Difficult Days

I am grateful for frustrating difficult days, after a bout of complaining that is.

They push me out my comfort zone, engage passionate debate, intentional action and motivates change, in order create pockets of excellence and growth. Or maturation as my mother likes to say.

I allow the frustrating moments to happen once, then I need to do something about it or stop complaining.

Complaining without action is clutter resulting in complacency.

Frustration without focus is stagnation resulting in disengagement.

Turn the Negative ranting energy into motivation for improvement or turn away.

Muddle Monday Meltdown

Muddle Monday Meltdown

The other week when I was packing for my Cape Town trip, I thought I should pack some jewellery but couldn’t decide what jewellery to pack as I have some really lovely, sentimental pieces and I don’t wear them all as often as I should. I tend to stick to one thing and then forget I have others. Like my beautiful Tiffany earrings my sister gave me as a Maid of Honour gift in Barbados. I put them on then and there and have barely taken them off and well… she is about to celebrate her 7th Wedding Anniversary in a few months’ time. So I chucked the lot into my pretty little gold zip bag and popped it into my handbag. I have bags that go in bags. Yip, that’s me. Then I forgot about it.

On Monday morning I remembered where all my lovely necklaces were so fished around my “Mary Poppins” bag, in between the light bulbs, hair clips, hand sanitiser, bribery-sweets (you know the kind you magically bring out at the last second before a massive kiddy-meltdown erupts in some, usually public, venue, or to use as the proverbial carrot to get them in the car on time for school. Well that’s what I hear, certainly not what I do. No, never.) Purse, makeup bag, sunglasses bag, hairbrush, Mylocort Cream for when I got attacked by super strength mozzies, lemon & herb flavoured Cashew nuts in a bag, a tub of almonds home-baked by my Mom, my bag with my USB charger cables for iPhone/ iPad and my earphones, a zip lock bag with little honey sachets and raisins, last week’s doctors visit statement (I think they charge so much because of all the paper and ink they use for my  statements), some lip ice… yes I am still naming items in my bag. Take note as there is a quiz at the end. How many items in Bron’s bag can you name?

To my horror, this is what emerged from my little gold bag.

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All of my individually beautiful, sentimental, fine, fragile pieces of jewellery in one massive mushy muddle of a mess.

That pretty much was the perfect photo for my muddle of a Monday start.
An effing mess that looked like it was impossible to sort.

Still on a back foot of a particular tough week prior, I suddenly felt like everything in my life has also just been chucked into a bag, albeit a much bigger version, still gold though, and emerged so inter-twined, tangled and impossible to sort.

Now take a deep breath and brace yourself… you are about to enter my mind when it is in full on stress-induced, anxiety riddled mode…..

Work emails growing as fast as the minutes tick over. Aiden on school holidays so he is nagging me for this and that while I am trying to get out the door and off to work. He was trying to setup the PS4 (which was at Tebs house, almost all the time it seems) in our lounge when I notice the HDMI cable is broken. The little end thingie was obviously still stuck in the back of Teb’s TV. Aiden must have yanked the cable out when he went to fetch it. So I stomp up to their house to retrieve this little silver cap thingie thinking why on earth I thought it would be a good idea to send Aiden to get the console in the first place, then to think why on earth I got this bloody thigie as there was no conceivable way anyone was going to get all those little wires back into their holes. I haul out the black hole of a box labelled “Wires and Cables”, take a deep breath, and dive in. 20min later we are connected, Zama has arrived, late mind you, and now I can get out the door. But wait, Zama says her boy is sick can she leave early. I have a meeting to dial into between 2-4pm. I grit my teeth and mumble something inaudible under my breath about my day and message Teb’s Mom to see if she can cover for Zama and be with Aiden until I get back. On a conference call, with Aiden in the house? Bloody insane. (Funny story, so they forgot to dial me in or skype me or whatever. No biggie, these things happen.) We love Holidays. We love holidays… said no working Mom eva! Back to my stressy-fit… more work travel to plan for, a growing list of household maintenance to tend to; replacing special LED whatever wattage light bulbs (Hence the old ones in my bag – see method to my madness) trampoline dodgy support pole to fix, a cupboard door to fix, a Kreepy Krauly that is now on strike and not moving at all – to fix, and I can’t even skim the leaves as the pool net is broken. (More on the broken items in another post I’m going to call Aiden’s Accident Advent Calendar). Oh look, the estate agent, who is the only person I know who uses SMS, just SMS’ed (For those of us born post Nokia 3310 era, SMS – Short Message Service) to ask for a viewing at 3pm. Sure, why the hell not. I advise that “I won’t be at home but my son and hopefully my neighbour will be, knock yourself out”.  I whatsapp Zama to say please just focus on making house look nice for the viewing. 12.30pm – Estate Agent SMS’s to ask if they can come at 1.30m. I shoot off a quick whatsapp to Zama “Is the house okay? No hurricane came through?” Ok all good. At 1.35 they SMS to say sorry cancelled. (F*$!^ off) Ok where was I… Prescription medication to fill – which means remembering to phone the doctors and then time is just right so that you don’t end up at Dischem with the queue snaking round all the way to the self-medication side. Which happened, 4pm on a Monday, another one of my “What was I thinking moments”. I turned around and left to fetch Ava. More pressure as I have to sort in the morning, Aiden is on his last pill, and no one wants to be around to see what happens if we miss a night.  My watch, my dear watch is nagging at me to stand up, breath, do an activity… Does stressing out count? I can’t find that option under workout? I haven’t hit my Vitality rewards goals in 2 weeks, no bloody smoothies at all, and it looks like I’m all set for a hat trick this week too. With Aiden home, going to the gym was a pipe dream. Luckily one morning, Monday, when the wifi was on, the neighbour was there so that helped. I tried convincing him to come with me to gym. Nope. My persuasion skills have zero effect on him. Except l the one morning he did finally agree after I promised that there would be sooooo many other Highbury boys there as all their moms go to the gym. We arrived at the gym to find fokkin no one. Tumble weeds at the V Club. Aiden took one look and went NOPE. So back home we went. On Thursday I thought I hit the jackpot as the boys (now Tebs was also on holiday – yay, insert deadpan, not impressed face emoji here) decided, as I was about to leave, that they wanted to go with to Ava’s school holiday club. I quickly threw in the previous night’s uneaten burgers wrapped up (It would have been hot dogs, but well, you know… that whole Listeria thing), some stale popcorn and some no-name-brand shortbread biscuits for their “snack pack” and set off.  I had a fleeting moment of calmness as I snuck into the 7.15am Pilates class at 7.19. (oops.) I got home, showered and was about to head off to work at Westville when the phone rang. It was 8.23am. It was Ava’s school principal. They boys are bored and want to be fetched. FFS. Go back to the school where I had excitedly dropped the mob there 75 minutes earlier and collect the boys, only to find Ava also waiting with her bags to be taken home. I tried to get her to stay but the crocodile tears started and eventually there we were, all back home. Luckily Zama had arrived so I did a drop and wheel spin. My Headspace meditation app now wants me to sign up for some astronomical fee, and I can’t even download another free one because… of course… the wifi went out and I am not sure when its coming back. I have a Body Corporate AGM to prepare for; confirm venue and cost, write a Chairman’s report, get all the docs ready for a handover as I’ll no longer be Chairman as I will be moving (and there is so much to sort out and pack! I need boxes and need to get rid of all the broken shit around the house) and print out the financials to review and you think I could find a printer? The home one…. you guessed it also broken.  I head off to one of my offices to use their printer. (I forgot to mention that I no longer have an office, we shut our regional office down so my Pilates studio is now a storage facility. However due to foreseen circumstances of Aiden being at home, on holiday, I can’t work from there so Westville have kindly offered me a desk.) Guess what? Theirs was broken too. It’s Tuesday and the AGM is at 6pm (keep up with me here.) It’s now 3pm and I stop by my Mom’s to use her printer. My dear Mom even bought new toner cartridges and then guess what? Yip printer broken. I email the body corporate management company and ask them to print out a set of the documents for me. 2 Seconds later queue a power outage in Durban’s greater west area. I lost track myself a bit here, I was still rambling on with my TO DO list, which also included sorting out my car insurance switch which kicks in 1st April so I had to take my car to some place in Pinetown, in Old Main Road (arggggggg) for a check before it activated. All to save R200 a month. At this point I am willing to hand over every cent I have to make this all go away. Somewhere in all this I have no groceries, and did I mention no wifi?, so I go to the coffee shop up the road to put in some time and then hit Checkers afterwards before fetching Ava. But on my way in, while still in the parking lot the boys run up to me. WTF? “I thought you were with Teb’s Mom at his school party” I say all stressed out and annoyed now. Long story short (I know, the irony right?) They told Teb’s Mom it was fine for them to stay with me, I told them to go back to Teb’s mom and go home but instead they just ended up running around the shopping centre! If I hadn’t phoned the Mom to ask her to decipher some random message she sent me, I wouldn’t have known that she was already home and the boys were running amok. I could have left the coffee shop none the wiser. I find the boys, sit them down at my table and in between work calls, I give them such a lecture that I think the shop owner also found a chair, sat down and apologised. I pack up my laptop, storm out of there with the sounds of whiny, tearful boys crying sorry and that they are hungry. “Tough!” I say. “You can eat bread at home. Lets’ go!” Of course, I was meant to stop and get groceries so I think they ate bread crusts. And back to the Chairman thing, trying to do a handover , along with a new contractor starting and the garden service guy, the same guy who threatened to sue me personally for terminating his contract, while simultaneously pestering me on whatsapp to ask if I can rethink my decision (Haha, yes sure, would love to have your professional services back, that whole you being an arse, and trying to sue me.. well lets just ignore all that) has taken it upon himself to hold our gate access remote hostage, only to return it to us on payment of an invoice which shouldn’t have been sent as we pay him in advance each month, not arrears. I mean really… THIS WEEK SUCKED! Oh, and look at that… emails have reached an all time high of 258! Not too far off my heart rate I am sure when I called Zama to check on things on the home front, only to hear in the background Aiden yelling “The trampoline snapped in half” Well on the bright side one less thing to fix.

The above hectically long paragraph, which I did on purpose, without any neat, clear breaks, and jumped around from item and day and back again, is what happens when I let anxiety get the better of me. Like the photo of my jewellery all muddled together in a huge pile, my brain takes all my thoughts and dumps them in a huge pile without any order or care, making even the littlest thing feel completely overwhelming and daunting.

I started out the week yelling at my boy “No I did not lie to you, I didn’t go to the gym, I sat in the car park, in my car and cried for 20min instead”, in front of my neighbour mind you, who was in my lounge using the wifi, who suddenly hurriedly said her goodbyes.

But I managed to bring myself towards myself and with some sound advice from friends and family, I decided;

to be kinder to myself,
not be so hard on myself,
ask for help,
accept that sometimes I do feel overwhelmed and out of control and that that’s okay.

Sometimes the things we have to deal with may seem like a huge mountain to climb, impossible even. But if you take some time out, breath, meditate even, (finally managed to download the Calm app when the wifi came home) and ask Zama to come to work on a Friday to watch to the kids in order to give me a break, I managed to end the week off  with a glass of wine and some home-made sweet potato fries having sorted pretty much all of my TO DO list.

Oh, and I finally unravelled each precious piece of jewellery, and they are back in their respective little hooks, all in order.

Perfectly Sorted.
Bron

PS. How many items can you name in my bag… without scrolling up??

Sometimes-at-home-sometimes-working Mom

Sometimes-at-home-sometimes-working Mom

Every year, in January, when Zama is back from her well-deserved break and the holiday clubs / playschools are open again, I take the week off.

I go to gym at a reasonable hour, hanging around afterwards sipping on extra nutritious, extra vitamin loaded, extra expensive smoothies with my girlfriends. I plan little DIY projects around the house, pinning items to my home inspiration boards on Pinterest. I organise lunches with other friends with kids and coffee dates (even though I haven’t had coffee in over 10 years, it doesn’t sound right saying let’s meet for a tea). I browse the make-up isle at Dischem and don’t actually buy anything from the self-medication section, you know, just to see if it can be done and that you can walk out there without spending a quarter of your salary each time.  I watch Netflix, wait for it, during the day! I sometimes even watch a bit of reality TV on E! (Yes, I do, I am not afraid to admit it. It’s my guilty pleasure) I have dinner cooked from scratch before 3pm. My fridge and freezer are cleaned, categorised and organised. I arrange play dates for the kids if school has not opened yet and take them out for a treat here and there. I realised yesterday, driving down Field’s Hill with the kids that it was the first time I had ventured outside Hillcrest in 2 weeks! I play games and puzzled with them. I make a barbie wardrobe out of shoes boxes and paperclips. We watch Shark Tale, again, and listen to the Frozen soundtrack, again.

I pretend, for a week, that I am a stay-at-home Mom.

Why do I do this?

Ever since I became a Mom, I have struggled wit the guilt I know all of us are straddled with as soon as we hear our new born cry.  I felt like the moment I gave birth, I broke in two pieces. The ME and the MOM. And without any epidurals or painkillers I literally felt it too.  It’s a constant struggle to get the pieces all back together, in the right places. Sometimes there are way more MOM pieces than ME, sometimes there is a big corner piece of ME needed, required in fact, to be there in order for the rest of the pieces to stick together, sometimes by sticky tape, glue, Prestik, other pieces by nails or double-sided tape. Tip – double-sided tape does not work well in Durban’s humidity. It will eventually fall off the wall, guaranteed! And, of course, I will never be how I was BC (Before Children), but that is not a bad thing. The problem for me is when I try and do this puzzle as I used to be. Instead I realised that it is a new puzzle, and once I figured that out, the pieces have started slotting in a lot easier.

My MOM pieces wanted me to stay at home. My ME pieces felt like that wasn’t enough and that I needed to work, to have my independence, to get fulfilment outside the home. Now I know that for a lot of Moms there is no choice and you have to go back to work. And for others who want to go back, they can’t find employment. Nothing is easy or simple, cut and dried, black and white. Nothing. Ever.

For Aiden’s first 18 months I was in a fortunate position to be able to be at home with him. But that didn’t end up being the lovely “Stay-at-home Mom” dream I had envisioned. I struggled. I lost all of my ME pieces. I ended up with post-natal depression.

Then I went back to work, full time, and I struggled. I  felt I was losing all of my MOM pieces.

When I had Ava-Jane I didn’t want my first experience to be repeated. I worked hard to get my head right, and built a good support system in place with family and friends. I got a bit more balance, started working out at the gym, taking Ava to play groups, making friends. I had 6 months maternity leave, and I loved it. I really loved it. Then I had to go back to work and I was torn. Did I want to go back? But this time around I didn’t have a choice. Like most families in SA, we needed 2 incomes. It was the classic “can’t have what you want, don’t want what you have” scenario.

What changed for me was meeting an iconic woman, who created very successful business in her 40’s, with 3 kids. We were at her estate, in front of the fireplace, with her butler filling up our glasses of wine, listening to her stories. There were so many stories. Then and there I decided that I wanted to be a woman my children could be proud of. I wanted to be a woman that I could be proud of. One day I want to be in my 80’s, surrounded by loved ones, friends, colleagues, sitting in front of my fireplace with stories to tell. It dawned on me that it didn’t have to be either or. It could be both. ME and MOM.

I could be both, and here’s the thing, if I ALLOWED myself to be both.
I am a MOM and I am ME – new and improved ME

I am more assertive, decisive and mentally stronger. Try 5 days in a row of nagging on a professional level by a highly sensitive, strong-willed 7 year old, with ADHD, and mood swings to rival the worst PMS ever, like ever. And you have to be decisive as kids don’t respond well to “I don’t know, let me think about it, I’ll decide later”. They want answers dammit hell, like yesterday. I procrastinate far less. Trust me, if you leave it until later tonight, the kids WILL get sick, and/or get second winds and obliterate any hope of you finishing that project or email or report. Do it now or forever hold your peace. And I can function to an acceptable level on 5 hours of broken sleep. With these updated skills honed and fine-tuned, they are being put to good use in the work place.

It has taken me a long time to be comfortable with being a working mom and I still have times when I feel guilty at work that I am not home and guilty at home that I am not at work. I am not sure that goes away, but it is manageable. I love my family. I love my job. They are both demanding and busy and stressful. Both give me joy and fulfillment.

So once a year, for a week, I pretend I am a stay-at-home Mom, so I can be thankful for what I have and thankful for the opportunities in my life before I start another year of being a  “sometimes -at-home-sometimes-working-mom”.

Bron