From babies to astronauts…

You blink and they’re 8, you blink again and they’re 20… there’s a couple of these messages in memes and inspirational Instagram posts urging us to cherish every moment because it all goes so fast. I have 8 year old twins, and an 11 year old going on 21 😉 I swear I don’t know when this happened!

They are so cool and with-it, with opinions, playing fortnite online, expressing how ‘things blow their minds’, p.s. they are all comedians in the making … their wit, their charm and their sharpness is sometimes unreal. They are unbelievably quick in conversation and hilariously funny! They definitely get all this from their Dad. I wish I could capture all the moments and the humour that captures our hearts and store it for those rainy days to come, when they’re actually grown up and not around anymore because they’re out with friends.

Sunday evenings are always entertaining. There’s a mixture of euphoria over the weekend that was and despair over the school week ahead. This Sunday evening was particularly memorable we had just returned from a lovely lunch with the family. The boys love their little girl cousin who is just 2 years old. They were recapping the day and marvelling at how cute she is. Let’s just say, adorable just does not do justice to describe this precious little munchkin. We spent the afternoon watching them play and bond, we were collectively in awe over her counting skills and wonderfully amazed at her nursery rhyme abilities. It’s quite cute to hear my little people talk about other little people as if they were the adults!

So as we’re watching Carte Blanche, this is an investigative journalist television show that highlights current affairs and sometimes exposes people’s incompetencies. The interviewer is asking the interviewee some questions. I think it was some government official talking about recouping monies’ or something like that. Anyways, the person being interviewed was quite bad at articulating himself and he said something about getting it back, so one of the twins pipes in “When are you getting your english back!” I laughed out loud, I didn’t even realise that he was listening so intently to the interview.

My 11 year old is the king of sarcasm. I wore something really elaborate in colour the other day and I really wasn’t sure if it worked or if I could pull the colour off (it was a bit much, like a mustard, nobody can really do mustard, what was I thinking!) So I leave the room and cautiously walk down the passage to see if anyone would notice. And then he sees me:

Him:  “Wow Mom, gooood choice. Wow. I mean, WOW! It looks …wow.

Me: “Ok Ok boy relax I get it, you can stop now. I will go change.”

He continues, “No mom, no please don’t change, wear that, please go out like that, I dare you”

🙂

The previous evening while watching a marvel movie (superhero movies always win in our house) … Dad was really not into the movie because it was one we had watched a couple of times over … anyways Dad kept interrupting the movie with sarcastic comments about the superhero’s dialogue and generally making fun of the movie. The twins were not impressed and both got quite annoyed to the point where one says, ‘You know Dad, you’re really not that funny!’ So intensely and so seriously that I couldn’t help but chuckle quietly on the couch, while cringing a little.

Their minds are so unique. One of them can analyse and make a conclusion based on one sentence from conversation. My slightly older twin (by two minutes) is so adorably complex. He started a conversation with me this week…

Him – Mom, what do YOU think I will be when I grow up?

Me – Well, baby … I think you will be anything you want to, maybe an engineer?

Him – Well… I do like to build things… but Mom, I like so many things … it so hard to choose because I also want to explore (yes, he said explore) the oceans and I want to fly into space like an astronaut.

Me – Wow, you want to do a lot things! but guess what I think you can.

We are always amazed at their curiosity and creativity. One has always surprised us over and over again with elaborate LEGO designs, which we’re sometimes not sure what he has built. So I will say cautiously “wow what a cool spaceship, my boy” but then he will jump into an explanation “Mom, this is a pirate ship, that can convert into a rocket but with a trap door for a submarine?” Then we’re like what? Where did you even come up with that idea.

In these moments I have flashbacks to my adorable first newborn, fragile and innocent and a remarkable miracle baby. Then to my twin newborns overwhelmingly screaming for my attention or then my cute curly-haired toddlers running around us in circles … now they are conversing about current affairs, careers and are trainee comedians? Now they are not my babies. Possibly, my builder, my engineer in the making. My future astronaut. My potential ocean explorer.

All of them have these unique qualities that are wonderful bits of magic developing their personalities. I try to catalogue the moments and the memories created daily but there’s just so much I need to remember but probably take for granted. I want to bottle and store away everything! I hope I remember to remember… because honestly I don’t know where my babies have gone and when or how have they been replaced with three extraordinary little men in the making.

Crossroads

I have a problem. I have many, many problems. I have so many serious issues, that I don’t know where to start. Ok, maybe they are not so life critical and serious. But one of them is, that I am my own worst enemy. I tend to like to do things right, most of the time. I don’t like things half-baked, except when it’s convenient.  If I’m in a relationship I’m all in, except when im tired, or moody or that time of the month?… shhhh. When I get a new project at work I’m guns blazing, for the first few weeks. When school asks me to do something or the kids have to prepare for a poetry festival. I’m there. All in. Except during working hours… working mom here people!

I have so many problems I don’t know which one to choose to resolve. Does this mean I invariably resolve none and put everything on the back-burner with a label “Stuff I must do later” Or “Stuff we will never do because it’s too hard?”

The problem is that when we are faced with many paths to take often we choose the path of least resistance. The one that has a pro’s list longer that the con’s list. The one that pleases the most people and the one that maybe requires the least effort to attain success. Or rather some level of success as opposed to complete failure. The notion of something is better that nothing.

No – this must stop!

Choose something, do Something, make a decision based on what you want to do, choose when you want it, do things because you have passion for it, when you love something give it time and give it attention. So often we settle. We don’t fight for the things we want, we accept the hand we’re dealt. Don’t settle! Anymore…

After some thought and much introspection I have come to realise that we actually need to establish what we choose to do, by the end state. This phrase end state was recently uttered to me by my husband, as he was relaying a conversation with some new Exec that joined the team. At first, we both giggled at the new buzzword of this exec, and we chatted about how all these guys at this level come with some flavor of buzzwords that they coin as their own. Anyways, the more we spoke about the subject the more it made sense to me. This idea formulated in my mind about, how we problem solve in life, in general.

When we have a big decision to make we often do pro’s and con’s. We constantly focussing on achieving results and showing some success but that may not be the actual thing we want, it’s in the vicinity of what we want.

Think about how different our decision-making would be if we chose to focus on the impossible, the unattainable, the green fields, blue sky kinda solutions or goals. What if we didn’t plan for the obstacles along the path. What if we chose based purely on the reward or the utopia of the desired end state.

If you do this with conviction, and passion, and drive you will achieve the impossible. You will choose the path that leads you to ultimate happiness and endless love and the greatest success story you have ever heard.

Think about a goal you wanted to achieve. Lose 5 kg’s this month. What if instead of thinking about the pain of the exercise, or the loss of the yummy delicious sugary treat you usually indulge in. We don’t think about the true end result of what we want. We get distracted by the immediate rewards. What if all we said is I can lose 5 kg’s, I will not eat that cupcake and I will run today. If I did that for 30 days I would mostly likely achieve my goal. The problem is I focus on the cupcake I’m not able to eat and then by day 2 I have a dozen cupcakes in front of me, to reward myself for yesterday’s run 🙂

When faced with these crossroads let’s assess differently. Let’s look at the thing we want most out of the path and believe that it is achievable. Let’s focus on the journey rather than the unrealistic destination. Let’s believe that we deserve the utopia. That all the problems we see with this choice is solvable, all the obstacles seen and unseen are challenges accepted! Then you know what this means? It means, that it can be yours. The thing that you want most, the thing you think you cannot have, can be yours.

The success you envision can materialise. The love you want in your life is right there within reach. Right now, I want to stop here. Because already my mind is forming sentences to accommodate all the what if scenarios, all the naysayers questions and all the self-doubt telling me I’m not worthy.

But just believe it today and then believe again tomorrow and then the next day and what you get in the end will still be more…. so much more than before.

Everything in the universe is within you.

Ask all from yourself. – Rumi

When the lights go out…

Living in a developing country means that the lights going out is just another element of our daily lives. Not that it happens daily. In fact the occurrence of the lights going out varies quite drastically depending on the area you live in, the time of year, the crime level (cable theft, yes like they steal the actual copper cable), the political climate with the state-owned energy producer and sometimes even the demographic of the people living in a particular area. In my area, we can go months without any incidents or outages and then all of a sudden it could be weekly occurrence. Many households have made provision for this by introducing energy-saving techniques to avoid outages including solar geysers, gas heating, gas stoves and solar or led rechargeable lighting for when the lights go out. Also note, this is a problem for privileged households that have access to electricity in the first place, many people from poorer communities don’t have any electricity to begin with and our contingency plans of candles is their reality. Alhamdulillah for my problems.

In my house, as soon as the lights go out, panic strikes. Well firstly, I have a few little boys who have some issues with the dark. When all the lights go out all of a sudden it is very quiet and very dark. This is quite a sudden change for the human body to process. Your brain quickly determines there is a problem. Sometimes the change from light to dark makes sparkly bits show up in front of your eyes. Once your eyes adjust, its kind of ok again and because its your house so you can navigate through quite easily.

My husband and I would immediately be thinking where are the boys, and then where are the candles and flashlights. Then the obvious next check is, How much battery life does each of the devices have? Some speculation ensues about how long the  outage will last. With the boys the immediate reaction is to find safety. Calls from where ever they are in the house, will be heard. “Mom.. Mom…. Dad… Dad…” and if we take to too long to respond there’s like this combination call “Momdad… Momdad”.

So we calmly say stay where you are we will come to you. If they are separated it’s worse because then we have to go to two or three different locations around the house, collect them and then get everyone in a central place to figure out what’s next. When they are together there is less shouting as at least one of them would have been on a device and then they would use the flashlight from the phone or iPad to navigate to us, as a group. If it’s raining one or more will cling to us in fear, as we finish up around the house so we can all huddle in one place. On a school night the best thing is to have a quick story by flashlight and then off to bed. On the weekend or during school holiday’s we might try … “Ok guys, bedtime” but it rarely works so we all cuddle in my bed and tell stories or play games by candle light / flashlight – this is awesome time actually as it is filled with conversation, giggles and NO distractions.

This time when the lights went out, thankfully after supper so didn’t have that problem, the boys decided that we should play hide and seek in the dark … They were all brave in this suggestion, as like I have stated earlier they are a tad bit afraid of the dark. This game involves someone being the seeker and the others hiding. The seeker closes their eyes counts an agreed number, in an agreed spot, known as ‘house’ or ‘home base’, this can be a wall or door  or the couch where mom is sitting. Once the counting is done he will say “Ready or not here I come”. When the seeker find’s someone he will return to ‘home’ and say “One, two, three block < shouts persons name>”, if the person gets to home before the seeker they will say “One, two, three block myself”.

When the game commenced we had a fire going in the main living area but the minute you hid away from this area you could not be seen even in open spaces. This added excitement and tension to the game. Screams filled the house as someone either reached the home base and shouted out their safety slogan or got caught. To add to the excitement Dad jump in as a monster seeker and this is when things got really crazy, eventually at the last round they all tried to hide behind the couch where I was, out of fear for being anywhere else in the house 🙂 Despite the fear factor they all thoroughly enjoyed this and one actually proclaimed “This is the best day ever!” ❤

Eventually, the realization sets in that the wifi is out, so if I was planning to work at night or catch up on Netflix that’s out of the window. And then I realise I can’t boil the kettle for that last cup of tea *sad face*. Most of all it’s if the lights are not back by morning, I know it’s going to be a cold shower, no coffee and limited options for breakfast for everyone…

No need to fret though they will come back eventually. In most households we can handle blackouts for a limited time, we have experienced it enough, to have a few contingency plans. Still, we are so reliant on that kettle to boil water for tea or a shower to be warm and welcoming. The connection to the outside world for information and entertainment. I wonder how will we ever survive without our amenities, if we ever really have to.

For now the lights going out, is a variation on the routine, encourages us to be resilient and actually creates some quality family time. Even in dark time there is always light. The light we expect to have and so desperately rely on is not always the light we actually need.

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Untold

In a world where information is everywhere still so many stories remain untold. We spend so much time worrying about our image and how people see us, perhaps we forget our own stories. We see the person next to us only through our limited knowledge of them or rather based on the assumptions we make when we scroll through their lives on their social media pages. We make judgements on ourselves for what we can or cannot do based on what they are perceived to be doing? We spend so much time engrossed in things that are sometimes only one angle of one frame of the actual picture.

I know a girl who loved a boy. I know a father who loves his son. I know people who have found love but then lost it. I know love. I know a mother who has lost a child. I know a son who lost a father. I know a person who lost someone’s trust. I know a person who’s lost a sibling. I know a daughter who’s lost a father. I know a husband who loves his wife. I know this love and this loss defines them in many respects but its something we don’t truly pay attention to. Finding love or losing love is maybe something that happens to someone. We think. We don’t actually recognise that it becomes the configuration, structure and formation of the person themselves. It has an influence on how we think and how we see the world. The actual effects of real love or loss only emerge later in your story when that love has enabled you to grow, that loss enabled you to learn. They allow you to become who you were meant to be, and then teach that same love to others in your life. The shape that loves gives to your character is only really seen through reciprocation and recognition of that love. As you love others in your life you learn but also, you love someone based on how you have learned to love.

Similarly, the scar of the loss that love leaves, is sketched into your soul. Perhaps the loss so deep that you rely on the muscle memory to continue in the world. You have to find ways to function without that person. You want to remember everything but maybe you also want to forget. But any love lost, or hurt experience inflicted by a loved one is actually just more complexity that makes the person who they are. When you to lean into that loss, you do remember everything that person was and still is to you. The object should not be to forget, because you might forget something of yourself in the process. It is the magic of knowing and experiencing that kind of love that makes you this person, that cannot be compared to anyone else. Your individual story, your individual experience. It’s so personal because it is rarely described or shared with someone outside of that love.

Like between a mother and a son. No other person will know all the silent times together, the giggles, the secrets you shared, the stories you told them about the dreams you have for them, as you rocked them to sleep in the depth of the night, when they were little babies. No other person will know the strength of the relationship between a father and a son. The first time they kicked a ball or rode a bike or bought a car. What we do know is the surface of that story, we know the documented part, captured in a picture, posted online. We don’t know the whole of that story, the intricate impact on the life of that little boy or grown son, the significance for the father in later years, the multitude of feelings associated with it, before and after.

So when you lose it. Of course the loss of it is indescribable. Of course the pain associated with the finality of someone moving on and leaving you is heart wrenching. Of course the death of this person you love, where there is nothing more you can do and the helplessness of that kind of loss, cannot be diminished. The loss is forever with you. The loss darkens you. This is probably the story you choose not to tell.

All of the difficulties you have faced become the parts you keep for yourself, but they are all there, and they do shine through in the most unexpected ways. It’s how you relate to a friend that confesses their relationship woes. It’s the part where you comfort your children with encouraging words after a soccer defeat. It’s the bit where you cherish all the moments with the people you do have. It’s gratitude, it’s appreciation, it’s forgiveness.

How you deal with loss sometimes is also how you live your life. You can bury head in the sand and hope for all the pain to go away or you can take the pain along the journey until it is bearable and not overwhelmingly all you feel. You can avoid the people who speak with truth because they are saying what you don’t want to hear or you can recognise the truth as love and embrace every ounce of love from anywhere you get it. You can be on the surface like said social media page or you can engage with depth and meaning. Embrace your love and embrace your loss. It will allow you to be real, be authentic, be genuine, be harsh, be intimidating, be honest, be fierce, be gentle, be kind, be all that you are. Your untold story is how you know how to just be.

very little grows on jagged rock. be ground. be crumbled, so wildflowers will come up where you are…   ~Rumi

 

 

Food for Thought

Eid Mubarak! Alhamdulillah we have just celebrated the end of Ramadaan after 29 days of fasting. It is always a bittersweet goodbye as we bid farewell to the month. The kindness and spirituality that is amplified during the month of Ramadaan will start to dwindle and we all go back to our normal routines and sometimes, self involved priorities. I hope and pray that we can hold on to and carry the feeling and sentiment of the holy month of Ramadaan throughout more months of the year. Insha-Allah.

The day of Eid is a lovely celebratory day. The run up to Eid is filled with confirming attendance at the various gatherings you have been invited to, baking, ordering, planning the parts that’s your responsibility. The night before the moon must first be sighted just as it was when the month began. The day starts with a special Eid salah (prayer), followed by a huge family breakfast. Our tradition is still the same even though my grandmother has passed for a number of years. The family still get together at what was her home, all the cousins and aunts and uncles are in and out of this central location. Even if the rest of the day everyone is split amongst other invitations for lunch and dinner,  breakfast is a priority for everyone and we all get to see each other.

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The middle…

Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. The story starts where ever you want it to. It could be from your childhood where your formative years developed you, it could be in your later years when you have had children and grandchildren, it could be those golden varsity years filled with self discovery.  The beginning is just the beginning of a much bigger story. The end is also relative, because in a weird way you have the power to choose where a story ends, or rather what parts of the story you want told, however the end is still definitive and there is no more to be told after the ending. The middle is always the part that intrigues me. This is where the story develops and can really be shaped into a romance, comedy, action, tragedy, drama, thriller etc.

Every person’s story  has all of these elements. While you are in the middle of your story you can still change things, and yourself or your circumstance to influence the way the story will be told. Even in times of tragedy you can have a silver lining, perhaps a message that you can learn from. In the middle you can change things, learn things, get better at things, fix things. In the middle we have the potential to grow, ask for help, help each other and we can change to the point where the story is completely different to the one envisioned at the start.

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