Compromise

What word do you think describes parenthood best?

Love, patience, dedication…they all come to mind.

But lately one stands out more than the rest – compromise.

Having an outspoken, hard-headed five-year old and an adventurer for a nearly two-year old makes our household a noisy and dangerous one. Lately everything seems to be questioned, and what till now was a small and quite safe home has become a minefield for Bettina. She creates danger in places I see as being safe.

Sometimes I despair. Sometimes I stand still for minutes in the living room wondering how two children can create so much chaos in the time it takes me to hang the clothes. Every couple of weeks Cesca invents new languages – she has three right now – Mio, Spanishina and Pinkie. To her delight Bettina speaks Spanishina (do not ask), but gets angry when I do not remember what water is in Mio.

Sometimes (and briefly, don’t worry) I fantasize about locking myself in my room with a big mug of wine and closing my eyes. Mummies hiding wine bottles come to mind, and I sympathize.

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So it is all about deep breaths and counting to ten. Because after an early start to the day, a day’s work at the office and at home, and handling two little terrors, I get tired. I really can’t be bothered learning new words, or picking up toys for the millionth time.

Therefore I have become an expert at compromise. I have long given up on expecting their four little ears to pick up what I am saying. So I barter. I have become one of those mothers who exchanges gifts for favours. I threaten them with things they hate in order for them to do something they hate. And I have wisely learnt to choose my battles.

So Cesca gets no ice-lolly after dinner if she does not pick up her mess. The cartoons get switched off for an hour if I get too angry. And revision will be three pages instead of two. As for Bettina, her weak spot is food. So I work around the sweet side of that. They get to open new boxes of toys held in storage if they work with me on tidying up, and I even let Cesca play with Playdoh if she is really good.

And if they give me too much hassle for a small errand, I just bite my tongue and do it myself. Some things are too menial to get worked over for nothing. It might not be the way to parent, but it saves on the Panadols later on in the day.

Yes, parenthood for me is all about compromise.

 

 

Self-care

I’m liking the way my year is turning out to be. For the first time in a really long time, if ever, I am in a happy place. I’m appreciating my life and those in it. I’m proud of myself for taking the step of ridding myself of what I do not need. I’m embracing the positive and shunning the rest. I’m moving forward, skipping actually, perhaps with less people around me but with an overall much better aura.

The decision to stop pleasing others and focusing on myself proved to be the turning-point. Perhaps it’s my age or reaching a saturation point of sorts, but my priorities have changed and with them, my life has shifted. I have come to realize that any time spent on things or people who are not worth it, is wasted time. I have given up on past friendships not with any antagonism, not at all. I just choose to spend the time I have with friends and family who give me something worth holding onto. It is a hard decision giving up on something or someone who meant so much to you in the past. But when you do so, the feeling of lightness and rightness which accompanies the action, is mind-lifting.

I do not care for any bull in my life. At 36 years of age, I finally know what I want in my life. And I consider myself fortunate to have people in my life who can and are giving it to me. Gone are the times when I used to set off, going out of my way to please someone, without any acknowledgment, thanks or reciprocated action. How many times have I done something for someone, only for them to shun away when I used to ask for something in return? We are all humans. We all expect help from our close ones in times of need. And when your priorities are not theirs, then there is a problem.

In every post I have written this year, I have always said how this year was going to be my year. I made it a priority to better my life and myself . It was not easy and it took hard work and keeping my eyes on the prize to move forward. Today I am with less people around me. I probably come across as sometimes direct and abrupt. But I am no less sensitive. than I was before. I am not crass or arrogant.  I only choose more carefully when to show what side of me.

I have, in a way, spring-cleansed my life. I have opened up myself, let the negative air and presences go out, and allowed the positive in my life. I have found the courage to admit to myself what I want out of this life, whom I want in my life, and what I need to do to achieve my own peace, and I’m slowly getting there.

I will not apologize for this. I am looking out for myself and my own. I suggest you try doing this. Clarify what and who you want in your life, and set out the way to achieve it.

I am telling you – the feeling is great.

I may not be doing it right. This may be the least correct way of doing it, but what works…works.

 

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This is not about hate or disrespect. It’s about self-care.

 

Five

My little (more properly, eldest) daughter just recently turned five. Five years of motherhood, of learning, of making mistakes and growing up. She is, as always was, my sensitive one. The one who needs to know that all is okay before being content. She needs to have a routine and stick by it, and she needs to be prepared and warned of any changes or unusual events. She’s a moody pain first thing in the morning, and won’t even tell her sister good morning until she’s ready to start the day and face the world. She’s the one with a hundred questions, all becoming more and more difficult to answer as time passes by. She goes with her guts, she rarely changes her opinion about someone, and she is, at moments, embarrasingly honest. Time spent with her is precious. Never a dull moment, and the words never stop. I will never tire of her spontaneous kisses and telling me what a beautiful mama’ I am. Her words and actions always put a smile on my face, no matter what.

She recently finished her kindergarten years, and my heart grew heavy as I saw her leave the school for the last time last week. I can’t even begin to explain the difference these past two years of school have made. I am only praying that next year a new school building and a new routine won’t have any unwelcome effects.

Five years of being a mother and two children later, what can I say?

Nothing is easy. Nothing comes handed out to you on a golden plate. We are terrifyingly given, in our exclusive care, these tiny beings without any real knowledge how to handle them and take care of them, and somehow we have to make the best job out of it. If that is not scary than I do not know what is. Then the worst is when you try really hard, you’re probably feeling desperate out of lack of proper routine, sleep and hormones, and you get judged. Judged by close-minded bigots who probably have no idea what this job really entails.

So my advice? Just move on. I have felt overwhelmed by motherhood on countless occasions, probably more with Cesca than Bettina. I have doubted myself and my abilities so many times that I was going crazy over it. We are our own worst critics. Nowadays I go with whatever works. You only want a banana for dinner? Fine. You want to take off your shoes and run outside barefooted? Go ahead. You want to eat yoghurt all on your own? Just do it.

Do enjoy little children. Before you know it, they’re all grown up. I’m dreading the moment Cesca will want to wash herself, or dress herself, or do her own things by herself. I don’t want her to stop closing her bedroom door or insist on reading by herself. I naively want to keep doing it all for her. Because stopping these mundane things, is so very scary.

 

Don’t let anyone tell you motherhood is easy. It’s the toughest. It’s one obstacle after the other, one challenge following the other, but the cliche is true. Nothing is as rewarding in life. By some unexplainable theory, the same small beings who drive you crazy and who you’d willingly rent out at times, just to get away from them, are the same ones you can’t do without.

So I will answer Cesca’s questions with a smile. I will try and find an explanation why it’s not always sunny on Sunday and why she’s never seen a fairy before. I will enjoy every embarrassing episode because I know I will smile later about it later on. I will allow her to help me with my makeup and choose my shoes for me, without flinching when she does so. I won’t get impatient when she won’t give me a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but insists upon showing me Dance A which means ‘yes’ and Dance B which means ‘no’. Who knows if she’ll still be doing these same things next year?

So my little free spirit, keep smiling!

 

Where there’s a will…and all that…

A couple of months back, at the beginning of 2016 to be exact, I posted how I wanted this year to be about me and my well-being. I had arrived at a point where I was a bit low on the dumps, I had stopped doing things I loved, and I honestly felt ten years older than my age.

So I promised myself that I would start introducing some changes to my life.

The most important was starting to exercise. Proper physical training which would make me swear and sweat and get in shape. Needing to stop to catch my breath after going up a flight of stairs was not okay anymore. I felt like a big blob of nothing, and I finally realised that I truly wanted to change.

So I started.

Nearly six months down the life, my early morning training session has become a part of my life. A very important part of my life. I’ve shed most of the weight gained after two pregnancies, and I can run during the exercises without feeling as if I’m dying. The big flabby parts of my body have finally started hardening up and looking a bit leaner. I’m loving the results, especially from the health aspect of it all. Getting your heart pumped up and sweating like a pig can only mean you’re doing it right.

Mentally, exercising is the best remedy. I have to say that I have found so much support from my better half, who recently admitted that he would have sworn good money that I would stop after a couple of days. I am more relaxed with him and the girls, and my sleeping patterns have improved so much.

And surprisingly enough, I found a great group of ladies who I now consider as good friends. We see each other at our worst really – early morning workouts with a sweaty face and frizzy hair is not the best of sights. But these ladies are real motivation. I do admit that they kept me going back, even when the exercise was sometimes too much for me to take. We now organise birthday dinners, we chat regularly and share some good laughs. I’ve met new people I never knew before, and got to better know others I previously just said ‘hi’ to.

If you’re thinking of starting to exercise or train, I’m telling you – don’t give up. I am no expert on the subject but I can tell you from my experience that unless you really REALLY want to change things, and unless you arrive at that point where you know things can’t get any worse, then it will not last. My turning point? Buying a pair tummy-tucking pants, and feeling like I was going to burst from other parts of my body. Always wearing big, flowing tops over trousers because I was so conscious of my waist. Being a size 8-10 when I got married and arriving at a point where a size 12 was starting to feel too tight. Being 35 years of age and feeling like 45.

So really, don’t give up. When you’re hitting rock-bottom, the only way is up. And if you’re lucky to find good friends to help you along the way, then even better😉

Bear with me

I haven’t stopped writing due to lack of words. Just shortage of time.

I start a post in my head, but then life takes over and I only remember about my forgotten post when the girls fall asleep. It’s then postponed to the day after, which never ever arrives.

So many words, so little time.

Therefore today I chose to the let the girls run riot in our living room. They’re currently throwing soft toys at each other and I’m sure Bettina just spilt the glass of water I gave her, on the carpet (baby cups are not enough for her). But I’m staying here.

And allow me to say the following:

Children are exhausting.

I said that to someone today, and I received an arched-eyebrow look, followed by, “But the feeling they give you when they give you a hug is irreplaceable”.

Yes I know, I replied. But one can’t deny that children are tiring, expensive and noisy.

At that point the lady in question gave me a (very short) nod and changed the conversation, and I decided to shut my mouth, because any more words from me and I’d probably have been reported to the child protection unit for lacking in my maternal duties.

But be honest – children consume everything. Mine do at least. As much as I adore these two little munchkins, I have to admit that sometimes they’re nothing short of little monsters. They choose the worst moments to start a fight, they never seem to tire, and someone always is hungry at the very moment they’re put to bed, or dirty when we’re just going out.

I repeat the same words every single day, every single hour.

“Not now”, “Can you put your sister down please?”, “Your food is getting cold”, “Bettina, spit that coin out!”, “Cesca, where’s your sister?”, “Chocolate is not proper food”…I can go on and on.

By the time they eat, wash, change and put to bed, we the poor parents are exhausted. But then duties never stop, because then you have to read them a story-book, pick up the toys, tidy the living-room and hope you get a couple of minutes of quiet-time on the sofa and say a word or two to your partner before one of you falls asleep. Unless one of the girls has a nightmare, or insists that one book is not enough because it was a short story etc etc etc.

I sometimes start thinking of how much the girls cost us. Which I stop doing after a couple of quick calculations, because I start feeling guilty and panicky. Bad mummy moment, I guess.

I write this post after a crazy day at work, with two kids who have now thankfully been mesmerised by Nick Jnr, and a house which needs a good tidy-up. Is there any mother who has a tidy house, or is it just me? The laundry bins are always full and there’s always something on the floor. And when I stop and think for a moment that, “Oh, I seem to be on top of things at the moment”, I totally jinx it all. Everyone is suddenly hungry, fighting, crying, thirsty, dirty and only mama’ can fix everything.

Nowadays my idols are mothers. I see them, hear their stories, see them rush about, work and cope, and they give me hope that I can do this as well. I see fellow mummies with a toddler throwing a tantrum, and I give them what I hope is a look of solidarity and courage. We’ve all been there sister. We all try and emerge from the crazy moments in one whole piece. We have no choice really, but we manage. That’s why we rock.

I’ll stop writing this rant now, just in time to perhaps enjoy a minute or two or quiet before Wallykazam finishes.

All facts narrated are true ones. No children were harmed during the writing of this post. Despite their messy and loud nature, they’re still queens of the household. No need to call the police.

 

 

Stick To Your Guns

I wanted to make 2016 a different year. For as long as I can remember January was always the time when I made resolutions I knew I would never keep. It’s always been the usual resolutions – losing weight, start saving more, stop buying unnecessary items etc. This year I was dead-set upon one thing. I wanted to focus more on me.

I was going to be my own priority.

Nearly two months into the new year, I am thrilled to have stuck to my guns. I have started and continued new rituals which are helping me in more ways than one. I have stopped finding and using silly excuses to get out of doing something which may not be that easy.

I have started training. Yes, me, training. Bar a couple of years doing aerobics, I have never consistently trained in my life. My body had become one big mass of laziness. I was 35 years old and I was struggling to walk uphill. I knew something had to change when mornings had become my own personal hell, with nothing fitting me well and everything straining to contain the whole of me.

Then, six weeks ago, with the help of an awesome friend, we both started training. We are each other’s rock and help, and we now do what we never thought we could even start. We wake up at an ungodly hour yes, but we manage to spend a whole hour sweating our arses off. And finally, after six hard weeks, my body is starting to change. My tight trousers are now a little loose, and my mummy-tummy (16 months after giving birth) has finally started to go in, without me straining to hold my breath in to contain the whole of me. But more than the physical aspect of it all is perhaps the realization that we are truly helping our body change for the better. With the help of our trainer and the beautiful ladies who attend training with us, I have come to realize how pathetic the excuses I would say to myself really were. I used to complain with not finding time to work on myself, but I now know that it was just an excuse to not wake up early. We all have time to do what we want or what needs to be done. We just need to find it and use it. Nowadays my days start earlier, but the positive outlook the rest of the days have is truly amazing. My days are more productive and strangely enough, I am more recharged and ready to go. Only now can I really understand the difference exercise makes to our mental health. For that alone, waking up early is worth it.

I’ve also started trying to stick to small rituals which might seem insignificant to some, but to me it means a world of difference. I go to yoga every other week, I have made it my own personal mission to properly cleanse, tone and moisturize my face every day. I’ve invested in some products which help me take care of the physical me. My nails are getting done regularly now, and I had some inches cut from my hair which have made me feel lighter and younger.

One other thing I’m trying to do is to stop being a people-pleaser. I am trying to do what I like and enjoy doing, and I try to stop myself from going out of my way to please others who I know aren’t appreciative of the fact. God knows how many times I’ve said yes to people, only to have that fact gone by without a single thank-you or an inch of gratitude. So nowadays, I don’t respond ‘yes’ immediately. I still struggle yes, but I pause and think about whether I really want to do that particular thing or not.

Coming to think of it, we spend so much time focusing on others – be them parents, children, spouses, friends. Is it so bad to want to be a bit selfish in your behaviour and just please no one but yourself?

 

2016, here we go!

It (only) took me eight days to wish you a happy new 2016! With work, some travelling, Cesca having her Christmas holidays, some new teeth for Bettina and preparing for Christmas, life was pretty hectic, hence my absence.

We had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful Tuscany, this time round going to Lucca, Montepulciano, Cortona, Montalcino and the picturesque Pienza! The scenes, food and wine were beyond great, and thankfully everything went well. There were some uncomfortable moments flying out to Italy with Bettina when we had to tie her in the plane seat with me and her seat-belt, but thankfully food won her over and proved to silence and quiet her for a couple of moments.

Everyone is settled back into their routine now. I started work again, as did A, Cesca is back to school and Bettina is back to staying with Nanna during the day. Also, our kitchen is functioning once again after a much-appreciated break. Since all our bodies were all craving some simple soups, I wasn’t in for that much work. However after three soup meals, we needed something more concrete than a liquid meal, so yesterday I tried out this recipe, choosing to leave out the rice and leave it a prawn and potato dish. I added some thyme, some substituted the fresh coriander with the dried bit, and it truly came out delicious! The best part is that it does not take up that much work and you can leave it cooking slowly whilst you do something else (in my case it was feeding the girls and tidying up the kitchen).

As for new year’s resolutions I haven’t done any really, knowing fully well that I always fail in keeping them for more than a couple of days. My only wish is that I take care of myself, physically and mentally, a bit better. So I will try to properly wash my face every other day, instead of using the lazy girl’s option for cleaning my face – make-up removal wipes. I am not going to use the word ‘diet’ because that never works. But I will try and be more away of what I consume and eat. And as hard as it is, I will start finding half an hour a day, at least a couple of times a week, to go out for a walk. My level of exercise is sadly zilch. To be honest, it is not something I can do anything about, because my day is fully packed and jammed between school, work, the house and cooking. I sometimes joke that I need to set in toilet breaks in my schedule. Which in all honest would not be a bad idea. But I will try and find thirty minutes, children-free and just get out and walk. The weather is really beautiful at the moment, and I do believe that nothing works for

a healthy mindset than getting out in the open and wander around. So this I will truly try and hold on to.

Is there something you’re holding yourself to do/not do in 2016? Yesterday I read that if you keep doing something regularly for thirty straight days, your mind sets it as a habit and you become accustomed to doing it. So I’m setting small goals so hopefully I’ll have small victories to celebrate.

So stay healthy and happy dear friends. Let’s hope 2016 will be a peaceful ones, for us, our family and friends.

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Cesca’s eyes speak volumes about the way she feels about her sister :) 

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No filter needed.

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I swear her clothes, her Dumbo and her hands managed to gather every speck of dirt Tuscany had to offer.

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A beautiful read. If you can translate it, I suggest you do so. Wise words!

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Cortona’s hot chocolate.

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It’s like we wind them up , and then zoom they’re off!!

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Chickpea soup never looked so good.

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My everything.

 

 

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She’s a lucky girl indeed.