How Do You Measure The Life Of A Mother?

The mother daughter relationship is very unique, as is the father and son, mother and son and father and daughter. I only realized in much later years, more from observing other people’s relationships with their parents, as well as my relationship with my own sons, as my relationships with both my mom and dad were atypical.

Now, you are welcome to correct me if I am wrong, but I think that the quintessential parent child relationships take the following forms…..obviously not exclusively.

The father son relationship is an extremely delicate relationship, which affects boys for their entire lives. From my observations, there is so often a competitive undertone, as the father is considered the son’s ”superhero” for so many of the boy’s childhood years. He looks up to his dad and wants to be just like his dad. In turn, the father has expectations of his son, expects him to do and be certain things, and embraces his son’s perception of him.

Eventually, the son reaches an age where he realizes his dad is not a superhero. The dad becomes acutely aware of this, and suddenly he needs to work a lot harder at retaining his rank of his son’s ”superhero”.

Sometimes, I have seen this manifested in condescending and patronizing behaviour on the part of the dad, just to keep the son ”in his place”. Sometimes the dad raises his expectations of his son (even implicitly), so that the son never reaches these unrealistic expectations, and then the dad does indeed retain his status. Although this causes the son to resent the dad, he will continue to try and reach those expectations, and this could possibly ruin so many relationships and opportunities in his life.

From what I have regularly observed, this is so often the fragile relationship that exists between a father and son.

The quintessential father daughter relationship is, on the other hand, one of unconditional, wholehearted and unlimited love. The father expects so much less from his daughter than his son. There are no egos involved, no competitive undertones, just pure, unconditional love.

Now, in retrospect, this is what my dad’s relationship with me was like. Unfortunately, my relationship with my dad was not quite so typical.

I truly was not aware of the unconditional, wholehearted and unlimited love that he had for me. Firstly, his stern and intolerant personality traits, made it hard for me to recognize this. Secondly, I had witnessed his father son relationships with my brothers, 6, 12 and 13 years older than me, and just assumed this applied to me too.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am in no way saying I did not have a good childhood. This is SO not me blaming anything that has gone wrong in my life on my dad. If anything, he did everything he needed to do….and more, for me to feel like a normal child with a normal upbringing.

Perhaps this is just me processing how much I did not give him what he would have so appreciated. A daughter who idolized the ground he walked on. A daughter, who held a place for him in her heart, as the most important man in her life for an eternity. Perhaps this place has been held in my heart…..I truly do not know.

Perhaps, as mentioned in my previous blog, if I could have one last and lucid conversation with him, and ask him whether he expected more warmth, love and affection from me, he would say….’’wouldn’t have made any bloody difference anyway’’. Knowing my dad, I kind of suspect he would have said that!

Then we come to the mother son relationship. Before having my sons, I always said I want daughters, as daughters love their moms way more than sons do. Wow….how wrong was I? I have since realized that the love between a mother and son is at the very least, as strong as the love between a father and daughter. The only difference, is that sons invariably set off on their new journeys, with their new family, and eventually are not quite as present in their mother’s lives. But the love for their moms is steadfast. Daughters are the ones that remain present in their mother’s lives, and ultimately become their nurturers and caregivers.

From my observations, the quintessential mother and daughter relationship can involve a lot of squabbling and bickering. So, now this leads me to my mother daughter relationship. There was virtually no squabbling or bickering. Growing up, my mom was EVERYTHING to me. I could talk to her, rely on her, lean on her…..she felt like everything I needed to feel safe and loved. I would have killed for her and I would have died for her. I believed that I had the best mother in the world. I felt that if she stopped breathing, I would too!! 

It was, again, only later in life that I realized my special, even tempered, patient, tolerant and gentle mom, was also indifferent.

This is essentially why she appeared to be so easy to talk to, patient, understanding and even tempered. But this did not really matter at all, as she was everything any daughter needed from a mother, on their very complicated journey to adulthood! 

Also, not having a close connection with my dad when I was younger, I absolutely reveled in the connection I had with my mom.

Now, my mom was also quite a dark horse. She had a wicked sense of humour, which only surfaced every now and again. One did not immediately recognize it as humour, as such humour did not quite conform with the rest of her traits. She laughed at herself with ease…one might even go as far as to say she was self deprecating……again…yes….I hear it….just smile and nod….no need to point out the obvious.

Growing up, my mom was ALWAYS physically present in our lives. We were so fortunate to have had her take us to school, fetch us from school, attend all the sports events…..she was that mom. She knitted jerseys for us and eventually knitted jerseys for our kids. Motherhood was her calling. And the fact that she was not actually emotionally present, was never even considered until it did not matter anymore. Well I suppose it mattered, but by that stage, I was well into my adulthood, and was not going to reflect on issues that I was not aware of when they mattered most.

What she did for her kids, she did for her grandkids, her parents and my dad’s parents. She even continued to do so much for my dad’s mom, many years after her and my dad had got divorced.

My mom was so present for everyone, so obliging, that there were times that my love for her caused me to hurt for her. I often felt that she was taken advantage of, but that was probably just me being over protective.

On accompanying her on all my grandparents’ errands, she would repeatedly say, ”if I ever get like that, shoot me. I never want my children to remember me that way, and I never want to rely on my children.”

Unfortunately, that is exactly how my mom landed up. She suffered from Alzheimer’s in the last few years of her life, and she was indeed reliant on her children. Her entire personality changed. I could relay some really comical incidents that took place, as a result of this personality change, but that would not be how my mom would have wanted to be remembered.

But the good news mom, is that I am starting to remember you as you always were, and hopefully everyone else will too.

I love you. I miss you. I thank you.

We Do Not Remember Days We Remember Moments

Growing up, I remember my dad as a strong patriarch…the leader…..the breadwinner…the decision maker….the chauvinist…..and anything else that was expected from a father in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Being the youngest child, and his only daughter, he absolutely adored me. Everything I did was amazing in his eyes. Everything I was, was amazing in his eyes. However, at the time, I was not really aware of this. Because of his demeanor and temperament, I was always frightened of him. I never felt the warmth or adoration. Either he wasn’t very expressive (which I suspect is the reason), or I only saw him as ”scary dad”!

I probably would have got away with murder, but not even once did I abuse this opportunity. I am sure that my brothers had a much harder time with my dad. There was the definite need (with some more than others) to prove themselves to him. Not a totally foreign concept in the father and son relationship. I was not burdened with this load, and think I kind of appreciated that at the time.

My dad was strong (his body and mind), hard working, smart, honest and honourable. He was also intolerant, cynical, impatient, incredibly sarcastic and could be so hurtful just with his words…..okay… is totally NOT necessary for you to point out how much alike we sound…..I get it!! 

I always knew I was everything he was, even looking a lot more like him than my mom. I could list ALL the personality flaws and character traits we shared, but that would just make us sound entirely dreadful with no positive traits….which is impossible….I think….I hope????

His sarcasm could have you rolling on the floor, but it could also have you mortified….yes….I hear myself…again…..just smile and nod. 

But, despite all this, what I always felt with my dad was protected and safe. I had no doubt that a decision made by this imposing man was well thought through, analyzed, scrutinized, investigated, and  again, analyzed, and then finally the decision would be made. In essence, that is what every child needs and deserves….a feeling of safety….. I had that!!

Once I had children, my dad felt the need to feature in my life more. I too felt a need to connect with him more. So we certainly took our relationship to another level, but he got older, I got older, and his idiosyncrasies were highlighted…..sigh…..yes, as were mine. All the time, me being totally aware that these were idiosyncrasies we both shared, but that did not make him any more endearing or me more tolerant!

At this point, you would be quite correct to assume that I should then have tried to correct my own….um…quirks.., as I had realised how his quirks affected me….but nope…I never did. I just argued that this was our chemical makeup….end of story!

It worked mind you….anyone I have in my life came in knowing what I was, not being ambushed by another side at a later stage. I too enjoy the opportunity to allow people in my life for who they REALLY are. Not being charmed by something they are not….only to find out who they really are at a later stage.

My dad was a good man though, just his intolerance made it difficult and at times impossible for anyone to be invited into his life. But, like me, those who received the invite, were for all intents and purposes there to stay for good!!

There were a few comical situations involving my dad, that will live with me forever. A quote by  Cesare Pavese sums it up so succinctly when it comes to my dad……”We do not remember days we remember moments.”

Just as an example of his intolerant manner and snarky humour, I will forever remember an incident that occurred when we were watching an episode of “Dallas”….. 100 years ago. For those of you who will remember, Dallas was aired every Tuesday Night. I think that this programme was the only other thing that managed to shut down our country as much as COVID has.

Now my dad’s daily TV habits involved reclining on his black leather recliner, and for the most part, falling asleep within minutes after a programme started. The second the ads or the credits came on he woke up, only to fall asleep as the ads ended and the programme resumed. Of course he never admitted this.

Anyway, Tuesday night arrived, me, my mom and dad, and two friends of mine sat down to watch Dallas. It was a very significant episode, as one of the main characters was going to be killed off. So there we were, totally engrossed in this programme…my dad sleeping…and said character gets murdered. We were beside ourselves, chatting and analyzing what we had just seen, and as soon as the final credits started my dad woke up.

‘’Who got killed off?’’ he asked. On hearing the news, he mumbled, “good I could never hear what she was saying anyway.”

We all collapsed on the floor laughing, and he remained straight faced, and waited for the next programme to start, before going back to sleep. To this day these friends reminisce about this incident.

Many years later, me being many years older, and TRYING to be wiser, I decided that I needed to start taking more note of what our elders are saying…..ask more questions….learn from their mistakes, be wiser from their experiences… know…. GROW…..

By that time, my strong, independent and giant of a dad had gone blind a few years earlier, was in the throes of Parkinson’s and Dementia, but still remained compos mentis. 

At one of my bi-weekly visits with him, I decided that I had wanted…no, needed…. to procure an invaluable life lesson…become wiser…grow….and asked the burning question…..

”Dad, do you have any regrets in life, or would you maybe have done anything differently?” I asked, eagerly awaiting these words of wisdom, ESPECIALLY us being so similar and all. I reminded myself to listen, focus and absorb the INVALUABLE advice I was just about to receive.

“No”, he replied “it wouldn’t have made any bloody difference anyway”.

Well that was that then….no life lesson there!!

A while later, my dad’s suffering just worsened, until he was virtually in a fetal position on his bed when I visited. He could not communicate, and it was never clear whether he was even conscious of what was going on around him. How it pained me to see my strong and tough dad come to that. How he would have HATED that.

 An acquaintance who I had seen when visiting a family member, had asked about my dad. I explained how much it had hurt me seeing him like that, and sometimes I prayed for him to be taken from us so that his suffering would end. She explained that he will hang on to life, purely because he worries about leaving people behind. She explained that I need to tell him it is alright for him to go, and that everyone will be okay.

A few days later I visited my dad, and was fortunate that my aunt (his sister) was visiting at the same time. It seemed kinder to discuss with her, in his presence, that when he was ready to go, he needed to know that we would all be fine. It just seemed less callous than me telling him he could leave us. 

On leaving, I kissed his cheek, and could have sworn that I saw a tear rolling down his cheek, but it was far too painful to make sure of that.

The following morning I received a call that my dad had passed away.

Dad, I love you, I miss you and I thank you.

When The Mother Becomes The Child.

So quite a while back, I came to the realization that I was slowly becoming my children’s child. I think every parent child relationship reaches this turning point. I vividly remember the precise time I realized I was becoming my mother’s parent.

In the beginning, it starts very gently. It is that moment that you, as a child, realize that your parents are in actual fact…..human!! They don’t know everything….cannot fix everything ….cannot protect you from everything and, up to that point, have pretty much just done the best they knew how, and prayed they had done enough.

It is just the circle of life really, and every parent and child reaches that turning point. If you do not recall experiencing this, either as a parent, or as a child, it is just that you were not consciously aware of that pivotal moment. It happened….trust me.

It is both terrifying and empowering at the same time. This is true for both the parent and the child. The child realizes oh crap, I need to think for myself now, as well as, maybe I should have realized this sooner, but YAY I am actually the Master of my own destiny!! The parent thinks, wow, look at this strong, smart and independent child I raised, as well as, who is this little pipsqueak to question my authority and decisions??

There is, of course, a transitional phase, where the child thinks they are way smarter and more empowered than they think they are, and the parent still harps on who is this little pipsqueak to question my authority and decisions??

Then, eventually the child comes back down to size, and the parent calms down, and realizes that their authority has not yet been completely usurped. This is the first phase….which, as a parent, turns out to be the most temperate phase. 

Phase two is when the parent realizes that in actual fact they do not know everything….cannot fix ANYTHING….and cannot protect their child from everything. The child on the other hand realizes that they very often are smarter, wiser and braver than their parents.

Phase three is just the most pitiable and heartbreaking phase. This is when the child becomes the parent and the parent literally becomes the child…physically, mentally and emotionally. It is not a phase where any parent or child wants to reach, but unfortunately, this too is the circle of life.

As I mentioned previously, I vividly remember the precise time I realized I was becoming my mother’s parent. I had just finished Grade 12, my parents were getting a divorce, and my mom was looking around for a new place to stay. Being the mother, I left this entirely in her hands…..until I didn’t. I realized that she was under huge emotional strain, and her judgment was a little skewed. I took over the entire project from start to finish. I only realized that I was doing the correct thing, when she failed to terminate my unilateral appointment as director of operations. That was my phase one moment.

Cut to my moment as the parent. Well that happened some time ago, and to be honest…two sons….dull brain….everything else in between, I do not remember the first moment, but a few snatches of moments for each child.

Prior to Corona (a manner in which, I suspect, sentences are going to begin for many years to come), I had a morning job, an afternoon job and a weekend business. The aim was to collect money from as many corners as possible. The goal….first and foremost, to pay for my children’s education. After that, to pay for whatever was the priority at any given point. This is how I continued….for fifteen years…..undisturbed…..until……well….COVID!!!!!! 

So now I have a business (in the hospitality industry……*&^*%$), one job where my hours and pay have been reduced and the other which is continuing as before. In my mind, though, I argue that I have one job continuing, one job with the potential of earning what I earned before, and a business, with the potential of getting back to what it was before. So, essentially…in my mind…I am truly grateful, and, more importantly, I have HOPE.

So, last night my oldest son, Pepper, asked if we could go for dinner. You might think….how sweet of young Pepper to ask his mom to go for dinner. Well, Pepper will stop at nothing just to not be quarantined and shut up in the house. However, once we sat down for dinner, Pepper and I had the following conversation……

‘’Mom, you need to subscribe to LinkedIn.’’

‘’For what?’’ I asked, browsing on my phone.

‘’Mom!!!! Can you put the phone down so we can talk? Nothing can be important enough to disturb our dinner…let’s chat,’’ he said, most annoyed at my lack of focus on the moment.

‘’You need to put yourself out there and maybe you will find another job,’’ he suggested.

‘’Let’s just wait and see what happens, everything is so uncertain right now,’’ I tried to explain….me…..adulting the child!!

‘’You are just scared to admit the truth,’’ he continued, now realising he had my full attention. ‘’It is just safer for you to trust that everything will go back to normal, when you know it is highly unlikely.”

Well knock me over with a feather!! This little prawn cocktail was adulting me!! What does he know…he’s a kid…..he might think he is a big shot adult, but he is just a kid, I annoyingly thought to myself.

‘’Think about what you have to offer. Think about what you have accomplished. You could be such an asset to yourself, if you would just recognize this.’’ Okay….paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it….. not quite as eloquent as his mom, is my Pepper.

‘’Do you have a CV?” he asked.

”No, why would I have?” 

”We need to draw you up a CV. I will help you. You need to be proud of your achievements, and learn to sell yourself to people,’’  the annoyingly adult child explained.

Okay, so he’s right. But again, what does this little muppet know about the real world?? He has just started his life. The future is bright, the opportunities are endless, the perspective….. so naïve and short sighted….shame….poor Pepper!!

Anyway, must rush….just need to find that big shot, who the bloody hell does he think he is, too big for his boots brat child of mine to help me compile my CV, and we need complete focus!


If there is one thing you need to know about me….…I am THE Master of detachment…..detach them horrid, painful, pity party thoughts that I know will hurt me…I have superpowers of suppression…..I am…… THE SUPER SUPPRESSOR!!!

I have absolutely no doubt that every psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, psychotherapist and psychologist  around  the world would be able to write a 450 000 page thesis on how disastrous the long term effects of this type of behaviour is, but let me tell you people….it has worked wonders for me!!

‘’Yes, but look at you???” you all point out simultaneously.

Well to all of you, I say…..imagine the alternative?????

Unfortunately, I was unable to implement my superpowers when my husband died….first time ever….not sure exactly why. I suppose despite the obvious shock and horror of it all, I think I was just enveloped by it in my daily life. It just could not be suppressed, and let me tell you something… has not been pretty!!

After I lost my husband, every person and their aunty insisted I go for counseling.

‘’Nope, not gonna’’, I insisted. ‘’I have amazing friends who provide better counseling than I could get from any stranger,” I insisted. Sure, they did not lose their other half, but at the very least, they knew me, they knew my children and they knew my life……kinda.

‘’But you need to deal with your emotions’’, they argued.


‘’So you can get over it and move on,’’ they would continue, knowing they were treading a very dangerous path.

‘’GET OVER IT??? MOVE ON???? This was not a break up!! This was not a dispute with someone!! This was not road rage!! MY HUSBAND IS GONE…MY CHILDREN’S FATHER…..GONE…..…FOREVER……HOW CAN I GET OVER IT????????’’ I screamed…..extra loud….as they really should have bloody known better…..blithering nincompoops!!!

So thanks to my husband (which I will be sure to bring to his attention in my next lambasting with him), I have become very……let me say….. ‘’selfish’’….. about whom I mourn for, and the intensity of the grief I allow myself to endure. It is not really fair on others, as a loss is a loss, but I have realized that I now have a checklist which I subconsciously use as a “mourning meter”.

As inconceivable, unsympathetic and unemotional as this may sound (even in my own head), this is what it is. The thought of going through all that unnecessary human emotion again, is unbearable!!

I was very fortunate not to have suffered much loss growing up. I even recall being grateful for it at the time, as I compared myself to friends, most of whom had lost at least one grandparent. I still had all four! My first real loss was my paternal grandfather, when I was around 11 years old. In retrospect an untimely death, but at the time the shock and the grief seemed relatively ‘’ gentle’’. I assume when you are that age, and it is a grandparent, it is not totally unexpected.

My first totally unexpected loss was my father in law, who died so suddenly and so unexpectedly, that the degree of grief was far greater. I was older, he was younger, and it did not make any sense.

After that, I eventually lost my three other grandparents, but again, it was their time, and they had all outlived their lives…..if that makes sense?

In the last few years, I lost both my parents. I have not yet written a blog about either of my parents, as although they passed away a few years ago, I had not yet gone through the official mourning process….. my powers of suppression had successfully kicked in. When one writes about something, one is forced to deal with it, and clearly one did not feel ready to do deal with it, so one did not write about it!

Of course it was an incredible loss, but a relief too……’’bitter sweet’’ if you will. This sounds so awfully unsympathetic and unemotional (dammit….maybe I am just unsympathetic…….and unemotional), but unfortunately, both my parents suffered for a few years (in totally different ways), before they passed. As a child, it is so difficult to see your parents suffer. Towards the end, especially with my dad, whose suffering was greater, I found myself praying for him to be put out of his misery.

During Lockdown, maybe because of the amount of time I had with my thoughts, such thoughts which I had consciously avoided for the last fifteen years, I suddenly started remembering my parents before their mental and physical health started to decline.

Until then, I could only remember them as they had been, for so long, before they had passed away. It is unfortunately the only way I managed to remember them for a long time. This is so terribly sad, as they were with us for over 80 years, did so much, were so much, and yet that is how I remembered them. It just doesn’t seem fair!! No person would choose to be remembered like that. Least of all my mom, who I vividly recall for the better part of my life, insisted she did not want her children or loved ones remembering her suffering or ill.

So….suppressed my thoughts….. lockdown arrived…….forced to be with my thoughts……..and the memories of my parents in their better years started to come back to me. Then began a period of ‘’gentle’’ grieving, racked with guilt that I did not mourn the loss of easily the most influential people in my life earlier. They gave me life, they sacrificed for me, they laughed with me, cried with me, mourned with me…could I not have at the very least have rated them right up there on the mourning meter??

I went from being so hard on myself, being disgusted at and disliking myself, wondering how I could not have totally broken down into a puddle of grief when my parents died, to being easier on myself, telling myself that what I was feeling before, and what I was feeling then, was totally normal…..oh, and then back to feeling like a monster again.

So, although I have nowhere near mourned the loss of my parents yet, I do feel that I have respectfully acknowledged their loss, and I do believe that I have a duty to start forgetting how they died, and start remembering how they lived……just not quite ready for that pain yet…..

COVID….What Have You Done With My House??

So, a bit of information about one of my (VERY MANY) quirks I am the proud holder of!! The very annoying Obsessive Compulsive Disorder aka OCD, or as I like to see it written…..alphabetized…..CDO….there, that is better!!

I am a minimalist, a neat freak and a clean freak. When I moved into my current home approximately fifteen years ago, even the rose bushes fell victim to my quirky condition.

“I am removing all the rose bushes,” I mentioned to a friend, who also happened to be an avid gardener. The previous owner was an avid gardener too, tending to his plants every day. There were rose bushes, chilli plants and a variety of other flora, which I totally failed to appreciate at the time. All I wanted was lowest possible maintenance and no chance of any hint of disarray. Not on my watch!!!

“Noooo you can’t, WHY??” my bewildered friend asked,

“The petals always fall off and are very messy,” I replied.

“Well then I will take the trees,” she said, willing to do anything to save these poor rose bushes from this unmentionable fate.

The chilli plants escaped my wrath, but only because they were not considered messy. Yes, sure they were also self-sustaining, but that was not even thought in my head at that stage. I even used some of those chillies on the odd occasion (when I remembered I had the plant). Naturally these plants did not survive, as they needed things like water, TLC and pruning….who knew?? Who cared??

Another potential victim of my disorder, were the carpets in the bedrooms. I mean….carpets….eeeeeeuw!!

“Why?” everyone protested, “carpets are warmer.”

“Cos I DON’T DO CARPETS.” I insisted. “Carpet stains…… dust….allergies….trapped dirt……eeeeeeeeuw. If anyone is cold, they can put on a jersey!!”

At that stage, I had a five year old and eight year old. Now how in the world of immaculateness was I going to keep those carpets clean??

Once they grow into mature and responsible adults (cough…splutter), I thought to myself, I will relax the House Rules.

Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to replace the carpets. So…..HOUSE RULE NUMBER ONE, NO EATING OR DRINKING IN THE BEDROOMS……like ever!!!

Of course, my well behaved and conscientious children totally complied with this House Rule…well except for Salt (sigh….there’s always Salt)….who I would discover here and there over the years, had snuck in treats, and had thrown the wrappers (aka “evidence”) behind his bedside table…….as one does….as opposed to throwing it in the dustbin…..

So we had fifteen years of clean carpets, no rose petals lying on the ground for no good reason, and the rest of the house was as neat as a pin. The minute I saw anything in a place it was not allocated to, I would rectify this situation. Not totally pleasant for my children I am sure….but you know what they say….”happy mom…happy home”.

Fast forward to COVID. Honestly, I have no idea how I was blindsided by these NOW GROWN (and supposedly mature and responsible) ADULTS. I looked around my house a few days ago, and what did I find?? Well…..Salt’s carpet had definitely seen some food and/or drink. These were no longer the crisp and clean carpets of yesteryear. That was not even the worst of it.

Early into the lockdown, my Salt decided to try and grow a mango tree from the pip of the mango he had just eaten. Not eaten in his room mind you, as at that stage, I still had things under control! So ever the improviser my salt is, he found some plastic container, cut it to size and carried on his merry way. This all while Pepper and I were watching “The Walking Dead” on Netflix…..oh the days when work and studies were locked down….

Anyhoo….Salt is quite the potterer (excuse the pun), so one doesn’t really take notice of his every move, as most of it doesn’t make sense to the rest of us. So there he was, behind my back, well in front of my eyes, but my eyes were glued to the TV screen, planting a mango pip! A short while later (could have been days….who knows), I saw a strange object in the garden. Now our garden is tiny, so it was not hard to spot. But, you can be sure, that even if our garden was a smallholding…my beady eyes would have spotted this.

“Saaaaaaaaaaaaaaalt” I screamed.

Salt sauntered in….which, as you will know by now is what Salt does.

“What’s wrong mom?” he asked, ready to deny he had done WHATEVER I was about to accuse him of, or fight till the death about how he always gets the blame for everything.

“What is in that container?” I asked grimacing and contorting my face like I had just seen a truckload of manure being dumped on my property.

“I am trying to grow a mango tree from a pip,” he said hesitantly (he knows me too well my Salt does).

“Please don’t start messing this house now that we are all home. I mean how long does it take to grow a mango tree? I mean what is the bloody point??” I said as calmly (not) as possible.

“But mommmmm, what is the harm?” he whinged.

So I decided, new times, new mom, child probably battling with the lockdown…..what was the harm indeed??

“Just make sure you don’t mess with all the sand, and make sure that you don’t mess the tiles with the sand, and…..” I said being cut short by Pepper yelling that episode 1079 of Season 112 of The Walking Dead was about to start.

A few days later, I see Salt (as he crosses the TV screen) furiously looking for something. Now, in another time, I would have asked what he was looking for, so I could nip WHATEVER he was about to do in the bud. But now….new times, new mom and The Walking Dead, put a stop to that.

So, a few days later, I see a clear plastic bag has been adjusted to be used as cover to protect the (now budding) mango plant. Rope has been tied around to keep it secure….bright blue rope….so cheap and tacky looking….

Again Salt was summonsed, and again I caved.

So very long story short, from then until now……Salt dabbled in hydroponics, aquaponics, planted seedlings in soil, clay pebbles, coco peat soil………the one room has now become the “store room” for all the items ordered online……..and so on and so bloody on!!!!!

Our first “harvest” was A green bean. That’s all the beans our plant produced….ONE…which I snapped off and savoured every mouthful of. I mean……WE grew that!

Salt and I were simply devastated when a hail storm damaged OUR bean plant. Tomatoes have started growing…quite a few actually…..but I continuously have to remind Salt that he cannot drop the ball, as our household uses loads of tomatoes, and I am expecting never to have to buy them again.

One such tomato has one more day to ripen, at which time, the three of us will sit around a table, each with a plate, knife and fork, and we will engage in some fine dining as we divide this culinary delight between us!!

Oh….we also have a green pepper doing well, some gooseberries hopefully soon, harvested some Kale the other day, and we are going to start a whole other produce section in the last remaining space in my ”garden” …….both indoor and outdoor, as apparently, wherever Salt finds space, salt is vegetating.

So there I was looking around my once spotless and neat house, wondering what the hell went wrong???? But shortly thereafter, I trotted off to ensure Salt had tended to all OUR produce.

Parsley anyone??

Is Getting A Degree The Only Option?

What next????

Part Two of my rant on not being defined by a degree, might apply to my side of the world more than to yours. The reason being that in South Africa, the majority of parents, especially those with more means, insist that their school leavers get a degree. 

There are three types of parents here on my side of the world, and then there is me….bugger….there is always me!!

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people say ”I told my child, he better go and study and get a degree. I do not care how long it takes him, he WILL get that degree!! IN THIS COUNTRY (hmmmmpfhhh….refer to my previous blog if you wondering why the hmmmmpfhhh ), he will NEVER find a job without a degree””. This now is normally a statement made by a previously (and still) advantaged parent. 

Then there are the previously disadvantaged parents, who have the means, and because their generation, and their generations before them did not have the opportunity to study further, will insist that their school leavers do what they never had the opportunity to do. 

Then there are the previously (and still) disadvantaged parents, who do not have the means, but sacrifice so much, and work so hard, just to give their children this opportunity. 

The common rationale amongst all these parents, is that if their children get a degree….. any degree, they will get a job!!! Even more disturbing, is that this is what they tell their children!

So what this results in, is that too many of these children will literally use this opportunity as a paid vacation. As long as their parents insist on paying for this ‘’vacation’’, will be as long as they will be on this sabbatical!! One cannot blame the children. Why would they pass that opportunity up?? They could not even be bothered when they are being constantly hounded by their parents for not working or advancing as they should, towards something they did not even want to do in the first place. 

And when these children FINALLY get their degree (if ever), and a job does not automatically fall into their laps, as they were promised by their parents, they feel disillusioned. They lose confidence, self esteem and waste even more time not managing to find gainful employment, while feeling worse and worse about themselves. But at least they obtained their degree, so their parents are satisfied!

Let me use my personal experience as an example. Growing up, I was the youngest and the only daughter in the family. There is a possibility that my dad had wanted or tried to pressurize my brothers to get degrees, but I have no recollection of that. Me…never even suggested by either of my parents (hmmmm, just thinking….maybe I should have taken offence to that). But no matter…got that degree, and then realized I wanted to save the world from all the injustices. As my regular readers will know….never happened. 

While I was diligently studying my years away for this degree (not even sure why I was studying for that, or any degree), my husband had started a business. Despite the fact that he had not even passed Grade Twelve, I will always maintain, smartest man I knew, really hard working, entrepreneurial and ambitious.

So, while my husband was building up a business, he used to tease me about wasting my time with a degree. By the way…another trait of his that no person could top….his ability to tease people….playfully, of course.

”You are wasting your time studying for all these years”, he would tease.

‘’Ha ha,’’ I would respond, ‘’wait until I have my degree, and then you will see!!’’

‘’Ha ha, by then I will have a successful business, and you will have …….…a degree….’’ he teased.

 ‘’Ha ha, yes, but wait until a few years after that…you will see.’’

‘’Ha ha HA’’ the Universe cackled, when he was way more successful without his Grade Twelve, than I was with my degree.

Sure, with my degree, I could have continued to practice, and been as successful as my husband. But I was not that person. No, I was creative, artistic and lots of other things, but law was not my calling. I cannot even blame my parents for this decision I made. Nope, that was all on yours truly.

So nearly fifteen years after I left school, I was a qualified attorney, with no clue as to where I was going next. By that stage, I was married, had two children and just dabbled in this and that. Had I spent the previous fifteen years doing something I was passionate about, something I enjoyed or was talented in, I would have had way more to show for it. But me………even armed with that magical degree…..……had not a sausage!! 

And again, don’t holler “‘different times”. Nope, hard work, sacrifice and ambition still affords you the measure of success you desire.

Then there was my oldest brother. Legend has it, that when his final exams were coming up for his teaching degree, he decided that he did not want to get this degree. Now, he was (and still is) super smart, so this was not about that. He would surely have passed, but decided that getting the degree would limit his options going forward. If he continued, he reasoned, he would be a teacher…case closed. So what he chose to do (despite the Dean phoning my mom and begging her to tell him to just write the final exams), was to continue to read the work on the floor in his room, while his classmates were writing their finals.

Hmmmm….contradictory……different…….difficult…….rebelling….I am noticing a pattern here! However, having done that, he continued on to surpass anything he would have done had he written those final exams. 

I am not suggesting that a degree is always a waste of time. Of course there are instances where a degree will give you a leg up, or might be necessary for you to further yourself in your chosen field. It can get you noticed when you start, and open doors that wouldn’t be open if you didn’t have a degree.

What I am suggesting, however, is that not everyone is an academic. or destined for a profession.

Unfortunately, because people without a degree are not respected, tradesmen and artisans are regarded as inept by society as a whole. How dare society?? Could a Doctor or an Accountant fix a leaking pipe? No, that is what the plumber is there for. Is a carpenter necessarily any less intelligent than a lawyer? No, he just happens to be more creative. 

But what this has given rise to, is the stigma attached to many school leavers, who could have become very successful tradesmen or artisans, and, due to pressure from all corners, land up with a degree and …well….a degree.

The quandary which this incessant need of parents to INSIST on their children getting a degree ”otherwise they won’t find a job” creates, is that there are going to be a gazillion graduates, who after graduating, assume they will DEFINITELY find employment….IMMEDIATELY, as this is what they were promised by their well meaning, but misguided parents. 

So the world, or certainly the country I live in, will be saturated with these gazillion graduates pondering why they did not get a job that they were guaranteed to get if they got their degree. On the flip side, there is a shortage of good tradesmen and artisans.
But no matter…..these graduates might be unemployed, but at least they will have that degree!!

On that note…anyone know of a decent electrician? They are a dime a bloody dozen around these parts!!!!

Why Should A Degree Define You??

All my myriads of readers (me manifesting) might note that I tend to have more than one blog on related topics, before I move on to the next topic. This is not because I can only focus on one topic at a time. On the contrary, my mind works overtime on all my millions of thoughts….racing….twirling….darting through my head continuously.

So essentially, I sit down to write a blog on a topic that had managed to stand out above the rest of the frenzied thoughts racing up there, and suddenly emerges a torrent of more related thoughts. Then my head is filled with complete pandemonium……which then results in what I shall refer to as ”the blog allot” Yep, the full blog has to be allotted to two different blogs… know, for easier reading….you know, something I seem to aspire to….but realise must fail at dismally, after now reading this paragraph back to myself!! Anyway…I present to you part one of a two parter.

So here I am, again, being…..contradictory…different….difficult….rebellious…..yawn…you get the idea? Of course, I write on MY experiences….in MY circles…..MY generation…in MY Country. Damn straight….this here is MY blog!!

Yes I did get a law degree. However, as I previously mentioned, it was not about the law, or the degree. I mention this, not to be like those who get a degree, so that they can literally spend the rest of their lives adding that on as a hyphenated last name whenever they introduce themselves. Best not forget that after the introduction (you know…Tom Ford-With a Medical Degree), they will remind you between every second sentence, that they are a Doctor.

Nope, the reason I mention this, is because I have come to learn that people define themselves by their degree…and even though a lot of these people never even use their degree, or only fleetingly use their degree….they will forever define themselves by their degree…and sadly, so will everyone else.

I had no cooking clue that I was respected more, and regarded as having superior intelligence than the apparently unworthy and brainless person that society refers to as ”one with no degree”. This only started becoming apparent to me years after I had left my profession. I was actually the complete opposite of the swankers. I was always sheepish about mentioning this fact to anyone. The only time I did, was when people would ask what work I did. A question people have the intense need for you to answer soon after meeting you, so that they will know how to define you.

So, when people boldly exclaim that they have a degree in…..WHATEVER…they are immediately perceived to be of superior intelligence, someone who deserves respect. But I always felt uncomfortable when I was asked that question. I felt like I was bragging. So the way I would reply, was under my breath, with my head cocked to one side and my eyes down, in a fairly soft and (for some reason) high pitched voice (similar to a child explaining where all the cookies had disappeared to ). Of course, what then happened was, the inquirer would look at me wondering… in all the oceans of Statutes could this whimpering blithering fool be an attorney????

Be that as it may, I stopped practicing after eight years, and started ”mommying”. I started a completely unrelated home business. When other moms asked what work I did, I mentioned my part time home business…..not my degree….not my profession that was now a thing of the past. The question was “‘what do you DO?”. They did not ask what I had studied, or what I had done in my past. This question, in my mind at least, was not a job application. I did not feel the need to recite my résumé!! Of course, now I realise, it may not have been a job application, but it certainly was some type of an application……

After a year or two, someone who knew me from my attorney days had casually mentioned to the one mom that I was an Attorney.

”Are you an Attorney?” I was asked by one mom, as I was walking to fetch my children from class one day.

”Well no…..I was, but….” I started, before being cut off mid sentence.

”OMG, I cannot believe it, I would never have thought. How come you never mentioned it??” she responded.

”Well, I didn’t think it was important, and……” I tried to continue, before again being cut off by an eager mom, excited about this ”vital” piece of information that had come to her attention.

Before I knew it, everyone knew I was ”an Attorney”. People with degrees, who I had been passing for years, and from whom there was the ”polite nod”, or at most a couple of sentences between us, suddenly stopped me so they could chat. People without degrees were suddenly more attentive. What in the world was going on here? I thought, totally confuzzled by the fact that people had changed their opinions of me overnight on hearing I had a degree. I kid you not, if I had mentioned I was also a money launderer, I would still have commanded the same respect! In fact there were some parents who were known to have had some dodgy dealings, but if they had degrees…respected!!

Those guilty parties are not totally to blame though, as there is a whole other beast, known as ”society”, that has attached, and continues to attach more and more significance and value to this piece of paper.

I am not minimizing the amount of work, diligence and sacrifice that goes into getting a degree, or the benefits some get out of their degree. What I am merely saying, is that the respect or social status of a person should not be dependent on whether or not they have a degree or not. But go figure, for so many people…. IT IS!!!

Early on in Articles, my Principle Attorney asked me why I wanted to be an attorney. Of course, even I had no answer to that question, so I decided to improvise, and enthusiastically told him it was to ensure that justice was achieved !!

”Wrong answer”, he declared, after which I looked at him slightly befuddled, as I had been unaware that there was a right or wrong answer.

”You become an attorney for the status, the social standing and respect it gives you”, he continued.

I, of course being the totally naïve and green dimwit that I was, believed that this poor sod was a just very insecure, and needed a piece of paper to feel adequate. Little did I know that this was (and is) in fact how so many judge you.

Now, if those people respected you because of all your hard work, pressure and sacrifices you endured to obtain the degree, that would be understandable. But the degree automatically qualifies you for the respect in their eyes.

Sad that the same respect will so often not be given to the person who went through all that (and sometimes more) to become perhaps even more successful, and have no degree to show for it….. but no degree….no respect.

On that note, I am off to find that degree of mine, did not realise how valuable waving that little bugger around would be!!

To Vaccinate Or Not To Vaccinate? This Is The Question!!

So here is me…..being “different”” again. The biggest news of the moment……..there is a vaccine for this dreaded COVID plague!!  

Before I impart my words of INCREDIBLE wisdom on you lot, I just need to mention that as a rule, I post a blog twice a week. Why? Well when I was researching monetizing a blog, I was informed about finding a ”niche”, ”algorithms”, ”sponsored ads”, ”conversions”, ”affiliate marketing”, marketing to create awareness of “my brand” etc etc. So, of course….plug pulled on plan!! I would just write for therapy…and at the most, be lucky enough to be writing for some followers who would enjoy my posts. I thought. The one thing I do recall though, is learning that one needs to post consistently, so that your followers know, and can rely on the fact that there will be regular posts at regular intervals.

Now that, for some reason, I implemented. However, as much as it goes against my nature….it actually pains me, I kid you not……I am posting on an unscheduled day. I am taking the daunting step of not following my routine (ouch…ouch…ouch), and boldly going where I have never been before…..yes, I can do this!!

The reason I need to do this, is because I am dealing with a very current topic. Hence, if I schedule this blog for a later date (as I have a few scheduled blogs to be posted in advance already), the topic might not be as current. Of course I could just reschedule what has already been scheduled, and post this here blog sooner, but that just seems like too much admin!!

So, back to the actual blog content…..

You might be classified as a ‘’newsmonger’’ , or one of many that are obsessed with the mass media…as in flick through local news channels, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, ESPN and aggressively search for bad tidings on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, What’s App groups, podcasts, neighborhood What’s App groups etc. THEN YOU ARE THE PEOPLE I TRY TO AVOID AT ALL COSTS! This is less about you and more about me. I do not believe in causing myself unnecessary anxiety. I find PLENTY things to be anxious about, thanks a bunch!!!

Sure, one should be fully informed about everything that is happening. But unfortunately, the reputable news and the propaganda and fake news are becoming increasingly conflated. This being so, as we live in a world of ratings, the need to go viral, clickbaits, sensationalism, algorithms…..the list is endless.

So I despise propaganda and fake news, and what it does to me, but also to us as a society. The only way I can avoid it in this day and age, is to consciously steer clear of anything that might alert me to this dribble. Once I hear it, I cannot ”unhear it”, and the wheels of anxiety commence spinning. Whether there was a hush in my head, or a noise in my head, both instantly get the boot, and fear and terror take over.  

Avoiding this is something that I have become fairly proficient at. I can scroll through social media, and literally see straight past the posts I find uncomfortable. I can remove myself from a situation or a conversation just moments before I am able to hear what I try so hard to avoid hearing.

I was added to a neighborhood What’ App group a while back, and I literally left the group before even one message had been written on it. I am so stealth like in my endeavours, that only the sharpest  are aware of my intentions. The problem with this is that some people need a bit more of a subtle hint about my need to stay uninformed, and others need TO HEAR IT LOUD AND CLEAR!!

I am totally aware that some might find that this is a very self-indulgent and immature attitude, but I, on the other hand, find it very evolved and mature. I am there now….in that place that I know what I can handle, and I know what to steer clear from. This is my nutjob brain, and I know it best. So please, at the very least, respect it, and talk about me amongst yourselves later.

Anyway…..again…..I have moved so far off the topic, I nearly forgot what the topic was. So let me continue…..the COVID vaccine….yes…..I shall proceed….

It was impossible for me, even with my stealth like talent, to avoid the cheers of  “Israel have found a vaccine’’, two days after we heard about COVID, to the squawks of “it is just a ploy to chip us’’, to the backtracking of ‘’well Israel  hasn’t found a vaccine, but apparently Spain now has’’, to the nervous whispers of ‘’some people who were tested died’’, to the ….obvious….”South Africa will NEVER get it anyway”….to a lot of other talk. So I did the best I could do to block it out!!

Then a few weeks back, we heard that, yes, even in South Africa we will get the vaccine….wow…imagine that???

So, ofcourse, the babbling commenced. The who will, to the when will, to the how will and so on. I on the other hand…..would prefer to be at the back of the queue. 

What is this ‘vaccine” they speak of?? Vaccine development is a long and complex process. There are research phases, discovery phases, clinical trials…..and that is only what I as a layman am aware of. Imagine how much more there actually is to the process. But in under a year this pandemic that shut down, paused and then slowed down the entire world, managed to have people produce a vaccine in less than 12 months. Miraculous….

A few days ago, my son, the social butterfly Pepper (poor tortured life he has had to endure in this socially distanced and safe environment), asked if I was going to get vaccinated. My answer was so concise and to the point, that he did not even bother trying to get me to reconsider. He was just as concise and to the point when he mentioned that if I do not get the vaccine, he’s packing his gear and hitting the road. He refuses to live with my Rona psychosis any longer.

So in the midst of the babbling, it seems that of all my friends, only my person and myself have decided to go shopping for camping chairs in the near future, so that we can at least be comfortable while we wait our turn in the back of the line.

Now, for me, I say, you do you. You want it? Get it! You don’t? Don’t!! But if you are sitting in judgement of the people that do not agree with you, stand the hell up, walk away and breathe in…breathe out.  


I have a friend, who pretty much was (and for the most part still is) so conventional, that it even drove her dilly.

There was her method of making important decisions….conventional………if ”they” say that you need to send your child (actually toddler) to playschool at a certain age, then so it shall be……no questions asked. Then there was me…..

’’But I don’ feel my child….ACTUALLY TODDLER……. is ready for school yet?’’ I would question.

‘’Well they say it is the right age….so it is,’’ she would insist.

‘’But as the mother of said toddler (actually almost still an embryo), do I not know this child more than any of ‘they’ do??’’ I would ask.

”Your child will be lag behind his peers if you don’t send him early enough,” she insisted.

”There will be more damage done if I send him too early,” I replied.

‘’Why do you always have to be ‘different’?’’ she would chuckle. ‘’I wish I could be more like you.”

Hmmmmmmm…….by “different,’’ I can only assume she was sugar coating what she undoubtedly meant…. ”contradictory’’……’’difficult’’…….’’rebellious’’…..’’stubborn’’…  but no matter…because friend, if ‘’different’’ meant think for yourself, I wished you could be more like me too!!

Just so you know, there have been many times that I have wished that I actually agreed with the rest of humanity….would have made me so much more enchanting!! So much easier my life and times might have been!!

So, by thinking for myself, I did a lot of things ‘’differently’’ when raising my kids. For instance, back then, when food allergies were not popular, trending, or even a thing, I realized that dairy and wheat products used to give my first child (aka Pepper) a runny nose. When this became a realization, I took him off all dairy and wheat products.

Now something you need to know about me (of which I am neither proud of nor delighted about), I either do something COMPLETELY or not at all! So, wheat and dairy products became a scarce commodity in my house. Those that slipped through the cracks, were strategically tucked away.

Once this happened, shiver me timbers, runny nose gone, disappeared, a thing of the past!

When we went out, and to school eventually (at the ripe OLD AGE of 4), the wheat and dairy products were more sought after by my hunny bunny than sweets, cakes or fizzy drinks!! If I could have avoided that too, I would have. However, I thought, if I am in fact scarring my child for the rest of his life (as I was being led to believe), best to make that the point of departure!! Also….imagine if I actually dared telling people I did not give my children dairy or wheat?? I would be deemed an unfit mother, tied up and burnt at the stake.

Yes, of course I was accused of depriving my children of calcium, which would in turn mean that they would become adults with no teeth and soft bones. However, the only people I felt the need to explain this to were my children, when later on they would come home from school and describe how the teacher says a sandwich and a glass of milk should form part of their daily diet for them to be healthy. There are healthier foods that provide calcium people….RELAX.

It did totally work to my advantage once. We were waiting in the foyer of school with my dearest on day one of school, dearest looking totally anxious, fearful, apprehensive and petrified about this new adventure he was going to embark on…..oh no, wait that was me….I was totally anxious, fearful, apprehensive and petrified…..but he was a couple of those too…..anyway, right on cue (I literally could not have planned this better myself, if I had tried), three guys with crates carrying bread….loaves and loaves of bread, arrived to deliver to the school. Dearest’s eyes SPARKLED like diamonds, and you would think he had just won the lottery. Well after that, it was just his mother that remained emotionally turmoiled.

On a side note, he grew up with teeth, bones and did not fall behind academically or socially. 

Another example of my “different’’ views, was relating to antibiotics. Back then, doctors prescribed them for EVERYTHING. Runny nose, cough, runny tummy, colic, sunburn, disobedience…… I said……..EVERYTHING.

Now me…(you know ’’difficult’, ”rebellious’’ blah blah), even as a teenager….when I was prescribed antibiotics, I just instinctually knew…poison….toxic…..lay off. I just always told my mom I had been taking them, and waited to see if I got better without them first. Nine times out of ten, I never needed them.

Skip to my little sprogs, I was exactly the same. Take sprog to doctor, no temperature, no glassy eyes….. a tad under the weather….no matter what symptoms my sprogs displayed, out came that wretched prescription pad for antibiotics. Naturally, I would never get them……unless there was indeed a temperature….you know…from the BACTERIAL infection, and glassy eyes…..….you know…from the temperature from the BACTERIAL infection… know B-A-C-T-E-R-I-A…the thing antibiotics were supposed to be used to treat!!

Once my sprogs were a bit older, it was as if the memo finally came out (well it probably did)…. that antibiotics had been over prescribed for years, and in addition, unnecessarily prescribed. Well then all these geniuses in the medical profession made it easier to get a prescription for narcotics than antibiotics!!

So I went from, ‘’my child does not need antibiotics for this, please prescribe something else….ummmm less poisonous’’, to ‘’look at this child’s temperature and glassy eyes!!  Now get that infamous bloody prescription pad and prescribe my dearest antibiotics!!!’’

You will be shocked to hear that there was not a queue of doctors lining up to apply to be our house doctor.

But on a serious note, I really wish people….ESPECIALLY MOMS….would listen to the information they are given and then think for themselves. You were given a brain…use it!! No one knows your child better than you do. Trust your instincts. Never underestimate the power of your intuition! You were given that as well… use it too!!

Sure there will unfortunately be times where the decision is taken out of your hands, But when you are able to make a decision, do not just assume everything you hear is correct……and when that gut is talking to you…….LISTEN!!!!!!

Anyhoo…..on a completely different topic…..can anyone recommend a good family Doctor??