Friendship

So the other day I was having my usual morning chat while driving to work to one of my best friends.  My mom.  I was catching her up on what had happened in Chez Young over the weekend and we somehow got chatting about friends and friendship.  My mother is truly one of my best friends in the whole wide world.  I tell her everything and know that she will give me good, honest, ethical advise when needed, will whip my butt into shape when needed and will sometimes just listen and let me cry when needed.  My sister is another best friend.  One that drives me up the wall at times but a best friend.

But…

I have always been the type of girl who has that one special girlfriend.  A friend who doesn’t HAVE to be your friend (like a mother and a sister have to be) I have always had a substantial circle of friends but have always had that one “extra special” friend.  You know the one I’m talking about right? The one who you can climb into bed with and talk non stop about life, boys, crap, laugh together, share jokes with and the like.  As I  morphed into being and adult then finding my partner in life, there has always been my close friend, my BFF if you will in my life.  As Cliff and I got together, we joined not just our lives but our friends as well.  So his mates became my mates and vice versa.  We had single friends (me with that one special one mixed in there) and our couple friends. As we started battling with infertility we found that we were being left behind by our couple friends.  They all had kids, we did not.  We didn’t get their lifestyles and they started leaving us out of things to spare our feelings. We started drawing away cos we were hurting and not nice to be around.  I lost many of my single friends too as my life was about obsessing about falling pregnant and theirs was about trying to find a husband and partying the nights away.

As life changed we made and found new couple friends through the fertility clinic. (To be fair Cliff made friends with the men cos I was friends with the women from the clinic)   Many of us have (thank God) crossed over into being parents of our own kids.  Life happened and it morphed again and somehow in all that has happened I find myself in a place where I have many good friends, one or two really close friends but no one I can say is that person that I can climb into that bed with.  If you watch Greys think Meredith and Christina.  I feel like Meredith who has lost her Christina.

I have a friend of 20+ years who I miss like crazy, I guess she will probably always be my soul friend… She and her family live in Dubai and when they visit SA it’s like no time at all has passed.  She is my one special friend that I don’t think I will ever lose but it’s not the same as having that friend close by.  The one who you go away for weekends with and put up with her dodgy husband cos you love her so much… Am I even making sense?

I miss having that person.  That friend who I know I can call at 03h30 in the morning when the shit is hitting the fan and who will come get me in her jaarmies… That person that I can bitch about my much longed for  family to.  The one who will be honest with me no matter what.  The one who will tell me when they disagree with my decisions, what I’ve said or whatever.

It is weird for me, because I like being that person to someone else as well.  And right now I’m not.  But maybe I will be again someday.

I hope so.

Another awesome first…

This weekend was another jam packed one, so much so that I didn’t have any time to put on my running shoes to hit the road with my last “long” run before attempting the Soweto half this coming weekend.

What it was jam packed with though was some pretty awesome moments spent with family and friends.  For many years I wondered if I would get to experience the many awesome firsts that parents got to experience.  Last year I was super excited to hear that Kade’s school was hosting a school concert.  Only to be crushed super disappointed to hear that the class Kade as in did not take part in the school concerts (which I know actually believe to be the right tack)  But I digress… so bright and early on Saturday morning we all woke up and undertook the massive task of getting all of us ready, fed (we only managed to feed the kids) and to the school by 08h15 sharp (geesh anyone ever try get a toddler with too long hair which needed to be gelled up, a 9 month old baby who is due a morning nap at the VERY time you have to be at the school and two adults to an event that early before?)

We dropped Kade in his class to get dressed for the show and went to find our seats.  It was SO surreal to think that here we were attending our son’s first school concert with a baby in tow!  Me, the infertile, waiting with anticipation to watch MY child in his first show.  I was nervous for my child as we had not been hearing much practicing of songs at home and he needs time to settle himself and will do things when he is good and ready for it.  I had thought that he would be one of the kids who cried or got stage fright when faced with the prospect of having all these people looking at him.

My son totally surprised me!

He was SO confident.

Kade concert 3

He was SO charming.

Kade concert 2

He sang SO loud and was SO proud of himself.

Kade concert 4

I tell you I nearly came undone when he had been put into place on the stage and he scanned the faces watching him and finding mine, waved gleefully at me!  I will never under estimate this child of mine again.  My heart swelled with SO much pride and my eyes filled with tears at the simple joy of watching these gorgeous three year old children perform their hearts out for us.

Kade concert 1

What an amazing new “first” to have experienced with my little guy!

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.

be-the-change

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?