Wednesday, March 30, 2011

34 candles

Last week friday was my birthday.  And no i did not have 5 candles!  More like 34!  How time flies.

I had a good birthday, with so many kind wishes, gifts, phone calls, message from around the globe.  Sometimes one can feel so caught up in the madness of your own small existence.  Feel like you are the only one with a sick child, wondering what to cook for dinner, trying to cope with work that it helps to be reminded occassionally that you are part of a larger network of relationships.  And nothing speaks to these relationships more then someone taking the time to phone you, send you a message, buy a gift, spend time with you...  Thank you to all for the energy that you shared with me.  Especially my busy mom friends!

To be honest i have never ever had real birthday anxiety.  I have always harboured the closet view that those who have real issues about getting old feel unfulfilled or wish that they had made different life decisions.  Birthdays always give me the opportunity to reflect on my life and i largely like what i see, what i remember.  I think that my decisions have been largely sound or at least i have been able to live with the consequences.  Of course hindsight is 20/20.  Of course i had not dated that moron in high school.  Of course i wish i was a more patient mother.  Of course i wish that parts of my childhood were different.  But, that being said the only way to survive adulthood in a healthy fashion is to acknowledge that you did the best that you could with what you had, at the time and move on.

The point for me as i reach that annual milestone is that i am really grateful for the good decisions that i have made:
  • The good memories that i carry from my family of beginning, no matter how dysfunctional some of it was and that i was able to manage the negative experiences, taking from them what mattered and not allowing them to affect my life going forward.
  • The fact that i invested the time in my studies when i was young, was able to seek out a career that fulfills me, that makes me thing, that i am proud of.
  • The fact that i met my husband, married him and get to enjoy the kind of connection with a healthy individual that is really precious.
  • The fact that we have been able to have 3 children and have the kind of family that i always wanted.
  • The fact that at 34 i have still kept my sense of adventure, that i am still able to dream about packing up the zoo, getting on a plane, flying to a foreign country and starting all over again.  Most importantly that i trust myself and Jason enough to do that.  That after all life's knocks that i still feel in control of my own destiny.
So happy birthday to me!  See you in a years time Birthday girl and keep your chin up until then!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

The little engine that could

A little railroad engine was employed about a station yard for such work as it was built for, pulling a few cars on and off the switches. One morning it was waiting for the next call when a long train of freight-cars asked a large engine in the roundhouse to take it over the hill "I can't; that is too much a pull for me," said the great engine built for hard work. Then the train asked another engine, and another, only to hear excuses and be refused. In desperation, the train asked the little switch engine to draw it up the grade and down on the other side. "I think I can," puffed the little locomotive, and put itself in front of the great heavy train. As it went on the little engine kept bravely puffing faster and faster, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can."
As it neared the top of the grade, which had so discouraged the larger engines, it went more slowly. However, it still kept saying, "I--think--I--can, I--think--I--can." It reached the top by drawing on bravery and then went on down the grade, congratulating itself by saying, "I thought I could, I thought I could."

Sometimes you have to have a little optimism in life.  We all have those days when you wake up, peek out at the world and want to weep, pull the covers over your head and scream: "Hell No!"  However when you are a working parent with a gazillion responsibilities that is really not an option.  I had a morning like that.  Seth had us up with a nightmare at 3am, the alarm went off at 5:50am, i lay there for 5 mins thinking:  "I cant get out of this bed...."  Then i got out of bed, i resisted the urge to throw my pillow at my cat, just because he was flaunting his stretched out sleep on the floor and dragged my sorry self to the shower.

So here i am, a couple of hours later reminding myself that i dont have to like today but i certainly have to survive it.  Just put one foot in front of the next one, and so on.

Optimism has a special place in my hear this week because of my son.  I was reminded that bravery comes in different guises and that we can help others to be brave through our small actions.  This is the story of Gabriel and soccer.  Gabby is lean, strong, runs like the wind and swims like a fish.  But he hates soccer.  He used to love it, thanks to years of soccer stars that i dutifully paid for at creche.  But then he had one bad incident.  He went to a birthday party, soccer was played, he hit the ball with his hand, his team got a penalty.  He felt crap.  He started to hate soccer. Just like that.  Confidence zero.  When i spoke to him, he said: "I am no good at soccer, Mom...."  My poor child. 

On Monday i fetch him from school and he announces with conviction that he wont be going to school on Thursday.  As you can imagine, i did a double take and asked why?  The reason its the interhouse soccer games and he does not want to play.  To be honest for a split second my heart broke and i just wanted to keep him home, feed him sweets, let him watch TV and cocoon him in maternal love and affection.  But then the more sane more part of me kicked in and I said No.  But i also knew that he needed a bit more then that. 

And thats where wonder dad comes in..... Hurray!

When Jason got home i cornered him in the kitchen and said:  "Tonight you are teaching your son to play soccer, properly!"  What a star, he got hold of Gabby after supper and bath, set up a soccer field on my coffee table using my coasters and other objects, explained all the rules, found a soccer match on TV and went through the rules using examples from play.  By the end of the evening we had a much happier little boy.  Last night he got out cones and a ball and practised dribbling with him.  I bought him new soccer shoes and YAY!

He played yesterday at school with his friends and came back happy as can be.  He was glowing, telling me how he remembered what Dad told him and did fine.  I almost had a teary mom moment in the car.  Today he is dressed up, happy as can be off to his match, no anxiety....

This whole thing really got me thinking about how we have to manage the impact of the experiences that our children have, even when we cant manage the experiences.  How we have to put things into perspective for them, pick them up and dust them off, remind them how much we believe in them.  Because sometimes we all need someone to say:  "I love you kid, no go and shine!!"  And shining does not mean scoring a goal.  It means getting to the field, goofing around with your friends, enjoying the day, coming home.  I also realised how grateful i am for the man that i chose to be Dad to my kids.  I love him most when i can see how much he adores the kids and how he is willing to manifest that love in the time, commitment and input that he puts into their lives.

So if Gabby can go and play soccer........ I can get through this week.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday ramblings

I typed a whole post.  I deleted it.  It didnt seem real.  It was all about balance and how i need it.  But that is old news and i just felt like i was stating the obvious.  I am pregnant, tired, working hard, juggling - balance is the glue that holds my life together right now.  I dont always get it right.

I actually had a pretty good weekend.  I rested.  We braaied.  We swam.  We were at home together.  I realised that my life is not that bad.  It was like a giant kick in the bum, get with the programme moment.  I felt better.  I wont say that i was engulfed in gratitude what with my swollen ankles and what not but hey!

I am trying to rest a bit more, do a bit less, laugh with the kids, talk to them.  They make me laugh.  They are pretty cool.  I like the fact that they are getting personalities.  I hope that they will still want to come to my house and my table when they are all grown up and talk to me.  I would like that.

I did some work on the princess's room.  It looks good.  I do a double take everytime i walk past the room on the way to the loo.  It is a lot of pink and purple.  It doesnt really feel like it belongs there after years of blue.  I still feel overwhelmed a bit by having a daughter.  But hey i felt overwhelmed with Gabriel, because he was first.  I felt overwhelmed with Seth, because how was i going to cope with two.  I am of the opinion that a lot of parenthood is about sinking or swimming.  And as sinking is not really an option, i have to just put my water wings on and make the best of it.

Lots of rambling- with a basic message.  I am fine.  My life is trundling along.  I dont particularly want to kill my hubby or kids.  I dont want to kill any of my colleagues (at least not today!).  I am seeing Ms Peanut again at the doctor on wednesday.  I think i am going to make it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Barbie blues

Yesterday i posted the first of these posters onto Facebook.  Like most of my facebook comments it was done in the spur of the moment. I came across the poster, it resonated with me and i decided to post it.  I didnt really think about it too much.  I often think that facebook is like a stream of consciousness dialogue whereas my blog requires real conscious thought.  So I posted it.  It is not really a secret that i dont like barbie.  I dont look like Barbie at all.  I have never really identified with her.  And i think i need to thank my mom that i didnt really feel bad about it.

I have always been overweight.  Check me out in my preschool photos and i am the kid who is plump.  But the thing is i never grew up feeling plump or inferior or anything.  I grew up feeling just great.  My mom screwed up a lot of things but on self esteem building she scored an A+.  She didnt tell me everyday that she thought that i was wonderful. She didnt have to. I knew that she thought i was wonderful and beautiful.  I knew it as surely as i knew the sky was blue.

As i grew older, thankfully much older i got more exposed to negative messaging about my appearance and my body.  The thing that really got me was that most of this negativity was not from a positive stance.  It didnt tell me in a factual way that being overweight was unhealthy or would effect my body in the following ways.  Most of it just came from the slant that you:
  • Cant be happy, gorgeous and fabulous if you are not perfectly thin, have a straight nose and clear skin.
  • That you will not be accepted, that you wont be loved, get married, have kids if you dont look perfect.
  • That you have to fit this predestined idea of what is attractive.
I tried.  I spent a lot of my adolescence trying hard to fit the mould, be prettier, be thinner, be BETTER!

But then one day i stopped and looked around me and realised some things:
  • I was pretty happy.  I actually liked my life.  I was still overweight but i didnt think about it all the time.  I was married.  He seemed to really love me.  We had great kids.  We had great sex and it was not all about how i looked.
  • There were lots of other thin people out there that were not that happy, even though they fit the mould.
  • In my social work practice i also realise that there were a lot of really beautiful women out there who got treated like real crap by their partners.  That even if they looked really hot in lingere their partners still were unfaithful.
And it was like exhaling.  It doesnt mean that i dont want to lose weight.  It doesnt mean that i dont see a great dress and think "I wish i could squeeze my ass into that!!!"  But i think it and it is over.

The hard thing for me now is not to judge others who are a different stage in their lives.  I am not really a make up, high heels, blow dry your hair kind of girl.  Okay, i am not at all.  If you see me in full war paint, it means one of three things:
  • I am at a funeral or wedding.
  • I am at a job interview.
  • I am on a real wild party night (which with almost 3 kids is never and normally involved a swipe of lipstick and mascara!)
I will admit it:  I went on a date with my husband and had to look for 20 mins to find my make up bag (I only carry lipstick in my bag for emergencies!)

So it becomes so easy for me to judge others who spend huge amounts of time on their appearances.  As much as they probably judge me for not spending huge amounts of time on my appearance. Go figure!

I got some flak yesterday.  It turned into a typical bimbo versus slob fight.  Which pissed me off.  And then saddened me a lot.  Because i often wonder what drives women to turn on each other as much as we do.

But at least i left the whole thing feeling more sure of who i am, and who i want my daughter to be.  I dont mind if she is beautiful.  I know that she will be.  Breathtaking to me.  But i want her to know that no matter what she looks like she is worthy, fantastic, that she can never be insignificant to me.

Thanks Mom.