Thirty Seven.

In a few days, another birthday will roll around. The thirty seventh one, to be precise. 37 – how did that happen?

I’ve been thinking recently that maybe I should have a bucket list of things I want to do or “achieve” before I turn 40. “40” is a big number, and only a moment ago it seemed like a very long way away – yet here it comes, hurtling towards me like a boulder down a hill. So maybe a bucket list would make me feel more in control of the situation, less like life is happening on its own terms.Read More »

Perfect Enough

I’ve been having flashbacks lately. Vivid, intoxicating flashbacks. Memories from a different time.

The smell of jasmine in the morning. The way the sunlight looks from underneath a thick rooftop of bougainvillea. The sound of a speedboat engine revving to pull me out of the water on a pair of skis and the taste of the salt water when it hits my face. The crackling of a wood fire and the smell of lamb chops on a summer night. The brown of the water in forest rock pools. The morning sun slanting through my bedroom window and the insistent scratch of the cat’s paw on my door.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 »

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 »

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 »

Something wicked this way came

hur·ri·cane:

Definition: A storm with a violent wind, in particular a tropical cyclone in the Caribbean.

Origin: Mid 16th century: from Spanish huracán, probably from Taino hurakán god of the storm.

Hurricane Matthew was coming, and much the same way as I did before childbirth, I read up on the phenomenon we were about to experience. As with childbirth, I tracked its course as we counted down the days to its arrival, and made the necessary preparations. As with childbirth, the wait was agonising. And as with childbirth, nothing could have prepared me for the reality. 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 »