Archives for the month of: December, 2010

Last night I went out for a lovely supper and I got chatting to a woman whose daughter is studying psychology. One of my favourite topics. Her daughter was going to do Lifeline counseling and so I asked, ‘How’s she going to cope with all those hectic phone calls?’ Of course I was thinking about suicide and rape call ins. How wrong I was. Guess who are amongst the most frequent callers to Lifeline? Housewives.

Yes you heard me right. I will call Lifeline and check up on this fact because it’s so hard to believe. But is it that hard??? Desperate housewives. (I actually never watched the program and I’m sure it’s American superficial drama. The way the women look as made up dolls kind of proves it to me. Correct me if I’m wrong.) How many women and mothers are married, with or without kids and are very lonely?

It exists, it definitely exists. It’s just not talked about much. The forgotten segment of society. The unspoken ones. After all who goes around saying, ‘I’m lonely.’ (Okay I do sometimes.) Let’s face it housewives are seen as the ‘boring ones’.

That night I was very interested in this Lifeline fact, being a house wife myself. (As hard as it is to face that fact it’s true.) And so I raised my voice in defense of housewives, ‘This proves that mothers,’ I announced. ‘Are the unspoken, neglected part of society and thanks to Women’s Lib a woman has to have kids, work and balance a house and husband. An impossible task if I say so myself. No wonder they’re the ones who are calling Lifeline.’

Well the group of women I was sitting with didn’t necessarily agree. (Yes this dinner party was split between men and women.) One 85-year-old old woman went off her rocker saying, ‘Girls these days worry about everything else but the baby. Their figures, their clothes blah, blah, blah.’ Basically saying that mothers are a bunch of spoilt, complaining brats. (Luckily she didn’t mention the coffee shop breaks.)

Another woman in her sixties said, ‘Mothers these days need to go internally and pray, be with God and learn to value themselves. They shouldn’t rely on external affirmation for what they do.’

These women obviously forgot that they were once young mothers, and what it’s really like. (We all forget which is why we go on to have our second, third and for the brave ones fourth and the really crazy ones….)

Mothers who call Lifeline are obviously not seen as being in need. You need to be raped or abused to ask for help. No wonder women have no voice as mothers, no wonder they need to work, have a nervous breakdown or call Lifeline to be heard and taken seriously.

I may even call Lifeline one of these days. Will it help? Maybe if they send a babysitter, or can give me some discipline advice. It wouldn’t be so bad actually if they said, ‘Take a deep breath dear, it’s normal what you’re going through. No you’re not a terrible mother. Let the kids into the garden. Lock them out for fifteen minutes. Can’t hurt. Why don’t you go and sit down and have a nice, quiet cup of tea.’

That’s it I’m calling.

I’m sitting here surrounded by my breakfasted family. The cricket’s blaring. I’ve learnt more about Tandulka (pardon my ignorant spelling) and Kallis’s 200 runs and the history of Sir Donald Bradman’s cricketing career in the last week than in my whole life. Am I enjoying my holiday? Loving it. Even with all the cricket. (It keeps the Princes happy so I can indulge in my coffees.)

What’s not to love about Capetown in December. I know everyone complains that it’s so crowded but we haven’t found it that way. It’s sunny, and windy enough for it not to be too hot. ETC> ETC> I’m sure everyone’s busy having their own holidays and not so into what we’re doing on ours. Like watching a lot of cricket, listening to it on the radio on the way to the beach and hearing about the commentators from the BBC Sport Internet site.

Because that’s what the holidays about. No, not cricket. But being together as a family, all 5 of us and getting to know each other without all the stressful factors such as work and school. (Speaking of school I think I have post traumatic stress from school – I had such a nightmare last night about forgetting to pick up the two Princes from school and being called into the principals office. It was very upsetting. A big relief to wake up. Does anyone ever have those?) And at first we all got on each others nerves. And that’s putting it mildly.

Even now as I write this my hubbies hucking me to make lunch and get off this blogging business. So yes nothings perfect. I got very irritated but I also got to see what’s really going on with all our relationships. A bit like going away with a spouse for a weekend – but times by a 100. So I’ve adapted. Note no one else has changed. It’s something to do with child rearing. We need to adapt and help facilitate the positive behaviours. We can’t just tell our spouse and children how to be. I’ve tried it, it doesn’t work.

So for example instead of telling our kids to stop fighting in the car. We split them up so that they’re not in kicking, hitting, smacking distance. It’s worked. And we now can be in the car for more than five minutes without shrieking banshees coming into action.

So yes we’ve had to up the discipline, up our parenting. The teachers obviously didn’t do a good enough job this year for us. (Just kidding – but I would definitely pay extra for the discipline service.) As I write this now Prince No 1. is screaming his head off.

I really have to go. And have I even finished the thought. It’s like having a conversation with kids around. You can’t finish a sentence…so off I go to discipline and enjoying my holiday and yes packing lunch. But I really am enjoying it. Really!

I so should not be writing. I should be packing. I should be putting all the things together for our holiday so it all goes as smoothly as possible without the last-minute panic attacks. But I’m not. I’m sitting by a half packed suit case and would much rather be writing, meditating, yogaing, escaping.

What is it about holidays that is so stressful. I understand a mother of seven who told me that she prefers to stay home for the holidays. Going away is too much effort. Now I’m a firm believer that the effort is worth it. Well worth it. But at the same time I’m pondering about the highs and lows, the vacillations between utter despair at having to organise everything (from house sitters, bills paid, to  sun cream packed – okay I know it doesn’t sound so bad.) to the utter delight at the sight of the sea.

The seesaws of life. I wish there was better cushioning. Like yesterday was a fabulous day with a fabulous women’s chilling event that I helped organise. It was fun meeting new people, hearing other people’s stories. Drinking milkshakes (okay I admit it I was way to wired to drink a milk shake.) Thanks to everyone who came! But then the low, the loooowwww. Did anyone else have a low? I think next time I do a women’s event we’re going to sleep over at the hotel and then have an entire day at the spa and then have a debrief session where we are taught how to deal with going back to reality.

And lets face it the reality of the hum drum details of being a mother and running a family (I don’t even want to go into the details of being a working mom as well!) is just plain exhaustingly tedious. And the lack of appreciation and recognition!

Okay what was so bad about my day today – what was my low? It was losing my cell phone – I was fine until then. I even thought I was fineish when I lost it. But I wasn’t. Everything came toppling down on me. All I had to do. (All the stuff I had avoided doing like figuring out how to put my contacts on my Mac. I tried once – do you think it worked? No.) And the mind talk – of ‘how could you lose your phone!’ My dear father in law reminded me of this when I got home and I LOST it. Seriously the flood gates of being a ‘stupid female’, useless of course, opened.

Well I’m a bit better now. Half packed and yes we will get on the plane and I will get all my contacts back on my phone (you can start Facebooking and smsing me now) – and the lesson learnt, the meaning of today is… that there is darkness after the light. And I hope to step back into the light tomorrow of sea and sunshine and hopefully not too much forgotten in the darkness.

Now I really want to know – how many of you does that happen to – have a fabulous time and then Wham Bam Kazaam – the not nice reality of a lost phone hits. And yes I know it could be much much worse (although this isn’t any phone, this is my beloved blackberry, without which I would not have been able to organise anything), and yes I’m VERY grateful for my life, but there is a weird pattern here and to be honest it was like I was expecting something to happen today. The universe obliged. I need to change the pattern I really, really do!!!! Starting now.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

The end of the year is here. Hooray.

‘Break up day, break up day, all the teachers fly away. No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks.’ At least that’s what the kids were singing today as they came out of school. (My kids definitely go to an old fashioned kinda school. The kind that safety pin the newsletters to their T-Shirts. Although he just told me that it’s not teacher’s dirty looks as it was in my day, it’s now no more teachers’ ugly looks. Oy.)

Anyway I feel the same as them, as do many moms I’m sure. Ecstatic that schools over! I do get those mom’s who don’t want their kids home because it means they have to entertain them. But I much prefer having to be with my Princes and them waking up when they want, eating when they want, getting dressed when they want, than having to rush around all day stuck to a tight schedule.

The most wondrous thing about this year is that I made it. I survived Prince No. 1’s first year in First Grade.  (Managing to lose only one library book and one pair of school shoes. This list would include his soccer boots – his very kind teacher came panting to the gate today to hand his long  given up on sports bag with his entire sports kit.) We managed homework every night. I didn’t flake out on too many of my Mummy duties. I did tuck shop twice a month and didn’t come too late to that either. Hell they were even at school every day on time. (Basically. And when we were late we were royally late at least an hour! Happened only once though. So if any teachers are reading this don’t hyperventilate.) So yes! I panted through the Grade 1 marathon this year.

This year I also learnt was about the diverse, wonderful world of remedial with Prince No. 2. I ran around with Prince No. 2 to every kind of therapy and therapist imaginable. From OT, Physio, Play Therapy and Speech Therapy. We did a QEG, EEG and a full educational assessment. (That’s not even going into the swimming, kick boxing, little Champs extra mural activities that I did. I have become quite the taxi driver I can out maneuver any Joburg mini bus. Quite the achievement I can tell you.) This was all in an effort to find out what was going on with the sweet Prince who was quite shut down. ‘Maybe he’s on the spectrum. Aspergers,’ was bandied about in hushed voices. So I learnt all about Aspergers. Read ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night.’ (very recommended)Thanks to my sweet Sister in Law from Australia, and read up about what it is to be on the Spectrum.

It didn’t match with what I knew about my Prince in my heart but hey we had to figure it out and help him whatever the case was. He was too quiet and self sufficient. Finally in the latter half of the year we visited a top child psychiatrist who diagnosed him. Social Anxiety. Ever heard of that. I hadn’t. And since the diagnosis I’ve discovered that a lot of kids are suffering from it. (an interesting topic to explore) In his case she connected it to the fact that in his first year he was put on an antibiotic drip for a week, twice a day when he was born. And then had a virus at a month which again landed him in hospital this time for 5 days. Then ear infections galore and grommets… it all added up. Needless to say compared to being on the spectrum, social anxiety was a relief. And so we did the remedial school dance and it’s enough to say  we’re all booked for next year.

How did that story come out? Well I guess it was a big part of my year. It put lots of mileage on my Taxi status and we definitely made progress on the remedial front.

Mmmm what else about this year… My husband finally finished his MBA. And we’re renovating and still not in our house. I’ve made new friends, begun a blog. Had a wonderful family visit in LA. Just had laser and am working very hard to keep my eyes infection free (I’m such a hypochondriac when it comes to these things).

The year written out doesn’t seem so blurry. And no it wasn’t a perfect year. I’ve thrown tantrums, had depressive episodes (especially waking up to face the morning run), have had fights with the Princes and my lovely MR.

But all in all it was a year well lived. And I appreciate it for all it’s taught me. For getting through it even though I don’t like schedule. For soothing myself with all the coffees in the world. And chocolates and biscuits. For trying to counterbalance it with exercise and healthy eating. (And then counterbalance the exercise and healthy eating with coffees, choccies and biscuits – the Walker Chocolate Chips ones are my Achilles heel. Luckily they’re 50 rand a pop so not to be indulged in too much.)

Wow I never realised I did so much this year. I’m serious I’m not just saying it. I kind of at the end of a day shrug my shoulders in defeat as I face another day of running around very similar to the day I just had. But it’s not so when I look at the big picture. The rounds of speech therapy are showing up on Prince No. 2’s lips. Prince No. 1 is reading and writing already. (Note Prince No. 3 doesn’t feature much – that’s probably why he’s a vandaliser – so that he gets a blog mention every once in a while.) Their building blocks are being set and it wouldn’t be so without their personal taxi driver.

So I recommend writing out your year. See for yourself that those days, that seem to blur into each other, do hold achievement and growth. Look at all the good. Raise that salutary cup to yourself via cyberspace and appreciate yourself for your year.

Okay and now for a personal invitation to a women’s event I’ve organised with my friend Frayda.

If you want to raise your glasses or in this case cocktails and milkshakes in person come to Protea Fire & Ice at Melrose Arch. This Sunday the 12th of December at 8pm. I’m calling it the women’s appreciation circle and it’s for all women. But really it’s just a chilled evening of being together. You don’t have to be married and have kids to be a nurturer. It’s who we are as women and we ALL need appreciation. So come one and all. You do need to RSVP to either me as sassoon@iburst.co.za or to Frayda at long2learn@aol.com . And send your husband’s/boyfriend’s/loved one’s cell number. ‘Why?’ you may ask. Just do it and come and you’ll find out!

And now for my weekly recipe. This week it is edible but it’s not meant to be eaten. Playdough!

As I picked my kids up from school today and they began fighting reality hit. They were home every day now for quite a few weeks. What to do so they don’t obliterate each other or me. So I whipped out this recipe for playdough that Prince No. 3’s wonderful play school teacher gave me. It really works and if they do choose to chew on it – it’s safe.

Home Made Playdough

Ingredients

3 Cups Water

4 Tablespoons Oil

Food Colouring (we made pink)

1/2 Cup Salt

2 packets Cream of Tartar (I did 2 big round lid fulls, it worked)

3 Cups Flour

Method

  1. Place water, oil, food colouring and salt in a pot. Bring to boil.
  2. Add the Tartar of Cream – stir and remove pot from the stove.
  3. Add the 3 cups of flour and mix well.

Here’s the tricky part mixing it whilst hot. I don’t know if it works if you allow the liquid to cool. I did it whilst it was hot and it turned out fine. It’s lovely and stretchy.

Enjoy the Playdough Mess – we certainly did!

 

I am here going to officially reveal the one failing of my husband. (Of course there are many more but I’m not about to broadcast it on the world-wide web.) He’s not a doctor. Don’t laugh. I’m serious. The 3 Princes have been sick for 3 weeks – one after the other. As one came off antibiotics the other began. I myself had a brief spell of sinusitis (yes I’m an acute sufferer) which went to my ears and threatened to become an ear infection.

Is it only me? Am I the only one who’s been hit hard by the sick season. It’s not even winter anymore.

When I say been hit hard. I mean sitting with my 5-year-old Prince for 24 hours by the toilet bowl. My biceps having a wonderful work out as I dragged him from the bed every time he moaned, ‘My tummy’s sore’ racing to the loo – just in time. For the yellow, green guck. Caused by something like double cooked chicken (this is why I really do have a good policy against left overs. Can’t bear them.) with a fancy bacterial name beginning with C. This is why I need a nurses course, or something. When they do finally organise parenting school and make it mandatory for all of us to attend, nursing will have to be on the syllabus.

Needless to say my Sunday of yogaing, family chilling and even a bit of was over. The one Sunday where we had no parties, no commitments – nothing! I found myself doing stretches on the bath. (Those diarrhea spells can take a while sometimes.) I spent the day fretting over how much Rehydrate he was drinking. (I am definitely aging prematurely. I have grey hairs and wrinkles ready to sprout. Having kids is not a worry free, relaxing activity, and after 7 years it shows.)  Every ten minutes he was going at one stage, until finally he settled down into an exhausted sleep and I lay with him and slept myself to be rudely awakened by my first Prince. Who slammed the door open and asked if he could watch the cricket on TV. I think I burst into tears. Okay I admit it I did.

Is there anything more exhausting??? I’m sure there is and I realised that it was a not normal day. Which made me realise how blessed I should feel on the normal days. I should be toasting flutes of champagne with happiness. It’s the truth. Enumerating all the blessings. As another mother said to me as we moaned how burnt out we are. ‘When I think of the two children who are in rehabilitation…’ We don’t even need to finish that sentence we all know. (And we all need to keep praying for them.) Perspective, perspective, perspective.

Not to say we can never complain, or cry, or be frustrated, or burnt out. But it’s energising and empowering to realise that within all the craziness (especially at this time of year as we tie up all the ends) we are blessed, have choices and can choose life, happiness and purpose. Even if it’s driving back home because you brought your kid to school in civvies on a school uniform day as I did today. ‘We can spend more time in the car together,’ I said. He nodded happily. High five. It was a good moment.

And yes about my husband being a doctor. Well as my mother in law said to me, ‘Why should he be a doctor. You should be one.’ Thanks very much women’s rights.

I’m very tired at the moment. It’s 10:30pm and I’m suffering from morning insomnia which means I wake up when the sun is up. Not good in Summer when the sun is up pretty early. Truth be told I enjoy my 5:30am cup of hot lemon water and my pen and paper writing (I’ve begun The Artists Way course. I did it before but read the book through which is my style without actually doing the practices. My very good friend has convinced me to do the course properly and I’m loving it. I highly recommend going out and getting your hands on Julia Cameron’s ‘The Artists Way’ and really doing it. It’s for everyone not just for artists.) Anyway back to my tiredness, my scratchy, dry eyes from doing Laser this week and waking up at the wee hours of the morning. (Yes Thank God I can see now without glasses! It worked!!!)

So why am I writing my blog instead of having a bath and washing my dirty, dirty hair (I haven’t washed it because I’m scared of getting soap or shampoo in my now very sensitive eyes. Yuck I know.) The reason is because there’s so much to write about and I’ll sleep better once I’ve done it. My father in law has a motto. It’s very simple. Three very easy words to remember. Attend, Attend, Attend. And you can’t go wrong.

So by sitting here and typing my thoughts for what they’re worth I’m attending. Attending to my dream of being a writer. Writing about important issues, and more than that connecting with other people. Hopefully doing some sort of good, as sanctimonious as that sounds. (I can be very sanctimonious, bad teenage habit.)

So yes those are my dreams in a nutshell. Big dreams. And here I present everyone’s right to dream big. You, me, everybody. For their own good and the good of the world. In service rather than in self-service. It’s healthier that way. And being a mother is certainly being of service. But we won’t go down that tap stream of thought. Back to dreaming big. A favourite topic of mine.

Dreams…what do you dream of??? I listened to this tape today that an energy worker played for me and it told this parable that struck me deeply.

Once there was a man fishing and he kept measuring the fish and then throwing back most of them. Someone passing by saw him and asked him, ‘Why are you throwing back the fish?’ The man answered, ‘I have a 14 inch pot at home. So I can only take the fish that fit in that pot.’ The passerby laughed and said the obvious, ‘That’s silly. Keep all the fish and just buy yourself a bigger pot.’

How many of us live our lives confined to a 14 inch pot? And life and all we do in it has to fit in that pot. I believe in dreaming big – bigger than a new dress or car or house. Something for our soul, for the world, materially and spiritually. A dream that feeds us on many levels and that in turn feeds those around us.

Our dreams aren’t easy to imagine sometimes. We have blocks, critical voices, mocking laughs within us that cackle at us, strangle us, when we try to look at let alone live our dreams.  Our environments may also not support us. Despite all this it’s worth trying, it’s worth searching, it’s worth dreaming and if you do that with the motto of ‘Attending’ – well I think that’s a fantastic formula. It’s certainly worth a try.

Fulfilling our dreams is a big topic, more than a single blog can do justice. But I just want to repeat that everyone deserves to dream and live their dreams. Even mothers.