Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Invisible mom...

This goes out to all the moms and grandmoms as well as all moms-to-be who sometimes feel unappreciated and unimportant. You are great and your task is far more important than any job which draws a salary. Hang in there and keep on doing what you're doing!


Invisible Mother......
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the
way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask me a question.
Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'
Obviously, not.

No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head
in the corner,
because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands,
nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?'
I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?'
I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes
that studied history and the mind that graduated sum a cum laude - but now
they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.
She's going; she's going; she is gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England ..
Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the
hotel she stayed in.

I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare
and feel sorry for myself.
I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package,
and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe.
I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:

'To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'
In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would
become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.
These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.
They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it
was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was
puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a
beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.'

And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard
God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day,
even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've
sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over.
You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life.
It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong,
stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder.
As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on
something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in
our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home
from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes
homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the
linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself.
I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to
his friend, to add, 'you're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right.
And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built,
but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Great Job, MOM! Hope this encourages you when the going gets tough as it sometimes does.
We never know what our finished products will turn out to be because of our perseverance.


As moms we have sacrificed our education, our careers, our income potential, our promotions, our material gain for the sake of building the characters and shaping the minds of our children and although the world often looks upon that task with scorn as if it is a simple task which requires no effort, those of us engaged in the task of building these new adults will know and understand that it is a calling not to be taken lightly. To all moms out there I say "Well done! There is nothing more important that you could possibly be doing than bringing up your children as responsible and loving adults!"

Friday, April 24, 2009

Busy week but hopefully relaxing weekend

My car decided to develop an oil circulation problem on Tuesday. I had taken Dael to work and Bradley to school and was driving to work when the oil warning light started buzzing and didn't stop. So I drove home and parked the car. I had no phone time so ended up walking to my parents house (about 20 minute walk). It was freezing that morning so I was like an iceblock by the time I got there. My dad took me to work and I got a lift home.
My loving brother came round on Wednesday and after opening up various areas of the engine it was decided that the oil is still circulating but the oil sensor which is very old is the problem. So I have been driving the car with the buzzer buzzing all the way.
Bradley was at my sister on Wednesday (actually playing with the neighbours kids) but when I went around to collect him in the evening, I discovered that he was feverish and sick with flu. Wonderful! So he has missed the rest of the week of school. Dael is also sick again but is not allowed to take more time off work. I told the boys that the only way to avoid getting sick is to start helping with the housework. That's what I do and I don't get sick!
Dael is having to work the weekend again. On Saturday from 6am until 6pm and on Sunday from 6am until 12pm. He is not very happy but he has run up a rather large cellphone bill, payment of which will come off my bank account so I have told him he needs to bite the bullet and work as much overtime as it takes.
Stress of work, sick kids, sick car - irritation, irritation, irritation. Thankfully when I am not busy being irritated I can see the funny side of things and that is what keeps me sane.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hello Strangers...

Okay okay its me who's the stranger. I'll admit to it. Dunno why it happens but every so often my thoughts get all stuck in my head and they don't want to come out. Maybe they just can't find the way. So I had a little break.

I had visitors over the Easter weekend. My son had teenage friends around on Thursday and Friday and they also ended up sleeping over on those nights. I don't mind having the teens around except my skimpy grocery supplies do tend to reduce quite dramatically! I also had the extended family from Gauteng staying the weekend although they did contribute but having people in the house means that I don't get to do the things which I had planned i.e. washing all my windows and spending time in the garden and just generally relaxing. I spent the weekend cleaning up after the crowd and entertaining my visitors. Easter was low-key. Bradley as the youngest is past the egg-hunting phase and I hadn't catered enough chocolate goodies for the whole crowd so he just sneaked an egg here and there from his stash when no one else was looking.

In years past, I have gone out into the garden at first light with my basket of labelled eggs and propped them onto windowsills and plants and even hung them on the line and the kids (even the older kids) have been enticed out of bed to find their chocolate. This involved a bit of fine tuning because I had to wait until it was light enough to see but not so light or late that Bradley was waking and peering out the window. It had to be done fast and the kids woken up to find the eggs before the dogs got hold of them (it has happened before!). So that is probably all over now until my grandkids happen along. I get a bit of a break now from the Easter bunny and Santa Claus.

This past weekend when I could have got all caught up with my chores and my gardening I had an attack of couch potato sickness and spent some hours watching tv and if I don't start early with my day I don't start at all. Maybe I just needed the break. I spent some time with my parents on Saturday afternoon as it was my dad's 74th birthday. I had phoned to remind my daughter and my son who was over at his aunt's house that it was grampa's birthday. While I was visiting at the parents, my daughter phoned to wish her grampa for his birthday. When they had finished chatting I spent some time chatting to Robynne.

I have a Monday headache today and my car has oil problems again but we have a public holiday for voting on Wednesday so thankfully another short week.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Who cares?

My weekend was a strange mixture of relaxed and depressed. I was supposed to go to the dam with my sister and her man. I ended up standing in queues - bank and supermarket and they left me behind. Bradley was with them. Wisely, he had walked to their house fairly early in the morning. I packed away my braai meat, my rolls, my cold drink and my crisps and settled down for an afternoon of aloneness. I tidied the house, made lunch, watched tv then I went out and cut some bushes and then watched some more tv. Dael was jaunting with his buddy only returned briefly to change his clothes and then go clubbing. Returned again at 1am on Sunday to eat and then went back to the club until 4am. I was fine - I had relaxed. Bradley had not returned home, opting to spend the night at my sister.
On Sunday, I turned 44! Dael was sleeping on the couch. I washed dishes, fed the cats, hung washing, watched tv and I was fine. Dael had wanted me to wake him before 9am. I tried. And again at 9.30am. Again at 10am. 11am. He would open his eyes and fall back to sleep. His friend C arrived on his bike at 12pm. Dael awoke, blamed me for not waking him up earlier. He raised his voice to me and I started to get depressed (and tearful). He fetched his gift to me - a cd/dvd combo (The Parlotones) (unwrapped and with the price still on), dumped it on the kitchen counter, muttered Happy Birthday and made coffee for himself. I went to the bathroom. I stayed there for some time. Bradley didn't return home on Sunday. He doesn't even know I had a birthday.
Eventually my daughter phoned from Cape Town. She was also tearful but she was reacting to me and she is also emotional when she is tired (also clubbing). My dad phoned and sang happy birthday to me. My mom was singing in the background. I bathed and dressed. Dael went out with C. My dad phoned again, "Happy Birthday to you... (singing) Oh no, I already did that!" (laughing, acting goofy). Hurry up, Mom's got burgers for lunch.
Mom had laid the table al fresco. She had a little box of chocolates and a card with some cash. I had already bought a pair of shoes to the value of their gift and I took these with me to show them what I had bought from them. They approved. We ate lunch. Joking. Relaxed. My depression lifting somewhat. We went out in the car together, mom, dad, brother and sister. We went to a coffee shop and shared cheesecake. Thanks family. I went home. Dael was there. I hugged him, thanked him for my gift. He also like the music. We put on the dvd and we watched together.
Very emotional day - little things mean a lot - good and bad. I got through it.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Farmyard Shenanigans

I have had a budgie, a snake, rabbits and mice as pets at various times but I have to say the most unusual pets we acquired was the poultry. We have never lived on a farm but always in a suburb fairly close to town. My daughter at age 14, daring to be different and with a little birthday money to spend, decided to acquire a duckling. It was a cute little fuzzy yellow creature and it lived in a cardboard box in Robynne’s room. Now obviously the hue and cry went up from her brothers who weren’t allowed to touch the little creature and were even banned from ‘copying’ her by getting their own ducks. You can imagine the amount of thought that had gone into where the duckling was going to live as it grew and what it was going to eat! Mommy solved the immediate problem with a quick trip to the local pet shop to adopt another duckling and two chicks. Grampa and uncle were pressed into making a pen which was basically a big wooden box with a wiremesh top in which the livestock could run up and down in safety to their hearts content. I caught many a cat perched on top mesmerized by the proceedings down below but they soon outgrew the pen. The ducklings were both female, one a plain white (Houdini), so named because of her inability to ever find the exit of her new pen as she used to run up and down like a headless whatsit for ages before happening upon the exit by accident, and a black and white beauty with green tail feathers who was called Darkwing Duck. The chicks were a rooster and his mate, both handsome and huge colourful specimens. They would wander the unmowed lawns in a group, unfazed by the cats and dogs, who after a few well-aimed pecks soon learned to keep their distance.

The new fenced off area was fully equipped with a small plastic-lined pond (duck Jacuzzi) where the ducks would dive in and zoom around in an underwater circle before leaping out to shake their feathers. We were concerned that the ducks in their wanderings would stray too close to the front gate and be scooped up by someone viewing them as a potential meal so when they disappeared we expected the worst. Soon though, a child appeared at our front gate “your ducks are in our pool”. They had discovered their wings and landed in duck utopia two doors down where they were soon at home in our neighbours pool. The boys were dispatched to bring them back and their wingtips were carefully clipped. They would lay their eggs in well hidden spots but Robynne would indulge in a little egghunt every day and became quite adept at finding the eggs which would become a generous lunch. One duck egg equals about 2-3 chicken eggs!

The rooster and his mate were my little pet project. Anyone who knows poultry knows that they can see ultraviolet light rays which shows up about an hour before the sun rises. And as soon as they see the light they crow. So as soon as my little pair got their crowing voices, I would have to get up before 4am, sneak out to the end of the garden where the chickens were perched on the fence of the poultry pen, grab the rooster and trudge back to the shed where I would deposit him under a cardboard box under a blanket to muffle his crowing and then repeat the trip for the hen who also crowed quite loudly.

Our poultry phase came to an end when I adopted privately a male dog who turned out to be a bit of a pest, scratching a foam mattress to shreds and stealing items of clothing to chew into holes. Then one day Houdini was insistently trying to get into the kitchen. Eventually I gently but firmly pushed her out and closed the door. Not long after that I looked out the kitchen window and to my horror, new dog had Houdini upside down and was ripping at her breast. Darkwing was found dead and ripped. The dog had killed her in the night. Houdini died at the vet. Dog went to the SPCA to be rehomed. I decided that rooster and his mate deserved a better life and eventually found a lovely animal farm for them to stay.

When I phoned them to see how the chicken were doing they reported that they had been amazed that when rain threatened and the other chickens hightailed it for the barn, my two just perched outside in the rain like the ducks. They were brought up with the ducks and saw nothing unusual with being out in the rain.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The cats always find me.

While sitting at my desk in the afternoons, I can hear creatures galloping across my ceiling. This is a little concerning as visions of large rats cavorting above me is not something I want to encourage. Anyway I mentioned these disturbing occurrences to several people including our security guard who is positioned outside the whole day and therefore in a perfect position to see what is on the roof. I mentioned to him that once or twice on hearing the noises I had gone outside and peered up onto the roof to check and see if monkeys (which we do get troops of passing through) or Hadedahs (large clumsy birds) were causing the disturbance.
Then yesterday, our general maintenance guy, 'American' knocked on my office door and asked me to come outside as he wanted to show me the cats. I went with him and when I looked up there was a cats head peeping over the roof. As soon as it saw me it disappeared. It looked to be a light coloured cat like a calico. I have also seen a black cat hiding under the branches of a fallen tree where we all park our cars. Then when I was leaving I saw the same light coloured cat slinking through the bushes on the other side of the fence of where we park our cars (disused tennis court). These cats are quite wild and to the best of my knowledge weren't there when we took occupation. We occupy a converted house (to offices) and generate a fair bit of garbage so I assume this is what has attracted the kitties. They gain access to the ceiling area through a stone chimney. I haven't really told anyone at the office because we don't really have many cat lovers here - will just observe them at present.

My last adopted kitty who is the youngest (other than the kittens) was brought to the office park where we were situated before. They heard that I had a lot of cats so were soon in my office whining about finding the kitty a home. 'NO!" I said as I am trying to reduce my numbers. The lady's boyfriend had found the kitten in the parking lot of his business complex and they couldn't keep the kitten as they already had ONE. If they couldn't find a home, he was going to take it back and put it out in the parking lot again. The kitten was small probably about 7 or 8 weeks so I reluctantly went down to the lady's vehicle to see the kitten. It was in the back of her bakkie (pickup) in the canopy section, very scared. As soon as they opened up the canopy, I went into kitty mommy mode, talking in my higher pitched kitty voice. And the little one came trotting straight over to me, causing the other humans gathered around to exclaim, "it likes you..it never came near us" - duh! So I acquired a new family member. Kitty turned our to be a girl and we called her Bitsy (aka Bitty/Biddy). It is her photo that I have as my profile pic. She is about 16 months old now and she is a little harridan. She is one of the alpha females and chases away any intruding males from our property including sometimes our wandering males because they come home infrequently. She loves her mommy and as soon as I am prone on the couch she makes a beeline for my lap, my hip or my shoulder - wherever she can perch and proceeds to swipe any other cat or kitten daring to approach or try to share mommy. If I try to dislodge her she gets really grumpy and swipes out again. I accept all my kitties with whatever character traits they exhibit. I don't tease them but just give them loves and play with them. I really have a thing against teasing. My boys however will tease the grumpy cat more than the scared cat because they get more of a reaction out of them. They are quite vigilant about looking out for the cats though and don't complain when I ask them to check for kittens by the car before I move etc. It is one of great joys that I have that all my kids are animal lovers and will go the extra mile or go out of their way to help an animal in need. A person who loves animals will have compassion for his fellow man. Fostering compassion for all earth's creatures is such an important lesson for children. If friends of the kids come to the house, they must not let me catch them hurting even an insect for fear of the lecture that will emanate from me. Its not even the importance of that tiny insect but the thought or emotion that leads a child or teen to destroy it. If you condone senseless killing then what are you teaching that young mind about life.

I wonder why some of those boys haven't been seen again at my house after one of my little 'lectures'. Never mind - maybe something that was said will have hit home and will be remembered in time to come.