The Tears of Every Other Weekend

By far the absolute worst part of being separated or divorced is having to share your children.  That is also the reason why I believe, many couples decide to stay together, rather than go through that painful process.

Watching your entire world drive off, while you stand and wave like a penguin from the Madagascar movie, with a big smile on your face, trying to hold back the tears till their out of sight.  Urgh!  There is nothing more hurtful and fearful than not being able to be with your children.

As a mother they’ve been a part of you since the start of their very existence. You’ve felt them grow, before anyone else had even laid eyes on them.  You were the first to hold them in your arms; look in their eyes and in that moment promised to keep them safe from this cruel world, whatever it takes.

Now you knowingly, (not-so-willingly) send them off every other weekend where you’re not in control of their environment.  Where you won’t be able to keep them safe; chase away their fears; tuck them in or make sure they’re warm; fed; happy… A mother was just not designed for that.

Regardless of what you’re doing to distract yourself from going completely insane during their time away, you’re constantly praying about your every concern.  The worst scenarios pop into your mind and you sometimes just have to make a quick call to check in.  You hear them in every sound, see them in every image and more often than not find yourself looking for them as you’re so used to their presence surrounding you.

The struggle starts when you being packing their bags for their weekend stay with dad.  What will they need?  It’s hot outside, so a few shorts and tees should be fine.  But what if it gets cold?  A sweater should do, or rather a set of winter clothes, just in case.   He might need his favourite pjs, ooh and he loves those shoes.  What about his favourite stuffed toy, his pillow?  I’m sure his dad has pillows…but this one is special.  You end up packing a bag your toddler can go travel the world with…for 2 days.  Just in case.

You try and squeeze in as many hugs and kisses, while watching the clock, wishing it would stop, just for a minute, an hour, a lifetime?

Then you hear the horn.  He’s at the gate.  Your heart sinks into your shoes.

The kids are excited!  Why wouldn’t they be?  Why does it hurt to see them overjoyed to be going to their dads’?  Is it perhaps, because it means leaving me behind?  Why does it have to be either or?  Why can’t it just be the way it’s supposed to be, with mother a father and their children in one house?

You shake the thought out of your head.  That is a battle already fought.  Now smile and toughen up and make the most of the few seconds you have left!

Last hugs and kisses and there they are, buckling up.  They grow up so fast.  Now I get to miss out on 2 days of that.

We’re all friendly, no hard feelings…apart from the fact that I hate giving you my children for the weekend.

Although I know he’s an excellent father, perfectly capable of taking care of his own children, I find myself giving him instructions like he’s some clueless teenager, babysitting for the first time.

There is just something about leaving your children in the care of another, (even their father) that just feels all, but normal for a mother.

He rolls his eyes at me, with reason.  They’ll be fine, I know.  I hope I will.

Here we go again…Madagascar penguin, just smile and wave.  Smile, wave and swallow your tears.

And then they’re gone…

Others will tell you:

  • “It will get easier.” – It will not.
    Every time you see his car pull in, you’ll get a knot in your stomach and it doesn’t disappear till you’re holding them in your arms again. That’s just the way it is.
  • “Enjoy your time off, get some rest.”
    If I wanted time away from my children I will arrange someone to take care of them for a few hours, but when it gets dark, I want them in my house, in their beds, where I can watch them sleep.
  • “Use this time to do something you never get to, with them around.
    They’re thinking: Go out with friends; go shopping; go for a spa day…
    In reality you end up: Cleaning your kids’ rooms, organising their closets, lying on their beds holding their favourite teddies and watching cartoons.

Once you’ve grown that little human there is just no going back from that, no switch to flip from Mommy-mode to Kids-Free.

So how does a mother survive weekends without their children?

I don’t know yet.

The tears of every other weekend

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The Pain of Divorce

I recently went through a separation and finally a divorce and the pain and heartache that comes with this journey is something no one can prepare you for.The pain of divorce

For many years we’ve been trying to “fix” our marriage, without success.  We’ve considered divorce before, but neither of us was willing to share our young son with the other.  So we scrapped the idea and carried on with life as we knew it, we had another beautiful baby boy and that temporarily shifted our focus from our own issues.  Of course we had good and bad times like all other couples and honestly, in our case the good or neutral outweighed the bad.  Why did we decide to divorce then?

We had come to a point where a lack of intimacy in our marriage led to a complete destruction thereof.  We are both very passionate; driven; goal oriented people and we seemed to have lost that in ourselves.  I remember telling him this in the most honest conversation we have ever had.  While crying my eyes out I told him that I couldn’t do this anymore, that we keep, “trying and trying” and we keep failing.  We kept making empty promises to one another without any follow through.  We were killing each other spirits.  We were best friends; a great team, but we were not lovers and had completely different needs.  I told him that we had to either seek professional help to assist us in our healing process, in order to truly work towards saving our marriage or we would have to let go.  Purely because we were doing more harm to one another with the accusations and regrets than good.

He decided that he didn’t want to see a professional as they were “a waste of time and money” and that we could figure things out by ourselves.  Having tried this for years, I knew it was a recipe for disaster and that in 6 months’ time, we’ll be repeating this conversation like the 6 months prior and the 6 months before that.  On our own, it couldn’t be done.
That day he moved to the other side of the house.  I clearly remember with every box, bag or piece of clothing he moved out of our bedroom, a piece of me ripped out, until there was nothing left.

For months we stayed together as two individuals sharing a home, meals, parental duties, but each turning into our own bedrooms at night.  It killed me.  I just wasn’t made for sleeping alone, or perhaps it was because I kept hoping he would just come back to bed.  I tried lingering in his room just a little too long with the kids sometimes.  Another time I pretended to fall asleep while we all watched a movie on his bed, expecting him to just let me be.  Nope, he woke me and sent me off to bed.  It is quite comical to think back on it now. Back then, it tore me to pieces.

A very good friend of mine suggested that maybe some time apart, really apart, was all we needed, for both of us to realize what we have and that perhaps we would both be willing to work harder towards saving our marriage.

He moved out…he never came back.

I was furious!  At her?  How could I be mad at her for giving advice that I had the choice to follow?  At him?  For not loving me enough to want to make our marriage work?  For our family not to mean enough to him to come back home?  At myself?  For thinking it was a good idea to let him leave in hopes he would return?

Soon my fury turned into hurt, SO MUCH hurt.  There were nights when I had panic attacks – for the first time in my life.   My chest feeling heavy, like I was lying under a ton of bricks, moments where I literally could not breathe.  I remember not being able to cry anymore, where I would find myself just staring into thin air, not sure about how much time had passed since I’ve been sitting there.

Nights when I would send message after message to him, trying to find out what went wrong, why he wasn’t willing to give us another shot, whether he ever really loved me, did I ever mean anything to him. What about the kids? How can we be so cruel to do this to them?

He would read my messages and just ignore it, no answer, no explanation, no band-aid for my broken heart. One thing was for sure, he was not going to give me any hope, not even false hope.  Now I appreciate it, back then I hated him for it.  Just give me a little glimpse of something, that there might be a speck of a chance, one day, someday…anything.  Nothing.

He was a good person, an amazing father, which I never denied.  I’m sure he was hurting too, if he was he never let it show.  He was much stronger than I thought, much stronger than me.

One day, for no specific reason, after crying myself to sleep, like so many times before, I woke up and just decided, NO MORE.  I cannot carry on like this.  I was half the size I use to be, always exhausted and went through life like a robot.  My kids deserve better than this. I deserved better.  I am a strong person and had to remind myself of that.  No man was worth my downfall, especially not at the expense of our children.

I started spending less time with the people that asked why we split up or whether I was coping and more time with the people that know ME, without him.  Those that didn’t see me as an extension of him or us as a couple, but that saw me for me and LIKED me for me.  Once I singled out these positive people that encouraged me when I was down, listened when I needed an ear and the rest of the time kept me in check when I was even for a moment considering throwing a pity party for myself, the pieces of my life started to fall back into place.

I could sleep in my bed again without one of the children to cuddle up with, just me and my furry little girl who’s purring was my lullaby for a very long time and some puffy pillows.

I learned a very valuable a lesson from a beautiful women that also went through the hurt of divorce and the struggle of being a single mother, Natasha Sutherland. She once told me “just because we’re divorced, doesn’t mean I have to stop loving him”.  This line was said to me many years before my divorce, in fact, I had only been married for a year at that point and it had no current value in my life, but it stuck with me.  I realized that I had to let go on my time; learn to be without him and accept it, on my time.  Perhaps I’ll never stop loving him, he was and will always be a large part of my life and that is okay too.  Whatever he feels; whatever decisions he makes, it doesn’t have to affect me.

My healing process happens  in my own time.

 

 

Fire in my Soul

Have you ever missed somebody so much that it physically hurts?Fire in my soul

I’ve recently started to experience that, and I find it most uncomfortable. Now I’m not talking about when a loved one goes on a long distance trip and you’ll be apart for a period of time. No, I’m talking about seeing that person drive away, knowing you’ll see them in a couple of hours, but feeling like they’ve just ripped your heart out and with every rotation of the wheels it get’s crushed on the tar.

Now I know, that is very graphic and to you, may sound a bit exaggerated, but truth be told it is NOT. When caring deeply for someone you cannot bear the thought of being away from them, even for a very short time. You won’t be able to focus on anything else. You find yourself looking at your phone regularly, very regularly, like every 2 minutes regularly! Wondering what they are doing, what they are thinking about, perhaps about you? Of course not! They’re not the one that is obsessed with being close to you, you are the total nut case tending toward stalking.

Has anyone experienced this before?

Where you’re suddenly motivated to do things you enjoy doing, but never made the time for, when you start thinking that, maybe you want more out of life and that you have forgotten how to dream, until this person awakened it in you. Someone who lights the fire in your soul and with every interaction adds fuel.

Does it sound foolish? It probably is.

But I think if you have someone in your life that you are 100% comfortable with (whether a lover, a friend, a spouse or family member), it is worth hanging on to that relationship. Someone that doesn’t help you to be the best version of you, but the only version of you. Where you can just be, do, think and feel what you truly are, without any pretenses or expectations.

Does that not sound like pure serenity?

 

Steak or Breastmilk?

Public breastfeeding has become quite a hefty subject lately with opinions on both ends pushing well into the extreme.

While some feel that breastfeeding should be done in private, others think nothing of whipping the breast out whenever and wherever their baby demands it. This has understandably become a very tender, debatable topic.

I, for one feel that a breastfeeding baby has just as much right to eat in, let’s say, a restaurant as any other customer.

Why would it be okay for grown-ups, toddlers and even bottle-fed babies to eat in restaurants, but breastfed babies are excluded from this list? That while the mother already has a hard enough time trying to give her baby the best she possibly can by breastfeeding, without being made to feel like a criminal for doing so.

Nobody is forced to watch another eat and I personally feel watching someone chew with their mouth open is much worse than seeing a nursing baby.

When asking around it seemed that more women, mothers non the less, feel offended by seeing another breastfeed than men do. They feel it has to do with self respect and respect for others and that their husbands wouldn’t want to look at another woman’s breast while trying to chew down his steak. However, when asking the husbands (not in the wives’ presence of course) they seem to not be bothered by it. One actually said “You have to realize a boob is more than a toy, someone’s health & growth depends on what comes out of it.” Smart man. 🙂

Some feel that they don’t have a problem with a mother nursing in public as long as they cover up. Now I used to feel the exact same way until my son was born in 2012. Although I was always well prepared with enough pumped milk and extras just in case, it has happened that he caught me off guard and I was forced to go feed in the car and heaven forbid…a bathroom. While sitting on that closed toilet seat, feeding my infant, I realized what I was doing. I was forcing my child to eat his lunch in a bathroom, a place where I would later tell him to not touch anything, because it is filthy! He deserved more than that. I respect myself as a mother and him as a human being too much to ever do that again. I feel the same way about covering up his face while he’s nursing, as to say that what he’s doing is wrong and embarrassing and has to be hidden. A breastfeeding mom said on Facebook that if you feel uncomfortable watching her baby eat, you’re welcome to collect a blanket from her to put over your face while you enjoy the rest of your meal. I agree 100%, he has just as much right to look around while nursing that you have while eating.

I made a suggestion on the La Leche League South Africa Facebook page, that perhaps “family oriented” restaurants should consider creating a “Breastfeeding Section” same as they have a “Smoking Section”. Not a little room where you’ll have to spend 15-40 minutes nursing, while the rest of your table enjoys their meal, but a section where breastfeeding moms and their families can enjoy their meals together – all of the family, including the baby that doesn’t order off the menu yet.

This received a very mixed reaction, while some thought it was a great idea, others feel that this suppresses breastfeeding even more. That breastfeeding should be normalized and everyone should learn to live with and actually appreciate it.

It was great to see moms have such passion about doing what is right for their children instead of caring what the world has to say about it.

I think we still have a long way to go in terms of breastfeeding in public, but I believe if we can get everyone to understand the importance thereof, perhaps they’ll be able to tolerate it to the point where they can actually appreciate it and applaud the mother for not giving up.

I might be more than a mom, but I am still a mother.

How do you feel about this? Leave us a comment below.

Who’s house is it anyway?

Having someone other than yourself, clean and do work in and around your house, is like getting married all over again.

You have to trust that person to respect your belongings and the space you live in, even when you’re not around to keep a watchful eye.

We’re talking Domestic Workers, Cleaning staff, Nannies or anyone else you choose to assist with your household duties.

I for one cannot live without my Memory, even though I have a better chance of communicating with my almost 2 year old, than with her. Whatever miscommunication we had that day, I’ll come home to a clean sink a made bed and most importantly…ironed and folded laundry! I might always only get a smile from her, when I try to explain EXACTLY how I want things done, but hey, at least I’m getting a smile. 🙂

But what happens when they decide to start doing things THEIR way?
As if to say: “It’s my job and I know better.”

Being the perfectionist I am, I struggle with this tremendously! As a mother I’ve learnt to overlook a few things when it comes to doing household chores, but moving things around that I have created a specific space for, isn’t one of them.

Sometimes I want to scream…”IT’S MY HOUSE AND YOU’LL DO IT THE WAY I WANT YOU TO!” That’s what my boss expects from me, isn’t it? But that will only get me all worked up and she’ll probably just smile at me, or give me that giggle where she throws my name in the middle “Hehe Steffie hehe.” Like she’s acknowledging the fact that I said something although she has absolutely no clue what it was.

Now I understand that she works for multiple families and that each has their own method of getting things done and that household items might have different places than in our home, but I have found things in some of the weirdest places. Like tweezers (as in for your eyebrows) in the utensil drawer. WHAT?! It’s shiny so let’s put it with the other shiny things?

Also, the destruction of kitchen appliances, and I mean everything from a kettle to a sandwich press.  Who knew the non-stick coating in a pan is part of the packaging? “Remove before first use.”

Here are but a few of the challenges I faced over the last few weeks:

  • A brand new jacket I bought for a friend’s son was washed and ironed, with the tag still on. Her response: She thought it was Quwin’s.(Keep in mind the size was 9-10yrs, my only son, Quwin is almost 2.)
  • Our brand-new sandwich press (used once) had it’s non-stick coating forcefully removed after I specifically said to not use steel wool, only a sponge. Her response: She didn’t know.
  • I reordered a few cupboards to ‘what I thought’ would be more practical for our family, Monday evening everything was back the way it used to be. Her response: Hehe Steffie hehe.
  • She has a way of hanging curtains so that you only have to look at them for the hooks to start falling off. It always looks as if I tried to ‘drape’ the curtains as a décor effect.

I then started thinking, wouldn’t it be great if you could send your domestic worker for training somewhere? I mean sure, common sense can’t be taught, but perhaps if certain things are explained to them in a way they understand, they’ll be able to do their jobs more sufficiently.

So I jumped to Google and searched for “Training for Domestic Workers” – Guess what, it exists! And I don’t mean hire a trained domestic through a company, which I guess is also great if you’re there to keep an eye. But having the person you already have working for you, someone you already know and trust, trained in the needed skills to complete their daily tasks successfully sounds like a winner to me.

I came across this site http://domesticguardians.co.za, they also do placements, but I skipped right to the training tab. Here they offer training on Cooking & Baking, Childminding & First Aid, Housekeeping & Life Skills AND English Communication course ding ding ding ding!!!

I have found the solution to my frustration!

Their website seems very professional and their prices very reasonable. So guess where Memory will be going for the next few Saturdays? Soon my house will be clean and she’ll be able to tell me exactly what she (hopefully) didn’t destroy that day.

If you own or know of any training companies that specialize in training for domestic workers, please post it in our comments below.

 

 

More Than Birth and Babies

Read this incredibly heartbreaking and heart warming story of a Labor Nurse.

ADVENTURES OF A LABOR NURSE

Perinatal nursing is sweet and magical and everything you think it would be.  But everyone only thinks of the birth and the babies.  No one ever thinks or talks about the pain of pregnancy, the heartbreak of infertility, or the difficulty of death.

I remember once I was working triage, and I seemed to be seeing patient after patient.  Of course, I didn’t think the charge nurse was helping me like she could have.  I felt swamped.   By lunchtime, I had finally cleared all the beds in triage and was finally going to eat breakfast when a patient walked through the door with a slew of family members.  As she filled out her paperwork, I gave the unit secretary a look and she smiled at me.  I was thinking that I was about to see my 7th patient in 6 hours for a “I’m bleeding when I wipe” issue.

The patient was…

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Dirty Dancing Mama!

As I sit here excited to start my first blog, I’m faced with the frustration of choosing a domain name. What I thought would be an easy task, a pebble in the road to become a “Mommy Blogger”, turned out to be quite the stepping stone.

I’m very much a perfectionist and believe that a name is as important as a location when trying to be successful in any kind of industry. I’m also a bit bossy, okay I’m a lot bossy! So when I decided to start a blog it was mainly for the reason to help “educate” pregnant women about certain aspects concerning birth to help ease the stress of the day for both mom and baby.

Sounds like a good idea right? But then the Pinky & the Brain in me took over and I thought, why stick to one subject when I can…TAKE OVER THE WORLD?

I decided that I cannot choose a theme for my blog as I have lots to say, in many different areas. Being very inspired by http://www.momtrepreneur.co.za I found that I didn’t have to stick to a single theme or two and that the web was open to all my self proclaimed “knowledge”. Once again, the world was mine for the taken.

And that’s how I got to the wonderful journey of choosing a domain…yeah right. After a brainstorming session with hubby, WE decided that I felt very passionate about the fact that I’m more than a mom. That all mothers are more than just mothers, we’re wives, friends, career women, keyword being WOMEN, we’re WOMEN! When you look past all the baby puke and dirty diaper smells, there’s still a ME inside here!

So I have it! My domain name will be something to do with Moms being more than moms…

My initial thoughts were, “More Than a Mom”-taken, “Not just a Mom”-taken, okay how about “Not just a Mommy”?-taken, “More Than a Mother”-taken! After spending almost two hours trying to find some form of my ideal domain name I gave up.

Being a dance studio owner and a great lover of the art, I defaulted back to what I’M all about…DANCING!

Since I wanted something that would express that we’re more than just mothers…I figured why not start with me? I’m a mother, and definitely one with skills I don’t want the world to overlook.

I love my family to bits, but there’s more to me. I’m a teacher, a business woman, a dancer…I’m a Dirty Dancing Mama!

By steffiefourie Posted in About