Monthly Archives: August 2013

Two-one!

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The terrific twos!!!

Lily is (almost) two! When asked she says she is two one. I can very easily state that she is at the best age so far! To be honest I do say that about every single age, but I just love two!

The tantrums and whiney pants-ness is something to behold but most of the time it is because we can’t understand her, it must be incredibly frustrating to want something and not be able to make yourself understood. The other night we had a meltdown because she kept asking for a “bidi”. I had just given her a plate of food (I can’t remember what it was now) but she kept asking for a ‘bidi’. I had no idea what she was on about, I tried everything and she got more and more upset, until she finally managed to show me that she wanted a spoon. Seriously how was I supposed to know that a Bidi is a spoon? In a similar situation I have learned that Kadush is open.

The talking is the best, da da da is jump, kwa Kwa is duck, ooh ooh is monkey, she says woo woo for dogs, moos and baahs, birdys, cars, ba is bath. We can actually have a conversation now, and we sit in the bath every night having long chats. I love it! when asked where her bed is she points to the spot between our two pillows but knows her room as her room, the one she doesn’t sleep in. She follows direction really well, if I ask her to take her clothes to the laundry basket she does, she will pass me a towel when I get out the bath or shower, find the remote when asked and help collect dirty dishes. I am amazed at the level of understanding. Every now and then she will look at me quizzically and I will have to show her, but not often.

She loves the galaxy tab, which drives me mad as the only time I can play with it is when she is sleeping, but she knows how to use it and swipes to turn it on, flips the screen and play her fave games.

She is still a big cuddler and more often than not sleeps in my arms, can you think of anything better? I doubt it. Sometimes she wakes up and takes my hand and puts it on her cheek before going back to sleep. She loves her dad and as soon as she wakes up she looks for him. As Shaun often leaves for gym at 5, she wakes up and says “daddy gone” in a mournful little voice.

She eats well, is very independent and will feed herself every time. As long as she has a “bidi”. She is a big drinker and will down two bottles of tea without a second thought. She has juice sometimes but usually tea or water. Potty training is going to be a pain because of this!

As far as the “terrible twos” go, we have had a few tantrums and she can be unreasonable. She can be very indecisive and whiney and I try so hard to keep my cool but every now and then I SOS to Shaun and hide in the bathroom. Pulling on my clothes and wailing is the worst. She says naughty mommy if I do ANYTHING she doesn’t like, and goes running to Shaun. Thankfully most of the time we have each other’s back and we explain to her why daddy or mommy aren’t naughty.

She is gorgeous, I just adore her. We have so much fun together! I wish I could still be home with her all the time, but she loves school, she loves to play with her friends and learn new things, and I know I can’t give her that.

A quick one about my lovely husband who is such an amazing dad. I hate the term ‘hands on dad’ because it goes against the grain so I am just saying he is a great dad. We are equal parents in every way and we make such a good team. I really feel that we are doing this parenting thing pretty well, our child is amazing. We are ying and yang and I could not be more blessed in the husband and daddy department. Lily is a lucky little girl!

Once upon a time, I wrote in a journal…here’s what I wrote.

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When I was studying my honors in Trauma counselling I had a module that required six months of volunteer work. I have been bought up in a family of “give backers” so this was no great stretch for me and I soon found a shelter in Rustenburg called “lighthouse baby shelter”. They are a shelter for children and babies in crisis, under 4 years old. http://lighthouseshelter.info/. I was told that I couldn’t volunteer more than 2 days a week, as it is very heavy going and they didn’t want to wear me out! I tried to argue but they wouldn’t budge. Yes, heavy heavy work but amazing all the same. I didn’t blog then, but I did keep a journal. I thought I would share with you some of what I wrote:

 

15/04/2008

I fed Chris today, he is +- 2 weeks now* but might be a bit older. His approx. birth day is 28th March. Apparently his mom hasn’t come to visit him since Wednesday last week, I really hope she hasn’t given up. He is so cute. I saw on his chart that he is taking Retrovir. I don’t know what that is, I am going to look it up but I suspect it is ARVs, I really hope I am wrong. Learnt today that Kego is 5 months old, she is so tiny I thought she was 5 weeks! She was born very prem. Leeann has started to crawl at 6 months old, she is gorgeous! Thabo won’t let me hold any of the other babies and throws a tantrum  when I do, he cries when I leave every day, it’s awful.

*Chris came to the shelter when he was 3 days old.

16/04/2008

Just looked up retrovir. It is an ARV given to babies to stop AIDS. I feel like I have a rock in my stomach, I wish I hadn’t looked it up; he is only 2 weeks old. I am getting too involved already.

17/04/2008

I hung out with Leanne a lot today, fed her porridge which was so messy and gross but she seemed to enjoy it! Every time I look at the kids I can’t help but think how unfair it all is, how can someone abandon a child?

22/04/2008

Thabo has moved into the big kid’s side as he has outgrown the babies. I have been putting off spending too much time there, the babies are easy and cute, and the big kids are wild and exhausting. Will have to spend more time there though, they really all need the attention

25/04/2008

Went to the big kids today and it was hectic, the kids are all so nasty to each other, and I’m not used to it. They fight for my attention, all want to touch my hair and sit on my lap. I can’t imagine how the carers survive!

08/05/08

Haven’t written in a while, I have had pleurisy so have been in bed a lot. It was very very painful! Went back to the shelter this week though. Chris cried a lot today, maybe colic? The newest baby is very quiet, only a week old we think. Kelly is two but can’t walk or talk, she is so sick. She can hardly even cry, she just moans and looks so sad.  Breaks my heart because it is all she has ever known. She didn’t even have a choice, has been bought into this world and sick and abandoned. It makes me sick.

02/06

Kego has gone home to her mom. I am so happy for her but will miss her! Vanessa donated money to LCS and they were so grateful. They are all such good people. Hope some of it rubs off on me!

06/07

So long since I last wrote, been so busy. Leanne has been adopted, she is going to Holland. I am so thrilled but shew I miss her, she was so special to me. Tsolofelo has also gone home and we have two new babies. Amos mom tried to kill her; she has a bad cut on her wrist and scars on her head and neck. No one seems to know exactly what happened to her. She is about 3 months old. This is the first abuse case that I have dealt with and I am struggling. I am battling to connect with her because I am scared to hold her, scared I hurt her.

31/07

Thabo has been adopted and is going overseas. His mom came to look at his bed and see where he grew up, she seems really nice. She said that he is battling to bond with them a bit but they are all persevering. What an amazing thing to do.

Struggled today with the toddlers, I have never been a kid person and I am really battling with the hair pulling craziness. I need a pep talk because I know they need me more than I need to be alone. PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER SHANNON! Suck it up and be there for them, not for you.

08/08/2008

Ria has gone home after living for 2 years at LCS. His gran finally came and got him, apparently she has been looking for him all this time! His mother tried to kill him so I really hope she is long gone. Phumelo was sleeping when she came to get him and when he woke up he was looking for him. When Janis told him that he had gone home to his family, Phumelo kept asking where his family is, and why they hadn’t come for him. That broke my heart. They were best friends and he didn’t get to say good bye and doesn’t understand.

14/08/08

I went to school with the big kids today, it was really fun. Rhenelwe has gone home and I didn’t get to say good bye which is sad, will always remember her having permanently wet pants and saying “mommy look” at everything in her sight.

 

That was my last entry. What I didn’t manage to write was Chris dying. Unfortunately the Retrovir didn’t help and his immune system was so weak and he just couldn’t fight. He was 5 months old when he died. I was devastated. I held him two days before and he looked like a different child, I hadn’t seen him for two weeks and had to go and check his chart because I didn’t believe it was him. I will spare you the details. But it will stay with me forever. I can see his face in minute detail still; it is not something one forgets easily.

Working at lighthouse changed me and helped me grow. It also helped me see things clearly and has definitely shaped who I am today, as a person and as a mother. I saw the worst and heard the worst. The things that people did to the children there were to cruel for words, but the people working there were amazing, full of love and working selflessly, something I have to learn to do on a daily basis. Working there helped me see that I could handle it and was strong, despite everyone telling me I couldn’t. A lot of friends and family didn’t want me to do it, they didn’t think I could cope with what I would experience and see. I did cope; in fact I coped so well that it scared me. I wish I hadn’t coped so well, it also helped me see that I didn’t want to be a trauma councillor. I didn’t want to not be affected by those things; I wanted my heart to break with every story of abuse, neglect and abandonment. I was scared that if I was exposed to it every day, and I saw the worst side of society every day, I would become immune.

This was all when I was 22 years old. Straight out of varsity, had just moved out of home and learning about the world. It was an eye opener and a game changer and something that I would recommend everyone does. Give back, maybe it hurts you. Maybe it breaks your heart. Maybe you cry yourself to sleep. I don’t care. What I do care about is that it is not meant to be easy. Those kids don’t have it easy. You need to put your feelings aside and think of them because they are what matters. They are the future, as clichéd as that sounds. We need to help them now, when they are still babies, so that we can ALL live in a better world in the future.

My opinion on smacking children

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I have made it perfectly clear how I feel about this subject, so I don’t think I really need to elaborate on it, but I am going to anyway.

Yes I am against smacking of children. Not in the same way that I am against sleep training, where I believe if circumstances really call for it, and you are at your wits end, might be worth a go (I know that saying this goes against all that I stand for, but, I am flexible and rational. And nothing is ever set in stone. I believe every situation is different. Sleep training would not work on my child, but I refuse to make a sweeping statement). With smacking however, I can make a sweeping statement and say that I am against it and would not smack my kids.

The reason I wanted to write this is mainly focused on the following comment I saw on Parent24

Screw your law. As hy of sy stout is dan brand hulle gat. Since we stopped a good hiding at school the youth have gone off the rails. A good hiding kept me in line and today there is nothing wrong with me

Really? You really this THIS generation is doing so well? The generation that got smacks and hidings from their parents are the generation that has landed us up in this mess of a world we live in! We live with violence every single day, we hear about rapes, murders, molestation’s, kidnappings, hijacking and the list goes on, every single day. Do you think that the people who committed those crimes would not have committed them if they had been given a good hiding as a child? They probably did get hidings! Who is to say that is exactly what caused them to be violent in the first place? Kim said it really well in fact:

well, using the rod didn’t exactly produce model citizens did it? Or were our jails completely empty and nobody got traffic fines and ponzi schemes and murder didn’t exist before corporal punishment was banned?

It has worked for centuries? Jails just been built recently then? scams never existed? Everyone was just perfect? Research seems to show that many of the problems smacking would supposedly solve are caused by smacking – children learn what they live, and smacking means they’re living in a violent household that teaches them that might is right.

Exactly. Surely things can only get better?

I know everyone can lose their temper and smack their child at times, I understand. I really do, but here is the crux of it. you would not hit your partner for coming home drunk and acting silly, you would not hit your partner for not loading the dishwasher, you would not hit your partner for not making his/her bed, or not brushing his/ teeth, or for sulking, or slamming a door, or raising his/her voice. You would not hit your partner if he or she was rude to you, or was “showing off”. In fact, there is NEVER an instance where you would hit your partner. So why oh why would it be ok to smack your child? The person who has been loaned to you, who you have been tasked with teaching, who learns from example. Who doesn’t know anything but that which you teach him/her.  The problem is that people see their children as THEIRS. This is not so. Your children are mini humans, created by you but not owned by you. They have minds, thought and feelings, just as you do. How would you feel if you were forced to wear a pair of uncomfortable shoes that you hated, that you really really did not want to wear?  You would be pretty pissed off if no one would listen to you, and still made you wear them, wrestling you into them. In fact, you may start to cry and you might get angry and lose your cool completely and shriek and scream a bit. Who wouldn’t? It must be awful having your will taken away from you. This happens to children all the time. Parents complain that their kids won’t wear something they have bought for them, or won’t eat the meal that has been cooked for them, or won’t sit still and quietly in a restaurant. Put yourselves in their shoes. My mom still talks about being forced to eat a dinner she hated, she had to sit at the table for hours, crying, because she didn’t want to eat it. 45 years or so on, and she still remembers it.

I have gotten totally off topic, but that fact remains. Your children are humans, there for you to care for, not force your will on. I am not judging, I actually had this conversation a years ago with a dear friend who had children when I didn’t. At the time,  I said that I thought it was ok to smack, as long as it was not out of anger and purely used as a tool to discipline. Her and I had long discussions about it, even ploughing through my psychology text books to see if they said anything (this was before google was the go-to source of information). As far as I know she never used the information, and merely used it as a threat, which was effective enough. but it isn’t really any of my business anyway. It’s not like I chat to my friends and ask, do you smack your kids? Jut as I don’t ask, do you co sleep, where do you have sex if you do and when are you going to wean your baby. Not my style…

Since that chat, I have since changed my mind (as I have with a lot of things). Seeing things as a parent as as a non parent are two very different things. I wont smack my kids, and I am ok with the law being passed. You are not legally allowed to hit anyone, not even animals, so why should hitting your children be ok?

 

Suck it up

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I feel like lately my tweets and blog posts need to come with a disclaimer, like Parent24 has on all their columnists’ posts:

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

 

Mine will say:

Disclaimer: the views published in all of my online material are pertaining to my experiences with my own family. I am not judging you for doing things differently; I DO NOT CARE how you parent. Your decisions are not a threat to me, so mine should not be to you. Clear?

 

Is this sarcastic? Maybe. After being sublogged this week I feel that it is necessary. After giving advice to a friend who asked I was made out to be an uncaring bitch who judges other parents harshly. Seriously.  I was asked how I cope with a child who does not sleep. I answered with my usual response; I suck it up and get on with it. It is not a good answer, but there is no other answer that I can give. Once you have exhausted all possibilities, and have tried everything that you are willing to do, and the child STILL doesn’t sleep, what other choice do you have? Suck it up and move on. I realized this is NOT the answer anyone wants to hear, I will never profess to be the person anyone asks about sleeping, my 2 year old still wakes up a lot, she still breastfeeds to sleep. It is not ideal but we make it work, and on nights when she is up every hour, and I have to go to work feeling like I have been hit by a train, what else can I do but suck it up?

 

This has become a life motto, when Sharon emigrated, taking my niece and two nephews with her, I was devastated, so was she. We spent a long time feeling very sad about the whole situation, but we both knew that there was no way out of it, nothing could be done. So we came up with the motto ‘suck it up”. It doesn’t mean “I don’t care how you are feeling, get over it and move on”, it means ‘suck it up, the situation sucks but there is nothing you can do about it”. We would say it to each other all the time, still do! When I am having a rough time, when I am beyond exhausted, tearful and miserable I know I can always count on her to tell me to suck it up, it always puts things in perspective for me!

 

So ya, maybe this sounds heartless, and cruel. If it does I’m sorry, but readers of my blog should know me better than that by now. I am not heartless, I do care. I know what it is like to wake up every half an hour for six months straight. I know what it feels like to have a baby who will not take formula, who won’t sleep and who pukes up any solid food she is given. I know. I also know that changing the way I thought about the situation is all that got me through it. I call it my “aha moment” a la Oprah. I had it after I had spent a good few hours sitting on the floor of the midwives office sobbing. I was exhausted, my baby wouldn’t eat, she wouldn’t take formula, I hated breastfeeding, and I just hated everything. I felt that I was the world’s worst mother – in fact I wrote this post a few days before (https://ournextbigadventure.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/if-motherhood-was-a-test/) I can’t read it now because I know it will take me back there.  We went away that weekend and I realized that I was in control of my own happiness. I was in control of the situation in as far as accepting the fact that I could not control it. I was dealing with a mini human, who was learning to be alive. I realized that I couldn’t carry on like this and I made a snap decision to change my mind set. It was the best thing I have ever done. I decided to throw away all my baby books, stop listening to any and all advice. Stop feeling pressurised to do the right thing, the thing that everyone else thought was right, just because they had children too. I realized that I was the boss, no one else knew my child like I did. So I let her guide me and I embraced the “attachment parenting” side of my personality. Something I had been drawn to from the day Lily was born, but was fighting against it because it went against the norm. It went against what family and friends did and what the books did. I did it anyway. I put Lily in bed with me, stopped trying to wean her or get her onto solids. Stopped timing feeds and wake ups and nappy changes and all the missions that go with that. Attachment parenting? Ha, lazy parenting…I am all about lazy parenting. It is so much easier, and we are all happier.

 

This is a long post, I have probably lost most of you by now. It’s ok; it is one that I needed to get out. It has been said countless times, parenthood is hard, and unglamorous. All we can do is or best and suck it up when we can’t.