More on the Bad Mommy

Something that I fed Robert during the past two has caused an awful rash in his nappy area. He is red and sore and can’t even stand the touch of warm water. I tried to think back about the food I gave him in the last 48 hours. First I suspected the olive oil, which he has ingested for the very first time. The other foods he has taken before without any problems. After his dismal weigh-in on Wednesday, I have been running after him, trying to convince him into eating different types of high calorie foods. I lined up a variety of foods so when he refused one I moved on to the next. At any given lunchtime we had toast, yogurt, eggs, avocado and cheese, in addition of course to the ever present formula bottle.

The situation did not improve with the application of soothing cream. Today, Lucy mentioned that he was very uncomfortable from the rash, she only fed him yogurt and baby porridge, avoiding adult foods to give him a break. Later I figured out it was possibly my milk that caused this reaction because the day before I had a huge craving for chocolate and went on a chocolate binge. My milk probably caused him diarrhea and rash, so here I am to blame again. To add to his troubles, poor Robert also has an absent minded or sleepy mom most of the time these days. I have landed a big project, requiring me to translate 20,000 Words from Arabic into English before the 10th of August. This means that I need to churn out just over one thousand words daily. I am trying hard to meet the quota, but most of my working time happens in the evening after Robert goes to bed and extends into the small hours of the morning. It follows that I am not at my best in the early hours of the day, and I have less energy to play and take the little one out.

Apart from these few complaints Robert is thriving. Between myself, Lucy and Jackie we manage to keep him entertained. Lucy turned out to be quite a gem; last Tuesday I came home early to find her sitting in our room watching over Robert as he slept in my bed. Lucy made me forget my disappointment at missing his good night hour, when she said to me:”touch my hand… he is walking !!”. Apparently she encouraged him to walk two steps independently after she practiced with him, holding his hand and then holding onto his sweater. Lucy has a terrific way with babies, and Robert loves her, I am truly blessed to have her help.

New Tricks

When Robert’s dad dropped him off yesterday, he said : “Do you know that Robert can now walk if you hold onto his hand?”. I don’t know how he thinks that I would miss something like that when I live with my son 24/7. Meanwhile he gets to see him perhaps once a week, and he misses out on many new things.

Robert loves music and dancing and I took videos of him dancing and bouncing to the music, he relates to rock and rap and to any fast tune with lots of rhythm. Since his visit at W’s he figured out how to play with his stacking rings. During the day he crawls around to every corner of the house discovers what is hidden around corners, inside cupboards, waste baskets, nappy bucket, cat’s food bowl, and garbage. His favourite places are the kitchen and the bathroom. In the kitchen he rummages around Jackie’s cupboard, pulls out pots and pans, and bottles, while in the bathroom he works on the changing table and rearranges the bottles, the jars and the linen. It is very amusing, even though I need to put things back again as soon as he is done.
He isn’t walking yet, but he can move very quickly from place to place if he has something to hold on to. Recently he has started to move alongside walls, he can also pull himself up onto Jackie’s bed, especially when he sees an “abandoned” cell phone or a remote control.

Sometimes I can almost believe that Robert is a very smart child. He imitates me very quickly when I make a smack kissing noise, or a click of a tongue. He also talks all these funny languages and pronounces Arabic, and Xhosa sounding syllables – yes I am delusional. Today after I finished bathing him I took the plug out of the bath and started to put his clothes together before taking him out of the warm water. He saw me doing this and picked up the plug and tried to put it back in the drain. I suppose he did not want to go out of the bath that quickly. Perhaps he is a genius after all.

Making the Most of Messy Life

I found out that I have become somewhat of a bitchy person. There is always something for me to moan and complain about, I hope this is just a symptom of my difficult circumstances at present, because I am sure I do not want to drag this persona along a long time, it is very draining.

Deep down, however, I am grateful for the little rays of sunshine that grace my life, be they real or metaphoric. I try enjoy and capture the developments of my son, and we both enjoy getting out and relating to nature, other babies, people or animals.

Here are some random pictures of our life this month:

Two little boys having a nap on my bed.

Robert climbing up the stroller and surveying the territory from above.

Robert meets a girlfriend on the beach front. “Nonzi” was born within a week of Robert’s birth date, she is the daughter of a German colleague and his South African girlfriend.

Robert the philosopher, watching a particularly striking sunset.

Robert the scientist, examining (and tasting) different types of shells and sand.

Day at the Park

It is always a delight to have a warm day after a cold and rainy spell. On days like these I feel so blessed to be living in sunny South Africa, where it is warm even through the middle of winter.

The park was full of moms, dads and babies. They sat together in several small groups, and there was a total confusion of toys, snacks and children. A boy picked up a ball that dropped near us and left his chip packet instead. Robert hijacked it immediately and started munching on corn pops. Later he borrowed a purple ball and tried to keep it for himself. Then he joined another family and challenged their little girl to share some of her toys and food with him. I never prevent Robert from exploring and interacting with other people and children, as long as I am watching closely. I try to keep track of where the toys and snacks come from. I don’t think being strict with a ten-month old is productive, I just stay close by to keep him out of bigger mischief and danger.

The new lightweight buggy is proving to be very useful. We walked very far today along the beach before we came to the park. On yesterday’s walk a middle aged woman commented that poor baby had the sun in his eye. The problem is that Robert hates hats and takes them off as soon as I put them on his head. Today I went through the effort of attaching bonnet style strap on a new hat, and was pleased to see it remain safely on Robert’s head, defying his fierce tugging. However, I underestimated my son’s tenacity and his unequivocal dislike of sun hats. Twenty minutes after we left the house I discovered that my innovation with the straps was useless. The hat was gone, and Robert was happily squinting against the low winter sun. This is now the third hat that we lost. The first was taken by the sea breeze, and the second was stolen with the baby bag. I will give hats a break for now.

Some images of the day:

Robert having his first taste of chutney corn pops.

Standing at the fence bordering on the dog area. The children were fascinated by a beautiful big Labrador who was exercising in the dog run. Unfortunately this picture does not show the dog.

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Aquarium Again

It was sunny today so Robert and I set out to the V & A Waterfront. The trip on the bus was a bit challenging this time because my little one kept squirming and wanting to be put down. I think it will be very difficult for me to travel with him for longer periods of time.

Not many locals were tramping around on this Monday afternoon, especially since we are in the final week before payday, a time when all South Africans are normally broke. Restaurants were empty and the only places doing business were the supermarkets. I enjoyed a takeaway lunch in the sun, while Robert napped in his buggy. I dodged a few cheeky seagulls who were trying to peck at my leftovers, before I even finished my food. One particularly nasty seagull snatched a piece of chip from my fingers. When Robert awoke we headed towards the aquarium. This time I was armed with my new phone camera and I managed to take some good ones.

Every time I visit the aquarium, I discover some new exhibits that haven’t caught my attention on a previous visit. Robert is also starting to take some interest in the swimming fish, especially the bigger ones. But at his age, the dominant sensations are tactile, so he soon wants to touch the exhibits and cannot figure out why he cannot get to the creatures behind the glass. The Aquarium is family and child oriented. There are two play areas, one of them has a distinct marine theme. Children can read books, watch puppet shows and do art projects with ocean and marine life themes. While we were there, we attended a short puppet show and Robert was very interested in the angelfish and the penguin marionettes. Thanks to my little one I tend to experience those little tastes of childhood, things I would have never looked at if I was an adult single woman. When Robert was born my aunt sent me a card that brought tears of joy to my eyes, it was about the joy a little baby brings. I am rediscovering the wonder of creation again through my son’s eyes. I take time to stop and examine the patterns and texture of nature and rediscover the world.

These are some of the things we saw today at the Aquarium:

A shark cruising overhead in the predator exhibit. Now this is a set of teeth I do not want to encounter in open waters.

These fishes are seriously big; roughly the same size as Robert.

Small coral reef fish.

And the poor Jackass Penguins spending their lives indoors.

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Another Tooth and No Trouble

Yesterday Jackie told me that Robert must have cut an upper tooth. She realized that because he gave her quite a sore bite on her arm. On closer examination it is confirmed that Robert has one of his upper incisors already out. The good thing is that he did not have or give too much trouble with this tooth. His teething, we hope, will be uneventful from now on.

Last night we had company for dinner. The last time I saw Jason and Fiona was at he hospital where Robert was born. Nine months later they are newlyweds and very much in love, while I am a recovering divorcee . When Robert was born Jackie came also to visit with her boyfriend, she broke up with him shortly before I moved in with her; life is really strange. Jackie is still trying to find Mr. Right, but speaking for myself, and after nine years of living with Mr. Wrong, I am calling off the search.

Presents for Robbie

The lady who gives us the Moms and Tots classes had an open day this week where she had toys and books for sale. We also had a photo session with a professional photographers. I did the photo shoot yesterday then bought Robert some toys and books. When I went again today I could not resist ordering another toy. Sometimes I wonder whether I buy the toys for my little one or for me.

Getting Out

It is cold and rainy, but Robert and I still managed to get out today. I wanted to go to the Cape Town Book Fair and I was on a mission to increase my mobility with the baby. I do not have a car, and it is unlikely that I will acquire one any time soon, but I am not going to sit at home with the baby or be confined to the radius of few kilometers around Jackie’s house. The stroller that Ron bought us before Robert was born is a huge and bulky thing. It is a mission to push it around in supermarkets, and a drag to stow it into the boot of a car. There is always an epic struggle to get it in and out of the house, even though we only have three shallow steps at the front.

I have been looking for reasonably priced buggies for a long time. The cheap ones I found were likely to last for a day or two, and the good ones were horribly expensive. My objective today was to visit the shops on the taxi route and maybe buy a mini stroller that I can take on board the minibus or the bus, and thus give myself more flexibility. I strapped Robert on my stomach and got on board a taxi. I think the first time I took him aboard a minibus he was small and unaware of his surroundings, this time it was different. He socialized and “talked” with other passengers and tried to charm a lady into allowing him to take her cell phone, it was really funny. On our first baby shop stop we found what we were looking for, a lightweight Aluminum buggy, that looked easy to fold. I used it immediately and proceeded towards town.

The Book Fair was interesting but a little bit too noisy for Robert. The buggy was also a little uncomfortable, and he started acting up after a couple of hours. I still manged to enter a competition, buy a map book and get a few goodies from the fair. I also met one of the moms from our Moms and Tots class. The trip back home was relatively uncomplicated. I was able to travel on the minibus with baby, baby bag and stroller. Tomorrow I will try to take the bus to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. I want to buy a backpack, to put baby’s things in it. Then I will be all set to make some mileage.

The stroller is a pleasure to drive around, and I can’t believe how I ever used that heavy unwieldy pram before. Of course, my little buggy is much more expensive than the big pram. But I always believed that one has to pay good money to get real good stuff. I also love to spend money on little treats; Robert and I shared an ice cream at the Book Fair. I hope that we will cover many more miles together in the near future.

Robert’s update this week:
He can stand by himself now for a few seconds, and watching him is becoming more challenging as he wants to explore everything. He is also beginning to cruise, walk while holding on to furniture. For example he moves from one side of the sofa to the other to get to my cell phone.
On the vocal side he now makes a whooping noise on an indrawn breath, and speaks complex syllables with tongue clicks.

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Reclaiming My Space

Robert’s mom has moved her virtual space. I decided to change the blog address and make it un-googleable. This is now my private space to curse, scream, laugh and cry. The only person who got hurt by leaving it open to my ex and his family was me, and therefore I decided to reclaim it.
Now I can say whatever I like about my ex, but mostly I can grieve in peace, without him eavesdropping or gloating over my sorrow. At times it is very difficult to keep my feelings apart: I am angry, then sad. I am driven by a powerful hatred, then I feel the awful pain of rejection. It is an emotional roller-coaster.

I am still hurting and will continue to hurt for a while. The long nights I spend in front of the computer are devoted to an obsessive search for my ex. I try to find his profile on social networks, so that I might get an inkling of what he is up to. Outwardly though I try to appear as if I couldn’t care less. I did make the decision to stop loving my ex, but sometimes I still miss him, or more accurately I miss the person I thought he was. I have to figure out the extent of my responsibility toward the disintegration of my marriage, and I am desperate for answers. Yesterday I discovered the online presence of the first ex-wife and I had to stop myself from typing her an innocuous email. I don’t know what I am trying to accomplish by contacting her, find answers, revenge or vindication? Maybe one day when my emotions cool down, I will be able to understand my motives. Until then, what I do with the information is irrelevant because the woman I found does not match the unfair portrait he has drawn at the beginning of our relationship.

Although I did reclaim my private virtual platform I do not want to remain a prisoner to the inner dialog of internet ranting. I want to get out and get a life. Towards this end I am going to get mobile and take my son wherever I want to go. Tomorrow will be the beginning of this plan.

Some Random happenings:
– Looks like I do not have sufficient credit rating to get a contract with my cellular provider. I am trying to get a new camera phone without success. Even the cell phone company does not believe that I am a good person. God knows what put me in the dog box this time: My divorce, my new ID number since my naturalization or my poor salary.
– Jackie is a great sport: She took Robert yesterday to get his immunization for the month, then drove me to the wool shop. I bought some delicious new yarns because I want to knit Robert another a sweater and a new jacket to replace the one that got lost on dad’s watch.
– Robert had two injections yesterday, and I expected him to have a rough night, but he handled them better than last time. His weight was 9.38 kg, height 74 cm, and his head circumference is 45cm. He has dropped to slightly below average in weight, but he is still taller than 90% of babies his age. I think I have to feed him more.

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Settling into a Routine

Today my computer arrived safely. Jackie helped carry it to and back from rehab at my favorite computer technician at the moment. I haven’t lost ANYTHING and to me this is a miracle. From here on my life will start to get some semblance of normalcy. I set up my computer workstation -again with Jackie’s help. It now occupies a corner of her desk, it is kind of cramped, but I cannot complain. I mean she could have easily said, she doesn’t want me using her work space, therefore I am eternally grateful. Living with Jackie is relatively easy. She does have her own set of rules, but they are nothing compared to the regimented style I was used to with my ex. The only problem we have is the limited space, and the need to find innovative ways of storing our things, while keeping them accessible at the same time. Some of my beloved book boxes ended up in the top shelf of the cupboard, where I need a step ladder to reach them, but there are plenty of books still on the ground, where I can easily get to them. My dictionaries are also close by ready for action when I finally get the elusive work I am half-heartedly looking for. I say that because I am still not all here, and reeling with the effects of my separation. It will take time until I am in a really productive frame of mind. In the meantime there are things to write about, feelings to deal with and finances to consider.
At the beginning of the month I received a date for my divorce case, and it is scheduled for Monday the 26th. This is the final nail in the coffin of my marriage, and I try not to dwell on it too much. Ron wanted me and Robert out of his hair, and I wanted to make the separation final and legal because I recognized -and he spelled it out to me- that he no longer wants to be with me. I see no point in staying married in name only, when there is absolutely no hope in reconciliation. I believe I did the right thing, and I will get used to the outcome.

Meanwhile life goes on. I try to go with Robert to the park on sunny days. The walk to the park is now much longer, but we both enjoy chilling there which makes it worth the effort. Here Robert also gets to socialize with some little friends. I like especially the little tomboy Nina, who loves playing in the dirt, and must be a handful to her patient nanny. I let Robert crawl around in the park and get down and dirty sometimes; this is vital to the learning process. Another thing that I want him to learn is interacting with animals. Jackie’s cat loves playing with him, and tolerates his rough handling – up to a point of course. He already received a swipe or two from her claw when he tugged too hard on her fur. Most of the time though they play or dance around each other, which is quite funny. Robert is starting to cruise; he walks from one side of the sofa to the other while holding on to its edge. He can also stand by himself for a few seconds. The interaction he has with me, Jackie, the cat and everyone else is much more lively and animated. Lucy enjoys being with him and he very comfortable around her. The few negatives that come to mind are a light episode of the flu, and some negative attitudes from Robert’s dad, but we will get over these in time.