Parenting

dandelion, flower, plant

12 THINGS I’VE LEARNED IN THE LAST YEAR

Earlier today: It’s Saturday afternoon, the house is quiet, the wind is howling outside, keeping the sun company. It seems like a good time to reflect on the last year.

I’m braiding my hair and thinking about this time of year. Last year (2020) we lost our mother. It was a Friday and she died in a car on her way to the clinic, my then boyfriend (now husband) right next to her. A shift happened then and a shift is happening now. My husband, sick with Covid-19 and myself, also sick but I haven’t tested for Covid-19 at the time of this post but we’re treating the situation as if I am sick with Covid too. Though I feel strong enough to clean the house and make sure we have something to eat, I still don’t really feel like myself.

REFLECTION

All these health issues have done a very good job of distracting me from what day it is. The day my mother died. I’m not feeling incredibly sad or melancholic when I think about it; I feel a sense of peace, maybe even gratitude, that we as a family have been able to make it through the last 12 months in one piece and then some. We had an addition to the family with my niece, we had a wedding and we had the birth of our company. Those are quite huge life milestones. It just goes to show that life really does go on after the death of a loved one, at least if you let it.

Still in the quiet of the house, I wonder to myself, why is it that these shifts or life-changing events seemed to have happened around the same time for the past 2 years and I can’t help but wonder will something else happen next year around this time? I also don’t really want to question why these things are happening and happening in the way they are and around the time they are. I understand that no one truly knows the inner workings of time so I simply want to breath and say, “Thank you Lord” .

sol, nature, gratitude
Have an attitude of gratitude

GRATEFUL

Something that has really stood out for me during this time of isolation over the past several days, is the kindness of people; everyone we care about checking in on us and bringing us food. That especially has reminded me of the week when my mother died; everyone brought us food and groceries so that we didn’t still have to worry about that. I’m really grateful to all the people who have come through for us during this time.

flowers. roses. love
Flowers from my friend Reesha.

With that said, I’d like to share 12 things I’ve learned in the last 12 months since my mother died.

  1. It’s okay not to feel in control.
  2. You can cry whenever and wherever you need to.
  3. Change will always come, don’t fight it.
  4. Nothing ever goes the way we expect or plan, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be prepared.
  5. It’s okay to feel the ‘bad’ feelings; fear, sadness, anger, frustration ect.
  6. You won’t always succeed at everything you take on and that’s okay.
  7. You are allowed to want to be alone.
  8. Grief throws you into an unending spiral of self-confrontation.
  9. Cooking or baking is therapeutic.
  10. Love is all there is. It will get you through your darkest nights and brightest days.
  11. Don’t waste the time you have. You won’t get a refund.
  12. Live well.

self-care self love

SELF-CARE IS NOT SELFISH

I was looking at myself in the mirror the other day and I didn’t like what I saw. I felt miserable because my clothes didn’t fit right and I realised that I had gained weight. The truth of the matter is, I haven’t been taking care of myself lately; I haven’t been eating properly and I haven’t been giving myself well-deserved self-care.

Growing up, I know we are told not to focus too much on our outer appearance. We are taught that “it’s what inside that counts” I teach my kids the same thing but I’m learning a very important lesson now as an adult that we sometimes forget that it’s what we put inside our bodies that affect our outer appearance. I don’t want to look in the mirror and not like what I see.

I’ve been going through the motions; work, home life, kids and school, working on being a good wife and mother ,and all my other responsibilities but in all of that I’ve neglected myself. I find myself eating more than usual, drinking ample amounts of coffee ,and reaching for chocolate or cake for no reason other than comfort. Feeling sick, nauseous ,and weak has become the norm and my headaches are relentless. The worst part is, I am always and I mean always, tired.

I think the last time I had a proper self-care day was three months ago for our wedding and that wasn’t something I did for myself. Other people did it for me.

Self-care should be something we prioritise often. It should be a part of our lifestyle.

Self care can come in many different ways:

  • Getting your hair and nails done
  • Going shopping and buying yourself something that you’ve wanted for some time
  • Taking a break from work
  • Going on a short holiday away from your usual surroundings
  • Taking a break from social media
  • Spending time by yourself
  • Spending time in prayer or meditation

SELF REFLECTION

All these things can help bring you back toward yourself. We can’t take care of others if we’re not taking care of ourselves. You can’t give from an empty cup.

You’re scraping from the bottom of the barrel and giving yourself and your loved ones, your work ,and your business less than what they deserve. Less than what you deserve.

It’s okay to step back and reflect on your life. You can say no to another project or event. It’s okay to put yourself first. Sometimes, it’s required.

When I was standing before the mirror the other day, I looked around me and the house was a mess. I felt completely overwhelmed by everything that I burst into tears. It was tears of exhaustion. I hardly have the energy to take care of myself let alone the house but somehow I still find myself cleaning and cooking but I’m doing it from an empty cup. I’m scraping from the bottom of the barrel.

Reflecting on all of this has felt like a very honest conversation I’ve had to have with myself about how I’m treating myself and my body, my mind ,and spirit. I want to experience holistic health and the truth is, the mind, body ,and spirit are all connected. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life. My family and career and all my responsibilities keep my life full and exciting. I see the growth in all the areas of my life, the problem is, I can’t seem to keep up with it.

If I don’t take care of the one, all the others will be out of sync. My family, career ,and business cannot thrive if I am not at my best.

MAKING THE EFFORT

As I said before, self-care has to become a part of my life. It is a daily habit that has to be learned through repetition. I now have to learn to take care of my body and my overall health. I understand now that self-care is simply doing things that will improve my mental state, everything else will flow from there. Below is a great list of how to practice self-care.

Remember, self-care is self love!

baby feet, heart, love

OH BABY!

Little one,
From the womb whence you came,
Only to be discarded on the side of the road.
Oh, baby!
Wrapped in plastic,
Near the stench of a filthy rubbish bin.
Accompanied not by warm hands and inviting smiles,
Instead, you’re surrounded by
Rotten food and hungry wolves.


Oh, baby!
Your cries drown out the screams
As she forces you out,
Two months premature.
She doesn’t want to remember
the day that you were created
in a night of heated passion.
Your sweet face and soft skin
Make her skin crawl.


Oh, baby!
She blames you for the loss of his love
And punishes you,
Gets rid of you,
Like yesterday’s trash.
A one night stand,
Mistaken for a love of a lifetime,
Resulting in 9 months of responsibility.
A lifetime responsibility.


Oh, baby!
Your little body; hands and feet,
Blue in the cold night,
Unaware of the love that awaits you
From a barren mother who craves you
Who wishes for you,
Prays for you.
Your sweet scent,
Your ten fingers and
Ten toes.
Oh, sweetheart
Covered in blood,
The only tie to your previous life,
Is the cord that binds itself around your tiny
Neck.


Oh, baby!
Please hold on!
Someone is coming.
Oh, baby!
You are wanted
and needed.
You are a source of joy and laughter.
Your precious life is a gift from the heavens.
Oh, baby!
Please hold on!
That yellowed grass patch might be your beginning
But
It is certainly not your end.



roses, heart, you are always in my heart

10 LESSONS I LEARNED FROM MY MOTHER

This will be my first Mother’s Day without my mom. In her honour, I’d like to share only 10 of the many lessons I learnt from her.

1. Always ask questions and never accept anything at face value. 

My mother always asked questions. When she didn’t understand something, you would have to explain it to her until she understood. She didn’t just accept any old answer and she would dig and dig until it made sense. I remember several occasions when we would be in the bank and she would struggle with one of the bank tellers to explain something to her until she could understand it well enough. It wasn’t always pleasant.

2. Always cook enough food. You never know who will knock at your door.

My mother had this thing about always making sure there was bread in the house. When I asked her about it once, she said you never know who will be coming to your door with an empty stomach or she would say, if someone hungry comes to your door, at least you can give them bread. She loved cooking for her family and she always made more than enough. She loved it when we enjoyed her food (which we always did) and she loved the fellowship it created.

3. Always feed your family before you eat. 

Food was my mother’s love language and she always made sure we dished up first before she did. Something else I fondly remember about her was that there was always food left and she would first ask if we wanted it before she ate.

mother, grandmothr, daughter, mother's day
My mother, my daughter and myself.

4. Make sure there’s desert on Sundays.

My mom had a sweet tooth all her life and she loved fresh cream cake. It was her philosophy that there had to be cake or some kind of desert on a Sunday after lunch. There would be times when she would sadly say, “I can’t believe there is no cake today” . She would always have some sort of candy or chocolate in her handbag and her grandchildren loved that. She was a fantastic grandmother.

5. Know how to count your money. 

My mother was good with math and she always had to make sure she knew exactly where her money was going. Every cent of it. She would use old school calculators and write everything down. She religiously made grocery lists every time she went to the shop and she would do several sums until her books balanced.

6. Keep records of everything. 

This was very important to her. My mom wrote everything down. She was always afraid she might forget something. She left behind a big black suitcase with tons of documents in it. Her purse was always full of slips and papers with notes. She would even write down things my kids would say to her during the day so that she can tell it to me when I got off work.

7. Don’t be a push-over.

My mother was not a push-over. She never let anyone walk all over her and on several occasions she would tell me the same. She always told me to stand up for myself and never let people take advantage of me.

8. Always be kind.

My mom was a kind woman. She was always generous, whether with money, food or her time. She would listen to people as they spoke and she always offered advice.

mother, children, mothers day
My mom and 3 of her children. We are five in total.

9. Dance at every possible opportunity that you get. 

There is this one memory that I’m sure my siblings and I share. It was on a Sunday and we came home from church. When we walked past one of the windows, we saw our mother in the kitchen cooking and dancing while she did. She looked so happy and free and she was in her element. We all just stood there, watching her through the window, dancing. That is one memory I’ll never forget.

10. Don’t sleep in and always make your bed. 

The first thing my mother always did when she woke up was make her bed. Before she passed, she was teaching my daughter how to make the bed. I’ll be honest, I’m not as diligent as my mother was with making my bed.

There are many other lessons I learnt from my mother. Lessons she didn’t always know she was teaching me and lessons I didn’t always want to learn at the time.

flower, rose, love

DEAR MOTHER

I often think of the days that I use to perch on your lap
And grab you around your neck
And kiss your aging cheeks.


I often wonder if I will ever be able to do that again.
The chasm between us seems to have become so relentless
That I often wonder if we’ll ever be able to cross it.


Mother, ma as I know you,
I sometimes think back to when we use to be
Best friends, I was the envy of my siblings
As you always had my back.
Now I look back and see the strays of memories
We have left behind.


I see you, you’re getting older.
You have a limp
And the 60 years that our Father has granted you
Is starting to show.


I remember watching you sit
At the window in our small flat
Writing down random numbers;
Maybe it was the dates of the births of all your children,
Even the ones you never saw growing up.
Or maybe how many times your heart was broken.
Or was it the number of times you cried?


Now you don’t count anymore,
You just stare ahead, waiting for the
End of each day.
Maybe the dates and numbers and opportunities
That you never had have all lost their meaning.


You turned into a sad and helpless creature
Right before my eyes
It made me feel sad and helpless for
Not knowing how to reach out.


Dear mother,
My arrogance and pride has prevented me
From coming to you and telling you
That I miss your bear-like embrace.
It has put a wall up in the
Middle of our home
As we pass one another
During the day
Like strangers at night.


We hardly say a word to another
And when we do, its
Laced with irritations and criticism.


Mother, I am sorry
For being too big for my shoes and
Forgetting that you too
Are leaving shoes that no one
Will ever be able to fill.

poppies, field, sunset, bloom, seasons

SEASONS.

We are all in different seasons of our lives. It might not be the season you want to be in but right now, it is your season.

It’s the one you need.

Winter doesn’t shy away after the warm months have gone when it’s her turn to wrap us in a cold cocoon.

Autumn doesn’t become sad when the leaves turn from green to yellow to brown.

Spring patiently waits her turn to release her cherry blossoms after months of being in hiding.

This is your time to grow, to plant seeds for the next season.

To sow and to harvest.

You cannot skip it or avoid it.

You can’t get to the next season without getting through your current season.

There is a time for everything.

You cannot watch others bloom when it is their time and be upset because the same thing is not happening to you at that very moment.

Nothing in nature works that way; no flower keeps watch over another flower.

It simply blooms.

When its time has come, its petals fall to the ground and it does so with grace and elegance.

Its petals do not force their way back onto the stem.

Bloom when it is your time.

A flower grows where it is planted, where it is born, between weeds or between concrete.

It makes its surroundings beautiful.

Make your surroundings beautiful.

You have a purpose now, right where you are. No matter the season.

Whether your current season is five days, ten weeks, or 15 years, you need to submit and commit yourself to it.

If you believe God placed you here, know that it was with a purpose in mind.

Everything happens for a reason.

The hard part is being patient.

Kimberly Fray

Kimberly is a writer, blogger and poet. She is married to musician Jared Fray and they live in Johannesburg, South Africa with their two children.
Kimberly has had several of her poems published in poetry journals and also works as a news producer.