Archives for the month of: October, 2013

Life is real so let’s be real about it.

How do you explain mixed emotions? The fact that at the end of the day I crawl into bed exhausted not sure what kind of day I’ve had. Good and bad are words that are too general to use when it comes to my days. If I write down what I’ve done, what’s happened and what I’ve felt it’s always a mix of ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Challenges of ‘bad spirits’ in our courtyard (I’m not joking), staff who are having nervous breakdowns (due to said bad spirits), cajoling the Princes to do their homework, get in the bath, get out of the bath, sick Princes, Princes pretending to be sick (very hard to tell the difference), Baby Princes who love to eat poisonous Syringa Berries… And amazing, happy things like sitting with a Cuppocino and writing, seeing the Spring flowers bloom into happy rainbow colours, happy Princes building a volcano experiment together, playing soccer, going to yoga, Baby Prince learning to blow kisses (though if you ask for a kiss on your cheek, you’re more likely to get a bite), actually doing my work, finishing jobs, reading a really good book (I just read the latest Bridget Jones book, which was a bit of fun.) 

Experiencing the whole gambit of emotions in a day is exhausting. Juggling as a mother is exhausting. Especially when I think things shouldn’t be all mixed up, days are either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. But there’s no such thing. They’re more than often mixed, confused and chaotic. For anyone and everyone, but especially as a mother. 

This brings to mind the amazing YouTube clip with Dr Brene Brown ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCvmsMzlF7o . A must watch for everyone. (I literally sat my husband down and forced him to watch it, and he loved it.) Dr Brene Brown is a researcher who researched the topic of the difference between ‘whole hearted’ people and the rest of us. ‘Whole hearted’ people have a strong sense of belonging and self worth and can be vulnerable. They can experience pain and joy. She claims that when you shut yourself down from experiencing uncomfortable emotions such as pain, sadness and fear, you also block yourself from experiencing the opposite emotions of joy, happiness, courage. Our society with our magazine picture perfect veneer is not very good at living in the real life every day chaos of reality. And reality is not picture perfect. It’s mixed, confused and chaotic. We’re not very good at feeling like we unconditionally belong and are all worthy even if our teeth aren’t perfectly white, and we’re not a size 8, and don’t have long, shiny, swishy hair, or are a high powered, heel clacking somebody. She points to the very real chasm in ourselves and our society, and it’s a relief to hear her.

We need to be ‘whole hearted’ and teach our children to be ‘whole hearted’ which means to live with acceptance of our selves and each other. Acceptance of our days which aren’t linear and neat, but rather chaotic. We need to teach our children that they are beloved, they belong and are essentially important, but they will have challenges, they will feel things they don’t want to feel. They will laugh and they will cry as we do. 

The more I learn about the anomaly of life. That tears are the same whether you are crying with joy or sadness, the more I can let life flow without fighting it. When I burn out now as I did last week after a month of birthday partying. (All the sugar and late nights definitely takes its toll.) That my struggle of figuring out my identity as a mother and a person who wants a life beyond mothering is a tension that may always be there. The fact that I’m imperfect and my husband is imperfect and we will fight and argue and sometimes even hate each other is okay. The fact I fight, argue and sometimes even ‘SHOUT’ at the Princes is also okay. And the more okay I am with it, the more okay they are too. And the easier it is to bounce back into the love and joy and simple tickley giggles. The discomfort will pass, and the joy comes. Or they may come together. A good example for women is child birth. Birth is painful, the after birth pains are even more painful, and yet I remember being ecstatically happy because I had a baby, although I was crying with pain. It doesn’t make sense. It’s a relief to stop trying to make sense of everything and just let things be.

So as I sit here writing. I feel mixed. Happy and content to be writing. Unhappy and fidgety that Prince No. 4 is home alone (with the nanny) for my Cappuccino hour. When I dwell on my discomfort I feel like I’ll never get the balance right. When I dwell on the reality and truth that I spent all day with Prince No. 4 yesterday and now it’s my own Sarah identity time, I breathe easier. The tension is still there, and I suspect it’s a tension I will always have, as so many mothers do. But that is arguably life, and the sooner I accept it rather than fight it, box it, compartmentalise it and try and fix it, the better. 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a fun short story I wrote. It was for my writing group, and just bubbled up from heaven knows where. Does anyone relate to it? I wonder? At the very least I hope it’s something different and fun to read.

 

Two Strangers Met…

 She put on her red coat. It exuded confidence, she thought, bright, brash and brave. That’s what she would be. Though she was a couple of kilos overweight, at least it was hidden. This was her super model coat. The coat she splashed out on, spending all her grocery money for the month. It had been worth it, though she’d had a lot of explaining to do. Tom didn’t get it. ‘Why would you need more than one coat?’ he’d demanded waving about the credit card statement, which she’d tried to hide. Damn e-statements. No one has just one coat. No one, at least at the school. She sighed happily into her coat as she tied the belt firmly around her size twelve stomach. All the other mothers were size eight. Well she was working on it. Fifty sit ups a day, when she wasn’t too tired, although she was always tired…so that never really worked. She sighed again, this time heavily. Perhaps she should get a personal trainer. She shook her head. She didn’t want to be one of those women. It was bad enough that she’d gone for highlights, just like the rest of them. What had happened to her?

Lizette used to read books, discuss books, live amongst books. She’d looked down at the ditzy, dashing girls tottering in high heels. Even those sitting in her honors literature course  she just couldn’t take seriously. It was all about the nails, flashing white teeth and flat bellies. Of course she wanted to look good. She always looked good, she thought, and was popular and beautiful in her cool intelligentsia, beer drinking crowd. She’d never really paid attention to them, they lived on the periphery of her world, like that blank last page in a book, that was just there for some reason, although she’d never really figured out what for.

Well today, she’d have to bear with the company of one of those ‘mothers’ with the red talons, the pouty, completely ready for a kiss lips, and the perfect, shiny hair. It was for her daughter. Tom had insisted they send her to the school. The best private schooling for his angel. She’d have been happy with a public school, where she would have been exposed to real life. But here she was, obsessing about her clothes and feeling completely inadequate, like a can of sardines in a sushi bar.

‘Mama,’ her daughter ran up to her, jumping up and down. ‘Are you ready yet? Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.’

‘Yes love,’ Lizette replied absentmindedly applying her last layer of lip gloss so her lips were just as ready to kiss, although Tom hated kissing sticky lips. She smiled at the reflection of her daughter in the mirror. She was beautiful, an angelic blonde jumping from foot to foot with antsy impatience.

‘Okay we’re going,’ she grabbed her daughter in a tight hug. ‘We’re going to have fun, fun, fun at Amy’s house.’ Her voice sounded strained and anxious even to her ears. ‘Real fun,’ she smiled grimly. She’ll make it work. Anna deserved the best, and she was determined to fit in. They were of the right social bracket, just different that’s all. Different… but Anna doesn’t need to know it. And she’d prepared herself for this afternoon. She’d bought and read Heat magazine and Hello. She knew every detail of Kate Middleton’s birth and even the name of the child. She would do swimmingly.

Swimmingly indeed. More like sunk than swam. She forgot the baby’s name. She thought it was Harry, but of course that’s William’s brother. How stupid did she look. And Anna had gotten red icing all over her lovely white Jacadi dress, and she had had to grit her teeth not to shout at her. She wanted a martini, a double whiskey anything to numb the pain. A beer with her friends of the old days, who would laugh at her for trying to be a snob. Who was she fooling? And she was so painfully bored, she couldn’t conjure much more of a conversation beyond where the couches came from (handcrafted in Tuscany, Italy), who had designed her garden (French expert from Provence), and how lovely the teacups were. She had said, and now she cringed at the thought, ‘I’ve seen them at Woolworths, they’re lovely. I was going to buy the same.’

‘Well they’re actually imported from Tiffanys, Alexander McQueen designed them you know,’ she was blithely told by the Claudia Schiffer look alike mom. But the main thing was Anna was happy, and Tom would be happy with that, and she was happy. Very happy. Why shouldn’t she be? She’d just learnt that it’s more elegant to wear black. So perhaps she’d buy a black coat next.

***

‘How was your day darling?’

‘Ah love,’ she wrapped her long arms around him and gave him a long squeeze. ‘I’ve missed you. It’s been such a long day. Amy had a friend over. Such a sweet girl, but her mother. You’d think she’d never read a book. What an absolute boring afternoon. All she  could talk about was furniture, the Royals and fashion.’

‘Sounds completely boring.’

‘Completely,’ she sighed twisting a strand of blonde shiny hair through her fingers. ‘Although I must say, I think red is the new black. I must buy a ravishing red coat. She did look rather nice.’