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.



So this is the life of so many mothers and fewer fathers me thinks. Parents who are invited to a braai on a balmy Saturday afternoon in Jo’burg – and who turn down the sumptuous invite for that full time job – children!

I get it, it’s rewarding and it’s the most privileged place to be. The place where you watch you babies thrive amidst the fast paced madness of this century. I am the envy of many of my friends. But sometimes, just sometimes I could settle for less than the best.

Imagine with me. I could go to that braai, sip on drinks while the meat sizzles and delicious aromas swirl around. The banter is light – ordinary or silly things as friends catch up. Yes the children are in tow. But in this story mum is not walking after the toddler who wonders too close to the open pool as she whispers “inconsiderate” under her breath. And dad is not struggling to follow the conversation because his 4 year old plays Spiderman on his shoulders. All this as mum holds her breath while another little person proudly balances a plate of food and then oops!!! Paptert splattered on guests. Your host stammers “it’s okay” as she leaves for the mop.

And it’s at this disastrous point in your imagination that you go “OH SNAP – I’ll settle for home”. Home, where noisy messy shrieks bring the comfort that all is well. All is as it should be.