Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Only the Good Die Young

So today (30 November) is my Mother’s birthday. Only problem is that my Mom died 27 year ago. I was 15 and she died the day before her 48th birthday.

I still remember us getting her up out of her (death) bed to sit at the dining room table to raise a glass to my youngest brother when he turned 16 just one week before she died. I am not surprised she died before her birthday! We would have hauled her out of her bed, high on pain killing morphine at the end stages of cancer, and forced her to drink some bubbles to celebrate her birthday. It was just what we did. We celebrated any achievement or significant occasion with some cheap, sparkly bubbles (even if it was just a shooter glass full.) And that is just the way my Mom loved it.

My Mother was an amazing woman. When I posted the fact that it was my Mother’s birthday on Facebook this morning one comment struck me in the tear ducts. This person and I have known each other since forever (I think we were in Grade 1 together.) She wrote:
Happy Birthday, Mrs Chalupsky, Lady of the cats and the curlers. Always prepared to have another half-dozen children roaming through the house, helping themselves to juice and sandwiches and generally causing chaos.

Wow! She has my Mom down to a tee. My Mom was a hairdresser but after having 4 kids in 5 years she resorted to working from home. She cut every kid in the neighbourhood’s hair and did perms and up-do’s for all the Yummy Mummy’s, Grannies and Desperate Housewives in Westville. I loved lying on her bed on a Saturday morning and listening to all the “skinner” whilst Mom fluffed and titivated the coifs of the Westville Villagers

And the cats? Like me, she couldn’t say no to a stray 4-legged furry creature needing a home. We had about 6 cats and 5 dogs at any given time.

She had her faults. As an adult and a mother I can now say she was too selfless. Too giving of everything she had; her time, her energy, her cooking expertise, her health...the list goes on. She never said No to anything asked of her.

I often ask myself if I was a good enough daughter to deserve a Mother like I had. How do I answer such a question when I was not yet an adult when I lost her? I look at my own daughter and wonder how she would cope if I were to die 1 year from now and the thought leaves me cold. She is such a baby still.

My three brothers and I were privileged and blessed to have had a mother like Mercia Chalupsky. My Dad found a rare gem. How true is the saying – only the good die young?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Retail Therapy?

Have I ever mentioned to you that I HATE shopping? No, I don’t mean just the weekly grind of buying loo rolls, cleaning detergents and a bit of food to sustain the family. I hate all shopping – clothes, shoes, make-up....all shopping.

At the beginning of our marriage, Chicken Man mentioned that I was really bad at shopping. He started waxing on about PI labels and cost per kg/ml/portion. You have got to be kidding me? I look for the tastiest food, the prettiest labels and the products that have exposed themselves to my sub-conscious the most through TV/radio/internet/print adverts. His glib comment however did end up being advantageous to me. I do not do the grocery shopping. That has become Chicken Man’s weekly Hypermarket by the Sea nightmare

I am not adverse to popping into My Spar and getting a few odds and sods. If the odds list goes beyond that which I can take through the baskets only/20 items or less check-outs - I lose all interest and add the items to Chicken Man’s Saturday shopping list. Surely Gladys (my 2 x a week cleaning lady) can clean the house without Pledge and Handy Andy until next week? Why she needs so much of the stuff and what she does with it is still a mystery to me.

I have to admit that I do rather enjoy a jaunt to Woolworths every now and again. Their fruit & veggie section is mouth watering and they have so many yummy, luxurious delights all over the store. A lot of the ingredients on their shelves are completely foreign to me but some, once discovered or recommended, are on the must have list e.g. Woolies Danish Style Feta and their Basil Pesto. Num, num.

I have suggested it but Chicken Man refuses to go clothes or shoe shopping for me. How thoughtless. Does he not realise how traumatic these once or twice a year shopping excursions are for me? Does he not know that shop attendants in clothing and shoes stores are trained to ignore frazzled looking customers by running around trying to find stuff to pack back onto the racks? I actually asked an assistant if they were trained to ignore customers. She looked horrified at the suggestion but I substantiated my claim by saying that I was one of three other customers and I had counted 6 sales ladies and not one of them was helping a customer. “Sorry Mam” was her surly response. You try go shoe shopping when you take a size 9 shoe. The experience makes you feel like a freak of nature and being ignored just makes the whole experience more traumatic.

The Alien is in need of some new clothes. The thought of re-living the last episode of us shopping together fills me with dread and fear. So, I am thinking of setting the Alien and a few of her tjommies loose at a shopping mall without me so that she actually gets to survive until her 14th birthday. The added bonus? Sweet revenge on all the shop assistants that have ever ignored me!

At least I know why they call it Retail Therapy. I need therapy after exiting every retail store I walk in to.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pass me a tranquiliser – it’s birthday party time.

Anyone who has a child knows the stress. The offspring start planning the “big event” the minute they have gotten over the euphoria of the last birthday party. The annual party to celebrate them getting closer to independence and leaving home is a SERIUUUUS business.

Do they think for a moment of the pressure that their parents are faced with? “How many brats do I invite?” “If I host it at home – will I be perceived as a bore/battler/tight arse/ bad, bad parent? “If I don’t give the little darlings a drop dead gorgeous party pack with a few diamonds or platinum bars in it, my kid will be ostracised from the “in crowd” “Where will I get a (place your child’s current obsession here) cake from without it costing the same as the GDP of a small country – and be so big it could probably feed every resident of that country?” You get the picture? You got the picture when your 1st born turned one, right?

I have had my daughter’s parties at Mitchell Park (don’t complain – getting pooped on by a bird is lucky you ungrateful sprog); a hellishly expensive spot where the monsters played on jumping castles and ball ponds all afternoon (I know you are suffering from heat stroke, just drink some more red juice and please don’t pass out until your Mom gets back) or Durban’s “when all else besides your bank balance fails” venue – uShaka Marine World.

As a member of the Ama Glug Glug Wine Club, I get invited to “wine clubbers in training” birthday parties. For various reasons, most of the Gluggers offspring are still short people i.e. under 8 years old. I generally do not attend. I know! Bad friend! Duly ashamed and full of remorse.

I did go to a 3rd birthday party the other week though. No hired venue – it was at their home. The children were of varying ages. It was so good to see the older kids playing games like hide-and-go-seek and catches. Not an electronic hand held device in sight. The younger kids had a ball with paints, playdo and Marie biscuit decorating. No hired entertainer/clown/jumping castle/petting zoo. Just good old fashioned playtime. Kids and parents alike had a pleasant, stress-free morning.

Now, anyone know what is “in” for teenagers parties besides sleepovers and movies? The Alien’s 14th birthday is fast approaching and her only bright spark idea so far has been taking a few friends to the Roma Revolving Restaurant. What?! You are turning 14, my girl, not 40. How about Ushaka????

I await your clever ideas, fellow parents and party planners.....