Heaven Or Hell At A Mother’s Feet

I was raised to belief that heaven lies at the feet of one’s mother – the woman that birthed you, loved you, nurtured you. Later, I heard someone (I can’t remember who) say that “heaven lies at the feet of a mother but so does hell”. So, what is it?

It’s is both and neither. To be honest, I think we all have to make up our own minds about our own mothers and then duplicate the good and try to be even better with our own kids. Depending on the type of mom you had, you could have been on the road to hell or heaven. The type of mom you are will pave the road for the type of children you set forth into the world.

road to heaven

Where did this all come from? Well, I just read an article by a mom who is a self-proclaimed ‘lazy’ mom. http://brightside.me/inspiration-family-and-kids/im-a-lazy-mom-besides-im-selfish-and-carefree-176805 

It got my blood boiling because as a mom, I have concerns about leaving a two year old to fend for themselves in a kitchen or allowing an eight year old to wander off by themselves. I could’ve let out an expletive at the author and left it at that but then I read the comments and was shocked by the number of women that believe in this way of parenting. Or rather, this way of neglecting.

As an expat in Kuwait, I probably live in one of the safest countries within which to raise children. People love children here and have an annual holiday to celebrate children where children are given sweets and gifts because they are children. If I’m crossing a road and the kids are with me, cars stop to let us go past. No one would intentionally harm my kids here – their punishment of crime in this country is severe. And yet, even here, I would never, ever allow my children to go off to a friend and they’re both older. They help themselves to yogurt and fruit but if the stove goes on or the kettle, I keep an eye on them.

Now, I’m not a perfect mom. Far from it. I’ve made mistakes and I’m sure I’ll make many mistakes in future but the difference between this ‘mama that has a life’ and that mama is that I do not take the easy way out. I work. I work my butt off.

When I was a working mom, I balanced work, kids, hubby, school stuff and my writing dreams. I thought I was supermom. I was involved with the PTA, I baked supermomcupcakes and arranged lavish birthday parties, I never missed an important school event and I spent every afternoon and part of the evenings with my kids. I worked in between all of that, spent time with hubby and averaged 3 hours sleep for months while trying to write novels. I was finished. I wanted it all and because I couldn’t, something had to give and that something was me. In retrospect, I realize that I could’ve cut down on my writing time and have taken longer to publish some of my books and that would have been fine. I could have done less or only have donated money instead of my time to the school and that would have allowed me to have a bit of balance too. I didn’t realize this then and frankly, I think I was so obsessed with having it all that I didn’t even consider letting up. I was expendable in my warped mind, not my goals. Stupidity at its blindest.

Then, hubby had the opportunity to work in the Middle East. The tax-free income gave me an opportunity to quit my day job and become a full time mom while pursuing my writing dreams. My dreams took a backseat after I made a shocking discovery. My children did not see me in the same ‘supermom’ light I expected them too. Don’t get me wrong, they noticed and appreciated all I did for them but having me at home highlighted how little time they spent with me. Just that. Time spent with me. Not time spent with me doing homework or time spent going to school functions or time spent doing, doing. doing. Just time spent with me. Them and me. Doing nothing and yet doing everything right. I never gave them that in my manic ambition to be the world’ best working mom. Well, I woke up, smelled the OJ and began making up for lost time. Yes, you guessed it, I went the other route… I put my writing dreams on the back burner and threw myself into making my kids the focal point of my life. Hubby came after that and I came last of course. (Believe me I am shaking myself at my head just as I’m sure you are.)

To be fair, I would have had to give a lot of attention to my kids anyway as we did move to a completely foreign country and the amount of adaptation – particularly to the vastly different British curriculum at an international British school. The South African curriculum is literally two years behind the British one and my children had A LOT to catch up to. They spent hours each day doing extra work. Never mind the language differences, the social difference and acclimatization. It’s been tough.

Then came the time when my kids had pretty much caught up. I suddenly found myself with time on my hands. Time to write, right? No. I had every intention of doing so but it didn’t happen. I was bushed. Absolutely exhausted. The fact that I’d been working since the age of 8 in my dad’s shop, keeping house since the age of 8 and then carried on working hard… it got to me. I didn’t have an emotional outburst – that would’ve taken energy. I was just finished. Writing took forever and all I experienced was growing creative frustration. Then hubby told me one day that if roles were reversed, he would absolutely have a daily nap. Nap? What’s a nap? I don’t do naps. Naps are for lazy people, right? … Wrong! Naps are normal as I discovered and so is reading, drinking coffee for the sake of it and having a Netflix marathon in my pajamas. And so I gave myself a break. I still did all I had to as a mom, hubby and I still had time together but I stopped doing PTA and other school activities and put my writing on the back burner. Bravo! I deserved every second. I wish many more women can have the opportunity to have a break such as I did.

Back to the article by the (self-proclaimed) ‘lazy mom’ – bullshit! My mother was ill and working and had an excuse for the responsibility I had placed on me. Even then, she always did her best for me and I am immensely grateful. She did not use laziness as an excuse ever.

I changed my blog name last week to ‘Mama’s Got a Life’ and my tag line is telling – ‘I’m  a mom pursuing her writing dreams while navigating life as an expat’. I hope I can get the balance right now. Being a mom is not about being perfect. It’s not about sacrificing them or sacrificing you. It’s about doing your best with what you have in the moment. It’s about learning to balance things out while honoring your responsibility to the lives you’ve been honored to take care of. It’s about taking things a step at a time while holding your breath and hoping that the road you’re paving is the one leading them to heaven.

Mama’s Got A Life – I Flipped My Blog

The Art of Juggling Balls. Yep, that’s me, ball juggler extraordinaire. It’s dirty work that can get sticky at times, make you wheeze from exertion and messy-dress in a hurry. That’s the mad, amazing reality of my life living as an expat in a country where I don’t speak the language and the customs take a moment or two to decipher while raising two girls, yo-yo dieting with intense determination, keeping the flame burning with my hubby, traveling to bucket list places and embarking on the the scariest, most personally demanding writing project of my life.

I’m a mom in pursuit of her writing dreams while navigating life as an expat wife and #YOLO (You Only Live Once) is my mantra.

Join me as I post about my travels, foodie adventures, writing musings and whatever other balls I may be juggling at the time.

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Reclaiming My Body The LCHF Way

I have made New Year’s resolutions a gazillion times. I’ve said “This will be the year I… (fill in the gap)” and then (mostly) did diddly about it.Well, this will be the year (lol) I actually do something about it. What’s different this time? Well, I began actively working towards these goals in December last year. Trial runs.

2016

 

One of my resolutions is to get my body back. Once upon a time I had a petite, Asian-esque, skinny body. Now, I hardly recognize myself. How I feel does not equal the reflection I see in a store window I walk pass. I feel like Humpty Dumpty that is too dumpy to even fall of the wall. Before my skinny self wouldn’t sit on the wall long enough to count because the wind would blow me off, now my behind grasps and anchors itself with the remarkable efficiency of cement.

I blame age, quitting smoking and moving to the Middle East for this unseemly weight gain. When folk warned us about picking up the expat’s ‘ Middle Eastern ton’, they were not being facetious. To cope,  I have learnt to divorce who I am mentally from who I have become physically. My goal this year is to reclaim my body.

Enter Low Carb, High Fat (LCHF) living! I’ve done this and what feels like every other diet under the sun since becoming an expat. I even had tests done and had dietitian approved meals delivered daily (I put on weight with that one)! The LCHF way of eating is the only one that has worked for me (provided I don’t cheat). 

butter-melting

I started LCHF eating a week before my December vacation, stopped while on vacation and now, fast forward to after the gluttonous Festive Season and I’m back on the diet. So far so good. I am managing the carb and sugar withdrawal just fine too. This time around… I will not cheat (and have not cheated- yay!!! 🙂 ). I am determined to feel hot – or at least less like Humpty Dumpty – again.

The wonderful thing about living in today’s world is that somewhere out there, someone has a solution to your problem. With basic computer skills and internet connectivity, you can find it. I  have spent many hours in carb or sugar withdrawal-induced stupor staring at recipes on Pinterest and then trying them out.  My LCHF coping mechanism is to make and enjoy  low carb, high fat, sugar- free food that does not taste like charcoal, dog turds or vomit. I have a few ‘go to’ recipes for those carb and sugar cravings and I’m sharing them with you. These are not my recipes so I will plonk the links in here so you visit and thus give kudos to their creators.

Craving carbs…

  • Have warm bread made with coconut flour that takes 90 seconds to make in the microwave. They’re smell of coconutty goodness but don’t taste of it. They are like a hybrid of an English muffin meets an English scone / American biscuit. I send them in hubby’s lunch box with a variety of fillings or slather it with butter while warm and top with cheddar to have with tea! Coconut flour may be a bit more expensive than all purpose flour but it lasts for ages because this fibre-rich flour  sucks up moisture and expands. Healthy Recipes Blog: Low Carb Microwave Bread – http://healthyrecipesblogs.com/2014/04/17/low-carb-microwave-bread/
  • Life changing crackers. Once on a visit to South Africa, I found Banting seed and nut crackers. They’re available in health shops for a small fortune but are worth every penny. I brought some back to Kuwait. When they were finished, I Googled until I found the recipe for them. Arguably, it isn’t exactly the same but it still gives a mouthful of salty, nutty goodness with every bite. The perfect edible utensil for scooping up hummus, guacamole or simply topped with a spread of good, old Philadelphia cream cheese. My New Roots: The Life Changing Crackers – http://www.mynewroots.org/site/2014/07/the-life-changing-crackers/

life changing crackers

  • This is one of my favorite sandwich bread recipe finds. It tastes exactly like the health or seed bread you find in stores. I make one loaf and it feeds hubby and me lunch  sandwiches  for a week (I store it in the fridge in cling film).  Helga Van Niekerk: Easiest Banting Seed Bread Ever – http://helgavan.com/easiest-banting-seed-bread-ever/

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Craving sugar:

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I have bread and desssert recipes galore stored on Pinterest- from crappy ones to amazing! I’ll post the amazing ones here sometimes.  If you can’t wait, go check out Aneesa Price on Pinterest.

So, that’s resolution one being worked on. My goal is to fit back into my sexy Zara winter wardrobe when we go to Paris in April. Hubby will be with me in Paris this time and Humpty Dumpty must go ‘bye-bye’. It will happen because I will cook and eat myself thin. If you want to join me, keep an eye on recipes I will be posting on this blog or follow me on Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/aneesaprice/

Now, let me get back to working on one of my other New Year’s resolutions… finishing my current novel.

Bon Appetit!

For the Love of Romance, Leave Us to Our Fabulous Sex Lives!

couple kissing in shower

Have you read a good romance lately? Did you recommend it to a friend or colleague only to have them say, “I don’t read such things” or “I read crime novels or autobiographies”? Of course, they say it with an immense sense of superiority as though they’re more present in the ‘real world’ and that there is something wrong with someone for enjoying a good ‘happy ever after’. It makes me want to regress to being a teenager, roll my eyes and reply, “whatever”. But I don’t. Until recently, I’ve smiled and nodded and changed the subject. On Facebook, I generally ignore the comments or provide a diplomatic response.

Now before you get your knickers in a knot, I’m neither referring to individuals who genuinely don’t have an interest in romance (much as some people prefer tea to coffee) nor those who prefer other genres and will only pick up a romance occasionally and if a friend coerces them to. I’m also not referring to people who don’t believe in romance. I respect that we all have pasts and can understand that some experiences don’t lend themselves to creating much belief in love. I am referring to the ‘heart haters’ – those individuals who believe that they have the right to judge the romance reader and writer.

The suppositions made by them are that romance readers are sadly disillusioned or are overcompensating for a lack of sex, love and / or dating in their lives. I even came across an article that refuted a statement that women who read romance novels “can become dangerously unbalanced”. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/jun/01/claim-romantic-novels-unbalance-readers) In the same article, a crime writer is cited as stating, “”My plea to romance writers: please stop writing. You are destroying marriages, the fabric of society, and the entire cosmos”. Really? Judge much? Okay here, I think regression is appropriate and an eye roll is absolutely deserving and maybe a good shaking or two. The irony is that the statement made by this crime-writer is soaked with the very melodrama us romance writers and readers are often attributed with. (And I think he is just jealous because romance novels sell more than any other genre.)

Thankfully, there are enough people out there who have the kutzpah, the tenacity, to challenge the fabricators of such dribble. I found another interesting article on the demographics of romance readers (http://www.lifescript.com/life/timeout/chill/romance_novels_who_reads_them_who_buys_them.aspx) and quite a few more on how romance can spice up one’s sex life, most notably, Teach Me Tonight (http://teachmetonight.blogspot.com/2010/01/sex-lives-of-romance-readers.html).

So here are the judgmental assumptions made about romance readers, facts I’ve found and of course, my take on things:

Assumption – Romance readers are sad and alone.

Fact – The majority of romance readers are married or in a committed relationship.

My take – I know many romance writers, being one myself, and even more romance readers. Most of them are not only in relationships but also in happy, supportive relationships. Who knows… maybe the hope and positive outcomes inherent within romance novels creates a mind-set more open to love and overcoming the challenges relationships present. Now I have what I refer to as a ‘gatvol’ stage. The direct translation of that Afrikaans word is ‘ass-full’ (LOL) and means, “I’ve had enough’. I’ve reached that stage where I no longer can ignore the disdain from others when mentioning romance and so I’ve begun asking them about their own relationships. I’ve found that those who don’t read romance novels have mostly been hurt in the past, are divorced or generally don’t believe in love. Essentially, a romance is about the belief that the human spirit can and will overcome the difficulties life presents it with and that this is only strengthened by love. I personally find it sad that others have lost that hope.

Myth – Romance readers are old and unattractive.

Fact – The age of romance readers ranges between 25 and 54. Romance readers are not predisposed to look a certain way.

My take – Most of my readers fall within that age range although there are a few older and younger too. As to whether or not we are an attractive bunch? Well, I beg to differ. We are all shapes, sizes, colors, and features. Given that most of us are married or in committed relationships, someone obviously found us attractive enough to ‘put a ring on it’.

Myth – Reading romances creates unrealistic expectations of sex

Fact – “Most of the study participants (75.5%) reported that reading romance novels has had an impact on their sex lives. This occurred in several ways, including making participants more likely to engage in sexual activity and by making them more likely to try new sexual activities.” (http://teachmetonight.blogspot.com/2010/01/sex-lives-of-romance-readers.html)

My take – Many readers I know have reported an especially hot experience between the sheets after reading a romance novel. As a writer, I know that many of my colleagues and I feel particularly frisky after writing a sex scene and our partners certainly do not complain when we expend that energy in the bedroom. We also *clears throat* do extensive research for our novels. Does that sound like we have unfulfilled sexual relationships? Moreover, the fact that we don’t complain obviously means that our expectations were met. I’ve even heard of many women who use what they’ve read in romance novels in the bedroom. If it is legal and consensual then surely that’s okay? What puzzles me is why on earth folk want to know what goes on in the bedroom of romance readers? Are they projecting? In other words, are the ‘heart haters’ actually the ones who are unhappy with their sex lives? Are they threatened? I know what I think… I’ll let you make up your own mind about that.

The fact that I found most interesting was that romance readers use the novels as a means of relaxation and escapism from life’s daily stress. The last time I checked, that is one the primary reasons why most people read. I know that I treat myself after every deadline to a long bath and a good romance novel. In fact, that is precisely why I read and write romance – I want to enable others to escape into the worlds I create and have a moment of bliss, shed a tear or two in commiseration and to feel happy that all turned out okay at the end. So my plea to all heart haters is to give it a try and if you insist on ridiculing us, then leave us to our fabulous sex lives! Now I’m off to think dirty thoughts, write them and then…

Body chocolate.