A serendipitous encounter

The longest holiday break of the year has arrived! Kids are visiting grandma and we, the parents, finally have the much needed break from ‘family life’. Mom can sleep in and dad can prepare for work at a leisurely pace.
The sobering reality is, it is all but happening –  we have to take over the kids chores! What were their chores are now our duties; and we are to be blamed if it is not done. I can just picture myself trying to explain to my husband why the bed never got made! I do not want a throwback moment to my teenage years in my forties!

Dad’s new duties AKA son’s chores:

  • Feed the dogs
  • Clean up their mess
  • Take the rubbish out
  • Vacuum the cars
  • Clean the bathroom.

Mum’s new duties AKA daughter’s chores:

  • Do the dreaded dishes day and night
  • Dust the furniture
  • Sweep the stoep
  • Assist with laundry
  • Help with meal preparation.
I realised this when we suddenly had an increase in duties; a number of things had to be done before we could leave for work! The anti-climax of  a well deserved break from the kids turned into me having to groom our three spoilt cross breed Labradors. This immediately made me need and appreciate the many tiny ways in which our children contribute to the well-being of the family and our pets. Though, it is often done through much trial and error, they certainly bring their fair share. I cannot but swell with pride when I think about how far we have come over the past 13 years. I admire their growing independence and  watch with awe as they grow more responsible every other day, because the learning process has good and bad days. We still fight over their biggest distraction, the television, which leads them to cheating on their chores, but at least they understand that it has to be done, one way or the other!

Priceless things that kids should learn to do:

  • Make their own beds
  • Clean up their rooms
  • Wash and iron school uniforms
  • Prepare their own lunches
  • Make tea/ coffee/ warm drink
  • Prepare a simple meal.
This helps them to become responsible for their own space and to take care of their own basic needs. It is also a blessing for all those who get to share a living space with our children in future. When our children are praised by family and friends for their conduct and behaviour; we ,as their parents, certainly feel accomplished and appreciate the fact that our efforts to raise them are recognised.
Parenting is much like planting in virgin soil, you seldom know how big or small your harvest will be. All, you can do is water, fertilise and wait! And, forgive ourselves if we planted a seed out of season or the harvest does not meet our expectations. That should not keep us from continuing in our quest to build strong independent children.

Mum and dad’s holiday expectations, included the following, unattainables:

  • Long, romantic dinners
  • Sipping exotic cocktails in secluded corners of upmarket bars
  • Late night shopping
  • Relaxed evenings in front of the television
  • Unwinding from the rat race
  • Redefining ‘chill’
  • Cuddling
  • Spoiling each other with foot rubs,etc.
  • Review the past year
  • Planning for the new year.


The reality of our situation is:

  • We get up at 05:00 for our morning run
  • We have only managed to go out once
  • Supper has migrated to slapdash level
  • We are too tired to concentrate for longer than 30 minutes; as a result the television is more off than on
  • We have been forced to drink water on account of the heat
  • We are avoiding the mad rush of shopping at packed malls
  • Our daily duties have mysteriously increased
  • Year end work obligations drew every spare drop of energy from us
  • Romance is still loading…
  • We collapse from exhaustion rather than unwind!

Our ‘break’ in hindsight:

Our home alone and childfree time has been a serendipitous encounter. We got to talk about our little people, laugh about their antics, celebrate their craziness, recall conversations and admit to each other that we miss them. We had time to fall inlove with our offspring and escaped the daily pressure of school, homework and exams. The future,that so often looks dim and unsure – in the rush of getting to the end of the year – suddenly appeared brighter as we reflected on what we have accomplished the past 12 months. Yes, we did not quite get to everything we were looking forward to, but it left us no poorer, maybe more appreciative of the journey – whilst realising we were never going to achieve straight A’s for our efforts; but enough to inspire us to be better; do better and dream bigger.
It has been pleasing to realise that being away from them helps us appreciate the blessings which they truly are; and that having them here with us –  makes us whole; gives us purpose and adds to our being as a couple.
It was the summer of 2016, in the most southern point of the African continent that two people, stumbled upon serendipity (the faculty or phemenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for) of parenting.
Love my life!

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