Monday, 14 January 2019

New Beginnings

Change makes me anxious. There. I said it. Even when I know it's for the best; even when it's a change I want to make, it still makes me anxious because change makes things unpredictable - at least for the first time - and not being prepared or having things under control is what gets to me.

It's funny how the mind works. I often feel nervous the night before the start of a new term (alright, honestly, I can feel a little bluesy at the start of a new week, but who's counting?), but since joining a school with Northern Hemisphere calendars, this is the middle of the year, and I feel somehow that there would be less apprehension from my side, except that this month marks new starts for Zac, Sam and Bayley, and so I have enough to consider for them all!

When we booked our trip last May, we did so without thinking about the fact that I may move jobs, and the kids change schools. It's for this reason that when we arrived home yesterday, we were already three days late for Zac's school term, and two for Bayley's. Safe to say: there was a lot of back-to-school prep going on to well into last night.

This morning Zac woke early. That's his thing. I think sometimes that, like me, he likes to get a hold on things before everyone else adds to the mix. He was already dressed and almost ready to go when we had to see to the other two, so things ran pretty smoothly at home this morning. It continued into the traffic which was - very unusually for the first full week of school - almost non existent!

We dropped Bayley first. Enter mom guilt. It dawned on me that at 15 months old, Bayley is entering the world of school (that it, not at Yaya's daycare) more than a year earlier than Sam did, and more than two years earlier than Zac. She walked in independently. I suppose it helps when you brothers are with you holding your hands. We made our way to her classroom, and she immediately went to the mat and started some parallel play with the other kids. I, once again, was caught in the chasm between wanting her to want me, and being so pleased that she didn't. I wanted to leave while she was happy, and I wanted to stay and watch her settle in. Enter dad logic aka "just go". So we left (admittedly, we also still had to take Zac to school). But as I pulled away, I heard her crying from the window, and I wished I'd stayed.

Thankfully, Zac, for all his stresses, does not stress about going to school. He confessed to me that he felt nervous, but added that he was very excited too. And although he was pretty quiet going in (did I mention he looks even smaller compared to his new classmates), I saw him enter his classroom with conviction, and then confidently start chatting to his new teacher.

I have one more of these mornings to go through with Sam next week. I imagine there'll be a lot more emotion to process between now and then. For the meantime though, these are my overwhelming feelings:

Gratitude: I am so very grateful for the blessing I have in the form of my children. To say that they can drive me demented is a gross understatement, still, they make my heart swell with love and pride for all they are learning and how well they are developing.

Blessing: I consider myself so blessed to be able to have the means to send my kids to places they can be cared for, and especially to have been home today to see them off. I am more determined than ever to be present for these moments, acutely aware that each first only comes once, and once you miss it, you can't get it back. I intend to take full advantage of these moments this year.

Resolve: I am keeping check on succumbing to the many parental pressures and censure I have subject myself to. It's about time I realised that I'm doing the best I can, and that's ok. In fact, it's more than ok; it's enough. If I can be at peace with that, Andel and the kids will get more of the best of me, more of the time.

Here's to Great Expectations in 2019!

Sunday, 13 January 2019

The Journey: UK to Cape Town

Well, it wouldn't be a trip to the UK if it didn't have a little drama somewhere.

If you've been following the blog and read some of the old posts, you'll know that in 2011 we found ourselves doing what felt like an episode of the Amazing Race, and then again in 2014 (I don't even think I blogged about it) we were racing to and through Stansted Airport trying not to miss the flight home - Andel with the luggage; me with Zac and a 6 month pregnant belly!

Anyway. Until Saturday afternoon, we had not had a single dramatic event this holiday. Then we arrived at Victoria Station.

Context:
Since we had accumulated an additional two suitcases on this holiday, we could no longer all fit into the car and drive to the airport. So, the plan was for me to take the kids on the train for a more comfortable and exciting journey. And because Christopher was heading back to Cardiff anyway, he was going to come with me, and then take the coach from Victoria after we'd left.

Catch #1:
When booking the train tickets, Andel had thought our flight was at 21h00. It was actually at 20h00. So while we would not yet be late in arriving at the airport, we wouldn't exactly be early either.

Circumstances:
So Christopher, the kids and I left for London around lunch time on Saturday. Andel and Aunty Lynne waited for Uncle Eddie to finish golf so that they could drive down with the luggage. We arrived in London around 15h00, and leisurely took them on the tube to Victoria where we walked around a bit to show the kids the London buses they love so much.

Catch #2:
We expected there would be a chance we would not be able to change our ticket from Victoria to the airport to an earlier one, so we were prepared to wait to 17h00, and took the kids somewhere they could sit and snack in front of the iPad to pass the time. What we did not expect was for the train to run late. First 15 minutes to 17h15. Then another 11 minutes to 17h26. Then another nine minutes to 17h35. At this point, Andel was already at the airport, unable to check our luggage in, because we were not all there with our passports. I could write a pretty long piece on just what was going through my mind at that time. Thank God for Christopher who is 100% comparable to my comprehension and computation styles, and therefore a blessing to travel with.

Conclusion:
Our train left at 17h45, and stopped between stations three times on the journey to the airport due to signalling and other similar glitches. We got to the airport at 18h20, checked in at the Priority Services, sailed through security, and managed to board at 19h00 with everyone else.

We had a good flight, all things considered. Even with some turbulence, the kids all slept, and when they were awake, were well-behaved and polite to the steward staff and other passengers*. We arrived in Cape Town a little ahead of time, and made it seamlessly through baggage reclaim and customs.

* I actually have to say: this has been the part of the trip they have impressed me most, and based on this, I would definitely travel with them again!

So now we're home, and straight back to reality!