Words that we use…

I’ve been thinking a lot about the words that I want to use around my children.  Words that will help build them, not tear them down.  Words that will build the essence of who they become as they grow in my home.

I was chatting to my niece the other day on the way home from church.  She is slightly overweight and she was asking me how I had lost my baby weight and was asking me about running again, and what struck me most was the way she spoke about herself.  How self degrading she was about her body and how it made her feel.  How intolerant she was of the place she was in.  Words like FAT, DISGUSTING and ASHAMED were used.  She is thirteen.  She’s at such a tender place in her life.  The unfortunate fact is that she has inherited my mom, my sister and my “having to watch your weight” gene…

I grew up with a mom who was always dieting.  My mom has always battled with her weight.  As such I grew up being very aware of being on diet, taking pills to lose weight and constantly wanting to be thinner.  My mom has always been the one to point out if I’ve gained any weight and has always been the one to tell me when I’m getting fat.  (She is also the first to tell me when I am looking good!)  As a family of all girls we are very weight conscious.  This way of life has bled into my nieces fabric of how she looks and thinks about herself.  She is not a naturally slender child – she never has been.  She is going to have to watch her weight and work hard to have a healthy body.

Our conversation shook me.  For too many years I ate (and gained weight) and drank myself happy.  I hid behind my weight.  I too used words like FAT, DISGUSTING and ASHAMED to describe myself.  My whole life I’ve been trained to be focused on my weight and the worth I lose by being chubby.  It is not a nice place to be in.

When I decided to take control of my body and lose the weight I had piled on, I decided to be nicer to myself.  To use words like DETERMINED, HEALTHY and SLENDER.  I decided to change my lifestyle – not just while I was “on diet” and losing the excess weight but for GOOD.  So that I could teach my children the way to being happy with oneself by leading by example.

I try use words that build.  Overweight instead of fat.  Slender instead of skinny. I don’t always get it right.  Sometimes I have to catch myself and correct myself to use the “right” kinds of words… but little by little I am winning.

Healthy.

Happy.

Beautiful.

Strong.

Active.

Those are the words I wish to give my children.

Mean girl?

I am a very straight forward kind of person.

I call a spade a spade and whilst I appreciate this trait in the people I surround myself with, it seems that this is not the case with everyone.

I was chatting to a work friend today who out of the blue said she heard the two tea ladies talking about me in the kitchen today.  The one was trying to describe me to the other one and said something along the lines of “you know the girl who’s mean/nasty to everyone”.  So my friend asked who they were referring to and they described me.  She then asked them why they said I was mean/nasty to everyone and they said that I am too straight forward.

They referred to an incident (one I cannot for the life of me remember) where two other work colleagues were sharing a really small muffin for breakfast where I apparently offended them by commenting on the fact that the muffin was too small to be shared. I mean, what?  This makes me mean/nasty?

I butt heads a lot with one of our regional managers in our field marketing arm and do not tolerate being sold stupid excuses as to why my sales aren’t there.   This apparently makes me mean/nasty.

I have been trying in recent months to soften my delivery, as this friend told me once that I sometimes can be too honest and that people may take this the wrong way.  I wish it didn’t irk me that I am considered the mean girl of the office, but it does.  I like to think that I am a likeable person, one that is funny but also someone who can be trusted to tell it like it is.

I guess I need to work more on that delivery… or shut the heck up!

I am wondering…

…when it is that we as humans lost ourselves?  There have been so many incidents that have happened in my world lately that make me question what the fricking heck is wrong with us?  What is wrong with people?  When did we lose respect, the willingness to help others and honestly when did we lose our humanity?

When I was smash and grabbed recently, the guy in the car behind me HOOTED at me because I didn’t pull off quickly enough for his liking when the traffic light turned green.  I was covered in glass, screaming and hugely FREAKED OUT because I had just been violated for a cell phone and all he could think about was getting me to move the hell out of his way.  What the actual hell?

Then I read that one of my twitter friends was assaulted and robbed a mere few meters from her home and the guy driving his car said he thought she was “playing” with the guy assaulting her?  He was frigging hitting her and punching her and the guy thought it was a GAME?  Come on.  That one just doesn’t fly.  I know that the guy was probably scared of getting beat up, but you know what?  If he had gotten out of his car and come to my friend’s aid, the bugger robbing her would have been out numbered.  Perhaps she would have gotten away with less of a fright and more of a feeling of community.

Another friend posted that she drove past a young child being bullied by an older child in full view of parents and NOT ONE DID ANYTHING.  Seriously???  You can see a small child being physically kicked by another and you as an adult don’t step in?  She turned her car around and took the bully on.  It wouldn’t have taken much for one of the adults sitting RIGHT THERE to make a stand.

I think about all these incidents and I wonder what the hell is wrong with us.  When did we become so immune to the wrong that is happening in the world around us?

In my church, we believe that we need to be socially significant.  That in order to be the light we need to embrace those in the community around us and help those who need it.   I believe this myself.   But I get extremely jaded when I buy groceries for a down and out man who stands at the traffic lights outside my suburb and he moans at me and says “where do you expect me to cook this shit?”  Granted perhaps a silly move on my part to have bought food that needed to be cooked but wow, I wasn’t expecting that kind of reaction.  Did I expect him to get on his knee;s and bow down to me in thanks?  Not at all, but a little bit of gratitude would have been nice.

I am trying to keep my head on straight about the things that happen around me.  I am doing my level best to live up to a philosophy that I believe in wholeheartedly.  But sometimes I wonder if I am wasting my time.  If humanity is so lost that my little cup of coffee that I buy for the homeless guy who sleeps under a bridge on the hi-way makes any difference at all?  If the time I volunteer in abused woman’s’ homes would be better used being focused on my own little family?

Then I get a smile from that homeless guy.  I see a broken woman stand proud because she has managed to (even if for a short while) break the cycle of abuse for her kids.

And I know.  Every little bit helps.  Every small gesture I make can make a difference… and I keep on trying.

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Smash & Grab

I don’t want to use the word victim.

It sounds so weak and pitiful.  But that is what I was.  When I think about it, I was a victim.  A victim of a smash & grab incident while driving home on Wednesday night.  Living in South Africa we know that things like this happen.  We put smash & grab film on our car windows thinking that it will protect us in the “unlikely” event that it happens to us.  We live our lives, we go about our daily chores and we become complacent.  We all know the “rules”… Never drive with your bag on the seat beside you… Don’t put valuables in view of possible thieves… Don’t talk/text on your phone while stationary at traffic lights… and yet we have all done one or all of the above… Yes.  We think it will never happen to us.

Until it does.

You leave the office later than normal.  You drive unconsciously on your usual route home and think to yourself “I better send my husband a message to say I’m nearly home”.  You pull up to a red traffic light.  You pick up your phone to send the message you just told yourself to send.  You focus on the phone.  You stop being alert.  You stop being conscious of what is happening around your car as you quickly tic tic tic out that message on Whatsapp.  Then you hear it.  The BWA-CRASH.  You are stunned into absolute shock for about 2.4 seconds.  Your brain finally catches up with your body and registers that there is glass all over you and that there is someone shouting at you.  Someone who you can’t quite see because he is wearing dark clothes and it’s dark outside and you are screaming at him something along the lines of “what the… what are you DOING?” He is tugging your arm trying to wrest your phone out of your hand while screaming “you stupid bitch, just give me the phone”.  You hit out at him thru the window that is somehow still hanging by a shard of glass with your elbow and he gets your phone and before you think to look behind you, he’s gone.

Your phone is gone.  Your hands are bleeding.  Your heart is pounding.  The car behind you hoots aggressively because the lights have turned green and you have not pulled off.  You come out of the reverie you’ve been part of and you realise “shit I’ve just been the victim of a smash & grab”.

Your life has changed in the space of a minute (maximum two) and your hands start to shake.

You put your car into first gear and you force yourself to be calm and drive home.  You worry about your little boy seeing you with blood on your hands, and shout to your partner to not let him run downstairs to hug you because you are full of glass and don’t want to cut him.  You slowly pull off your glass stained coat, trousers and shirt while trying not to get any more fine slivers of glass into your hands and legs.  You shake out your hair to get rid of the glass.

You answer endless questions from your 3 year old about why your hands are bleeding.  Why the man broke your car window.  Why he took your phone. Why. Why. Why.  All the while you are trying to make sense of it all yourself.

You settle your children.  You do what a mom needs to do at night.  You bath your kids.   You put them to bed.

Then and only then, you allow yourself to feel the violation.  You allow yourself to feel the hot tears prick the back of your eyelids.  You allow your hands to shake.  You try sleep but keep hearing that awful sound every time you close your eyes.  You start to remember what went down.  You start to process.

When the sun comes up the next day and you’ve slept despite the events of the night before, you sort out the insurance claims.  You get your window fixed.  You arrange for sim-swops and new phones.  You suspect EVERYONE at every intersection.  You go to work.  You drive home the next night and force yourself to use the same route.  You feel nervous but you do it.  You drive past your shattered but in tact window (thanks to that smash and grab film you had fitted) lying on the side of the road and you realise that it will take more than one asshole to make you live in fear.  That you choose not to live in fear.

You choose to heal.  You choose to forgive the man who did this to you.  Because life needs to go on.  Because life is too short to allow one incident to define your views of your country.  Because this is where you have chosen to live your life.

You heal.  More and more each day.  You heal.

Preventive Measures

I’ve got something big on my mind.

It’s something that I need to sort out and take action on, but is also something that doesn’t make any sense to me at all.  As an infertile, this subject is feeling taboo in my heart even though my head KNOWS it has to be tackled and tackled soon.

At my 6 week check after Gemma’s delivery, my gynae asked the age-old question that they ask of everyone at that appointment… “so what are we going to do about birth control?”  BIRTH CONTROL???  Holy smokes!  As someone who spent the greater part of her marriage TRYING to get pregnant, having to actively think about PREVENTING a pregnancy is just plain weird.  We discussed some options.  I left the office armed with wads of information on the mirena, mulling about vasectomy and a prescription for the mini pill as I was still breast-feeding.  I took that months worth of the mini pill, have stopped breastfeeding and am absolutely NO CLOSER to figuring out what course of action we are going to pursue to prevent another pregnancy.

We (and I mean Cliff) are sure that we (again I mean Cliff) don’t want anymore children.  We (and I mean both of us) are so absolutely grateful to have the two (TWO!!!!) children that we have been blessed with and want to give them everything we possibly can in life.  Another baby would seriously hamper our ability to give the two kids we have everything that we want to.  Our house is perfect for a family of four. Having that become a family of five would mean more renovations or another house… which is not really part of our plan.

BUT.

I just cannot wrap my head around actively preventing a pregnancy.  Not when so much of my life has been obsessed focused on achieving it.  The fact of the matter is that as much as I still think of myself as someone who is unable to conceive from having sex, the fact is that I can.  I did Twice.  So now I have to force myself so see myself as something that for so long I was not.  Fertile.  Able to conceive.  Not wanting an unplanned pregnancy…

My first instinct is to tell Cliff to get a vasectomy (he is willing).  But it seems so PERMANENT.  What if we find ourselves in a different place in a few years and want a third child (I always wanted three kids growing up)?  What if God forbid something happens to me and he remarries and his new wife wants a child with him?    What if?

The mirena sounds like a viable option too but it’s expensive to get placed (and not covered by medical aid, surprise surprise) and I’ve read that it doesn’t always agree with everyone who gets it.

I have to tell you, it’s kind of freaking me out.

So.  If you’re willing please share your experiences of preventive measures with me.  What works?  What doesn’t?

Today you’re THREE!

My Dearest Kade

Today you are THREE!

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It truly boggles my mind that you have been in our lives for three years already.  Three years have sped past and often I look at you and I just cannot believe I got so lucky.  So incredibly blessed.

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You have literally exploded this year.  I think back to how you were just a mere year ago and I have to wonder how you are the same little person.  Last year was a year of screaming/crying/vomiting school drop offs whereas this year you happily walk into school and kiss us goodbye with no qualms in the world.  I definitely think skipping you a class was the BEST thing we ever did as you are now stimulated and love interacting at school.  You love jumping!  From the stool to the couch.  On the bed.  On a trampoline.  On a jumping castle.  As a boy who just a year ago had a broken femur I cannot explain how HAPPY this movement with NO fear makes me.

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I am loving discovering how your little mind works.  The way you think about things before you talk and the way you process every little detail is fascinating.

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I love that you seem to be like your old mom and have a love for words.  You keep on asking us to give you “big words” to say and you enunciate them so, so well.  You love animals and are very keen to do our “boxes for the poor kids” again this year.  You have such a giving little heart, I worry that you will be taken advantage of as you grow older but as much as I worry, I hope that this is a quality you will never lose.

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In the last year you endured a broken leg, a stay in hospital for bronchial pneumonia, major household renovations, my pregnancy and the entry of your sister into our lives with aplomb.  You seem to take everything that happens in your life in complete stride, by first watching and evaluating the situation and then deciding to just be ok with it.  I’m not saying we’ve not had our “moments” but overall you handle life’s obstacles really well.

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You are now very nearly fully potty trained (just wearing a night nappy).  You were SO excited to wear undies and despite your persistent habit of being too busy playing/running around/watching TV to tell us you need a wee and hold it in because you are scared you are going.to.miss.something you are a champ in this department!  I cannot tell you how proud I am of you.

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You are THE BEST big brother ever.

I was worried that you would battle to adjust to Gemma and having to share us with her.  You were our complete focus for so long but you have amazed me at how fiercely you love your sister.  How accepting you are of the fact that she needs me more right now cos she is little.  Nothing warms my heart more than to see you interact with her and how proud you are of “mine Gemma”.  And let me tell you something my boy, that little girl loves you fiercely back.  Her little face lights up when she see’s you and she laughs and giggles with you all the time.  As a mother, this makes me SO SO joyful.

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My boy.  You are truly my gift from above.  God answered my hearts desires three years ago when He chose me to be your mother.  You are stubborn (just like mommy and daddy), you know what you want, you are determined, you are expressive, you are affectionate, you are loving, you are so open to living this life every moment.  You have a smile that could melt a thousand icebergs.

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I cannot wait to see what the next year has in store for you as you grow and mature. I love you more than that!  To the moon and back.  Thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis big.

Thank you for being my boy.

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Mother’s Day…

It’s been a week since it was mother’s day.  It’s taken me a week to sort through my thoughts and feelings on MY experience on the day…

For seven years Mother’s day was a day that brought me much angst, heartache and a sense of failure that threatened to cripple me.  While I loved being able to celebrate my own mother and mother in law, it was a day I dreaded more and more with each passing year of infertility.  It represented something that at the time excluded me.  For not being able to do something that *should* have been the most natural thing in the world.

In 2010 by God’s grace we finally conceived.  I was so excited to know that once my son was born I would no longer have to look to mother’s day with trepidation in my heart.  That seeing all the mom’s being honored in church would not pierce my heart any longer because I too would be standing proud.  In 2011 I missed mother’s day as Kade was only born in June but my baby shower was hosted on Mother’s day so in a way I had the best party ever given to a mother on mother’s day.  That has been my best mother’s day so far.

Come 2012 I was literally bursting with excitement at finally, finally being in the place in my life where mother’s day would be about me as well instead of being about me doing something special for my mom and mother in law.  It did not go well.  I had expected that my man would remember the tears and desperation of previous mother’s day and that he would do something amazing for me.  I was wrong.  I was highly upset and hugely disappointed.  In 2013 things were slightly improved.  Mostly because I arranged a family get together for the day and basically sorted out my own mother’s day.  I was again disappointed.

Cue this past mother’s day.  I had stupidly agreed that my husband could go cycling with his brother on Sunday morning.  In my defense I agreed before I realised it was mother’s day.  As a result of this, my day started at 05h30 with both children needing my attention.  I cared for my babies on my own on mother’s day for several hours, making breakfasts, feeding bottles, wiping noses, getting baby to have a nap, cleaning the kitchen, washing & sterilising bottles all the while entertaining a demanding nearly 3 year old.

By the time hubby got home I had just managed to squeak a shower in and was ready for a little bit of a break and a pampering.  Maybe expecting a gift of some sort.  I got neither as he jumped into the shower after his ride and the baby woke up from her nap.  My mom and sister came to visit after serving at kids church and we had coffee and I gave my mom  her gift from us.  Through the day Cliff kept on saying your gift is on its way, it just needs to be delivered and I found myself getting more and more annoyed.  Long story short he had ordered a gift online and had set delivery for the 12th May.  The day after Mothers day.  He said it was a mistake and on the actual day I was so angry and hurt that I didn’t want to believe him.  (In fact I kind of still don’t, I have my reasons for this but don’t want to stir up another can of worms)  I couldn’t believe he had messed up a third mothers day in a row.  After all the fighting and shouting of the last two years, it was STILL a stuff up.

We ended up having a massive barney about it all. A really unpleasant, shouty, angrily tearful fight.

I asked how he would feel if I had stuffed up his Father’s day and he honestly said it would not mater to him at all.  I was so prepared to just stuff up his father’s day this year and test him on it.  I was really angry and totally fed up.  I then decided that considering I had got both children to sleep at the same time that I would give myself an afternoon nap.  Well.  THAT didn’t happen either.  Kade woke up just as I was drifting off and he wanted me and was crying snot en trane for me so all I could hear was Cliff was shouting at him that I was sleeping and… I got up and took care of my child.

I’ve been thinking a LOT about why this is such a sore point for me.  It’s just a day right?  It’s not like he messed up my anniversary (to the contrary I was SUPER spoilt) or my birthday or God forbid Christmas.  But I keep coming back to the fact that it is important to me.  I would like to be made a fuss of.  I would like to be shown that on this day I am appreciated as a mother.  I want a little bit of effort put in.  I want a badly made breakfast in bed after I’ve been allowed to sleep in.  I want a small gift that is in line with my interests (it doesn’t have to cost a lot, a kindle book will suffice!) I want to get my gift ON MOTHERS DAY not the day after.  I want to feel like I was not an after thought.

Logically I know I sound like a complete spoilt BRAT.  I know what matters most is that I finally have TWO wonderful, gorgeous children and that they are the real gift.  I know that it shouldn’t matter so much because Cliff is the best father ever.  He helps DAILY with the children, he is a very present father and partner and we share the load evenly.

But my heart wants that special day.  That all elusive mother’s day where even if I don’t get to stop caring for my kids, I get to feel like I did because a small measure of effort was made.

Do you think I’m over reacting?  What are your thoughts on mother’s day?