Archives for the month of: February, 2011

I’m still unpacking boxes. Or truth be told running away from unpacking boxes. Come Sunday I won’t be able to run away any longer. So I will roll up my sleeves. To the relief of everyone who likes clean spaces, including me of course.

Meanwhile I’ve seen things breaking. Like the ceramic fish I bought for the kids bed rooms, the puppet theatre, and lots of odds and ends like the bottom bits of chairs. Let’s just say that I’ve finished all the super glue in the house. At least now I know I can fix things. I used to give up when things broke and throw it away with a heavy heart. Now I know better. When I break a beautiful bowl or cup (okay it’s not me it’s the Princes, bless their hearts) I give it to my good, very talented friend who mosaics. She then uses it to make pieces which I swear are more beautiful than before. So out of two white, blue coffee mugs I have two lovely mosaic photo frames that she made for my birthday. I prefer the picture frames – the broken cups were worth it.

And this my friends is a bit of practical advice for all our things that break – reuse it – make it into something more beautiful than before. It’s a shame to throw out what you love.

And now for the really deep point. We are all broken as women, mothers, human beings. We go through experiences which break us. They can be big ones, like child birth, post natal depression, loneliness. Or small ones like being humiliated in a shopping line, a cutting word that shuts us down. As children we are broken by unknowing adults. All these experiences where we fall into the well of grief, depression and general ‘Oh my God’ ness, break us. So we’re all emotionally and spiritually walking around with invisible broken arms, legs and hearts.

Where is the hospital for such brokenness? I would say in a mosaic room. Where the brokenness is what is wanted, where it’s what is appreciated and seen as a thing of beauty. Our pieces are not thrown away in disgusted grief for the rubbish truck to pick up and dump into stench of human sorrow and suffering. They’re not paraded around as examples of how clumsy and broken we are.

No the brokenness is taken and turned into something beautiful and useful. What we want  our broken pieces to be. It’s a chance to retell our story, repaint our picture, remold our pieces of self into something more alive, dynamic and joyful than we ever could have imagined.

The only thing is and any mosaic guru will tell you, it takes TIME and effort and lots of patience. It can take years in a busy life to finish a mosaic table. There are no short cuts unless you pay a shop to do it for you which is great for real mosaic but not for piecing together your soul. I’ve found that it’s taken me years to reach this stage of realisation. That I don’t know so much, and I have so much to heal. It’s actually taken me nine years to see my broken pieces let alone fix them. And I had plenty of help along the way.

That’s the journey, it’s broken, a bit messy and your nails will break whilst doing it, but it’s so beautiful in the end. These days when my beautiful ceramics break in my house a part of me rejoices (not all of me mind you I’m not rave, starking mad yet) at the opportunity to remake all those broken pieces into something greater.


Messy is not brilliant, but sometimes messy is the way it is. After a late night out we fling our clothes onto the chair, where they lie a happy witness to the fact that we go out and have fun when we wake up bleary eyed for the morning lift scheme. That mess is normal and perfectly acceptable. We can’t be neat all the time. I’m certainly not. I gravitate towards the other pole – chaos. Right now I’d be happy to dance on the pole of neatness, because I’m stuck with post renovation MESS.

Fixing up a house is a happy mess. At least I’m trying to tell myself that as the dust settles in my lungs. The princes have been great – mess is no foreign subject in their little kingdoms. My hubbie has been escaping back to his mothers for quiet, peaceful, five course lunches. (We moved out of the house to her [thank goodness] for five months) And I ever-present, ever there, have donned my armour and have braved putting my feet in the dust. Lugging our stuff into the house. Swearing that I’m going to really cull big time. Hanging up pictures with my bare hands (and a handy Hilti of course). And by the end of the day I collapse exhausted into bed after a dusty bath. Not before emptying all those boxes that need to be emptied in my dressing room.

Do I sound a little bit sorry for myself. Maybe a bit. So far my fairy god mother hasn’t appeared with a wand and magiced the dust, mess and builders out of my house. And I’m trying to be the house fairy. Which doesn’t work because as we clean and dust (yes thank God for staff) the builders trundle in and bang some more holes into the walls. (We were done but it’s called snags.)

So here’s what I concluded. The mess is okay. And it’ll probably be messy for the next couple of weeks. There’ll be no curtains, no phone line, no internet (I am typing this from my mother in-laws very neat, clean, QUIET house) for a bit. And it’s okay. A bit of mess I need to accept. If I don’t accept it I’ll go mad. It’s like accepting that our kids won’t always be neat and not spill their cereal, and milk and Milo (is it just the Princes who leave the breakfast table like an Australian cyclone?) Building, kids – they’re all good things. Challenging but good.

The trick is not to be worn out by it. And I read this last night which gave me great comfort. We often run around like chickens without heads being everything for everybody. Our energy levels are low and we’re performing on about 50% (if we’re lucky) 100% of the time. This isn’t ideal – it’s a recipe for complete burnout. So the thing is to cut  back, slow down and be there for others 50% of the time. But when you are there for them your 100% present. All there. A whole person. Not a bedraggled cat chasing her tail person. I loved this. Obviously the rest of the time take for yourself so you can be that 100% Mom, Wife, Friend.

So raise a healthy, delicious smoothie (see below) to mess, to things not being perfect and let that all be 50% and here’s to 100% fabulous MOMS.

Delicious Smoothie for Spent Moms

I’ve been reading this book Spent by Dr Frank Lipman. It has some delicious recipes one of which is the Blueberry Avocado Smoothie. It’s perfect for making and drinking on your morning or afternoon run or just as a snack. And the avocado is what makes it so creamy and delicious.

Blueberry Avocado Smoothie


1 Cup frozen organic Blueberries (Don’t worry if you can’t get. I just  buy fresh or use mixed frozen berries.)

1/4 Avocado (I sometimes increase this because I can’t get hold of coconut water.)

1 cup Coconut Water (Use water or milk if you can’t get hold of coconut water. Use rice milk or nut milk if you’re off dairy.)

Juice of half a Lime (I sometimes leave this out)

1 Tablespoon Agave Syrup

1 serving or 3-4 Tablespoons vanilla or plain Whey powder (so healthy for you)

1 serving or 2 Tablespoons green powder (Also very healthy)

4 ice cubes.


Blend in blender until smooth and creamy. (You can also use a magimix.)

Add bananas and whatever else you like in as well.


Here I am sitting on my bed typing. I’m not usually a type in bed kind of writer. I’m much more I sit at my desk, or a table in a coffee shop writer. But here I am in bed tapping away with heavy eyes, a scratchy throat and a very blocked nose. (This is an official apology to all my friends whom I’ve ignored this week – I’m sick sorry.) So yes I’m feeling under the rainy Johannesburg weather, and I’m not quite sure how I’m going to get better.

You see there’s no one to submit sick leave to. No one whom I can say, ‘Sorry I’m not being a Mum today.’ If I say it to my kids they look at me like I’m strange and then continue fighting. (I’m sorry to burst the bubble but my Princes do fight.) My husband says, ‘Poor dear’ (or something to that effect) and asks me what I want. ‘A cup of hot water with lemon,’ I say. ‘Of course my love,’ he says. (Or at least I’d love it to sound that way, but in any case he does agree to make me lemon tea.) But he doesn’t come back with tea or anything else for that matter.

What I have tried to institute is a Mummy Sick Leave Scheme. What’s that? Well I’ve just thought it up as I type. You see us mothers don’t have actual sick leave where you can cheerfully book yourself into a hotel that serves you hot, lemon tea all day (although that too is a brilliant idea – I really should try that out next time. If any of you do, please let me know how it goes). So within our important responsibilities we need to see where we can delegate, let go of, fob off any of the duties to make the day lighter than usual. So that you can even lie in bed instead of collapsing at the end of the day with pneumonia.

So for example today my car lifts were sorted out so I didn’t have to leave the house at 7am. The morning madness my husband handled. (Wonderful man I agree.) I stayed in bed until 730am – a real sleep in for me these days. So needed after three nights of blocked nose sleeping, which is like sleeping with a new born baby.

Part of the Mummy Sick Leave Scheme is leaning on the kindness of others. For example my lift scheme partner offered to do my afternoon lift for me today. And I accepted gratefully. Usually I would have shook my head stoicly and said, ‘No I can deal with the two-hour shlepp ahead of me no problem.’ Forgetting of course that even when I’m well I feel quite faint by the time I reach Kensington. So I was given a reprieve which I took. (And I hope she’s reading this. She was my Divine Angel.)

What isn’t part of the scheme is going to Pick n’ Pay. I should certainly not have gone today (although I really needed cleaning supplies otherwise our house which we should have moved into on Sunday will never be ready for us. It’s a dust trap.) If I hadn’t gone maybe I wouldn’t now be coughing. I had to do some lift scheming for the kids and the usual but I didn’t have to go to Woolworths. I should have delegated that, because it wasn’t even for me. It was a favour. So one of the major rules of the Mummy Sick Leave Scheme is no favours. You do not go beyond the letter of the law of what you have to do when you are sick.  Kapish!

Another rule is to sit your husband/partner/support person down and you explain to him/her that they are in charge of the kids in the morning and evening. Everyone knows that’s when you feel your worst. Even if things don’t go perfectly because you are after all the expert. It’s too bad. Your health comes first. And here I must thank my hubbie, who is all too often unappreciated (another blog to write) for pulling his Daddy weight big time. (It’s taken about nine years of sick episodes and tantruming to get there.)

And maybe this is something us mothers forget too easily. Our health is important without our health we cannot function as any kind of mother let alone a good mother. And I know how much we all pride ourselves on being good mothers – okay good enough mothers.

So let’s raise a cup of lemon tea to all mothers everywhere. To taking care of ourselves and enjoying perfect health all of the time. And to those mums who are also underneath the Johannesburg summer shower sky go get that cup of lemon tea. From your husband or if like me you don’t enjoy waiting – make it yourself!