Why we don’t care about each other

If you sometimes feel as if people don’t care about each other anymore, you’re not entirely wrong.

Drop in empathy

According to a study performed a few years back among college students, they displayed a drastic drop in empathy.  One can only assume that the situation is even worse by now.

Narcissism

A new selfishness is on the rise and narcissism seems to be becoming an epidemic. Narcissists are people who believe the world revolves around them and they are unable to identify with the needs of others at all.

If they need you

Certain individuals only appear to “care” for your needs, when they feel they need you and you are directly able to alleviate their burdens. If their need for you is diminished or others step in to fill the gap, their concern will soon be a thing of the past.

What’s killing our empathy?

It’s a sad fact of the hectic modern world that we have very little time for our children and that some parents are almost never home, often because they have to work. If you have no time for yourself and you are almost always tired, it diminishes your capacity to care for the needs of others. You also don’t have time to really get to know your children and their changing needs.

Lack of time

Then there’s the drastic drop in time for unstructured free play among children. Their schedules are full from an early age – they have to excel at school and extra-mural activities. The study work load is ever increasing. Children also don’t really have time anymore to get to know each other in a relaxed environment, which in turn encourages them to really care about each other.

Parents

As a parent, I aim to teach my children the value of empathy and I think it is important that we realise humans are connected and that we need each other. The world will be a healthier place if people are kinder to each other, like the MacDonald’s employee in Chicago, who closed his till to assist and feed an elderly, disabled customer, who asked him for help.

A letter to my son

Dear Ewan,

There’s a lot of things I want for you, but the main one is this – never get “stuck”.

Be free and happy

I know this is one of your favourite words at the moment, but please never get stuck in life.

Especially don’t get stuck in a job. It’s simply not worth it. And before you know it, half your life will be over and you haven’t used most of your talents or spent nearly as much time with your family as you wanted.

Be strong and creative

By this I’m not saying that you must never get a job or live off other people’s hard work.

I’m simply saying:

  • Make sure that you never have to sit bored out of your mind in an office somewhere, simply for the sake of having a job to pay the bills.
  • It’s true that you need work experience, especially when you first finish studying. But keep on studying and learning whatever you can from who you can, especially successful business people.
  • Develop an entrepreneurial spirit and think long term.
  • I want you to feel empowered and motivated. You should believe enough in yourself to take your destiny into your own hands.
  • I want you to think anything is possible and that you will be able to accomplish it.
  • Know that you may sometimes fail, but that your parents’ door will always be open.
  • Never be afraid. It is fear of the unknown that often kills entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Remember that each day brings new possibilities. I don’t want you to ever be in a position where you sit in a boring job, just waiting for the days to pass. This will be like a slow death for your strong and independent spirit.

Become “unstuck”

If you ever do get stuck, please make sure that you don’t stay like this for too long. Work to get yourself out of this situation, while you still have some motivation and zest for life. Don’t become a mindless drone.

I’m sure you will do very well and get everything you want in life. Already, at the age of two, you have the demeanour of a hard-headed and determined entrepreneur.

You’re a cheeky one and you will be a leader some day. I’m looking forward to see you grab life by the horns.

My lovable little man

And so, I’ve been away from my blog for a while.

Emotionally and physically, it has been a tough and somewhat draining year. I haven’t really felt inspired to write over the last few weeks.

Interesting “new” behaviour

But recently, the little man has started displaying “new” behaviour, which I feel has to be documented.  😛

Signs of empathy

Upon being abused by the little bugger, I simulated some very fake and rather horrible crying. Where before he would have found this hilarious, now he didn’t know what to do and seemed rather uncomfortable.

He gave me a worried look, and asked me “what’s wong?” Then he looked away shyly and gave me a quick hug.

The next time I did this, he asked me “why mamma sad?” and I got another shy hug.

Game

However, this quickly became a game when he discovered what mamma was doing.  😛

The game goes something like this – you get whacked by a small hand and if you fake crying, you get some hugs.

Kissing

I’ve also taught the little bug to give kisses. He comes to you tight-lipped and then gives you a smack on the mouth.

He’s not adverse to kissing, but you can forget about getting more than your daily allocation. 😛

A proper little person

So while he was still a baby a few short months ago, he is now becoming a proper little person who cares about others’ feelings and sometimes not.

I’m looking forward to see how he will develop in future months. 🙂

 

The joys of toddler development

When I look back, the little man has developed so much over the past two years. From a cuddly little doll wrapped up in a blanket, he has developed into a walking, talking (almost) fully functional human being. 😛

Development over the last few months:

  • It took him a while to achieve mobility. He wasn’t keen on tummy time and only started crawling properly at around 10 months. At around 9 months, he started dragging himself around sideways, almost like a crab. At 16 months, he finally gave his first, shaky steps. It was touch and go for a while and a few crash landings took place. I think he finally mastered the art of walking at around 19 months. Now he runs like a loonatic, especially away from you, when you want to brush his teeth or dress him. Or he sprints outside, especially when he hears a helicopter, usually shouting “Copter!” at the top of his voice.
  • He also drives his little plastic bike like a maniac. A natural born biker like his dad, he has superb control and is very agile. He tries to do wheelies, which at the moment ends with him falling off on his bum. This development is a bit worrying for future, teenaged years. 😛
  • From baby babbling he has now advanced to words and even full sentences. You have to be careful what you say around the little guy, because he repeats everything. EVERYTHING.
  • He finally drinks water and juice, ever since he started crèche. Before then he refused and mostly subsisted on milk. It was a battle to get water into him.
  • Tantrums. My sweet little baby has been taken over by the terrible two’s monster. Mother usually just ignores the outbursts.
  • These days the little man also dabbles in the creative arts, like drawing, painting and playing with dough. Drawing and painting should preferably occur under supervision. Otherwise you will find the bath and toilet decorated with scribbles. His scribbles inside my new bookcase, are apparently “ducks”.  😛 Safest is just to give him chalk and let him draw on his blackboard, but unfortunately he has a tendency to eat it.

Now if he can only get over the creche syndrome, so that we can enjoy more of the fun stuff. :p

A letter to Ewan on his 2nd birthday

Dear Ewan,

Your 2nd birthday was this weekend.

Two years of hugs and laughter, but also tantrums. Lots of fun, but also hard work.

Many hours of lost sleep, especially when you are ill and you only want to sleep in mother’s arm or curl up tightly against her back. Precious moments, even when I’m dead tired the next day.

I wish I had more time for close contact with you. I was fortunate that you were wholly mine for six months before I had to return to work. Now you are my evening, weekend and holiday child.

How you have changed:

  1. You have become a little person over the last two years. You walk and talk and have a strong will of your own. 😛 You want to do things your way and at your pace. You quickly tell us to “go away!” or “stoppit!” if we don’t do what you want.
  2. You’ve developed an impressive vocabulary. It’s actually become easy to have a conversation of sorts with you. We don’t have to interpret grunts and cries anymore.
  3. You’ve also started to realise possession and that you can tell other people, “It’s mine!” But you are very good at sharing, especially for a child who doesn’t have any siblings yet. You like to share your food with mommy and daddy.
  4. The quiet, meek little baby has become a strong and noisy little boy. It’s become more and more difficult to pick you up and control you, especially when you are throwing a tantrum. 😛
  5. Two years ago the house still belonged to the adults. When you became mobile, we started the process of baby proofing. These days we have to try and put things high out of your reach, as you have become such a tall boy.
  6. Your size and level of development often means that people think you are three years or older.
  7. You are not always that accepting of infinite hugs and kisses anymore. Mother gets pushed away when it becomes too much.

I look forward to sharing your 3rd birthday with you.

Love

Mamma

A work in progress

I’ve come to the conclusion that my life is a work of progress.

There has been steady progress in most areas, but nothing seems quite finished, including myself.

Works in progress:

  • Our number of family members. We are still hoping to have another baby, after terminating a Down Syndrome pregnancy earlier this year. One child is not enough, even though he is already a lot of work. 😛 It will always feel as if someone is missing from our family group if we don’t have another child. The little man also needs a brother or a sister and I can just see him as the loving older brother who gives his sibling the occasional smack.
  • The house and garden. Great progress has recently been made on the garden and it has become a quiet and relaxing retreat (as well as play area). This has encouraged me to want to sort out the messy house as well. Main problem being that we seem to have too much crap with too little storage space. The husband has started working on this challenge by building me a ginormous bookcase. Other people probably won’t amass enough books to fill it in a lifetime, but I can see myself doing so fairly soon. 😛 Now I just need to put him to work building storage cupboards for our granny flat, which I want to turn into a study/office area.
  • I feel like I’m in career limbo at the moment. I want to continue my studies and I have an idea for a business, which is a long-term goal and which requires me to upskill myself. However, I first need to know what’s going to happen in my immediate work future as this will also partly influence how I structure my studies. Hopefully clarity comes soon.
  • And I want to lose weight, eventually…
  • Ewan – potty training to start this weekend. Watch this space. 😛
  • Luckily my husband is perfect and adorable, no improvements needed. 🙂

So, while I’m actually a bit of a control freak who wants to finish projects, I’ve come to realise (probably with age) that life is mostly a work in progress and that this is fine. One should enjoy the journey, even the minor irritations and mishaps on the way. It’s when your life becomes stagnant, with no growth and no love, that you need to worry.

The Observer

I am an Observer. Like the Observers from the science fiction television show, Fringe, I am stoic and calm. Possibly monotone even.

Misunderstood

I think people often misunderstand me. I may come across as conceited or unwilling to become involved. But actually I’m just watching them and trying to make sense of their behaviour. And spending too much time with too many people just drains my energy resources.

Time traveller

I have the tendency to withdraw from the environment around me, as there is the sense that I might change something that is supposed to happen, if I become too involved. Almost like a time traveller from the future.

I’ve learnt from past experience that if someone is on a certain course, it’s best not to get in their way, as there is very little you can do to change their fate.

Interesting people

On the whole, I just find people so interesting and very different from myself. They make so much noise. 😛

Some people are meant to entertain the world and I am their audience.

Sense of power

It also gives you a sense of power if you share your true self with only a few people. There’s a certain satisfaction in keeping quiet about a contentious issue when everyone else is giving loud and eager feedback. 😛

Introvert

All this has probably got a lot to do with being an introvert.

I just want everyone to be real and honest, so social settings with complex undertones just stress me out.

The verdict

I actually do like people, just in small numbers and far away. 😛

Let’s go to school

Recently, at the age of 21 months, my little man started going to playschool.

Adjustment

It was quite an adjustment for the little fellow. Used to playing outside and sleeping whenever he wanted at granny’s house, he now has to follow a more regimented routine.

There is a time for:

  • playing outside
  • creating art
  • a nappy change
  • snacks; and
  • lunch.

The protest 

In the beginning, he apparently screamed loudly when it was another group’s turn to play outside and he couldn’t join them.

He also protested vehemently when he was dropped off in the mornings. But things are going better these days and the little terrorist even seem to be enjoying himself. He hasn’t brought any little friends home yet, but I look forward to that happening in the future. 🙂

The positives 

  • My boy is turning into an artist. Every day he comes home with some little work of art full of paint blotches and scribbles. A lot of teacher assistance is involved, but still. 😛
  • His vocabulary has grown exponentially. He has even started to count, sometimes until ten, if he feels like it. He uses acorns or “icorns” as he calls them, for his counting. He also sings an “ABC” song, even though he doesn’t get very far. And he says “SCHOOL” in a very serious and formal way, as if this concept can only be expressed in capital letters. 😛
  • He is learning rules and to fit into society, even though I don’t always know if that’s such a good thing.
  • He is mentally stimulated and has more variety in his life.
  • It is really a privilege to see him develop from a baby into a rather clever little boy.

The next steps

So, I give him a few more weeks to get settled in, then we can start with potty training…

To my possible future employers

After months of rumours, we were informed yesterday that our company is moving to a location (Bellville) that is out of my travelling reach.

This leaves me in somewhat of a jam. After looking at the situation from all angles, it seems that I will have to resign.

My thought process:

  • I’m unable to travel from Fish Hoek in the Southern Suburbs to Bellville in the Northern Suburbs of Cape Town on a daily basis. I already travel almost 3 hours a day per train and car. My travelling time would probably increase to nearly 5 hours.
  • Bellville station is also reportedly a very dangerous place.
  • I would spend even less time with my husband and child.

So the only option is to look for another job…

I therefore include my career and education highlights for possible future employers. 🙂

Career summary:

Having worked in the medical scheme/financial services industry since July 2004 as a Communications Specialist, I believe I’m very much in touch with what clients expect from a professional communications service. I’ve also provided freelance services to a range of clients such as Unisa, Oxford University Press, Via Afrika, Educor and ST Communications.

I’m used to dealing with graphic designers, agencies, IT people and the like who assist me with the design of documents, marketing campaigns, websites and such. I also provide a comprehensive language specialist function – writing, editing, proofreading and translation.

Education and skills:

My highest qualification is an Honours Bachelor of Arts in English.

Other educational highlights include:

  • BA degree (Afrikaans and English)
  • Best student in Afrikaans for first, second and third year
  • National Diploma: Language Practice – Cape Peninsula University of Technology
  • Web writing/Social media – SA Writer’s College
  • Internet and web design diploma – Unisa
  • Website design – City Varsity
  • Magazine Journalism & Novel writing – SA Writer’s College

My computer skills include basic web design – Dreamweaver, HTML, CSS and JavaScript. 

More about me:

I’m a passionate writer who is also using my creative mind and flexible typing fingers to create a novel that I’m convinced will one day see the light of day. 🙂

On the personal side, I’m a born and bred Capetonian who has lived in and around the city all my life. I am married and have a little boy.

I would be more than happy to supply you with references and anything else you may require. You can contact me on 072 937 7061 or email efrouws@gmail.com

More detailed information would have been provided with my application or can be supplied on request.  🙂

 

My journey as a writer

I’m still trying to find my feet as a writer in 2015.

My journey as a writer has been exhilarating and confusing at times. I find myself interested in too many things – writing novels, short stories, editing, translation – and unable to specialise.

MY WRITING JOURNEY IN 2014

During 2014 my writing journey evolved in a new direction, as I started writing and managing the blog, www.workingmother.com

The blog was born out of the web writing course that is offered by the SA Writers’ College. At the beginning it was an experiment and I wasn’t always too sure of my purpose.

I’m still new to the world of writing non-fiction. I’m used to writing short stories and I was initially surprised that blogging has managed to draw me in at all.

The blog got me writing again after giving birth to my son. I had been working on a novel while pregnant, but ended up losing motivation and inspiration, especially when I went back to work after maternity leave.

Writing the blog has made me realise that writing is a part of me and that I get cranky if I don’t it for too long. It is a way to express my victories and frustrations.

My unique and crazy little man has also provided me with many topics to blog about. 😛

THE JOURNEY STARTED LONG AGO 

My journey as a writer started even before I had enough words to express myself properly. It may be hard to believe now, but I actually struggled with reading and writing as a child.

  • The artist 

Looking back at my childhood, it is clear that I’ve always had the desire to express myself, but in the beginning I was more of an artist than a writer.

My parents still have small books that I compiled as a creative 6-year old, that consist mainly of pictures and the random word. 😛

  • Shared creativity

As children, my sister and I used to draw characters, cut them out and develop comprehensive storylines around them. These innocent stories, often based on children’s books that I was reading at the time, could probably have filled several books.

  • Imaginary worlds

Our descent into imaginary worlds was probably also encouraged by the fact that we grew up in a flat/apartment and had to find ways to amuse ourselves. Playing outside whenever we wanted was simply not an option.

  • Teenaged years

After the age of 14, my attempts became more serious. As my writing talent grew, my skills as an artist sadly stagnated. Our moody art teacher who was only interested in teaching art history, probably also didn’t help.

  • Teacher influence

Teachers actually have a huge influence on the course of our lives. My English and Afrikaans language teachers were inspiring and motivational people. Their classes encouraged my love of writing and reading.

Writing was my way of expressing myself as a teenager and remaining emotionally alive.

  • Immersed in words

I was also a lazy teenager who had no love of homework. I was more interested in writing stories and reading books than worrying about homework. It was only during tertiary studies that I blossomed into a more responsible student.

  • Tertiary studies 

My Honours degree in English further encouraged my love of reading and writing. I’ve also completed a BA degree, diploma in Language Practice and several writing short courses, but nothing challenged me quite as much as this degree.

  • Work life 

I’ve been working as a Communications Specialist in the medical scheme industry for more than 10 years.

The nature of the projects in this field can be very dry at times, but I’ve managed to keep my love of reading and writing alive, through a variety of outside interests, such as writing my blog, short stories and several aborted attempts at writing a novel. :p

  • The masterpiece

I’m still positive that I will be successful at producing a novel one day, even if I may be 80 at the time. 😛

I believe when the time is right and I have gained the insight and skills, I will be able to finish this project.

I still need to find my feet as a writer and focus my interests. As a full time worker, and especially as a mother, I unfortunately have limited time to produce my masterpiece. But I’m confident that it will happen, maybe sooner than expected. 😛

Then my writing journey will be complete.  🙂