I don't believe in miracles - I rely on them

I don't believe in miracles - I rely on them

Yogi Bhajan


You found my blog and as I am experimenting with the weird and wonderful world of cyber publishing, let me explain what
a gunna is: it's a word for all things desirable, something that makes us happy and warm and comforts us when we feel tired or sad or lonely. a gunna is the best gadget in the world! it was leah s first word for all things she wanted. Or you might also know it as: dummy, schnulli, pacifier binky, schnuller...... and so on. So this is for my beautiful


Thursday, May 19, 2011

To all the single ladies .... and mothers...

Not for the first time I find myself in awe of single-motherdom and its daily mind boggling challenges. Ladies I don't know how you do it.

Two days into my week of  single motherhood  - (yes Alan is away for a couple of days) I realise once again I am not cut out for this monumental achievement in multitasking, managing, organising and developing superhuman qualities all in one days work (and I have great and capable help!!!)

It all started out well enough with me smugly packing lunchboxes and school bags and laying out multi layered little outfits inspired by "iafrica- 7-day- weather-forecast" the evening BEFORE ( having temporarily lost the morning privilege of shouting last minute instructions to Alan from the sanctuary of my bathroom).

 I then calmly set my alarm for six oh ten and go to bed at a civil time expecting a good night's rest and a smooth and efficient start to the day.

At around midnight Leah comes crawling into my bed, demanding a drink of water and around nine tenths of my duvet and mattress space. Can't go back to sleep for what feels like hours. But must have dozed off before 2 am because that is precisely when I am yet again rudely woken by what seems like drunken party noises from next door. Turns out it's Kala -  who has clearly recovered from nasty ear infection that kept us up the previous two nights - letting the world know with a smashing song that she is finally well and sufficiently rested.

In one swift move I find myself standing by her bed negotiating terms

Me: Kala, sleep time
Kala: Mama you sing for me
Me: Need to sleep can't sing
Kala: Twinkle twinkle LITTLE STAR (top of her voice)
Me (scared now Leah might wake): sshhhhh,  ok, one song, but then you have to sleep.
Kala: you sing by my bed  NOT from the door ! (cunning little cow)
Me: you have to close your eyes then.
Kala: closes one eye - remaining eye glinting triumphantly in the eery glow of the nightlight -whilst mama recites groggily: der Mond ist aufgegaahangen, die gooholdnen sternlein prahangen...

Suddenly shouting from next door:
Maaamaaa where are you???

I excuse myself for a minute from Kala's bed site and rush over to Leah who has flung herself diagonally across my bed crying hysterically:

 I thought you were gohohone and my eahear is so sooooore.

Horror visions of the next two nights spent soothing another raging ear infection alternate with suspicions that she's faking it, which instantly makes me feel guilty, but can't dwell on lovely guilt trip either as Kala is by now noisily demanding I finish her song.

The next two hours are spent with me hopping from room to room, alternately singing German lullabies, dispensing medicine (by now I don't care if she's faking it - out comes the bottle of Stoepain), holding warm water bottles to Leah's ear, changing Kalas nappie (as she demands fresh one to be able to close second eye) - before eventually finding myself with ice cold feet and hypochondriac symptoms pushed to the edge of my bed waiting for the alarm to go off and entertaining fantasies of contracting terminal ear infection whilst  having to look after two sick children for at least 6 nights in a row.

When  alarm eventually saves me from full blown panic attack,  I spend the first half of my carefully planned morning  trying to wake the girls from deepest sleep ever with tea, songs and promises of wonderful adventures later in the day whilst simultaneously trying to get dressed, showered and teeth brushed (maybe not in that order) myself.

Eventually I stand in yesterday's clothes and unwashed hair with  two  outfits in hand and nobody to put them on. Girls decided to play hide and seek and giggle hysterically at my increasingly threatening voice.  Eventually I manage to unwrap Kala from the bedroom curtain where upon she informs me she is going to keep her pyjamas on for the rest of the day. This time I am not negotiating.  I maneuver her kicking and protesting into school appropriate clothing while her sister - with clearly no recollection of terrible night pains - complains that the labels in her new t-shirt scratch and the socks don't go with the leggings and anyway she hates me and when is her papa coming back cause he's much nicer than me. Why? do I really want to know? because he is not shouting at us...
Fair enough. I am with them on that one: When is he coming back???????????

Cutting all scratchy labels out of Leah's clothes and choosing new socks - which she insists on doing herself -  only takes about the other half of allocated morning time.

I still haven't brushed Kalas teeth and that only gets accomplished when I allow Barbie to be bathed in the sink at the same time (it must be obvious by now that Kala is the star negotiator in our family), after which yet another change of clothes becomes necessary. Leah has in the meantime beautified her whole face with lipstick and is now happily drawing squirly whirlies on her arms with my Chanel lip liner.

The shame of presenting my child with imported cosmetics all over her face and body in her new earth friendly, hemp lined Waldorf environment, has to be faced as there is really no time for a lengthy clean up. I hand her a kitchen roll, bark out instructions to wipe offending body parts, grab one kid  under each arm and drag them off to breakfast (yes: lovingly prepared the evening BEFORE).

I am going to skip the details of  our family breakfast  and the many reasons why it was IMPOSSIBLE to ingest even one spoonful of my horrendously healthy breakfast (papa makes a much nicer one - of course he does, it's effing cardboard  pronutro with buckets of honey) - and now we are in the car and off to school - surprisingly only 5 minutes behind schedule.

I do a drive by at the German Kindergarten and throw Kala over the gates into the capable hands of Rebecca or Beatrix - suddenly can't remember a single name - speeding off towards Kenilworth and the peaceful, veggie-dyied wool knitting morning activities at Waldorf paradise.

While  sitting in the dolls corner being served wooden apples and tea in tiny ceramic cups I suddenly remember that I should have left the gate open for our cleaner. So I rush back - a meter a minute in morning traffic - to get to the house at half past nine and beyond late for morning meeting at my place of business - which seems by now a remote and fancyful phantasy of my sleep deprived mind.

As I race from home to work a pling pling informs me there is a text - from absent husband asking how it's all going. "All fine" super mom replies, "kids at school, on my way to work - MISS YOU"

How true
.... to be continued

Friday, May 6, 2011

Baby Jesus and The Easter Bunny

With the recent Easter celebrations I found myself once again confronted with the moral dilemma of where to draw the line between creating a little fairy tale bubble for my kids and  - really - lying to them. It is one thing to tell them about the Easter Bunny hopping about in our garden at night hiding chocolate eggs - creating a little fun and excitement and get away with it. But it's a whole different ball game to stand up to an interrogation practise the FBI would be proud of.

How tall exactly is the Easter bunny?
Where does he live?
Where does he get the eggs from?
Does he know Santa?
(that's just the top 4)

... and things become even more dicey when the little mind goes into worry overdrive

Will he get into my window?
Where is he now?
Why is he only coming out when it's dark (the dark is a big worry at the moment...)?

I am not good at making things up, it's probably my German upbringing - never tell a lie (at least not one that can be dismantled within seconds...) and always be on time.
So I go from reluctantly describing the by now intensely annoying creature as really tiny (but how can he carry the eggs if he's so tiny) and friendly (but why is he only coming at night if he's so friendly - well, I don't know, maybe he's shy???) and on quite good terms with Santa as they probably source chocolate from same supplier to eventually breaking down under the continuous stream of unrelenting questions - faced with the pure terror in my 5 year olds voice:

Mama pleeeeeese close the window NOW. I don't want the Easter Bunny to get me!!!!

So I admit it's all one big fat lie!

Immediately I feel terrible for not only having lied to my child (something I vowed to NEVER EVER do), but also for destroying one of the last safe candy floss colored, marshmallow cuddly harbours of childhood by wiping out the Easter Bunny, Santa and the Tooth Fairy in one fell swoop.

Leah goes from utter terror to disbelieving astonishment, shrieking:

You mean adults just PRETEND there is an Easter Bunny and it's really them???

hmmm yes (almost inaudible),  hoping she is not going to share this particular newsflash with her fellow egg hunters the next day)

Maybe some kids out there are only too happy to buy into the fairy tale world of sled riding bearded men with gift bags the size of a small country and chocolate bearing rabbits - not so my child.

She was born worrying about things. Her over anxious mind caused us to explain to her at the age of 3 (and following the strong advise of her nursery school teachers) that the scary man with the fake beard and strange voice who was going to visit her school the next day would really be her papa pretending to be Santa.

 So when all the other kids were shrieking with delight (and some with horror) at the sight of a sweaty, puffing giant in a bright red jump suit ( arms and legs miles too long for the medium sized Santa Costume) Leah happily  shouted: Papa Papa - which immediately caused uproar amongst the 3 year olds:

That's Santa sillybilly, it's not your Papa.
Yes it is.
No it is not.....

Soon sides were formed, with the parents either supporting the unbelievers (look at this, it IS Leah's papa) or the conservatives (of course it IS Santa, Leah just thinks it's her dad) the latter sending "how could you " looks in my direction and the former giggling hysterically with our team. There are  clearly two irreconcilable sides when it comes to keeping or killing childhood myths - with no middle ground.

We subsequently had to have a postmortem at home, with Alan being more of the old school persuasion to keep all childhood myths alive until they finally leave home (the kids and the myths) and me still too vividly remembering my own terror, when Father Christmas visited our home with a scary helper called  "Knecht Ruprecht", who - I think - was created somewhere in  German Mythology to keep children scared and obedient.  My little brother was weeping with terror, the neighbour's kids just stunned and wide eyed,  all of us listening with mounting anxiety to all our sins ceremoniously read off a seemingly endless list by Knecht Ruprecht.

It sort of ended well, as none of us actually got abducted and I (already 6 at the time) realised that Santa was not all knowing as he only read out the sins that my parents knew about - he clearly did not know about the plate that I broke and secretly got rid off or that I had lied about my homework. Also Knecht Ruprecht looked a lot like our neighbour's 20 year old son ....

But I can't say that this is one of my happier childhood memories.

What came out all this for me was to really trust my instincts and be honest with my children, when  faced with their questions and worries. As long as they did not ask and just accepted Santa (... ok, when they were babies really) it was fine to create a bit of a story around the occasion.

But as soon as Leah got the vocabulary to ask, it became clear to me that she was not going to simply accept the fact that strange men can enter our homes through chimney's and furry creatures invade our garden at night.

Part of me actually felt relief that I did not have to lie to her - and part of me is still a bit sad that she does not grow up with happy thoughts about a nice old man flying through the air in a sled distributing gifts to all the kids in the world.

The tooth fairy is still alive though - as a recent gift under her pillow really convinced Leah of a higher being and surprisingly she had no line up or sketch artist set up for me the next day to identify the trespassing elf.

Oh and Baby Jesus recently joined the team of accepted yet unexplained super powers: Leah and Kala were watching a dramatic cloud built up in the autumn sky the other day when Leah suddenly piped up: That's Baby Jesus in the clouds and when the cloud bursts we are going to see him.

Kala vigorously nodded her head, none of them aware of me on the stairs overhearing them.
And when it rains - Leah continued her lecture -  God is sad, and He is the boss of the world.

I was mystified as to where this particular piece of knowledge had come from and at the same time torn between honest shock and helpless giggles. And just as I was about to embark on a lengthy explanation about cloud formation and rain, a voice from the kitchen chirped:  Baby Jesus is  not coming yet, but very soon!

Mystery solved: Early religious studies as taught by Nanny Sam.

I bit back my instinct to clarify, which was not easy for me as I am not a church follower (my belief in a higher being is somewhat more universal) and again: Where to draw the line between fact and fiction, faith and myth, spirituality and superstition?

At this particular instant I decided to silently retrace my steps back up the stairs and not interfere as none of this was actually directed at me. But I am more aware now of my children being subjected on a daily basis, be it at school or in the park playing with their friends and nannies, to many tales and myths and religious ideas that I can not control and might not even be aware of.

True to my belief in practising tolerance and acceptance when it comes to people's values and belief systems all I can do is be aware of these different influences and be present and ready to answer questions if and when they come: truthfully.

 Based on my own beliefs and values without belittling or ridiculing what other people believe in. And of course I got tested the next day, when Leah on our way home from school told me in the car: Look Mama, the big cloud over there, that's baby Jesus and he'll come out soon.

When I answered that I did not think Baby Jesus was actually hiding in a cloud but that is was just rain waiting to come out, she simply told me that I was wrong and anyway Sam had told her and Baby Jesus was in the cloud, I just did not know.

Yes, I thought to myself,  this much is true: I actually do not know.
(will start looking out for fairies again)