Now this is actually a hard thing for me to say because I’m addicted to my whingeing and whining – hence the blog I suppose. But I really need to say it to myself and to everyone out there. It doesn’t pay to complain to the universe. It doesn’t pay to say, ‘It’s Unfair’. Even if you feel it is.

I know Oprah and loads of other people have said this but here’s the thing. Until you learn this yourself it doesn’t mean much. Being told, ‘Don’t complain.’ is like being told, ‘Don’t eat chocolate.’ Impossible.

I the chief complainer of all time am learning that in my complaints there are hurts, there is dissatisfaction, there’s even a whine of truth. And it’s from here where I can transform the complaint into something useful.

This sounds like a bunch of ideas doesn’t it. Well here’s a practical example. I don’t like practical jobs – none of it. The scheduling, the car lifting, the endless meals to prepare (I love food and love full cupboards but I prefer last-minute flinging of food stuffs together to create a meal – it doesn’t always work though) the endless plumbing, car fixing, homework, gardening…I could go on ad infinitum. The jokes on me though because the more I fight it the more overwhelming the ‘jobs’ become. I try to put a brave face on plough through the jobs and BOOM – lightening literally strikes and my phone’s sizzled, the printers, irrigation and all our security cameras are burnt out (to all tsotsis out there – don’t even think about it – they’re fixed!). God said, ‘You don’t like jobs. Okay BANG BANG POW.‘ (Don’t worry it wasn’t just me. The rest of Joburg was hit too, as a lot of you know only too well. I would seriously be freaked out if I were the only one hit.)

Today I hit pay dirt in terms of jobs. I had a lovely morning planned for myself after I did my dutiful Pick n’Pay shop. And then I receive a phone call, ‘You’re children’s passports aren’t ready you’ll have to apply for temporary ones. I need photos and forms filled out today.‘

‘Why today?‘ I the eternal procrastinator ask.

‘The price goes up from 190 rand to 400 rand tomorrow.’

‘And you call me now?’ I ask and burst into tears. My morning’s gone. I don’t have any of the photos – they’re lost. And my printers burnt to the cinder (internally not externally) so now I’m going to spend the morning running around for all of it. And the mind talk began speeding on their complaining, negative, racing mind tracks. ‘My mornings aren’t my own. I can’t plan anything. Yada yada yada….’

Does it sound familiar?

Anyhow. It didn’t serve me at all. What I’m learning slowly but surely is that to every negative there’s a positive. The only problem is I’m too hard-wired to see only the negative. So if the teacher has to lend Prince No. 1 money for tuck – because he left his money at home I go into immediate mother’s shame and guilt rather than thinking, ‘Wow he goes to such a loving, fantastic school with such caring teachers.’ The latter thought is more the truth than the former, and a lot healthier.

So I’ve begun trying. I’ve been very overwhelmed lately with my standard house mess. Where naartjie (mandarin) peels are haphazardly peeled onto the kitchen floor, bath towels are strewn through the hallways and a plastic table with chairs and lots and lots of cut up paper are sitting in the driveway. (And that’s all in just half an hour.) I’ve also been overwhelmed with the Princes’ boisterousness, which is actually a euphemism for fist fighting. But I looked at the bright side this evening. I took action. I looked for the positive part of having three active Princes and this is what I did:

  • I set up supper outside under the setting Joburg sky. (These last summery nights are lovely.)
  • I did not mention the word ‘healthy’ or ‘vegetable’. (Unbelievably they ate every single pea, asparagus, broccoli and mushroom. I’ve been wondering what would happen if I started saying chocolate ice cream was healthy.)
  • I began a knowing game that meant we all had chances to speak to each other and maybe even more importantly listen to each other. (It was a game I figured out with Prince No. 2 in the car. I told him all the things I know about him and he told me if I was right. For example: ‘You like penguins. You are friends with X, Y and Z.’ It really worked on the level that the Princes felt known and heard as well as enjoyed getting to know each other. To be honest they were running around like pretend dogs by the time we were done, but you know, boys will be boys.)
  • I sat and relaxed and ate with the Princes and my hubbie and didn’t overly concern myself with them. I let them be, and as I mentioned they ate and ate and ate (and it was fish hey – okay hake cutlets but the smoked trout was as real fish as you get.)
  • And I got on my hands and knees and we cleaned up ‘together’ – and that worked too (but it doesn’t every time, but at least it sets a good example. They cleaned up the garden by picking up litter with their mouths and bringing it to me. They were still playing pretend dogs at that stage.)

So focusing on the positive of my complaints worked. It let me see options. I did it for kickboxing as well. I was resentfully taking Prince No. 2 (Prince No. 1 went on strike) to his kickboxing class (I so didn’t believe I’d be an extramural mum but with the threat of going back to physio – yes Alta everyone (I love her but I don’t love the drive), hanging over my head. NO Thankyou.) I suddenly realised honestly and truly I can’t go on like this anymore. And because I was honest with myself and faced it, instead of complaining I found a damn good solution. Don’t ask me what took me so long to figure this out – the kickboxing coaches could come to my house and train all 3 kungfuey Princes. I checked it out and yes it’s going to happen!

Ta-Dam I’m definitely onto something here. It’s good to acknowledge what you can’t do. It’s even good to cry about it. The poor chap named Johannes who was on the receiving end of my (to be very honest) hysterical tears said, ‘Don’t worry I’ll make a plan.‘ And he did. He organised to pick up the money from me and to use the original documents for the temporary passports which he promised he’ll deliver tomorrow so I didn’t have to do a thing. So the tears were worth it. They taught me a lot. Most of all they taught me that I have to change.

So that was my day. How was yours?