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 »

Links I’m Loving Lately…

When I started this blog a few months ago I had to wade through all the usual hang-ups that aspiring writers are afflicted with – the nagging fear that I don’t actually have anything interesting to say; that almost four years of being a stay-at-home mum had turned my brain to mush; that writing about my life and experiences as though they were noteworthy or interesting would make me look like a total megalomaniac; that putting myself out there would be an embarrassing failure… But I wanted to start writing again so with a bit of effort (and a stern talking-to from myself), I pushed aside these feelings and dived in head first – and it’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Since pressing “Publish” on my first post, the biggest surprise this blog has given me (and its loveliest gift) has been the engagement and sense of community I’ve experienced with readers and other bloggers. I started it as a personal experiment – encouraged by a friend and properly convinced when I read a sweet article on how blogging makes you a better person  (on The Champagne Supernova – now one of my favourite blogs), but it has become a part of my life I wouldn’t want to be without and I think it may have saved my sanity a bit this year.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 »

School of Oprah

Oprah lesson 5When I was a teenager, The Oprah Show was on TV every day at 6pm. For my mum and I, it was our special time. Homework done and dance classes finished, we would always, always watch together – on the couch with a cup of tea or at the kitchen table while dinner bubbled away on the stove. It was more than just a TV show – it was our daily meditation, the full stop at the end of our day, one of the many things we shared in quiet companionship.

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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 Things We Forget to Tell You…

To the husbands, to their dads,

This is what we forget to tell you…

I hear you with our child in the other room, the music of your laughter mixed with hers the most beautiful sound I know. The vibrating baritone of your voice in perfect sync with the joyful bubble of hers – a domestic symphony, the soundtrack to our family’s happiness.

You carry the weight of our hopes and dreams, but you always leave it at the front door. Your capable arms hold our world together, and your cheeky grin lights it up. The Boy who won my heart piece by piece all those years ago – so much The Man now as you coo at the baby or carry your small girl around the house upside down. Games of catch, tickles, dive-for-shells, and building sandcastles; early mornings snuggled down in a fort of your making, with milk and cartoons while mummy sleeps; your secret handshake; the way she looks at you.Read More »

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 »

My Little Woman of the Future

To my darling little woman of the future,

We have been learning about crossing roads, you and I. We are very particular – even if there isn’t a car in sight we will not go until there is a green man.

Yesterday we were waiting at the pedestrian crossing, your hot little hand in mine, and all was well with the world. “Green man means go!” we said in unison when the light changed. “Mummy?”, you said as we started walking. It was your thoughtful tone. The one that always tells me A Very Important Question is about to follow (like, “What colour are dragons?” or “Why doesn’t the sun melt the moon?”).

Then your three-year-old self said this: “Why is it never a green lady?”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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