Walking away

The baby will turn one next week, and she is desperate to walk. She watches her older sister running on the beach or in our street with the big kids, and her longing to join in is so palpable I can almost see it rising from the top of her little blond head like puffs of steam. She pulls herself up and stands helplessly, as what ever she wanted to take herself towards has already been spirited away by the whirlwind that is the three year old. She squawks impotently at the injustice of it all, and my heart aches for her.

But secretly I feel like I’ve been given a reprieve. Not just from the toddler bumps and scrapes that are all to come, but from the grieving that comes with saying goodbye to the baby days – the goodbye that, the moment they learn to walk, is inevitable and expedited. Read More »

Theirs

My fellow mamas of littles… When you close your eyes at night and reflect back on the day that’s just been, how often do you think to yourselves, “Yes. That went well.” Is it often? Is it every now and then? Or almost never?

A few nights ago I closed my eyes and did my usual mental audit of the day and, to my surprise, I could think of nothing that had not gone to plan. We had got up on time in the morning, everybody had eaten their breakfast (without threats or bribery), we’d had a smooth school run with no rushing to get out the door, after school we’d done some painting and colouring and then played some lego (with no requests for the iPad), the baby had napped at her designated hours, dinner had been prepared and eaten with minimal fuss, bath time had been full of squeals and giggles, milk lazily drunk before bed, and bed time had passed without incident.

What amazed me even more than this smooth sequence of events – and instantly filled me with guilt – was how seldom we have days like this.Read More »

Lessons from my Littlest

My first baby was born late at night after a horrific, 21-hour, drug-free (not my idea) labour. When she finally arrived screaming purposefully at the world and I held her for the first time, I wept as much from indescribable relief as from overwhelming love. It felt like we had already walked a long and difficult road together and we were only just beginning. After I was cleared from recovery and we took her back to the ward, her daddy kissed us both good night and we were suddenly alone – a moment I don’t think any mum ever forgets. We looked at each other and I wondered, “What next?” She knew. The dark January night folded itself around us and we both slept. Read More »

Thank goodness for The Girls

A welcome beep of my iPhone, a What’s App message from half way around the world. A girlfriend sending a joke, telling me about her day, asking me about mine. A ream of (desperately solicited at 3am) advice on what to do about my 8 month old (who has mysteriously stopped sleeping through the night), an inspirational news story from the Rio Olympics, a photo, a microwave recipe for chocolate cake, five little words that make everything better: “It’s going to be fine.”

Thank goodness for The Girls.

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The Fatigue is Real

I never imagined the sheer size of the feelings motherhood would bring on. From the day the test showed that miraculous plus sign, the feelings have been enormous. Excitement, exhaustion, trepidation, uncertainty, fear, relief, joy – and that was before I even met my baby. And then the love – oh, the love, the love! The love that blindsides and astonishes and fills you up and gives you the energy to keep going, the patience to pull through another sleepless night, another tantrum, another suppertime hour that seems never ending. The love is there, always.

Thank goodness.

Because there’s another big feeling we don’t really talk about: the fatigue. I never knew deep-down-to-my-core fatigue until quite recently, and when I finally recognised it for what it was, that blindsided me too. Because I love being a mother. I would walk to the end of the earth for my kids; they are my every dream come true and I am fiercely grateful for them every single day. And yet, as the haze of new baby number two started to clear, I could feel that something wasn’t right. There was a cloud hanging over me, and it was sapping my joy and, worst of all, taking away from my ability to do my job as a mum. It wasn’t physical tiredness – although there is always that as well. It was something else – something bigger. More ominous.Read More »

To the Thirtysomething Mums

Dear fellow thirtysomething mum,

I see you in the supermarket, I see you at the playground. I see you at the school drop-off, I see you on the train and in the kid-friendly restaurants. Sometimes you see me too, and we exchange a little smile, an eye-roll, an “I get it” moment. More often you don’t see me – you are chasing your toddler down the aisles, watching your pre-schooler like a hawk as she climbs higher than you’d like, admonishing your kid for pinching her brother, reaching for a wet wipe, mopping up a spilled drink.

A few days ago I was at our public swimming pool, and if ever there was a stark metaphor for life as a mum in her 30s, the public swimming pool has to be it. There we all are – the stereotypes we swore we never would be – wading knee-deep in the kiddies’ pool, eyes locked on our littles – and genuinely delighted by their antics. Although we may be there in pairs or groups, our conversations are piecemeal, we cannot relax. Our focus is entirely on our children. We are tired. We are distracted. Our tankini-clad bodies are battle-scarred and utterly not what they used to be. Read More »

Chat with a “Repat”

I’m really happy to be publishing my first Chat with a “Repat”. This feature has come about partly as a result of my nosiness (I love to hear other people’s stories), but mostly because, as an expat, I find the concept of “going home” absolutely fascinating, and I wanted to ask people who’ve done it what the experience was like for them. So here’s the first of what I hope will be many interviews with people who have gone home – in every sense of the word.

Terri-Anne Boers is a physiotherapist and mum of two. Four years ago she moved from London back to her home town of Johannesburg, and experienced all the ups and downs of repatriation. I chatted to her about her journey from then to now.

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A Case of the Sniffles

Today I had planned to write a light hearted travel post for a Wanderlust-y kind of Wednesday, but my heart doesn’t feel as light as it usually does – on account of having one sad, sickly little baby in the house.

Of course, it’s just a case of the sniffles – which Annabel brings home from play school about once a month and Ruby then makes it her business to pick up and turn into a full-on cold. And a cold for a baby is the opposite of fun. Annabel was never ill for a day of the first year of her life – but this is not to be for baby number two. We reverted back to newborn status last night as I saw every hour on the clock from 11pm to 7am, doing anything I could think of to comfort a confused 6-month-old who couldn’t fathom why she was breathing like a steam train and heaving ominously (thank you post nasal drip). Read More »

That Beautiful Fear

“Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.”
– Elizabeth Stone

Somebody sent this quote to me after Annabel was born, and oh! – how true it is. Since the day she came into our lives I have know fear – real, bone-chilling, heart jolting fear that takes my breath away – on a daily basis, and I think it’s been one of the most challenging things about motherhood.Read More »