Category Archives: Life

Remembering Doron

Not a day has gone by in nearly fifteen years that I haven’t thought of him. Not a day has passed without him visiting my thoughts and jolting my heart. Doron delighted in being alive and in nineteen short months he touched countless lives with his infectious joy.

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The “Perfect” Spray Tan

“Here ya go, just undress and put this on”, she nonchalantly said as she handed me a minuscule ziploc bag which contained what looked suspiciously like a tissue.

“Um, by undress, do you mean all my clothes?”, I stammered, nervously and naively hoping I was misunderstanding her words.

“Of course! But don’t worry, you will still be wearing those.”, she kindly reassured me, pointing to the little baggie I was clutching in my sweaty palm. The baggie that was so tiny that it couldn’t possibly contain anything that even loosely fit the description: clothing.

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What it Means to be Mummy

The first word I hear most days is “Mum”, followed by a tender “I love you” or “good morning” or “Do people eat breakfast in Heaven and who lays the eggs for their breakfast because everyone knows there are no chickens in Heaven?”

Before my eyes are even open, before my brain has fully adjusted to the reality of no more sleep, I am reminded that before all else, I am Mum and I have three little people depending on me to fulfil that role unquestioningly. There are days, of course, that I inwardly groan and silently beg for a break from this relentless responsibility to be their cook, cleaner, stylist, mentor, therapist, nurse, art teacher, entertainer, jailer, enforcer of unfair rules and referee in countless brawls over the middle seat in the car. When I wake up on these tired, uninspired days, I have to dig deep and remember that my children are innocent passengers in this trainwreck of my exhaustion. I have to be mindful always that even if it means regular visits to hide in the bathroom and silently cry for my lost, pre-kid independence, they need a Mum who looks at them with joy in her eyes. On those days, when I lose the battle and scream and yell because I’m not the perfect Mum that I aspire to be in the late, guilt-riddled hours before sleep, I will always take the time to apologise and explain that Mummy is tired and that just like them, I feel grumpy sometimes. I make sure they see that I am fallible and flawed and, more importantly, that I will always own my failures and apologise for hurt feelings. Read the rest of this entry

The Tween Parent’s Tug-o-War

Tween Parents Tug-o-war

Miss M is officially a tween. At eleven, she is beginning to show little hints of the woman she will one day be. Time has chiseled away at her face and is, startlingly quickly, revealing beautiful, angular cheekbones where chubby cheeks once were. Without me realising, she has grown in stature and is nearly as tall as me and only a shoe size away from becoming a sharing buddy. When she tries on my heels, she no longer totters around, comically playing at being a grown-up. My breath catches in my throat as I watch her instead, fitting almost convincingly into something that was once no more than a dress-up. Read the rest of this entry

Mornings With Kids Are No Fairy Tale.

Mornings With Kids Are No Fairy Tale

This morning, I woke up half an hour early, organised breakfasts, made school lunches and folded laundry. Feeling unusually ahead of my game and positive about the day ahead, I went to wake the kids. Mary Poppins-like, I woke the kids with smiles and kisses (everything short of scampering animated squirrels, I kid you not). They, in turn took a hundred years (not exaggerating, this is totally accurate) to do every. tiny. task. Read the rest of this entry

37 Lessons From the Internet

The internet is an incredible resource for learning. Also for watching wedding flash mobs and cats falling over. These 37 lessons are what I learned from the internet this week.

Oh, the confusion!

Oh, the confusion!

If you liked this, I’d really love to hear your comments, so please don’t be shy (comments make me do a happy dance).

If you liked this post, please don’t be shy (comments make me do a happy dance).

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The Extraordinary Man

        The Extraordinary Man Read the rest of this entry

The Masturbation Conversation

Masturbation.

This word strikes fear in the heart of most parents. It’s the kryptonite of the parenting fraternity. When most parents look at their children, the last thing they want to think about is that they – gulp – masturbate.

Because there seem to be such taboos connected with this topic, many parents are unaware that it is , in fact, totally normal for children to be touching themselves regularly at the age of three and then again, from twelve well into adulthood.

It’s bizarre, really, this fear of the masturbation conversation. I’ve seen friends freely post on Facebook about how little Sammy ate a cockroach today! Marcus fingerprinted with his own poo! Jenny had an epic diaper explosion (with attached photographs for evidence)! But when they discovered little Toby masturbating: silence. This little milestone is shoved under the rug faster than the most shameful family skeleton.

I was fortunate to have been raised by two incredibly open and honest parents and had benefitted from the freedom to be able to discuss anything with them, This led to some conversations that my parents probably didn’t enjoy much (sorry, Mom and Dad!) but I grew up unafraid of my body and free of misguided hang-ups. I decided, when I started this parenting journey, that I was going to be the type of parent that answers questions frankly and openly and without reservation. Yes sirree, I was evolved.

Masturbation conversation

So, when the day came that I discovered my three year old daughter with her hands down her pants, I took a deep breath, plastered a non-freaked out smile on my face and calmly told her that touching herself was a lovely and normal thing to do but that it was something she should do alone in her bedroom. “Okay”, she happily replied and skipped off to her room. Patting myself on the back for being so calm under duress (because the inner voice was shrieking “omigodomigodomigod!”), I  went about making dinner and praying that that was that.

The Masturbatory Gods had a good laugh at that one. As if. The next day, I unsuspectingly walked into the living room with a basket of laundry and BAM, there she was, hands in pants. Deep breath. Calm, cheery (slightly squeaky) voice. “Darling, remember how we talked yesterday about how if you want to touch your vagina, you need to do it alone in your bedroom?” Sweet, innocent eyes looked back at me. “Yes, mama, okay.”, and off she went.

Phew. Twice wasn’t so bad. Now, she got it. Excellent.

Until the next day. Three times. And the day after that.

By this time, I was getting so good at this conversation that I didn’t even bat an eyelid anymore. I knew this was a totally normal phase and I was proud that I was handling it with such grace and maturity. Mary Poppins herself couldn’t have handled it better. The new mantra in our home, repeated in sing-song voices multiple times per week, was “If you want to touch your vagina, you have to do it all alone in your bedroom.”

One morning, we were all eating breakfast before day care when down the pants went her little hands.

As I poured my cereal into a bowl, I said, “Honey, you can’t touch your vagina at the dinner table.” 

Chewing her Weetbix, she replied,“But why, Mama?”

Good question. Now how to put it into a social context that a toddler could understand?

I answered, “Okay, Sweetie, let me ask you this: have you ever seen ME touch MY vagina at the breakfast table?” 

(Brilliant, Michelle! If she understands this, then she’ll get why it’s an inappropriate social behaviour!)

Innocent eyes stared back, as she thought, then she grinned as the penny dropped,“No, I never seed you do that, Mama!”

I grinned triumphantly,“You see, touching vaginas is not something we do at the breakfast table.”

She smiled back and replied, “If we want to touch, then we have to go to our bedrooms!” 

Phew. FINALLY. She got it.

Off we went to day care. My little girl skipped in happily and put her bag in her locker.

Then she ran to her teacher and excitedly declared…

Wait for it…

You’re going to love this…

“Natalie! Guess what! My Mummy touches her vagina all alone in her bedroom!”

My mouth opened and closed. I blinked. I died a hundred deaths. I blinked and, fish-like, opened and closed my mouth again. I blushed furiously as garbled words of explanation fell out of my mouth in a tangled heap on the floor. I tried to explain that I REALLY wasn’t touching my vagina in my bedroom and my little princess hadn’t seen anything and ohmigosh am I really saying this out loud at daycare? I died again.

No amount of explaining was going to make this sound better.

The teacher laughed as she attempted to help me dislodge my foot from my mouth and she very sweetly reassured me that I wasn’t the first parent who had had this conversation with her, nor would I be the last.

When I left the daycare that day, I left knowing two things: 1) I had provided some outstanding staff room conversation and 2) This motherhood gig had finally stripped the very last bit of dignity I had left.

Motherhood: leave your dignity at the door

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The Day I Became a Mother

        The Day I Became a Mother Read the rest of this entry

What I Said When My Son Asked Me To Explain The Meaning Of Life.

       

Today’s post is the second in my weekly column at BonBon Break Magazine called, “What I’ve Learned…”

What I Said When My Son Asked Me To Explain The Meaning Of Life

After a Boys Only shopping trip, Little Man and Darren arrived home, clearly up to something. Little Man disappeared into the study and came out a few minutes later holding a gift-wrapped present in his hand. “Mum, you do so much for us and nobody ever even pays you! (He was outraged.) I asked Daddy if we could buy you this present because I know it’s one of your favourite things.” He held out his hand and presented me with my gift. I unwrapped it as he bounced beside me, gleefully. Inside was a dragon fruit  – a fruit we first tasted on a holiday in Singapore and that I fell in love with. From time to time, we see dragon fruit at our local shops but I never buy it because it’s expensive and frivolous. He had seen it and decided that I deserved something expensive and frivolous. He saw me as someone who deserves recognition and a little spoiling. The enormity of this, coming from my eight year old son, totally floored me. He demanded that I cut it open right then and there and eat it. I savoured every mouthful, we enthusiastically discussed the cool colours and textures and I thoroughly enjoyed the delicious experience of sharing this treat with the kids. Later that afternoon, Little Man very solemnly and seriously requested that Darren and I go to his bedroom together at bedtime because “there are some important things we need to discuss”. I wondered what on earth was so serious in his life that it would warrant a meeting, so I nervously asked. He replied, “I want to know what life is all about… you know. Why are we alive?”

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The Naughty Spot @ BonBon Break

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The Naughty Spot

       

Today’s post is the first in a weekly column I’ll be writing at BonBon Break Magazine called, “What I’ve Learned…” I hope you’ll enjoy this hilarious story featuring Little Man, the Terrible Threes and the infamous Naughty Spot. You will laugh and hopefully learn from mine and Darren’s misfortunes…

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The Naughty Spot @ BonBon Break

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Big announcement!

Let me start by telling you a little about my childhood. My mother was, amongst other things, a writer. I would spend hours poring over her scrapbook with clippings of all the pieces she’d written for various magazines, voraciously lapping up her success and revelling in it. I’d stare at her byline under the picture of The Most Beautiful Woman In The Whole World and I couldn’t believe that this talented writer  – who was published – was my mother. As I grew up, I watched as my mother tore up rule books and wrote two books and a slew of TV series. Never mind that she was an ex-school teacher who was now a stay at home mom. I couldn’t have kept count of the times I heard her say “Where is the rule book that says I can’t do (insert giant, insane feat here)?” and then watch the world stare, open-mouthed, as she succeeded wildly in her crazy ventures.
If you want to achieve something, don't ever listen to anyone who says you can't. You can.

If you want to achieve something, don’t ever listen to anyone who says you can’t. You can.

You see, my mother was an adventurer. She didn’t ask the world for permission to be fabulous. She went out and granted her own permission slips with wild abandon. She dived head first into her passions and often landed spread-eagled, face-first, skirt over head. Did she cry? No, sirree. My mom laughed. Read the rest of this entry

Six Lessons I Learned from Nelson Mandela

Image Today’s post is syndicated at Bonbon Break – a stunning portal to the internet’s best blogs and fast becoming a second home to me. I hope you’ll take the time to click over and read about my childhood in Apartheid South Africa, my family’s struggle to fight the system and my tribute to Nelson Mandela. Rest in peace, Tata Madiba, your long walk is over. 

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    If you want to see Val Curtis (Editor in Chief of Bonbon Break) and I in yesterday’s episode of Bonbon Break LIVE, click HERE.

Bonbon Break LIVE

It was 2am for me, so you’ll find me in my pyjamas, clutching my daughter’s Nelson Mandela doll and discussing parenting and perceptions of beauty. I also did a live reading of “Damn you, Barbie!” Much to my amazement, I seemed reasonably coherent. Enjoy!
This post was syndicated at Bonbon Break Magazine.
This post was syndicated at Bonbon Break Magazine.
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A Thank You Letter to my daughter’s Kindergarten Teacher.

A Letter to my Child's Kindergarten Teacher

To my daughter’s Kindy teacher,
 
How do I begin to thank you for what you’ve done for Baby G this year? 
 
You welcomed my little girl into your classroom in the beginning of the year with your arms wide open. No booboo wasn’t worth a cuddle and a band-aid and, likewise, no achievement wasn’t worth a mighty celebration. It didn’t matter that the achievement was ‘not crying’ when it was goodbye Mummy time – you recognised the gravity of each and every moment in her year and respected her right to be little for as long as she needed to be. As a result, Baby G dances into your classroom, runs to you for cuddles and declares you to be the prettiest of all fairy princesses. How do I thank you for that?
 
You start every morning with a song and dance Read the rest of this entry

The Ugly Beautifuls

The Ugly Beautifuls

A story about looking a little deeper by They Call Me Mummy On a recent family trip away to breathtakingly beautiful Kalbarri, a small coastal town on the West Australian coast, we spent a lot of time walking the seemingly endless length of the untouched beaches and collecting shells. In the evenings, we’d lay them all out and sort through the treasures we’d found. Kids love to sort and categorise and this was especially true for Baby G. Long after the bigger kids had gone off to do what big kids do, she could be found inspecting each and every shell and carefully considering where it belonged. She had very specific piles. She explained that The Curlies were the shells that she could hold to her ear and listen to the sea. They had curly insides and that was the part that she thought was special. Eyes glinting, she proudly showed me The Pretties, named because they were pearlescent and lovely. Seriously, she held up one of the group that looked like mini volcanoes and declared that they were called, logically, The Volcanoes. Next to these were The Interestings, named so because they couldn’t be categorised but were cool and needed to be picked up and kept, nonetheless. Finally, with a solemn face, she showed me the last of her groups and, with reverence, she declared them to be The Ugly Beautifuls. I looked down at this group of shells and inwardly giggled. They really weren’t beautiful, but she sure was accurate when it came to the “Ugly” descriptor. They looked like little brains… small whitish blobs  of shell, shaped like pieces of brain. I asked her, “Baby G, why do you call these The Ugly Beautifuls?” Read the rest of this entry

Damn you, Barbie!

They Call Me Mummy teaches her daughter to see her own beauty

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This morning, as I battled to tame her deliciously curly brown hair for school, Baby G very sadly uttered,

“Mama, I wish I had long, straight yellow hair and blue eyes.” 

That one sentence halted my world, Matrix like. In the microseconds that followed, I was forced to swallow the bitter pill that was her first yearning to be something other than herself. That one sentence had the potential to become the first brick in the foundation of the hateful self-doubt jail that so many of us women have built and locked ourselves in. That one sentence needed to be faced, head on.

I responded, faking nonchalance, “Tell me, why do you want long, straight, yellow hair and blue eyes?”

She replied (somewhat condescendingly), “Because EVERYONE knows that yellow hair and blue eyes are the prettiest kind.”

As I mentally beat Barbie to smithereens with a meat mallet and cursed Disney for Cinderella and Rapunzel, I dug deep for the right words to say to her.

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Learning to tame stoned ducks.

With ADHD, ducks do not stay in rows. As an adult ADHD sufferer with severe organizational and time management issues (and by severe, I mean crippling, suffocating, chaos-causing issues), I have found myself becoming increasingly overwhelmed by the volume of housework, kids’ school organizing and personal to-dos in the past few months. In true ADHD style, I find myself dealing with a zillion unrelated to-dos by running around in circles, flapping my arms and yelling at everyone. Here’s a heads up: this method does not work. Read the rest of this entry

Myth of the perfect mother.

This morning, the most beautiful picture found its way on to my Facebook newsfeed. It made me smile. It grounded me. It made me proud to be privileged enough to be called “Mum”. Here it is:
From the 4th Trimester Project - "Tara Maki is my hero of the day. She is ex-military and has overcome a serious eating disorder to grow and nourish and set such a glowing example of beauty for her girls Joselyn (3) and Addie (9 months) — at Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia."

Picture courtesy of The 4th Trimester Bodies Project (http://4thtrimesterbodies.com) – “Tara Maki is my hero of the day. She is ex-military and has overcome a serious eating disorder to grow and nourish and set such a glowing example of beauty for her girls Joselyn (3) and Addie (9 months) — at Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia.”

I was all loved up and happy until I read the horrific caption that went with it: “This picture and a whole swath of others like it have been removed by Facebook and other social media sites for being vulgar.”

VULGAR.

My blood is boiling over this. It is so very wrong on multiple levels.

This picture is not pornography.

Know what is pornographic? The countless images that Facebook thrusts on to my newsfeed as ‘suggested’ stories – images of emaciated teenage bodies accompanied by information about the diet pills I should be taking/milkshakes I should be drinking to look like them. These images are vulgar in their message that, somehow, I – a 38 year old mother of three – should aim to look like them. Know what else is vulgar? Read the rest of this entry

The ugliest doll in the shop.

The ugliest doll in the shop

 

(How a doll from 1984 taught me a lesson last week.)

I walked along the aisle, staring intently at box after box. Peeking at me through each cellophane window was a hopeful face that quietly implored, “Me! Me! Choose me!” I was as stressed out as an eight year old could be, torn between the one with blue eyes and blonde pigtails and the one with brown hair, dimples and green eyes. I could not believe this day had come. I was going to become a Mommy! It was 1984 and to celebrate my eighth birthday, I was adopting a Cabbage Patch Kid This was serious business. Cabbage Patch Kids were not simply dolls, you know. They were orphans who needed mommies (orphans grown in a cabbage patch, which was slightly weird, but details…) and I felt the full weight of this immense responsibility on my little shoulders. How was I going to choose the right one? Oh, the agony of indecision. There were endless choices and combinations – dimples on one cheek or both, blonde hair in a ponytail or pigtails. Green, grey or blue eyes. This would be a decision of epic proportions. Having narrowed my choice down to pretty blonde and cute-as-a-button brunette, I decided to walk another lap and clear my mind. That’s when I saw The One. Read the rest of this entry

Enough Mylie!

Visit Bonbon Break today for my thoughts on this Mylie Cyrus debacle.

Visit Bonbon Break today for my thoughts on this Mylie Cyrus debacle.

If you were an alien visiting the Earth and found yourself in a Western country this past week, you’d have learnt the following things about the People Of Earth:

ONE: Miley Cyrus is Very Important and has magic powers. With a few shakes of her rear (accompanied by an unnaturally long extension of her tongue), this young earthling can make poverty, murder and impending war  d i s a p p e a r. Yep – anyone who witnessed Twerkgate was privy to the instantaneous vanishing of the murdered Syrian children, threats of WWIII and… well… anything of actual importance from world news. Poof!

TWO: Twerking is horrible and slutty. HOWEVER, women should be allowed to twerk to their hearts’ content because we own our bodies, so quit judging and back-off. ALTHOUGH, even though we shouldn’t Judge Miley (poor, poor, poor Miley, naive and expressing her rights) she really did behave like the sluttiest slutty slut from Sluttsville and Read the rest of this entry

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