Friday, 23 September 2016

Graduation Day

Today is my class' graduation, and being involved in so many areas of the preparation, I've spent quite a lot of time thinking back to my own. Surprisingly, even though it's been over 15 years, I can remember quite a bit! I recall the walk through the guard of honour of all the students; and the speaker - who quite serendipitously is the same man speaking at my class' valedictory today - and the version of "When I Fall In Love" that he sang. Most of all, though, I remember this one song.

It's a Lee Ann Womack song my Mom dedicated to me at the time, and subsequently became the song that we played in the montage of the photos of our class, and words I shared with my classmates; the same words I shared with my class today.

I Hope You Dance...
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
Get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid life ever leave you empty-handed
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance:
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances - but they're worth taking
Loving might be a mistake - but it's worth making
Don't let some hell-bent heart leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out, reconsider
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance:
I hope you dance 

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Great is Thy Faithfulness

My late grandfather loved and would often sing the old hymn, Great is Thy Faithfulness, and this week, it has been my mantra.

The context of my life right now is that it's the end of term, the end of the winter programme, the end of a long and often difficult final year with my class, and also the second-to-last-day-end of my financial month. As is prone to happen at these times I have lots of plans and ideas and preparations, and not enough time, energy or money to see them all through.

Just yesterday, in the course of 12 hours, between Andel and me, we: bought and opened the wrong pack of nappies for Sam (potential disaster - watch this space); forgot to take something out of the freezer to cook for dinner; had to fork out triple what medical aid pays for what now seems like an unnecessary trip to the pead; had a mildly catastrophic trip to the hairdresser; and both seemed to be coming down with something. Feeling exhausted and utterly overwhelmed is an understatement.

But! My dear friend sent me such a great reminder of God's faithfulness, that - just like he did with Noah and Abraham and Moses and Elijah, and many more - He will meet and provide for us where we are. Sometimes that will come in the form of immediate relief, supernatural healing, a significant and unexpected blessing. Other times it will come in a new day, with new mercies, divine strength, and joy in the morning.

I believe there are many of us who are right now - perhaps even every year around this time (just ask Facebook) - feeling weary and heavy burdened. There may not be much I or anyone else can do to relieve the load, but here is our encouragement: God, the father who created and loves us, is with us, and there is no burden too big that He cannot bear. He who has promised is steadfast and unwavering. And when we get to the other side of this, be it tomorrow, next week, or a long way off from here still, we will look back and see His hand and His faithfulness. Byt vas!

Great is Thy Faithfulness
Great is Thy Faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand has provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The Blessing of Partnership ... And a Shout Out to all the Single Parents!

Every once in a while, I get the tiniest taste of what it must be like to be a single mom. Last night was one of those nights. Andel was working the late shift, and I was home with the boys. This is not an uncommon scenario as Andel does this at least once a week, and I am usually quite fine on my own. But then, usually, both my kids are healthy and cooperative.

It's true that it takes just one anomaly to set a collision course in motion. This was me last night. Sam was ill. We'd kind of seen it coming but thought it was more teething than ill, so we hadn't done much about it. Of course, by the time I collected him from daycare yesterday he was a puffy, snotty, miserable mess, and I needed to take him to the doctor.

At 19h00 I was simultaneously: cleaning my bed, my baby son and myself of the poo'd-out gunk (including the suppository I'd just inserted 10 minutes earlier) that had overwhelmed the nappy; preparing a basic dinner of box pizza; trying to get Zac to stop phoning his father from my phone, and rather make an attempt to get out of his filthy school uniform and into the bath; and find someone to relieve me of duty at home so I could get to the pharmacy - or go on my behalf.

Needless to say, by 19h15 I was sitting in my underwear on a bedding-less bed, picking up leftover burnt dinner (with blistered fingers) while holding a screaming Sam (with a new suppository inserted) and trying to charge my dead phone, and desperation-giggling at Zac who had fallen asleep on my bed, still filthy and in his school uniform.

Single parents: I. Don't. Know. How. You. Do. It.

Now, I know people don't set out to go this gig solo. I know that often there is a story of real heartache and disappointment. Let me also say, I am not nearly naive enough to think for one minute that this makes them different to every other parent - single or not - who is working their butt off trying to be a good one.

Still, it would be amiss of me not to point out what a wonderful, purposeful and practical blessing it is to partner with a spouse in this journey of parenthood. Two brains are most definitely better than one. As are two hearts, two laps, four eyes, four hands... 

Andel, you are my rock. You hold my hand while I try to navigate the ins and outs of being a mom. You are my anchor when the waters are rough, and my safe place when I need to retreat. We are so incredibly different - incompatible even - but no matter how much my methods or approach may differ from yours, we've managed to give our kids the best between us. I could not do this without you; neither would I want to.

To my colleagues, friends and relatives who do this, daily, all on your own. I can just imagine how tired you must be sometimes. I bet some days you feel alone, or you wonder whether or not you're doing ok. I want you to know you're amazing! Your kids are loved and have the wonderful example you are setting them. You are not forgotten, you are always supported, and help is never far. You are doing the most phenomenal job. You are the real heroes!

Tuesday, 13 September 2016


Truthfully, I need a pause. Sam happens to be in the throes of an infection as well as cutting some eye teeth, and he is not eating, not sleeping, not wanting to be anywhere or with anyone other than me. I'm exhausted. And that's why I'm posting one of these.

I'm thinking about...
how freaking fast this year is going by. How is it even possible that it's already something stupid like 15 Fridays to Christmas?!

I'm watching...
movies again. Did you know, before May this year, I had maybe watched a total of five movies - at the cinema or elsewhere - in the last few years! Then I took my Mom to see Mothers' Day for Mothers' Day, followed by my trip with Zac and his buddies to see Finding Dory, and thereafter Bad Moms - and I'm on a roll! We also recently had our first pyjama movie night in our home where we basically bring out all the pillows and blankets and camp out in the lounge watching a kids movie together. At least this way the tv on the wall actually gets some action!

Image result for family movie night

I'm listening to...
kids karaoke. I kid you not. Zac recently got a CD of children's songs and choruses, and it has that split track feature. So as you can imagine, once Zac has learnt the lyrics to all the songs, he only sings it with the backtrack. And Sam's beginning to want in on this action too. It's really cute to listen to, until I get asked to sing along - and then reprimanded for not knowing all the words!

I'm loving...
the good space I'm in with my family. Being married with children is hard. Add to that working full time and having other extra curricular commitments, and it's easy to get lost in all the busyness. Recently Andel and I have recommitted to make it a priority to spend time together chatting, hanging out, and generally touching base (deeper than the usual, ""hello, how was your day? please grab a child"). So, when the kids allow, we try have a sneaky treat and cup of tea in the kitchen before bed, and we spend more of the weekend enjoying the simple (free) things with the boys. It's been so much fun, and really such a fill-up-my-love-tank thing, that I have some withdrawals on a Monday.

I'm busy...
writing out hundreds of reports for the end of term. I won't lie: this is my least favourite part of my job of teaching Physical Education from year 3 to year 12. It really baffles me that in spite of each person's uniqueness, I struggle to write something different for each student.

I'm going to...
Girlfriends Getaway tomorrow! The local movie house offers this once-a-month, girls only, preview experience, and this month's film is Bridget Jones' Baby. So who better to take along than my mom and sisters. We are so looking forward to leaving our husbands and children at home having a feel good, night out together.
Image result for bridget jones baby

I'm battling with...
contentment. The older I get the more I wonder what happened to all the dreams I used to have, and whether or not I've really made any kind of difference in the world yet. I'm struggling with the fact that we work hard and long to make money to pay for things that we have little time to enjoy, and to provide for the people we love but who constantly seem to be getting what's left (as opposed to the best) of us.

I'm resolving to...
try to get active again. It's September, the weather is good (most of the time, anyway), and I need to get out into the fresh air, so I'm reinstating some kind of training programme. On a Sunday afternoon you will now find Andel, the boys and me (plus whoever wants to tag along) on a walk on the beachfront/forest/park/mountain getting our bodies moving.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Nursing... Who Knew

My sister, Annie, loves to do this thing were she compares our family with characters from books or movies, or even real life celebrities. The latest is The Kardashians. I don't really know the one from the other, but according to her, I'm Kourtney. You know why? Because, according to Annie, "she just whips out her boobs and feeds her children anywhere - just like you".

Nursing. What a beautiful, amazing, awkward, mindset-changing thing. Even before my kids were conceived I knew I wanted to nurse my babies. More than anything it just seemed like the right thing. Like having natural birth (well, we all know how that turned out). And in my pursuit of excellence, I was going to nurse my babies.

Ashleigh beat me to getting married and having kids, so much of what I saw during my non-mothering years, and then replicated later in my mothering years, was based on what I learnt from her. She nursed Jorja until she was two years told. I remember feeling a little conflicted: without context two years seemed like quite old an age to still be nursing, but being there every step of the way, and experiencing Jorja's self-weaning, made it seem very natural. By the time I fell pregnant with Zac I was convinced that I would also try to nurse until he was two.

Fast forward four years since Zac was born. I am still nursing. Granted, I'm not still nursing Zac, but then truth be told, he only stopped on his fourth birthday. In between that I fell pregnant with Sam. I nursed Sam. I nursed Zac and Sam in an period of what can only be described as mad exhaustion. And then I nursed just Sam. I counted the other day. This month marks 51 months of continuous nursing!

So back to the beautiful, amazing, awkward, mindset-changing qualities of nursing. Putting aside the physiology of engorged breast and cracked nipples, being touched-out, and not being able to sleep on your stomach for months... This journey of nursing my boys has changed me. In some ways, it's really made me find my chill. I can hardly believe that I allowed Zac four years to determine his own weaning time. It has also made me brave. You can now find previously-rather-conservative-me happily nursing, in public if necessary (modestly, of course) - in the face of a fair share of criticism and ridicule.

Without sounding like nursing is the be all and end all of everything (it's not), and without any judgement for mamas who don't/didn't nurse: for me, nursing has been an experience second to none that has afforded me an incredible bond with my boys, and allowed me to really embrace my womanhood and motherhood. Quite honestly: I wonder what will become of me when Sam decides he no longer wants to nurse. Perhaps I'll be granted some grace, and someone new to take his place...