Tag Archives: mothers guilt

L is for Liam, the super star!

Now I’m not saying that we’re raising the next Einstein over here, but come on, look how this kid writes his name? Proud is not the word! I am sure that there are three year olds all over the world writing their names and surnames and dates of birth and swear words and symphonies and theses on life or whatever, but this is MY three year old and he can write his NAME! Even if he has learned it by “rote” (copying the way I write it, versus actually learning the letters and putting them together to make a word) I don’t care, I still think he is amazing!

 liam name

I’m no teacher, so I don’t know if I am doing it correctly, but I trace out the letters of words, I let him go over the traced out words and then he eventually doesn’t need the tracing anymore. He knows his letters so at least he knows L is for Lucy the Lollipop Lady and I is for Iggy Iguana and A is for Alice Apple and so on.. so I don’t think the way I am doing it is interfering with the way he is learning to write at school. I think I must actually discuss this with his teacher so that we are at least working on the same base, but for now I think he is making great progress.

I don’t spend a lot of time doing anything constructive with my kids – yes we play, laugh and are “together” a lot of the time, but I can’t say that I spend time teaching/growing/nurturing their minds. It’s sad and makes me feel extremely guilty because as a working mother, there just aren’t enough hours in the day, especially now that they are older and clearly need more one-on-one educational time – if I can call it that. Speed reading through a book before bed time, or letting them paint while I cook isn’t enough anymore. Beside the fact that THEY recognise when I am rushing to just  get it done, I can see that when I DO spend quality time with them, they really are like sponges who absorb and learn so quickly. I mean Liam learned to write his name over two days? And no, not because he is a genius (even though I still think he is), but because I spent that time with him. It’s so difficult to juggle everything in a day, isn’t it? This weekend we spent a lot of time at home doing  nothing. It was great to have absolutely nothing on the calendar – a very rare occurance but one I am going to try and repeat often for 2013. So we did spend a lot of time doing fun learning things and that abated my guilt ever so slightly. And it didn’t take much. Writing, drawing, making up stories while playing with their toys, reading books and letting them interrupt me (usually I HATE questions in between a page, especially if it’s a rhyming book because it messes with the rhythm, and I tell them to only ask questions at the end of each page – cruel I know, but it’s an OCD thing!) – we didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, nor did we need anything fancy and expensive to make it work. It made me feel good about myself and I know they relished my focused attention. Some days I wish I could be a SAHM but I also know that that would NEVER work for me, stay at home moms are a special breed of people and I simply wouldn’t cope because I need that time apart from my kids, and besides we need two incomes in our household.

Ag, this post was supposed to be an awesome fun one about my awesome fun son, and now I’ve turned it into a woe-is-me-I’m-a-working-mother-who-will-have-stupid-kids-cos-I-didn’t-have-time-to-teach-them-anything one. Whatever. That is all. My son Liam is amazingly awesome, he can write his name! YAY FOR HIM!

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!

We’ve been HAVING it!

It’s been a week of good food, good company, and good learning… and it’s only WEDNESDAY!

This morning we were treated to a delicious breakfast at the fabulous Saxon Hotel, thanks to Newmark Hotels. It’s five star from the moment you pull up to the entrance, but we’ll leave that part out, and skip straight to the dining experience. A nice lady pulled my chair out for me, she offered me something to drink before I had even put my phone down on the table. I dumped my bag on the floor next to me, and another nice lady whipped it up, and fetched my bag its own little stool next to my chair. Imagine that. A menu was placed in my hand and my eyes were immediately drawn to the price tag: R250 per head. So we ordered off the menu, and while we waited for our hot dish, we could entertain ourselves at the buffet. Bad idea. From fresh fruit, to breakfast cereals and yoghurts, breads and cheeses, cold meats and oysters (for breakfast? Is this what the rich and famous eat for breakfast?) and a fabulous selection of pastries. Had I remembered that posh places are all about quality and not quantity, about how your food looks on your plate, rather than how it tastes; I would have entertained myself further on the buffet, but because I was expecting my hot meal to look something like a Wimpy breakfast with bacon spilling over the side of my plate, I didn’t want to overdo things on the first course. However, I was a tad disappointed with my Top Billing-esque plate of food, purely because I’m probably more of a Wimpy girl than a Saxon girl.. as the saying goes.. you can take the girl out of Wimpy, but you can’t take Wimpy out of the girl. On a side note, a nice man came up to my friend and I to let us know that we had left the lights on in the car, and asked if we’d like him to go and turn them off so as not to disturb our breakfast. I thought that was pretty cool.

While on the subject of food. On Saturday I had my school friends over for what should have been brunch. I call them my school friends, even though I have been out of school for more than a decade, but you know how you categorise and compartmentalise your friends.. the school friends, the soccer wives, the friends-by-marriage, the friends-you-hide-from. JUST kidding, I don’t have that category! No really, I don’t!! Anyhoo, my school friends came over for brunch which turned into lunch, which turned into dinner, which turned into coffee and donuts. It was way past everyone’s bed time by the time we called it a night. But it was awesome to spend time together, I love those girls and their families. Little Samuel, who belongs to Corinne over at Maiden to Motherhood walked for the first time YAY! Liam and Hannah also had a ball, Liam spent most of the day naked, jumping in and out of his splash pool. Hannah, who normally takes time to adjust to new people in her space, all but sold herself to my friend, Merese. If Merese had offered to take her home and be her new mama, I think Hannah would have packed her nappy bag herself. And later she showed the same kind of fatal attraction to Garth, to the point where she was in his car and waving good bye to us, and proceeded to scream blue murder when we yanked her out of the car.

While on the subject of my babies. Hannah has had a running tummy for over a week. Don’t all gasp at once at how I could have let this go on for so long. First I thought it was related to teething, so I let it go. She was eating and drinking well, if not better than she has been for the last few months, so I wasn’t worried that she was dehydrating or losing weight. On day three, I dug something out of my beloved medicine chest, I couldn’t find an expiry date and it looked and smelt ok, so I gave it to her. It didn’t seem to work. So on Sunday morning, as I lay in bed waiting on the alarm to buzz (I always beat the alarm, why I bother to set it, I will never know), I had a horrible MG (Mothers Guilt) moment, you know the kind when your mind turns a molehill into a mountain. What if this diarrhoea wasn’t teething related, what if my child had a terrible bout of gastric and she was severely dehydrated and she needed to be hospitalised and put on a drip and I’d have to sleep on a horrible green chair covered in leftover vomit stains from the family before me. Babies DIE from gastric-related illnesses, how could I have let this go on for so long, what kind of a monster mother am I…. AAARRRGGHH!! Anyway, once I had regulated my blood pressure, I got up and decided that I’d pop out to the pharmacy after church and get some advice. The pharmacist didn’t seem perturbed in the least, he asked about her eating, her sleeping, her temperament and of course the usual questions related to the poo itself. He gave me some medicine and told me to take her to the doctor after three days if there was no improvement. What I failed to realise at the time was that this medicine was almost IMPOSSIBLE to administer to an 18 month old. I had to dissolve the powder in 50 millilitres of water and get Hannah to DRINK this disgusting concoction. Now unlike a two year old who I can bribe, or a newborn who I can basically force feed, an 18th month old.. MY 18 month old has a will of her own; if she doesn’t like the taste, no coaxing, no disguising in her juice or milk, no promises of sweeties, NOTHING will make her drink it. After wasting about five of this awful sachets I gave up altogether and went back to the thick, gloopy not-sure-if-its-expired medicine. Seems to be working, but we still not there. And no, I still haven’t taken her to the doctor.

So yes, it’s been quite a week, we HAVE been HAVING it! Can’t wait to see what the downhill to Friday has in store for me 🙂