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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How To Be A Better Parent All The Time At Everything

Dear Parent,

You’re probably thirty-something. You probably have a child or two under the age of four. You never knew you could feel SO MUCH LOVE, but you also never knew it was going to be THIS HARD.

There are moments of sheer delight, but they’re often separated by long, mundane hours that range from busy to infuriating. You feel guilty that you miss your pre-parent life.

You wish you never lost your temper as often as you do.
You know your spouse is supposed to be on the same team as you but often they feel like The Enemy.
But most of all, there is this nagging suspicion that you are messing it up. mug

Parenthood, Your Child, Marriage, Life.

You used to feel like someone who could manage stress, who knew how to handle, who had a game plan. But between discipline and diet, health and safety, tantrums and tired, you’re just not sure anymore. Not sure you can do it. Not sure that you have what it takes. You’re not even sure what exactly you’re supposed to do when your 3 year old throws their cereal across the room and breaks the bowl and now there’s glass everywhere and you lose your temper and you’re already late for work and you’re not supposed to give hidings and you ARE supposed to be calm and now they’re going to be hungry at school and neither of you are going succeed in life.
The End.

If you’re not sure what the next right thing is, how can you be sure you’ll do it properly?

You are not alone. 

In the past two weeks, I’ve heard of two different couples with a small child whose marriages have unravelled. I’ve had two conversations with tearful parents of under-4’s who are at their wits end. I’ve had my own sit-on-the-kitchen-floor-and-clench-my-fists-and-hit-the-tiles moments. And I can’t help but wonder why it seems like so many of us are struggling?

So I asked my dad. I asked him about his childhood. I asked him about raising us. I asked him why he thought so many parents in our generation find parenting so difficult. Was it like this for you, Dad?

And what he said was profound…

He said he thinks our expectations are too high.
He said he thinks we’re not used to saying “no” to ourselves.

And so when we either don’t achieve the standards we think we should, or we don’t have the luxuries we used to have, we freak out. Whether it’s anger, or guilt, or desperation, we assume that because it’s so hard because we’re doing it wrong.

  This really hit home for me.

Our expectations are too high. 

He told me how when my folks had kids, they just knew they weren’t going to go out and socialise that much anymore. It was a given. It was normal. He observed that for myself and my peers, we generally tried to keep our lives as close to what they were pre-kids, while he seemed to think that for my folks – well, they basically just lowered their expectations of life.

Woah. Interesting theory.

I started to think about it. And I came up with some reasons why I think he may be right…

We like to think we ‘won’t let our kids change us’.
I know I was guilty of thinking this way. I saw couples with kids change, and ‘give in’, and ‘lose themselves’ to parenthood. And being the inherently selfish, usually otherwise and somewhat cynical person I am, I decided I wasn’t going to “let my children change who I am”. Come on…how many of you said something like that? So we set out on a mission not to let our post-baby life look different our pre-baby life and IT JUST DOESN’T WORK. We drive ourselves crazy trying to be the same people, have the same lifestyle, and do the same stuff.

We’ve been told we can have it all.
As a woman, I’ve experienced opportunities that were not as readily available to previous generations. Education, career, travel, domestic help, hands-on husbands. But along with those privileges comes the assumption that it’s a realistic possibility to Work Hard and Play Hard and Parent Well and Partner Well ALL AT THE SAME TIME AND EQUALLY BRILLIANTLY and that there are people out there getting this right and if you aren’t, well, what is wrong with you? The reality is for generations before us (and many women around the world still) if you worked hard, you didn’t spend a lot of time with your kids. If you had kids, you never socialised like you used to. If you weren’t working, you had less money. But we’re told we can have it all.

There is so much information. We can read any number of parenting books and blogs, and we’re exposed to so many models and theories and suggestions that we have A MILLION WAYS TO KNOW WE’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH.  I’m so grateful for the resources that have helped me, but in every article and on every page there is something I’m NOT doing right. And I know all about it. I know every time I do something wrong and how it will inevitably scar my child for life.

I certainly don’t want to diminish the effort, love and attention you give to your kids.

But seriously, dearest fellow human.

Lower your expectations. 

Or you could go Google how to be a better parent and do All The Things in all the blogs and chat about it at Wine Club and write a blog and start a Pintrest page on dealing with children’s sensory development and go on a parenting course and start another small business to earn more money so you can send them to a better school and also stop fighting with your husband.

Or you could lower your expectations.

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.