Choices

When we make a choice, we are choosing something over something else. We choose A over B.  And in that split second we make a decision, we are setting the path for that part of our life.

Do you ever think of the path you didn’t choose? I very rarely do. The temptation is great but I do not see much sense dwelling on that which did not happen.

The way I see it is that every decision is taken in a particular moment. It is one instance, with a background of events going on around it, and with a specific mind frame and set of emotions. Every choice is made in that arena, in that moment. A choice made a second later could lead to a hundred, different results.

Actually, thinking about it is pretty intimidating. We make on-the-spur decisions, in a moment, and they are binding ones. We rarely get second chances.

Thinking about the untaken choice is unfair, because all those factors which featured in making the first choice might not be present the second time round. Thinking in retrospect is a bitch. We are all experts afterwards.

My friend L and I were talking about this the other day. That question, “What if?…” Is it worth anything? We can’t live life thinking about the choices we didn’t choose. Think of all the useless energy we would be wasting!

My comment earlier on about not revisiting the past? Confession time.Here goes.

There is one instance which remains with me always. It took me 8 years to fully understand how much it had affected me. The minute it happened, I very conveniently forced myself to forget it and I went on living as if it had never happened.

And then my 2014 life upheaval happened and I had to face the facts head-on, without any cushioning or downplaying.

One Monday evening back in 2006, my father called us from New York. He talked to my mother, then my brother and he then asked to talk to me. For a silly reason, I didn’t want to. I had just returned from America a couple of weeks before with luggages and luggages of things, all sponsored by him. So when I asked for something else for him to bring me, his, “Didn’t she buy enough yet?” made me angry. Mum told me not act in that childish manner, but I kept on refusing.

He hung up and the next day he passed away.

I remember blaming myself for what happened, hating myself for not talking to him on the phone, and yearning to turn the clock back a couple of hours. The guilt added to the pain and suffering of those days was too much for me, so I made myself forget and dismiss the incident. It came up later on (oh yes it did), I dealt with it and life was clearer and lighter in a way.

The choice I made back then was insignificant at that time. I did not think about it again till the moment my life shattered into a million pieces. With hindsight of course I would have done things differently, but I learnt that I could not undo a choice, and I could not judge myself over something which had already happened under different circumstances.

So I stopped judging myself,  I accepted the fact that it was a choice I made, a very bad one as it turned out, but I would not feel guilty about it anymore. Because that was the way it was meant to be. That was the way things had to turn out.

And if life has taught me anything so far it is that we are the sum total of our choices and decisions. They shape us and make us. We are where we are now because of our choices. Stop blaming yourself. Again, hindsight is a bitch. A Bitch.

Own It!

Have you ever found yourself starting to say something and stop yourself before you do? There are many situations when I think something, disagree with someone or really want to say something but don’t. I keep quiet and keep my thoughts to myself.

And then I ask myself why I don’t just say what I want and mean to say.

Maybe it’s the looks I am afraid of gathering, maybe it’s the reaction I don’t want to see. Whatever it is, this holding back bothers me. I have always been a strong believer of saying what you believe in and owning it. Yet sometimes I can’t even practice what I believe in.

So yes, I do spend time on Facebook, and yes I do play Candy Crush Saga. I also buy ridiculous items on sale which I never use and I then remove tags and receipts to make it less obvious to anyone other than me.

I still love reading a trashy fiction book every once in a while, and deep down I know I’m not the ideal housewife. Cooking is sometimes a chore, and I do sometimes keep the girls quiet with sweets in order to get something done round the house.

I love seeing other people’s photos on Facebooks, more so if they’re not my friends. I am constantly filling up online shopping bags on every site I know of, not necessarily resulting in a purchase. And I procrastinate, too much for my own good at times.

Phew!

What about you?

 

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.

wine

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.