Monthly Archives: July 2012

I’m being bullied.


There’s this girl I know. She hates me. She watches my life with avid fascination…every little thing I do. Mostly, I’m able to avoid her, but every now and again, she finds me.

Yesterday, I was having one of ‘those’ days. You know the kind – when life seems too much and nothing goes according to plan? I was feeling like a failure because other people seem to manage the juggle so well and I was just.not.managing. Well, I bumped into The Girl. She looked at me and smirked. She looked at my disheveled appearance and her satisfaction was palpable.

Without a care in the world, she said, “You’re pathetic. Your husband deserves better. Your kids deserve better. You are a failure, Michelle.” Just like that.

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15 reasons not to let Hollywood raise your kids.


If the mainstream media was in charge of bringing up my kids, they’d learn these lessons:

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1. If you’re not skinny, you’re a failure. Whenever you eat anything that isn’t a lettuce leaf, you must feel guilty. You might want to consider visiting a pro-ana site for some thinspiration. In fact, even if you’re a multiple gold-medal winning Olympian, you’re going to be judged on your weight alone, so you’d better get used to being permanently starving or permanently hating yourself. Alternatively, you can become a comedienne.

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My son collects trash.


My son collects junk. If I didn’t go through his pockets before I did the laundry, I’d have a broken washing machine every week. If I dare throw away any of this junk, I’m in trouble. Why? Because it’s not junk. He is seven years old, and it’s his treasure.

“Teach him to ride a bike”, they said. “It will be fun”, they said.


After a childhood spent watching “The Wonder Years” and “The Cosby Show”, I naively looked forward to the day that I would teach my child to ride a bicycle. I could picture it so clearly: The sun would be shining, the grass would be the perfect green to compliment the azure blue of the sky, I’d take pictures of my son, proudly straddling his bike, triumphantly grinning at me as we basked in the afterglow of learning to ride. He’d have a band-aid on his knee from a little fall, but he’s be so proud. It would be a beautiful mother-son bonding experience and I, for one, couldn’t wait.

Damn you 80s sitcoms.   Here’s how it really went down: All the way to the park, we discussed how it was not going to be easy, that he would fail a lot before he would succeed, that he would feel frustrated and that would be okay. We talked about positive attitude and giving it a go. I was like a motivational speaker on crack.   At the park, Little Man got on his bike, helmet on, face set in determination. I held the front handlebar and the seat and calmly explained that I wouldn’t let him fall. I was all Mother Theresa kind and caring. I was the picture on the front of the parenting books.

Until we started.

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Happy birthday, Madiba!


“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” - Nelson Mandela, President of South Africa 1994-1999

Happy 94th birthday, Nelson Mandela!

You always have been and always will be one of my personal heroes.

I highly recommend the book “Mandela: In Celebration of a Great Life” by Charlene Smith. She has interviewed him countless times over the years and her account of his journey is a real “inside” look at the President.

I was invited to be on Wife Swap.


Because letting a psycho into your home and giving her access to your children is the best idea ever.

Have you ever watched Wife Swap? The basic premise is that two radically different families swap wives for two weeks. The wives don’t know where they are going and the families left behind don’t know know what kind of wife/mother they are getting. What usually happens is this: Wives are interviewed pre-move and tell us how they are going to bring their brilliant ways to the new family and teach them how to live like their family lives. These wives each believe she is perfect and that she is performing an act of generosity and kindness by leading the new family down her ‘enlightened’ path. At this point, I am already addicted. Why? Because, courtesy of some legendary and not-biased-at-all editing, we have had a little glimpse into her horrific perfect life and stressed-out well-balanced family. Time to settle in for the carnage that will be presented to me over the next half hour.

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What to expect when you’re expecting a teenager.


I have an amazing friend, Marianne. She is a mother of two, a cycling fanatic, a Zen Do Kai Black Belt and at the tender age of 50, she is flying through a degree in Exercise and Sport Science. Her kids (16 and 20) are amazing individuals who have relationships with her that I can only wish for when my kids are their age. They respect her, adore her, trust her and confide in her. In short, she is phenomenal.

Marianne is also a fabulous writer (did I mention her background in journalism? Yes, this is a multi-talented lady) and I have asked her to guest post here, to give us a peek into the future. After all, our little angels are one day going to be teenagers. Here, folks, is a look into the future through the eyes of Mari.

Mari and her two teeny tiny babies.

Armpits, hair mud and hot wax.

When I stand up straight and tall, my nose is about level with my 19-year-old son’s armpits. When he teases me about how little I am, and drags me in for a hug, I pretty much disappear. I am eternally grateful that he listens to his mother and scrubs under there, because it’s obvious that some of his mates just hover under the shower and rinse, before clouding themselves in the ubiquitous Lynx deodorant spray. As I’ve grown older, my tolerance for powerful perfumes has declined rapidly and a car-load of Lynxed-up lads has me sticking my head out the window gasping for oxygen. A build-up of body bacteria overlaid with Lynx sets off my pass-the-bucket reflex.

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FAIL is not a four letter word.


I had an interesting chat with my children this morning. It’s the school holidays and I decided to take them out for a cafe breakfast and catch up over hot chocolate. I asked them what the the best and worst parts of  school have been. Both told me that the worst part is when they get things wrong. Both feel anxious at the prospect of not ‘getting it right’ and it got me thinking.

My generation of parents is so praise-driven – often to the point of absurdity. We are so afraid of the dreaded “low self-esteem” that we have become a generation of parents who praise mediocrity. They try to catch a ball, but miss and we shout “Great job!” The thing is, it wasn’t a great job. Sure, it was a good try, but great? Nope. Our kids get certificates for participation, they get medals for giving it a go. All lovely ideas, in theory, but in my mind, a sure-fire way to ensure our kids will never achieve their potential. If we tell them they are brilliant when they are average, will they ever aspire to true greatness? Will they even know they have it in them.

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Sometimes, being Mummy ain’t all that.


When I was a little girl, all I ever wanted was to be a mum. Not a pilot, a scientist, a doctor. Not a farmer, a dancer, a teacher. A mum. Yes, I studied and built an extremely successful career as a Copywriter and yes, I loved it. I’d be lying, however, if I told you I was devastated to drop it all and become a stay-at-home mum when Little Miss was born.

Fast forward 9 years. Now I am mum to Little Miss (9), Little Man (7) and Baby G (3). I am still a stay-at-home mum, while running my (tiny) one-man business on the side. Here’s the thing: this stay-at-home mum thing is killing me. There, I said it.

What’s more, I suck at it.

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Why I let my kids fight.


       

Michelle Lewsen Why I Let My Kids Fight

Look on the wall of any kindergarten classroom and you’ll find a list of rules like this:

Classroom rules by theycallmemummy.com

From the minute they enter the school system, our kids are taught how to be good, play fair, be nice. It’s wonderful and delightful and, well, unrealistic.

I was the mother who mirrored those rules at home. I made damned sure my children said please and thank-you. I always facilitated sharing and turn-taking. We spoke about weapon-words and how to ask for things nicely and how snatching toys was bad. When my  children started to fight with one another, I always jumped right in and mediated so they could learn that it’s not necessary to be mean. We did a lot of role-playing.

How very naive. Not to mention short-sighted.

“Why?”, you ask.

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