Why I Love My Stomach Rolls

Last week at yoga, I was effectively forced to stare at pools of sweat gathering in my stomach rolls.

The pose had me sitting down, folded over, head hanging into my lap, looking at my belly. I don’t what this yoga pose is actually called. Probably Folded Moon or Curled Up Squirrel or something like that.

It was pretty gross.

Exercise – or “sportsing” as I like to call it – has never really been my jam. I’ve had my gym contract cancelled twice for not using it often enough, despite the free parking ticket you get when you do. I felt no shame walking into the gym, swiping that card and walking straight out. Honestly, gyms are like nightclubs except the lights are on and everyone is sober. When I actually went to gym, it was just to use the sauna. I like the sauna.

I’ve tried running, but I’ve realised that the only thing that can make me run is if someone is chasing me. When I used to try jogging around the neighbourhood, I would only run if I saw a car. Not because I thought someone would chase me, but because it might be someone who knew me, so I would step it up and prance along sprightly so it would look like I’m a super fresh runner lady. I’m not a super fresh runner lady.

My husband on the other hand is one of those kettle-belling, cross-fitting, trail-running types. He has more shoes than I do, because all of the above require different footwear. He also likes to eat kale and chia seeds, which I’m still convinced is not-real-food. To give him some credit, he does make a killer smoothie that tastes so good I don’t even know that the afore-mentioned not-real-food is in it. He also has a smoking hot body, which personally I don’t have any objections to.

The problem with my non sportsing life is that after two little kids and too many rusks, I don’t like the way my body feels anymore. I don’t like how breathless I get after playing three minutes of soccer with my boys. I don’t like how my four year old can outrun me on the beach, which is problematic when he’s running away from you stark naked, throwing his head back laughing and won’t come back no matter how much you shout. True story.

I especially don’t like it when I’m waving at another mom in the school parking lot and all I can feel is my chicken-wing arm-flab flapping around.

I need to exercise.

And so, I’ve started doing yoga. I LOVE yoga. There is no pumping dance music telling me to put my hands in the hair or push, push, push. Instead there is a strong, beautiful woman telling me to breathe, and who never shouts at me when I randomly fall over. I love not wearing exercise footwear that costs more than my kids’ school fees. I love that it’s a class so you have actually go at specific times and people watch you so you don’t just lie in the corner and have a nap which is what I would rather do (although I do think there’s a market there for some entrepreneur – a napping centre disguised as a gym). I love that there is always someone in the class who is more bendier than me, and also someone who falls over before me. I am not the worst, which is a refreshing change from the other sportsing I’ve done.

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Because you know, mindfulness.

But there is something else yoga has given me that I love even more. As I bent over into the Wilted Flower pose or whatever that was that had me navel-gazing, I looked at my folded, wrinkled body, squishing over itself and dripping sweat, and do you know what I realized?

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My belly made those babies.

I love my squishy belly. This belly held the two most beautiful gifts in my life. It brought both of my gorgeous, energetic, hilarious boys into the world. This belly isn’t hard, flat or ripped but you know what? I’ve eaten a lot of really, really good food. I’ve done more than just survive life. I have relished delicious meals with fantastic people. I’ve laughed until my stomach aches in kitchens, around dinner tables, and over braais.

Yoga has given me gratitude. I’m grateful for exercise and my health. I’m grateful for food and family. Yoga even made me grateful for my sweaty stomach.

I’m basically a yogi now, guys.
Namaste.

 

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Rookie Mom: A Pretty Ordinary Day

4.00am – “MAMA! I’m awake! Look, it’s a morning! What’s today?”

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We’ll never go out of style – T.S

Stumbling out of bed, I switch on the kettle. One bottle of rooibos tea with honey, one bottle of formula, one cup of green tea. The boys and I lie on the couch sipping on our beverages of choice, while I play “This Little Piggy went to Market” on the Two Year Old’s toes. It’s like one of those stock photos of the perfect family. Until….

4.07am – “MY car! “MY car! “MY car!”

The negotiations begin. About 87% of my day is spent negotiating between two small humans with very undeveloped brains.

  • If you want your brother’s car, find him another one you can swop with.
  • Sorry, boy, you can’t have Salticracks for breakfast. Cereal or oats?
  • No, you cannot go to school naked.

These are just a few things I find myself saying fairly regularly and it becomes quite difficult to know what’s sinking in. But then every now and then, I realise that they actually do hear what I’m saying. Yesterday, the Four Year Old and I were playing “Good Guys, Bad Guys” and after he put me in jail, he told me “Sit here, and you can’t come out until you control yourself.” It would appear someone HAS been listening.

Insert here school runs, snack time, nap time, wrestling matches to get nappies changed, running races to get noses wiped and a trip to the homeopath.

Just an ordinary day

Just an ordinary day

Fast-forward twelve hours.

4.00pm – “MY truck! MY truck! MY truck!”

4.07pm – “MAMA! I’m hungry. Look, there’s a moon. What’s for supper?”

Same tune, different words. In the next twenty minutes, I clean up the Two Year Old’s swimming costume that has been pooped in (the kind that zip all the way up to the neck), I grab a runaway bottle of Domestos out of the Four Year Old’s hand and scoop up an entire tub of yogurt that was chucked on a suede couch from a highchair. Note to prospective parents: suede couches may or may not have their origins in the pit of hell. Do not buy one.

Our evening routine starts with the celebration of Dad’s arrival home – dancing, tears of joy and leaping into his arms.

The kids are usually quite stoked to see him, too.

The double pram is loaded up with bikes and skateboards as we meander around the block, and our arrival back at the gate is usually announced by the Four Year Old’s meltdown – the stick we found earlier is too short, or the pants he’s wearing are too orange, or his brother keeps looking at him. Being four years old at five o clock in the afternoon is difficult. So is being one of our neighbours, I would venture to guess.

Dinner (left overs).
Bath (bubbles, of course).
Bed (finally).

Another bottle of rooibos tea, another bottle of formula and one spilt bottle of Panado.

Did somebody say “wine”?
Yes, please.

It’s a pretty ordinary day in the life of this Rookie Mom. It’s the ordinary day after day after day, at the end of which I collapse into bed with achy feet, wondering if I’ll ever NOT be tired again. However, I forgot to mention a few things.

Like how the Four Year Old told the cashier at Spar his new joke.
(What do cows do on a Friday night? Go to the mooovies.)

Or how the Two Year Old said “Hi, guys!” to everyone we walked past.

I didn’t mention how the Four Year Old makes his cross-eyed funny face to get his brother to stop crying, or how the little one hides under the table and squeaks while we all look for a mouse in the house. No one except me hears a little voice whisper, “I love you bigger than the whole world, Mama” or feels two smooth, squashy little arms hugging my neck at bedtime. When these two kids laugh, when the Four Year Old tells me a story, when the Two Year Old runs up to me and grabs my legs and throws back his head to look into my eyes, I melt. (And NOT from exhaustion). I melt with love, and gratitude, and the realisation that I am privileged and honoured to have these gorgeous children entrusted to my care…every ordinary day.

As the Husband and I lie in bed at night, exhausted, grumpy and each convinced we work harder than our spouse, we start to talk about our kids. About how smart and funny and cute they are, about how much we love them. Sometimes we actually want to go wake them up and play with them. This is usually the sign that we are crossing over into post-traumatic delirium and really need to sleep, so it’s lights out and eyes closed.

Did I say this was a pretty ordinary day? I meant it was another beautiful ordinary day.

My Extremely Helpful Guide to Christmas Shopping

This is me trying to choose a present for someone. Notice the dark rings under my eyes. Notice the worry on my brow. I'm actually feeling stressed out just writing this.

This is me trying to choose a present for someone. Notice the dark rings under my eyes. Notice the worry on my brow. I’m actually feeling stressed out just writing this.

Everyone is always saying, “I love Christmas shopping! I love queues! I love credit card debt!”

Not me.

I don’t like any of those things.

But my worst thing about Christmas shopping is trying to figure out what other people want. I stand in front of shelves, and pick things up, and send pictures on Whatsapp to people so they can help me choose (see picture to the right). I SMS enigmatic questions to the person it’s for to see if they would like it without telling them what it is, and then I get very, very confused and buy something that I wasn’t even considering, and then cringe when my sister unwraps a porcelain dachshund on Christmas Day.

I just wish everyone wanted what I want for Christmas, because all I want for Christmas is

  1.  a surprise that is so awesome I didn’t even know I wanted it
    or (if you can’t nail it)
  2. vouchers so I can choose my own things
    or
  3. Amy Poehler’s new book, “Yes, Please!”
    (No, really. That’s what its called. “Yes, Please!” is the title. And yes, I would like it. Please.)

Simple.

I know that YOU’RE probably so organised and emotionally intelligent that you’ve already got personal, phenomenal, best-present-ever presents for everyone you know, but in case you aren’t, here’s my gift to you:

My Extremely Helpful Guide to Christmas Shopping

  1. Nieces and Nephews

In my experience, the best type of gift for children is one they can share. Like, a video game with one control. Or a scooter. Or a telescope. This may seem counterintuitive, but you are giving so much more than stuff that will lie in a toy box 80% of the time. You are giving them life experience. This is the gift that teaches them negotiation, patience, time management, the joy of delayed gratification, and self-denial. You’re also helping them learn that life’s not fair. Honestly, you’re practically raising them. Your sister-in-law is going to LOVE it.

(Side-note: This strategy is also effective for siblings, couples etc. Feel the joy)

  1. Mothers

This is probably one of the easiest ones to get right, because everyone knows their mom REALLY well. First, think of a specific quality that you would like to change about your mom. Like her advice, or her cooking, or the colours she uses for eyeshadow. Secondly, buy her a book that will teach her to be different. For example, “1 000 Tips For Being A Better Listener”, or “How To Cook With Food – An Easy Guide to Not Burning Stuff”, or “Beige Is The New Purple”. Thirdly, sit back and enjoy the new, upgraded mom. This kind of present says so much. Bonus: you won’t need a card because she’ll know its from you. SCORE!

  1. Fathers

I know. This is the one you’ve been waiting for. Dads are so hard. They are the Tour De France of presents. They are the Mt. Everest of gifts. When it comes to Christmas, they are the final round of Takeshi’s Castle. But I’m about to let you in on a MIND-BLOWING little secret. If you want to know what to get your dad…

Dammit.

I’ve got nothing.
Soap on a rope it is.

  1. Your own children

A lot of people think this is going to be easy, because your own children spend every waking moment telling you what they want. Unfortunately, it’s not ok to give them a snack or some juice as a Christmas gift, even though they ask for these two things more than any other thing in the world. Do not be misled – they do not actually want a snack or a juice. They just want you to NOT SIT DOWN. EVER.

I digress. The golden rule for buying your child’s Christmas gift is:

Buy something the salesperson says will be easy to assemble.

If a shop assistant tells you a toy is ‘easy to assemble’, it means it will take all of Christmas Day and Boxing Day to build, several trips to the hardware store in search of the correct tools, and then you will realise you do not have the right size batteries. This is the essentially a recipe for a joyful, peaceful Christmas because not only does it involve the whole family working together as a team, but it also means that you don’t have time to do anything else that might make you feel too relaxed. Or sit down. You won’t really get to sit down ever again in your life. Because you have kids.

I know, I know.
Before you read this blog, you were feeling a bit overwhelmed about getting your Christmas shopping done. But I’m pretty sure you now have about 100 ideas and all the inspiration to head out there, wave at the other cars on their way to the store, and embrace the queues with all the enthusiasm of a shopping mall Santa.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

You’re welcome.