Farmer Christmas

Christmas just passed, was the first time Alex GOT the whole Christmas thing, and his excitement was amazing! He loved the build up to “Farmer Christmas’ ” arrival, and was so excited to see all the presents under the tree on Christmas morning. (But that deserves it’s own post, which I will hopefully get around to soon).

Some family gave us a late christmas gift – a hamper of yummy goodies. So we told Alex that Father Christmas had left this gift for us under their tree. After rummaging through the goodies, and establishing what items he could sneak away (like the tiny Lindt teddy-bears), he turned around and said to me: “That farmer Christmas is a cool guy”. Funny boy!

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I love you like jellytots

The other day, I went to fetch Caris from her afternoon nap, and Alex came upstairs with me to get her. She smiled at Alex as soon as she saw him, as she always does, and he says to me: “Mommy, Caris looks like a jelly tot!”. So I ask, “why?”, to which he replies: “because she’s round and round and I can eat her all up!”

I love that silly boy!

Talking about co-incidences…

Following on from my post yesterday, I stumbled upon the following link in my twitter feed about the guilt (American) mom’s feel, and how the French seem to do the parenting thing so effortlessly. I knew there was a reason I have always liked the French.

Some insight for all of us guilt-stricken moms …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/debra-ollivier/bringing-up-bebe_b_1224589.html

I need some space

It is such a simple question, “how are you?”, that especially in South Africa, it seems, everyone includes as a standard greeting , after “hello”. And we all dutifully respond “Fine, and you?” This morning, while waiting for my cappuccino froth to foam, I greeted a few people, and had the same clichéd “hello, how are you” conversation.  And all I wanted to say was, “I’m not actually fine.” I am feeling sad and overwhelmed, and I want to get back into bed. But not the bed at home, because that would mean having to deal with “home stuff”. A bed in a hotel, (a nice big one, with crisp white, 100% Egyptian cotton sheets, a thick goose down duvet, that doesn’t have biscuit crumbs, or chocolate milk marks on it) would be perfect. A bed that is reminiscent of pre-baby days. A bed that is used for sleeping in, making love in, and perhaps watching the occasional spot of (grown-up) TV in.  A bed that is perfectly made when no-one is in it, with beautiful scatter cushions, perfectly placed, just hanging about looking pretty. No kids in or on it, no toys, no pillows thrown on the floor, no high-pitched children’s TV programme flickering on the plasma.

This feeling has been brewing for a while now. I am not unhappy, per se,  you see. In a lot of ways, my life is good. I have a good marriage, a good home life, good friends, a good job, and I enjoy and love my children.  The thing is, I seem to have lost touch with me. I am probably not lingering on the edge of depression, but I do feel teary and tired some of the time, and I always feel as if there is something brewing under the surface. Small things seem to irritate me more than usual, and I find myself constantly biting my tongue to stop myself from saying something to someone that I will regret later. I am in a semi-permanent shit mood.

Between working, caring for two children, dropping off and collecting from school, cooking, cleaning up after everybody etc, I never have any time for me. Gary works hard, and is under a lot of pressure, so by the time he gets home, he’s hardly in the mood for mundane household chores, or listening to whining, but I’m just not coping. I feel like a single parent some days. I get angry because while everyone else is watching some crap on TV, I’m wiping kitchen counters, sterilizing bottles, tidying the play room…  I can’t remember when I last went for a facial, or just sat idly reading a book or magazines. So as much as Gary and the boys do help, mainly with keeping Alex entertained so I can deal with the baby, I still feel like I’m always doing something for someone else.  And if I do take a moment for myself, which I almost never do, I end up feeling guilty. Good old-fashioned “mother-guilt”. Guilty that I am not spending quality time with my babies; my husband.  I feel guilty when I shout at Alex for whining or not co-operating, when I realise that all he wants is my attention.  I am one of the first people to turn my nose up at people who say they don’t have time to do x, y or z, and I find myself saying it all the time. I hate the fact that I don’t have time to go to the gym, or have my nails done, or just soak in the bath for an hour, by myself! And I hate the fact that I moan about it all the time. Yes, we all work hard, we’re all under pressure, we all have busy lives, we all have no time to do the things we really want to do, but I am reaching the point where I am about to crack.  

And what is frustrating me even more, is that I cannot seem to find a resolution to my dilemma. I have thought about resigning from my job, just to give myself  a chance to breath, but that will just place us under financial pressure, and also, to get back into IT after a sabbatical is hard. I have tried to apply my mind to what else I could do, if I were to become self-employed, but I like the fact that I have time to spend with my children in the afternoons at present.  If I were to start my own business, or work as a contractor, I would not have the luxury of working half day, and be as involved in my children’s lives. Hell, I’m not even sure about WHAT I want to do with my life career wise anymore. As much as I do not hate my job, I am somewhat bored, and working half day is somewhat career limiting anyway. When I had Alex, I made a conscious decision to be there for him, and not  have a nanny or an au-pair raise my child. Having had a second child, has tipped my precariously balanced world off it’s axis and I am struggling to find middle-ground here.

I know that many of my mommy friends feel the same way from time to time. So I guess I am not alone. It’s funny how life is so full of co-incidences, as on Monday morning, at the height of feeling all woe-is-me, I read one of my favourite blogs, and writer was talking about pretty much the same thing. On Tuesday night, I went to a parent’s orientation evening at my son’s school, and the principal was alluding to the same thing in her opening address.  About how mom’s (and dad’s) feel unappreciated, stretched, and never have a moment to themselves to be who they used to be before having children. That they start to lose a sense of who they are. She made a lovely analogy that raising a child is somewhat like building a cathedral, in that many people will contribute to the building and moulding of this little person, but will never get to see the “finished product”.  The gist of her story was as follows:  The great cathedrals were completed over many years, spanning centuries, and were worked on by many men and women who would never get to see the completed product of their hard labour. An artisan in one of the cathedrals, who was working on the ceiling rafters, took the time to carve a tiny bird into one of the beams, and when asked why he was bothering to do so, when no-one would see his artwork, he replied that God would see it. So the message was such: although we, especially as mothers, feel like no-one notices or appreciates what we are doing, that there is never an act too small to go un-noticed by God. As much as I am not a religious person, I like the analogy, I like the thought that someone notices the sacrifices we make, especially as mothers. I like to think that the sacrifices we make for our children, and the time that we would rather give to them than take for ourselves, are contributing to the brilliant people that they are destined to become. After all, I chose to be a mother, it wasn’t something that was forced onto me.

So, as much as I do not have a resolution to my frustrations, my  lack of “me” time, I will try to be patient. I take comfort in knowing that my frustration is temporary, I will find my groove again. I will find the “me” that has been AWOL for some time now.  I am going to try and ditch some of the guilt, and make a little bit of time for me. Even if it’s a quick swim at gym before picking up Alex at school, or banning everyone from the bathroom so I can have twenty minutes alone soaking in the tub. Because right now, being angry and irritable, is not doing anyone any good.

“Wake up sleepy head
I think the sun’s a little brighter today
Smile and watch the icicles melt away and see the water rising…
Summers here to stay, and those sweet summer girls will dance forever
Go down to the shore, kick off your shoes, dive in the empty ocean.”

– DAVE MATTHEWS BAND

Blue Eyed Girl

Image

Blue eyes
Baby’s got blue eyes
Like a clear blue sky
Watching over me
Blue eyes
I love blue eyes
When I’m by her side
Where I long to be
-Elton John (lyrics Gary Osborne)

Already, my poor baby girl is suffering from second child syndrome. I haven’t printed a single photograph, let alone started her baby album or memory book. (But I have taken thousands of photos!) By the time Alex was 8 months old, his baby scrapbook was well populated, as I made time at night to cut and paste and embellish it with pretty things. Part laziness, and part lack of time has lead to this sad state of affairs. Having two children certainly does place extra pressure on my already stretched time management skills! So this is an attempt to play catch up, and get my ass into gear, before I get too far behind…

My Darling Caris

Baby girl, you will be eight months old in 5 days time. I cannot believe that the time has passed so quickly, but then again, even my pregnancy with you seemed to fly by. I had an easy pregnancy with you, other than the first 16 weeks of really horrible nausea and vomiting. I was thrilled to find out that you were a girl! Having a second baby, for me, was such a breeze compared to the first. I didn’t have that feeling of panic when we left the hospital for the first time, wondering “How on earth am I going to do this?” as I had done it before. I wasn’t scared to bath you or dress you, or hold you. Breastfeeding was easier, you latched on easily, and it didn’t hurt nearly as much as it did the first time round. (And we could get through a feed in less than half an hour in the beginning, unlike what felt like hours with Alex!) You were calm and content from the moment you arrived, and I am so grateful and lucky to have you in my life. In the few weeks before you were born, I was worried that I wasn’t going to cope with having two children to care for, but you just fitted in right from the word go, and you were and still are a real pleasure to have around!

You were born at 09:42AM on Tuesday the 17th of May 2011 in the Sunninghill Hospital by Caesarean section.  You weighed 3.05KG, were 53cm long and had 9/10 on your apgar test. Your nose was so skew, as it was squashed flat because you had had one of your feet pressed up against it while in my tummy, but it soon straightened into your current beautiful little button nose! I was thrilled to meet you my baby girl when they put you on my chest all damp and warm, with a mop of dark hair and grey blue eyes, and I was already in love with you when you looked up at me so intensely.

When we brought you home for the first time, the house was a big mess, as we were in the throes of renovating the down-stairs bathrooms, and as is typical with builders, they were running horribly late. So I whisked you away upstairs to the safe (dust-free) sanctity of Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom.

In the first few weeks, you slept so much, I used to wonder if I would ever see what colour your eyes were! You would wake up to feed and then go straight back to wonderful dreamland. You didn’t struggle with tummy aches or wind, for which I am very grateful. You hardly ever cried, and there was nothing a cuddle couldn’t fix. The first time you really sobbed, was at your 8 week vaccinations, my heart broke for you as you cried real tears, and were inconsolable for the first time ever.

You first smiled at about 6 weeks old. The most gorgeous sight, a big gummy grin! And by 12 weeks, you were treating us to the cutest giggles. (Especially when you saw Alex, and you still think he is very funny!) You were sleeping though the night from about 3 months, and have done so ever since. We had a small wobbly when I gave you a dummy for the first time, because you kept waking up for it, but thankfully you are able to find it by yourself now.) By four months you could roll over from your tummy to your back, and also got your bottom two teeth. (Without much fussing, thank goodness.)  Rolling from back to tummy and sitting up by yourself were mastered by 6 and a half months, although you now prefer to sit up and watch the world go by and play with your toys, and don’t really like being on your tummy. You have 3 teeth coming out at the moment (top 2 front, and 3rd bottom one) and once again have had hardly any fussiness. (I am so very lucky and grateful to have such an easy baby!)

You are such a content, happy, smiley girl. You love being cuddled and tickled and when someone blows bubbles on your tummy. You love looking at things, and examining your toys while you turn them over and pass them from hand to hand. You love seeing yourself in the mirror. You smile when you see other babies! You love to twirl your feet at the ankles, it is the cutest thing ever. You have the tiniest feet, and the cutest little toes, which you love to bite, and which I love to bite too! You always smile when you see Mommy, Daddy and your brothers, especially Alex, whom you love to pieces. You love to squeal and sing, and will call out in a high-pitched screech when you want to get someone’s attention. You can say mama, baba, dada, goo, yee and the likes, and I can’t wait for your first “real” words, which I just know you are dying to say! You love babbling away and chatting to yourself in those adorable baby sounds. You have deep blue, beautiful eyes. You are my little cutie-pie, my sweetheart, my happy little bibi, and I am looking forward to watching you grow and learn, and continue to melt the hearts of everyone around you. I love you with all my heart.

xx Mom

Give me a naughty child any day

Day six of forty degree temperatures on and off and I am at my wits end. My boy shows small glimmers of his usual demeanour in the “pumped up on empaped” window. The rest of the time, he sleeps, whines, or stares blankly at the TV. We usually have an energiser bunny on our hands, who can’t sit still for a moment. It’s driving me crazy and I don’t know what else to try. I’m missing my little whirlwind running through the house, laughing and playing. I would rather have him being on his worst behaviour than this. Give me a naughty child any day, this sick one is breaking my heart.

Hello 2012!

It’s January 1st and I feel like I have been out partying all night. Although my “hangover” is due to a lack of sleep and not over-indulgence. Alex has been sick for almost two weeks. Our holiday has included 2 trips to the emergency room (real trips this time) and one visit to a GP. He has had temperatures of 40, on and off for the last 4 days, so with doses of Calpol, 2 courses of antibiotics, voltaren suppositories and wrapping him in tepid towels we have been playing yo-yo with his temperature. Alex tends to vomit when his temp exceeds 38, so we’ve been cleaning up a lot of that too.

So last night, just after midnight while everyone was screaming happy new year and letting off noisy fireworks, I was running a tepid bath for my poor, poor boy. He spent the rest of the night sleeping in between us, feeling like someone had sneaked a hot potato into our bed. Wash, rinse and repeat at about 4, including more vomiting, and diarrhoea for good measure . To add to our woes, we found out from the chemist yesterday, when we filled the script for the top-up antibiotics and more voltaren suppositories that the casualty doctor grossly over-prescribed when giving us the suppositories, and the antibiotics. So I am hoping with all my soul that the 3 suppositories that were more than double the dose he should be having for his age and weight, have not caused any lasting damage. (Caris slept through the whole ordeal).

I’m definitely sending an email to hospital management.

So the start to the year has not been a good one, and I am really worried about my boy.

2011 was an interesting year, with a mix of highs and lows.

We were in Ballito last year as well, and I remember standing in the shower on the morning of January first, and crying my eyes out. I was 22 weeks pregnant with Caris, feeling very sorry for myself and my unplanned pregnancy. Gary was grumpy with me because we had stayed home on New Years eve, and to top it off, I had had a huge argument with Craig on Christmas day that was still creating an uncomfortable vibe in the house. Then to add more fuel to the fire, Stuart said something that really pissed me off, and as I stood in the shower drowning my sorrows, I contemplated walking away from everything, playing scenarios of being a single mom of two in my head. (Cue dramatic music) Step-parenting sometimes sucks in a big way, and I’m still waiting for my medal in the post.

So now that I think about it, 2011 got off to a shitty start as well.

Some Lows:

* “The terrible twos”: clingyness, whining, general non-compliance (exacerbated by the impending arrival of a new baby)
* My mother being hospitalised for pneumonia, which gave me a huge wake up in terms of my childcare “plan B”
* My father being diagnosed with macular degeneration
* Saying goodbye to some toxic friendships
* A divorce in the family

A Few Highs:

* The birth of my sweet baby girl, little Miss-happy, Caris. Watching her grow and develop and turn into edible cuteness.
* Alex starting school, and watching him blossom and learn new stuff every day. (Also, sadly seeing Alex “my baby”, become a “big boy” overnight)
* No more nappies for Alex!
* Having 6 months off work! And having had some time to reflect on whether or not I am still happy doing what I’m doing. I can see that 2012 will be a year of big changes for me.
* Starting a blog – it is amazing what a great outlet writing is. Even if no-one reads it, seeing my thoughts in black and white is incredibly therapeutic.

So, while the year has launched off with a rather bumpy start, I just have a feeling in my bones that it will be a good year.

Happy new year.