Rida Viljoen's Blog

Inspirational family relationships – from the inside out

Is ek ‘n goeie ma?

Dis ‘n vraag wat meeste ma’s vra. Daagliks. Ons vra dit, en vra dit, en vra dit oor en oor. Dan begin die soektog na bewyse.  Daar moet mos bewyse wees wat die vraag oplos? Oplos in so ‘n mate dat ek dit nooit weer hoef te vra nie?

Perfeksionisme is ‘n hamster wieletjie

Perfeksionisme is die hamster se wieletjie. Ons wil tog almal net perfekte ma’s wees. Ons wil nie ‘n voet verkeerd sit nie. En wanneer ons dalk die perfekte ma-beeld gebreek het, steek ons dit tog weg ten alle koste.

Ek onthou goed toe my 9 maande baba dogtertjie ‘n besondere moeilike twee dae gehad het. (Ek het ‘n tweeling). Haar pappa was weg met werk en ek was alleen met die twee lyfies. Sy het oor alles gehuil. Niks kon haar tevrede gestel het nie.  Dit was ‘n groot kommer vir my.  Dag twee, met amper geen slaap, het ek rondom 16:00 na haar kot geloop, haar opgetel en gewonder wat gaan ek nou doen?  En toe besef ek wat ek toe moes doen.  Ek het gekies om ‘n slegte ma te wees.  Ek het haar terug gesit in haar bed, die ketel gaan aansit en my ma gaan bel.  Ek het gehuil, my tee gedrink en in die tuin gaan stap sodat ek net nie die klein stemmetjie kon hoor vir ‘n paar minute nie.  Ek het ‘n tree terug gegee van my perfeksionisme.

My ma verseker my dat ons gesprek nie langer as vyf minute was nie.  Maar vir my het dit soos ure gevoel.  Ek het in haar kamer gestap, haar opgetel en styf vasgehou.  Sy het begin rustig raak.  Ek was so desperaat om die heeltyd perfek te wees dat ek vergeet om net SAAM te wees is ook oukei.  Ek het so vasgevang geraak in die “doing” dat ek vergeet het van die “being”.

Liefste Mamma-vriendin van my, laat gaan jou behoefte om perfek te wees.  Jou huis is die mini wêreld vir jou kind.  En die wêreld daarbuite is nie perfek nie.  Ons kinders moet leer in die veiligheid van ons huise hoe om te “cope” as hulle wêreld nie nou perfek nie.  En ons as ma’s moet leer om te “cope” as ons nie nou perfek is nie. 

Guilt Ridden

The day my twins were born, something else was born too. It is a different kind of love. It is deeper,and it feels different. It is as if my heart is running outside my chest. Nobody could ever prepare me for how much motherhood will change me. But with that, something else was born too unfortunately… the feeling of guilt…  

It is essential to look at the sources of guilt. Guilt does not only influence me as parent, but it influences my children as well.  It happens that I feel guilty about something and let them get away with unacceptable behaviour.  And it is in that moment where the real harm is done. Guilt has just paved the way towards inconsistency, unpredictability and fear.

CF (cystic fibrosis) is a genetic life limiting disease with it’s own daily challenges.  Sometimes I get so tired that I silently wish I can go to hospital and rest. And then I feel guilty for it. Then the time comes where I have to go to hospital. Hospitalisations can be from 14 to 21 days. And then I feel guilty for not being at home and doing my part as a mother. 

What do I do with my feelings of guilt?

I gave myself permission to be human. I miss my own children’s signals and give my own signals completely wrong at times.  One thing I have discovered is how precious it is to acknowledge each other’s emotions and to say it.  An example is the overwhelming emotion when I get home. Often it happens that the children just want to blow off some steam but we cannot leave them to hack each other, or me for that matter, into pieces.  We acknowledge how hard the time it has been with me in hospital, the frustration, anger and the relief that I am back. Then the gentle reminder that CF is the enemy here, not me, nor their sibling. The rule of being kind and respectful towards all people is gently reinforced.

But then there are rules that will be broken! Like a Christmas bed in front of the TV, with popcorn and all the movies we can watch until we fall asleep. I make sure I lie in the middle and my body touches theirs, whether we hold hand, or cuddle cold feet together. Sometimes they will even ask me to hold them.  We talk, we play board games or cards. We just spend time together.

At times my body is in pain and I am really tired.  I had to find an acceptable way to communicate how I am feeling.  I started to use my body as a barometer to indicate how much energy I have. I could be full, half full or completely empty.  Being tired or having a bad day is not something to feel ashamed about.  With this open and honest communication, the person also has the right to say what they need to recharge their batteries.

My children are older and communication is something we really endeavoured to succeed in. How did I live with the feeling of guilt when they were babies?

I’m not perfect.  This simple truth my mother-in-law repeated more times than I can count. It helped to know that I am doing my utmost best and I can only give the whole Rida.  And luckily children are born to like their parents! (On a lighter note)

Seriously though… I did what I had to do to keep myself sane.  Motherhood is a major adjustment.  It can require you to change from a person who earned money to a wife who needs to ask her hubby money.  While you were working the interaction with like-minded people are taken for granted.  Often mothers are home alone with little to no contact with the outside world.  It gets lonely. You feel isolated. You don’t feel appreciated.

One thing that really caught me was the fact that I should feel grateful and happy every second of the day because CF sufferers don’t just have babies. But I didn’t feel that way always. And I felt guilty. And then I speak to another mother who confessed she would drive once or even twice around the block from her own house before she would enter some days – and she is a healthy mother.

I sang songs that made ME peaceful. I did not only sing baby songs. I read stories that was good for ME and made me laugh. I used my network of people as often as I could. I especially listened to the older ladies and their advice.

And I feel one of the biggest things I did right was to allow my hubby to be a parent without me hovering over him all the time. Without me telling him how to do things all the time. Without me criticising him every step of the way.

I reckon he will ask for help when he needs it. Also, he would do nothing that would harm our babies. The trust I communicated by my actions forged a whole new bond for us as well. He is an awesome parent! And our children know that their dad is my best friend. And maybe tonight I do not feel like the best mum ever, at least I can lie in his arms, ask for advice, have a good night’s rest and tomorrow I’ll be the best version of me again.

Laugh, love, live

Skuldgevoelens ry jou bloots

Die dag toe my tweeling gebore was, was die dag wat ‘n nuwe vlak, vorm en diepte van liefde ook gebore was. Niemand het my voorberei hoe baie moederskap my sal verander nie. Daarmee saam het nog ‘n gevoel gekom… skuldgevoelens oor amper alles.

Dis noodsaaklik om na die bronne van die skuldgevoelens te kyk, want die skuld-emosie beïnvloed nie net my as ouer nie, maar ook my kinders. Hoeveel keer het dit al gebeur dat ek skuldig voel oor iets en dan kom hulle met onaanvaarbare gedrag weg? En net daar is waar skuld se invloed uitkring na onsekerheid, onvoorspelbaarheid en vrees in my verhouding met my kinders.

CF (sistiese fibrose) is ‘n genetiese siekte wat sy eie uitdagings bied. Soms raak ek so moeg dat ek stilweg wens ek kan hospitaal toe gaan om net ‘n bietjie te rus. EN voel ‘n ma nou skuldig as sy so voel…?  Dan op ‘n stadium is die hospitaal onafwendbaar en móét ek gaan. Hospitalisasies kan 14 tot 21 dae wees. EN voel ek dan juis skuldig omdat ek nie by my huis mense is nie…? Skuld dreineer jou, dis soos ‘n hamster op sy wieletjie. Al in die rondte, en jy kom nêrens nie.

Wat maak ek met die skuldgevoelens?

Ek het myself toestemming gegee om mens te wees. Ek mis my eie kinders se “signals” en ek stuur my eie “signals” verkeerd. Een ding wat ek wel al ontdek het, is om mekaar se emosies te erken, en hulle daarop te wys. Dis belangrik byvoorbeeld die oorweldigende gevoel wanneer ek tuis kom na ‘n lang hospitalisasie. Dit kan die tyd wees wat die kinders net stoom wil afblaas. Skielik is hulle lelik met mekaar en met my. Dit is nie aanvaarbaar nie. So hier is wat ek eerder doen wanneer die situasie homself voor doen. Erken die emosie van frustrasie, haat, en/of kwaad teenoor CF en nie teenoor ‘n persoon nie. Ek herinner hulle dat ons nie mekaar mag verniel omdat ons so voel nie. ‘n Lang vet drukkie, ‘n koppie tee wat mamma maak en dan is daar reëls wat aanvaarbaar is om te breek byvoorbeeld ‘n krismis bed te maak voor die TV, met popcorn en fliek tot ons oë toeval!

Gesels, wees bymekaar, spandeer tyd deur kaarte of ‘n bordspeletjie te speel. So kan ek ook nie dat my eie moegheid en ‘n lyf wat nie meer wil vorentoe party dae die oorsaak wees dat ek sommer misluk is met almal nie. Dit maak ‘n verskil om openlik daaroor te gesels. Ons gebruik ons lywe as barometers om te demonstreer hoeveel energie ons het. Is ek met ander woorde vol, half vol of dolleeg? Want om moeg te wees is nie ‘n skande nie. Daarmee saam het ons toestemming om vir die ander in die huisgesin te sê wat jy nodig het om jou batterye te “charge”.

My kinders is ouer en ons kan openlik nou kommunikeer. Hoe het ek met skuldgevoelens geleef toe hulle babas was?

Ek is nie perfek nie. Hierdie eenvoudige waarheid het my skoonma telkemale vir my herhaal. Dit het baie gehelp om te weet ek doen my uiterse beste en ek kan nie meer gee as die hele Rida nie. Gelukkig is kinders geprogrammeer om van hulle ouers te hou! (Dankie tog!) (Op ‘n ligter noot)

Ernstig nou, doen wat jy moet doen om kop te hou. Dis oorweldigend om te verander van ‘n persoon wat ‘n salaris verdien na iemand wat nou afhanklik moet wees van haar man vir geld. Terwyl jy gewerk het, het jy ander mense gesien en gesels. Nou skielik is daardie interaksie baie min of vir sommige geen. Skielik voel jy nie meer waardeer nie.

Wat vir my baie erg was, was die wete dat moederskap ‘n voorreg vir my moet wees, want CF-leiers raak nie sommer swanger nie. En ek het nie elke dag gevoel asof dit so ‘n voorreg is nie. ‘n Ma het eenkeer erken dat sy soms ‘n tweede of derde keer om die blok ry voordat sy in ry by haar huis, want sy sien net nie kans om dadelik huis toe te gaan nie. Ek het liedjies gehad wat MY rustig laat voel het. Ek het nie net baba liedjies gesing vir my kinders nie. Ek het stories gelees vir hulle wat goed was vir MY. Ek het my netwerk mense gebruik soveel as wat ek kon. Ek het veral na die ouer garde geluister met hulle raad oor hoe om babas groot te maak.

Een ding wat ek wel voel ek het honderd persent reg gedoen, is my man ‘n plek gegee om heeltemal pa te wees, sonder dat ek die heeltyd hom vertel het hoe om dit te doen of wat hy verkeerd doen. Ek het gereken hy sal vra vir hulp as hy dit nodig het. Ons vrouens moet versigtig wees dat ons nie die mans uitskop wanneer die babas kom nie. Jou baba gaan grootword en dan is dit jou man wat oorbly… Die vertroue wat ek vir hom gekommunikeer het deur hom toe te laat elke stap van kinders grootmaak, het ons twee gesmee as ‘n span wat die wêreld kan aanpak. My kinders weet hulle pappa is my beste vriend. En al voel ek nie vanaand soos ‘n “great” ma met groot sukses nie, kan ek in sy arms lê, raad vra, lekker slaap en môre weer die beste weergawe van myself wees.

Lag, wees lief en laat leef

A new-ish venture…

It has been a while since I wrote anything. The reason? The twins started pre-school and they need to attend it 5 days a week. This means a lot of travelling and it became apparent to me that I need to find something in town to keep me occupied for 6 hours a day. [We live very far out of town on a farm.]
So I decided to start putting myself out there as a coach. I started to volunteer at the social services. The administrative officer resigned and they asked me to take up the post – with a slight difference. It will be more in an office coordinator position.

Off course I took it – I am a sucker for challenges! And since 1 October 2012 I have been thrown into the weird and wonderful world of social services.

Soon I would find out that this is no ordinary job and has many – many – challenges. The first thing I had to learn was accounting. Using the program was easy, but getting people to answer the questions I have about NGO’s and their legislation. I enjoy asking the auditors questions that they confess they have never thought about.

I am going to mix this up a little. The coach in me enjoys being active out there – getting my finger nails dirty.  I will not only share my coaching ideas, but a little more about me as well.

Take care!

Seminar for parents that care enough

What do you want a person that meets your child must think at the different ages of 1, 5, 16 and 21 years? A variety of answers always surface.
The next question for you – do you know how to ensure that those things happen? Do you have enough parenting ‘tricks’ up your sleeve? Do you know where to begin?
Parenting skills can be learnt and in today’s day and age – we need to be more smarter!

CF patients are doing it themselves

For the rest of your life…

Connecting emotionally with a child is the predecessor of everything that follows. Let me explain more… First we need to establish and emotional bond with our children. The relationship must be rewarding and reciprocal. Then it becomes important to the child to maintain the relationship. If there is no relationship, the child has nothing to loose.

Chores vs. Contributions

Is it important for children to have chores in the house?

How do we define who we are?  We often state what we do to help describe who we are.  If children know that they have an important contribution to make towards the household, we communicate on a deeper level that we need them and they are important.  By contributing we teach them the importance of responsibility and also the reward for being responsible is the innate feeling of contributing.  Okay, so making up your bed is not the most exciting thing to do, but we as parents know the importance of it.

Change the word chores to contributions.  It is just great to know how much you contribute!  Discuss your expectations of contributions with your child.  Show them how you contribute and the things everybody needs to do to make the household work.  Everybody needs to pitch because everybody is important and everybody has a unique contribution to make.

Remember to praise your child and thank them for their contributions. Start with small things.  Example – While you play the counting game with your 5 year old, you can ask them to take out the plates, knives and forks for dinner (please assist them!). Show and remind them how to set the table.  Suddenly they are made aware of sharing, providing vital tools to eat with, counting and contributing!

Small, steady steps…

Love each other

Today’s divorce rate is unfortunately very high.  The effect on children are real and deep.  The feeling of safety and security are compromised.

But what about the family that stays together?  Can that be negative in any way?  Yes!  The manner, attitude and reasons for staying in a relationship have implications as well.

The way you communicate your love towards each other influences the perception of relationships.  If you never show love towards your partner or children, love becomes an unrecognizable myth.  The way you express love varies from person to person but it is important to find out what it looks like to love and be loved.  Teaching your children how to express love towards another human being is a lesson best learnt in your house.

Your attitude in a relationship is vital.  Questions you might need to ask: (1) Am I in this relationship because I need financial security?  (2)  Am I in this relationship because I have to be?  Being in a relationship for the wrong reasons does not make it okay.  To hear (meaning words and non-verbal cues) as a child: “If I had finances I would divorce him” is damaging.   Children feel and pick up the vibe and that shakes certainty and security out the door.  The element no-one tells you about is the element of trust that drops.  Children question the sincerity of a parent’s relationship with them.  Seeing as they are in a ‘fake’ relationship with ‘fake’ reasons to love.  “What if my mom does not love me but she feels obligated to stay in our relationship?”

For parents in stable relationships, please show your love in an appropriate way.  A quick kiss when leaving, a hug to say good night, a quick tickle to laugh, etc.

Communicate why you are in the relationship.  Example: “I appreciate your dad for being honest.  Why do you appreciate your dad?”

Parent’s love is one of the foundations children need to experience stability.  Make sure that they see it and know it!  Because what you show to them, they will do.  What you do not show to them, they will seek.  I believe that is one of the reasons why teenage pregnancy is a global phenomenon.

Women’s month

This month is very special because womanhood is celebrated across the world!  It is terrible though that there are women out there that does not even know they are celebrated or of utmost importance in communities.

I was thinking how do you change a culture?  Is it enough to change the legislation?  It is probably a good beginning but I do want to take it a step further…

Our fairytales are told of princesses being locked up, in slavery and hiding to save their life. All of them are waiting for the prince to save them. That is their only chance to freedom.  Alright, maybe these fairytales are a bit old but the theme has not chanced… Look at Fiona and Shrek.  We see from the moment we open our eyes that we need men to save us.

After the ‘iron’ curtain in households legislation means nothing. A woman will be submissive and listen.  For the international community I would like to share a South African culture. Women are not allowed to use contraception neither insist on a condom.  But tomorrow morning she stands up and walk into her CEO position.

Our own perceptions need to change before we attempt to change our culture. One person said to me USE what you have. It meant a lot to me and I found that I was growing and emancipated. But the key was to find the resources and take it from there!

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