’s red wellingtons. And getting them off at bath time is becoming increasingly difficult. If I yawn, she holds my face in her hands, tilts her head to one side, looks me dead in the eye and asks with big eyes: “mommy tiyud (tired)?” If I say yes, then she tells me to go make dudu. She got moves like Jagger, this kid. Liam has no rhythm whatsoever, this doesn’t bother him at all and he gets down when he hears music,  but when he dances he looks more like he is bobbing and weaving in a boxing ring then dancing to a song. Hannah, however, can dance! And she takes it all very seriously! With rhythm like that, I need to enrol her in some sort of dance class!

Liam has had us in stitches and often renders us speechless with some of the words he uses, and just his thought processes in general. His new favourite word is perfect. “That’s just perfect” you’ll hear him say if he does something that he is particularly proud of… like if he puts his underpants on the right way, or he completes a puzzle, or if he brushes my hair and likes the style that he has created. The other day I announced that I needed to make a wee, and he asked me if my “bagina” was full. He is fascinated with surnames and likes to recite everyone’s surname in the whole family.. and I mean the extended family too, so the list is long. When he meets someone for the first time, even a complete stranger, he will ask them what their surname is. Of course all the toys have his surname. Other words he likes to use are awesome and bootifull. He is so complimentary, and so observant. If I wear something new, he’ll ask where I bought it and tell me how bootifull I look. If he wears something new, he’ll ask who paid for it and say thank you so politely. When we ask him what he wants to be when he is big, he says he wants to be able to cook and sit in the front seat of the car and drive like Daddy (so he’ll either be a chef or a taxi driver). If he sees a man wearing earrings, he is flabbergasted. He has a picture Bible which shows the Romans and Jewish men of ancient times wearing earrings and he just doesn’t get it. “Earrings are for girls only, mommy!” I wish I could find an old photo of his Dad who was sporting TWO earrings when I first met him 10 years ago! He always asks what the time is, as if he has a date to get to, or a train to catch. Why would a three year old constantly need to know the time? The words or sentences I least like to hear, which Liam says often, include: I want, I need, what, huh. When he uses these words, I first ignore him hoping that he’ll correct himself or I explain for the 100th time that that is not the way to speak. BUT if I or Dad slip up and use one of these phrases, we get a right telling off. And heaven forbid I say “stupid” or “dumb” – not to the kids, just in general! I have to apologise, then he tells whoever will listen that mom said a bad word. It’s like living in a convent. And he has no problem telling ANYONE that THEY said a bad word if he picks up on a conversation in passing. Even a stranger in a shopping mall who just happens to be talking loudly on his cell phone.

I think age two and three are tough because these little people become very assertive and very vocal and very annoying – sorry, but it’s tru! It’s their way or a tantrum the highway. However, it’s also such a delightful age where they really come into their own and their little personalities just amaze me! So in light of this post, I’m going to be adding another tab to my home page, where I will record all the weird and wonderful things my babies are saying and doing. They grow so fast and although I try to have my camera on the ready all the time, it’s not always easy to capture the moment. So jotting them down on my blog, should give me enough ammo for both their 21sts and wedding days. 🙂

Bye Bye Bottle

Hannah will be two next month, and I know it isn’t fair or right to compare your children to each other but … when Liam was this age, he was off the bottle and in the process of being potty trained. This has nothing to do with Hannah’s abilities but everything to do with my tardiness. I have been so lax with getting Hannah to do big-girl-things because this time around, there’s no rush. With Liam I refused to have two babies on the bottle, two babies in nappies – two BABIES full stop, I needed Liam to grow up a bit. So I pushed him hard to be a “big boy.” I still have issues of guilt around this subject, issues I will save for a special blog post, but in hindsight I see that Liam didn’t suffer at the hands of his OCD mother who needed him to be a little more independent; in fact I think he flourished and has turned out to be a reasonably stable little boy who enjoys his independence. Fast forward to Hannah.. she is our baby, and still very much a baby-baby! We love to baby her! Not in a spoilt sort of way, but in an adoring way; she just has this thing about her that melts hearts, this thing that makes it very difficult not to be wrapped around her little finger. Her Dad will openly admit that he has fallen so deep under her spell, that there’s no going back. Liam and I, although we like to act macho and as if we are still in charge, also recognise that she turns our hearts to mush and there’s nothing we wouldn’t do for her.

That said, last month I decided that we HAD to start weaning Hannah off her botty. I don’t think there’s a prescribed age for weaning your child off the bottle, but I had always said that my children would be off the bottle by age two. This was  easy with Liam – at 15 months I took him off a day bottle because he had started school, and  he would only have a night bottle and at 18 months I said to him that the botties must go in the bin, he agreed and that was that. No questions asked, no complaints – he just accepted it. I remember that first night, he was rather sad because he missed the comfort of his botty, but he was ok. He didn’t need a “replacement” cup, he just stopped.  I assumed that it would be as easy with Hannah. Not. Firstly, Hannah drinks at least three milk bottles a day. She is happy to drink water or juice from a sippy cup, but she will only drink milk from her bottle. I started by telling Zoleka that she was to replace the day time bottles with cups of milk, but Hannah refused to drink milk out of anything else. She kicked up a huge fuss over not being able to get a bottle and basically went on a milk strike. At night she cried so bitterly for her botty that I just didn’t have the heart to go through with it and caved in. The thing is, Hannah’s bottle is like her security item. Sometimes she doesn’t even drink it, but she plays with the teat and falls asleep by rubbing it between her fingers, or covering it with her pyjama top – I think she is just tactile like that! I’ve tried to give her another item to attach herself to, like a taglet, but she didn’t take to it. Anyway, that was last month and our failed attempt saw Hannah winning and getting her botty back.

This weekend she bit through the last of her Avent teats, and that was it. I simply refuse to buy anymore. Unlike Liam, I

All Hail the Sippy Cup.

realise that she needs a transitional item, so I went to Baby City yesterday and scoured the shelves for something that was like a botty, but not a botty.  Yes, I know what you’re thinking… why don’t we just go cold turkey. But I am just not ready for the trauma that comes with cold turkey… ask a smoker how difficult it is! I eventually found a Winnie the Pooh sippy cup from NUK, which still has the soft spout, still shaped like a bottle but it’s more like a cup, than a bottle. I bought ONE. Which I plan to use ONLY at night and when she needs to nap in the day. She was very excited with her Pooh cup (we going through a serious Winnie the Pooh and Friends stage in our house) and we made a huge affair of saying good bye to her bottles – a whole shopping bag full – and let her throw them in the bin herself. Last night, she refused to drink from Winnie the Pooh and cried a few sorrowful tears, but she was eventually happy to hold it and play with the teat as she fell asleep. At some point during the night, she and Winnie the Pooh (still full of milk) crept into bed with us and I heard her finally start to drink in the early hours of the morning. Again this morning, we made a fanfare about the bottles that were, and about the new fabulous Winnie the Pooh cup. I think she’s getting the drift. My plan is to eliminate Winnie from the day and bring him out just at night.. and by her birthday at the end of next month, I want her to be off a soft teat altogether. I want her to understand that last round is at 6h30pm and that’s it for the night baby! I can’t say that her one night bottle affects her sleep, because Hannah sleeps really well and even if she does get up for that bottle, it’s right next to her and she helps herself without disturbing the rest of us. BUT I do believe that taking the bottle away is a natural progression and she is ripe and ready for it now.

She still has her beloved dummies which I will not even attempt to take away from her; I know that battle will be a long and arduous one, but this particular bottle battle will be won… by me. Because I am the boss, and I say so (and also because I cannot bear to wash another bottle, and I need the space that the big bloody steriliser takes up on my kitchen counter).

So bye bye bottle it is!

What I’ve learned in the last few days..

 Liam has been on holiday in KZN with my sister and her family. I was grateful for this opportunity for a number of reasons:

  1. He loves his aunty, uncle and cousins and I know how much fun they have together.
  2. He gets to sleep in a bit, as compared to getting up at 5h30am for school every day.
  3. He gets to enjoy the open spaces, fresh air and laid back living – something us city slickers aren’t accustomed to. 

Moreover, I was looking forward to giving Hannah my utter and total attention because she really does deserve it, she has become a bad sharer and I guess this is because she has become somewhat annoyed at having to share EVERYTHING with Liam, including my attention. This week has been enlightening to say the least. It’s funny how you become “OK” with your routine, and by “OK” I mean we settle for, and accept a situation that was supposed to be temporary but has now become the norm, to the point where we forget what life was like before…

I have learned that my husband and I still have a life outside of our children. I’ve learned that we can still engage each other and enjoy each other’s company and laugh at each other’s dry jokes; that we still love each other as intensely as we did all those years ago. The problem is that everything else becomes somewhat jaded when you have kids, especially more than one – they require your full and total attention ALL the time, your focus tends to shift away from your partner and your marriage and becomes children centred – and this is not a good thing. All you talk about are the kids and their well being and their needs. You fight about everything and you disagree on almost everything – how to discipline, how to reward, what they wear, what they eat, their MEDICAL BILLS (OMW!), their school fees, how darn expensive they are; you can find a fight-a-minute when you have kids. You can become so absorbed in your parenting, that your marriage starts to take strain due to neglect, and you don’t even realise the cracks are there, until you have your light bulb moment, which in our case was Liam leaving home! What about those marriages who don’t experience their light bulb moment until it’s too late? It’s a bittersweet contradiction that kids complete a marriage by creating a family, yet their existence can lead to the downfall of that marriage if we, as parents, are not maintaining and nurturing our marriage, as we raise our babies. 

I’ve learned that I don’t miss my kid as much as I thought I would and that a break from each other is probably beneficial for us both. Now before you call the welfare on me.. I do believe that mothers love their sons differently, just as fathers love their daughters differently. Not more or less – just differently! That said, I’m beginning to think that I may be slightly OCD when it comes to my son, HENCE the reason my hubby and I bump heads often over Liam. So here it is in writing, I admit that I may be just a litte, just a tad, just a drop, over protective over Liam. I think that my great love for him leads me to overlook many things, makes me cover up for him even when he deserves to be disciplined, makes me fall under his eye lash batting spell every time. During this time apart, I’ve learned that he is growing, he is a big boy now, he can be away from mommy for many sleeps and consequently, I need to start letting go. Now hold back, I don’t mean I must let my two year old fly the nest, grow a beard and drink beer. I mean letting go in small ways and granting him that independence that he so craves. With independence, comes responsibility and accountability and I have to learn to let Liam deal with these, even in little things like: you wanted to paint, you made a mess, you clean it up. And if you cry, I can’t jump to your rescue and clean up your mess, because this is how we build character and these small lessons will carry you way further, than my mollycoddling will. OH IT’S SO HARD EVEN TO TALK ABOUT IT!

I’ve also learned that Liam can survive without me. The harsh, harsh reality about life is that we never know when our time is going to be up. When I consider my mortality, I am more afraid of what will happen to my kids if and when I die, than I am about actually dying. But I’ve learned that Liam would be just fine, he would miss me no doubt, but he would be alright, and that gives me a sense of peace. And not only in terms of life and death, but this time apart has shown me that he is a confident, self assured little boy, who can deal with being away from his mom, and that his emotional capabilities are developing well. There’s nothing wrong with being shy or timid, but I think every parent worries about a child who seems introverted, who can’t seem to function without his/her mom right by their side, who pulls back in fear at the thought of being the centre of attention. I think it’s every parents fear, that their kid could possibly be a target for a big nasty bully.

I’ve learned that Hannah is really and truly the easiest, most lovable creature who is happy to go with the flow, who rolls with the punches and who just needs to be watered and fed occasionally. I am well blessed to have such a gem, as compared to Liam who was a high maintenance baby! I feel bad to admit that I have missed out on many of Hannah’s milestones because I was too preoccupied with life, and work and her brother.. but I’ve learned during our time alone together to appreciate her for being so incredibly, edibly sweet like chocolate. Yes, she is a diva who can throw a tantrum that will bounce clear off the Richter Scale, yes she has her days when she can whine and cry for seemingly no reason – which women doesn’t? But most times, Hannah is happy to just chill, she likes to dance and clap hands, she likes it when you “act a fool”  and do silly things that make her giggle. She likes to follow her dad around the house, she is quite happy to play alone with her toys or watch Disney Junior, especially Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. She eats whatever you put in front of her, she sleeps all night and has a good long nap in the day, she adapts well to change and she doesn’t care that I have to split my time between her, Liam, the house, work, her dad, LIFE. She’s just cool like that.

So this week has been an eye opener. God uses all types of situations to talk to us, to teach and correct us, to speak to our hearts and to let us know if we’re doing it right or if we need to check ourselves and I do believe that I’ve learned some important lessons from my God this week..

Previously Loved Goods

I like making a quick buck. Who doesn’t? If there’s money to be made, I want in on that action! With this thought in mind, I was pondering the many milestones my babies have reached and how so many items and accessories have now become obsolete in my household. When I think of the thousands of Rands we spent on all this paraphernalia that’s now just cluttering up my garage,  it makes me want to have another baby just so that I can get my money’s worth. What? Did I just say that? Slip of the finger.. If God so wills, I trust my family is COMPLETE! But seriously, being the frugal tightwad that I am, I am considering having a garage sale or opening a second hand baby store to get something out of this baby business.

Why not donate it or give it to another family having a baby, you ask. Let me state for the record, that I have graciously offered my leftovers, but these days ALL NEW parents want ALL NEW goodies – especially for their first born baby! I have given many things away to charities and to those less fortunate, I’ve even boxed old clothes and sent them as far as rural KZN, but now I think I’m going to get my own back and start a mini business selling baby leftovers. I could call it “Used But Not Abused” or  “Worn But not Torn” or “Hand Me Down Couture.” Ok, the name needs work but that’s the least of my worries, my leftovers will actually sell themselves!

Presently I am hoarding a walking ring, a feeding chair, a car seat, NUK bottles which Liam has outgrown, a Bumbo seat, a breastfeeding pillow, a changing mat, toys for every age, clothes and shoes galore, a breast pump (missing one small vital part, but I won’t tell if you won’t – hey sales is a cutthroat business). I have cot linen in all shades and colours, and receiving blankets upon fleecy blankets upon crotched blankets, a humidifier which I must admit was a real blessing for a croupy baby, but now stands stagnant. Bottle warmers, flasks, dummies in an array of colours and shapes, nappy stackers and a cupboard dedicated to baby bags – for what? What about all the items that looked useful at the time but actually proved to be useless – like the bath ring which both my children couldn’t stand to sit in, the cupboard locks that both my Macgyvers could unlock, small umbrellas – children don’t know what umbrellas are even for, they think it’s fun to get wet in the rain, not cover themselves up – DON’T EVER BUY YOUR KID AN UMBRELLA, no matter how cute it looks in the store, it’s a waste.

What irks me the most is that babies grow so quickly that you spend very little time at every stage, so just as your baby starts to enjoy something, they outgrow it! Hannah spent a lot of time just “lumping” in her walking ring, then she realised her car could take her places, but no sooner had she made this discovery, she started walking and we said goodbye to the walking ring. I’m beginning to think that babies should be left to run around naked in their first year of life and perhaps we could wrap them in a piece of cloth during Winter – they sprout so quickly out of their clothes. I have many beautiful treasured outfits that neither of them wore, because I was saving it for a “special” occasion – only for them to have outgrown it by the time that occasion came around.

So that’s it, I am opening shop! If you’re looking for previously loved baby goods, in excellent condition, I’m your (wo)man! I’ll make a fortune and probably spend my riches on more useless kids stuff. It just doesn’t end until they actually pack up and leave home and get their own garage to fill with useless stuff.