Five

A long overdue post …

newborn

3 Days old

They say that in the newborn phase, the first six weeks or so fly past while you merrily wallow in the punch-drunk baby love haze.  That is also clearly true when one turns five! Happy 5th (and six weeks) birthday Carrie-bear!

6 Weeks Old

6 Weeks Old

Baby girl,

Now you are five! A full hand, a whole school-week, five little monkeys jumping on the bed!

It’s crazy how fast the time has gone, and to quote a line from one of my favourite songs: “The future disappears into memory, With only a moment between.” Tragically, the mind starts to file away the little memories, the fleeting moments, like the newborn smell, or the sound of that delicious first laugh, but thankfully, we make new memories every day. And every now and then, prompted by a familiar smell or sound, a first moment surfaces from the archives of my mind, and I am graced with memories of sweet little you. You have become a big girl, almost overnight, with hardly a trace of your babyhood left in your face or body.

You love to sing the A,B,C song, so here is an alphabetical list of things for your fifth birthday:

A – Apples: You love to eat apples, and will often help yourself to one out of the bottom of the fridge. You don’t like them cut up into pieces, but you do require the stalk to be removed!

B – Bears and bunnies: Your collection of bears and bunnies could rival the local Hamleys! Your bed is literally covered in fluffy creatures. Your favourites include Cuddle-bear (which was actually your first bear ever), Curly-bear, Bon-bon, Bunny, Big-bunny and Claire-bear, to name a few. You take turns to cuddle with each bear and / or bunny every night, and make sure that no-one ever gets left out.

C – Caris: You already know how to write your name, and take great pride in showing me your latest artworks with your name written in the corner. You also like to tell me, whenever you see a “C”, that C is for Caris, and Chloe (Your best friend).

D – Dance: You love to dance! This year you started Hip-hop classes for the first time, and it was definitely love at first sight. You love to wiggle and twirl, preferably in a full circle skirt!

dance

Dancing Queen

E – Elephant: You made a beautiful picture of elephant at school, with big grey floppy ears and you were apparently the only child in the class that made a crinkly trunk, clever girl!

F – Flowers: You love to pick flowers, especially the pink camellia’s in the drive-way.

G – Gary: You love your Daddy very much! One of your favourite games to play is The Teacher Game, in which Daddy gets to be a student, and you call him GARY! in a bossy tone.

H – Holiday: You absolutely loved our holiday in Mauritius this year, and tried everything from archery, to tennis, to the trapeze. You even participated in the mini-club show (twice) and performed like a superstar!

Mini Club Show

Mini Club Show


Archery

Archery

I – Ice-cream: Your love of ice-cream continues, especially chocolate in a pink cone.

J – Jekyll and Hyde: Ok, you do have a few Jekyll and Hyde moments, where you go from perfectly happy to absolutely miserable in the blink of an eye, but I guess mood-swings go hand-in-hand with being 5. Thankfully the happier moods are more frequent…

K – Kitty Cat: You love to pretend to be a kitten, and crawl around on all fours meowing and rubbing your head on us! K is also for Kokino, the Greek word for red, your favourite word. We were playing with some flash cards the other day, and the red card came up to which you said “Kokino!” followed by lots of giggles.

L – Love: We love you more than all the stars in the sky!

M – Make-up: You love to do make-up. Time-hop delivered a classic this morning from 3 years ago, not much has changed since then. I have, however, bought you your own set of brushes since you gave my Mac blusher brush a little haircut with some nail-scissors at round about the same time.

Make-up

Make-up

N – Naughty: Yes, you can be somewhat naughty, but its always of the mischievous kind, and never malicious. Some days you test my patience with your strong will, but you always manage to make me laugh and smile.

O – Oranges: You love oranges, orange juice and other orange foods such as carrots.

P – Puppy: You love our puppy Saxon, and he listens to you so nicely, mainly because you always have a stash of Beenos in your pocket!

Puppy

Puppy

Q – Quiet: Quiet is not a word that we would use to describe you. You love to horse around with Alex, the louder the better!

R – Rainin’ : You have this peculiar habit of clipping the ends of words that end in “ing”, so “it’s raining today” becomes “it’s rainin’ today”. We have no idea where you got this from.

S – Sing: You love to sing, especially songs that you have made up by yourself. Maybe you will be a famous song-writer one day. I know that whatever it is you choose to do, you will be great!

T – Temper: my mother often tells me that I had a terrible temper as a child, well, I guess the apple never fell far from the tree in this respect. But as you get older, you are learning to keep it in check! (Sometimes)

U – Upside down: You love to be upside down at the moment, and often climb the tree in the driveway to show me how you hang from your knees. In Mauritius recently, you were brave enough to try the trapeze (until you decided, after the 3rd try, that it was too high, but you were happy to do it indoors a little closer to the ground).

upside down

V – Very Cute: That you are my girlie, don’t ever change.

W – Wings: You love to draw creatures with wings, such as butterflies, and usually with a number of cats nearby. W is also for Wedding. Your cousin Stacey got married recently, and it was one of the highlights of your year. You absolutely loved dressing up in a puffy dress and having your hair and make-up done. You loved it so much that you have been planning your own wedding ever since! And you will be marrying Daddy of course.

Wedding

Wedding

X – ‘x’s: There are always lots of ‘x’s for kisses in your drawings too. I recently taught you how to do a European kiss, one on each cheek, which you think is absolutely hilarious.

Y – Yam: You’ve never actually tried a yam, but I am sure you would if I knew where to buy one. You have always had adventurous tastes, and are willing to eat most things, even tomatoes, much to your brother’s disgust.

Z – ZZZs: You love to fake sleep, especially in the car, and when I ask you if you are sleeping you respond with plenty of giggles. You really do love to laugh!

My Big girl, don’t ever change, we love you just the way you are. XXX

Me and my girl

Me and my girl

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Six

My darling Alex,

Six is not a very big number.

It is the number of legs on an insect or the largest number of dots on standard dice.

Six is half a dozen; or the most harmonious of single digit numbers (if you are into numerology.)

According to Winnie the Pooh, it is when we get CLEVER! (And you are so very clever!)

Alex baby with poem

If you are in the mood for mathematical titbits, six is the only number that is both the sum and the product of three consecutive positive numbers. A Cube has six faces, and a six sided polygon is called a hexagon.

A guitar has six strings, and the Star of David has six points. (Although according to you, a Star of David is not a real star, because a real star only has five points)

In Astrology, Virgo is the Sixth sign of the zodiac. (And happens to be your star sign!)

Six is also the number of years that I have been a mom. I still cannot believe that six years have passed since you made your way into my life and into my heart. Six years that have changed my life in the most indescribable and incredible way. Six of the best years of my life.

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But despite six not being a very big number, it is so very, very big.

You have grown so much this year between 5 and 6, both physically and emotionally. You have blossomed from a shy and sometimes anxious little guy into a confident, rambunctious boy. A boy who seems to have transformed from a baby into a big-boy overnight. A boy who can fetch his own food, and swim by himself, and asks questions that are way beyond his years. A boy who has lost six baby teeth, and is getting so, so tall. A boy who loves running and swimming and being outside. A boy who looks after his sister, and makes sure he always holds her hand in a busy parking lot (or on the beach). A boy who loves to wrestle with his older brothers, and lick their faces while pretending to give them a kiss. A boy who loves animals and wants to be a vet when he grows up. A wild animal vet, to be specific! (And thinks that the solution to saving the rhinos is to kill all the hunters!)

A boy who will be going to Grade 1 next year. Big School.

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A boy who doesn’t really need me that much anymore with each passing day.

A boy who LOVES dragons.

ConnorAndAlex

And yes, you asked for a Night Fury Dragon cake this year …

cake

This growing up thing is bitter-sweet. As much as I want you to be independent and do things for yourself, the thought of you not needing me anymore breaks my heart. Even Daddy said that at your party this year he felt like you never really needed us to be there. You played and ran and laughed with your friends, and it was the most beautiful thing to watch.

You are the most kind and caring boy, with an infectious laugh and the sweetest smile.

And to quote a lyric from a Styx song: “Don’t ever change, stay as sweet as you are…”

I love you my boy, forever and always.

DandA

 

 

 

 

 

Three…

My Dear Caris
It seems like just the other day you were a thumpety-thump sound accompanying a grainy blob on a black and white screen. My surprise pregnancy. My “Oh my God, how am I going to tell your father” baby. I can still feel the tears stinging in the corners of my eyes when Professor Nicolaou said, “It’s definitely a girl”. A rose amongst the gang of boys we already had at home. Our very own girl-child, a little princess, a pink one!

If I cast my mind back to those first few weeks after you arrived, I sometimes struggle to find clarity in the memories, as it all seems like a life-time ago. There is definitely some truth in the saying “time flies when you are having fun” as the last three years are all but a blur! But I do remember the softness of your skin, your hair: soft like a puppy’s ears and your tiny fingers (with their teeny, tiny nails) grasping mine. And how much I already loved you when I saw your squashed little nose for the first time as the doctor put you on my chest, only seconds old. I remember how you loved to sleep, and how I used to wonder if we would ever know what colour your eyes were because they were always closed.

And now you are three!

caris 2 days

When I look at you now, it’s hard to imagine a helpless tiny baby, because what I see before me now is a proper little girl. A Big Girl who likes to do everthing “MYSELF!” A confident little lady who loves her dollies and the new Wendy-house. A sweetheart who loves to laugh (an infectious belly-laugh!) and occasionally irritate her big brother Alex (on purpose!)  A chatterbox who loves to talk on the phone, and who has hour long conversations with imaginary friends on the other end.  (Some who are called Salvador and Barcelona!) A little sister who loves her big brothers to the moon and back! A little miss bossy-boots who loves to dish out orders to everyone, including mommy and daddy. A little madam who loves to dress up like a princess (and iron?!?) A little social butterfly who loves to sing and dance and ask endless questions. A little koukla who loves the Greek word “ko-ki-no” and likes to announce it everytime you see anything red.  The sweetest little thing who makes us smile and laugh!

Wendy House

ironing princess

It breaks my heart that you are growing up so fast, and that soon my little Big-Girl will be all grown up, talking on the phone for real and thinking about boys and make-up, instead of baby dolls and lego. So I am savouring the moments of your littleness; of your sweet smiles and requests to “Pick me up!” and ” I wanna sit with you”.

I love you to the moon and back my baby girl. Don’t grow up too fast!

Caris 3rd Birthday

hello kitty princess

My children from another mother

I don’t think any little girl daydreams about being a step mom. They do have a terribly bad reputation after all, especially considering how the Cinderella story ended up.  And it certainly was never on my bucket list. But here I am; step-mother to two grown up “children”, who came into my life courtesy of the man I love.  I often get asked by friends and other people what it has been like. (Sometimes people I don’t even know, when I mention that I have two step-sons). I always say that it has been okay. We have good days and bad days. Like parents of one’s own children, I guess.

I know a few people who are in a similar boat to me, second marriages, step-kids etc. But the main difference is that they are all every second weekend step-moms. No full-timers. Big difference it seems. Every second weekenders do only fun stuff, and never seem to deal with the day to day living together issues. They become the cool step-parent. Not the piss-us-off step-parent.

The boys were young when I met Gary, 12 and 14 to be exact, and definitely in the throes of being moody teenagers. I often joke that I am grateful that they were not girls, as boys are somehow easier during this torrid, hormonally volatile age. I was young too. All of 28, and certainly did not have a clue on how to be a parent, and having children was not exactly on my agenda yet. I am also not the easiest person when it comes to being affectionate with people, or letting people into the complex space that is my head and heart. So to say that I embraced my step-motherhood with open arms would be a blatant lie. After all, I didn’t grow up in a household where saying “I love you” every five minutes, or talking openly about one’s feelings was the norm. At best, I have stumbled along, and have learned to love these boys, albeit sometimes at a distance. I have tried as well as I know how, within the walls that I have built around me, to be an okay step-parent. I do consider them as my family, and would never change the fact that they are a part of my life. I do sometimes wonder if it would have been easier if they were both ten years younger when I met them. It certainly is easier to endear oneself to a toddler, than it is to a teenager. And vice-versa!

In the early days of our relationship, Gary’s ex caused a fair amount of shit trouble for us, as exes are often wont to do, especially when children are involved. Every second weekend, the boys would spend time with their mom, and we would have to deal with sulks and mood swings. I even met up with her once to have a chat, which ended up with her telling me things like I will never be their mom, and that I must never expect the kids to love me, because they won’t, and that they will never listen to me etc. It was an interesting meeting to say the least, and I will admit that I did feel somewhat jaded by the whole process.  I did even for a brief moment consider walking away from the relationship with Gary, as I was not sure that I was up for all the baggage I was about to have explode on my doorstep. (Lucky for me, she left the country about 2 years into our relationship, and these days, she even sends my kids Christmas presents. A total 360 from that first meeting. As they say “time heals all wounds”.) I was too young to be a mother of teenage boys, who were already some-what jaded and broken as a result of the divorce. But I believed in the relationship enough to stay, despite sometimes being completely out of my depth. And kids can be manipulative, nasty things. They can also be kind and sweet and loving. I can safely say I have experienced both ends of the spectrum.

It’s a funny thing being a step-parent. And the family dynamic that ensues is very different to that of a “normal” family. Sometimes I feel excluded, like a third wheel, like an intruder in Gary and his boy’s happy threesome. I have sometimes struggled with what my role should be in the boys lives. A friend? A mom? An authority figure? A role-model? To be honest, it is complicated. But maybe it’s just me. My inability to let people get close to me, to let people into my thought-processes. I am sure that if I had had children of my own, before becoming a step-mom, I may have approached things differently. It is not that I have been crappy to the boys, in fact it is quite the opposite, but I know that I am definitely guilty of not letting them get too close. Or maybe doing enough “mommy” things for them. I know that I can be hard, and uncompromising, and children need a little bit of slack sometimes. I only fully realize this now that I am a mother of my own children. I have never gotten involved in disciplining or deciding what was right or wrong for the boys to do. That is not my place, that is their father’s role. I often bite my tongue when I am angry with the boys for something, but maybe I should be letting it all out, as that is what a “normal” parent would certainly do. It is easier for me to cocoon myself away and avoid dealing with stuff. I hate conflict, and would rather bottle up my emotions than have to actually let people see my weaknesses. So there are times when our relationship is strained. And there are times when it is good too. But I guess that also applies to being a “real” parent. Right?

As the boys have both become adults, I am proud of what they have achieved. (Craig is a lawyer, who graduated at the top of his class, and Stuart is busy completing his engineering degree). I have watched them grow from boys into men, and I can honestly say I would never change my situation for all the gold in the world. They are intelligent, confident young men, who occupy a very special part of my heart. I love the fact that they love my babies, Alex and Caris, unconditionally, and they will always be there for them, and that they have embraced these two little people who also compete for their father’s time and affection. They are great boys, and I am fortunate to have them as my family.

Letter for Alex

My dear Alex

In January 2008, we went on a family holiday to Mauritius. Conceiving you was always in the back of my mind as I swam, sat in the sun, read, and probably drank too many Mojito’s. (Which I did feel rather guilty about when I found out I was pregnant!) Not that I was starting to worry about getting pregnant yet, we had only technically been trying since October, but I had already been dreaming of having you for a long time. Little did I know that you were already there with me, a tiny beginning of life. A mere division of cells, growing bigger each day, so small, yet in the greater scheme of things, the most significant thing that was about to happen to me.

Back at work a few weeks later, I checked my diary to see when I had my last period, with the intention of taking “this conception thing” a bit more seriously. And then I realised I was a few days late. On the way home, I stopped off at clicks and bought a few pregnancy tests. Needless to say, they were all positive! I already loved you from the moment that I knew you were there, growing away quietly inside of me.

I showed your dad the official blood test results the next morning. To be honest, he was still having mixed feelings about becoming a father again, as Craig and Stuart were already 18 and 20. So his reaction wasn’t the typical “iamsohappytobeadad“, but I know that he loved you already too! (especially when we saw you for the first time on the black and white screen in the Gynae’s office. My sweet little grainy bean, with the galloping heart beat.)

I had a good pregnancy with you, felt healthy (ok, other than vomiting every day for the first 14 weeks!), did lots of exercise and ate mostly healthy stuff. I craved anything with chilli in it, and freezochinos, preferably from tashas! (That is probably why you love them so much.) You decided that “head-down” wasn’t going to cut it for you, and stayed breech the whole time, which meant that I had to have a c-section, which I wasn’t too thrilled about, but I wanted to do whatever was the best option for you. Your birth was scheduled for Tuesday the 23rd of September 2008.

On Sunday the 21st of September 2008, I was upstairs watching “strictly come dancing” while your dad watched the golf in the lounge. I had been feeling funny all weekend, full and uncomfortable, and had spent the weekend getting everything ready for your arrival (which included buying enough groceries and cleaning supplies for about 6 months, and cleaning the house like a demon!). I heard a “pop” sound, and then felt a trickle of water down my leg. My waters had broken, and I was in labour. I called down to your father, to tell him, and he looked at me with that “who are you again” look on his face that he gets when he is so engrossed in a sporting event, and when it finally registered, the look turned to one of a slight panic. Earlier that afternoon we went to Granny and Grandpa’s house for Cake, it was Grandpa’s birthday. He had joked with me when I told them I was pregnant with you, that maybe you would be born on his birthday (your due date was the 2nd of October), and turned out he was right.

So we bundled ourselves into the car, to head to the Sunninghill hospital. We phoned Charlene’s after hours number, and it turned out she was not on call, so I was about to have a complete stranger deliver you! I must have sounded like a complete lunatic telling the reception staff that I had to have a Caesar because you were breech. I was so scared that they would allow my labour to progress and that something would happen to you. Within an hour, the surgical team was there and we were moments away from meeting you. Dr Stuart ‘o Hanlon would be the doctor doing the surgery. At 5 to midnight, your healthy cry filled the air, and they gave me my baby boy to hold and look at. It was love at first sight!

Holding one’s baby for the first time is possibly the most overwhelming thing that anyone can experience. You were damp and warm, with your dark hair (a whole lot of it!) and your blue grey eyes. When the doctor put you on my chest, you looked up at me with the sweetest puzzled look, as if to say “so you’re the voice I have been hearing all the time, hello!” My sweet baby boy! It is still amazing to me from the moment I saw you, I felt such a surge of love and joy, and a deep need to protect and look after you, the little “stranger” nuzzling at my chest. I also felt real fear for the first time. The very thought of something happening to you still makes my blood run cold. Your dad summarised it well: “welcome to being a parent, where you spend the rest of your life worrying about your child”. It sounds clichéd, but in that instant that I held you for the first time, something inside me changed. I was no longer a separate person, I was a mother!

The past three years have flown by, and I have watched you grow from a tiny, helpless baby, into a confident, curious, cute, naughty, clever little boy. You have an energy about you that is as infectious as your great big belly laughs. You have the biggest, bluest eyes, and I never get tired of looking into them, even though it makes you giggle and ask me what I am looking at!

You are inquisitive and sensitive, and are always willing to give mommy a hug and a kiss when I ask for one. You are my special little guy, my precious boy, and I love you with all my heart.

xx Mom