I have been asked to participate in the LG Back to School Campaign. You can read all about it on my Reviews Blog: http://www.tertia.org/reviews/2016/01/seeing-how-the-other-half-lives.html
I have been asked to participate in the LG Back to School Campaign. You can read all about it on my Reviews Blog: http://www.tertia.org/reviews/2016/01/seeing-how-the-other-half-lives.html
Yesterday we dropped Happiness and Lwando off at the taxi rank after work and as she is getting out the car Max says to her "Happiness, I must just say, you have a very nice son". Hearing yourself in your six year's voice is very funny/weird. But Max is right, Happiness does have a very nice son.
Lwando has come to visit us for the past few days as his usual care giver (his granny) is away at the moment and Happiness has no one else to look after him. Finding someone who is willing and able to take care of Lwando while Happiness is at work is actually quite a big problem and one that we are not sure how to solve. The problem is that he needs specialize care. At the moment, only Happiness and her mother are able to feed him. Because of his cerebral palsy, he is unable to easily swallow. Which means he doesn't want to eat so you need to be both gentle and firm to get him to eat. You need patience and kindness. On the rare occasion someone else has taken care of Lwando during the day, Happiness comes home to find Lwando starving because the person couldn't / wouldn't get him to eat. Finding someone to take care of Lwando for next year or the year thereafter is a big problem. Happiness's mom is getting old, she wants to move to the Eastern Cape to retire. She hasn't been well this past year. Happiness says that in the area she lives there is a lot of alcohol abuse, so to find someone who is both willing and capable (and sober!) to look after her son is a huge problem. There aren't any special needs schools in her area. I am feeling quite desperate for her actually. To be poor, and uneducated, and unsupported (Lwando's father does not support Happiness at all, not emotionally, practically or financially) and the mother of a special needs child is such a huge challenge. It's a massive dose of perspective witnessing her struggle. You / we think we have problems.... :(
I have to say, I got a bit of a fright when I saw Lwando this time. He is a gorgeous, beautiful boy and so friendly and happy, but he is more disabled than I realized. As he gets older, his disabilities become more obvious. All four of his limbs are affected. He is a tiny, tiny little thing. Like a bird.
What a beautiful boy!
Having Happiness and Lwando come into my life has made me realize like never before the absolute privilege that money / resources gives you. And how the lack of it is so severely limiting. When my child is sick, I whatsapp my wonderful paediatrician and arrange an appointment for that morning. I bundle my child in my car, drive 5 minutes to his rooms, wait for 5 minutes in the waiting room, get expert advice, get whatever medicine I need and off I go home again. If I don't understand something, I can ask or I can google it. I can see specialists, therapists etc when it suits me. My privileged position means that I am able to access all these services because I can afford it. The difference between public and private healthcare in South Africa is so stark. Happiness has to see if she has money for the taxi to get to the government hospital, where she has to sit in the waiting room all day, shifting from one chair to another in the queue, missing a day of work. Or she has to go to the local clinic where if she is lucky she gets seen by midday, but sometimes is turned away. Luckily she is able to access free healthcare through the government hospital and clinic network, but it is an extremely arduous process. The staff are over-worked, over-stretched and on a limited budget. The facilities are less than ideal. The doctors in the government hospital network are very skilled, but they are so stretched. The nurses even more so. There isn't always the time and patience to explain things in a way that an anxious, unsure mom might understand. Happiness asked me if I thought he would get better one day, it was such a hard question. The truth is although he might get more competent, he will most likely never be able to live independently. Lwando has spastic and dystonic quadriplegia due to cerebral palsy. This was the result of the MRI he had done earlier in the year.
I do what I can of course. I phone the hospital or email the doctor to try to help Happiness understand the information she has been given. I give her time off work to go to the hospital or take him to physio. I pay her the best salary I can afford. But at the end of the day, she is his mother. She is the one that has to care for him for the rest of his life. She has limited skills, limited resources, limited access to care and absolutely no support. It's a huge deal. The future looms large and quite scary.
But focusing on today, the most important thing for the next few years is to find good day care facilities for Lwando so that Happiness can carry on working to support her family (she has another son who is 13). There must be a school or a day care or a stay-at-home person that can take care of him during the day. As a non-verbal disabled child he is so much more vulnerable to potential abuse or neglect, which is why I feel so strongly about him being cared for properly during the day. As you know, I started a fund raiser for Lwando so that we can support him by buying him a wheel chair when he is older, but I would like to extend that to get financial support to pay for schooling for him. If anyone has any ideas about who / where could take care of him during the day, I would love to hear. Remember that Happiness relies on public transport to get around so we need a solution close to Durbanville.
For those who want to help in other ways, Lwando's Go Fund Me page is still up: https://www.gofundme.com/ekkoro
Previous blog post: http://www.tertia.org/so_close/2014/09/happiness-and-lwando.html
Max will more than likely need to repeat Grade R next year. When the idea was first discussed a few months ago, I felt really sad. Sad for my boy who would have to stay behind while all his friends moved on, and a little bit sad for me too. But once I got over my sadness, I felt a sense of relief. I firmly believe that what Max needs is time, and repeating the year will give him more time. He has no problem intellectually, but he needs time to catch up to his peers. Despite great progress this year and massive improvement in many areas, he is not quite there yet. And even though I get brief stabbing ouchies in my heart when I see the everyone's excitement about their kids getting new school uniforms, hearing about the graduation evening that my son won't be attending, I know this is the best thing for Max.
(If any of the parents read my blog, please don't stop being excited about your son/daughter going to Grade 1, or feel you have to act differently around me/us. I am excited for you! I am just a tiny bit sad for us, we are going to miss you very much.)
Max is doing really well. In fact, some things he is ahead of the curve at. Maths, shapes, measurement for example, he is really good at. He is also good at the physical milestones. Speech is obviously behind, but we have made massive progress there, he is doing so well. Art.... not so much.
I had a good giggle when I saw these pictures hanging on the wall at school. I used to get heart sore when I saw Max's pictures compared to the other kids artwork because it made his differences so visual and obvious, but now I just smile. Art is just not his thing.
PS how AWESOME are some of these portraits! Can you tell which ones were drawn by girls?
I want to try and describe a feeling to you, let me try to describe it by using different scenarios.
Imagine that feeling you would get if you tried really hard at something, something that meant a lot to you, something that you really loved, lets say drawing or painting. One day the art teacher holds up your painting or drawing to the rest of the class and says "Class, take a look at this wonderful picture. Notice the lines and the colours and shapes. This is excellent, you should all strive to do work like this". Imagine that proud, burny, full, scary, elated, explosive feeling you have in your heart when you think to yourself "maybe I *am* really good at this"
Imagine the feeling when you have secretly liked a boy or a girl from afar for ages. They don't know you exist, but you think about them all the time. You like them so much that it almost hurts, but you wouldn't ever dream of hoping they would ever notice you. And then one day as you are waiting in line, the boy or girl turns around and looks at you, really looks at you, and smiles. Directly at you. Only for you. Imagine that wonderful, scary, full, elated, proud, excited feeling you have in your heart at that moment. The exciting/scary thought that maybe, just maybe, there is hope.
That feeling there - that feeling of being so excited/hopeful/joyful/elated that it is almost scary, that is the feeling I get when I see Max do things that might seem completely normal / insignificant to outsiders.
The other day Max told me a story that took about 10 minutes to tell. It was a typical child fantasy story that, truth be told, was pretty boring by the 6th or 7th minute, but my heart was racing behind my calm smile and nodding head because OMG! MY CHILD JUST SPOKE FOR 10 MINUTES!!! He told a clear, intelligible story for 10 minutes that even someone who didn't know him would be able to follow and understand perfectly. Even as recently as a year ago, I was worried he would ever be able to speak properly. I wanted to cry, I was so proud of him. The feeling in my heart when he does things like that is so huge, it feels like my heart is going to explode out of my body.
On Sunday, after almost 3 years of swimming lessons (and lots of special therapy to deal with his issues), and a point blank refusal to even contemplate the possibility that he might one day be able to swim he just suddenly 'got it' on Sunday. All by himself. O.M.G. You don't understand how excited/proud/elated I was.
Look at him go!
There are so many examples I could share. Glimpses of 'normal' that are almost too scary to believe. Normal, ordinary 6 year things that make me so so so hopeful that he is very quickly catching up to his peers to the point where he can comfortably find his groove.
He has worked so hard for this. All his 'village' have - I am so thankful to his teachers, the OT, the speech therapist, my family and friends and everyone else who 'gets' him. And especially to his brother and sister who have had to exercise a lot of patience and understanding.
Max is an awesome, quirky, funny, loving, handsome, charming little boy and it makes me so happy to see him grow and develop like this. All we want is for our children to be happy, and Max certainly is a happy chap. And happy children = happy mom.
PS I know people say "he will be fine" and of course he will be. He is and will be fine because I will do whatever it takes to make sure he is "fine", whatever "fine" is for him. But I want him to be more than "fine", I want him to be happy, I want him to be proud of himself, I want him to like himself and I want others to like him. I want him to have friends, I want him to feel part of a group, even if that group is just two people. Because every little boy needs to have friends who like him and want to be with him.
Life is hard, we know that. It is hard for everyone, no one is exempt from the knocks, bruises and challenges of life. But at the end of the day, as a parent what you want is for your child to hopefully navigate life with as few bumps, bruises and challenges as possible. Life is hard enough with having the deck stacked against you, no matter how good or bad that deck is.
I am feeling a little annoyed and a little ranty. I would like to start a savings plan for Happiness to help her save for a rainy day / her retirement. I went on to Google to look for the best savings plan for a Domestic Worker, hoping that there would be a product that was aimed at the needs of Domestic Workers.
I found this. Looked promising:
Which led me to this article on Women24:
"Domesticsure" by First For Women sounded like something that would be a great option for Happiness. I eagerly googled it and found these many links:
However each link I clicked on came up with a 404 error:
I tried several different ways to look for the First For Woman product, but each time I got a "page not found" error. Feeling quite annoyed, I googled some more and found another product that sounded like a good option, this time by Old Mutual:
But when I clicked on the link in the article, I got this page:
I am feeling completely irritated by this. I understand that these companies have an obligation towards their shareholders to make a profit, and quite obviously domestic workers are not a profitable target market for them, but this feels like spin and PR without any substance. If the product was discontinued then I think the links should go to a page that says "Sorry, we don't offer that product anymore, however can we interest in another product". Or something like that. To direct the link to a 404 feels like cheating. Old Mutual and First For Women, that isn't very nice of you at all.
Maybe I am just a bad Googler and all those pages do exist. In which case my bad, I'm sorry. Maybe you are better than I am at finding information on these links: http://www.firstforwomen.co.za/products-and-benefits/personal-insurance/Domesticsure/?vdn=16229
Does anyone have any tips or advice on an investment product aimed at Domestic Workers (perhaps some retirement benefits / some life insurance / funeral policy / basic health cover)?
Those who know me, know that I am quite odd. I used to mind being odd, but now I embrace my oddness so much that I actually hide my non-odd parts of me in case people start thinking of me as normal. I like being odd.
My oddness takes many forms and probably has a few root causes. One could be mistaken for thinking most of my oddness comes from being a Highly Sensitive Person (read more about HSP here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highly_sensitive_person) because I outwardly display a few of the signs of being a HSP, but I don't think that is the main cause. I think my oddness comes from having some sensory integration issues, combined with my Generalized Anxiety Disorder (read more about GAD here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generalized_anxiety_disorder). Plus if we are really digging deep here, probably a smattering of being on the spectrum too. The GAD is managed through medication and therapy, and SPD and ASD through wisdom and experience in managing my world.
Most of the time, I function not just very well, but I would argue better than some more 'typical' people. My oddness gives me energy and drive and the ability to live at 1000 kms an hour. (Which is both a good and a bad thing I suppose. anyway, I get shit done.)
However, one of the things I struggle with is blocking out the emotions of others. My therapist says I am an emotional sponge. I take on the emotions of everyone around me. I worry that you are worrying. Which is why I never share my deepest fears and problems with anyone because then I will worry that they are worrying about me. Which will make me very worried.
Things that put my worrying into overdrive are my children. I feel their worry (real and imagined) acutely. I try to manage that because I don't want to burden them with it. I also worry about other children. Any child. So much so, that I cannot listen to any child abuse stories. I turn the radio off if the stories come on the news. Because the worry about the children's fear and pain makes my head want to explode and my heart feel like it is going to beat out of my chest. My friends know not to tell me stories about children in pain because I cannot turn that noise off in my head. Children and their vulnerability are the ultimate worry.
I also cannot listen / watch any prank stuff. I feel the victim's embarrassment a million times over. I HATE those prank things.
And then sometimes I worry about totally random things. Things that are so unimportant and arbitrary and not-central to my life that it makes no sense at all. Not that there is usually any sense in worrying anyway.
I worried terribly about the weather in the FIFA world cup in South Africa in 2010. Really. Every time the weather was cold or it rained, I felt so bad / worried / guilty / anxious / sad for the people who had come all the way to South Africa to view the World Cup. They have come all this way and now it is raining which means they will be disappointed or cold or wet and they might not have a good time. I felt anxious about the discomfort of 1000s of strangers who I had no connection to other than they were in my home country. I didn't even go to any of the games so the weather didn't affect me! And yet I worried and felt anxious. HOW RIDICULOUS IS THAT!! I would reprimand myself several times a day. Stop it Tertia! Do you realize how ridiculous your worry is! Stop it!!! And then a few minutes later I would have that butterfly-in-the-tummy / roller-coaster feeling. For a split second I would stop and think "where is that coming from?" - do a little fight/flight check - and then I would realize it was worry about the weather for the World Cup visitors. It was exhausting. I was glad when it was over.
And now I have a new thing to worry about. Trevor Noah. OMF! WHY!! Why have I picked Trevor Noah to worry about! I have never met the man, I have never been to one of his shows. I don't know anyone who knows him. The ONLY thing in common we have, is that we are both South African. And yet, I worry. I was worried about his debut. What if people hated him? What if people said bad things about him? What if he read the bad things people said about him and felt sad and disappointed and worried. I was so relieved when I woke up the next day and saw so many positive reviews.
Unfortunately those positive reviews were shared by fellow South Africans (who seem similarly invested / proud). The only people awake at that time. When the Americans woke up later, some of the negative reviews came through, and I started to worry all over again.
I mean, REALLY!! How effing mental am I! I am stressing about Trevor Bloody Noah! A total stranger. The first time I ever heard of The Daily Show was when it was announced a South African was taking over. That is how random and unimportant this is to my life. I have to stop this nonsense. I am going to force myself not to care. I am sure Trevor Noah doesn't care if everyone likes him. He probably doesn't give a shit what people say about him (please let that be true!) so I am not going to either. I am going to stop wasting my worry quota on someone or something that quite obviously doesn't need it.
So from this point forward, I don't care what anyone thinks about Trevor Noah. You can like him or dislike him as much as you want and I am not going to worry about it at all. (typed that last full stop REALLY HARD)
(Just please don't post that you don't like Trevor Noah because what if he reads it and his feelings get hurt and then feels sad and unloved in a foreign country so far from home with no friends or family).
I have been a mother for longer now than the time I was trying (and failing) to become one. Double the time in fact. You would think I would be used to it by now, and I am. There are many days where I am so immersed in the mothering that it is all I can see, think and feel. And then there are moments where I have little flashbacks to the time where I wondered if I would ever have children. Ordinary sights and sounds that make me stop, catch my breath, and let the realization wash over me that I am a mother! I have children! Three of the buggers in fact. Something I feared might not ever happen. The trauma was (relatively) short but it was deep.
The moments come randomly. Stepping over Kate's abandoned school shoes lying on the bathroom floor (those school shoes belong to a girl who calls me Mom), seeing Max's red wellington boots at the sliding door (boots that belong to a little boy who wraps his arms around me at night and tells me how much he loves me), filling in a form that asks for parents to volunteer at a cake sale (a cake sale to raise money for a school attended by a boy who is becoming a teenager and yet who still wants his mom to work at the cake sale so he can sneak a quick hug during school time).
10 years later and I *still* get that delicious thrill, that butterfly-in-the-tummy feeling when I realize about how lucky I am.
Of course, five minutes later I am ready to kill them and run away to a deserted island, just me and my Chardonnay. Because although I love them dearly and being their mother is the most significant (and challenging) thing I have ever done, there is no denying they can be a giant PITA sometimes.
This is a portrait Kate draw of her family. Don't you love how I am so huge and the rest of the family is looking so lovingly at me? I think it speaks volumes. I am so very lucky.
I do love my darling little PITAs very much. xx
As some of you might know, I have been trying to train my husband on the Towel System for more than 15 years. With little to zero success. This failure has been a source of great dismay to me, but I am trying to live with the pain. However, there is another, less common failure that I don't often mention. Mostly because I fear the situation is somewhat hopeless. It is the Tupperware System. My husband has proven to be as poor in his adherence to the Tupperware System as he is to the Towel System.
As many of you will know, Tupperware is a serious thing. The absence of a system when it comes to Tuppeware leads to bottomless lids and lidless bottoms. A bottomless, lidless pit of anger, anxiety and general unhappiness.
I recently treated myself to (a) a Tupperware clean up (which entails the difficult but necessary task of euthanasing unmatched Tupperware) and (b) a rather substantial and expensive purchase of new, matching, non-generic Tupperware. In particular a set of special round Tupperware bowls purchased specifically for my morning cereal. There is something deeply unsettling about eating cereal out of a square dish. It is just... wrong. It's not a good way to start your day.
Because Tupperware is expensive, and because one doesn't like to frivolous, I only purchased two (2) special new round Tupperware bowls for my morning cereal. I figured this was more than sufficient as there should always be one available to use (the other one being in the wash). Which is all good and well if everyone in the house adheres to the System. Unfortunately this is not the situation in my house. As with the Towel System, my husband has proven to be totally untrainable in the Tupperware System. It pains me to speak about this, but previous offenses have included using my expensive Tupperware to (a) store his DIY supplies, (b) catch tadpoles with the kids and the latest insult, (c) using one of my only two round Tupperware bowls to store his solitary piece of left over pizza in the fridge. I just can't. There is no respect. There are 23329783 square and rectangular Tupperware containers in the cupboard (with lids) and he uses one of my only two ROUND cereal bowls for his one measly piece of leftover pizza. IT DOESN'T EVEN FIT PROPERLY!!!
I know I should try to put this in perspective. I know there are worst things in the world. But I am really struggling right now. I'm trying, but it's not easy. #pain #norespect #sendprayers
People (who haven't met my husband) often say things to me like "Wow, I can't believe the things you say about your husband on Facebook, my husband would kill me!" and things along those lines. And by "things" they mean me putting a post up on FB saying "my husband is being a giant PITA, I might have to kill him" etc.
I think they feel sorry for my husband. I think they imagine he is a timid mouse who is beaten down by his bossy wife who rules the roost. That he is a sensitive soul who is surely hurt, or offended or fearful at what I write. The truth is the complete opposite of this. If you should feel sorry for anyone, it should be ME!! My husband is the most stubborn, confident, strong, strict, assured, tough, un-shy, full of shit guy you will ever meet. He is the first guy I have ever met that absolutely will NOT let me boss him around. (Which is why I married him.) He is impossible to boss around. Or to faff around actually. He is not arrogant, he is just completely comfortable and confident in who he is. And in our relationship. He knows I think he is an ahole sometimes, because I tell him (and not just on FB). And he (mistakenly) thinks I am an ahole sometimes too. Which he is not shy to tell me.
If you knew my husband, and our relationship, you would not feel sorry for Marko AT ALL. In fact, even though I am a giant PITA with a million issues and it can't be easy being married to me, you would feel sorry for ME because of how stubborn and STRICT he is. He is not an easy guy at all. Totally untrainable actually. Example: The Towel system. I wrote that post two years ago. This past week he used my hair towel as the bath mat. HE PUT HIS FEET ON MY HAIR TOWEL. When I moaned at him for not using the correct towel system his response was "I have my own towel system - I see a towel and I use it". And this sums up our marriage perfectly. I am anal/OCD/full of shit and he does his own thing anyway. It works perfectly.
(Also: my husband is on FB, so whatever I put up about him he can see immediately. He either ignores my note or else he puts a teasing response in reply)
So please don't feel sorry for my husband. He is more than ok. He has to be, he is married to me :)
So, moving! Yes, it is true. We are moving to a new house. I haven’t mentioned anything before even though this has been going on for MONTHS already because we weren’t sure whether it would all come together. It’s been fairly stressful. Also, I didn’t want to mention it because we are moving into the house next door! As in, literally right next door. Which sounds a little weird, right? It’s just that we LOVE our security estate and don’t want to stay anywhere else, but we needed more space. And the house next door is HUGE. It has everything we need and more. So, we are moving, yay! Very exciting. We have been doing LOTS of renovations and fixing over the past week or so because the house sorely needed some serious attention. We move in at the end of the month. We are so super excited and we are at the house every single day (a few times a day) to check on the contractors and also just to admire our new house or jump on the trampoline J Kids are super excited.
There are a few things I have learnt through this process which I thought I would share with you:
Only 10 more days until we move! Super excited.