Sunday, May 31, 2009

Picture Perfect

Okay, so I've just returned from the best weekend ever with my beautiful niece and I feel completely inspired. I have so much to say...about my perfect niece, about my amazing sister, about motherhood in general...
But why should I spend my time gushing about it, when you can see for yourself in these pictures?

Most babies giggle, but Miss Avery Jayne laughs. And it's the most incredible sound on the planet.
Unfortunately, my plan to smuggle her home with me was foiled!

Sunday, May 24, 2009


I love facebook. Admittedly, since my return to the US, I'm not on it as much as I used to be, but it can still suck me in. Of course, I'm obviously not alone in my love affair with facebook. With over 200 million users, facebook is clearly aiming to take over the world. And yet, somehow, there are still people who have not hopped on the bandwagon. It's shocking, I know. But now that I've gotten my mom on facebook, I figure no one is out of my reach. Why I feel it is my personal mission to get everyone I know on facebook, I'm not sure. But this is why I ended up spending most of last night cyber-stalking facebook friends in an effort to show my non-facebook friend everything she is missing out on.

She was clearly fascinated by the phenomenon, but I'm still not sure I won her over. She kept insisting that she didn’t have time to reply to personal emails, much less connect with (and cyber-stalk!) old friends on facebook. But she’s clearly missing the point. Because in my experience, beyond the initial “Hey there! So glad to reconnect! How’s life?” written on the occasional wall, there’s not that much reconnecting happening. It’s more about having the option to reconnect and the option to cyber-stalk.
And of course it’s also about giving other people the option to cyber-stalk you. Because some part of us likes the idea of pseudo-random people glimpsing into the Photoshopped version of our lives. Well, obviously some part of me likes it. If I didn’t I would activate the privacy option on my blog, but I don’t. Instead, I welcome blog-stalkers. I secretly hope for them. And because I still haven’t gotten around to installing Google Analytics (it’s a way to track a website’s traffic) on this blog, I can pretend I have a whole mass of blog stalkers out there.

It sounds kind of crazy when I put it like that. And maybe it is. I mean, as a child it would be the end of the world if someone read your diary, but as a grown-up blogger – you kind of hope for it. Bizarre, huh?

But that’s all I got for the moment (it is a three-day weekend after all). For more profound thoughts on the subject of blog-stalking check out this post by someone I recently blog-stalked. And if enough people click on the link, she will see from her Google Analytics reporting that robyninatlanta posted a link to her blog, thus outing myself as a blog-stalker!

And I apologize if all this talk of cyber/blog stalking was lost on you, but if you don’t know what it is, you’re clearly not taking advantage of all that Web 2.0 has to offer. But don’t worry...maybe I’ll host an intro to Web 2.0 webinar or create an instructional YouTube video or iTunes podcast…we’ll work something out. You’ll be cyber-stalking in no time.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Small talk?

Motherhood amazes me.
Hopefully, my last post conveyed how much I admire the mothers I know – especially my own amazing mom, and now of course, my beautiful sister. But as much as I’m in awe of motherhood, when I think of it in terms of myself, I’m completely apathetic. Well, maybe that's the wrong word. Because I do really want to be a mom...someday. I mean, when I imagine my future, I picture Roger and me with children, but it’s this blurry, distant vision of an unspecified place and time. It’s certainly not the here and now. I guess I still think of motherhood as a “when I grow up” thing to do. And despite the fact that I’m quickly approaching thirty, it rarely occurs to me that I’m possibly capable of being a mother now.

But I’m not completely oblivious. I realize that it’s probably time to start thinking about it more seriously. I guess I’ve been saying that for a few years though. It’s true; whenever Roger and I talk about it, we always agree that the best time to have a baby will be “this time next year.”

I realize that it’s a little weird for someone who has been happily married for over seven years to not have kids. I guess. I mean, people always seem shocked when they find out how long I’ve been married and then discover that I don't have a kid in kindergarten. They assume there's something wrong with me. And who knows - maybe there is - but what business is it of theirs anyway? Okay, that sentence probably suggests that I’m offended by their inappropriate interest, and I’m not really, I just find it – I don’t know – I guess I find it interesting. I think it’s funny that a random man in the cafeteria at work makes small talk with me with these three questions 1) Are you married? 2) Do you have kids? 3) Why not? Oh, and then he follows it up with “Well, you should. You definitely should. And you should hurry up.”

I know, right? But the thing is, the whole interaction isn’t unusual for me. For some reason, everyone from the girl giving me a manicure to the man at the dry cleaner’s wants to know when I’m having a baby and why I don’t have one already. It’s funny that something so deeply personal to one person is just a way to make small talk to another.

And then of course there are the more subtle questions and speculations by those closer to me, those who aren’t just making small talk. I find it ironic that the man in the cafeteria can come right out and ask me the question while the M-I-L – someone notorious for her outspokenness – dances around the subject, saying how she can’t wait for me to get pregnant but knowing better than to pressure me with direct questions about our plans.

So, what are our plans? I don’t know. And that’s exactly what I told the one person who has the right to be asking the question – my doctor. When he asked about my timeline for having a baby, I thought about it for a minute before asking him if it would be alright to train for a marathon while trying to get pregnant. He discouraged the idea, giving me yet another reason to delay motherhood. Because I think I’d like to run a marathon this year, and if I have to choose between having a baby and running a marathon, well the latter sounds a hell of a lot easier, don’t you think?

I know; I have issues. But now is not the moment to explore my psychosis. We can do that some other time...because if I'm willing to share it with the random man in the cafeteria, I figure I might as well share it with you guys too.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

No one likes to think of themselves as selfish. I certainly don’t. And I’m not – I don’t think. I mean, I try to consider other people’s feelings and I don’t insist on always getting my way. In my marriage, for example, I make an effort to do the things that Roger likes to do (like, go see Wolverine – though I drew the line with Star Trek), and I try to take an interest in the things that are important to him (which is how I got so good at Rock Band). But I wouldn't exactly call any of these things sacrifices. For the most part, I’m not really called upon to be selfless. So while I wouldn’t say I’m selfish, I’m not sure I know what it means to be truly selfless.

The more I think about it – I’m convinced that the only people on this planet who can really claim selflessness are Mothers. And while I’ve reaped the benefits of my own mother’s selflessness my whole life, it’s only now, as I witness the transformation in my sister that I can even begin to understand the significance of their sacrifices.

It begins before the baby even arrives – not only do they have to watch their figures expand and stretch in ways that seem almost alien, but they have to surrender their emotions to hormones, avoid favorite foods, and give up all their vices – and that’s only the beginning. Never mind the pain and suffering they endure through the actual delivery, but once the baby arrives, they sacrifice their sleep, their sanity, their time… the sacrifices become so common that they almost lose their significance. We take for granted that a mother will stay up all night with a sick child, or get up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday to make pancakes and watch cartoons, or spend her entire weekend as a chauffeur, or take on a second job to pay for college, or give up her own life if it means saving her child. You tend to forget that not so long ago, this woman’s sole responsibility was herself. She was allowed to be selfish, just like the rest of us. But as a mother, she can barely comprehend what the word selfish means. She can hardly recall what it felt like to put herself before someone else. And she wouldn't have it any other way.

Today seems like a good time to acknowledge the awesomeness of a Mother’s selflessness. Because we do take it for granted; we assume it just comes naturally. And I don’t know; maybe it does – maybe motherhood magically erases our inherent selfishness, but somehow I’m not so sure. While good mothers make it look easy, there are enough not-so-good mothers out there for me to recognize that selflessness is a choice; it’s a decision. I think the love a mother feels for her child usually makes the decision inescapable, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Am I making any sense? I fear my words don’t adequately convey my admiration, but this is my vain attempt to wish all of the mothers in my life a Happy Mother’s Day.

I’m truly in awe.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Oh, Sheila

It’s hard to believe I’ve been back in Atlanta for over four months. And while I’m consistently surprised at how fast the time goes by, somehow I feel like we’ve been back longer than four months. In fact, whenever someone I haven’t seen in a while asks how we’re “settling in,” it takes me a minute to realize what they mean – because we’re definitely settled. We’ve been settled. I mean, the transition period was pretty much non-existent. I think because we fell into our new life with such ease, it’s almost hard to remember what life in South Africa was like…almost.

There’s a lot I miss about my life in South Africa. And a lot I don’t. And there were so many things that I missed about the US while I was there – things that I was so excited about upon my return but that I’ve already started to take for granted again.

My e-friend in New Zealand recently suggested I update everyone about those “things.” Of course, she’s probably only interested because she’s about to move back to the US, and she’s already thinking about her own “things.” Still, I fully intended to sit down this weekend and share my thoughts/feelings on the subject, but that somehow hasn’t happened. Why hasn’t it happened? Because for some reason, I decided it was time to do some spring cleaning this weekend. We’re not talking about your basic vacuum/dust – I mean cleaning out the fridge, organizing the closets, scouring the oven, etc. (insert heavy sigh here) These are not fun things to do. And they always take three times longer than I think they’re going to.

But fortunately, with my saintly husband’s help, the apartment is now sparkling.

And while I didn’t make time to compose my thoughts about all the things I miss and don’t miss about South Africa…one thing became blatantly clear:

Of everything I miss about South Africa*, I miss Sheila most of all. So much more than a maid, Sheila was an angel who came into my little cottage once a week and spent an entire day making everything spotless. And I do mean everything.
*excluding my South African family (I guess)

Actually, as much as I miss Sheila, I'm a little resentful too. I completely blame her for my obsession with cleaning the apartment. Trust me. I wasn’t always this uptight. (My old roommates can attest to the state of my room throughout college). But now, because of Sheila, I have a whole new level of expectations. Only now, if I expect it to be clean, I have to clean it myself (or trick – I mean, charm – my husband into doing it). So, it's really not that I'm just really aware of it. So, thanks for that, Sheila. Thanks a lot.

Anyway, sorry Cathleen, next time I promise to confess everything that I'm already taking for granted about being back in the US (and I'm afraid Sam Adams Light and Lean Cuisine are both on the list...aren't you jealous?).