How often do you savour the moment you are in? I don't mean stop and smell the roses, who has time for that in the rat race that is life in the Noughties? I mean while you are driving at breakneck speed (well within the legal limit of course) to get the kids to school on time, while you hastily make your way through a loaf of bread providing what passes for packed lunch for the family, while you try to fit being a spouse, parent, sibling, child and unique individual person into your hectic schedule of sleeping, eating and working, in no particular order. Our lives are made up of every moment we live, not the ones that have passed, those are our memories, not the ones to come as they do not exist yet. Now. That's what we have. That is what we are missing if we don't take note of at least some of those rapidly passing moments. I have forgotten about Now, until recently.
I was very concerned about whether I had done enough 'living' before settling down to marriage and children. I have. Definitely. But, if I hadn't, what exactly could I do to change it? Hmmm, that's it, nothing. It's passed. I remember it and love it but it is gone now, not to be mourned or regretted, just remembered and learned from.
I spent a lot of time mulling over the best choices to make for our family. As they grow up faster than I can comprehend, am I living in the right place, following the right career path, ever going to have a month where paying the bills is less stressful? Don't know. I can do something about these questions, but only if I Live each moment. If I don't interact with my children, I will one day have grown up children I don't really know, if I don't share special moments with my husband I will have a marriage without a relationship, if I don't notice the world around me Now, I might as well not worry about where I am now or where I want to be in the future, as I will not be aware of it anyway.
I am happy with Now. In my life Now is an amazing place to be. I am in good health, I have a doting (most of the time) husband, two amazing children, I work from home, I have an awesome support network in my friends who I would not do without, I have someone else doing my housework (!) and minding my children after school, I have a lovely garden thanks to a great gardener, and I have the opportunity to increase our monthly earnings by supporting DH in his ever improving business (y'know, to make those bills a little less scary). I also know that it could all be whipped away in the blink of an eye. So, I am savouring Now.
I should think we need an International Now Day, where people get to try it out. Don't stop, I know you don't have time, just savour. I can assure you, you will find happiness in every moment you notice.
I have been maintaining blog silence for the last couple of months for two reasons:
1. I have been using up all my words trying to earn a living which leaves me a bit spent.
2. I have not really felt like sharing!
Do you ever get those days, which turn into weeks every once in a while, when you feel insular? Not in the right frame of mind to interact with others? It happens to me whenever I really need to recharge my batteries. I have been in that zone for about six weeks now and (thankfully) it is over.
I felt the need to blog for two reasons:
1. Get over yourself, woman!
2. My friend Angus has been diagnosed with lung cancer (having never smoked) and he manages to keep up a positive stream of posts keeping all of us who care in touch with how he is doing. (Go over and have a read... he is a very worthwhile read!) Not shutting himself away to recharge but experiencing life and getting the most out of it. So this chica is taking a leaf out of that book of life and getting over herself.
So these last few weeks in which I have been keeping to myself I have also been indulging myself in precious time spent with my Mum.
Mum and I used to have a tenuous relationship at the best of times, for many and varied reasons. Now we have such a comfortable relationship that while she has been here we have been working at our laptops alongside each other sharing tips, tricks, insight and enthusiasm for our writing projects, getting along like a house on fire! I am a lucky lady! The best part about having Mum to myself is that, when she is not glued to her screen, I have her undivided attention.
In the interests of keeping some words for my working day and another post in the not too distant future... that's all for now!
Especially when your geyser gets hit by lightning (yes we were sitting about 5 metres from it when it tripped the electricity) on Christmas Eve, and there is no one answering the phone at the 24hr insurance call centre. I guess they don't specify 24/7/365.
So that rather loud and heartstopping (and hot stopping) bang was on Thursday evening. By Saturday we were on the last drops of our hot (read tepid) water. So on Sunday we were forced to bathe our hard laboured bodies, with the help of a kettle, in a puddle at the bottom of the bath, prior to settling in for the night. On Monday morning Natal shuddered itself lethargically back into work mode, and we hollered our local electrician. Luckily he was able to get the geyser repaired in a matter of minutes, since the part that was charred to a cinder had a handy replacement in his bakkie. Good thing too, because I do not clean in cold water!
So, I mentioned labour weary bodies. You might think that a bit odd bearing in mind that we were on holiday. But. BUT. Sean and I lost our minds one morning and started spring cleaning. By that I mean we emptied 2 rooms, vacuumed them as well as everything in them and put one of them back into the other. One remained in the dining room (I am refering to furniture here, you understand, as opposed to bricks) and the house looked like a bomb site for 12 hours. More than usual that is.
The following day was more of the same, I suppose, as we could hardly live as we were then for any length of time. Anyway, this spurt of indecent energy expenditure was brought on by the children being covered in bites from some unknown and unseen monster. They looked like they had some terrible lurgy, but were none the worse for wear (having said that a small drop in their energy levels does not actually register on the hyperactivity scale so perhaps I am wrong here) other than a little itchy. Their old room is always damp due to the large shady trees just behind our fence preventing the sun's warmth from drying it out. We also live in a very humid place so hot days make the floors and walls damp.
So, now that our holiday is drawn to a close, we have a whole new home to enjoy. Shannon and Jordan play happily in their new room, whereas they almost never played in their old one, the living area seems so much bigger and more open (it is tiny anyway but the rearranged furniture has created an illusion of space, ha ha).
As for the rest, Sean went back to work yesterday to discover that his main welder has a broken collar bone and that the one company he needed to be open is not! They have, locked behind their sleepy doors, the ballustrade he was meant to install this week! Did I mention the lethargy much of the province suffers from in the New Year? Not a great start for BMO, but other than that great things are afoot!
I am busy getting Shannon ready for Grade 1, she has learned to tie her shoelaces, write her name and write her numbers this holiday, (of course she is a genius and no, I am not biased just because I am her Mummy... lucky me) so hopefully she will be ready and able to participate enthusiastically in her first year of 'big' school!
Jordan is the cutest little thing I have ever clapped eyes on, but it is all a front to his devilish intentions. How difficult to be his doting Mummy!
Happy New Year to you, and I have great dreams for all of us for 2010... watch this space.
I have been reminded, by reading a number of other blogs, that I am sort of expected to come up with some New Year's resolutions to help me keep on the straight and narrow in the coming year. Not keen. I must be honest, I really don't have space between the long term goals I have already set myself, and the day to day energy required to keep a household, with an overworked husband and two demanding children, at relative peace.
So, in the interests of finding some inspiration, I googled 'New Year's Resolutions' and every single image of a list had something about weight loss on it somewhere. It still amazes me that, with all this determination there are more of us overweight than not! So anyway, we'll stick that in. Resolution number one: lose weight, tone up!
Though practically perfect in every way, it turns out that I am a bit of a failure in the domestic Goddess front, but am not yet earning enough of an income (read contributing financially to this here household) to avoid household duties with any real excuse. (YUK) Ok, so there is resolution number two. Get a maid.
Hmmm, I guess resolution number three ought to be 'earn enough money to pay for maid', but since that depends on one of my long term goals it is hardly a new resolution.
Resolution number four, don't be hurt by other people's, usually incorrect, opinion of me.
Resolution number five...
Do you know what? I have lots of plans for 2010. Most of them are carry-ons from things I have been working on for a long time, so not really something I can list as about to change as the second hand ticks it's last tock before the New Year, and the rest... well the rest are kind of personal, secret and deep down and I will stick to them because they have meaning to me and mine.
I am not a fan of New Year resolutions because I think we should all be constantly striving for self actualisation. I am. I have a looooong way to go, but I try. Daily. And some day I know it will all pay off, one way or another, with or without listing my intentions at the start of every New Year.
Since some sort of change is always inevitable, I have changed the look of this blog.
I have lived in Africa more than half my life and in different life stages, (the first 12 years, 4 in the middle teen years, and the last 5 as a married Mum) and there are certain parts of me that are inextricably linked with Africa. Memories of my childhood, especially, are something I will never let go of, as they give me a sense of belonging, familiarity and something to pass on to my own children. One of my fondest memories is of Christmas in Zimbabwe, surrounded by a Very Large Family (in numbers, not weight) with so much activity, fun, sunshine (yes we still had sunshine in Africa in those days) food, drink and even peace and quiet. Being in the southern hemisphere and it being summer 'n all, there was no snow, and and it was never, never cold. So, to counteract this chilly, rainy day in today's southern hemisphere 'summer' (please can someone explain why global warming is so cold), this is my memory of Christmas in Africa.
My Christmas in Africa is synonymous with the daytime heat beating down on sun kissed children playing noisy games, or splashing in the pool outside, under the watchful eyes of numerous mothers; and all the Dads foregoing the sun to watch - read catch a few hours’ kip in front of - the cricket on TV. My Christmas is all about balmy evenings surrounded by family, the constant chatter punctuated by scraping cutlery on crockery and, always, laughter.
My dad is one of eight siblings and between them they have 21 children, my cousins, sisters and I, and every year we used to gather on a family farm, or in a resort somewhere in Zimbabwe, to spend Christmas together. We had long tables, decorated in silver, green, red and gold, and festively laid with countless plates, knives, forks, spoons and glasses, sometimes under towering trees in the garden, where we ate our Christmas lunch. There was a mountain of presents and always so much food and plenty of drinks flowing to keep everyone merry. But most of all there was family; lots and lots of us all exuding festive cheer.
Now that those children, my cousins and I, have grown up, and some of us had children of our own, the numbers are rather larger, and we are now spread over three continents and at least four countries, so those gatherings are, unfortunately, a distant memory for many of us. A memory that will, however, always be my perfect idea of Christmas in Africa. Now it is time to start making those memories for my children, so that in 20 years they can look back and remember, with great amusement, the things they did for Christmas as children in Africa.
I am convinced that siblings play a greater part in each other's character building than even their parents do and, though it is far from intentional and often the result of temperament and perception than any specific act, it should not be underestimated.
As a child I learned that the best way to avoid feeling like a failure was to do none of the things that my elder sister did. Clare was always more ambitious, more determined and more astute than I so, no matter what natural talent I displayed, if it was in one of her areas of interest, I would always be second best, because she was willing to work harder at it. In some ways it worked beautifully as I did well in the things I chose, in others it may well have backfired, after all Clare is a Dr. of Engineering and I am not anything specific, although writer is the tag I go by now. I think it may also have something to do with vision but that is another blog post altogether.
So my questions are: is sibling rivalry a good thing, a bad thing or a bit of both? and how does a mother help her children to channel their rivalry in a manner that both, or all, children benefit, if that is even possible?
At the moment the biggest issue I have with sibling rivalry is who got which toy first and the whole 'my Mummy' argument in which Shannon delights as it winds her little brother up no end. Despite the three and a half year age gap they are very close and play together well much of the time. As for the rest it drives me to drink (yes, a large glass of red at bed time) trying to persuade Shannon that at five years old she should know that two different coloured blocks of exactly the same dimensions are really not worth fighting over. Or should she? Perhaps I am unfair and should also admonish Jordan, at not yet 2, for caring which one he has.
I am sure that very little harm will come to their developing psychs fighting over lego, however, as they grow older those rivalries will change and I am not sure I will notice in time if one of them is applying my avoidance tactics and pretending that they care less. The downside to that tactic is that it is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy and the drive, ambition and character they both show now may grow dimmer in which ever of the two is the less dominant. Between you, me and cyber space, though I really dislike predicting how children will turn out as adults since they usually surprise even their greatest critics, I think that it will be Shannon who falls into her brother's shadow. I think her need to needle him is already a sign of her knowing that on some level. How do I help her to choose her own path without losing her self and her way in the process?
my children said over the weekend that made me laugh:
1. Is it yours Mummy? - Jordan, very innocently, after having been sent to the naughty mat twice for trying to use my make up and not stopping after being asked at least a million times. (No, I am not prone to exageration.)
2. But the car is on water pilot. - Shannon when asked if her brother could have a turn pretending to drive while we waited for Dad to come out of a shop.
3. Daddy! Look at the pantis! - Jordan regarding the praying mantis (which turned out to be a stick insect) that was entangled in the net curtain.
4. Mummy, Shannon's not being my friend! - Jordan... he is not yet 2, I can't help but laugh especially when i know he is just coppering (Shannonism) his sister!
5. Hi, my name is Shannon and when I grow up I want to be a Doctor. - Shannon at her preschool graduation. The other girls picked ballerina or shopping lady (!), and Shannon had been 'practising' ballerina the whole time prior, so where Doctor came from I'll never know, but she surely raised a laugh for her efforts! Oh, and of course I will have to hold her to it. She made her bed...
I am a home schooling Mum, a wife, a writer and a runner. I live in South Africa in a big farm house in a little town with The Fisherman, Miss Maker, Turbo and my furbabies Gentle Dog, Mad Dog and Cheeky Dog.