Secret Agent Mom

Secret Agent Mom

When I was blogging a couple of years ago I wrote a blog named “We do not negotiate with terrorists”. I will see if I can find it and share it.

I find that being a mother is a lot like being a FBI agent, or CSI, Secret service, you name it. For example:
The Hostage Negotiator.
When dealing with tantrum like demands, we deal with it in a “cool as a cucumber” way. “We can do this the whole day, the answer will stay no” Trying our best not to give in and meet there demands. “No baby you can not run around the house with the steak knife, you can, however, help cut some mushrooms”

The CSI agent
Your little ones are playing quietly, you decide now is a good time to go for a quick pee. Next min there is an all mighty crash. You get back to them to find broken glass everywhere. You ask what happened and suddenly you are dealing with 2 clueless angels. This is when CSI mom comes out, you have to scan the crime scene, picking up clues as to what just happened, trying to figure out which one of the 2 little angels is the guilty one.

Little Angel Face

When the kids were in nappies I have had moments where I resemble a Bomb squad agent. VERY slowly opening the nappy because I am not sure what it holds. You never know it might just go everywhere. If you haven’t had one of those nappies you haven’t fully experienced the whole teething process. I have to admit, having boys I sometimes have the Bomb squad agent pose when my boys hands me something and has a very suspect grin on their faces. I brace just before I open his hand to see what wonderful “surprise” they have brought me.

I sometimes sound like a Police Officer asking someone to step away from the car that they are trying to steal. “Step away from the stove, boiling pot of water on there”

Sure I will only turn into this next one during the teenage years but should I find out that my kids have been exposed to any kind of drugs I will most certainly turn into a DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) Agent. Thinking about this, it’s probably a good idea to start training our 2 dogs now to become sniffer dogs that can pick up the scent of any type of drugs in the house. MWAHAHAHA…

Now if all of the above just applies to me, I am pretty sure I am not alone on the next one. Every mother qualifies as a Secret service agent. The Secret service agents are there to protect the President, they throw themselves in front and on top of the president in dangerous situations.
I think it is safe to say, that in a life or death situation every mother has this instinct in them, to through themselves in front or onto their children to protect them.

Lastly, there is the CIA agent. This side of me rears its head when other/new children come into my kid’s lives. They get put through a thorough screening process of background checks. LOL, not really, but I have to admit when the boys were in school, if I realised there were bullies, I would always, in a non-direct way get my boys to avoid them. Or, in Henri’s case, he had 2 boys in his class that could be very mean to him, but that would also play with him nicely. More often than not he would come home very upset about something one of them did. I would just remind him, that they are “mooi weers vriende” Only nice when it suits them. I told him that he now knows that they have a mean side and he shouldn’t let it upset him too much. On those days he should just ignore them and rather play with his actual friends.

Ok, so by now it’s probably clear that I watch a lot of movies and series that involve American Spy’s and agents. But what it boils down to is that Mothers are BAD ASS.
Kids and Dad’s take note – Do NOT mess with us, our powers are unlimited.

I also feel every mother deserves a medal of courage and bravery. Motherhood is one of the most awesome experiences ever, but it’s hard work and we deal with a lot on a daily basis.

Do your kids do chores?

Do your kids do chores?

I believe there is nothing wrong with teaching your child from a young age to help with the chores in the house. Now I’m not saying that you should become Frau Rottenmeier and demand that chores get done before they are allowed to play or anything hectic like that. But it is good for kids to help around the house for more than one reason.

I believe that this will help your child learn responsibility, i.e. I make a mess, I help clean up. Your kids will learn new simple everyday tasks (being able to make their own bed) and this way become more independent.

Now, of course, the type of chores depends on the age of your children. At this point with my 2, they have a chore chart on the fridge. It is laminated so we can reuse it and the chores sometimes change. For example, my 8 year old helps pick up the dog poo as part of his chores, but on days where it was raining, we swapped that chore with something else.

So our daily chores for my 8 and 5 year old are:
Make your bed
Tidy up at 13:00 and 17:00
Do your dishes
Pack away your washing
Then for the 5 year old – feed the dogs and the 8 year old pick up the dog poo/make sure the dogs have water.

When they were little they still helped to tidy up whenever they made a mess. We use to sing “Tidy UP, Tidy Up, it’s Tidy up time” As they got older we started to make a game out of it.

The other “chore” is that the boys need to always take their bowls, plates, cups, etc.  to the kitchen when they are done eating or drinking. This is again a very simple way to slowly teach him how the world works. You can’t just make a mess and leave it like that. If you made the mess, you need to help clean up.

Without me having to ask, Henri helps me every day with everything. He is really such a sweet boy. When I make the beds or put clean bedding on, he jumps at the opportunity to help me pull the sheets down and tug the fitted sheet in under the mattress. He has done this since a very young age. We use to live in a complex and make use of their communal washing machines, this was always an adventure for him. I would put him on top of the machine and he would get to through the soap powder in, place the coin in the slot and push the button. Even now, when he hears me switch the washing machine on, he comes running, screaming “me me me” He always looks so chuffed with himself once he has pressed all the necessary buttons and the machine starts.

Sweeping is another favourite chore that my 5 year old loves doing. Now lets face it, sometimes their help with things like sweeping is not really helping because they miss spots or they might actually just be making more of a mess. I normally do not correct them. If my 5 year old is giving it his best and he missed 2 or 3 spots I do not tell him “thanks, but you missed these spots” I thank him, make a note on their chart and then once he is out of the room I clean the spots he missed. I believe in rather looking at the positive instead of the negative.

Then off course anything that involves working with water. When they were little and before the water crisis I would let them draw with sidewalk chalk on our outside walls. Then they each got their own bucket and sponge. Once they are done drawing on the walls, they wash the walls. They are still allowed to draw on the wall and brick, but we just don’t wash it off anymore. Another favourite, washing their “road” carpet.

There is also another favourite, but doesn’t happen that often, giving the dogs a bath. Both boys LOVE this.

Every day the boys check off their chores on the chore chart and by Saturday evening, if all their chores were done, they both get R10. If they were super helpful during the week and did extra chores they obviously get a bit more. Depending on what they have done they can earn an extra R5 or R10 that week.

I really hope all of this carries over to when they live on their own one day, for the sake of their wives and society.

I think chores do not just teach them valuable skills for the future, but it teaches them independence, a sense of achievement and also show them that everyone in the house contributes. We are a team.

The day I went NUCLEAR

The day I went NUCLEAR

Two weekends ago, I had a bad mom moment.

We were at a friends house for a braai. There was a new family that we didn’t know. The boys once went Mountain Bike riding together, but that was it. The 3 men were outside and the 3 women inside chatting. The 4 boys were all over the place playing.

We had dinner and then started playing 30 Seconds. The kids were playing all sorts of games and having a jol. All was well with the world. Then suddenly the power goes out. So the dad whose house it is gets 2 camping lights and puts them up. One in the playroom and one one the table where we were sitting. Candles were lit and we continued playing.

Suddenly the one boy kept running towards the table where the adults were sitting and he was shining the light in our eyes. This also meant that the playroom was dark. The parents ask him to stop but he kept doing it. Next, all 4 boys start running around the house and around the table where we were sitting. The one boy is now screaming/screeching really loud. My husband raises his voice and asks all 4 boys to calm down a bit and to please stop screaming.

Now before I continue, let me just give you some more context to how that week had been for me.

  1. Three days during that week I had such a hard time with Henri, talking back, being very cheeky in the way he spoke to me and just generally not listening. I had spoken to him and also taken privileges away as punishment.
  2. The Thursday night, my husband was out. The boys and I were watching an episode of Big Bang theory like we have done many evenings before. This episode started with Sheldon hearing creepy noises outside his office. I look at Liam (5), the reason for this is, Henri keeps scaring his brother at night. He hides and literally scares the living daylights out of him. To the point where Liam now does not want to go upstairs at night on his own. I have had many chats with Henri about not scaring his brother.

    So back to that Thursday night. The episode continues, I tell Liam that BBT is not a scary show and Sheldon is probably just dreaming, suddenly something scary happens, Henri screams at the top of his lungs and with a very theatrical movement jumps of his chair and falls backwards (imagine hand on the forehead, fainting) Now his little brother is looking at me with giant eyes. I told Henri that he must please not do that because he is scaring his brother. Liam got such a fright because Henri was sitting behind him and he was obviously not expecting that.
    The next min a glow in the dark skeleton falls from the roof. Henri again jumps up and screams in the exact same way he did before. Which now lead to Liam getting the fright of his life and came to me crying. I held him, calmed him and then showed him that it was Raj and Howard who were trying to scare Sheldon, as it was Halloween. He said, “the Skeleton didn’t scare him, but his heart hurt when Henri screamed”
    So I again had a chat with Henri and explain to him why I don’t want him doing this.
    Needless to say, Liam couldn’t sleep that night and now doesn’t want to go upstairs at all on his own, day or night.
  3. Friday morning, Henri hides behind the classroom door and give his brother a fright, to which Liam reacted by pushing him. Henri knocked his head on the corner of the table. He had a massive bump on the head. After icing Henri’s head I kakked him out and took more privileges away. I mean, didn’t we just have this conversation the night before? “No more scaring your brother”

So now that you have an idea of what my week was like and where my frustration levels were at with Henri, we can continue the story of what happened at the braai. 

The parents of the “new” boy asked him to stop with the flashlight, my husband asked the kids to stop screaming and running around the table where we were sitting. Then the dad, who’s house it was asked the boys again to stop running around, stop screaming and stop moving the flashlight.
Next minute they are off again, but now, my kids weren’t the ones screaming, but I notice Henri is chasing them. So I get up, I go to the playroom, I ask all of them collectively to please try and stay in the playroom as we can’t hear each other talking that is how loud they are. I then ask Henri to not chase the boys.

I went to sit down, not 10min later, running again and then a loud crash and crying. Henri had slipped and ran into the wall. Now I am getting angry, long past the point of being irritated or annoyed. I tell my husband that after his drink we are leaving. I go to check that Henri is ok and tell him “Henri, please do not scare anyone, and do not chase them either, it is too dark, and you just got hurt because you can’t see where you are running. This is your last warning” Ok he said.

I had literally just sat down and the one boy came out with the flashlight and there was screaming again. I walk to the playroom and I tell Henri that we are going to go home, they need to start tidying up all the toys. He looked at me with this blank expression and then laughed and said “sure mom” but with so much sass I felt like slapping him, I didn’t of course, I did, however, give him the look, you all know what look I am talking about.

Literally 5 min later all 4 boys come screeching out of the room, down the hallway and around the table, Henri at the end chasing them. As he gets to the end of the table where I am (he was opposite me, right behind his dad) I went nuclear, I was shouting like a demon. “HENRI, STOP!!!! TURN AROUND, FACE THE WALL AND SIT DOWN, TIME OUT!!!  AND THAT IS WHERE YOU WILL STAY UNTIL WE LEAVE”

The whole house fell quiet. The other 3 kids quietly went off playing. My husband said “I think you overreacted” Now, sure to someone, like the other couple probably, it might have looked like I overreacted. But did I?

How many times must 6 adults ask 4 kids to STOP and LISTEN?. FFS man. And besides that, a lot had lead up to this point between me and Henri and this was just the last straw. I took 5 min to just breathe and calm myself, then I asked Henri to come with me because I would like to talk to him. This is just how I do things. When I lose my shit, and I do quite often, not to this extreme, but it happens. I always take that 5min for both me and him to just calm ourselves and then we talk it out.

The first thing he said was, “I was not screaming” So I said, “I know, but why do you think I only shouted at you?” “Because I was chasing them?” So he knew why he also immediately apologised. 

I explained to him that all 6 adults at some point had asked them to calm down, and the fact that I specifically spoke to him twice about chasing and scaring the other boys and that is why he was in trouble. I also explained to him that the whole week he had been rude to me and wasn’t listening and I can’t just let things like that slide. There have to be consequences. He said “I know mommy, I am sorry”

I talk to my boys about everything. 3 years ago a bought a lovely book series that explains all kinds of emotions to the kids. “When I am feeling lonely, scared, nervous”. They are amazing, they help the kids understand their emotions. Now I am all for the gentler approach and I don’t believe in the “kids should be seen not heard” BUT I am also very old school, and if I have spoken 2 or 3 times, and I have warned you that the next time you do it there will be trouble, then you better know there will be trouble.

I honestly didn’t care what the new couple thought about me, I didn’t care if they thought I was a horrible mother. The friends, whose house it was, knows me, they know the type of mom I am, they know this is not the norm. All though I felt some guilt towards Henri for scolding him in front of his friends, I just feel that having friends around doesn’t make all the rules change. 

Motherhood is one hell of a ride. I both back myself for what I did and know that it was right, but at the same time, I feel annoyed with myself for not dealing with it in a calmer manner. I could have pulled him aside and scolded him. Would that have had the same effect though? I had scolded him that same evening and it didn’t do anything.

I think because there is so much information out there on how we should be raising our kids we can all be hard on ourselves, second guessing what we did, and was it the right thing to do? Could I have done it better? But there is no rulebook, right? They didn’t come with instructions and we are all just trying to find what works for us. But wow man, some days are just harder than others and I think what I need to take from this is to not be so hard on myself and to just keep talking to my boys. Talking about how certain emotions make you feel and react.

Raising Boys – Part 2

Raising Boys – Part 2

So besides dirt, noise, creepy crawlies and injuries, what else should you be prepared for if you have a boy? Well, one word – PENIS. You will get to know the male anatomy very well.

Not only does it involve a lot of touching, poking and pulling, but expect to see a lot of naked butt cheeks. Boys love to just strip down and run around with nothing on. There are also times when you will be driving or walking somewhere and suddenly your little one says “Mommy I need to pee-pee, pee-pee is coming!!!” It’s not ideal, I know, but this problem is solved quite easily with boys, the one time having a penis makes things easier, oh no wait, having a penis makes lots of things easier in life.

Boys, just like men are constantly fiddling with themselves, or like my husband says “rearranging the package” I keep telling my son “don’t worry my boy it won’t fall off, it is still there” He just laughs. Men will always be touching their penises; this is something we, unfortunately, can’t change. When my boys were little I always tried to make them aware of the fact that they shouldn’t do it in public and that it is not nice to take it out and show it to people. I have had the odd occasion with both of them when they were little where they had gone to the loo and come back butt naked and go“nah nah, nah nah” while shaking their little naked butts and running around.

One night when they were little, I just had to laugh. Both boys were in the bath; first, it was the one year old that I found poking and pulling. I just ignored it and started cleaning him. Then I look over at my 3 year old and he is also sitting there pulling his penis. Now after all the fiddling it has of course gone erect. So I just asked him to please stop, to which he then replied: “I’m just loving it” but what made it even funnier was that he was stroking it like he would when I tell him to love/pet our dog. Enter hysterical inside laughter. I had to leave the room to have a giggle.

You also learn very quickly that the position of that penis in a nappy is quite important before bedtime because it could be the difference between a sopping wet baby in the night or peaceful dry sleep. Always down I learned.

Still, on the topic of Penises, I was quite shocked one day with my first-born. I went to change my tiny little 2 month olds nappy and suddenly he had a surprise for me, nope, not poo but an erection. I couldn’t believe it, he was only 2 months. I immediately called my husband who of course thought it was hilarious and told me it’s very normal. It’s not sexual in any way; it’s just due to blood flow to the area. I later learned that in most babies it also happens just before they have to pee. 

A couple of weeks later, during a very hot summer’s day, I found myself calling my husband again. I got such a shock, his testicles looked different; they were very large, flat and hanging quite far away from his body. Again my husband said it’s normal, “It’s because it’s so hot,” he said. He again found it very funny that I was so concerned. But I mean hello, how am I supposed to know these things? Yes, I vaguely remember something about it from High school biology, but that was decades ago. 

But now I know, when it is very hot the body makes sure that the testicles move away from the body, keeping them cool. When it is cold the opposite happens, the testicles are kept close to the body. The testicles will also draw up during physical activities like running; this protects the testicles from being knocked around. The testicles do this to keep the sperm at an optimal temperature. If sperm isn’t kept at an optimal temperature they can be damaged and this could lead to infertility.

Now that the boys are older, I am more clued up. Now I hear “oh my nuts” or as my youngest sometimes says “oh my nutballs”
As they get older I know the topic will get more complicated and we will find ourselves in awkward positions during the teenage years. A while ago a mom with older boys told me a story of encountering stiff socks on her sons’ floor. After this, my husband asked me what I would do if I were to walk in on one of the boys masturbating. Erm, let’s just say I have made a promise to myself, that when a door is closed I will take the Sheldon Cooper approach to knocking. I shall knock 3 times to ensure that they heard me and also allowing time for them to get ready for me to enter the room, should they need it.

I will be open with my boys when it comes to sex and I have told my husband he will be in charge of the masturbation topic because I understand this could be very embarrassing for them. But I do hope they will always feel comfortable talking to me about anything and I will talk to them about any topic if they come to me with questions. But if I have a choice, that one specific topic will be my husband’s department.

How does the saying go? ‘Men, can’t live with them and can’t live without them”. I can honestly say, I can’t live without my boys.

For those of you who are pregnant with boys who are reading this, boys are loads of fun, there is never a dull moment.

I grew up very privileged

I grew up very privileged

I grew up very privileged, but not for the reason you think.
I didn’t grow up with the best and latest gadgets, toys and clothing.
I didn’t get everything I wanted.
I wasn’t able to take dance classes, all though I SO desperately wanted to.
I only saw my dad once every 2 or 3 years for a week at most.
I didn’t go on family vacations every year.
I didn’t have a big birthday party every year, in fact, I only had 2 growing up.

But I was so privileged. Why do you ask?

From the age of 3, it was always just my mom and I. The first 3 years of my life was spent living both in SA and the UK, my dad played club rugby in the UK, we had a relatively good live.

But when my parents got divorced, my mom and I moved back to South Africa. We lived with my grandparents for a while when my mom and dad just got divorced. I would only, at 16 learn why we moved out and got our own place, this just opened my eyes to what a strong woman my mother was.  She literally gave up everything for me. Her mother had told her, “Don’t think you will go out and have fun while I raise YOUR child” So what did my mother do? She focused on me/us. She lost all her friends, never remarried

My mom worked hard, she almost never took days off, she rather took payment instead of an off day as she didn’t make that much money. She also didn’t receive much maintenance from my dad, some months she didn’t even receive anything.

She worked weekends and holidays, which meant I spent a lot of time on my own. We lived month by month. There was never any money left over for special treats or holidays. We had just enough for the important things. But you know what, if I look back I don’t remember how I begged my mom to let me go for dance classes. I remember the days when she had a day off work. She would spend all her time with me. We would play tennis, Rummy, Trivial Pursuit, watch movies, chat and giggle together. 

Writing this makes me very emotional. Until I was 19 it was just my mom and me, we did anything together. We were always laughing, that is what I remember the most. Not the hard times, but all the laughs. My friends loved her, she was the cool mom. She would fetch us from school and play Bump or Linkin Park.

During Matric she told me that I needed to get out and see the world and encouraged me to go to Europe for a year. So a week after my 19th birthday I was off. The first few hours on the plane I could not control myself, I was sobbing uncontrollably. Here I was a naive small town girl from the Free State off into the world. I was scared sh!tless. How am I going to do this without her?

But guess what, I surprised myself, my mother raised me in such a way that even though I spent my first weekend in Germany vomiting my lungs out and feeling terribly sorry for myself, wanting to go home. I picked myself up and decided I can do this. I am strong. Out of all the girls from the Au-pair agency, with whom I went to Germany with, I was only one of the 2 who didn’t swap families throughout the year.

If you weren’t happy with the family you were placed with, you could change families, you would, however, lose your deposit, my mom had taken out a loan to pay for me to get to Europe.

I was not happy with the family I was placed with. The kids were amazing, but the dad made sexual passes at me and they both treated me like a servant. But again I told myself I could do this, I would not change families because I could not afford to lose the deposit. It was not all bad, but I realised I was stronger than I thought. I did not think I would last 2 months, that I would be too homesick. But I did it.

In Feb 2010 my mom celebrated with us when we got married. In May my mom very suddenly passed away from an Aneurysm. One day she was fine, the next she was in hospital in a coma and then at about 6 am on 19 May I was making coffee, getting ready to go to the hospital to see my mom, when my husband walks into the kitchen to tell me that the hospital phoned. I thought it was good news, she had woken up. But no, she had passed. I felt like someone stabbed me in the heart and stomach. I wanted to throw up, I couldn’t feel my legs anymore. This was the worst moment of my life.  

I literally couldn’t get myself to stop crying. My husband was a huge help during this time, I do not think I could have done it without him.

We lived in Durban at that time, one of my best friends from Johannesburg flew down to be with me the next day. She helped me clear out my mom’s apartment and I have to say I felt utter sadness and anger until my friend said to me, “You know what, she is in a better place, she can rest now, she knew you had a husband who would be there for you, and it was just the right time. She is at peace.”

It was as if a wave of relief came over me. I felt I could breathe again,  I realised she was right. My mom had given up so much, she had worked so hard her whole life and now she could rest. I was still terribly sad and to this day I think of her every day and my heart still breaks, but I am not angry anymore.

Having two of my oldest and closest friends with me just after my mom passed away made me realise that I was still very privileged. Besides my mother, I had a group of strong, powerful women in my life and they had been with me since Primary school.

We were not the popular girls in school, we were not in the first Hockey team or won beauty competitions, we all came from broken homes, but we were there for each other and together we were unstoppable. Out of the 6 close friends I had during Primary and High School only 2 came from a home where there were 2 parents. One was adopted and 2 were in the Orphanage. We were there for each other every day, through thick and thin.

The way I grew up made me appreciate the important things in life like spending time with my mom on her off days. I was taught from a very early age to be independent and how to work with money and also that you don’t need to have the best of everything to be happy. My mother would donate old clothes and give food to beggars, even though we had very little to give.  My mother never looked down on anyone.

I grew up very privileged because I grew up with a SUPERWOMAN. My mother taught me compassion, she taught me how to treat people. She always said “treat people the way you would want them to treat you” To this day I can honestly say that I don’t treat people differently just because of their race, age, gender, sexuality or bank balance.

I grew up privileged because I was surrounded by other amazing SUPER WOMEN. My friends. 

I honestly believe I grew up very privileged, not because of what I had, but because of whom I grew up with. Those women in my life, some of whom  are still my closest friends have made me who I am today. All of them have been through rough times and I have not only learned from their stories but they stood by me through my darkest times.

Thank you, ladies, I love you all so very much.

Women have the ability to empower, but we get blinded by envy and judgment most of the time. Just imagine if we put pettiness aside. We could literally change the world.