Here you will find the everyday insights, experiences and adventures of mom, Alexa, as well as some advice and tips on parenting.
My sister phoned me a few weeks ago: she was almost 40 weeks pregnant and her cervix was not doing what it is supposed to do in terms of inducing labour. Her amniotic fluid levels were dangerously low and her placenta was calcifying – this baby needed to be welcomed into the world. R felt guilty and she was stressed – why was her body not doing what it was supposed to? Why was it failing? She felt as though her only job at this point in her journey through motherhood was to safely deliver her unborn baby and she was unable to do so.
I remember being given a pacifier shortly after our little Bean was born and being told that he better like sucking said pacifier or else he will probably want to suck his thumb. Oh, the horror! Being a first-time mom, I, of course, listened to this sage old advice, only to despair when he kept spitting out the pacifier. After a lot of tries, he eventually took to it in short spurts and it did help soothe him to sleep at night, but soon enough the pacifier was discarded and the thumb found its way into my little boy’s mouth. At that stage, I was beyond caring what was soothing him, as long as something was soothing him, so I left it (in fact I fell in love with the image).
I am sitting in my car outside Bean’s kindergarten and I am crying. Ugly crying: my eyes are swollen shut and red; my body is convulsing in sobs and I am wailing. It’s not a pretty sight and far from the happy vision I had about my Bean’s first day of nursery school. I have just dropped him off and he cried, a lot, clinging onto me for dear life. The teacher had to wrench him away from me so that I could leave. My heart is now in a million little pieces, heavy with guilt and worry.
‘Mamaaaaaa’ my two-year-old sobs as I place him into his cot. It’s almost an hour past his usual bed time and he starts crying hysterically every time I try to put him down. This is new to me; my Bean has always slept on his own without any drama and I am getting frustrated – I cannot stand and rock my toddler to sleep for hours at a time after all. This happened the previous night and during his nap time, earlier today and I realise that Bean is suffering from separation anxiety again. He is scared and he wants to be close to his mom. My heart melts, I sit down in his rocking chair and I sing until he eventually falls into a deep sleep.
The pregnancy test is sitting on our bathroom counter and although I try to ignore it while it is ‘thinking’, I cannot help but stare at the screen in anticipation. Finally, the result is in and instead of the expected ‘Not Pregnant’ sign, the result is positive. Elation, joy and gratitude all wash over me as I call for my husband to come to the bathroom QUICKLY! Then, as he walks in with our almost two-year-old in tow, I feel a surge of panic and guilt.
One of the best things about being a parent is that there simply is no time to worry about your own insecurities and how the world perceives you. You just have to envision that almost cliché image of a young mother, toddler in hand and a baby on the hip, with spit up on her shirt, her messy hair in a bun and those tell-tale dark circles under her eyes, getting into her car to go to the shops or to do the morning school run, to realise that she is simply past caring what people think about her. And that is amazing!
Written by: Guest Writer
“Wake up Pascalle! Wake up!” That is all I remember in that moment – those seconds which felt like hours. I felt like I was in a movie – you know the part when the actress gets world crushing news and the camera zooms in on her face and the background blurs, as if the life around her is collapsing? That is how I felt as I sat on the toilet, staring down at the blood soaked toilet paper I was clutching in my hand. Just staring at it – and mentally yelling at myself to wake up.
If there is one word which sums up life with a toddler, it is the word ‘repetition’: the continuous words of admonishment (‘don’t touch that’, ‘it’s hot’, ‘get down from there’), the almost constant wiping up of spills and cleaning up of messes and the ever-repetitive cycle of ‘silence-crying-consoling’ because the said words of admonishment have once again fallen on deaf ears (‘what does mom know anyway, right? I mean, how hot can that heater really be?’).
The day I have been dreading has finally arrived – the day my potty mouth has made me fail as a mother: ‘Oh, shit!’, my almost two-year-old exclaims with glee as I am busy wiping up the water I just spilt all over the table. He is, of course, copying what I had just said a minute ago when I knocked my glass over, and although I try and ignore the words, not wanting to make a big deal out of the situation, Bean is now excitedly running around the garden repeating my profanity – over and over and over again.
Being an avid social media follower, I didn’t put much thought into posting pictures of my little Bean online after he as born. I posted pictures shortly after his birth, pictures of our first family outing, pictures of our first family holiday together and much more – these were special moments in my life and, as such, I wanted to share them with my friends and family. With social media being such an easily accessible medium of communication and such an integral part of our daily lives, it was only logical to upload them, share them and to immortalise these memories & moments forever.
I have, however, recently stopped uploading any identifying picture of my little guy (hard as it is sometimes – he is just the cutest after all) and here are the reasons why:
‘The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice’ is a powerful quote which has been popping up on my newsfeed a lot lately. It is so powerful (and so popular) because it is, of course, true. I briefly touched on this subject in one of my previous posts on discipline (read it here) when I mentioned what I had been told by an educator during one of the moms and baby classes I had attended. Namely, that children under the age of five cannot form an opinion about themselves and instead internalise their caregivers’ opinions. Once they have the ability to form an opinion of themselves, they use these internalised views as their main reference point.
If there is one thing that we as a human race should invent, it has to be a system to store sleep. We live in a world filled with technological geniuses who create new inventions almost daily and yet no one has been able to find a scientific solution to the very common problem of sleep deprivation, except, of course, to tell us to sleep more. But as every parent knows, sleep is one luxury that is in very low supply.
Bean and I are playing outside, blowing bubbles, and he decides that he wants to try to blow his own. He asks me for the container and as he unscrews the lid, he tips the container over, pouring the soap onto the grass. He cries, turns around and runs away, arms in the air. Once he calms down, I ask him for the now empty container back so that I can throw it away and fetch a new one. As I reach out for the container, he throws himself on the ground, crying.
My husband and I are celebrating our 5-year wedding anniversary this week and, as usual, we almost forgot about this significant milestone, my husband frantically phoning the latest must-visit restaurant for a last-minute booking. Neither of us was surprised that this day almost passed us by without even a mention – this is exactly what A and I do after all. We never make a big deal out of our love; we simply do not do big displays of affection. Instead, we focus on the small things, the small acts of love which show us that despite our routines, child- and work-driven lives, we still care.
I have to confess: I let my son’s routine run my life. And do you know why? Because it’s just easier, that’s why. It’s easier because he is easier to manage, making being a parent less tiring. I admit that I am that mom, the mom that lives according to a schedule, the same mundane schedule every day, not the mom that lives from one adventure to the next, child in tow.
Last week I wrote a post about the bad days I experience as a mom (read it here), and in it I mentioned that no matter how hard a specific bad day is, the good days always outweigh the bad ones. Today I want to focus on the really good moments of being a mom: the moments which take my breath away, the moments of happiness and pride, the moments when my heart is so full I do not know what to do with all this love, the moments of pure gratitude and the moments which highlight the importance of my role as a mom.
Bean is sitting in his high chair staring at me with an obstinate glint is his eyes, his mouth shut, as I try to give him a spoonful of food. He swings his arm, batting the spoon away and the food goes everywhere. Before I can even think about what has happened my emotions get the better of me and I scream: ‘EAT THIS NOW!’. To Bean I must look like an angry bear in slow motion, jowls shaking, spit flying out of my mouth with balls of pure fury where my eyes normally sit. I have lost it.
A while ago I wrote a post about needing to discipline my Bean. A few months have since passed and I thought I would share my progress, and the lessons I have learned along the way, with all of you. Before I dive right into the various scenarios, however, I thought I should first give you some background about certain aspects of my personality.
The other day we were sitting in the doctor’s waiting room and Bean was busy exploring, when a mother with her two sons walked in. The younger of the two must have been around 3 or 4 and my 16 month old took a liking to him immediately. He promptly grabbed a children’s book (the first thing he could grab), ran up to the boy with the biggest grin on his face, saying “oooh ooh ooooh” and excitedly tried to give him the book. My heart almost exploded with pride – my little Bean was trying to make a friend! The boy, however, did not think this as cute and promptly waved Bean away.
We attended a wedding last weekend and as I was listening to the pastor deliver his sermon, I was transported back to my own wedding day and the feelings of joy and elation I experienced in anticipation of something great. I remembered our priest saying that we had committed to being together, to finding strength in each other through times of abundance and happiness (and lots of wine), as well as through times of drought (and only water). As I took hold of my husband’s hand while we witnessed our friends committing to a life of happily-ever-after, I realised that our own fairy tale had recently started to fade, our marriage being characterised more by drought, than by abundance.
My son suffers from separation anxiety: I always imagine us literally looking like a pair of monkeys when we go anywhere: the mother monkey walking along the road with the baby monkey attached to her, its little arms and legs wrapped around her upper body so tight that there is no way this little baby is being left behind, forgotten or dropped. Similarly, Bean wraps himself around me, clinging on for dear life, when someone comes to visit or when we first arrive somewhere.
My husband and I are both the eldest children in our respective families, our little Bean being the first grandchild. This means that we often end up in discussions with our younger siblings about whether they should start a family or not and if yes, when they should do this. I am so in love my little Bean that I am of course of the opinion that we should all have at least 4 children but my husband and sister tend to disagree. I have therefore decided to set up a pros and cons list so that we can settle this argument once and for all.
‘Where is my Bean?’ I call into our living room, as I see the swaying movement of the curtains behind our sofa stop. The scurrying noises I heard just a second ago stop as well and I hear a stifled giggle as I make my way to the area where he is hiding and call out his name again. I peak behind the sofa and see my 13 month old on all fours ready to dart away should I come too close, with his head bopping up and down as he is trying to contain his loud laughter. I burst out laughing in child-like delight and pick him up in one swoop. ‘I’ve got you!’ I declare loudly as his laughter resonates through our house. He wriggles in my arm trying to free himself so that we can start the game again and as I place him on the ground, I realise how wonderfully adventurous it must be to him.
Picture the scene: we are at my son’s first birthday party and I am holding Bean on my hip while talking to my cousin and his girlfriend, T. T reaches out for a slice of pizza and my son literally launches himself at her trying to grab the pizza out of her hand. In an attempt to not drop him and calm him down, I tell her that he wants the piece, take it from here and give it to Bean. The result: my son is now happily eating ‘his’ slice and T is staring at us with a very quizzical look on her face. Later on in the day, once the chaos of the party has subsided and I have time to reflect on the day, I realise, that I, in an unguarded moment, indulged my son’s ill-mannered behaviour instead of using that moment to teach him something. I am absolutely mortified and I realise that Bean is no longer a baby who just needs to be fed and loved, he is growing up into a little boy and I now need to start teaching him discipline and manners.
My grandparents were both born in Germany before the second world war, in a time where everybody was taught to live a life of duty and sacrifice. By the time the war was over, my grandmother was 12 and my grandfather was 10. At such a tender age they had both seen and experienced atrocities and loss which a grown adult would struggle to comprehend and process, let alone a child. After the war, their country ravaged, everybody hungry, they had to help build again what once was, help source food for hungry siblings – there was no time for self pity or for psychologists. All they could do was survive and be strong enough to live another day.
Because of this childhood, duty, sacrifice and the pursuit of perfection was something so ingrained in their very beings that they often struggled to comprehend our current world of entitlement and feelings. Although this lead to a number of arguments, one generation not understanding the next, they did teach us the following life lessons – lessons which are the life-blood of our family, lessons which I will pass on to my children and which will hopefully be passed on for generations to come.
It’s the one day that every new mom dreads: the day you have to rely on someone else to take care of your little baby; the day you have to go back to work. I remember crying for days, no, weeks, before going back to work. Not only was I anxious about not being there for my little Bean 24/7, I was worried that I would never be able to do it all in one day. How was I going to manage our household, be a mom, a wife and go to work? At that stage I was at home all day and I was barely able to put dinner on the table, let alone get dressed (nicely, not simply leggings and a t-shirt), work (well) and still take care of the Bean and my husband.
Luckily I did survive and although I struggled in the beginning, I did learn to manage it all. Here is my list of survival hacks.
I have wanted to write a letter to my son for a while now because although we as parents often tell our children how much we love them, we do not really elaborate on this statement. I also feel that we are so pre-occupied by teaching our children how to behave and how to physically do things that we never get to the heart of what it means to live. We get so caught up in our daily tasks and routines that we forget to teach them about what is really important in life.
This therefore, is a letter to my child, reminding him of how much he is loved, reminding and teaching him (as well as myself) how beautiful life really can be, how important it is to seize every moment and to be grateful.
I recently wrote a post about the ‘New Me’, the gist of the post being that becoming a mom has made me into (what I believe to be) a better person. On the day of the post I was looking at my Facebook feed and one of the mom’s on the mommy group I belong to had posted an article called ‘What happens to a Woman’s Brain When She Becomes a Mother’ written by Adrienne Lafrance on ‘The Atlantic’. Seeing as I myself had just written about the changes I have gone through as a mom, I immediately started reading.
It’s 4am and I can hear my 8 month old stirring in his cot, talking (or rather babbling and gurgling) to himself. I ignore him and the talking becomes louder, more incessant, as if to say, ‘Mom, I am awake….Mom, can you hear me?….MOM!’ I realise that I can forget about my hope of him going back to sleep, he is awake and he wants to start his day, regardless of how tired his parents are. I throw the blanket back, groggily climb out of bed and walk over to the nursery. As I lean over the cot to look at my little monster, he beams at me. His little arms start flailing around excitedly, his legs are kicking furiously and his face has turned into one big smile. Suddenly, I am not tired anymore, I am overcome with love and I am happy that I am awake to spend another special moment with my son.
‘I feel trapped’, my husband said as we were washing up little Bean’s bottles. As any mom and wife will know, these are not words one wants to hear. He, luckily, did not mean that he felt trapped in our marriage, but rather that he felt trapped in our routine-driven lives. Instead of spontaneously going for a night on the town or a movie, we had to carefully plan every activity we wanted to participate in. Could we take Bean with? If not, who would watch him? If yes, what did we need to pack to be able to go? Our lives had become one continuous routine of washing and sterilising bottles, nap time, play time and cooking food for our little guy, with the odd well-planned and well-packed excursion in between.
When our little Bean was born, we were inundated with advice and offers of help. Some things that were said were very helpful and other less so. Seeing as the theme on the blog this week is advice, I have decided to make a list of all the wonderful things people said to me during my son’s first few weeks of life which helped me immensely and for which I am eternally grateful.
So, if you have a friend or a family member who is about to have a baby or just had a baby, here is a list of things which you can say, should you want to help out.
“If only I knew then what I know now, it would have been a lot easier, I could have handled the situation a lot better”, is a thought which often haunts me and just this once, I wish I could go back in time, sit my pregnant, ‘know it all’ self, down and give the following advice.
‘It was not supposed to be like this’, I thought crying, yet again, while I was trying to feed my screaming child. He refused to eat and although he would root for food, once placed into his feeding position, he would scream. He did not have a wind and his diaper had just been changed. He was hungry. Yet, whether I gave him a bottle or my breast, he simply would not latch. Panic, confusion, fear, anger and that ever-present guilt, washed over me. ‘Why did nobody warn me that it would be this hard’ was all my panicked, severely sleep deprived, brain was capable of thinking.
I have had my fair share of operations as a child, from grommets to having a spare rib removed, and from what I can remember; I did not react well to the anaesthetic. I woke up crying and in pain every time – it was horrible. So, when faced with the question: c-section or natural labour, my answer was always a loud and resounding: natural!
Hi, my name is Alexa and I am a mother. More specifically, I am the mother of a happy, beautiful 4,5 month old boy. And as is the case with most mothers, he is the light of my life. Before I became a mom however, I was a regular 30 (something) year old who was focused on building a career, who lived for travel and a sense of adventure and who loved a good party.