When a new year starts, it is usually with loads of enthusiasm after a well deserved rest. It also goes hand in hand with good intentions of loosing weight, getting fit, being more organised, stress less, write that book, get that business off the ground, learn to say “no”, laugh more, cry less, etc, etc. When I start writing in my new diary, the year seems so endlessly long and unpredictable.
By the August holiday I take a sigh of relief because it would have been a hectic few months and it’s a good opportunity to re-load those flat batteries. And the next thing you know November is biting at your heels and the month is gobbled up by dinners and year-end functions and concerts and prizegivings and you function on auto-pilot (and coffee??) to get through it all. I always wondered why it is called “the silly season”? Every November reminds me exactly why!
On our way back from carols by candlelight at school last week, we drove past a house covered in Christmas lights. It reminded me of the five Christmases we spent in the UK. The markets, Oxford street’s amazing lights, the window decorations, Hamleys toy store and the huge, real Christmas tree in our office in London. Not to forget my own town, St Albans’ festive looking high street, Christmas mince pies and brandy cream, the suburban house decorations, Christmas songs on the radio and the lake which froze up from the cold. Christmas in South Africa doesn’t quite have the same “feel” and it’s with fondness that I now remember those times.
But once we have been to the annual pantomime at Joburg Theatre, for our family, the Festive Season has begun. The kids are playing their Christmas CD’s and we have started wrapping presents and making cards. This year’s Pantomime was Aladdin, starring my favourite radio personality, Jeremy Mansfield (Oh how I miss him on 94.7 Christmas wish in the mornings). The show had a Chinese theme and the adult humour, as always, was very sharp. For those of you who have seen it, my favourite part was the limo parked on the stage off loading guests for the Gupta wedding. It was after all, one of the biggest news stories of the year! An old school friend, Roelof Colyn, was the musical director and it was so awesome to see him again. What a passionate and talented guy.
So yes, Christmas is on our doorstep and I cannot wait to step onto the sandy beaches of Mosselbay in a few day’s time. Our first December holiday since 2000!
Here’s wishing you and your families a blessed Christmas and all of the best for 2014.
And stuff New Year’s resolution the length of my arm. I just want to be the best person I can be!
Oscar Pistorius kills his girlfriends, Joost van der Westhuizen is miraculously cure by a wonder doctor, innocent people are brutally in a shopping centre in Kenya. Juju falls off his ANC youth league throne, but continuous to try and start his own political party. Nelson Mandela has a near death experience when his ambulance breaks down on a highway on a cold winters night, miles away from any hospital. And our highly respected (not!!) president lets other people take the fall for the Gupta wedding plane debacle.
My own 2013 was a rollercoaster ride of disappointments, tears of joy and sadness, and also many happy times. And also a year of valuable life lessons learnt. Many new friends entered my life. Some I think will probably only be short term friendships and end once our children change schools in 2014. But that’s OK, because we all support and value each other now. There are friends who stayed and friends who moved away and left a big hole in my heart. There are friendships from years ago rekindled. There are long distance friendships which have survived the many miles of oceans and those that are slowly fading into the memory drawers of my mind. These things happen and I will always treasure the special times we shared.
The difficult ones to deal with were the friends who didn’t value our friendship in the same way as I did. Who moved on the moment something more exciting crossed their paths. The ones who had some kind of agenda apart from just being there for each other and having a laugh and debating our purpose as stay-at-home moms. The friends who had ulterior motives and who ended up just being nosy and vindictive. The ones who make up excuses and are never there when you really need someone to lean on. The friends who tried to break me down in order to feel better about themselves, The friends who broke trust and wore masks and kept pinching pinching the same spot. Eventually the pinching leaves an ugly purple bruise. But you know what? Those bruises thankfully heal very quickly.
My friend Marlize, a journalist, posted the funniest picture on her facebook page. I’d like to share it with you –
Careful, or you will end up in my novel.
So thank you to the bad, the good, the mad the happy and the sad people in my life. Thank you to odd and interesting family members, old friends, ex-friends, current friends and new friends. You supply me with endless material for blogs and books which you can all one day download onto your Kindles or buy off the shelves of Exclusive Books.
And maybe, just maybe you will recognise yourselves somewhere on one of those pages………
Sentimental? Yes, unfortunately I am. To this day I cannot believe that all my gymnastics medals are nowhere to be found. I have shoe boxes filled with old photos, letters, special birthday cards and memorabilia. Just the other day I found my primary school prefect badge which was always worn with another little broach – the old South African flag. One of my old primary school friends couldn’t believe I still had that little “oranje, blanje blou”, flag!! I’ve kept a diary since 1989, so 24 diaries are packed in a crate in our spare bedroom cupboard. Whether I would one day want my girls to read them all is debatable, but hey, how can I ever get rid of something like that!
About a month ago we finally started renovating our main bedroom ensuite bathroom. A big yellow skip was put on our pavement for all the old rubbish to be dumped in. At the same time Andries decided it was also time to start sorting through boxes and boxes of stuff that has been stored in our garage for more than a year. Boxes that don’t belong to us. It was a good thing that I wasn’t there that Saturday to help as I’m sure many things would not have made their way to the yellow tip on the pavement! Empty letterheads from 20 years ago, soaps, towels with price tags on, encyclopaedia’s, folders with matric exam papers in, LP’s varying from Pop Shop to Cora Marie to Richard Clayderman, a walking frame, dolls, pocket knives. Unfortunately a lot of linen had to be thrown away as the boxes got wet against the one wall and they were covered in green-black mould. (Believe it or not, but there are actually mushrooms growing out the wall!)
As the sun went down on that Saturday, there suddenly was in influx of local people in our tip. The bush telegraph must have gone round that there might be some valuable items in a tip in Acacia Road! How ironic, I thought. How one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure….. Items that have no value or use for us, is exactly what another person was looking for or is in desperate need of. The next morning there was nothing but broken tiles, empty boxes, scraps of paper and a torn carpet under felt left inside the stomach of the tip.
It makes me sad to think that most things I so dearly and desperately hold on to will probably have no value to my girls. And decades of old diaries and shoe boxes of memorabilia will also land up in some strangers’ house displayed as ornaments or used as a doorstop.
But that’s OK. When I am no longer around, I won’t be needing all the stuff anyway. And I like the thought of my sentimental “junk” being a treasure to someone else.
I sometimes wish I could remember half the things my girls sometimes say, come up with, try to make sense of. How did Adam and Eve get born? Why do boys wear ballet shoes? When did you and Mommy smooch for the first time?
We were driving in the car one morning, Kelly Clarksons’ “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, playing on the radio. I thought Cailin was going to start singing along, as it’s one of her favourites, but instead,
“Mommy, sweeties can’t kill you, so it will actually make you stronger.”
Oh, the logic of a child. I didn’t think she’d get it if I explained to her that Kelly was singing about a love gone wrong. A love that obviously let her down, but instead of going to pieces she stood up and believed she was a better person. The experience made her a stronger person. So my explanation? Trying to turn this conversation into a lesson, was,
“Cailin, what she means is that hard work won’t kill you, it will make you a stronger person.”
In my rearview mirrow I could see her thinking it over.
“Mommy, you work hard”,
“Why do you say that?”
I wanted to know inquisitively.
“Because you take me to school and you drive me to places and you take me to ballet and you help me with homework”.
“Thank you, Cailin, It is sometimes hard work, but I do enjoy doing those things for you and your sister”,
I replied. My heart bursting with appreciation.
So, only last week, I dragged the whole family to Stuttafords in SandtonCity, in search of the perfect GAP jean. The first challenge was of course finding my size. They had tons of different styles in sizes 26 and 27 – way too small for me. Who on earth wears a size 26?! Or was the universe just trying to tell me something? Anyway, so Cailin accompanied me to the minute dressing room where I proceeded to break into a sweat trying to get those perfect jeans over my hips.
Cailin says inoccently enthusiastic. Eish. Now that is a lesson in how NOT to get into a pair of jeans. On our way home, the girls talked about food, and Cailin said,
“Mommy, if you eat too much food you will get fat, hey?”
“And if you eat too many sweets and chips and the wrong types of food.”
I replied. Another opportunity for another lesson in life.
“Am I fat?”,
I asked, a little worried. Worried that my girls are already concerned about “fat” at their age. And wondering what their idea was of “fat.”
“No you are not”,
Comes the answer as if to say “why would you even ask”.
So off I rushed to my local Woolies, on 14th Ave, this morning. The shop was quiet and fully stocked – ideal shopping conditions for me. There were specials on mince and chicken and pasta sauce and I found a freshly baked, out of the oven Apple Crumble muffin. (Which, I might add, is not as yummy as the ones they sell at Seattle Coffee )
In walks a lady with an African Grey on her shoulder. And all I can think of is the poop that, pretty soon, might actually be running down her tracksuit top and into her expensive handbag. If this happens, will she notice and wipe it off with a tissue? Or will she walk around with white poop on her shoulder for the rest of the day? Nice… Then there was a nice looking man, hastily scanning the food fridge behind me. Clearly he doesn’t shop there often, or his newly-given-birth-wife gave him a very confusing shopping list from her hospital bed. By the way, if you don’t know this about me yet, I amuse myself sometimes by making up stories of strangers who intrigue me……
The cashier ringing up my groceries is clearly in training as he packed, unpacked, and repacked my groceries. But hey, we all have to learn sometime….
“Why do I have this card?”
remarks an elderly man at the cashier next to me. Oh boy, here we go, I think to myself. So the cashier kindly explains that with the Woolworths Reward card you get discount on certain items.
“But everything is so expensive here,”
he continues whilst paying for his bag of groceries.
“And the quality is the same as at other shops.”
I was soooo tempted to ask him what he was then doing at MY local opens-at-8:00-for-your-convencience-Woolies. Afterall there is a Seven Eleven conveniently down the road. Which opens at 7, even earlier than Woolies. Where his tub of cream (the only item I could see through the green bag) was going to be much cheaper and of the same quality. (According to his logic of course) I had to bite my tongue soooo hard! This afterall had nothing to do with me. As he left, I turned around to the cashier,
“Why does he shop here if he thinks it is so expensive? People can be stupid sometimes”
The beautiful young girl just gave me a Colgate smile and said,
“And so early in the morning as well.”
Anyway, the carguard was sweeping the pavement, which I’m sure is not his job, and asked if he could carry my two shopping bags. I nodded and he made sure everything was out of the trolly. As I drove off, the African Grey lady reversed her fancy Audi Q7 over the pavement. And she still had this grey bird on her shoulder.
I just started giggling. What a bizarre start to my morning!!
Last night, while Andries was in an SAA Boeing somewhere over deepest, darkest Africa, I was doing all the things he usually does.
I sat with both girls at bedtime, asking them about their day. I took the trays to the kitchen, let Roxy (our boerboel) into the house, locked the back door, switched on the house alarm and turned on the gas heater. After watching two episodes of Revenge, I turned off the computer, checked on the girls and retired to our bedroom. Alone.
I’ve always been an independent person on many levels. I am the worst delegator ever and tend to break my back doing things myself, rather than, well …. delegating. Hence my concern about being chosen chairperson of Jessica’s school’s Moms committee, but that is a story for another day! I always joke and say during the week I’m a single mom. It’s the price you pay for being married to a hardworking, ambitious perfectionist. It took me years to adapt and accept that reality, but I got there eventually. And yes, I could easily have a soaring career as an events coordinator, cocktailing at the Saxon and rubbing shoulders with the Edith Venter’s of Johannesburg. But the thought of a 20-something au pair being more of a mother to my children to me, is just too much to bare. First milk teeth falling out, ballet rehearsals, school friends’ parties, doing homework, a first crush….. No. So with one parent being in Europe for two weeks, I an now wearing the night-time-weekend-dad-hat too.
But that put aside, last night I struggled to settle. Of course I loved being able to catch up on Revenge while sipping sweet Jeripigo in front of the warm heater. And having a Queen size bed all to myself is a bit of a luxury. But without Andries it’s like the balance of our family is “off”. The harmony slightly out of tune. And I wonder how my “permanently” singe-mom friends actually do it alone. Or moms who have husband who for weeks work in unusual place like Angola and Kenya and Dar es Salaam.
Anyway, part of me is also sad about the fact that he is going to the London without me. England was “our place”. Where we lived and worked and laughed and cried and tasted our first snow and and got excited about the daffodils announcing spring. Where we walked the streets of London until our muscles ached and where St Paul’s Cathedral just became another building I could see from my desk. On the trains we use to smile when we heard people speaking Afrikaans and a place where we would pay nearly £2 for a can of Cream Soda all the way from South Africa.
He didn’t take a camera, he never does. But I guess St Pauls’ Cathedral and Blackfriars station and Covent Garden looks exactly like it did when I last saw it 7 years ago…..