Of guilt and responsibility and pressure

Before I start I would like to say 2 things:
1. I haven’t blogged in 16 days*. In my almost 5 years of blogging this is the longest I’ve ever gone without publishing a post. This doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about writing, I spend my life composing blog posts in my head, but somehow I just haven’t been able to put them down here. I’m a little meh and a lot busy. Nothing bad, just meh.
2. My husband is fabulous. What follows is in NO way to critizise him. As husbands go he is amazing. He plans our weekly menu, he sorts out our bills, he diffuses my temper and he generally puts up with all my shit without losing his own.

Here’s the scenario:
At the beginning of winter I was going to buy long-sleeved school shirts for Daniel and Etienne said they never wore long-sleeved shirts as kids as they used to ruin them (he has 2 older brothers), let’s get the school rain-jacket, the sleeveless jersey and we’ll get a long-sleeve jersey for really cold days. We never ended up buying a long-sleeve jersey. Because we’re terrible parents, obviously. This meant that Daniel, who doesn’t ever feel the cold anyway*, had his warm jacket and short-sleeves for the rest.

One morning this week we are getting dressed and the jacket is missing. And Etienne and I look at each other with that Oh Fuck look. It dawned on us that the child was going to go to school in short sleeves on the coldest and wettest day of the year. I was hugely upset and a couple of “I told you so’s” may or may not have been muttered.

This episode serves as an example of how I, and after subsequent conversations, my (female) friends, perceive this:
1. It is always our fault.
2. Regardless of whether someone (read: your husband) else didn’t do what they were meant to and this affects your child it is still your fault. Because clearly you should have gone all OCD on their ass or just have done it yourself in the first place.
3. We really are a little afraid of being judged my other Mothers (Look! That child is wearing short sleeves on the coldest day of winter, what a bad Mother he has!) Ergo: It is our fault. And yes, we all do it.
4. The buck stops with us Moms. Always. Everything is in a way always our fault. When our kids are underdressed it’s our fault. When the sun comes out and we didn’t put suntan lotion on before we sent them to school, it’s our fault.
5. If we made a promise we cannot keep it’s our fault.
6. When kids don’t eat the food we lovingly prepare it is somehow our fault.
7. When a child is being bullied/bullies/isn’t liked we feel like it’s our fault and what did we do wrong?

I am exaggerating a little, but you get my drift. I’m making light of  one episode, but have 3 children and all those little things add up to a massive load.  Mignon’s dry skin under her lip she keeps licking?  My fault because I can’t get it sorted within 5 minutes. Isabel biting her nails? My fault and responsibility to sort out.  And so on and so forth.

Or is it just me that feels like I’m mysteriously doing things wrong that should be blamed on me?

* as I wrote that sentence I was reminded of Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing compares to you: It’s been 7 hours and 15 daaayyyysss. Lovely little earworm for the rest of my day right there. You’re welcome.

** the sun briefly came out the other day, even though it was still about 7 degrees outside and he asked if they could run through the sprayers.  The child doesn’t feel the cold.  See also: he prefers to free-ball.  But that could just be a boy thing. I only have a (much younger) sister.

Trip down memory lane

Etienne’s about to sell his car, a white 1996 Toyota Corolla. The same car he has had since 1998.

1998 people, 1998.

I know, the man is a saint. 3 kids, a loopy wife and he has been driving the same car for the last 15 years. Granted, it has only needed to take him to Sanlam and back every day for most of that time (a whopping 7km each way), but the man is the most un materialistic person I have ever met.

When we started dating I coveted his car as I drove a yellow Opel Kadett, circa 1989, that I inherited from my Mom. I’m on my 3rd car from that Kadett and he just carried on with the Corolla, because he didn’t *need* a new car.

Tonight he cleaned out the cubby hole and came across a lot of papers from the last 15 years, so I’ll share a few with you that warmed my heart.

First off he found a receipt from Arthur Murray for dance lessons we had. We did the Tango at our wedding as a surprise and it blew all our guests away. We used the music from the famous Tango in Scent of a woman and it is one of my favourite memories from our wedding.

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Then he found this receipt from our honeymoon. We took a road trip in the Corolla and the Cat Stevens CD got stuck in the car CD player for most of our trip after an unfortunate day on a gravel road.

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As you can see, we went big at the bar with a whopping R24.50 after a shocking R36 spent on a bottle of Porcupine Ridge. Big spenders!

Lastly he found a receipt from Dr Paul le Roux, our Fertility Specialist from September 2005 confirming our pregnancy and ‘supervision of pregnancy’.

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That one made me a little weepy. See, we might not drive fancy shiny new cars, but we are rich beyond our wildest dreams as we have been blessed with each other and 3 wonderful children.

Even though I had to ask the girls to stop jumping on our bed tonight and take the (play) teapot out of their panties. Oh the glamour of parenting.

Edit to add: The wonderful Sam Woulidge just tweeted me this link. Go watch it, it is marvelous.

Ps. That place we went on honeymoon? Those chalets are R1900 per night these days. How’s that for inflation?
Pps. Etienne’s Dad actually suggested we go there on honeymoon and sent us off with a visual of my brand new In-laws in a jacuzzi. You’re welcome.

12 Things I Love About My Husband

Why 12 things I hear you ask? Quite simply, because today we celebrate our 12 year anniversary and I had to stop somewhere.

I think it was Khalil Gibran that said*: ‘Love that does not grow every day is busy dying’. When I look back over the last 12 years and specifically this time of year, every year, when I do some introspection about being married, I feel like I love my husband a lot more this year than I did last year. Did I love him more last year than I did the year before? Possibly not as much as I realized at the time as I was not ok myself. But this year my self-loathing is a little more in check, so my own capacity to love is bigger. (I’m hoping this doesn’t sound completely crazy and self-involved, there really is a point to this)

So anyway, there are some very specific things I love about Etienne, some I mention a lot and some I don’t.

1. His humanity. He will feed every single person that comes to our door if he could.
2. His complete uninterestedness in ‘stuff’. He doesn’t need to drive a fancy car or wear expensive clothes to feel good about himself. It really is just stuff to him.
3. His capacity to love. All of us that live in this house know exactly how much he loves us and he shows us every single day in a myriad of different ways. Whether he is cooking a favourite meal or brushing a child’s teeth, he does it as an expression of love, not as a chore that requires effort.
4. His ability to be organised. He is the one that makes sure we have a menu for the week and mostly cooks supper. He is the one that makes sure that we stay afloat financially. He is the one that goes to the library, takes out the trash and sorts out the bills I forget to pay because I had my head in the clouds (or up my bum).
5. He listens. I can complain about something in our relationship and he will actually actively try to change whatever I was unhappy about.
6. He would rather talk through a problem than let it hang, unresolved. I freak him out because I’m a master sulker and the Queen of The Silent Treatment.
7. He doesn’t hold a grudge. He is one of the most unconditionally forgiving people I have ever had the privilege to know.
8. He doesn’t get mad easily. And then, even when he does, he only gets sad, not aggressively mad.
9. He doesn’t stay mad. He is really good at getting it out and getting on with life.
10. He is affectionate. He spoons, he says “I love you”, he cuddles on the couch, he holds my hand.
11. He actually enjoys talking, he asks about my day. He listens and offers advice and doesn’t take it personally when I don’t listen (see point above about me having my head in the clouds or up my bum or stuck in my cellphone)
12. Lastly, he is an incredible Father. His children feel treasured and safe and love and cherished and listened to, much like his wife does. He sets the example that they will hopefully end up like as adults, because that was all they knew to be.

I look forward to growing old with this wonderful, wonderful man I am blessed with.

Lief jou!

*for the life of me I cannot find that quote anywhere

A state of Happiness

One of the things I love most about walking (except for the fact that my body seems to be losing the weight in the wrong “B” place, that is, Boobs instead of Belly) is that it gives me time to reflect.  It also gives me an opportunity to walk past pretty houses and gardens and appreciate their beauty.

Several people have commented lately that I look really well and I usually crack a joke and say it’s all because of good drugs, but it struck me yesterday that I really am really well.

And Happy.

Sure we are still broke, I still have to work full day and I still get to see far too little of my kids, but I’m actually Happy.

I was trying to figure out what it means to be happy and why I would suddenly feel happier now than, say, a month ago. (except for the good drugs that is).  I remember reading an Afrikaans story many years ago about how you only experience happiness as a memory and I remember thinking at the time how sad that is, because it is so true.

How often do you relate fun stories to people as memories and remember thinking how happy you were at the time?  What could possibly be wrong with being happy now, in the moment?

Here are a couple of things that I think have contributed to this feeling state of happiness:

  1. I’m more “in the moment” at the moment. I’m trying hard to make eye contact with my kids when they talk and really try to listen in to what they are saying now that they are getting really good at expressing themselves.  They are funny, bright and happy children.
  2. I’m feeling grateful for my life.  I’ve stopped wanting to be what I am never going to be and started looking at what we have and what I am NOW.  Really looking.  And appreciating.  And accepting.
  3. I’ve come to realize that people that drive past me when I’m walking might be judging my fat stomach and arse, but at least I’m not watching those cars from the couch.  So who really cares?
  4. I’ve come to accept that some people in my life will never change so best I stop fighting with them about things that will simply never be different.  That was incredibly liberating and it takes away their power to hurt me.  I highly recommend this!
  5. I have an awesome husband.  Our relationship gets stronger by the day because we are both working at it.  And that love is a shining beacon for our children (permit me that little soppiness!) Life really is too short for relationships based on compromise, falseness or lack of trust.
  6. I’m taking time out for ME. Who would have thought??
  7. I am spending less time on the internet.  I have been a bad tweeter and I have been a really bad blogger lately, but I would rather spend time having a conversation with Etienne or reading a book on my Kindle Fire I got as a gift recently (How friggin awesome is that?!).  I miss my friends in the computer, but the ones that are worthwhile will understand.
  8. I refuse to be in a rush. I would rather either start getting ready 5 minutes earlier or be 5 minutes late to a social event than rush.  (Not like the party we were 40 minutes late for recently instead of 10 minutes as I got the time wrong.  Oops).  I’m also taking my time reading to the kids at night and not rush through it and give that extra cuddle and kiss at bedtime as they seem to settle sooner then.
  9. I’m taking the time to dress to feel good, not cover up as much as I can with wide, black clothes.  With varying degrees of success, but hey, I’ll keep trying!  At least some days I leave the house now feeling (gasp) pretty.  Makes such a difference to my work-persona
  10. Speaking of work:  I love my job.
  11. I’m determined to stop hating my body by not giving in to telling myself how fat/ugly I look and feel as a consequence.  Once again, with varying degrees of success, but it’s a work in progress.

Are you Happy?  What is wrong with your life now that prevents you from feeling Happy? What holds you back?

Glass Full to the Brim

It occurred to me again today that life is all about perception.

I’ve been a little pissy lately about a couple of things I can’t talk about here at length, but I took a long look at our life of late and I have decided that, instead of being angry/hurt/sad about things that aren’t the way I think they should be I would be spending my time a lot more constructively by choosing to see them in a positive light.

For example:

I could choose to be upset about my Mother pulling The Full Hypochondriac on our GP yesterday when she had to take Mignon or I could choose to be grateful that she is there to help us out and take our kids to the doctor when it is impossible for us to do so.  So I choose to be grateful. (and roll my eyes quietly)

I could choose to completely lose my shit over spilt porridge in the morning or I could choose to be grateful that the kids demand to be independent. (Wow.  And how)(They get that from me) (Of course)

I could choose to feel sorry for myself when I leave a sick child at home or I could choose to be grateful that at least I work close enough to home so I can pop up and spend a little time with her and steal a hug and a cuddle. (it’s just sad that they only sit still when they are under the weather)

I could choose to resent Etienne because I *have* to work or be grateful that he is the kind of Dad that chooses to have balance and actually enjoys spending time with his kids. (truth is, I would have worked anyway.)

I could choose to get annoyed that our domestic lady isn’t great with understanding medicine and taking temperatures or I could choose to be grateful that our house is immaculately clean, our washing is done and our clothes are beautifully ironed and packed away.

I could choose to worry about money and Christmas coming up or I could be grateful for the awesome job I have and trust that we will be just fine.

So.

I choose to be grateful. I choose to feel rich.  Especially when I find all this in our bed in the mornings:

 

Daniel trying to hide, Isabel in the middle and Mignon looking as sick as she is at the moment. And Etienne. Poor guy.

What are the things you are grateful for today?

 

The fundamental difference between men and women

is not not asking for directions.

It’s not being good at organising.

Point in case:

Etienne and Daniel are leaving early tomorrow morning to go fishing and staying over with 2 other guys and their boys.  It’s the first time ever we’ve really had fun with the kids apart from each other and I’m really looking forward to bonding with my girls.  It’s been a long, long week and I’m still getting my work-groove on.

Anyhoo.  I get home tonight and there’s some stuff on the counter that’s going with the boys.  Here is the conversation:

  • Me: “what are you doing for supper tomorrow night?”
  • Etienne:  “Having a braai”
  • Me: “who’s taking what?”
  • Etienne: “I don’t know, but I bought mielies and meat and garlic bread”
  • Me: “Why don’t you just call and ask?”
  • Etienne: “No”

5 minutes later we are talking about packing and we have this conversation:

  • Etienne: “…and I’ll pack the sleeping bags and towels”
  • Me: “Isn’t there bedding?”
  • Etienne: “I don’t know”
  • Me: “Why don’t you just call and ask?”
  • Etienne: “No”

I know I’m slightly anal retentive about who’s taking what, where am I going to sleep, what will it look like and how long will it take to get there.  I like to manage my own expectations (so to speak), so I’m always amused at how guys in general and my darling, darling husband in particular is so relaxed about these things.

God forbid they should have to ask for directions..