Saturday, 30 December 2017

So that “Empty Nest Syndrome”.  How about it hey.  It comes.  If you have children it comes.  Sooner or later.  And mine has arrived.  Well sort of.  OK now that I think about it, it is 50/50 ish.  I had one child giving me ENS and the other one here.  Now the former is back for a while so it is a full nest.  For the moment.  So maybe it is more like “Last Child Out of School Syndrome”. So mine has not completely arrived.  How confusing.

Now I was expecting to fall down in a flood of tears and loneliness and confusion and regret and sadness and many other things as described by magazines.  And I didn’t.  Although there will be those that say I did.  I did way better than I thought.  And this is one of those things you can only fully fully fully understand when you have kids.  Who are now all finished in school.

I actually felt much sadder when my daughter finished Matric in 2013.  It was a “oh woe is me no more swimming galas, netball and hockey matches, no more Valentine’s Dances, no more this and that, no more Hospitality Studies dinners” etc etc.  Perhaps because she immediately after Matric went to a leading chefs academy, finished with flying colors and was nabbed by a top restaurant in CT and moved there 3 years ago.  During her studies it was chefs hours, including evenings, so she was not around like a Varsity student, she was there and when she came home late at night, she was too tired to chat before getting up the next morning and doing it all over again.  So her place in the nest was empty.  And suddenly my do our nails, watch chick programmes, tint our hair, girly type things buddy was gone.  Even in the time she was in CT, chefs have little to no time of their own, working from early morning to very very late at night, it was sometimes days before we talked on the phone.  Thank the Lord for Whatsapp.

She moved to CT and her and I spent lots of time crying on line.  Crying at the airport each time she managed to visit, which she could not in the first six months.  She did, as the top student, win a trip to the leading chefs academy in Parma, Italy where she went to spend a short time studying.  I never cried.  It was the opportunity of a lifetime.  But when she was in the Cape, I missed having her around.  I missed her bounce, her wit and everything that went with her.  Those that said “oh but luckily she did not move overseas” mmmmm when your child is not here and your only communication is phone and Whatsapp, it does not matter if they are 1600 or 16000 kilometers away.  And many of those with kids overseas or elsewhere in SA have been to see them there much more than I have been to CT.

So now my dear 18 year old finished Matric.  And suddenly after 17 years of driving to CBC Mount Edmund from Gr 0 to Matric for both of them in total, I was not going to drive to school in the mornings.  17 years is a long long time to drive to the same school with kids year in and out.  That is not a small adjustment.  After 17 years being an avid and very regular supporter of hockey, football, cricket and netball matches.  Swimming galas.  Speech festivals.  School productions.  Hotel evenings.  School meetings.  3 years as PTA Chairman, 3 years as Board Chairman, the making of 100’s of boerewors rolls at events, pouring tea, attending talks and supporting, it ended.  Then shortly after finishing his last exam my son got his licence.  Amazing how getting a car can make you perfect your driving and get a licence within 3 months of getting the car.  So now the dropping at indoor football, dropping at friends, dropping at malls and fetching everywhere is over.  Including some of the driving for Jess, as her and Nic are having a ball going places together and playing only their music.  So now it is feeling a bit more Empty Nest-ish.  Jess is home on a sabbatical from CT, plotting her next course and them two have spent the last 3 days in CT, packing up her part of her part of the apartment she shared, and putting her stuff into storage.  Thus two in the nest.  Sort of.  For now.

On 17 Jan Nic starts working at his beloved CBC where he has signed a one year contract offered to him as an Intern Teacher, in the Sports Department.  So he gets to do what he loves - sport - all day every day.  As a job.  In addition he will coach as he did in Matric, for the Soccer School of Excellence, where he both coaches and plays football.  He will live at home.  Score one for the nest!

Jess is taking up a short term experience after being offered a chance to manage a very popular coffee shop / bistro type place in Pretoria.  A wonderful opportunity to experience a bit of front of house and management as well.  Then it will be off to the formal chefs life again. She too is staying at home for now.  Score two for the nest!  And the laundry!

So now?  Whenever Nic tells me he is going somewhere, I immediately start planning my schedule around that .... what time to fetch, what time to drop.  So much to consider.  And then I realize he is simply giving me information.  I do not even have to pick up my car key.  Because he is going.  In his car.  Boom.

So now I have to make sure that he has fuel ... I always ask .... he always does.  I remind him when he leaves not to pull away from any major intersection robots without making double sure the cars in the opposite direction are not jumping the light.  For the first 4 times he left the house on his own in his own car, hubby and I stood on the driveway waving as if he was leaving on a road trip to the coast.  And then I came inside, lay on the couch and read my book.  Watched a series further.  Waited for the message to say he had arrived safely at Menlyn.  I will admit I felt a bit teary that there would be no more morning trips listening to the Pop Quiz on 94.7 and taking turn to be the DJ via the Aux cable.  But now we ride in his car and play DJ and sometimes they are still in my car ... when the family goes somewhere together, or to Mass or just out me and the kids.  Or adults as my friend reminds me.  I look at Jess and have to remind myself that she lived in CT for 3 years and lead her own life so now when she goes out I cannot be giving the 3rd degree x 12.

So it is all new.  Do I feel a tiny less useful.  No.  Do I seem to have less of an opportunity to give an opinion. Yes.  Do I feel like they do not need me any longer.  No.  Do I feel like we are losing some things in our relationship.  Yes.  But .... do I feel we are gaining many new things ... YES.

So.  They are here lying on the couch, playing board games, playing with the pets, making us laugh, playing FIFA, watching Box Office and Netflix, spending our money for now, having friends over to sleep and visit.  All the regular stuff.  And we still live together.  And we are family.  But now we are all adults.

Lord help us.

Love Lives Here.

Till soon
c’est la vie

Friday, 22 December 2017

The best of me. The worst of me. Love and laughter. Victor and victim.


I love Christmas. For a lot of reasons. I can sit and stare at our Christmas tree forever.  My favourite is like now, as I go to bed (yes I know it is 3am but that is a story for another time), when I turn off all the house lights, leaving the tree lights until last.  In those moments, the lounge swathed in the glistening lights, I find myself completely mesmerised.  It seems as good a time as any to write my next blog.  In the dark, with just the lights of the tree. 

I have been thinking a lot about my year.  What made it unbearable, what made it awesome. What made me almost drown in laughter, what made me almost drown in tears.  The people who walked into my life and the people who walked out of my life. The joys and sadness's.  The shifting as our last schoolchild finished Matric (and got his licence) and our daughter moved home from Cape Town for a while. The completion of my almost 5th year in the parish office.  My hubby growing his business and his other involvement in a business which is keeping him very busy.  

I learnt a lot about myself this year. Some of it I learnt by myself. Some pieces were taught to me by others. Other pieces shoved at me. I have collected a lot of labels, some good, some less so.  I have made people laugh, I have made some crazy, I have challenged some, I have left some, I have been left by some, I have hurt some and been hurt by some, I have been called everything from fun, dedicated, compassionate, crazy, loving, loyal all the way down to being called someone who likes to play the victim.  I have learnt from them all.  Discarded some opinions, kept others. I have been discussed face to face, I have been discussed behind my back, I have sometimes been given the opportunity to give my version, other times not.  I have argued with some, disliked some and loved some.  I have been loyal to those who stick by me. I have been betrayed by people I love, I have been adored by people I love. 

I have been healthy, I have been ill, I have been physically injured .... all in this year. I have learnt to speak up, I have been taught how to be silent, I have protected people, I have kept people's secrets, I have been counselled, I have been betrayed, I have been spoilt, I have spoilt others. I have lay in the road next to a man and held his hand as he lay face down and bleeding after his motorbike accident, I have held the hand of a woman whose husband had less than a week to live, I have held the hand of a friend's new baby. 

I have learnt that life is not always fair, I have confirmed that Everything happens in God's time, I have had moments of great anxiety and moments of great joy, I have practised standing up to bullies, I have been bullied, I have faced narcissists and kind hearted people. I have never stopped learning, I have never stopped teaching my kids. I have watched them be joyful for others achievements, I have watched others not doing the same in return.  I have seen spite, I have seen kindness. 

I have reassured myself that not making New Year's Resolutions is a good thing.  I have made and discarded lists for 2018. 

I have realised that we need to practise kindness, warmth, love and compassion.  We need to practise and live out our Faith daily. It is no good that we are Sunday Catholics. We need to reach out, speak out and live in a manner that says "hey, I notice you".  We need to remember that if we cannot even attempt to be our better self every day, how on earth will we ever get to being our best self. 

I have looked through 2017, I look forward to 2018 ...... a journey to find my best self.  

c'est la vie
sleep tight

Thursday, 21 December 2017

There are no Saints amongst us. How Blessed we Are.


We need to learn to "Let Go and Let God" Fr Sibonelo at Ngome reminded us a few months ago on our weekend retreat.  It sounded like a great plan.  There, all rejuvenated and revived and spiritually excited I agreed that I would try.  

So here I am. A few months later. Thinking about Let Go and Let God.  Wondering if my motto should not rather be something more forceful.  And please do not ask me WWJD. 

I am under an unusual amount of pressure presently.  Mentally I sometimes find myself floundering in a newly changed situation, as so many areas of my life are currently altering and shifting and realigning themselves.  I am like a child in a learn to swim programme who has moved into the big pool.  I am familiar with the environment but still want the safety of the rail while I settle.  

I have been surprised to find that some people that I thought were the rail are actually those taking the screws out of it and shoving me under the water.  I have been reminded repeatedly recently of how easily we all forget about our own shortcomings, faults and stupid behaviours when we are busy focusing on these in others. There are no Saints .....

Let Go and Let God.  I spoke at great length to Fr Sibonelo about this in a quiet half hour on the one day.  It sounds so lovely ..... no matter what happens or what you do to me or anyone else or how you treat me or anyone else, I must just smile and wave, let it go and leave it up to God to deal with you.  Can you do that?  I mean you, the one reading this? Do you like to deal the cards?  Do you allow others to do the same?

We react.  That is what we do.  Yes including you, the one currently shaking their head thinking "not me".  We react.  It is so much easier to point outwards than inwards.  To say "you are" instead of "I am".  It is easier to point out faults than to deal with our own.  When this becomes largely one-sided, resentment breeds. 

I find myself questioning, challenging, studying, discerning, resisting, inviting and immersing myself in change. I find myself rebelling against those who neglect the messiness of their own lives, or refuse me the right to comment, when they however highlight messiness in mine.  I am however, more than happy and enthusiastic to engage with those who allow there to be some quid pro quo.

I have now decided that giving love does not necessarily mean getting it, giving friendship does not always mean you receive it, loyalty unfortunately does not beget loyalty, nor does trust beget trust.  Giving 100% does not automatically mean you receive 100% in return from people or situations. This does not make me a victim of some delusional vision of how life should be, it makes me a strong person, who can realise this truth. 

So I shall focus on Fr Sibonelo.  Let Live and Let God.  I will allow other people's behaviours, habits, idiosyncrasies, messiness, lies, judgements and other be theirs.  People must each live their own way, God will take care of the reprimands.  

But for heavens sake, allow me to have some messiness, just like you do.  Let Live and Let God applies to me as well.  God will reprimand me as He sees fit.  And I shall speak up if I do not agree. 

There are no Saints. Is that not wonderful!

till soon 
c'est la vie xxx

Thursday, 7 December 2017

label me, label you

Labels.  You find them everywhere.  On all kinds of things.  Even people. 

Tins, Bottles, Boxes, Containers and much more - all have labels telling you what is in there - descriptions that usually match the contents quite well. 

The same cannot be said about human labels.  They are very often given to us by others, and very often do not accurately describe the person behind it.  

What labels would you give yourself?  Beautiful? Talkative? Passionate? Warm? or do you fall into the trap of giving yourself negative labels - Fat, Incompetent, Tiring, Boring .... the list is endless. Why do we find it so easy to believe the negative labels others give us, yet so hard to accept the positive ones which we know to be true?

One of the most soul destroying things I experience is those who label me, incorrectly, and in the process make me believe the labels to be true. 

How is it that we are less inclined to believe the positive labels than we are the negative ones?  I think that if we receive them in a balanced way we would, but human nature is such that negative labels are easier to give out. 

Situations often arise in life where we find ourselves in a circle, like a hamster wheel, when repeated negativity comes our way.  If you tell someone constantly that they are too this and too that and reinforce this daily, over a plethera of traits of theirs, they will gradually start to believe you.  And if they believe you they will constantly be trying to change something, which in your mind is unacceptable.  The same is true for many people.  

Strong personalities excel at this - by focusing continually on others, they ensure that their own shortcomings and faults are never highlighted or addressed.  Very often their own lives are far messier than the lives of those they criticise. 

So labels - you will always receive them.  Discern about what you should accept and what not.  Hold onto the labels that fit and gently slide aside those that do not. Yes, some will be true, some will be ones that you need to face, however do not get caught up in a situation where you start to believe every fault highlighted.  There is no person so perfect that they can be entitled to criticise others without allowing that person the same liberty in return. 

So as annoying, loud, overreacting, self-absorbed, inefficient, self-pitying, depressed, hysterical, crazy and behaving as if I am always wronged I am ..... (there are many more labels, but word count is limited) ... I am also kind, caring, warm, ridiculously loyal and protective, dedicated, funny and so much more.  

I will try and remind myself daily that I am actually quite ok. 

Stay true to yourself. 

much love 
c'est la vie 

Mo Salah, My car and other stuff

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