Bette Davis

Bette Davis once said “If you have never been hated by a child, you have never been a parent”.

Bette, as most of us know, is an icon.  It’s only natural then that anything she says be taken as gospel.

Aside from Bette making that statement, I had heard it ages ago.  I’ve said it to myself so many times over the years….when one of the kids were in a sulk and not talking to me, because I, in my not so infinite wisdom, had dared to say no to a request.

When little R wants to have some Coca Cola at 7am in the morning – Mommy says no.

When teenager K goes to hang out at a friends’ place and then suddenly decides to call me to ask if he can stay over – Mommy says no.

I read in a magazine once that as a parent, you should say “yes” to your child as often as possible. 

Sometimes, when one of the boys comes up with a seemingly outrageous request like:  can I go to the shops with you and wear my Batman cape, my Spiderman mask and be t-shirtless like Hulk, my first instinct is to say no.  But then I think  – why the hell not?  In fact, why not wear your swimming goggles and snorkel as well.  Why can you not dress that way for a trip to Checkers?  (This request came from little R, not the teenager!).  To these requests, the answer is yes!  Go for it.

When teenager K decides, at 10pm on a Saturday night that he is absolutely starving and will simply die if he does not eat something….”Mom, can I fry bacon and eggs”?  My answer is – yes, absolutely, go crazy.

Saying YES is a way of life in our house.  But when the time comes for a NO, it tends to be a very firm no, because it is not said with ease.  When we decide the answer is no, then it will stay that way.

No answers only happen where there is a concern over safety, uncomfortable situations arising (for the teenager) or any instance that just doesn’t “sit well” with me.  Yes, maybe all the friends will be there and it will be so much fun…..but what’s that you say?  No parental supervision?  Well then….NO.

So as much as I would like my kids to always “love me best”, the fact remains is that I am not their friend.  I am their mother. 

One thing I tend to say often to them is this:  If you don’t hate me sometimes then I am not doing my job as your mother. 

When they are old enough, I do not intend to hit “da clubs” with them (I would not know what to wear anyway).

I will be their mother, there to guide them whenever they need assistance navigating this sometimes cruel world.  I hope to raise two strong young men, who will work hard, be good people and maybe one day be good husbands and fathers.

So Bette Davis – I can truthfully say that I have been hated by my children many times and can rest easy knowing that I have earned my title of parent!

Maybe not Yummy, but I’m a Mummy.

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Yummy Mummy……er, no.

As much as I would love to be that, and I say LOVE, with capital letters here, I am so NOT a Yummy Mummy.

First off, there is no way I can spend so much time on my appearance.  Even if I could, I don’t think I would.  I would far rather flop on the couch with a piece of cake and a cup of tea, reading a good book than buffing my heels or shaping my brows (although as I sit here, I can tell you without a doubt that they both need some attention – urgently).

Maybe the yumminess comes naturally to a few moms.  Alas, it does not for me.  One mom at my little boy’s educare has beautiful thick, lustrous hair that swishes as she walks – seriously, how does a woman get her hair to “swish” so naturally?  Another mom seems to wear very little make-up and yet she looks ever so glamourous.

I crawl out of bed strongly resembling something that has awoken in a crypt after a thousand years.  Obviously, in order to look anything like a Yummy Mummy would take hours of work for me.  As any Mom would know, we simply do not have the time for this behaviour in the morning.

Most mornings, when I am rushing around like hell on wheels, preparing for the school run, I have an allotted ten minutes to myself for “glamming up”.  In my world, in an allotted ten minutes, glamming up, entails a face wash, teeth brushing, quick swipe of blusher and mascara if I am lucky, and then quickly pinning my wild, untamed hair into a fairly presentable bun.  I don’t even check my hair in the mirror – I do this in the car, where to my horror I discover that my hair looks even worse that I could have imagined.  Thank heavens for the “sunglasses atop the head” look.  That hides a multitude of bad hair days.

When it comes to clothing, I have and am in the process of nurturing my attitude of: wear whatever you want to wear, regardless of colour, style and occasion.   So what if you wear a pink camisole under a bright orange t-shirt?  I love both pink and orange.  Why not wear them together?

The only heels I can wear are wedges…..if I could find my perfect pair, I would wear them with everything.  Until then, its flip flops for me.

My sister sometimes lives in her track pants and t-shirt.   When she glams up, she sometimes tries to wear almost every jewellery piece she owns.  Alright, I exaggerate somewhat – she owns way too much jewellery for that lol.

Another friend of mine rocks the “I’m me” mom look.  Jeans is her style of choice and I think I have only seen eyeliner on her once in all of our years of friendship.

The point I am trying to make, along with all of this babbling that I am renowned for, is BE WHO YOU WANT TO BE.  Dress in the way that makes you happy and comfortable.  Why waste time to try live up to insane expectations?  So what if your kids’ don’t think you are cool (when do they ever think that anyway)? And so what if a few of the population look at you sideways?

Wear all your jewellery at once.  Or wear none at all.  Make your hair gorgeous.  Or don’t even bother to brush it before pinning it up.  Wear insanely high heels.  Or wear flip flops.

So alas, a Yummy Mummy I am not.  I am slightly plump (hey, I grew two human beings, I’ve earned my current shape), with not so great hair and brows that are mostly not perfect.  My dress sense is questionable:  At the moment I have on faded black tights, an orange Old Khaki top with a small hole in it and a pink pashmina because the wind is a bit chilly.  My hair, despite all my plans of making it look “swishy” today, is actually curly and a wee bit frizzy and is wrapped in it’s normal position of a bun.  To this I have added a small flower.

All this because I love the colour and feel of the Old Khaki top, my pashmina is pink which I adore and it also keeps me warm.  The flower in my hair simply makes me happy.

Don’t get me wrong, if you are classed as a Yummy Mummy, then thumbs up to you.  You look amazing and you should rock every ounce of it.  I am in awe of your yumminess.

But for all the Sporty Moms, the Boho Moms, the Glam Mom’s, the I’m Not Sure Who I Am Yet Moms, you are no less fabulous.  Thumbs up to you!

Whatever your “look” is – rock it….. live it….. love it.

So I may not be a Yummy Mummy, but that flower in my hair sure is pretty.

15 Things.

images (2)15 Things my  Mother taught me.

My mother.  She is a woman of many, many talents.  She is a woman of infinite wisdom and all who know and love her respect her tremendously.

She has taught my siblings and I so many life lessons – below are a few that have stuck with me.

Work hard, money never comes to you freely.

 My mother worked for a large part of my childhood.  She has never had a cushy job in her entire life.  She left school early, as was the norm in those days, and began work immediately.  She worked long hours, 6 days a week.  She used public transport every day of her working life.  Not for her the luxury of a lift to and from work.  She arrived at the train station at 6pm, had about a 20 minute walk home, whether it be rain or sunshine.   She arrived home, cooked supper, helped us with homework, listened to our problems, fixed broken clothes that were desperately needed for the next day and then still found the time to play board game after board game with me.  She never had the privilege of a washing machine.  She washed all four children’s clothes by hand and did all our ironing on her own.  Because of her example, each one of her children grew up to be hardworking adults, providing well for our families.

You can be soft hearted and a spitfire, all at the same time.

My mom is a gentle soul.  I can’t remember her ever shouting at us.  Even when we made her extremely angry.  She never had to spank us.  You could just see on her face when you had gone too far and even then, we loved and respected her far too much to bear upsetting her.  When we did, our hearts hurt and we were ashamed that we had upset our kind and gentle mother.  But if anyone dared to hurt or threaten any of her children – the spitfire reared its head.  This petite Mama would march right over to that person, be it the neighbour or a teacher at the school and they would have to endure her wrath.  Mom always came out tops.  When Spitfire Mom was roused…..run.  It’s no coincidence that my sister and I are exactly the same…..do any wrong to our children – and our mother for that case – well, sorry for you, is all I can say.

Never keep quiet when you see another being treated unfairly.

I’ve seen my darling mother go up against men bigger and far stronger than her, to protect someone.  When nobody had the courage or care to stand up for a small person that was being treated badly, I witnessed my mother go up against a room of yellow-bellied adults and tell everyone exactly what she thought of them.  This incident stuck with me forever and I admired my mother with pure, shining pride on this day.  My superhero.  This is one lesson from my mom that I especially took absolutely to heart.  Unfortunately, coupled with a quick temper and this trait that I inherited from my mom, mostly gets people to dislike me and gets me into trouble quite often.  Ah well.

Children CAN be spoilt, without them turning out be awful people.

We were spoiled as children.  It’s no secret that we had a difficult, sometimes underprivileged childhood, but my mother made sure we always got just what we wanted for our birthdays.  I don’t know how she did it, but she scrimped, saved, begged and borrowed, but we always had good clothes, sometimes made by her own very skilful hands. I always had the latest doll and the most fashionable Barbie.   Many times, we even got breakfast in bed.  However, mostly we were spoiled with love.  The total, all-encompassing love of a mother, who you knew loved you totally and unconditionally.

Stubbornness can be your downfall, but it will also serve you well most times.

My mother is the most stubborn person I know.  As she embraces her golden years, this stubbornness has increased dramatically – sometimes to the extent that we want to pull out our hair (don’t hurt me when you read this Mom – it’s true and you know it!).  She has always been stubborn.  When she decided something, no person would sway her or make her decide otherwise.  This stubbornness has been inherited by her children and has mostly served us well.   We are all stubborn to some extent – possibly me most of all.  It has been my downfall at times, but mostly it has proven to be my saviour.  I will not give up on an idea, no matter how many people tell me that it will never succeed.  I’ve failed sometimes, but like my mother, I get up, dust off and that stubbornness re-asserts itself.  My mother will sometimes shake her head at me and sigh, but what can she do – I learned the skill from her!

Your children come first.  

Mom has the opinion – quite rightly – that you put your children first.  Most certainly before a man.  She was the mom that went without so that her children could have.  She would not eat until we had eaten.  When one of us were ill and couldn’t eat, she herself could barely manage to swallow a bite of food.  If there wasn’t enough money for a pie at the shop for all, she would go without.  I can unashamedly say that she raised children who are great parents – I look at my siblings and am proud of their parenting skills.

Birthdays are exceptionally special and the birthday girl/boy needs to be celebrated as much as possible.

Birthdays were a big deal in our house.  In those days, there was no such thing as ordering cakes.  My mom baked each child their favourite cake.  We buzzed around her like flies, fingers in the cake bowl, super excited for the next day’s present.  As I said before, I don’t know how she did it, but she always managed to get us exactly what we wanted.  I can’t remember any birthday that she didn’t try her best for us.

Ditto for Christmas.

But oh boy, did she make us work for this holiday!  A week before Christmas the work began in earnest.  Walls were washed, curtains taken down, decorations were put up.  She did lose her mind a little when it came to decorations……the lounge itself looked like a Christmas tree!  She cooked a huge lunch – everything was perfection and made by her own beautiful hands.

A woman is quite capable of changing a plug, lightbulb, making a fire – the list goes on.

Let’s just say that if my Mom had to wait for my father to do anything, it wouldn’t get done lol.  She is tough.  She taught her daughters especially to have the mindset to not wait for someone to do something for you.  God gave you a brain and two hands – get it done.

Your legs are there for a reason – use them.

When we were growing up, we weren’t blessed to have a car all the time.  We used public transport or sometimes had to walk.  Up until a few years ago, my Mom used to walk everywhere she needed to go.  If she needed something in another suburb, she would simply walk there.  Her stubbornness came to the fore once again.  If we couldn’t take her at the particular time she wanted to go, she would shoulder her bag and use her legs.  There was one time when we simply couldn’t find her anywhere.  Bless her heart, she always forgot to charge her cell phone (or simply forgot to put it on).  We were panicked, driving the streets looking for her.  Just after 5pm, she casually waltzed in the door, smiled and said “Hi!”

She was grounded for a week.

Never wear underwear or vests with holes in them.

This was a cardinal rule.  If you were at home, this was fine, but if you ventured out of the house, you put your “good underclothes” on.  Imagine if you were in an accident and taken to hospital.  What would the nurses think if you had a hole in your undergarments?  Shock.  Horror.  To this day, I can truthfully say that no nurse has seen me in anything other than “good underclothes”.

Always treat everyone the same.

My mother would talk to the homeless guy in the street, the fruit seller on the corner and the school principal the same way.  No person was deemed to be better than another, simply because they were more educated or had better clothes.  Alright, to be honest, she did use her posh voice for the principal, but he was treated no differently.  Actually, thinking back she probably spoke to the fruit seller (his name was Chillie, for some reason we knew him pretty well!), better than she spoke to the principal.  In her defence, our high school principal was a total schmuck.

Be a parent, not a friend.

My Mom was first and foremost my parent.  She was old school.  We never spoke about the birds and the bees.  She never tried to dress funky, or tried to go to clubs with us.  She was our mother, not our buddy.  She provided love and guidance, and didn’t try be friends with our friends.  However, today she is our best friend and today we are “buddies”.  We can drink a shooter together and we can tell her dirty jokes.  We can swear like troopers together.  But that’s today.  When I was a kid and needed a parent, she was one.

Nothing beats a cup of tea.

Ah, this is one of the best gifts she gave me.  At our house, as kids, anyone can tell you, there was always a pot of tea on the stove.  To this day, I drink tea when I am happy.  I drink tea when I am sad or worried.  I drink a cup of tea for any possible reason.  The first thing my Mother and I offer each other is a “cuppa”.

Eat the damn cake.

Enough said.

My Sister, My Soulmate

My sister.  The heroine of my childhood and the best friend of my adult life.

We are five years apart and I am the younger one.  Simply by saying that will ignite a fast “remember when….” from her.  It was one time, one time (!) that I was mistaken for the older sister.  We were shopping for the material for my wedding dress and the sales lady (who must have been inebriated, high, or blind as a bat), asked me when my younger sister was getting married.   Sixteen years later and my sister still brings it up.  Sigh.

My sister Karen and I are truly one of a kind.  For as long as I can remember, she has been there for me.  When I was little, I looked up to her with awe.  She was a star student in school and never gave our folks a day of worry.  Her long legs beat out all the other girls on sports day.  I remember watching her run in amazement.  I, on the other hand scraped through each exam, refused to go to school and was not very sporty.  Karen loved me anyway.

When we were in primary school, she was regularly called out of class to comfort her baby sister, who was (once again!) crying because she hated school and wanted to go home to Mommy.  When I fell on the playground, I screamed until they fetched her to clean and dress my wound.  Nobody else was allowed to do it.  I still have the scar – she clearly didn’t do a very good job.

It’s no secret that my siblings and I didn’t have the easiest of childhoods.  We lived with fear and disappointment on a daily basis, but we also had love in abundance, and for every bad memory we have, there was a beautiful and magical memory as well.  Because our brothers were older, they left the house as much as possible, which left my sister and I to cope with things.  Mostly she had to cope with it, because I was too little.  Looking back, I don’t know how she did it.  She was 12 years old when I was seven, yet she seemed so capable to me.  I never doubted for a second that she could keep me safe.  Needless to say, freak that I am, I followed poor Karen everywhere.  When she was bathing, I would stand at the door, calling through the keyhole for her to let me in.  She eventually relented, on the strict instruction that I was to face the wall at all times and not peek at her in the bath!

We shared a room through all her teen years and most of mine.  I was terrified of the dark and I insisted that our beds were pushed together so that she could hold my hand during the night.  Sigh, my poor sister!

She was an absolute neat freak, whereas I……well let’s just say I was not neat and leave it at that.  There was a reason my sister was a teeny bit obsessive though.  The rest of us siblings were like wild animals, with no respect for using her hard-earned goodies.  She was ever so slightly OCD and would “stage” her possessions, setting them in a specific position, so that if anyone touched them, she would know immediately.  I got my own back on her most days though…. she never staged her clothes, so when Karen was away, I happily wore her clothes when I visited my friends, being super sure that I had packed them back neatly before she came home.

My sister has been a dedicated person throughout her life.  She got her first job at 14 (the little deviant lied and said she was 16), she got exceptional grades throughout her high school career and then landed an amazing job at a financial institution.

Karen married her childhood sweetheart 9 days after her 21st birthday.  Naturally, her little sister was her bridesmaid.  To this day, I can truthfully say that I have never seen a more beautiful bride or a more beautiful dress.  She looked breath-taking.

When my matric dance came around, my sister was by my side.  I think she was more excited than I was – she was a huge fan of organising things.  The big evening dawned and she took full control of my make-up.  By that stage, she quite fancied herself a professional make-up artist.  I mean, she had a huge flip file and loads of colours.  My dress was black and purple and naturally my makeup had to match.  Purple.  Look, it was the early 90’s…..we can’t really be blamed.  We all thought I looked The Bomb.  A few years down the line, when we looked at the photographs again…..well, not so much The Bomb, but more…..Carol Burnett.  In fact, that’s what she calls me sometimes.  To get my own back, I warn our nieces NEVER to allow her to do make-up.  Ever again.

After I matriculated, I looked for a job tirelessly.  No luck.  Until my sister, aka Wonder Woman, came to my rescue and got me an interview with the HR guy at the financial institution where she worked.  By that time, she had worked herself up to a great position. Unfortunately, I totally blew that interview.  I mean, I’m surprised the guy didn’t have me escorted by security out of the building.

I got the job.  I’m not ashamed to say that they hired me purely because of her reputation.

Karen then gave birth to her beautiful daughter after a difficult pregnancy.  I had the extreme honour of being chosen to be both her Godmother and her Guardian.  I cannot explain what this meant to me…. that my beautiful strong sister thought that I was up to the job.

When the love of my life finally agreed to make an honest woman of me, Karen and my mother charged to the fore and totally took over my whole wedding.  I loved it.  They arranged absolutely everything.  All I had to do was steer them in the right direction sometimes (they wanted me to wear a tiara for goodness sake) and all was well.  My chief role was to show up on the day.  I had learned from my first experience and this time, I hired someone to do my make-up.  I was not looking like Carol on my wedding day.  Although my hairdo looked like I was wearing a helmet on my head (yes, you can have too much hairspray), my wedding was beautiful and I credit my sister for this.

As the years went by, and I had my boys, my sister was my daily go to person throughout.  When my firstborn was ill, she was the first call I would make for advice.  We used to speak to each other every single day.  It’s gotten a bit less now that life has gotten so hectic, but we still speak so often that our husbands have to tell us to get off the darn phone.

As we have grown older, our rolls have merged, reversed at times and become more equal.  We both have very similar mothering styles and agree on most things when it comes to raising our kids.  We are both extremely vocal when we feel the other is making a wrong decision.  We also have no problem saying “I told you so” to one another (we do this very often actually).  She is also the Godmother to both my boys as well as their guardian.  My sister is the one person I will trust unfailingly with the upbringing of my children.  They both love her dearly and her home is their second home.  Our children accept that either one of us could step in and correct each other’s child at any time and give them a verbal dressing down.  But they know that they can also absolutely depend on their Aunt to defend them if we feel that what their Mom is saying is unfair.  We also are slightly hypocritical and will not, under any circumstances, allow anyone else to do the same thing to our children.  There is not a soul on earth who will dare criticise our children.  If they do……well, they should be aware that world of pain is heading their way.

Loving my sister as much as I do, I can tell you quite frankly that she can be somewhat of a stalker and really cannot take no for an answer.  She simply cannot accept it.  She has mellowed a bit over the past few years.  She calls so often that I am ever so grateful for caller identification.  I can tell you this, because it’s nothing that I haven’t told her to her face – almost every day.  She also does not get the hint that sometimes I cannot actually talk at that moment.  Ok, it’s more than a hint, it’s more of a “I cannot talk right now, I am about to go into surgery”.  Her response is “tell the Anaesthetist to hold on, I really need to tell you that my parsley is not thriving in its current position”.  Ok, I exaggerate a wee bit, but you get the picture.  She’ll call me as I am about to leave for a braai at her house for a huge conversation.  She is not even offended when I tell her that this chat is boring and unnecessary as I will be at her house in seven minutes.

When I don’t feel like talking (which happens frequently) she understands when after the 10th unanswered call, I eventually answer and say “call you tomorrow”.  It really annoys her I am sure, but bless her soul, she doesn’t phone again!

She sometimes has a very questionable sense of style.  It has taken me and recently, her daughter to gently guide her to the right path.  Alright, this is a blatant lie.  There is no gentleness involved.  We will simply look at her, shake our heads and say “hell no”.  In the same way, I know she will tell me precisely which outfit makes my bum look big, or if hair seriously needs an oil treatment (she told me this just last week).

My sister and I have each other’s backs unequivocally.  Mess with one, you mess with the other.  If you upset her, I have to be held back from calling that person immediately and letting them know exactly what I think of them.  She is more reserved and will wait for the correct opportunity to voice her opinion.  I let out my emotions; she keeps them in.  But she feels hurt just as deeply.  She just hides it better.  I see exactly what goes on her heart and I love her even more for her strength and civility.

She is the only one – aside from my hubby – that knows how I feel on basically everything.  In turn, I am the only one that she confides in.

We can trust each other absolutely and completely.  No secret we share is ever revealed and we will carry each other’s confidences to the grave.

This beautiful sister of mine drives me to absolute distraction.  She is demanding, sometimes unreasonable in her requests, domineering, persistent, stubborn and downright annoying.  But she is also understanding, fiercely loyal, kind, hardworking, beautiful, an excellent, mother, wife, sister and daughter and simply a wonderful person.

She is strong in every way and will not bow against the wind.  She will swim upstream if she must and eventually, force the stream to change direction in order to suit her!

I see beneath her strength to the soft and gentle heart she has.  I see the sister that protected me when I was too young to protect myself, the sister who was and still is the keeper of my secrets.  I see the sister who advised me and helped me when I was struggling with pregnancy, who took me to the emergency room countless times, who was by my side when I lost my babies and who celebrated with me when my boys were born.  I see the sister who walks alongside me now and who pulls me when up when I stumble and who allows me to pull her up when she flounders.

I see my sister who is my best friend forever.

As I finish this blog…. Oh shucks…..horror…. it’s 9:57pm and there goes the phone.  It’s her, probably to chat about the parsley again.  Shall I ignore it?  I’m going to pretend I am sleeping.  Please don’t tell her!

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Us – Christmas in the 80’s