Twin life, twin love

This is just too long for Facebook..

The girls have been begging us since Grade R to split them into different classes and we relented this year, now that they’re in Grade 2. (and Daniel in Grade 4. I have stocked up on wine and gin to get us through the workload)

My fellow twin Moms (and people that are twins themselves) will better understand the dynamic of being a twin, but it’s a whole different thing to even having siblings close in age.

They are literally attached at the hip. They hold hands when they walk, they sit, huddled together on the couch, they play silly games with rules only they understand (which, thankfully, they include their long-suffering brother in), they are always, at the very least, in each other’s peripheral vision. It’s like they orbit each other and is the most beautiful thing.

Bearing this in mind, I have been a little anxious about how they would cope by themselves. 

It’s in the little things, Isabel rushing Mignon to finish a task and sit on the couch with her. Their need to almost exclude everyone else so they can just BE with each other and soak up being together after being separated during a large part of the day.

We had some threatening tears last night at bedtime about how Isabel misses her sister, even though she looks like the tough twin, which just breaks my heart.

We’ll keep an eye on it and see how it unfolds and I’m sure they’ll be ok, but yoh, parenting is HARD. It’s so hard to find the balance between letting them make their own decisions and wanting to be there to catch them before they fall, especially when they’re still so young. 

PS. No. I haven’t blogged since September due to an issue with my right hand, not being able to type/bake/crochet and just general avoidance of writing and social media and the need to withdraw for a while. It’s been so good for the soul, I highly recommend it.

To my Husband, on our 15th anniversary

I’ve never really been good at remembering dates, but in the days coming up to this, our 15th wedding anniversary, I’ve been thinking about our life together so far.

15 Years is a lot of life to share, it’s about a third of our lives so far, and, by far, the best.

People that know us often comment on how amazing you are and they’re completely right, you are.

I love how you supported and cherished me through infertility, never giving up on me, even though I sometimes did.

I love that you respect me, even though we may not always agree. The feeling is entirely mutual.

I love that you see past all the railway tracks on my body that are the result of 2 pregnancies, of which one resulted in a rather large set of twins.

I love that you sometimes let me have things my own way, even though you must, at the time, know that I’m not making the right decision. And that you never, ever say “I told you so”.

I love how you are with our kids. That you are the (more) active listener of the two of us. That you WANT to spend time with us.

I love that we are always, ALWAYS, your first priority.

I love that you are forever talking to the kids and, oftentimes, are better able to get a point across to them. That I’m safe in the knowledge that you will back me up, even though we might not always agree.

I love that we share a love for music and books and good food and that we can foster that same love within our kids.

I love that you know when I need to talk and when I need space and that you never, never make me feel bad for needing either.

I love how I can rely on the fact that we always, together, make a plan, no matter what challenges we are presented with.

I love how you just get on with it, when I sometimes want to take a moment (or a day, or a week) to whine and feel sorry for myself. Or when the Dark Dog of Depression lurks in my shadow.

I love that you make sure our lives tick over without drama, kids’ schedules and meals sorted when I am often running around in circles in my head.

I love that you are living the best example of being a good man (and just generally a decent human being) to our son and daughters, that this will enable them to not compromise or underestimate their own worth as they grow older.

I love your sense of humour, your joy, it’s contagious.

But mostly, I love that you’re my anchor. That, no matter which crazy plan I hatch or how mad things are or sad or happy I am, you’re always there, the constant in my life.

Lief jou xx



Happy Birthday, Facebook style.

I stopped wishing people Happy Birthday on FB a few months ago. I know. Gasp.

Before you run screaming and unfriend me because I might not wish you on your birthday, please bear with me. You might just end up agreeing with me.

My thinking, at the time, was that, if I don’t have your telephone number or if we don’t chat online regularly, we’re probably not really great friends, so I would refrain from posting a potentially meaningless message on your FB wall.* I, horror of all horrors, would pick up the phone, call someone and have an actual conversation with them, especially if it’s someone I haven’t spoken to in a while. I mean, mostly you become FB friends with people because you actually like them IRL or have had meaningful conversations with them online, yes? And yes, we all have the odd weird person we’re too scared to unfriend, because of some form of politics, but, generally speaking, I would hope we all like the majority of people we are connected to.

Facebook birthdays make me anxious. It may just be my Emsie Schoeman PTSD speaking, but I used to feel terrible not replying to every single wish. Which I didn’t really have time for because BIRTHDAY and WINE and ACTUAL REAL LIFE FRIENDS I WANT TO TALK TO. And COOKING, whilst doing the aforementioned 2 things. I may or may not also have issues with my birthday as it’s on 1 January and most people forget anyway.

Why do we feel obliged to wish someone happy birthday JUST because Facebook said so? Why do we feel, somehow, validated when people write those 2 magic words on our walls? What happened to: I’m just going to pick up the phone and call them. Have we become *that* lazy?

I would, personally, rather receive 5 meaningful birthday wishes than 100 messages that were sent just because FB reminded you that it was my birthday and you feel obliged to quickly bang out a Happy Birthday! or HB. Which, incidentally, makes me want to scream when I see it on other people’s walls. But that’s just me. How is writing “HB” even acceptable and not even vaguely passive-aggressive? Don’t let me catch any of you doing that shit.

Anyway, it turned out to be such an awesome decision, as I’ve caught up with so many people lately and had actual, meaningful, conversations that I would not have had if I had simply posted HB on their FB wall. Heaven forbid.

Imagine my delight at finding this post containing the below image. At least now I know that I’m not the only crazy person out there. Also, be careful: just to keep it more real, I may just pitch on your doorstep with an actual gift.

Consider yourself warned.birthdays_greetings












* this is my year of authenticity, of meaningful relationships. It’s a long, complicated story.

Ps. I was totally going to retire my blog earlier this week, for various reasons I didn’t have the time or energy to blog about. This post started out as a FB post that just got completely out of hand, so hey. Here we are.


Captain’s log – After the fact

My darling husband was away on his annual Mancation last week and every year so far, without fail, there has been some form of drama. 

There was the year we got a new dog and I had to deal with getting her settled with a rather cantankerous existing dog, the year our domestic fairy drank ALL our special wine we were saving in the back of a cupboard and was found, drunk as a skunk, at our dining room table. There was last year when I had to cope with arguments around hockey and homework with Daniel. Last year was hard. Very, very hard. 

This year was friggin amazing. 

When it rained on Wednesday when Etienne left and it rained cats and dogs I thought I would come home to a leaking roof. I didn’t. 

When my garage door creaked ominously on Thursday morning I thought it would stop working. It didn’t. 

When I had to get the kids ready every morning I thought, for certain, that there would be drama at least one day. There was none. Not even a whiff of drama. Even when we all forgot that Daniel had to wear PT clothes on Friday and I had to bring him home to get changed there was no drama. We just laughed and came home and I dropped him off at school, still in time. 

When I made my second fire ever all by myself on Wednesday evening I thought I wouldn’t be able to get (and keep) it going. I did. (A fact still disputed by my traitorous children)

When Daniel and I had to go to the gym at 5pm on Friday I thought he would give me a hard time about it. He didn’t, he was a star.

No-one argued about food, no-one had a meltdown. Everyone worked together and they each had a turn to sleep with me and have a night of cuddles. We had a great time together. 

Whenever I go away for work Etienne makes it seem so easy, I’ve always been a bit jealous of how easily he chats to the kids and just makes everything look so damn effortless. I always admire how he has his shit together as much as it makes me feel bad for being the one who tends to be SO the complete opposite. The one who forgets shit. Who gets sidetracked. The list of transgressions is long.

I guess what I’m really trying to say is that I’m ok this year. For a long time I wasn’t. When you’re not ok kids are HARD. Who am I kidding, they’re awesome, but hard anyway. Just more so when you’re not in a good space yourself.

So. If you’re not in a good space, make a plan. Just do it. 

Get off that hamster wheel of self-loathing and guilt. Just do it. 

It’s so worth it. 

Ps. I was still ridiculously happy to see my husband yesterday, becaus I missed him like mad. And spooning. I love spooning. 

Gym bunnies

In a bid to deal with our son’s low muscle tone I suggested we go for personal training at the gym and promptly bought one of those PT packages. It would a great Mother-Son bonding thing to do, I thought. It would be fun, I thought. 

If you know me at all you’ll how much I hate going to the gym. I am the most UN-gym-type person you’ll ever meet. My idea of gym is leopard-crawling in at 5am and making a beeline for the treadmill where I spend 40 min doing a brisk walk, avoiding eye contact with everyone and people-watching from the bubble of my treadmill.*

This personal trainer thing is so far out of my comfort zone it’s like a whole other universe. 

But, I thought, he will probably work more with Daniel and I can do my usual slinking-to-the-treadmill-thing. 

Not so much. This guy clearly likes a challenge. I did unspeakable things like crunches, lunges and push-ups this morning. And star-jumps. Star-jumps people! I haven’t done those since I was 10 years old. I may or may not have look shocked and outraged when he demanded suggested them at first. He may or may not have crossed his arms and stared me down a little. I’m usually a very difficult person to stare down, but I zipped my lip and star-jumped like a boss. 

He, very successfully, managed to juggle my personal torture training very well with keeping my son engaged and sweating and laughing. He didn’t complain ONCE. 

I’m going to be so sore tomorrow, but it was fun. I might get used to this. I may even grow to love it. 

Goes to show, you’re never too old to become a gym-bunny, nê?

*I mostly stare at the Lycra-clad women with faces fully made up and perfectly blow-dried hair. Who even bothers with make-up and hair at that ridiculous hour?

Taking the sting out of bullying

About a year ago we went through a really tough time with our son being bullied at school. It took many months of play therapy to help him deal with it and about the same amount of time for myself in counseling to learn how to not fall down crying in a heap on the floor at the mere thought. 

I received a call from a school Mom today, her child is going through the same as our boy did last year, courtesy of the same little group of fuckers. (Doos is just not a strong enough word here). I’m hoping the school will deal with it better this time, but that’s a whole other story. 

It made me think of how far we’ve come, sometimes 3 steps back before we could inch forward, but we’re getting there. 

Something that Mom said today about how she is opening dialogue with her son really hit home. Our son starts smirking when he feels scared or threatened. It’s his coping mechanism. He also doesn’t disclose easily, we’ve had to find other ways to get him to open up. 

So I thought, why don’t we play the Bully Game?

As we sat down to dinner tonight we said we had an awesome idea, why don’t they (the kids) pretend to be bullies and they can say absolutely anything horrible and we would respond like we were the ones being bullied. 

They looked at us like we were mad. 

Then our boy started out. We oooeeeed and aaahhhd, thought long and hard and looked perplexed and then offered a come-back which they had the right to agree with or not. 

It was like a verbal diarrhea of junk that came tumbling out. I think it was cathartic because he (and the Sussies) were free to just blurt it all out. We could see in his face when he was having fun and making stuff up and when he was repeating what has been said to him. It was the most he’s ever told us, knowingly or unknowingly. It gave them all the freedom to entertain that dark side we are forever telling them to suppress. 

This is huge. It is monumental. 

The lesson for me is really about the fact that, the more we, as parents, freak out, the worse it is for the child. There is much more value in being constructive about things like this, opening the door for them to feel safe enough to talk and to never, never make them feel weak for having to go through something like that, no matter how good our intentions are. 

The world is full of bullies, whether you’re 9 or 39, so I’d rather us teach our  kids to think on their feet and to allow them to practice how to deal with it. To take the power away from the bully. 

Because fear is what fuels a bully, and when you can laugh in their face or verbally put them in their place they longer have any power over you.

Whether you’re 9 or 39. 

Me Time

I had booked a half-day’s leave for today ages ago as it was meant to be Daniel’s birthday party tomorrow, which we decided to postpone until next week. (Long weekend, too many people away, weather bad for what we have planned blah blah blah)

I usually take time off before parties in order to prepare and bake the shit out of many, many things, but this year he wanted some fancy schmancy TMNT cake off Pinterest* after which, watching a YouTube tutorial on how to make Michaelangelo’s head, I promptly called a local cake lady. I know my own limits. 

This meant I had an entire afternoon TO MYSELF. This is unheard of. I considered canceling the leave for about a nanosecond, but the thought of a little time to myself was just too appealing. 

 So, I made an appointment at the hairdresser and took myself off to lunch and shopping in Tygervalley. 

I did attempt feeling guilty about my children sitting at Aftercare whilst I was flitting around a shopping mall and sitting at a hairdresser for 2.5 hrs, but the strangest thing happened: there was no guilt. I loved every minute of it. 

Whilst living in the UK in the 90’s (cough splutter, 20 years ago!) I used to love doing things on my own. Going to the library in Kensington High Street, buying Pret pastries and eating them, still steaming, on the Tube platform on the way home. I worked strange hours (as you do in hotels) and hardly saw my flat mates. Those were good times.

There’s hardly any alone time these days between work and home, and I wouldn’t exchange my life now for anything, but today was cool. 

I might try it again sometime. Soon.

* note to self: keep kids off Pinterest

Suffer the Children

In the next few days much will be said about the abduction and murder of Jayde Panayiotou, whilst we are all still reeling from the recent (ongoing??) Xenophobic attacks, load-shedding, The Fall of Rhodes etcetera etcetera etcereta. (Yes, I wrote those out on purpose. The list is long)

Everyone’s double-checking their locks and alarm systems at night. Women, especially, will be even more alert when leaving their homes. Facebook updates and comment streams are riddled with “I don’t want to be in SA anymore”.

What is happening here is creating a collective angst. Many people (myself included) wonder: when will I become a statistic. When will *I* become a victim.*

That’s all good and well, and we will mostly agree that this is a really difficult time for our country, that many of us simply cannot see a positive end to, but let’s think for a minute how this impacts our children.

We will not let our kids set foot outside the front gate unaccompanied. They are not allowed to walk down to the park by themselves. Or play there unobserved. Or play in the streets until it gets dark. They cannot walk in a shopping mall unaccompanied. They cannot walk to school by themselves. I hate sending my son into a public mensroom by himself. HATE.

We think we are teaching them to be independent when, in fact, we are teaching them fear. Fear of the unknown, intense fear of the Bogeyman (and not the healthy kind either). I don’t think we are able to teach them basic confidence in being able to do things for themselves. In how to conduct themselves beyond our fences and our protective arms.

They hear us talking about Zuma. They ask us why Zuma is President if he doesn’t take care of our country, Mommy? What can you say? We cannot hide everything from them, they look over our shoulders when we read the news and scroll through Facebook, they see the headlines in the Community Newspaper that comes on a Wednesday. We cannot isolate them from all bad news, but where do you draw the line?

There are only so many cute cat videos you can show them so they hopefully forget that Mommy laughed hysterically in the kitchen the night of SONA 2015.

There are only so many happy stories you can tell them about your own childhood without them wondering how their lives ended up so differently.

There are only so many times you promise them that the angry-looking man walking past your house you take a photo of whilst desperately trying to usher kids and bags into the house in the afternoon is really just walking past. Only to see his photo on your local Community Policing FB page the very next morning.

We are liars and our kids aren’t stupid.

And this will all just come back and bite us in the ass.

That is all.

*I’m almost too afraid to say that out loud. We don’t want to tempt fate, now do we?

The Sexy Lie

I’m a huge fan of Ted Talks. Ted is like opening the fridge door and ALWAYS finding something to eat.

Every now and again though, there is something that completely shifts the way I look at the world. This talk is one of those moments.*

There are 2 things that really stood out for me:

  1. Habitual Body Monitoring: as women, we think constantly about how we sit/stand/look and how much of our mental space this takes up.
  2. “We raise our little boys to view their bodies as tools to master their environment, we raise our little girls to view their bodies as projects to constantly be improved.”

Think about it. I’m not saying we do this on purpose, but my girls see me not eat potatoes and rice and ask why. They probably overhear me talk about having to lose weight to my friends.

We teach our children that, as long as you are healthy, it doesn’t matter what your body looks like. That you should love your body just the way it is. It’s mostly lip-service though. We don’t always live by our own words.

The other thing she mentions is how much we (and, by default, our children) are exposed to objectification in advertising. We switched off Dstv about 18 months ago and have never looked back. I do NOT miss being bombarded by adverts of how my life/body could be better. Sometimes I do get a little FOMO when people talk about a great advert, but that’s what YouTube is for.

In saying this, our kids are, however, still exposed to the little girls at school who tell them that “they aren’t allowed to eat a chocolate because their Mom says that they will get fat”. How’s that for teaching your child that their body is not a project to constantly be improved?

I hope you watch the talk. If you do, please let me know what you thought?

*I was contemplating just sharing it on Facebook, but am nervous it will go missing in all the noise there. Also, this way I get to “keep” it here for ease of reference, because, trust me, I’m going to be showing it to EVERYONE. Consider yourself warned.

When you wish you could convince your child that it really will be ok in the end

We have the most amazing son. He is irreverently funny, he is incredibly kind and super sensitive to other people’s emotions. He is, fortunately or unfortunately, uncannily perceptive for his age.

He is also not a stereotypical boy child. He doesn’t fit into the mold of the majority of boys (especially Afrikaans boys) of his age. He is never going to be a rugby player and has never enjoyed rough and tumble. 

This is not a problem for us, but he is finding that the world doesn’t always accept, especially, boys that don’t fit into a certain box. 

This is very hard to write about as, first and foremost, we don’t want to label him unless we absolutely have to. We just want him to BE who he is and be HAPPY. 

Secondly, this is the Internet. Enough said. 

I have realised lately that I have wasted too much time feeling a little sorry FOR him. Hurting FOR him. 

Because he is so very perceptive and knows that I get upset when he tells me when something bad has happened he stopped talking to us for a while. It’s only when I realised that he is way, way more resilient than we gave him credit for and started trusting him that he started opening up again. 

It has been a huge lesson in not jumping in and wanting to rescue the whole time, but rather taking a step back, breathing deeply and creating opportunities for him to open up when he was ready to talk. For trusting him to work through some of his own stuff and then seeking us out for comfort and acceptance when he is ready.

I still want to keep him close to my heart and tell him that he WILL find his ‘tribe’. He will find those special people and it will feel like coming home.* 

You’ll forgive me if I sound vague, but it’s part of our personal parenting journey. Those of you that have beautiful, amazingly different children like we do will get it though, and you’ll know about getting over yourself and adapting to what your child needs. Come hell or high water. 

*As long as it’s not some weird religious cult, in which case, all bets are off