NEW: Book of the month!

First going to watch the Netflix series.

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Every mother has a past : Elle

It’s true that every mother has a past. Sometimes I look back on who I was as a young adult and realise that a fire hazard I must have been for my parents. Looking back on it I often find myself painfully regretting things I said. I take responsibility for my mother basically quitting her mothering duties. It got so much worse after my father died. Now here I am, a mother myself. I’m watching Chloe and I want to reach out and pull her back a little. Just stop her from losing herself in Gabriel but I can’t tell her how to live.

I just know telling her to go slow with Gabriel (because I said so) isn’t going to work. It’s going to alienate her. She is going to think that I’m trying to stop her from living her life. I wouldn’t want that for her. I felt that life start inside of me always wanting to make her happy. Why would it be any different now? Her smile still gives me that warm and fuzzy mummy feeling. In those moments I love my little girl but that’s just the thing. She’s not a little girl exactly. She’s a young girl on the precipice of womanhood and I just want to make sure she keeps her innocence for as long as she can.

I lost my virginity at 15. I was insane and now that I’m married to a really good man and have this really beautiful life with these two gorgeous children, I lie in bed at night and I wish I had waited. I regret that boy. I don’t really even remember his stupid name. I just remember that he said that he loved me. I had a really lovely father. Dad did so much for us. He worked hard. He loved us but I wanted this silly little boy who had nothing to offer me to love me. I liked that I felt sexy and mature when I was with him. I remember all these things but I don’t remember his name. Says a lot.

Chloe will probably tell me just because I regretted my first time doesn’t mean she will. When she finds the man she wants to marry she will regret that her whole heart doesn’t belong to him. She’ll only understand then that little pieces of her heart have been left in the beds of everyone she will ever have sex with.

If I knew how to tell my daughter; boyfriends are an unnecessary accessory at your age. I would want to be able to tell her why. I would want to tell her that your girlfriends and you and more important right now. Hanging out with boys in a crowd instead of one on one is better. Relationships are stressful. Even with all his sweet treats and puppies and expensive jewellery. I mean really? Jewellery? I had to bite my tongue because I really wanted to tell her to give it back. What an expectation!

I am sure he is a really lovely boy but as he is older than she is and seems to only spoil her with expensive gifts I’m worried. His parents are not exactly worried but did tell us that if our daughter thought she could trap their son we had another thing coming. I very nearly sucker punched the man. Took me a day to calm Daniel down. Took me even longer to convince him not to ban Gabriel and Chloe from seeing one another. I have first-hand experience with the aphrodisiac effect those words have on teenagers.

Off to bed to read a book and eat my sweet treat from my sweet and funny husband. I need to find a way to speak to Chloe away from home. It will probably help us both feel relaxed. It could help me share and help her hear me.

Elle: Being a woman

There are days I absolutely wish I was not a woman. Maybe the first day of my period when I was going to go out and do something amazing and then the cramps start and the bloat and I feel terrible about myself as zits explode across my forehead and something ugly grows on my nose and there is no amount of lotions or potions that going to make it go away.

But I love being me.

I have never loved being myself more than I do at this age. I didn’t want to tell anyone how old I was during my twenties. I thought it was cute making people guess. Now I can only roll my eyes when I think of my silly self. How immature was I? It’s strange because I am always thinking at every age that I am more grown and so mature and then a few years later Jane and I can laugh at ourselves. I love being a woman. I love that I am blessed with the ability to carry life within my body. No man will ever have that joy. They will never know how that feels. That makes me unique as a woman. That makes being a woman magic. The curves I have. Although now that I think about it … there are so many men out there who are now as curvaceous as I am thanks to a little plastic surgery.

I love that I can cry and be okay with it. Although it hard to cry around my children and my mother doesn’t tolerate it. I love my tears. My ability to show emotion. Even if my children are around. It’s important for them to see I am not an android.

And the way I feel when that man looks at me. Stares at me. Especially after I’ve made the effort to wash my hair and put on a little make up. But who am I kidding. He looks like that at me anyway.

I have probably never thought about this but I don’t think I’ve ever felt this sexy in my own skin. Just sexy. Not slutty or smutty. Just empowered. I don’t care about those stretch marks. They are proof of my body becoming stronger. I don’t care about the faint wrinkles. They are my lines of laughter and joy and life. I’ve shown emotions all over the place. I’m not going to hide it.

My stomach might be sagging and my boobs,droopy. My bum is a soft pudgy thing that jiggles when I go out for a morning jog. But I still turn heads. I am still beautiful. I am worth taking care of. I am totally worth doing something lovely for myself at least once a month.

I love being a woman. I don’t think I’ve realised how much I’ve neglected myself and my dreams and my desires and what a negative impact that has had on the people I love the most until a few weeks ago.

It’s something I have a responsibility to teach Chloe as her mother. I owe it to her to do that.

Elle: When you stop for a moment

What a day I’ve had. What a week. And the bomb that Daniel drops that has me feeling like I’m not sure where I fit in anymore. Like I don’t know what to say. When as a wife you put out your ‘that’s nice dear’ card. What was I going to say?

Chloe has had her head buried in books while I ply her with tea and cinnamon buns. Just so that something goes in before she hits the sheets for two hours. It’s not the way to go about things but I’ve learned a very long time ago that we all have a process in getting things done. She completes her exams next week before it’s the Easter holidays and she will be performing a solo for the concert and her exam. She is being run ragged. I don’t know how she is doing it but I keep telling her how I think she is doing well. Because honestly I believe Chloe seems to be handling high school so much better than I ever did. I was absolutely miserable. It might have something to do with the friends she has made. They are two lovely girls. They were here to study on Thursday and I thought it would be a dishing session on boys and whatever else teenage girls get doing but when I walked in there with a tray of drinks for the girls I was surprised to walk in on a silent room with notes and mindmaps neatly piled around the girls.

I was silently impressed by their dedication and focus. Who does that? Chloe and friends. That’s who. I’m thinking I will arrange for them to have a day out after all this is over. They deserve a treat after the hard work they have put in. It’s important that they learn that life shouldn’t just be all about work but that there should be reward waiting at the end of it all.

On Daniel…

After leaving us here so that he could heal. He calls me up last night and tells me that he has found God and not in the Catholic way.  He is going to go on a pilgrimage after which he will come home. I asked him how long this pilgrimage was for and he said it apparently takes as long as it takes. I couldn’t do anything but tell him to have a good time or whatever this experience is going to be for him but that when May month rolls round I expect him back here for Chloe’s sweet sixteen.

I’m not sure with what he means that he has found God because he and I both believe in God and attend mass on Sundays and I use to be more involved in the activities of the church but since I started working I’ve had to resign from all the engagements I’ve enjoyed. Maybe Daniel has found his centre because I know I felt like I was serving a purpose doing what I was at the church.

At this point I think that anything that will help my Daniel come home sooner is a brilliant thing. So here I am with my glass of red wine curled up on my bed about to watch a boxset of Downton Abbey. I hear it’s brilliant.

Elle; the DIY reconnect

I’ve had a wonderful few days with Jack. I can’t believe how much work I’ve managed to do from home in the evening after Jack and Chloe are in bed. I’m thinking I should go back to negotiate working from home because I realised I can do it and I’m so much more relaxed being home. I think in just five days I’ve managed to find my centre.

Jack and I enjoyed mornings driving out and running around on Noordhoek beach and shopping and finger painting. I’ve framed some of them and put it up in the kitchen with a few beautiful photos I took of my baby while he just enjoyed himself in my company. It was really wonderful to listen to the mind of a five year old. I haven’t laughed so much in the longest time. Jack is so intelligent and he amazes me more everyday. I need to invest more time in Jack. He just needs my time. I’ve realised that now.

Last week Chloe left on a three day leadership adventure camp and Jack and I decided to redecorate and give it more of a grown up feel. It was time for the pink and purple bedding to go and I purchased a gold leaf daisy print wall paper and put it up against her feature wall. We found a beautiful sea blue paint and for the rest of the wall and changed her drawer knobs and door handles to gold. I even managed to find a beautiful small gold and glass chandelier at Mr Price home and put that up. I’m amazed at what I can do with a little skill and a lot of Youtube videos. The day before Chloe had left she had asked for cash to buy a few things for the camp and I offered to go with her and take Jack along. It was good because my little girl needed everything. Her body has been changing in my absence. I have to start being present for the family like I use to be. To achieve that I need to start living in the present and not in the future which is so easy with this whole digital marketing gig. That’s marketing. Living in the future all the time.

Now Chloe has beautiful white crisp linen on her bed and I’ve given the room a few gold, bronze and sea blue accents. I’ve done a little more shopping to fill her wardrobe but left those bags on the table. It’s her 16th birthday soon and I need to do something special. I want my daughter to start feeling like her life is more than just being a responsible older sister to Jack. Or more than just a daughter to Daniel and I. Chloe now needs to find her path in life and with our help I hope my daughter will be able to grow to the wonderful and successful young woman she was born to be. I would want Chloe to want the best for herself. To love herself so much that she knows exactly where she is going to go in life. If I don’t do much for the rest of her life I will strive to give her this one gift.

That’s my job as her mother.

Elle: @home

I’ve had to take time off work. Last week I had barely seen the children and hadn’t even spoken to Daniel much either. I hadn’t even realised just how busy I am of late until I gave Chloe a proper look over in the car on her way to school and realised that I did not recognise the clothing she was wearing. She hasn’t been speaking to me much but then after dropping Jack off and realising that he wasn’t speaking to me either I thought about when the last time was I actually had a proper conversation with my children and then I realised I couldn’t remember the last time we had a meal together. Again! I’ve been neglecting my children without realising it. So I checked the refrigerator when I got home and nothing. There was nothing for my children to eat so I drove back up to Jacks’ pre-school and went in to talk to him. The teacher was having difficulty with handing over my son! Christ! I was terribly rude which isn’t how I work but at this point, I was guilt ridden and needed to speak to the easier offspring. Apparently Chloe has had friends babysit Jack while she is at piano practice for the exam and the concert. They’ve been eating pizza and pies and popcorn for the last five days. Where was I? What have I been eating?

That’s when I realise that the cookie jar of money has been used up probably for food and then the pizza and milk. I am sure I’ve had coffee the past week but I’ve literally not been paying any attention to what the kids are eating. I decided to discuss it with the teacher and we came to the agreement that he won’t come into school for the rest of the week. So I’m using the rest of the day today to put in a few days of leave from work and buy groceries in the house and maybe I can catch Chloe before she leaves school or goes to practice or whatever because I don’t know my own daughters schedule.

I had a good cry about it earlier but I need to pull my shit together and start finding some semblance of balance. I need to be with my children as well as provide for them and myself. How do other working mother’s manage to do this?? I think it’s time I got in some help just until Daniel comes home. I tried calling him just now but his phone  went straight to voicemail. I’ve left a message. He needs to call me back because we need to talk. I want our marriage to survive this separation and I realised that after neglecting my children that I am also neglecting my husband and my marriage. I can’t help wondering if I haven’t been enough of a support to him during this time in his life.

We just need to talk things through.

Time to collect Jack and try and intercept Chloe.

Elle Vollenhoven: Becoming my mother

My life is such a rush. I very rarely get a moment to stop and take stock of what I am doing and who I am. I realised what a gift Daniel had given me by taking time away. I could use this time to regroup and focus. Why hadn’t I thought about it this way before? Mostly because I need to control everything. I’ve realised that the one thing I said wouldn’t never happen to me has actually happened without my knowledge. I guess when you are the one doing the shopping, the cooking, the cleaning, doctors appointments, researching the kids schools and learning who their friends are and have to be your husbands personal assistant and chamber maid then priorities become lists and lists become routine and that little power can make you just a little nuts! I don’t want to be nuts. I want my kids to adore me and I want Daniel to love me and yes, adoring me would be great. Sometimes I just want to be someones’ girlfriend again just for the perks of being admired and studied and faffed over and adored. Now I’m the wife and mother. And they wonder why I’ve become my mother?

The school called last Friday afternoon just as I was about to have a pedi, mani, wax. God, was it really a week ago already? I had to reschedule. So this weekend I figured since it was Valentines weekend that I would spoil myself. I haven’t done it in so long. It really was overdue. I should be making more  of an effort to take care of myself but with everything happening around me at the speed of light, the highlights in my hair, is really the last thing on my mind. Anyway, that call through came just as I put a foot into the spa and I was promptly told that Chloe had been involved in a scuffle. Delicately put. Chloe could barely see through the eye and to make matters worse she refused to tell any of the teachers who had done this to her. She wouldn’t tell me either. She kept saying she didn’t see anyone but how can you get punched in the face and not see anyone?

I am absolutely mortified by her behaviour. If Daniel was here she would not be pulling this shit. Obviously she drives me crazy and makes me out to be the bitch in the story. I called Daniel and told him that Chloe has started acting out because of this crazy living situation and the fact that the kids have absolutely no stability. He said that it was best he talk to his darling girl and listen to what she has to say. As if I don’t listen! I can only thank God that Jack has been so good about everything as I know he is suffering inside. My poor baby boy. If only I could drag Daniel back by the scruff of his neck and make him realise that Jack needs him. Obviously when I tell Daniel this it’s met with sighs and ‘how can it be good for Jack to see his father so broken?’ Well at least he is seeing his father!

So then Chloe was excluded from school for two days. It’s really just a nice way of saying expelled but I guess it’s not as bad as all that. I tried but I failed miserably to make any kind of effort to communicate with Chloe at this point. Until this weekend when I went off to treat myself and she said she had to be at school because she was the lead pianists understudy and needed to practise with the rest of the orchestra before their concert. Why Chloe still clings to the whole piano thing is beyond me. I don’t know why my mother encourages her so. She is not going to be able to make a career out of playing the piano. That is reserved for the best of the best and lets face it this is Chloe. She is pretty and kind but she is not Mozart or Chopin or even a Rocherfellar by any stretch of the imagination. If she could apply herself academically the way she does her music she could have a very lucrative career in anything she chooses but this musical career is just a dream and it’s one from which she will need to wake up very soon.

When I told Daniel all of this earlier he accused me of wanting to turn Chloe into me! And then promptly informed me that I was beginning to sound exactly like my mother who I despise and it’s only because according to him we are two peas in a pod and he will not let me ruin his precious Chloe. So I very rudely slammed the phone in his ear!!!