Thoughts on Goodbyes

This evening we’re going to a little farewell gathering for some friends who are leaving the island to go back home. This will definitely not be the last time we say goodbye to new friends here, but it is the first. And as I feel the loss of the great energy they bring to our social circle here and the gap their absence will leave behind – it’s getting me thinking about the nature of goodbyes.

In my adult life I’ve said the word “goodbye” a lot as we’ve moved around from place to place. I live far away from where I grew up and far away from my family so in fact, I feel like I’m constantly saying goodbye, and it doesn’t seem to get any easier with practise.

It’s a sticky word. A loaded one. A word that closes chapters – but also opens new ones.Read More »

Dear Working Mum

Dear Working Mum,

I don’t know how you do it.

We’ve all been tickled this week by the hilarious BBC interview that went so very wrong when a toddler and baby came running into the room while their dad was on Skype being interviewed about democracy in South Korea. It was my favourite YouTube moment of the year so far – until this morning, when a friend reposted this on Facebook, a spoof of what it would have been like if it had happened to a woman. A working mum. And the reason I laughed so hard is that it so absolutely could have been true.

But actually, it’s kind of not funny.

Because working mum, I don’t know how you do it.

I don’t know how you get up in the mornings and get not only your small people looking presentable, but yourself as well. Hair, make-up, clothes-that-do-not-fall-into-the-Active-Wear-category, grown-up shoes… but you do.

I don’t know how you make breakfasts and packed lunches, and get small people to sit down and eat said breakfasts, while simultaneously preparing yourself mentally for whatever tasks are waiting for you when you get to your desk… but you do.

I don’t know how you manage to do the school run, administering that all-important “one last kiss”, and then haul yourself across town (or sometimes even further) to wherever work is, and arrive on time… but you do.Read More »

Home from Home

I feel like a bit of a mutt, nationality-wise. My passport and birthplace call me British, my upbringing and my heart say I’m South African. Born in one place, raised in another – and now raising my own family here, there and everywhere – sometimes I’m a bit fuzzy about my national identity, about where “home” is.

I’m fuzzy, that is, until the exact moment, once a year or so, I step off a 747 on to the tarmac at Cape Town International Airport. And then it all becomes startlingly clear.

For me the simple truth is that “Home” is more than where the heart is.

Home is where the sky opens up to embrace you, where the smell in the air and the breeze on your face sing a familiar song and your heart relaxes. Where they know you without any need for explanation. Where street corners and memories are inseparable from one another and the bird song in the morning is like a language you’d almost forgotten was your mother tongue. Read More »

Something for the weekend – Eatin, Runnin, Readin… etc

Happy weekend! In our house we’re looking forward to our last weekend at home for a while (more on that later), so we’ll be doing all of our usual favourite things.

Eatin…

On Friday nights we always go out to our local pizza restaurant with a group of friends and neighbours. To me it’s a wonderful way to put a fullstop on the week and welcome in the weekend with it’s different rhythm – otherwise (especially with small kids) we were finding our weekend nights tended to look exactly like our week nights – and weeks and months were slipping away from us. So now a family night out to ring the weekend in is our ritual.Read More »

Can Mama Get a Sick Day?

First it’s denial… Scratchy throat? No – it’s nothing. I’m just thirsty. It’s not my four-year-old’s cold. Couldn’t possibly be. [**reaches for the fluids**]

Then it’s hope… Well, yes, okay, I do seem to be coming down with a bit of a cold but I still feel good – I’m sure it’ll pass quickly [**reaches for the Berocca**].

Then irritation… Ugh, this cold is getting worse and it’s messing with my week – we have three children’s birthday parties in the next four days – I cannot be sick! [**reaches for the paracetamol**]. Read More »

The Journey To Sleep

If you had told me a few weeks before my littlest’s first birthday that by the second week of January I’d be getting 8 hours of (mostly) uninterrupted sleep a night, feeling fresh and rested, and able to run 5km three mornings a week, I would have laughed at you. I would have laughed hard.

Because I was a wreck. Every time I switched off my light at night I felt like I was going into battle, never knowing quite when my adversary would strike, or how many times – but knowing it was coming. A good night was the baby screaming twice. A bad night was us getting up every hour or having her tossing about in the bed between us. I spent my days in a haze of exhaustion – cranky, miserable, and certainly not being the best mother I could be.

So how has it all turned around?

Read More »

Never Again Will You Be Three

In a few days we will blow out your candles, open your presents and sing happy birthday at the tops of our voices. We will have a party and throw streamers and play games and eat far too much cake and celebrate all that you are.

But what you won’t know is that as I sing “Happy birthday to you”, I will have a lump in my throat and an ache in my heart. Because never again will you be three.Read More »

A Happy New Year

Champagne, fireworks, hugs and kisses, and the ushering in of a brand new year. The celebration of the exchange of the old for the new, an acknowledgment that everything can be made fresh again.

This is new year.

May 2017 be for you and the people you love a year of positivity. A year of challenges instead of obstacles, when bumps in the road mean we’re feeling the ride more fully.

May it be a year of commitments kept. Of surrounding ourselves with people we can depend on and being that person for them in return.

May it be a year of kindness. To our children, our spouses, our family and friends, our acquaintances, to the stranger in the street – and to ourselves as well. Let’s listen more, understand more, empathise more, and judge less.

May this be a year of loving ourselves more. Loving ourselves enough to take responsibility for the changes we want to make in our lives.

May it be a year we use our bodies more. Live in them more, be more inspired by what they can do and how amazing they really are. Let’s put good things into them and ask good things out of them – because nothing is more important than our health and the health of the people we love.

May this be a year of more sunrises – of realising how much more we can get done in our day if we commit to starting it just an hour earlier.

May it be a year of gratitude. Of looking at the glass as not just half full but running over, and understanding that the more we focus on what we have, the more room we leave for even better things to come.

May this be a year of good books and good TV, of keeping up with what’s going on in the world and using technology no more than is productive.

May 2017 be a year of vision. Vision of what we want for ourselves in every area of our lives, and of how we will get there. Let’s write it down and use it as a road map. Let’s plan it out and know where we’re going – because, unfortunately, hope is not a plan and distractions are everywhere.

May it be a year of friendship – old friends, good friends, new friends. We never know who’s out there waiting to come into our lives.

May it be a year of good food and good conversation, and these two things in combination with one another as often as possible. But let’s listen more than we talk, let’s ask questions instead of telling stories – and watch and see how much more we learn about the people who matter to us.

May it be a year where we accept that many of these things will not occur at the same time as one another and that imperfection really is one of life’s only true certainties. It’s in the grey areas that the magic happens and the surprises reveal themselves. Let’s forgive ourselves more, laugh at ourselves more.

In 2017 I wish you love and health and sunshine and sweet kisses and uncontrollable laughter and perfect cups of tea and every good thing you wish for yourself.

Let’s make this a very, very happy new year!

Love, Catherine

Christmas craftiness

The tree is up, Michael Buble is crooning his Christmas ditties in the background, and despite the fact that the weather outside is not in fact frightful (it’s a Bahamas Christmas this year), I’m starting to feel a little bit festive.

The Christmas school holidays are about to descend upon us, if they haven’t already, so I’ve been thinking about things to do with the little ones that might keep them occupied in the run-up to Santa’s arrival, as well as provide a few festive trinkets to scatter around the house.Read More »

Surprising tricks that make them eat

6pm. And more often that not it is chaos.

Rarely does the witching hour pass in our house without some sort of disagreement over what I’ve served up for dinner (some days more emotional than others). I’ve started hating myself for how much I raise my voice at supper time (surely this is the least effective way to get my kid to sit at the table and eat her peas?!), so about a week ago I tried something new and I was shocked by the results. Read More »