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. 

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.

Surviving Christmas

minionIt seems as if everyone I speak to has something about family/extended family and Christmas this year that is causing them stress or pain.

If this is the case for you, I am popping in to tell you: you are NOT alone. Most families have at least one asshole, even though that asshole might even be you. There is probably no such thing as a completely harmonious Christmas. Why? Because family. It is the one day of the year you may be forced to spend with people you are related to (either by blood or marriage), but might not actually like. We are all trying to survive the Potential Political Minefield of food, duties, gifts and company.

It’s the one time of year we tend revisit old resentments and often family arguments erupt over long-forgotten slights.

Here is what I have learnt:

Stop trying to impress people, they’re so wrapped up in their own shit they really don’t care (this was a very painful lesson for me)

Don’t expect anyone to thank you for anything (enough said)

Don’t over-commit on duties (it is probably the first year as an adult I’m really going to achieve this, will let you know how it goes..)

If someone doesn’t do/bring/make what they said they would, nod and smile and top up your wine.

Immediate family (i.e.husband/partner and/or children) FIRST. Always. If you’re spending 3 days cooking and cleaning you didn’t *actually* spend Christmas with the most important people.(yup, another lesson I had to learn the hard way)

If someone doesn’t like what you gave them: whatever. Smile and hand over the slip so they can go and exchange it. Then top up your wine again.

If someone doesn’t make an effort IGNORE them. They’re probably not worth the mental energy you waste on them anyway. Rather go and hug a child.

If none of the above helps, at least back away from the cutlery, you don’t want to be stabbing anyone with a fork on Christmas day. Then sit back and watch the day unfold, you might be amazed by what you see.

Lastly: for friends who are not spending Christmas with their children, suffered loss this year or are spending this time under extraordinarily stressful conditions: I hold you in my heart. I know how hard the day will be for you, but I promise you that it will get better, either through a change in circumstance or through acceptance. Failing that: just smile and wave.

And DON’T, for the love of Christmas, be an asshole.

Let’s be Festive

People that are in the service industry hate Christmas. There. I said it.

Why do they hate Christmas? Because customers are assholes.

I say this with confidence as, when young(er), I had the dubious privilege of working in the hospitality industry. For 8 Christmases. And 8 New Years’.

It is hell. For many (many!!) hours a day you listen to the same music on repeat. Long days on your feet that are stretched longer because, inevitably, someone doesn’t arrive for work. People are miserable (and that’s just the customers).

I have been watching people in malls* this past week and just shake my head. The amount of women that have aggressively pushed other trolleys/people out of their way, often accompanied by some choice words, astounds me. Couples with children that grumble and bitch at each other and their kids. Little wars in parking lots. People that drive like assholes. Moaning on Social Media.Oh, the moaning on Social Media!

It’s really very unnecessary. Could everyone please just calm the fuck down? Think before you lose your temper WITH ANYONE. Don’t take your kids to the shops unless you absolutely, absolutely have to. It’s really just not worth the anger or accompanying exhaustion.

When you address a brand in Social Media to complain CHECK before you hit the send button and look like a doos. (Yup, still my favourite word)

People that are providing a service to you are not your punching bags, they often work for very little money just to have to suck up your crap.

Try smiling at that cashier/packer/waitress/petrol attendant and ask them how they are doing, you will be amazed at their response. It gives me great satisfaction to see their faces light up when I ask them how they are holding up. Be a human and think about the next person. Go on, try it.

Isn’t that, after all, what Christmas is all about? Where is all the friggin joy?

Failing that, try watching this as a reminder. (It was shared in my FB stream by someone yesterday, but I can’t find who, so apologies for not crediting. If it was you, thank you, it’s all kinds of awesome.)

* I spent very little time in malls this Christmas by the way. Online shopping FTW.

PS. I’m blogging in the middle of the day at work because my computer is borked

PPS. One more sleep before I’m on holiday. (well, after all the Christmas prep, the Big Eat, followe by The Big Clean)

PPPS. Our gifts are ALL wrapped. We win at Christmas.

A letter to South Africa

Dear South Africa,

I want to talk about the elephant in the room. I want to talk about our relationship.

This is very hard for me to write, but I thought that putting my concerns down in writing would give us both some perspective.

I’m worried about the longevity of our bond, it feels like I’m alone in this relationship. You fail to give us letters and packages. You take away the electricity in our homes because of poor planning. You send riot police into the sanctity of our Parliament. You have invested our money in the palace of a King that is little more than a Common Crook. The list is long.

I appreciate that it may sound trite to write you this letter from the comfort of my spacious house in the suburbs whilst our children are happily swimming in our pool in your brilliant sunshine. I know we are more privileged than the vast majority of your other children here. I also know that we are blessed with stable jobs with good companies and that, from the other side of the looking glass, our life is just perfect.

I want you to know that there are cracks in our relationship. I want to tell you that I am worried about the future of our children, of all of your children living in our country of abundance.

I unfortunately find myself in the precarious position of re-evaluating the longevity of our relationship as you haven’t been there for us, your family. It feels like your priorities are all wrong, that you are not invested in us, your family. I worry that you are only taking care of yourself and not us, your family.

I ask myself: what would be the final thing that would make us leave you, but don’t want to think about the answer too much. What would be the final thing that would make us take our children and leave?

We love you South Africa, please don’t make it hard for us to stay. Just a little bit of effort, just a sign that you still care about us, your children, and all your other children.

That’s all I ask for.

The joy in the small things

The crappiest thing about depression and anxiety is that you lose the ability to notice and find joy in the small things.

It’s been a re-awakening the last few months, reclaiming the person that takes note and rejoices in the mundane. The person that sees the funny and embraces the joy. The person that feels, deeply, as painful as it sometimes can be.

On Saturday morning I noticed a beautiful, end-to-end rainbow lurking outside our kitchen door and I felt that joy for the first time in absolute ages.

I have a little list going of some of the small things that bring me joy:

  • Sliding my legs into good, cool linen at night. Life’s too short for poly-cotton.
  • Collapsing on our (newly covered) red couch.
  • The feeling of a clean face at the end of the day. (I’ve never been able to go to bed with make-up on)
  • When our doorbell rings and I know that, within minutes, our house will be filled with more love and laughter.
  • Good wine and whiskey. (if you know me you will know that this does not require any explanation at all)
  • Completing a crochet project, no matter how small. There is true gratification in seeing something you created.
  • Going for a pedicure. (even though I battle to sit still for an entire hour)
  • Our blood red front door. (Husband wasn’t too sure about this initially, but he’s over it now. Well, mostly)
  • Finding the *perfect* red for said front door.
  • Loud music and car/kitchen dancing with children.
  • Rolling out bedrolls to sit on under our tree.
  • Sharing the cool space under the tree with loved friends.
  • When, collecting children from Aftercare, they slip slightly sticky hands into mine and we have full palm-on-palm contact. There’s no feeling like that touch, no words could ever explain.
  • Being able to collect our children, collecting hugs and hearing all their stories, firsthand. It used to be completely soul-destroying to come home later and no-one wanted to talk about their day anymore.

I’m so grateful to be here again, it’s been a year with many hard lessons.

What makes you joyful? Do you seek to find the things that bring you happiness?

On writing

This is one of those posts that I hope comes out the right way.

Here goes:

My blog is not monetized. There are no adverts, no giveaways, no pretty widgets and plug-ins. I’m trying to keep it as clean and simple and honest as possible as there is enough noise on the Internet. I don’t have a Facebook page on purpose (although I do sometimes toy with the idea). I’m not driven by numbers.

In fact, the blog was private for a while this year and I’m still trying to come to terms with what I deem appropriate to share and what to rather keep within the confines of our home and closest friends. Emotionally it’s been a tough year, but I’m gathering myself toward myself. As you do.

I’m torn between wanting people to read (I will always love seeing people comment, even though I’ve unwittingly made it difficult for people to do so until today, thank you Laura!) and not wanting people to read (I feel too exposed, too judged, too emotionally fragile to deal with trolls).

I battle to find the right tone at the moment, I have to dig deep to see the funny some days, which is why I have to keep writing. It forces me to put things into perspective.

I have also neglected reading some of my favourite blogs – especially the local ones – and now I remember why I used to love reading them: they often put life into context. I haven’t opened Bloglovin for most of the year as, quite honestly, seeing all those unread posts make me want to run screaming (I really miss Google Reader btw, everything was *just* right).

What I’m really enjoying are the “quiet” blogs, the private thoughts that aren’t publicised. They somehow feel more honest, less contrived. Their intent, like mine, isn’t to generate income, it’s there for an outlet and support (I think). It’s like The Underground of Blogging.

It’s so easy to get sucked into chasing page-views, optimising what you write for the Whole Wide Web to read. It’s so liberating not to give a toss, mostly. Read it, don’t read it.

But for those of you that read and keep coming back I just want to take a moment to say thank you. Thank you for reading.

It means the world to me.

 

On choosing a colour

I suck at choosing paint colour.

BK (before kids), in our previous house, we decided to paint the outside of the house and I wanted a really soft yellow. I also worked very long hours, which meant I was hardly ever at home when it was light. The painter very kindly painted a sample on the wall for us and me, looking at it in the dark, thought it looked fine. What it actually ended up looking like was a sick lemon that had vomited all over the house. Since then I’ve been almost too cautious with choosing colours.

When we moved into our current house I once again picked what I thought was a light colour, but was actually a pinky mushroomy colour. I was pregnant at the time, so let’s just say it was pregnancy hormones..

With this renovation* it hasn’t gone too badly, except that I wanted grey, “not too dark, not too dead, must be just right”, I must be a paint salesperson’s nightmare. It looks cool, just maybe a little light, but I’m too scared to mess with it.

Which brings me to my latest project: painting over the slate surrounding our fireplace and in in our kitchen. The slate fireplace is lovely, if you’re stuck in 1975, so I wanted to incorporate some duck-egg blue. Jaaa, not so much, it’s more baby blue, but whatever.

The kitchen, once again done during my first pregnancy, circa the big pink mushroom paint debacle, has slate tiles on the wall and has dated really badly. And that kitchen is going to have to stay the same for the next few years in our current state of renovation fatigue, so painting slate it is. I had visions of a light turquoise, almost like that beautiful glass splashback you can install at a gazillion bucks a square centimeter. Instead, I have vomit hospital green. Do you think they will laugh down at the paint shop if I pitch up with my Le Creuset Caribbean Blue kettle and demand to have *that* colour? Ok, they probably will, but hopefully they won’t do it to my face.

Then, I want a red front door (which took some convincing of The Husband. I still don’t think he’s 100% on board, but I also think he’s just given up). In preparation of the red front door I, initially with the help of 3 sets of messy hands and after what looked like a blood bath, painted an outside bench Postbox Red and it doesn’t look too bad. Mostly.

And no, I’m not taking pictures of the kitchen, it’s too bad. I’m also considering outsourcing the actual painting, I’d rather stick to crochet and baking to be honest.

Stay tuned, this could get ugly.

*which is still not done, but we are almost there. Except for a leaking roof in the original part of our bedroom this past weekend – I’m talking water coming down through the light fittings. There was a LOT of bitching and moaning from my side as the builder had “fixed” a much smaller leak earlier in the week and we ended up with Niagara Falls. Not. Impressed.