Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A New Year, a new you?

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.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas memories

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.

Image credit:

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Sibling rivalry

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?

Perhaps I think too much.