Tears My tears are not hot and dry they are not hidden behind my eyes or stuck in my throat They are an overwhelming ocean a riptide of emotion My tears are powerful and visible for all to see They dare not hide My tears are ever present Always available I am never without My tears are worthy of accolades and applause My tears are not forced or fake They are real and organic Constantly flowing ravaging whatever stands in its way My tears have a life of its own Ever present and commanding Causing you to turn your head when they make their presence known
To the woman sitting alone in her empty house Full of memories and mementos, wondering where it all went wrong, I was you. To the young girl crying her eyes out in the office bathroom, staring at herself In the mirror, not recognizing the person staring back at her With bloodshot eyes and tear-stained cheeks, I understand. To the tired mother, using her last strength to dress and feed and play with her kids When she hasn’t eaten or had a decent shower in days, I have been there. To the friend that needs comforting and can’t control the tears from flowing, Feeling as if everything is falling apart, You will be okay. It doesn’t matter how strong you feel you need to be or how tired you are and How many times you need to start over, I want you to know that This too shall pass.
Okay, this book was difficult to read. As a mother and as a woman, I found myself gasping, cringing, feeling sad and heartbroken, feeling angry and frustrated. I experienced disbelief and a whole lot of other emotions that caught me by surprise. I’m not sure what I expected when I picked up this book but what I found was definitely not it.
Without giving too much away, I’ll provide a short summary.
Frida Liu is a young mother accused of neglecting and abandoning her young child. She is then sent to a school which is meant to retrain ‘bad mothers’ into becoming the best and most attentive mothers in human existence. (I’m being a bit sarcastic here and once you read the book, especially if you are a mother, I’m sure you will understand why.)
The training and exercises these mothers at the school go through are something else; I found myself frowning and saying “huh?” on many occasions while reading.
‘I am a bad mother but I am learning to be good’
There is so much I can say and want to say about how this book made me feel; when I got to the last chapter, I was in tears.
In a way this book highlights the unrealistic expectations society has when it comes to mothers. Don’t get me wrong, motherhood and children are a gift for women who want it, but it’s a very difficult journey to be on.
In the book, mothers are expected to always be aware of everything around them, never turn their eyes away from their children for a second, be able to soothe their babies by using the correct language and words and physical affection, be able to effectively comfort their children and provide quick, healthy meals and stimulate their minds all the while not losing their own heads.
In a nutshell; it’s a lot.
The thing is, mothers can do all the above but unlike the children in the book, we are not robots. We need a break and we are not always emotionally available for our children or spouses or partners. We won’t always cook healthy dinners and sometimes we want to shut down and be left alone and that is perfectly normal and should be acceptable.
Our own kids are 6 and 8 years old now; they have an abundance of energy which I don’t. There is always something that needs to be done. Laundry needs to be washed and folded and packed away, school lunches need to be made, shopping needs to be done, toys have to be picked up and put away, children need to be disciplined. All the while you are trying to think of the 20 things you need to remember, you are thinking about work, you are checking the time, you are trying to engage in conversations, you are trying to be a good wife and then you need to remember to take care of yourself; have a bath, drink your coffee, fall asleep.
You will fall short somewhere.
We were never made to be perfect.
The guilt and pressure mothers are put under is also a prominent theme in this book; not only by society but by family and surprisingly other mothers too. The pressure can become so crippling, that it becomes life-threatening.
As a mom myself, I’ve been judged, criticized, told what I’m doing wrong, what I should be doing and how I should be doing it. I’ve also compared myself to other moms and it made me feel like the worst person in the world. I’ve been told to plan ahead, prepare dinners, clothing, activities, grocery lists, an endless number of things that I am meant to remember and take care off. Being a parent is difficult but there’s a different kind of hardship that comes with motherhood. Sometimes it’s unrealistic and you have homes where there are two parents and both contribute equally but I think as women, we tend to put ourselves under pressure and that pressure is amplified when you become a mom. Especially when you have a full-time job, a side hustle, a marriage, children. When you do catch your breath long enough to tick something off your to-do list, it feels like a miracle, that’s if you remembered to write your to-do list!
Yes, I know. It sounds like I am venting and maybe I am a little. Reading this book might unlock feelings on the inside of you, that you never even thought you had. Some of those feelings you might not be ready to face.
Something else which stands out for me in this novel is how different the ‘bad fathers’ are treated at the school, which I will call, ‘parenting rehab facility’
The differences are like night and day, which again angered me a little because moms are not always extended the grace which they deserve.
I think the overwhelming message in this book is how one small mistake can change your entire life. The book is about a mother who needs to make decisions which are painful and difficult but she makes them and she doesn’t always make the right ones.
It’s also about regret and how it can hold you back but its also about forgiveness; forgiving others but also forgiving yourself for mistakes you made when you didn’t know better.
All in all, it was an amazing read. I could probably write pages and pages of analysis but I want you to experience this book and make sense of it on your own.
You have been surrounded by beautiful women all your life and you will continue to be for the rest of it.
Be sure to treat every girl or woman you ever come across with the highest level of esteem and admiration because at the end of the day if it wasn’t for the fighting and equally loving spirit of all the women in your life, you would not be who you are today.
Be an example to the many men who will follow you throughout your life and be part of a generation of men that will never again take a woman by force, break her spirit or leave her blue-eyed and crying.
I beg of you baby, be different.
Be secure in your faith.
Be loving and compassionate.
But most importantly, be forgiving.
Do not let the hardships in life stop you from finding the beauty and romance that there surely is and sharing it with everyone you meet.
I hold you to these standards because I know and I believe you have it in you.
Female nurses healed you back to health when you were too weak to stand on your own two feet.
A female pastor dedicated you to the church.
Female doctors delivered you from my womb.
You are not above a woman.
She stands next to you, not under your feet.
I can only give you these guidelines but it is up to you to decide what kind of man you are going to be and maybe someday, what kind of man you are going to raise.
I know you are young now but someday you will understand this.
I see how hard you work and how tired you are. I see how you sacrifice Friday nights to go and be a good influence to young boys who aren’t your own, how you offer your time to anyone and everyone who needs it, except yourself.
I see how you laugh and smile and how you look at me when you come in for a kiss. How you play with our children, without any inhibitions and so carefree, causing loud belly laughter I can hear from the other side of the house. I see how you love to make me happy; how it brings you joy to see my own.
I see how you lay your head on my shoulder when you’ve had a long tiring day, but you don’t complain. I do it on your behalf. How you dream about our future, how passionate you become about the life you want for us. I see how you encourage me when I am down and when I am having a hard day. How you put your hands under my chin and say, “Listen to me, it’s going to be fine”
At times, I see how you look at me when I’m feeling self-conscious and how you say to me, “You’re so beautiful”.
Sometimes I can even see myself through your eyes and I must say, that makes me smile.
Husband, I see how you love people. I see your kindness, how you share, how you give. How you care for those you love and how you respect those who can’t do anything for you. I see how you love to make others happy.
How you make people laugh with your easy going but sometimes corny jokes; I see how you enjoy seeing them smile and how you continue doing it without much effort. It simply comes naturally to you.
I see you when you play your guitar, how you lift your head to the heavens with your eyes closed and how your own melodies transport you to another place. I see how happy it makes you. I see how happy it makes others to hear you play and how you know just what to say with every song.
I also see how frustrated you get sometimes; how your body at times just gives in. I see how you lay your head on your pillow and sleep immediately, sometimes peacefully, other times fitfully. I see how you shed tears, how your feelings are written on your face and even though others can’t see it, I can. I see how you sometimes sigh and squeeze the top of your nose, shake your head and smile in pure frustration or even exhaustion.
I wasn’t ready to lose my mother when she died in 2020. I was 28 years old; still figuring things out, finding my feet, unbeknownst to her; hiding and finding comfort in her bosom. Even at the age of 28-years old, I was very much a child. Today at 30, in many respects, I still am.
God knew I was not ready to lose my mother. He knew and still knows that I needed correction, discipline, and sometimes those things only come through tragedy. God had other plans. He thrust me into this place where I find myself today, being shaped and molded and, at times, scolded by other strong women.
I’ve realised I took advantage of the role my mother had in my life. I fought her a lot; especially as I grew older. I was hardly ever willing to learn from her because as we know, young children and young adults ‘know everything’. A wall was built between us which, until the day she died, could not be penetrated. I think I will always live with thatregret.
So here I am now; finding myself in a place where I am being humbled through correction. Internally and externally. It’s a convicting feeling.
It’s painful to be honest. It forces you to break out of the mould you created for yourself with all the things you thought you knew. It brings you face-to-face with yourself and that is not necessarily a comfortable experience. In fact, it can be downright excruciating and frustrating. At times you find yourself biting your lip and digging in your nails, just so that you don’t scream out in agony.
No one wants to be told when they’re doing something wrong but we don’t always see that correction, if done right, is almost always done in love.
Help and correction won’t always come freely though. The hard part comes when you have to ask for it. When you have to admit that you need help, that’s when the walls really start to come down.
I have been battling with my season of correction; it’s been extremely frustrating at times. Other days, I take it on the chin, I humble myself and say thank you, I needed that. Other days, I roll my eyes and think to myself, ‘I already knew that’
Not only have I been receiving correction from people around me, God has also been working in me and with me. Reminding me when to hold my tongue, helping me to keep a lid on my complaints, opening my eyes to see people the way He sees them, teaching me to be patient, helping me understand that my journey is not that of my husband’s or my colleagues or anyone in my inner circle.
When I think about correction or being shown the error of your ways, I think of it in terms of when you know better, you do better. You change when you are corrected, you can decide to become better or refuse the change and stay the same. Its all about your attitude when you are in the process of receiving correction; you can stand back and roll your eyes and stay in your ‘I know this already’ mindset or you can pay attention, take notes and humble yourself to those who are trying to show you a better way or different way.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT CORRECTION
Here are a few verses from the Bible that speak on correction. There are many more but these are the ones that stood out for me.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Proverbs 12: 1
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.
Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.
Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it.
For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
You might not see it now but when you look back in a couple of months or years; you’ll notice that you have better habits, you do things in a different way than before. You do better because you know better. It’s hard to see the finish line when you’re still in the early stages of the race but you need to know, the finish line is there.
That’s where I find myself now in life; being corrected, almost on a daily basis and its hard but I know sooner or later I will appreciate the correction. I will appreciate the molding and shaping because it has made me a better person.
I started this post of by speaking about my mother. Reason being that I wish I had been more open to my mother’s correction. I wish I had listened to her more, asked her more questions because now I realise I need her more than I ever thought I would. Now that I’m in this place of becoming, I need my mother and I need her to reassure me or guide me when I make a decision. I need her to make me laugh when I’m feeling frustrated or show me her feisty and fierce character when I feel uncertain. I needed her then and I need her now.
WHEN YOU’RE THE ONE DOING THE CORRECTING
Sometimes you will find yourself doing the correcting and I’d like you to think about the following when you’re in that position:
Correction come with patience just as learning comes with patience.
Correcting someone can’t be done with aggression. Not everyone responds well to being spoken down to; in fact I don’t think anyone does.
Correction can’t be done with arrogance; you as the person trying to teach another are also still learning in the process.
This month I celebrate my 30th birthday. The last 30 years seem to have gone by in a blur but there were some hard and necessary lessons learned. As I enter my 30s, allow me to share 30 things (out of the thousands) I’ve learned before turning 30-years-old. My 20’s were for learning. My 30s will be for putting what I’ve learned into practice.
1.Everything is a blessing from God if you choose to see it that way and if you can’t see it as a blessing, see it as a lesson.
Isaiah 43:1-3 Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord you God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
2. You’ll save yourself a lot of heartache and frustration if you choose not to focus on what others think of you.
3. Time with family is more precious than money.
4. Its not just okay to live as your authentic self, its absolutely necessary.
5. Gratitude opens up the door to opportunities.
6. Comparison is just another form of ignorance.
7. Griefnever goes away. You simply learn to live with it.
8. Patience, persistence, preparation and prayer, these things will get through hard times.
9. Rest when you need to. You are no good to anyone when you are operating on fumes.
10. Inspiration is not something to be found. It’s something to be created.
11. To get through anything, you’ll need patience. You’ll find yourself waiting a lot. Waiting in queues, waiting for transport, waiting on people, waiting for signs and miracles. Work while you wait. (I wrote this part while waiting in a queue at a clothing store)
12. Always have a book with you. Whether its a reading book or a note book. You’ll either read something worth remembering or write something worth sharing.
13. No one will and no one should believe in your art more than you.
14. Prayer will guide you and conviction will save you.
15. You need to have honest conversations with yourself about who you are and who you want to be. You need to dig deep into your heart and that will hurt sometimes because you won’t always like what you find.
16. Marriage and love are beautiful thing things. Despite the fact that many people will make you think love is painful or marriage is pointless, once you find it and experience it at its purest essence, you’ll understand the beauty of it.
17. You children will never do what you say. They will do what you do. Make sure you do the right thing.
18. The world is full of bad things but there are even more beautiful things to be discovered.
19. Set goals for yourself, have a plan. Do not go through life rudderless.
20. Take care of your finances. Be smart about your savings and where and how you spend your money.
21. Mind your business but make it your business to care for others.
22. Read and study your bible. You’ll find all the answers you need.
23. It’s okay to ask for help. It does not mean you are weak.
24. Your mind can become a battlefield, you need to protect it at all costs.
25. Be grateful for the hard times. Grapes are pressed and crushed to create wine.
26. Change is scary but sometimes it takes a big change to move you into action.
27. Being kind doesn’t have to be a production. Sometimes its a sincere word, a hug or just a smile.
28. Not everyone is out to hurt you. Some people simply want to get to know you and love you. It’s okay to trust people.
29. Don’t make social media your life.Make time to live in the real world.
30. Love sincerely and wholeheartedly and never regret giving someone your heart, even when they break it.
“Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been” – David Bowie
Relationships are hard; we all know that and I’m sure sometimes it feels as if we’re failing at it. This goes for all types of relationships; family, friends, and romance, even professional relationships but this post is about love with a significant other; romantic love. If you don’t know, I am a romantic and I won’t say ‘hopeless romantic’ because I have hope in love. I believe love is one of the most if not the most powerful source of hope we have on this earth but when it comes to romantic relationships, love can hurt sometimes.
I’ve been blessed to be married to someone who teaches and challenges me every day and one thing I’ve learned in the time that we’ve been together, is that compromise is key. If you’re going to love someone, you have to love them completely and unreservedly, with all their kinks and coils. You have to choose them every single day. Being in a relationship is work, a lot of work andcommunicationshould be the foundation on which you build that relationship.
In 2020 I asked a few couples to share their secrets with me on what makes their relationshipswork and although all the couples are married, I believe the advice they offer can be used by couples in any stage of their relationship but its important to take note of if you are planning on marrying the person you’re with.
I updated the number of years they were married.
EQUALITY IN MARRIAGE
ANTOINETTE AND DENNIS ERASMUS MARRIED FOR 48 YEARS Lives in Cape Town, South Africa.
From the start of our marriage, we adopted the philosophy of equality in which husband and wife are equals, submittingto each other in reference unto God who is the head of our family. We both believe that God has given each one unique gifts for a purpose to live in harmony and to enjoy marriage. Each one’s gifts are for the benefit of the family and the community. Such a marriage creates a safe place for children to grow and develop to their full potential and again to live out their God-given gifts, and by doing so, we send them out as healthy adults.
LUCREZIA AND ALISTAIR FRAY MARRIED FOR 36 YEARS Lives in Midrand, South Africa.
We feel the following are our most important experiences for nurturing our relationship and making our marriage work: * Have respect for one another. * Constantly communicate. It allows us to express our feelings * Making time for each other eg. Have regular date nights * Understanding that marriage is about compromise * Being supportive of each other as marriage is an equal partnership A simple example is comparing a marriage to a garden. If we do not water the plants and take care of it, they will most likely die. It is the same with a marriage; we need to work at it to make it a success.
MAXINE AND CLAUDE PHEIFFER MARRIED FOR 20 YEARS Lives in Cape Town, South Africa
This is what works for us: * We put God first * Prioritise your time together * Marriage is a partnership; it’s not a 50/50 partnership but 100% from both partners * Have fun and take time to be silly and laugh together * Make sure your marriage is your safe space for one another * It also helps if you are best friends * Make time for romance and regular date nights * A little PDA also helps!
MARRIAGE IS SACRED
CANDICE AND PJ FLANAGAN MARRIED FOR 16 YEARS Lives in Midrand, South Africa
Our advice to young couples is to remember a few very important factors for a happy marriage;
* Be committed and faithful to your partner. Marriage is sacred and magical. Don’t destroy it with infidelity. * Love your partner unconditionally with every flaw and fault. Nothing can make them feel more special than knowing that they are loved for who they are. * Take time to listen to each other, whether it’s problems or just them telling you what they love and hate or had a bad day or a good day. * Compromise. Marriage is about two people, not one person. You can’t always have what you want. It works both ways. It’s not always about you. * Make time for each other. No matter how busy you are, always spend quality time together. Go to a movie or dinner or a favourite spot you like to hang out. * Be their strength and hero and let them know that they can count on you. People in this world will always let you down, hurt you, and disappoint you. Assure your partner that you will always be there for them, no matter what. * Put your partner first. They are special and important and should always come first. * Respect and trust. Treat each other with respect. Don’t degrade or say hurtful meaningless words or bring your partner down. * Be easy to forgive and forget. If your partner does something you don’t agree with, talk about it, work things out, and move forward. Don’t dwell on the past or keep reminding them about a past mistake. You cannot move forward in your marriage (or relationship) with unforgiveness. * Don’t compare your marriage to other couples. Every marriage (or relationship) is different, beautiful, wonderful, and special. Rather look at the strengths your marriage has and how great you are together. There will be problems. Marriage is not a bed of roses. Don’t take the easy way out and look for an exit. Talk about your problems. Voice your opinions, likes, dislikes, and work things out.
MAKE SURE TO HAVE FUN
ROZANNE MCKENZIE AND CHRIS BISHOP MARRIED FOR 10 YEARS Lives in Weltevreden Park, South Africa
What’s worked for us over the years is to both have similar values. Chris and I met in our 20s and we have grown together as a couple over the years. Family is so important to us, but it is also good for us as a couple to spend time together, just us. We laugh and we enjoy each other’s company but we also argue and talk things out when we don’t agree. Our relationship is a safe space where we can be open and honest.
LEARN YOUR PARTNER’S LOVE LANGUAGE
BRITTNEY AND DIDIER CHABOT MARRIED FOR 2 YEARS Lives in Saskatchewan, Canada
After 7 years of living together we can say with certainty that the best advice we could give is as follows: * Learn your partners love language- “ If your partner prefers words of affirmation or acts of service in lieu of gifts, you’ll not only save money but a lot of heartache over feeling unheard or unseen in your relationship. I prefer words of affirmation and he prefers acts of service. It took us a few years to figure it out but once we did, it was like a veil lifted and there was a whole new relationship under what we had previously built” -Brittney * Give each other space to be your own person — “Do things you enjoy together, but also pursue hobbies and interests in your own time. Relationships should be the coming together of two whole people” — Brittney * “She loves to hike and be outdoors while I much prefer to collect comics and play video games. She supports my gaming and befriended a few of my gamer buddies while I support her on her adventures by giving her the freedom to just go where her heart desires and we can both have new stories to tell each other and have downtime as individuals” — Didier * Never stop laughing- “ Oh it drives me insane when I’m gearing up for a fight and he cracks a dumb joke or makes a silly face and I forget what I was mad about! It obviously is not that important if he can derail me with one bad dad joke” — Brittney * Understand one another’s pasts but don’t use them against each other or use it to excuse away bad behaviours — “ His family communicated in a different way to mine and it caused a lot of friction for a few years in our own communication with one another until we both had a few discussions about what we needed and why/ how that need came to be. In doing so, we can now be empathetic towards each other and still hold one another accountable when we fall into bad patterns” — Brittney * If you do something wrong or say something in anger, ALWAYS apologise as soon as you recognize it — “ Brittney has a quick temper and she knows it. When she gets irritable and snaps at me or aggressively folds clothes or puts away dishes, she always makes the effort to stop what she’s doing and apologise and explain why she’s frustrated or upset. Sometimes it’s because of something I did but often it’s got nothing to do with me and it helps us avoid arguments “ — Didier
MARRIAGE IS WORK
If you’ve read through all of these tips and advice from the various couples, you’ll notice there are three key things to take away here. 1) COMPROMISE 2) COMMUNICATION 3) REMEMBERING THAT A MARRIAGE OR A RELATIONSHIP IS A PARTNERSHIP
Like I’ve said in the beginning of the post, this advice can work for any couple; whether you are married or if you are planning on getting married. If you have the intention of marrying your partner, sit down and talk to them and make sure you are both on the same page. Too many hearts have been broken because of conversations that were not spoken. In March, my husband and I will be celebrating our 1 year anniversary and I’ll forever be grateful to the people who offered their advice on this post.
Matthew 19:6: So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”