Thursday, 17 September 2015

A Better Mama

I'm having a rough week. Nothing really bad has happened. I'm just really I-could-fall-asleep-at-my-desk burnt out! I get like this sometimes, and it usually results in my being on a general downer. So, a lot of the time, I find myself having to tell myself not to be down, despite how I am feeling.

So you imagine my surprise when last night, in the midst of this exhaustion, not a single thing was getting me down...

It was 18h30, there was no sign of dinner (we had forgotten to take something out of the freezer) or of Andel (he was at a late training workshop). Zac was doing a puzzle on the floor, singing on the top of his voice (as he does when he does puzzles), stopping only to ask me to see what a good job he was doing. Sam was peacefully feeding, gazing at me with those bright eyes. I don't know if it's that there's less than a week left of term, or that after a year I finally managed to get my hair washed and trimmed (by a professional), but once I managed to bring the boys and all our bags into the house, I sat on the couch, and I was content.

The truth is: we've got it good. I'm not going to cite all the statistics about the world's wealth distribution, because I don't believe it's about that at all. While we are better off financially than most in our country, what made me feel full was the fact that I was spending time, doing absolutely nothing, with my kids.

I once heard someone say that while her first child had made her a mother, her second child had made her a better mother. I remember thinking: doesn't she have this backwards? Aren't subsequent children always complaining about all the things their parents did with their older siblings that they didn't do with them? But I didn't have more than one child then. Now I'm beginning to think she might have been onto something.

When Zac was born I think I may actually have had a not-so-mild case of PND. His birth, plus my inadequacy, and the all day, every day loneliness made me pretty miserable. So leading up to Sam's birth, I was tormented by how I was going to handle, care for, and love another child. And the first six weeks were hard. Really hard. If you can imagine being dragged a mile under a bus that has just run you over - that's pretty much how it felt for me. But then we started to get into a groove (and not just because Sam is a placid baby). I decided to do some things that I thought would make life a little more comfortable and enjoyable, for all of us:

I relax more - because then my family can relax more.

I go out and do stuff (hell, I even spend money sometimes) - because that's what memories are made of.

I let the kids get dirty - because they're boys, and even exhaust dirt comes out with soap and water.

I let the house get dirty too (and sometimes stay dirty more longer than is generally acceptable) - because it's lived in, for heaven's sake, and we'll get around to cleaning eventually.

I stress less - because it's bad for my health and affects my milk supply. And I cry more - because it's ok to not have it together, to make a mistake, to be emotional, and to treasure the moments that slip by too fast.

I work less (seriously, the career change to a simple, less stimulating option was deliberate) - because I don't want to bring work home into sacred family space and time.

I hug and kiss Andel more, in front of the kids - because I want the kids to know what love and happiness looks like.

I really watch and listen to what my family does and says - because they are watching and learning from me.

I let Zac have treats and fall asleep with unbrushed teeth and an iPad in his hands (sometimes) - because it can't just be about rules without reward all the time.

I let Sam be carried - because one day too soon he'll be too big and too heavy to be carried anymore.

I laugh more - because I'm prettier that way.

And I cut myself some slack - because I'm not perfect; I'm getting better.

Monday, 14 September 2015

No Kisses Mommy

Those were Zac's parting words to me as I left for work this morning.

When he started along the lines of "kiss Sammy, not me" last week, I truly thought he was taking the mick. I mean isn't cuddling and kissing their mommies one of the things baby boys like best? But then he's not a baby anymore, is he? It was like one day we were all wrapped up in each other, with multiple lingering goodbye hugs and kisses, and the next day he was over it.

So I sit here asking myself: When did Zac grow up that much? Are we really here, already?
I knew having a second child would mean Zac would suddenly seem big, still I must admit, I've not been prepared for all the growth and development that's taken place.

Of my two boys Zac was definitely the more affectionate, simply because I'm pretty sure his love language is Physical Touch. He would snuggle up next to me, nestle his freezing cold feet between my thighs (what do you know - big thighs are good for something), and navigate his hands all over my face and neck as if to memorise every one of my features. When he struggled to go to sleep as a toddler he would grab my hand, place it on his naked belly and say, "tickle Mommy" - and  I would tickle until he fell asleep. These days though, the bear hugs and sloppy kisses seem to have been replaced with big boy requests. I now have to tackle/be tackled (I blame Andel for teaching him that from birth) or chase him up and down the passage as he laughs and shouts "catch me Mommy".

He is also boasting a growing vocabulary. Never mind that he is trying to speak Afrikaans and Spanish (courtesy of Duolingo - check it out, it's free), his reasoning in conversation is something else. Just last night he accompanied Andel to make a quick delivery. Apparently as they stopped at the shop on the way home to buy me a treat Andel realised he'd forgotten his wallet at home and told Zac they'd have to come back another time. Do you know what Zac said? He said, "don't worry Anno. I got money in my room. We fetch it then we come back." And when he got home - much to his father's surprise - he found a 10c on the floor in his room, ran back to the car and shouted, "come Anno, we go now".

Between playing Mary Had A Little Lamb on the piano (I kid you not - we nearly fainted), and starting to read sign posts, there's no doubt that this boy is growing up. Fast. It excites me, this new adventure. And it makes my heart swell with pride and affection.

I sure will miss those morning kisses though...