Monday, 25 February 2013

Kikazaru, Iwazaru, Mizaru

This afternoon I hooked up with some mates who are out on holiday from Wales and England respectively. The rendezvous point was CIRCA on Jellicoe, specifically the I Collect Gingers exhibition by Anthea Pokroy - an ongoing project exploring the concept of identity, as well as issues such as prejudice, racial classification, segregation, and elitism, drawing on her own history of being Jewish and South African. There were three natural redheads in our group, and I managed to take a pic of their sweet 'ginger ninja pilgrimage' to post on the artist's Facebook wall.

Afterwards the group split up and Goran and I joined three other ladies and two other littlies for a nice lazy lunch at the Full Stop Café in their new premises - an old converted house on Seventh Avenue in Parktown North. Both CIRCA and the (new) Full Stop Café are places I have been meaning to try out for ages now, and today I just happened to kill two birds with one stone. Booyah!

The Three Monkeys: Kikazaru, Iwazaru, Mizaru

All images Copyright © Paula Gruben

Hello Kitty & Homies

Within the first few days of starting kindergarten six weeks ago, Goran made 'best friends' with an adorably gamine creature named Kenzie. The owner (principal?) has two daughters, both of whom actually attend the little school (so you know there is vested interest in good facilities and great staff!), and Kenzie is the younger of the two. Goran's teacher tells me they spend ages playing together and just love chilling in each other's company.

Anyway, Goran cracked the nod to Kenzie's second birthday party on Saturday (she's just a week younger than him), and besides chatting to and getting to know the mom of a pair of fraternal twins a bit better (like many twins they were also born very prem, so we were able to swap plenty of war stories!), it was such a privilege being able to watch my sweet boy interact and play with all his little maatjies. He really is one of the gentlest, most generous souls, and I came home that afternoon with a lovely warm feeling in the pit of my belly.

Monday, 18 February 2013


For some reason Goran's 24-month milestone turned out to be one of the more poignant in my personal motherhood journey to date. Even though we celebrated his second birthday two months ago, it was actually only this Saturday that he reached a true 24 months of age. Developmentally he has now 'caught up to' and is therefore considered 'the same as' all his peers - those babies born full-term on 20th December 2010. For me it symbolises a challenge completed, acknowledgement of a job well done, and the opportunity to start a brand new chapter.

A couple of days ago I stumbled across a Daily Mail article which gave me pause for thought, and reinforced just how important it is for me, as the mother of this precious little soul, to keep my combined hormonal and mental health issues in check, to let go of my old child-free Carrie Bradshaw-esque dreams, and to focus on my role as mother first, wife second, and everything else thereafter. Below are several excerpts that really hit home for me, as I'm sure they will for some of you too...

"Women have been told for so long that parenting is hard work, it has become taboo to admit you find it simple - let alone that you’re loving every minute. Not so long ago, our mothers and grandmothers were trapped in their own tragic conspiracy of silence. They didn’t dare express any feelings other than joy, for fear of being branded bad mothers. In my view, the insidious slide started with books published in the Nineties, in which mothers were told that giving birth was as traumatic as being a war veteran. Tell that to the soldiers in Afghanistan! But I wonder if we have forgotten that unless you are suffering a hormonal imbalance that tips you into depression, a physical injury, or if you can’t bond with your baby, motherhood is as difficult as you make it.

Motherhood is in danger of becoming one big moan-fest. The fashionable message is that you aren’t doing it properly if you aren’t in a permanent state of martyrdom. Mothers feel pressured to catastrophise everything, even when everything is going perfectly well, for fear of sounding self-satisfied or of tempting fate. They are much more comfortable hearing Adele complaining, as she did last month, about her eczema from boiling baby bottles, or the martyrdom of Angelina Jolie, who still takes her children to the toilet. Motherhood should be one of the most rewarding experiences we have, so why is it that we feel we aren’t doing it properly unless we attach a giant ‘but’ to the end of that last sentence?

One of the most fashionable complaints among new mums is about the effect on their careers. True, having a baby didn’t help my promotion prospects. I know I’d be richer if I hadn’t had children. No sooner was I being wheeled into the labour ward, than the executive who’d been eyeing up my job as features editor of a national newspaper manoeuvred himself into my seat. Actually, I didn’t care. For me, there was no comparison between the wasp’s nest of inter-departmental politics and looking after this one tiny person, who only ever wanted to be fed and cuddled. 

The problem is that, as much as we career women want children, when they arrive we are so success-driven that we feel compelled to imply that motherhood is a bit below us. We have become so indignant at what we are missing out on when we have a baby, it’s not the joy of motherhood that unites us, it’s our commiseration.

Then the baton passed to TV shows like Supernanny, which gave the impression that mothers were such hostages to their little horrors that experts had to be airlifted in to rescue them. More recently, the cult of moaning has become enshrined in books like Can I Give Them Back Now?: The Aargh to Zzzz of Parenting which ‘merrily puts two fingers up to the pervasive notion that parenthood is an eternally rewarding experience’. And let’s not forget that recent best-seller, charmingly titled: ‘Go the F**k to Sleep’.

I am not in any way trying to denigrate the genuine suffering of the one in ten women in the UK who suffer from post-natal depression. I remember a story from our mothers’ group of a woman who was clearly in the grip of a terrifying mental breakdown. All she could do was place her baby squirming in front of her on the floor and say: ‘I don’t know what to do with him.’ A few weeks later, a meeting was called off because her baby son had been found dead from cot death. No charges were brought, but it was hard not to draw conclusions.

Parenting author and mother-of-two Becky Goddard-Hill - who writes books about how to enjoy parenting - says admitting loving motherhood ‘has become as cheesy as liking Donny Osmond’. And what of the effect on our children in all this negativity? How must it feel to grow up constantly hearing that you are the cause of so much stress to your parents? No wonder the younger generation are suffering such a crisis of self-esteem."

And on that sage note, I will be loving and leaving you with a 20-month video retrospective of the most recent chapter in Goran's life. All the ups and downs, including two birthdays, two Christmases, two hospital stays, and all the developmental milestones in between. Exhausting? At times, yes. Stressful? On occasion, you better fucking believe it. But for the most part, especially at introspective junctures like these, I can now say with complete conviction that there is simply no vocation on the planet more rewarding than parenthood.

Unfortunately my little video is not viewable in Germany. Something to do with a (song) copyright issue. And it's also not available on mobile phones. So sorry for ze Germans and for those of you who access my blog or YouTube channel via your phones. Otherwise, the rest of you: switch on your speakers, sit back, relax, and enjoy!

Charlotte Sometimes

One sunny Saturday afternoon in Jozi, just after Valentine's Day, a little boy and a little girl fall in love...

Then the little boy spots another little boy - who he originally thought was a little girl, but is actually the little girl's big brother...

And the two little boys become friends...

Then the little boy who looks like a little girl takes the little boy to meet his future mother-in-law...

And the rest, as they say, is history...

Little boy: Goran
Little girl: Charlotte Rose
Little boy who looks like a little girl: Sebastian

Delta Park