WHY WRITE?

I have been writing for most of my life. I have always had a love for words, for the English language. When I was in my early teens I had already completed my first anthology of poems. I dreamed of being an author when I grew up. I continue to write – I am a children’s book writer. I would one day like to write for adults. An so like so many, I took to blogging. And being a mommy blogger, I have been graciously invited to many events.

It was at one of these events that I was asked whether or not blogging had been good to me, whether it had paid off and if I had received goods for my pregnancies, my kids, myself etc etc…. The same mommy blogger quipped later on into the event that she would not write about any experience she had at a place or with a product, if she was not being paid for it.

Wow – it made me step back! It made me stop and put down my pen – or rather in today’s’ terms “my phone” and consider why I write.

My absence from Mumziboo has been a reflective one. And this is what I now know for sure!

1 I write because I love to write.

2 In the famous words of Steve Biko – “I write what I like”.

3 I write because inherently, it is part of who I am.

And so at the end of this fast – I know that while its GOOD to get goodie bags and freebies, and be paid to write positive pieces on prams and other bits of mommadom – its NOT why I write.

Hey – I like a “like” as much as the next person. But I also know that thousands of likes don’t equate to good writing. People “like” bloggers because they associate with the whole package – the writing, the pics, the promos, the lifestyle or whatever that blogger is about. I don’t write for “likes” – I write because I am a writer. I am a mommy blogger because my kids inspire me and I enjoy the community of mommy bloggers. It comforts me to know that I am not alone in the mayhem of parenting! Mommy blogging is the equivalent of Rachel in Anne of Green Gables, running over to Merilla to drink tea for fortification, before she carries on with the rest of her day. Only we tap a screen.

I don’t write to be followed either – though its nice to know that people follow you because they’re interested in what you have to say. But again, I will say “it” regardless of my following.

I write because that’s what writers do! Why do you write momma?

‘ECHAD’ – A STRONGER ME IS A STRONGER WE

It was with mixed emotions  that Sean and I stole away from our cherubs early on Sunday morning. We woke at five and were dressed and ready just after 6. Destination: Cape Town. Only for the day – a much needed couple time day.

 

We’ve never done this. We have very young children and they need us. But the trade off was their immediate needs vs our family’s’ long term wellbeing. Every couple needs to stop, take time, take stock, touch base, connect, plan and refocus – so that they can move in unity and in the same direction. That’s what we did on Sunday. I felt guilty leaving two sleeping beauties and two crying princesses. I closed the door with a sore heart and thanked God for Sharon our nanny who comforted Zaza as we drove out the gate. We returned as a stronger team to take our family forward.

 

I like the Hebrew word “echad”. It’s got a hard sound to it but I think that that speaks to its meaning. It means “one”. That’s how Sean and I returned late Sunday night to our restless brood. And I’m grateful for it because a strong united parenting team translates into a secure family where children feel grounded, certain, safe and loved.

IF I COULD CHOOSE, I’D BE A LADY AT DOWNTON ABBEY

Watching the royal wedding this weekend made me think about how slow and luxurious life could be if everything was done for you. Ha my kids are Royal for sure!!!! For Sean and I though, parenting, life in Jo’burg in general is such a rush. I try to consciously do things slower to enjoy them,’ savor the precious moments – the look of  Zaza’s cute puffy face as she says: “one more huffy mummy, one more kissy”. The naughty “catch me if you can” look on Ellie’s face before she darts off with a forbidden sweet. The feel of a Teh’s tiny body clinging to mine as she falls asleep and Tali’s flashing smile when she figures out something complex. These are the everyday mundane things that are extraordinary in little people. These are the ordinary memories that make up the rich tapestry of our family life. And I choose to savor them because they disappear as quickly as they come.

But try as I might, I live life on the run. Perhaps it’s the lifestyle we’ve chosen. It’s high impact and fast paced. Sean works hard and arduous hours and so though we see one another we don’t have time to talk about stuff – the stuff that requires attention for us to manage our lives and the lives of 4 other people. It’s not the first time that I’ve had hubby on speaker phone while driving the kids to school to tell him about how one of the bairns broke a frame or about leaking pipes or a school event or or or…..

 

It’s not ideal. I know many people who have opted for a quieter life out in smaller slower places than the city. We haven’t set our sights so far a field yet. Perhaps because this is where family is, our bread and butter is, our friends are, or perhaps we’re city people.

 

If I could choose though, I think I’d like to be a grand lady at Downtown Abbey and have the butler Carlton manage our home affairs. Imagine that! Mrs Patmore, planning our family’s lavish dinner EVERY NIGHT!!!!

 

But as it stands, we’re not gentry. We’re working class – who live a lot better than Mrs Hughes and Carlton I might just add – and that means that I get to be Lady of my own manor, the wife, mother of many, the butler, nanny, driver, housemaid and cook all in one too.

 

In the end it’s a balancing act, and a strange kind of contradiction: – slowly savoring the moments, enjoying being the Lady, without allowing the mad rush of life’s management to swallow it all up.

HEALTHY EATING – ONE BITE AT A TIME.

So this is often the bone of contention or rather the bone of judgement at kids parties. Mama bears stand around the table and start that conversation. You know the one. The one where healthy eating and lifestyles are discussed.

It’s often the conversation that leaves me with conflicted thoughts:

 

– “Am I doing enough for my family, enough nutrition? “,

– “Damn, why didn’t I know that about processed foods ?, I dont read enough”.

– “What on earth is going on – gmo, animal rennett, soya lectin, hormones, free range, organic, banting, sugar, sugar and some more sugar?”

 

I am left in a quagmire of anxious tension, guilt and shock , and all the while telling myself to calm down.

 

Yes I believe it’s true that big business has infested our food with gmo, hormones and everything else that shouldn’t be on a plate – to increase profits.

 

And yes,  the idea that our kids are reaching puberty earlier because of food content, is entirely plausible. And sure I believe that our bodies are what we consume – and so our kids may be prone to certain diseases, allergies and health risks, even if only realized later in life.

 

All of this is true – but how do I counter it?

 

I met awesome parents over the weekend whose son had his first taste of caffeine after 18. They live in a sugar free household – all of this is out of choice. Their 15 year old refuses any fizzy drinks because she has been taught this from very young.

 

So where is my family in all of this????

 

I am going to tackle this problem in bite sized pieces.

 

Bite one: Avoid fast food junk. Definition of junk food store: a place where they sell food that doesn’t disintegrate even if left laying underneath your car seat for 1 week

 

Bite 2: Avoid processed food and consume real food.Since most of our food is processed I will start with the basics: no processed cheese and meats (boy oh boy doesn’t the mist reent Listeria outbreak prove this point). Eat fresh veggies and fruit.

 

Bite 3: Water is the preferred beverage of choice. Love it. Drink it. And drink it purified as often as is possible.

 

Bite 4: Avoid food with added hormones and gmo.

 

Bite 5:  Avoid sweeties and everything else in that family where possible – whether solid or liquid.

 

Bite 6: Enjoy what’s not on this list so my munchkins can learn to enjoy it.

 

Bite 7: Load lunch boxes full of the good stuff.

 

Note to self: when you get it wrong and the plan goes pear shaped – as it will at parties, holidays and grandparent visits, chill out! This is  process not a test. One day at a time, one bite at a time. Phew!!!!

 

REFLECTIONS ON PARENTAL TAX

If you are a parent of many children, as I am – you will be familiar with the usual phrase that follows  the gasp after you say that you have FOUR children. It goes like this: ” shoo, I’d have more but it’s too expensive”, or “yoh, but kids are expensive” or even worse: “its way too expensive, I don’t want to struggle, so we stopped at …” and so on and so forth.

 

I give you and unequivocal YES with a nod – it is indeed expensive. I thank God, that Sean and I are not struggling, but that doesn’t mean we don’t feel the pinch. Yes we feel that very specific ‘eina’ (Afrikaans word for pain – for our non South African readers) when the school fees invoice arrives or at the beginning of term when new extra murals are to be paid. But we feel it acutely when  costs escalate for unforeseen unplanned circumstances.  I like to call it the parenting tax. It’s the one that is levied against you by the natural laws of life, and the more kids you have the higher tax to be imposed.   A  classic example took place over the last two weeks when blogs from this site were scant. Why, some readers asked, have you not been blogging. And my mental answer was I was busy paying a parenting tax. One of my 4 delights, found their way into my “off-limits” office and dropped strawberry milkshake on my laptop keyboard.

 

I swooped off to my repairman who called me back with the cost of repair at R848. A week later when the new keyboard finally arrived they called me again and said they had to rerun all the software and do extra repairs because the milkshake had done more damage than expected. The extra repairs would cost a further R848 and now the costs had mounted to R1696.

 

And so it is with so many things, broken chains, smudged lipstick, sandy swimming pools etc etc. Sigh!

 

My children never did own up to who dropped the milk shake, but after R1696 it doesn’t really matter. I am told by older wiser parents that “they’re alive and its all part of the journey” or  “they’ll grow and it will get easier”. So for now I’ll take a deep breath, have a “patience pep talk” with myself and move on.

 

BLUE WHALE APP MADNESS

 

Sean and I recently attended a talk by Brad Huddleston, writer of the book Digital Cocaine. He spoke of the many side effects of digital addiction prevalent in everyone with access to technology, from 3 year old kids to adults. He said that one of the  common side effects of this addiction in kids and teens was self mutilation – cutting. I took this information in with a sense of disbelief and shock!!!

 

But this mornings news report on the Blue Whale App just made all of it a reality. The Blue Whale App was designed for kids (particularly vulnerable kids) to lure them into following the instructions in the game. They are given 50 days to complete perverse acts. These include watching horror movies, cutting and posting pics to prove it. The last act is suicide – the idea that a whale has beached itself and dies.

 

Perhaps most disturbing, are the stats. To date 130 teen suicides in Europe are linked to the App. My first thought is how could these kids be so gullible. But the designer is reported to have said that he is cleansing society, as teens who do this, would not be any use to society.

 

Predators are purposefully using social media to hurt our kids. Its sick.

 

I  think educating ourselves and our kids is part of the solution. But it will take a combined effort – from government intervention, to schools driving awareness and tech companies commitment to end the scourge.

 

Still I’m not sure whats more shocking, that a game like this exists or that kids are falling into its trap. That kids follow instructions on a screen to the point of death – that ones on us. We bear the responsibility to stay connected to our kids, to stay vigilant, to stay prayerful and to acknowledge digital addiction as a reality and a threat!!!!

 

Read more here

ONE PLATE AT A TIME

I am nowhere near the super mums of our time – the ones that have galvanized their whole homes into perfectly working ecosystems in oneness with the planet. I’m trying, and it takes a lot of time – time to label read, to unlearn, learn again and to make different choices.

 

In the homes of some of these mums, they eat organic whole foods (many of them pick from their own gardens). They use glass – only glass, they drink purified water, they only drink water!!!!. They bant or graze or???? They live in sugar free homes and their kids embrace it. They consume hormone free milk and free range poultry. Their breakfasts and most other meals are gmo free. They wear pure cotton or pure wool. They only use organic soap, shampoo and bubble bath. They use bicarbonate of  soda or aluminium free deodorant on their arm pits. They use clothe nappies and they gym as a family. They use natural medicine. They switch the wifi off at night and they recycle. Phew !!!! I’m exhausted just reading it all aloud.

 

They read labels – oh yes!!! And they KNOW stuff. They know how the processed foods and all the chemicals make the brain tick, the body grow and the hormones do what they’re not supposed to. Shoo they know … and they put me to “agha shame”.

 

Ha !!!!! I mean we still do junk food. Writing this makes me feel like I’m telling a nasty secret. And while I’m confessing, I might as well tell you that my kids love sugar. We try to keep our home “sweet free” on ordinary days (which are weekdays and weekends) but it only lasts until granny comes to visit. They even call granny the “sweetie shop”.  I give my kids hot dogs for lunch. Broken down into content language, it is nothing more than processed chicken on a carb with little or no nutritional value. Some super mums I know, give their kids hummus, cucumber and biltong for lunch or smoked salmon with slices of tomatoes and cream cheese. Like wowsers!!!!!

 

We’re not there yet!!! We do set out healthy snacks in help yourself jars of biltong, nuts and whatever is trending. We use a water purifier and drink plenty of water. We recycle. We also try to use natural products on our bodies.

 

We do plenty of fresh fruit and veggies. I buy them old school from a green grocer – where there aren’t any labels. So admittedly, i don’t how they’re farmed.

 

We avoid processed foods. We do make a point of buying hormone free milk, free range eggs and try to go organic as far as possible. We steam our veg and oven bake our proteins on most nights. When oil is needed we use olive or coconut oil as our first choice. Why – because I agree – food content is not what it used to be and the human body is not made to consume processed food and chemicals. I believe all the rubbish we consume will show up adversely down the line, in our health.

 

But hey the conflict is that a wrap can’t substitute a home made roti and rye bread cant substitute a fat cake. Baked sweet potatoe strips with a grilled piece of meat can’t replace a Russian special seasoned with masala and a dash of vinegar from your local Akhalwayas. Yum!!!  Yes I know it’s bad for your health. There goes that ‘nasty secret’ feeling again.

 

So what do I do to give my family optimal nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. I take it in stages, one  purchase and one plate at a time – while I label read, unlearn, learn again and make different choices.

 

MY SPUR REACTION

Watching the videos showing a man threatening a woman in front of her children at the Texamo Spur at The Glen Shopping Centre, left my head spinning. My reaction moved from utter disbelief to a raw rage.

He pulled her child. Let me say that again “HE PULLED HER CHILD!!!!”. And then he raised his hand to the women telling her he will give her a “p ….klap”

And the children?, look at what they witnessed. A stranger swearing at their mother, threatening to slap her, shaking the table. It’s awful, it’s madness.

And yes, the mum swore back, and yes we haven’t seen the debacle from the beginning – but he pulled her child!!’. I’m not sure I would have behaved differently given the setting. She couldn’t gather her children and walk away. She was cornered, literally in a Spur booths to face the aggression.

I don’t even want to think about what would’ve happened if she had been closer or if her had grabbed that child away from his mum. It shocks, saddens and enrages me at the same time. I want to scream: “is this us, is this our society, is this the violence that men in society perpetrate against women, against defenseless children????”. God help us!!!!!

Well done to Spur who banished the man from ever entering any Spur again. My family has visited Spur many times. It’s a kiddies friendly restaurant and the last thing I want is for my children to be exposed to this wildness.

It’s impossible to sever race from this. We come from a racially divided society. Of course people will ask “had the mother been white, would his behavior been the same?”. We will never know – but those are important questions to ask in the race discourse, as the country deals with its past.

The mother, whom we have come to know as Lebogang Mabuya said she will not press charges. I think that’s generous of her. I’d like to see a man like that stand before a court of law and have judgement passed against his behavior. I would like our courts to pronounce that this behavior is against the law and will not be tolerated. I would like to see individuals and our entire society stand against this scourge.

Watch the event here and here. One was taken by a patron videoing it on his phone. You can hear the dialogue. The other is from the Spur footage of the event taken from the other side of the table. After watching this, I implore you – react!!!! And whatever your reaction is, don’t let it be a passive desensitized one. Indifference will only breed more violence and show our children that violence is the norm and violence is okay.

Please share your thoughts.