Wednesday, 24 April 2013

So not a supermum

I know it's been a while since my last post, but I am just really drained. I haven't been doing the best job of juggling housework, having four kids in school and all the demands that come with these.

Just the other day Mo heard me yelling at the kids from outside. He came in chuckling.

"Do you know that you sound like a wasvrou (fishwife)?" he asked. From the expression on my face, I'm sure he quickly realised that it is not the best idea to prod an angry bear. 

But he was right - over the past few months I have slowly felt myself transforming from my usual reserved self into a coarse angry raging lunatic. I yell at the kids, I am too tired to listen to their stories and jokes and I have just become impatient with them. My main focus is to get homework done, household chores completed (well, as far as that's possible anyway) and then get them into bed. 

Don't get me wrong. I love them dearly. I am so happy to see them as they walk toward the car in the afternoons. Then the bickering starts. And the whining. I swear - it's gotten a million times worse over the past few months. Shakeel (now 14) fights with Tharaa (11) for fighting with Nuha (8) who incessantly teases Aisha (3). Or perhaps it's always been this way - perhaps my fuse is just so much shorter with all this added pressure I'm feeling.

Shakeel is now officially in the throes of adolescence. Yesterday I reminded him of the discussions we used to have when he was younger, during which I'd warn him about what I refer to as 'teenage brain'. Back then, whenever we'd watch movies with bratty rude teenagers, I'd point out that they were afflicted with this awful syndrome - my son would then make me so proud by pronouncing his disgust at the awful behaviour of these teenagers and solemnly promising that he'd never ever become like that. Since he was aware of this awful phenomenon, he was convinced that he would be able to identify its onset and then avoid being sucked in. 

Well, so much for that.

My son is becoming uncharacteristically grumpy, irritable and unreasonable. Everything I say is met with an argument. It is exhausting. So last night, for a few minutes, during a discussion on 'teenage brain',  I managed to reach the little boy I miss so much when he smiled and grudgingly acknowledged that he was aware that he was acting like a typical adolescent. I told him that his feelings were a natural result of hormonal changes he may be experiencing. I think I should probably spend less time yelling and more time talking to him. 

But, on the upside, after a very rocky start, he seems to be adjusting to high school really well. His term 1 results were good - he is doing really well in Natural Science, Maths (which were my main concerns) and EMS. But even more impressive was his performance in the school's chess tournament, during which he beat the kids who had been ceded No. 1 and No.2 in his group. His granddad (my dad) would have been so proud. 

Then, there's Tharaa. Her term 1 results were excellent - in fact she topped her grade, much to her (and our) delight. She is her drama teacher's darling (having achieved 100% for her efforts during the term 1 drama assessment). In addition, her art, which is displayed on the staff room door, so impressed one of her teachers that she (the teacher) asked if she could keep it for herself. 

But she seems to be reserving her good behaviour for school. At home, she picks on Nuha (and even on Aisha, at times) incessantly. She has the ability to turn a deaf ear to everything I say. 

The same goes for Nuha. At a teachers/parents meeting held recently, I met her teacher, who clearly thought she was an absolute star. The teacher gushed. My mouth hung open with disbelief. I did not know what to say. I blinked a few times. Was this teacher being sarcastic? I wanted to ask if she was sure she was speaking about the same child I was raising. Because that child disobeyed every instruction or request of mine, refused to cooperate with me and has become downright cheeky.

But, yes, I was told, we were in fact speaking about the same child. A child who apparently needed to spoken to no more than once before promptly obeying instructions (!?!?). A child who was an absolute delight to teach, and who often was asked to mark the tests and exercises of her classmates, which she apparently did - not only willingly, but with precision and accuracy.  I left that meeting feeling confused.

And then, of course, there's Aisha. Well, the only constant in my life has been Aisha. She still is as stubborn, temperamental, difficult and lovable as she always has been.

She still cries each morning when we drop her off at school, although her teacher assures me that this does not last very long. She also claims to enjoy school, but cannot promise me that she won't cry again the following morning. 

Mo has been working really long hours (first at the office and then later in our garage doing spraypainting). So, I've been really reluctant to burden him with issues regarding the kids as well. 

I don't know how other moms do it. I admire those moms who are able to manage their homes effortlessly while still parenting their kids without complaints. Although I am a bit reluctant to admit this, I suspect that everything went downhill in my relationship with my kids when I decided that I no longer want a domestic worker. I wanted to run our household and be there for my kids. And why not - so many other women do this. Not everyone has the privilege of having someone clean up after them. This went well for a while, but now, months later, I feel like I am drowning in endless (and I really mean endless) household chores to the extent that I have neither the energy, nor the time to spend with the kids. In addition, I am becoming really annoyed at the fact that they are just so damn messy. They showed far more consideration to our domestic workers, since they (like their mom) are more concerned about what outsiders think of them. On the other hand, with me running the household, they have no problem tossing clean laundry on the floor in order to sit on the couch, and then just proceeding to walk over a T shirt as if it was a mat (yes, this really happens).

I'm tired. And grumpy. So I eat. I am sure I gained at least 3 kgs during the past few months. On Sunday Mo decided that we need to get ourselves out of this rut since we haven't been to gym since January - not having a domestic worker to stay home with the kids means that we are unable to go to out. So we decided to head off to Green Point for some fresh air and light exercise.

Since I had the kids with me I could not run, so I did some brisk walking instead. Nuha moaned constantly that I must not beat her in the imaginary race she had going on in her head. When I walked past her, she sulked. But although the morning had its little challenges, it still did us good spend some time outdoors on such a beautiful day.


Shakeel, my sullen adolescent

Nuha and Aisha grumble and moan while I try to work up a sweat

Mo doing a dance, trying to reassure Aisha that she will not fall through the gaps

Looking contemplative


My monkey enjoying the monkey-bars


Yay!! All four of them playing together - like the old days (5  months ago)

And ...he's back!!!