I wake up every morning desperately hoping that today will be the day that I finally have some time to sit down (in peace) and write a blog post. But life. It’s hectic to say that absolute least. Perhaps relentless is a better word. Don’t read on if you aren’t willing to hear some brutal honesty and perhaps a bit of whinging. I am never been so busy and a shift in priorities also has something to do with my scarceness around here. Not that I don’t adore sharing and writing, I’m just not going to exhaust myself trying to make sure that I write a certain quota every month. I write because I WANT to, I write when I have the time and not because I feel guilty or pressured to do so. Sure, I do feel a sense of urgency and guilt when I haven’t put a post out in a while but at the same time, I have a life and a family to take care of and they most certainly come first. Every little moment of peace needs to be cherished because they come very scarcely around here. While we’re here, I want to thank YOU, my very loyal readers and followers for allowing me to have this approach. You guys are amazing because you’re there and you’re interested when I do put something out for you to read, you encourage me and support me in my quiet moments and I cannot thank you enough for this.
I have been wading through what consumes my time, what’s worth the stress and what isn’t. Priorities are a very important thing to evaluate, often. We sometimes lose sight of what it is in this life that makes our hearts happy, because we get so caught up in the mundane, every day obligations of life. As a family we have been spending so much more time outdoors and unconnected to anything but each other – it’s been glorious. I guess as the kids get older and develop into their own little beings, we are more aware of the lessons and values we teach them. The importance of being outdoors, playing together, enjoying nature and being REALLY present is so important and I notice a vast change in their behaviour when we whole heartedly focus on them when we’re with them.. instead of spreading ourselves thinly over everything that needs attention at that given moment. As freelancers it’s so hard to ‘turn off’ when you’re home, and because we’re home a lot, which is great, but it’s a HUGE challenge to stop yourself from checking mails mid play. Horrible. We have decided to work on building up our collection of camping equipment so we can take the kids of some proper adventures so that we can spend time in nature with them, uninterrupted by anything that is not them. We want to swim in rivers and climb trees, spend full weekends in our cozzies, cook food and boil water for coffee over a fire and fall asleep with sun kissed faces to the sound of crickets and frogs. Theses are the kinds of memories we’ll all hold onto and cherish one day. We need so much more of this in our lives. We do fill our weekends with adventure but there is so much room for MORE.
Without sounding dramatic, last year was the most challenging year of my life. Introducing little Micah really rocked Jordans entire world. And ours. Not in a bad way, but adjusting to two babies in the house was hard, man it was hard. Jordan struggled with jealousy for the first few (6 at least) months. It came out in ways one would ever expect. He was absolutely wonderful with Micah; gentle and kind and so proud of his little brother, but he took out his insecurities on us. Fiercely. He fought and challenged us on everything we did and said and he was unplayable in certain moments to the point where we actually questioned his mental health. I’m not joking. There were even times when we’d tell him we loved him and he would respond by saying “no you don’t”. Ouch. I guess it was also his age. Jordan was 2.5 when Micah was born, it was so hard for him. Trying to nurture a precious little soul who’s entire world was evidently rocked by a precious little baby (who himself demanded so much attention) was SO difficult. Dealing with Jords in those moments required endless patience. We failed often and felt so guilty when we reacted to his neediness with anything other than sheer compassion and patience, emotions that tend to run out after hours of whining and tantrums on two hours sleep and a baby attached to your boob. ‘Mom guilt’ and ‘Dad guilt’ is one of the most real things I have ever had to deal with. Glory, the amount of times Nic and I rehash things wondering if we’ve made the right decisions or dealt with our kids in the right ways, or if us saying or doing things a certain way has messed them up for life. It is never ending. We are luckily over the hurdle of jealousy and the boys love each other so dearly. It honestly makes my heart overflow with pride and joy watching them interact and love each other the way they do. They kiss, hug and love each other SO much. Of course every new season and stage of life comes with its own hurdles, and of course we still have issues with sharing and dividing our time between the boys but we can only do the best that we can do, and we are doing that every day. Sometimes we win and sometimes we loose and it’s taken a lot for me to realise that’s okay.
Nic and I had the conversation (again) last weekend about choosing our battles. it’s such an easy thing to forget when you’re in the throws of disciplining your kids that we OFTEN need to remind ourselves to choose our battles. When we first started to struggle with all that comes with toddlers and testing, someone once said to me “Nikki, choose your battles”. It was the most powerful thing anyone could have ever said to me and it’s made the world of difference in our lives, and the kids lives. I would find myself telling Jordan to slow down, or calm down, not to use the drumsticks on the couch and pesky little things like that. But in real life, who gives a hoot about that? He isn’t hurting anyone and he isn’t hurting himself.. there is a time and a place for stuff and I NEVER want crush his happy go lucky, little boy spirit. I would find myself in this space where I would just say those things because, who knows, I have to PARENT. Yes, we do need to parent but as I said, there is a time and a place for things and is he wants to rip around the house and sing at the TOP of his lungs, who actually cares? He is a kid and although I might be stressed because I have emails to reply to and work to do, that isn’t Jordans problem. He is just a kid, who loves to make a noise, drum on the couch and make annoying sounds that make him happy. Who am I to take that away from him? He is just having fun, at home where he should be allowed to express himself and be free in whichever way he wants. Within reason, of course.
Poor Micah was sick for the greater part of last year. The first time he got sick was when he was 6 weeks old. He had such bad bronchiolitis that he had to have physio on his little chest, antibiotics and a nebuliser every few hours to help his breathing, at 6 weeks old. WELCOME to being a mother of two children. With a big brother in play school, every little bug was dumped on Micah and he was sick all. the. time. Every snotty nose turned into Tonsillitis / Bronchitis and he was on antibiotics about 5 or 6 times before he turned one. We eventually, with help from out paediatrician and ENT, decided to have his tonsils removed. I cannot tell you what a difference it has made. I was so very hesitant to put him through such a big op as he is still so little and I was gutted at the prospect but the difference it’s made to his general well being is phenomenal and I am so glad we did it. We have not looked back. Micah was not a big eater at all, I think everything (even the most bland of foods) used to burn his little throat so much that he developed an aversion to food and wanted nothing to do with it. He has never been underweight but he was always on the lean side of things, he is also incredibly tall for his age which doesn’t help his case.
Post tonsillectomy, he actually EATS and he eats so well. He opens his mouth when he sees the spoon coming, something I never thought he would ever do. I have never had that with him and I am so grateful he is enjoying his food now. Feeding him solid food was such a struggle and I had to distract him with everything under the sun to sneak in a bite of food, I dreaded meal times and I never wanted food to be a battle. As a result of his eating being so shocking, he relied heavily on me for breast milk. Micah refused to take a bottle and always has (until the age of 13 months!!) so there was immense pressure on me and it was totally exhausting. I tried different brands of bottles, milk in cups, formula and breast milk out of straws, other people tried giving him bottles and he just simply refused. We literally tried everything. We got to a point where he (at the age of ONE YEAR OLD) was waking up every 1.5-2 hours at night for boob and was feeding this often during the day too. I am NOT joking. He was like a new born. Worse than a new born. Thinking back on it now, it was such a dark time but somehow we survived it. There was also no way that I could refuse to breastfeed feed him because he wasn’t eating food. I had zero time to myself with him refusing a bottle so I had to be there every minute of the day and night incase he got hungry as he wouldn’t settle at all without me. No dinners, no lunches, no meetings, no nothing without Micah in tow. Eventually it really does take its toll.
What is completely nuts in all of this is that Micah was happy throughout it all. He is the most precious little gem of a baby, now toddler. He is just so joyful all the time. Thank goodness for his happy go lucky, independent spirit. We would never have survived without that. Nic also travelled a lot last year, which meant that I was alone with two kids, working at night, cooking, cleaning and barely keeping my head above the water. Things were so hard between Nic and I because of it, I became somewhat resentful of his freedom, naturally. Even though he is so hands on when he is around, I desperately wanted some space for myself. I felt so guilty for that.I cannot quite convey the magnitude of the struggle in this blog post, there are literally no words.
I am not even going to get into writing about the challenge of maintaining a healthy, fun marriage through this all. We are but we are also not the same people we used to be prior to kids, and that is also okay. You mature and you grow into your new roles as parents and as a team. In my case I sometimes feel like there is but a shred of fun left in me.. that in itself is not fun. I need to work on that. Genuinely. I think I have been in survival mode for so long that I just need to find my fun again. I get so caught up in everything that needs doing that I often forget to stop and smell the roses. There have been times where it has literally felt impossible to get along with each other as all we do is pass each other, each with a child in our arms and a million deadlines.. trying to do whatever it is that keeps the kids happy, content and feeling loved. Then there are times when we have just laughed and sat hand in hand (so in love yet feeling so distant from each other) taking in everything we have created together. Our family. It will get easier and it already has. I saw something online once that read “The best gift you can give to your children is a healthy marriage”. Never a truer word spoken.
Then of course there was / is the guilt (and loneliness) in hardly ever seeing my friends, never being social and at the risk of sounding overly dramatic, the lack of having a life outside of home. I am such a social person and being around my favourites is where I thrive. I felt kind of trapped by everything and not being able to go out to dinners / visit my girlfriends or even take a pottery class (FFS).. really took it’s toll on me. When I did go out, I went out knowing that Nic would have a rough time trying to settle Micah who would most certainly wake up in my absence crying for me to come and soothe him – theres that guilt again. It just made going out not even worth it – I couldn’t enjoy my time away at all.
We didn’t have a nanny last year to help us which I know would have made a HUGE difference, we just couldn’t find someone we loved and who gelled with us the way Miriam did. Jordan finished play school at 12 noon every day and I had to maintain all my freelance work and the household throughout it all. These were the moments I would totally break down over the loss of my mom. I know that she would’ve been there in a heartbeat to help me carry the load. After the kids went to bed I would sit down and work until 11/12pm at night.. every night.. taking breaks to feed Micah and settle him back to sleep again every 2 hours. I would get to bed at midnight and continue waking up every 1.5/2 hours to feed and settle Micah. Let that sink in. I woke up most mornings feeling nauseas I was so tired. Sometimes I would hear one of the kids wake up and just burst into tears because I was just THAT tired. I really don’t know how we did it. I am so grateful for Nic and all my best girlfriends for the support and the help they insisted on giving me. It was the roughest time of my life and without the support of friends and family, I think I would’ve lost the actual plot. I did a lot of complaining even though I felt horribly guilty every time I had a melt down but I had so much to release and needed to release it.
Gosh, I really am making my life sound life a misery (I PROMISE IT”S NOT and I have SO much to be grateful for!) but this is the brutal truth. It wasn’t horrid ALL the time, not even close, but these were the kind of exhausting challenges that I faced a lot last year. I told you this was an honest post. Please don’t get me wrong, we are so blessed in so many areas of my life and we are SO aware of that. I don’t think I need to justify myself and say that other people have it tougher because I am simply sharing MY honest story. That’s not to say that everyone who has a second or a third child is going to have this same experience and I am not here for pity or to be patted on the back.. I am merely here to share and to put this all out there for you to read so that if anyone else is going through something similar, you can rest assured that you’re not alone.
I am just SO happy and grateful that we have left that season behind us, that Micah is healthy and happy and that Jordan is content in our family of four situation.
No one ever said it would be easy and there is nothing that anyone could’ve said to me that would’ve sufficiently prepared me for this journey. All I know is that without my amazing support structure, my antenatal group included, I would not be a sane woman. I am hoping to find a lot more time for every one, including myself, for work and for my blog this year. There is so much on the horizon work wise and we have an amazing nanny named Bongi who has joined our family this year. Micah adores her and reaches for her in the morning when she arrives. It’s taken a bit of time to find the right person and we all love Bongi so much. Although I work from home and can pop in any time to see Micah, it is just so nice to have an extra pair of hands to help take the load of me because I don’t think I could’ve survived another month with the way that things were.
I also want YOU to know, fellow Mom or Dad, that if you are reading this and you need a bit of encouragement, advice, love or just a sounding board.. I am here and I have ALL the time in the world for you. We love to just carry on, to do what we do, keep our heads lifted high and get on with it because we’re strong like that and because we CAN.. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t have bad days, cry or ask for help.
Here’s to all things great and to 2017 being just WONDERFUL. Again, thank you, dear friends, for your support and love and I can’t wait to share more this year x