Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Adogtion or What happens when you eat too much chocolate or vanilla ice cream

Last week I celebrated Mother's Day at Emma and Ben's school. I joined all the other mommies for a cup of tea and a mini concert, where Ben played his very own air guitar.

One of the little girls asked me why I was there and Emma piped up that it's Mother's Day and I'm her mom (like, duh!). To which the little girl replied that there's no way this was possible as Emma's brown and I'm white.

As an adult, an overly sensitive one, and a mom, I immediately got my Friday broeks in a knot, and for the rest of the day stewed and mulled over what this meant, how did Emma interpret it, had she been effected and affected by it, and most importantly, how was I going to manage it at home?

Together the headmistress and I discussed that Emma would be able to do a little talk on how she came to be our daughter at her birthday ring the following week. Slowly slowly I introduced the idea and she seemed interested, but also wanted to know why she needed to do it. 

I explained that some people, young and old, wanted to know more about adoption, and that we would be in a good position to help them understand it a little better. To which Emma asked what the word 'adoption' means. I said it means that you sometimes have two mommies, one that carried you in her tummy, and another mommy who wanted you so bad, you lived in her heart and then together. 

Ben said 'adogtion' was when Chloe (our Jack Russell) was your mommy.

At that moment Emma thought it was a good idea and so we decided we would work on a few sentences over the weekend. On the Monday (the birthday ring was on Tuesday) I reminded her that she was going to chat to her friends about adoption but she didn't want to. I said that that wasn't a problem at all but didn't she think her classmates would like to know about our special family? I also asked (again) if she remembered why her and Ben were brown and Mark and I were white and with a roll of the eyes, and a divaesque sigh, she said "we're brown because we eat too much chocolate ice cream. You and dad eat too much vanilla!"

So, quite simply, this is what differentiates white and brown people. A love of different flavoured ice creams. 

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Mr Wobbles. Friend and Foe

Yesterday I was chatting to a friend and was saying I was at my wits end with Emma and Ben. They don't seem to take me seriously when I shout and at the moment I feel like a little bit of a doormat, with the commands and orders. 

I asked her if she ever gives her children a hiding and she said she only ever had to do it once. She has a wooden spoon, called Mr Wobbles, which if ever she even makes reference to, they stop what they're doing and behave. 

So I thought I'd try it with Emma and Ben. I drew a sad face on a wooden spoon, because Mr Wobbles doesn't like giving smacks, and introduced him to my children. I explained that in future, when talking has failed, he'll come out and give them a smack on the bum. 

They asked if I'm being serious or 'play-playing'. I said I'm as serious as the wood Mr Wobbles is made of. They asked me to demonstrate how hard the smacks would be but I said no, it's only for when they misbehave.

I left them for a little bit while I got their baths ready, hoping the information would sink in, and the threat of a hiding would in itself change things.

When I went back to see what they were up to I realized I hadn't introduced Mr Wobbles with enough conviction. 

Emma had turned a few of our spoons into Mr Wobbles' and Ben asked if he could take him to school!

Dearest Emma, what I want you to know

On the eve of my 43rd birthday, and a few days before your sixth, there are a few things I wanted to share with you. By no means are they words of wisdoms or great splashes from the fountain of knowledge. I don't think I've got my shit together to be dishing out advice, even on my 43rd trip around the sun. 

Emma, life isn't easy, and contrary to popular belief, practice doesn't make perfect. Closer to 50 than I'd like to be, I make mistakes on a daily basis. I learn from some, and others seem to be on repeat. I guess it's true what they say, that until you've learnt a lesson, the lesson, it'll keep showing itself. Mistakes are fine to make. But I'd suggest you acknowledge them, learn from them and then move on. Don't wallow in it. Don't let it define you. There will be a hundred more to come, and a hundred more after that. 

I look at old photos of me with a little bit of sadness, realizing only now that I wasn't actually THAT fat or THAT ugly. Embrace you as you are now. Every moment. Appreciate the fat days cos you'll feeling amazing on your 'skinny' ones. Love your hair, your smile, your feet, your fingers. Love every inch of yourself cos no one else will. Not like you can. Love yourself. Let it seep from every perfect pore in your body. You will only ever be as beautiful as you believe. So believe it. Build a shrine to it. And live in it. 

My angel child, if I've learnt anything, it's there's no such as thing as normal. 'Normal' doesn't exist and as long as you try to be that, you'll always be 'abnormal'. If you ever need to change something about yourself to fit in then rather move on. Take a stand Emma. For what you believe in. For what you want. Be flexible with some things. But never with your values and beliefs. 

Sometimes, when it's quiet and I have a little time to myself, I find myself thinking, about decisions made, or avoided, things I should have said, or not, and sadly I realize I have a lot of regrets. Emma, youth might be wasted be on the young but regret will slowly eat away at you as you get older. My wish for you is that you regret nothing. Nothing at all. Don't waste your time loving someone who doesn't love you back. Don't be unhappy in a job for a day, a week, a year. Don't stay in a relationship because you think you should. Don't hurt people intentionally but don't be a pushover. Travel the world. See South Africa. Take the path least travelled. Have a holiday fling. Hell, have three or four. Fall in love with a Frenchman and a Scot. You have to hear 'I love you' in one of these accents at least once in your life. 

Emma you can be the cleverest girl in the room, you can be the most successful. You can be the richest and the prettiest, but if you can't be nice to people, genuinely nice, then none of that matters. Always say please and thank you, always accept compliments with gratitude and grace. Stay humble and true. Be the friend you would want to have. Don't gossip or spread rumours, don't get involved with drama and definitely don't be the drama. Achieve your goals and dreams with integrity and Emma, if you need to tell people you have that, then you probably don't. 

Trust your gut. Always. Help those that need it, and do it with an open heart. Do it not expecting anything in return. 

As miserable and as shitty as this life can be, it's also a gift. Enjoy each and every moment and bask in it. Love madly, speak loudly, dance wildly.

March to the rhythm of your own drum. Sing in the shower, in the car, in the lift. Skip if you feel like it. Play hopscotch and jump in puddles. Do cartwheels and handstands. Wear that bikini. Wear those shorts. 

Grab life with both hands and live it, so that when you're sitting on a couch, on the eve of your 43rd birthday, you'll have some advice that you can share.

These almost six years with you have gone by in a flash. They are filled with moments that have made my heart overflow and memories that'll stay with me forever. 

From the first time I saw you I knew I would never need anything else. You are my greatest gift xxx

Thursday, 19 March 2015

A lesson in life

Last night I went berserk. Like actually stark raving mad. Emma was in the bath. Ben was with me. He decided he wanted to bath with 'ceecee', Ben's nickname for his big sister.

It has been a long day, and from the moment they got home from school, it was a constant ebb and flow of playing together and nearly killing each other. I had tried talking, reasoning, threatening and bribing, none successful. 

By the time the moon was in the sky, my mood was low. I was tired, emotionally, physically. I was trying to get through a was load of work, stressing about things that still needed to be done. And then Ben gave a blood curdling scream. As I ran into the bathroom Emma was in the process of throwing a bucket of water at Ben. 

He was screeching that Emma had pulled his willy sore. And I lost it. I screamed STOP! JUST STOP! DID YOU PULL HIS WILLY? As I was screeching I knew I sounded insane. At a different time, in a different situation, I'd be giggling about the things parents find themselves saying. But I was out of control. 

Emma just looked. Ben just looked. Mark just looked. I walked out, not wanting to do any more damage. 

A little while later I went to Emma. I asked what she was watching and in her usual cheery voice she answered 'Paw Patrol'. 
"I'm sorry Emma."

"For what?"

"For shouting like that. It's not an excuse but I'm tired and I don't feel great. But it's still not okay that I lost my temper."

"It's ok mommy. I always love you. No matter what. Wanna watch 'Paw Patrol' with me?"

In an instant I learnt about forgiveness, unconditional love and the power of saying sorry. 

As an aside, today a friend of a friend said goodbye to her little boy. He had fought a brave battle against cancer, but today he closed his eyes for the last time. I cannot even begin to comprehend what his family is going through. I don't know how you say goodbye to your child, your baby. I have no idea how you begin again, how you wake up the next day. And the day after that. 

What I do know is the next time I want to rant and rave like a woman possessed, I need to remind myself that I am blessed, and nothing, absolutely nothing, is ever so bad that I need to behave the way I did.