I’ve started recording some of the gorgeous chats I’ve had with young Benjamin lately, because I want to keep these gems forever.
Here are a few recent conversations:
My heart melted when Benjamin piped up the other day, “Mommy, you’re my Best Friend!” Just before it could go to my head, I overheard him telling his toys with just as much emphasis, “Lightning McQueen, you’re my Best Friend! Green quad bike, you’re my Best Friend! Well, at least I rank right up there with his favourite toys.
I arrive home with a few groceries, and Ben says: “Mom, have you got a ‘prise for me.” (His word for surprise). I take a little packet of mini biscuits out the shopping bag, and he says with disgust, “That’s not a ‘prise, that’s biscuits!” I explain that I only went to the grocery store for a couple of things, and ask, “What kind of surprise were you hoping for?” Ben says: “I’ll give you a clue… a motor bike!” Of course he means the toy variety (thank heavens).
During a feed, while Ben is swopping from one side to the other, he pauses just long enough to say, “Duuuhlicious!“
Ben wakes up in the morning, and I can see he’s in deep thought, so I ask him what he’s thinking about and he says, “Mommy’s milk.“
We get in the car after a trip to the shopping mall, and I ask Ben if he’s tired. He says, “No, I not tired, I just happy. Mommy, you make me sooo happy.”
Ben has a short coughing fit. Concerned that he might be choking on something, I ask if he’s okay. He says, nonchalantly “I fine. I just coughing.“
On our walks, Benjamin has picked up my habit of looking out for cars when crossing the road. I find it so adorable when he says, “Careful Mommy, there’s a car coming.“
Would love to hear some of your children’s classic gems… please go ahead and leave a comment.
Today’s classic gem from Benjamin: “I can do anything I do… because I’m a boy!”
I wish I was half as clever as the lady in this video – have to confess, I know nothing about the Gold Standard. In fact I’ve noticed myself becoming increasingly ditsy in my “old age”. Blame it on Mommy Brain.
I’ve done some crazy things lately. We searched for an entire weekend for the TV remote. My husband found it in the fridge that Sunday night. Amazingly, none of us thought to look there, I’ve left a few odd things in the fridge since about half way through my pregnancy. Along with things in cupboards that were destined for the fridge.
My latest crowning moment was when I tried to iron one of my husbands shirts with a cold iron. The funny part was that I was finding ironing really hard work, pressing harder and harder. I commented to my husband that this must be one of those crinkle-look shirts. I was just starting to say “this iron even seems cold” when I glanced at the plug and noticed it was out. I laughed so hard the tears were rolling down my cheeks.
You see it was little old me who suggested we unplug the iron just a few minutes before this incident, when the electricity went off due to overload.
Well… at least we have a gorgeous kitty cat for me to stroke… (if you’ve watched the video, you’ll know what I mean.)
Laugh at yourself first, before anyone else can.
Elsa Maxwell, September 28, 1958
Like many women these days, I’ve walked down a number of different career paths in my life.
Aerobics Instructor, Copywriter, Personal Assistant by morning, Au Pair by afternoon, Waitress by night, Aromatherapist, Restaurant Manageress, Network Marketer, Head of Network Marketing, Freelance Journalist, Sales Executive, Customer Relationship Executive.
I’ve worked for myself, I’ve worked for small companies, and I’ve worked for large Corporates. I’ve worked from home, in company offices, full time, part time, flexi time, freelance, remotely. I’ve travelled across country for some jobs and internationally for one. I’ve held down 3 jobs at a time.
And now here I am, where I always dreamed I would be… a Wife, Mother, and Writer. Blessed with a wonderful husband, a gorgeous bonus daughter, and an adorable little boy of our own.
Wife, Mother, Writer… my new career. Life is beautiful. I get to work from home sweet home, play a lot more than I work, and most days include a glorious morning and evening walk and a lunchtime siesta. Bliss! I get to enjoy more family time than ever, and have more friends than ever before. At least once a week, I get to enjoy coffee and cake with friends. Aah, the sweet life. And to top it all, I get to witness Ben’s marvellous unfolding, hear his giggles and applaud his progress.
These past couple of years have, without a shadow of a doubt, been the best years of my life.
Which is why it astounds me to realise just how much WORK has actually taken place during this time.
I had no idea how FULL TIME motherhood would be. In the back of my mind I knew Mothers were on call 24-7, and worked pretty hard, and slept very little. It didn’t quite dawn on me that I’ve have a new boss (or two, or three…) cracking the whip. Or that I’d be doing a hundred jobs at once. While drawing from the experience of every job I’ve ever had.
20 jobs spring to mind… all of these jobs I fulfill as a Mother. (Don’t get me started on the jobs I fulfill as a Wife & Writer. A post for another day.)
Fortunately my husband, after a full day’s work-work to bring home the bacon, also magically transforms into a Driver, Shopper and Chef (yep, it’s Daniel who fries up the eggs and bacon he brings home – every morning).
On top of these he is our Electrician, Plumber, Handy Man, Rugby Coach, Golf Coach, Soccer Coach, Cricket Coach, Cycling coach, Gardener, Pool Guy and… Horse. I told you he was wonderful, didn’t I?
Hang on a minute…it’s not just us as parents who are juggling multiple jobs. I’ve noticed Benjamin fancies himself in a number of careers already. In any one day, he can be a:
Scrambler (Dirt Bike Rider), Artist, Runner, Fireman, Cyclist, Paramedic, Receptionist, Cook, Rugby Player, Sweeper, Baker, Golfer, Doctor, Shopper, Handyman, Gardener, Singer, Actor…and he told me the other day, he wants to be a Ballerina! Ben also gives out a heap of instructions every day, which is of course what makes him THE BOSS.
Reminds me of a line from our all time favourite Dr. Seuss book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go: “Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act.”
What has been your experience of motherhood? What jobs do you find yourself doing on a daily basis? I’d love to hear…
1. Motherhood has a Way of Changing Your Priorities
When I was pregnant with Benjamin, I went to Antenatal classes with a brilliant IBCLC*. Rosemary Gauld stressed the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. So I asked my company for 6 months maternity leave (4 at half pay, and 2 with no pay) instead of the standard 4 months. They declined, and I resigned (after lots of number crunching with husband).
6 months quickly turned into a year, and there always seemed to be a better reason to stay home with Ben, than to return to work.
My hubby suggested I look into starting a part time job in February 2014. Ben would be 16 months by then. I found a great job that suited my skills through www.recruitmymom.co.za
The best part was that it was only 2 mornings a week. I lasted 2 months. Even 2 mornings a week away from my precious boy seemed like too much at the time. Turns out 16 months is not a good time to start a child at Daycare in terms of separation anxiety. I never got over the angst of leaving him at daycare in tears, even though his teachers sent me pictures of him happily playing minutes after I left. The daycare catered for small babies who started there at the age of 4 months through to 2 years, so invariably one or more of the children had snotty noses each day Ben was there. I landed up missing many days of work due to Ben getting sick, which meant I kept losing the thread of what I was trying to achieve in the position. My hubby and I decided together that this was just not working.
I realise more and more each day that I would actually be completely happy to never go back into the workforce again. It feels so much more special and meaningful to be here for Benjamin. We are also in a very fortunate position. As older parents (I’m 42, Daniel is 51), we have had more time than most parents to establish ourselves. I am extremely grateful that my husband is both willing and able to carry the expenses for all of us. Bless his cotton socks!
I’m also very excited to have found a way to start earning an income from home. I love that I can work around Benjamin’s schedule. I’ve been working on my book for a while, and the thing that’s been bothering me is the marketing of it. So I’m thrilled to have found a clever way to build my brand and earn while I learn. I’m honing my writing skills by writing articles on the net, while writing the book itself. It’s a win-win-win for me.
2. Motherhood has a Way of Changing Your Schedule
Another way my priorities have changed is how I allocate my time. My days are now filled with things Benjamin loves to do, allowing for nap and feeding times at reasonably predictable intervals. These intervals have changed as he grew, as they do.
At present, Ben is 2, and still enjoys a midday nap. So at lunchtime we settle in for quiet time together, as he feeds and naps. I have a blast with him in the morning and then look forward to our afternoon siesta. After nap time I’ve noticed Ben doesn’t like having much on the agenda. He’s happy to go for a walk, but he doesn’t want to drive anywhere.
If we do go out, we always make sure we are home by 6pm to give Ben time to settle, have dinner, bath and get to bed before 8pm. Evenings out are a thing of the past (for now). And to be perfectly honest, I don’t miss going out at night. I’m tired by then too. Have to admit I often fall asleep with him during his last feed of the day.
In a few months we’ll see a huge change in schedule, when Ben drops his daytime nap. This may even free up some evening time I’ve been told.
As with all ages and stages, nothing lasts forever. We just take it one day at a time, watching his cues and adapting as needed.
3. Motherhood Changes Your Relationship with Your Spouse
Does this one require any explanation? He he.
Shoo-ee… huge changes here… For one, as mentioned above, we don’t get to go out for dinner or dancing or drinks “after work” any more. If we do decide to go out for a meal, it’s to our child friendly restaurant, or one with a play area within view of the restaurant. Eating a meal “together” means tag-teaming, I eat, he plays, he eats, I play. Which means we really eat alone. I think there is an end in sight for this particular change though, as Ben is taking an increasing interest in eating food with us. Yay!
Our sleeping arrangements have changed hugely too. Young Benjamin is still sleeping with me in our bedroom, and Daniel sleeps in his daughter’s bedroom (my bonus daughter) during the week while Skyler’s at her Mom’s. That way he gets to sleep through the night instead of waking up with us for Benjamin’s feeds. Next year we will be building a new master bedroom onto our 2- bedroom house, and we will make a big thing of Ben moving into his very own room. And so this change is about to change too. (Daniel is going to miss watching whatever he wanted to on TV. He he.)
In our case, another huge change in our relationship is my growing understanding of parenthood. I questioned a lot of things Daniel did as a parent before I became one myself. What did I know? What a learning curve! He reminds me of these on a weekly basis. e.g. Remember how you said he wouldn’t watch TV before the age of 2? Remember how you said he wouldn’t eat any sweets. Ha ha ha ha. The jokes on me.
Of course, there’s also a deepening of your relationship when you have a child together. You are irrevocably yoked for life. Daniel was absolutely amazing in the delivery room. Ben was nearly a week late and I landed up being induced, so labour was no picnic. Daniel rose to the challenge, coaching me how to breath in the Entonox, encouraging me, cracking jokes to lighten the mood (well, the gynae found them funny). Jokes aside, his presence is what got me through it. In the final moments of labour I felt such an immense wave of love and gratitude for Daniel, and I knew our relationship would never be the same again. He is my ROCK.
4. Motherhood Changes Your Relationship with Your Parents
Becoming a parent taught me so much about my own parents, and their choices.
I realise every day how much respect I have for them, and how they brought us up. I ask my Mom’s advice about so many things, and am so grateful both my parents are still around to answer all the questions I have.
I know now why my Mom seems to need me more than I need her. I understand the depth of love she has for me. I understand the sacrifices she made for me. I appreciate her like never before.
I see how she relates to Benjamin, and it gives me a window into how she related to me as a child. It’s beautiful to watch their relationship growing.
My Dad unfortunately has a form of dementia (called Lewy Body Disease, similar to Parkinsons), and so he is not as involved with Benjamin as he would have been if I had him a few years ago. However, it is wonderful to see how he lights up when Ben is around.
Family time has become a massive priority for me, as I recognize the importance of giving Ben as much time with his Grandparents as possible while he is still blessed to have them in his life.
5. Motherhood Changes Your Friendship Circle
I’ve made heaps of new Mommy friends since I became a Mom. Some I even met at La Leche League while I was still pregnant. For the first year we all got together as often as possible and attempted to swop baby stories amidst constant interruptions while drinking cold coffees and wiping the sleep out of our eyes. We needed our time together, but it felt like we never completed a conversation, or even a sentence, so these friends were more like acquaintances.
In the second year, when we started having more “free” time to converse, some of these new friendships have deepened, and a smaller group of Moms, sharing common goals and similar parenting styles is emerging.
I’ve had very little time for my single friends or friends with older children, as my entire focus has become family, and of course is dictated by baby’s sleep patterns. Some of my older friends have kept in contact, but I’ve noticed that some have simply moved on, and showed no interest in my new life as a mother. I have day time available, that’s when they are working. They have evenings available, that’s when I’m sleeping. And never (or shall we seldom) the twain shall meet. Perhaps I can revisit these friendships when Ben gets a bit older. For now my life is full to the brim with Mommies and families.
6. Motherhood Changes Your Way of Being
No day is the same with Benjamin. Just as I think I’ve “mastered” his routine, it changes.
I have chosen to let go of my own way of being to allow for his.
I think I was more rigid, more opinionated before becoming Ben’s Mom. Now I’m more comfortable to take every day as it comes. I’m more flexible than I was before.
I willingly & happily put Ben’s needs before my own. It’s not all about me anymore, it’s about him. Is this what it means to love unconditionally?
7. Motherhood has a Way of Bringing Out Your Creative Side
As a little girl I loved making things. I loved painting pictures, and writing little poems. I even tried writing my first book when I was about 8 or 9 years old. It was about pots and pans that talked to each other. I think I still have it somewhere.
Somehow, somewhere along the way, I stopped being creative, I stopped using my imagination.
Motherhood is bringing that all back for me. In the early days, this baking thing happened to me… suddenly I was baking cakes and cupcakes, which has never been an interest of mine at all.
We’d put on music and dance together in the lounge.
When Ben was 9 months old, we started going to Top Tots, a mother and child workshop, and we still go once a week and play together. We sing and play musical instruments and do Arts and crafts. It’s fabulous. We added another mother and child workshop, Clamber Club, when Ben was 15 months. We get to play, sing, dance, do the actions to silly songs and conquer obstacle courses – wonderful stuff.
I had such fun planning Ben’s first and second birthday parties. My creativity went to the next level at Ben’s second party. We decided on a theme of one of his favourite books: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. I used all the food mentioned in the book as the snacks for the day. I acted out the book as if it was a play, showing the children exactly what the hungry caterpillar ate, and counting out each piece of fruit. I’m such a nerd. But the kids loved it and so did the Moms. After the story the children all painted and made their own caterpillars, made from egg boxes (with the help of their Moms of course).
One of the things I like most about being a Mom is being able to play like a child again. I hope I never lose this ability again. Looking at my Mom and Dad, I think I’m safe there.
I Just LOVE being a MOM!
* IBCLC – International Board Certified Lactation Consultant
I’d love to hear how motherhood has changed you. Join the conversation by adding a comment below.
1. Benjamin teaches me Patience… on our morning or evening walks Ben can sit on his little black bike for what feels like ages, waiting for cars to go by, so that he can have the speedbumps all to himself… and then what fun he has flying over them.
2. Benjamin teaches me to Pay Attention…if there’s one thing a toddler needs, it’s their parent’s or caregiver’s undivided attention. If I’m distracted and not paying Ben enough attention, he will make sure I know all about it!
3. Benjamin teaches me how to Go with the Flow. His young life is not ruled by time, schedules, rules and regulations. The first thing on his mind in the morning is not coffee, breakfast, getting ready for work, missing the traffic… but play. Nature is calling – and not in the way we mean it.
4. Benjamin teaches me that Joy Really is in the Journey & Not the Destination. We can start out on a walk to the beach, but if the garden along the way seems more appealing today, he’ll simply play there. The beach forgotten. No biggie.
5. Benjamin teaches me to Stop and Smell the Roses…or daisies or dandelions… to look, really look at the world & its beauty. To delight in the little things. To hear the birds tweeting, the planes overhead, the motor bikes in the distance. He doesn’t miss a thing.
Ben teaches me to Slow it down. Spend time in nature. Run. Play. Jump. Skip. Here & now is all that matters. Don’t miss this moment. Be. Here. Now.
6. Benjamin teaches me How to Get Over Pain. Fast. He demonstrates that when you hurt yourself, or someone hurts you by accident, all you need to do is have a good cry (sometimes), seek comfort & then dust yourself off. Forget about it, never mention it again. It’s over. No need to hold grudges or relate the tale to anyone.
Wow, imagine if we lived like that as adults.
7. Benjamin teaches me to Laugh at Life. Ben laughs, giggles and chortles at life & at himself. All day long. He whoops with joy. His sentences are coloured with hoorays, yippees and wows. Yeah!