Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dear Mrs Squirrel

You know those annoying moms? The ones who are super over protective of their kids? The ones who think their kid can do no wrong? Those deluded women who make us grit out teeth in embarassed annoyance? Ya... Let me never judge them again. I'm not quite as bad as that, but what I DO know is that feeling. That physical reaction that happens when someone insults or threatens your child in any way.

A few things have happened since Tandi's arrival. One was someone kissing her while they had a fever blister (what the hell were they thinking... you know how dangerous that can be for a baby?), one was someone saying she wasn't beautiful and one was someone insulting her outfit rather nastily (seriously! Why??).

In all cases these were people who actually love my child. They are not bad people and given some distance and some deep breaths I can admit that they weren't meaning to be as thoughtless, nasty or silly as I felt that they were.

My point is not about what happened. My point is about my reaction to what happened.

To the baffled men out there and to the future moms I thought you should know that this is why I have newfound sympathy or even (shudder) empathy for those annoying moms we all secretly roll our eyes at. When any of these things (or similar situations) occur this is what happens to a mom:

Your throat tightens in a nauseating, sickening kind of way. Your pulse quickens. Adrenaline pumps through your body. You fight to maintain a socially acceptable outward demeanor but inside you are throttling the person Ally MacBeal style. You feel as if the entire world is an evil place and as if you will never be able to forgive that person. If you had hackles (maybe some really hairy women do??) they would rise. Like a cat who senses something dodgy or dangerous nearby, your hair would rise all down your spine (again, that is if you have a hairy spine!) It is a PHYSICAL thing. Emotion-wise you want to wrap your child in your arms, covering them and protecting them from that person. You want to get your child safely away from the situation. And you very very much want to cry.

Now perhaps I should have started this post by assuring you that in real life I am a very calm, even-tempered, rational pacifist. I really and truly am. This is something which is pure instinct and actually I don't think it has too much to do with me having lost a daughter. I think it would be this way regardless.

And so, Mrs Squirrel, I wanted to let you know that when I saw these pics of you today there was no judgement on my part. Nope. I thought: You go girl!

We're not so different, you and I.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 16* → Someone or something you definitely could live without.

* of this

There's plenty that I can and do live without:
alcohol and caffeine (while pregnant), meat (since I was 14), a TV (since we've been married) but the thing I really want to live without today is our builder. Hiss, crackle, tense shoulders, sigh.

The Band is in Madagascar til next week (sob) so I have to manage the builders who are putting up a wall at The New House. By ten this morning I had been to the train station twice, to Benbel hardware store twice, to the brickplace once and to The New House FOUR times.

Disorganised people I can handle. I have patience for that sort of thing. What I can't handle is being spoken to like I'm an idiot, presumably on the basis that I'm a woman.

On my THIRD trip to the house this morning (after waiting for one builder who was 40min late without warning, apology or explanation, making me miss gym and leave my screaming hungry child ....insert a longer, more detailed vent here) I was told "we need spoons"

"Spoons? Why do you need spoons?"

Confer in Xhosa. Annoyed and amused by this silly little woman.
"Spoons! Don't you know what's spoons?"

"Spoons? Spoons?? OOOOH. Spons. A sponge?"

Confer in Xhosa. Annoyed and amused by this silly little woman.
"Yes!" (annoyed, exasperated).

(sigh) "Fine, what sort of sponge? Seeing as you 3 are simply lying on the grass does someone want to come with and run in?"

Confer in Xhosa. Annoyed and amused by this silly little woman.
"A spoons. Just buy a spoons".

Tight smile/grimace and off I went to buy the flippen sponge.

Dear Builder,
I am not your PA, your secretary, your chaffeur or your personal slave. GET ORGANISED. I, believe it or not, have my own job. You're employed by ME!

(rant. rave. breathe in and out. address tension headache)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Day 15* → Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.

* what?

This one is easy peezy lemon squeezy because I'm currently trying to live without it:

My phone.

I have been the very happy owner (friend? adorer?) of an iPhone for about a year. So very very much more than a phone. It is (was - sob - more on that later):
* my camera and my photo album - filled with pics of my pregnancy and captured memories of Tandia
* my iPod
* my 24/7 access to social networking - Facebook & Twitter in particular
* my record of what side and when last I breastfed
* my gaming portal for those boring times of breastfeeding somewhere in a room while everyone else socialises
* my chat interface (via WhatsApp) with plenty of friends and family
* my GPS
* my exercise training programme
* my recipe book
and so very much more.

And then alas. On Wednesday, getting back from gym holding gym towel and phone, a dog jumped up to yank my towel from my hand and the phone went flying and smashed on the paving.


But it looked fine. No cracks or anything. Alas, there was some internal bleeding - the LCD screen to be precise. Overs cadovers.

Wednesday was a long and torturous day - I kept the phone on as I could still receive calls, but the message tone kept beeping and I couldn't read the messages and it gave me a burning feeling in my stomach. (I later discovered that much of that was TheBand sending me random SMSes and WhatsApps to mess with me - ah yes, this is love).

Thursday I was loaned a Nokia. Never have I hated a phone quite so much.
The boredom. The annoying pain of trying to compose an SMS. The complete lack of logic - it took TheBand and I an age to find the photos on the phone and even then we had to ask someone how. This phone leaves us feeling like our parents in the face of baffling, overwhelming technology, except that a Nokia can scarcely be called technology. Haha I really am such a snob!! (and all the Nokia owners hissed and resolved to visit this blog never again).

And then.
I know!!

If you are even remotely interested in phones or gadgets of any sort (well not ANY sort) check out www.girlguides.co.za - such an accessible awesome site. Besides, they're giving me a phone!!!

too stoked.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Day 14* → A hero that has let you down. (letter)

By now I'm sure this needs no explanation, but here it is for the slow learners :)

Dear Body

I thought I would never forgive you. I don't know if I have or if I'm in the process of it or what.

You let me down and I hate you for it. You didn't do what you were designed to do. Over and over people and the books (in their singsong know-it-all tone) say "The safest place for a baby is in their mom's womb". Bullshit. I did all the right things. I cut out caffeine and alcohol and I did moderate exercise with a trainer specialising in pregnancy exercise. I ate healthily and I took my vitamins.

Sophia was perfect. She was about a week ahead of schedule throughout. Everything looked good all the way through. I appeared to "glow" in pregnancy. And then.

And then what? What happened, Body, why the fuck did you decide to stop doing your job? What was it in you that suddenly, randomly decided to disconnect placenta from womb? Life supply from baby cradle? How useless is a body that can't provide for it's most important, most treasured occupant?

I remember so clearly showering the day after Sophia was born. I stood there, leaned against the wall. Awkward. Drip in my arm. Spent. Crying. Hating you. Looking down at your swollen breasts, your disgusting floppy, marked, empty stomach. Repelled. Failure. Standing in a pool of blood.

And yet.

And yet even as I type this Tandia is "plugged in". She is feeding from you, from me, as I write.

In some ways you redeemed yourself by bringing her safely into this world. You provide for her in a way that no one else can. You have kept her safe and healthy and you continue to do so. You are even worse for wear after this pregnancy. Stomach even softer. Angry marks on my sides - as if I've had an unfortunate encounter with The Guv. But this time all these marks of motherhood leave me a little in awe of you, because they are no longer only signs of death and failure, but of life.

You let me down and, so very very much worse, you let her down. I'm sorry that I haven't forgiven you yet. I'm not sure when I'll get there. But I am also exceptionally grateful to you. Unforgiveness and gratitude run parallel.

And so, Body, thank you for the gift of protection and provision for Tandi, but oh how I wish you would have also given it to Sophia.


Dear readers:
As you'll know, I don't swear. I think it's coarse and unbecoming of a lady and it's not who I am (yes, yes, I've been called prissy more than once!) but this is how I felt writing this. These are the words I honestly spoke in my head and so, given the choice between tarnishing my blog with vulgar words or with dishonesty/misrepresentation, I chose the former.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Day 13 → A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough ass days. (write a letter.)

*I'm busy with a 30 day meme, read all about it

Nah. I'm going to edit this topic bearing in mind that later on in this meme I am compiling a playlist for someone, so I won't double up on those songs.
The new topic is songs which have spoken to particular times in your life.

Well I'm glad you asked :)

1. Sistas are doing it for themselves - no idea - someone Motownish I'm guessing.
Yep! Through some miscommunication, I unintentionally ended up hitchhiking ALONE through Botswana, cell phone less and not entirely sure of where I was meant to be going. I took a few lucky guesses, survived on one little box of eat sum mors, and loved every second of it. In my head I was singing that line on repeat. What an awesomely exhilarating adventure.

2. This year's love - David Gray
This song played in my head throughout my second pregnancy.
"This year's love had better last. Heaven knows it's high time. I've been waiting on my own too long."
It's a slow, beautiful, gentle song. But I almost sang it (to myself) half angrily, half threateningly. I guess God may have wanted to ask "This year's love had better last Or What?" but God is exceedingly tolerant of me :)

3. Music and Lights - some SA band
"Sipping on a cold fanta piney, this is how I make my living: ga rhymy!"
This song was somehow big on SA radio a couple of years back. The Band and I thought it was hysterical and sang along to the parts we knew. It's got happy road trip memories for me.

4. Crowded House - the whole of the Recurring Dream album
On our awesome Africa Trip the 4 of us played this CD day in and day out. Good times :)

Friday, November 05, 2010

Day 12* → Something you never get compliments on.

*I'm busy with a 30 day meme. Read more here.

My green fingers.

I kill plants. I really do. I don't mean to. I'm a bunny hugger, after all. But they are forever dying on my watch. It's pretty flippen depressing.
Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:

Now fear not. It's not ALL bad news. My most recent 3 plant additions are alive and thriving (AGAINST ALL ODDS)

This orchard was given to me by my MIL when she came to the Cape to meet Tandia. In my head I screamed "noooooooo! Why would you do that to me?? Why would you give me a finicky, pricey plant to care for. Is a newborn child not enough responsibility???" I had visions of me having to go out and purchase a new replacement orchard every time they came to visit. But look. It's thriving. Buds and everything. No idea how. Some snarky person mentioned that orchards thrive under stressed conditions. hmph.

The succulent. You can't go wrong with a succulent. They need basically no attention. This sits in Tandia's room and survives all on its own with pretty much no help from me (the way a plant SHOULD be).

Our newest plant is a tree. A congratulatory gift from our estate agent on the purchase of our new house. Gorgeous and in mint condition as you can see, but then it's only been subjected to my "care" (and I use the term generously!) for about 2 weeks now, so ya. Although a tree in a pot is really an odd concept if you think about it, at least I can give it a hug whenever I forget to take packets with to the shop.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Day 11* → Something people seem to compliment you the most on.

*I'm doing a 30 day meme (ok it's taking a bit longer than that!!) read about it here.

My writing. Ok, it's embarassing to say that here, on my writing portal, but there you have it. It's probably the one thing I receive the most compliments on. That and my entertaining facbook statuses but that's just because none of my facebook friends are on Twitter and so they don't realise that that's where I get them from :)

Anyway, I mentioned in a recent post that I've always wanted to write a book. Cliche, yes, but true. It's one of those things that goes on the life list for One Day When I Have Time. Has anyone ever ever reached That Day?

Didn't think so.

And so, bravely, foolishly, excitingly, yesterday I signed up for NaNoWriMo.

I have pledged to write a novel in a month. Crazy, no?
I am really excited about it though. Truth be told, I need a bit of pressure to get my A into G and so voila. NaNoWriMo is just the thing I need.

Hold me to it, hassle me, ask me for updates, k?

PS In case you were worried that November would be a boring month for me, in addition to writing a 50 000 word novel, I'm going to be Bandless for 10 days while he's in Madagascar. Also, I will be organising a baby shower for a friend AND starting up a small charity. True story! But that's for another post :)