Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Where'd our village go?

"I miss that village of mothers that I've never had. The one we traded for homes that, despite being a stone's throw, feel miles apart from each other. The one we traded for locked front doors, blinking devices and afternoons alone on the floor playing one-on-one with our little ones."

This morning, lying in bed, with the tingling of a migraine starting, probably caused from the last two days, on my own, with Emma and Ben, I came across this article, I Miss the Village, on Huffington Post. It resonated with me on so many levels and I found myself reading it over and over.

In an age where we are SO 'connected' I don't think we've ever been more alone, on our own. I remember growing up in a neighbourhood where everyone knew everyone else. We'd get home from school, drop our bags, lie about homework being complete and dash off to no. 7, 11, 8, 15 or 16 Hammond Road, to swim, pick peaches from trees, play catches, hide and seek, red rover, cricket and or tennis. School holidays were a blast. Our road was a cul de sac and so days were spent outside, from 7 am until some annoying parent ended our game of 'skop die emmer' at eight or nine at night. If a kid was missing you didn't think the worst. You didn't alert police. You sent siblings to the various houses to find them and chances were they were having supper because aunty Norma, Sally or Betty had made their favourite meal.

Our little 'village' raised us. Even if our own parents were out of sight, being spotted by a neighbour snogging the local hottie, puffing on a forbidden cigarette or skipping school meant we were in trouble, because that very same neighbour would pop in or call the offending kid's parents to let them know. Visiting at a friend's house meant abiding by that friend's mom's rules. We listened and heeded their telling off. And if we were stupid enough to misbehave or be cheeky or rude, our mom would know about it before we had even gotten home.

I don't remember ever hearing my mom say to a friend or a family member "let me check my diary to see if we're available". People 'popped in' and stayed. For lunch or dinner or umpteen cups of tea. There was no Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. Instead people sat opposite one another, laughing (not LOL'ing), crying (not *insert emoticon with tears*). We didn't know what each other was up to without spending time with them.

Phone calls were long. To friends, boyfriends and family members. Because there was lots of catching up to do. Even if we had seen them two or three hours earlier at school. Aunts were visited every Sunday but during the week a lot could happen and would need a half hour conversation of telling and retelling what was said, what was done. We didn't cut people short with a "I'm busy, can you whatsapp me?"

Emma and Ben have spent some time with Ester, our retired nanny, in Cosmo City and they  have loved it. From the laughter and banter on the taxi to the endless stream of visitors at her house. People chat to one another, neighbours borrow sugar and eggs, there's grannies and grandpas and big sisters and grandchildren in a house and everyone shouts at the TV during the soapies. When they get home they talk about all the kids in the park and the people in the neighbourhood. They love the hustle and bustle and the togetherness. I don't know, maybe you feel a part of something in all that busyness. We, in our houses with high walls, decorated with electric fences, wifi and ADSL, facebook, email and twitter, are alone. Dogs barking at the gate means that a 'stranger' is dropping off the community newspaper, not that there's an unexpected (very welcome) visitor. After shushing them we go back to our laptop, desktop cell phone, to continue being 'social'.

"The days would be full of conversation as we expertly flexed a muscle that has since gone weak: the art of listening. Quiet empathy in lieu of passive judgement, and when called for, gentle, sincere advice. In our village, our members are our estate and we build them up."

I too miss that village. The one from not that long ago.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014


It's not often I use a profanity as a title, nor do I regularly use punctuation marks in them but this time around I couldn't help myself.

Why F@ck It All! you ask? Well,  in the last few days I have read an article based around self-soothing and how bad it is for babies. I've also read an article written by a UK nanny explaining how parenting is in crisis because we don't let babies learn to self-soothe. We also don't 'discipline' our children enough apparently. But ask 10 people what discipline means to them and you'll get 10 very different answers, from beating the sh!t out of a child to a slight shake of the head and wag of the finger.

I've read / heard / seen the positive effects of the latest LCHF 'diet' and have also read  and heard how the very same eating plan is detrimental to ones health and should be avoided at all costs. I know of at least five pro banting people and another five anti banters (are they called banters?) and in all of this I'm still trying to figure out what banting is.

I don't know. I just don't get it. With Emma and Ben there was no such thing as self-soothing. Probably because I hadn't read or heard about it. Emma happily lay in her bed chatting to herself (which she still does) and Ben was a screaming mess. The only way to get him to stop crying was to hold and rock him, and often that didn't work. Have I messed up one and not the other? Emma nowadays loves falling asleep next to me. Ben doesn't. He likes it but if you ask him if he wants to lie in his bed he says yes.

Years and years ago I lost weight with Weigh-Less. Nowadays I keep myself 'in shape' with an eating disorder. Works for me, if not for others (said with tongue in cheek before anyone jumps on the comment bandwagon). Because I don't need to lose weight I have no idea of what the various eating plans are nowadays. And if there comes a time when I do need one, I'll find one that works for me.

In a nutshell I suppose what I'm saying is 'diet and let diet', 'parent and let parent', 'live and let live'.

We're all just trying to make our way through this little adventure called life.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Writers challenge day 3: My Greatest Fear

Day three's topic for the writers challenge is My Greatest Fear. And I've been wondering what mine is since 6pm this evening.

I have many. I'm scared of dying. I'm scared of dying too young or too old. I'm afraid of outliving my husband and my children. I'm scared of the dark. I'm scared of spiders and frogs and scared of where my mind sometimes takes me. 

And as I pondered what my greatest fear really is, I carried on with my weekday routine. I got Emma and Ben bathed, dished up their dinner and we sang a few songs together. Ok, they sang. I Milli Vanillied my way through the nursery rhymes (another fear of mine is singing out loud around people).

I put Ben to bed and then Emma and I sat down together. I was prepping for  a work day tomorrow and she busied herself with drawing and cutting out her pictures. 

Out of the blue she said "you know mom, you didn't ask me how my day was today." Somehow in the madness of them getting home from school, taking work calls and trying to finish up things I could have sworn I had asked, but I knew it wasn't worth arguing. Not with a five year old. 

"I'm so sorry Ems. How was your day?" And that was it. My simple question launched a thousand thoughts and conversations. 

"Did you know that M's mommy is having a baby soon?" And my other friend , H, his mom is also having a baby. And teacher R and teacher S."

"You know my friend D? He is the funniest boy at school. Do you know him mom? Well he wasn't at school at today!"

"Why not? Where was he? Is he sick?"

"No. I think he turned six so he's at big school now. And I think he's on holiday. I think I need a holiday."

"Why are you tired?"

"I'm so tired mom. And my friends just want to play running races. And I'm tired of running races. Today I asked them if we couldn't do walking races!"

And so it went on and on and on. And I found myself smiling. There we were, my daughter and I, chatting, catching up, shooting the breeze. And I suddenly realised what biggest fear is. 

That Emma turns into me one day. That she becomes the closed book I am. I'm great at surface type conversations but let my family ask me about me, my day to day stuff or the important stuff, and I shut down. Literally. Figuratively. I get irritated that they're prying. I get angry that they dare cross my imaginary line of what they should and shouldn't ask, what they think they shouldn't and should know. 

My greatest fear is that Emma shuts down on me. That my questions are seen as interfering and my interest in her day to day things are considered nosy. 

This, I realised today, is my greatest fear.

Writers Challenge Day 2: my five favourite words

Okay so I don't necessarily have five favourite words but I do have words I use a lot, so I'm hoping that counts (or at least just five times).

In no particular order, I present to you the five most used words by myself. 

Breathe....I use this 'mantra' for myself and for Emma and Ben. When they're getting themselves into a state about one having a toy the other one wants, or when one tries to poke ones genatalia in the other ones eye and the pokee is distraught I simply say Breathe. In and out, in and out. 

And I do the same thing for me. Sans any genatalia near my eyes. When I'm overwhelmed by all life throws at me, when I feel I can't anymore, when it all feels a little too much. I breathe. 

No....yes! This word gets used a lot. So much so I think my kids thought their names were Emma No and Ben No. I'm trying to use it less when it comes to them but a little more when it comes to me.

Yes...I find it so hard to say 'no' (to other people). And I 'no' I need to establish boundaries for myself where I don't agree to everything that's asked of me. It's exhausting trying to be a people pleaser (for all the wrong reasons). But I probably need to say yes more often to my husband instead of no (if you know what I mean)

Coffee...whether it's ordering it, thinking of it, asking aforementioned husband to make it for me, I use the word a lot. Almost as much as I drink it 

And yes you guessed it, a profanity made its way onto the list.

F*ck, fark, feck, all its various forms. More often than not I'm saying it in my head, to myself, about something I've forgotten, remembered, lost. Dropping the kids off at school on a holiday - f*ck! When I forget a friend's birthday - fark! When I realise I've made an awful decision - feck! When I see all my grey hairs - faaaaaaaaak! 

So there we have it. My five favourite words. Not poetic, not deep or philosophical. Just five average words I use a lot.