The woes of a non-mother

DISCLAIMER – the views and opinions shared by the writer of this blog are offensive to all, and no one should read it. If one proceeds to read it and disregard this warning, the writer of this blog will not be able to accept responsibility for any feelings felt.

My mother was not just a full-time working mom, but one who was forced to raise me single-handedly. Money was tight and she made innumerable sacrifices for me and for our family of two. Not for a second do I discount the difficulty one faces in trying to juggle children, work and money problems.

There are so many videos, posts, stats and especially blogs about and from mothers, who share their many experiences and struggles that they face daily. Much societal admiration exists for working mothers and stay-at-home mothers, and even more sympathy and empathy is extended to them. I do not for second disagree with what they experience daily, in fact, I can’t. I don’t walk in their shoes, and I don’t judge them…contrary to much public opinion.

It just seems quite negligent of us as women and as a society at large, to assume that mothers should be admired more than non-mothers, and are somehow off-limits from any type of criticism. Men and fathers are criticised relentlessly and are all judged the same, because of few who are as valuable as a cent. I cannot understand the over-sensitivity women feel because other women disagree with them. I think it may be because I’m not easily offended. However, we non-mothers also face our struggles, which should also be highlighted as much as the struggles that mothers face. It seems only fair and equal.

So here are some struggles and complaints of a working, childless, therefore and obviously heartless woman, with whom one should not empathise.

– Who is going to take care of me when I grow old? I have no children. I have no idea what is going to become of me in twenty or thirty years, when I am too old to care for myself! Is there no one to feel sorry for me that I must face these last daunting decades of my life alone? It should not matter that I chose not to have children. Mothers who choose to be mothers are sympathised with. They went in with their eyes open and facets intact, yet we must all feel sorry for their daily frustrations. Why are my choices not being sympathised with? Who is going to take care of me when I get old? Will I have to be placed in a home where there are absolutely NO parents, because their children always have them at home taking care of them…always!

– I will never experience unconditional love. The love of a child is seemingly the only love that matters when a child is born unto a mother. Their lives are complete and nothing can describe that love that is given by a child; a child that you created all on your own! I will never feel that love. I am now forced to go through life not knowing what it is like to be loved unconditionally. I will never be called ‘mummy’ and have my heart melt in my chest. I can’t understand why no one feels sorry for me that I will have to make do, with the love of JUST my husband, who can leave me at any time, but children never leave. They always stay and care for their parents. A part of my life will always remain incomplete because I chose a different path. It being my choice, is of no consequence. It is my FAULT that I will never feel this mystical love.

– My time just doesn’t seem like my own. I never have enough hours in the day. I never have enough days in the weekend. For that matter, if I want to be truly honest – I need more god damn hours in the work week! Between the work that I do at work, and the work that I bring home with me, I feel sometimes that all I do is work! Who cares that I chose to be a teacher (and love it, btw)? Work comes with the territory. But then, I have to juggle into my work, at work, and my work-work at home, the time for nail appointments, hair appointments and the oh-so-necessary wax appointments! In addition to those struggles, I constantly have to decide what to cook, which is four times harder than actually cooking! By the time I finish work, do the groceries, have my appointments done, cook, do the laundry and prepare to do it all over again tomorrow…it’s….night fall!!!! I’m exhausted and have no time to do anything other than shower and hit the sack. Where is my time going? I mean, it’s not like I have children.

– Is money ever going to be enough? My bills are somewhat different from mothers. I have a cell-phone bill (which is admittedly way too high), mortgage, car upkeep, groceries, electricity bill, entertainment, clothing and travel expenses. Granted, I have no pampers, baby food, school fees and other child-associated expenses. That simply means that my entertainment, clothing and travel are increased to fill the void that is my childless existence. I feel very frustrated that I can’t always buy whatever I want for myself, because I have to consider things like retirement and medical money that would be needed later on! It is so unfair. You would think that since I don’t have children that I should really be exempt from such tedious responsibilities. I really thought that it was only parents who faced these struggles. If I had only known that we, non-mothers, face the same financial woes, well I don’t know, I may have just popped one out!

– Oh the judgement! The hurtful, deliberate and insensitive judgement I face from….the world! How selfish I am made to feel that I didn’t want children. My time is judged; my money is judged; my travelling is judged; my drinking is judged; my appearance is judged; my life is judged!! I just can’t take it anymore! It hurts the depths of my soul when people find that I don’t know what it is like to be a mother. I mean, I am not a mother, but I am somehow not empathetic enough towards them, and I am judged so brutally for it! I feel like if my accessories match or I buy a new handbag or I eat out four times a week, that I am being judged for being irresponsible, and I am brushed off as, ‘well she doesn’t have children’. I want to be part of club too, in which I am understood and empathised with for facing this type of daily judgement.

– It is only obvious that I hate children. I must be a meanie who thinks that all children should perish in hell. Because if you aren’t a momma, you cannot possibly love children! It is such a struggle to be looked at as a child-hater. Mind you, my JOB is taking care of and educating other people’s children all day, in their absence, and I have only been doing it for a mere twenty years. Why have I stayed in a profession for so long, that exposes me to teenagers on a daily basis, if I cannot possibly understand what it is like to have a child?? The struggle is just too much at times. The thought that I actually love other people’s children is not accepted or acceptable in any way, because the only way one can love a child is if one makes one for themselves, on their own, alone. The amount of times I have had to endure the torture of being accused of not having children and therefore have no clue how to interact with them! Because, of course, you must be a parent to understand children and interact healthily with them. Me being a teacher really counts for nothing. Don’t even get me started on how I actually feel about my students, because no one would even believe me! I actually love them and I care about them and I think about ways I can be a better teacher…all the time. But no one cares! I make tea for my girls when they have their period; I keep extra pads around as well; I counsel them when they are upset; I endure the complaints about their parents while trying to get them to understand how hard it is to be a parent. I hug them when they cry. I check on them when I know they are having a bad day. I clean and bandage bleeding toes; I make myself available 24/7 to my older girls; and sweet Jesus, I love it. Yet not a person would or should believe that I know a thing about children or loving them, because I have none of my own. This is so unbelievably hurtful. I must be overreacting and just accept that I must just hate children.

– I hate when mothers deliberately post things about their children, JUST to make me feel lesser about myself. All the beautiful pictures and videos of how much mothers are loved by their gems, is sometimes too much for me to handle. The report cards, the pottery…things they make (I really don’t know what they are called), the mother’s day cards, the hugs and kisses and, oh, the matching outfits! Why, oh why, do people share these things for me to see? Do they not know that I take offense to these posts? They were obviously MEANT to make me feel barren and irresponsible and heartless and jealous! It could not possibly be that they are just proud of their children! Oh no! They MUST want me to feel bad about myself, because God knows that when I post about loving my child-free life, I MUST be trying to deliberately offend all parents, and not just enjoying my choices. Don’t even get me started on those vehemently offensive ‘motherhood challenges’! They tear me to pieces! Please stop hurting me with your beautiful family pictures.

Thank you cyber world, thank you. Thank you for allowing the downtrodden childless women like myself, to vent! It is really important that I am allowed to share these feelings, even though I am not lucky enough to be a mother. I feel so understood now that I have shared this. I feel…normal. My struggles are so real. I feel like no one really understands me and that society has made insignificant all that I go through. But now that I have faced who I really am and shared my frustrations, I so hope and pray that some semblance of empathy, or at least some sympathy is extended to me.

The 17 Fcuks that won’t be given in 2017

Every New Year it’s the same thing with everyone – resolution after resolution. Every year we decide that this is the year we lose weight, we eat healthy, we stay positive, we remove toxic people from our lives, and we develop ourselves professionally. Most people are quite successful for the first few weeks of the New Year, others make it to February, but most of us fail within a month or just don’t bother at all.

Some years ago I stopped even thinking about resolutions. I have even stopped giving thought to making them. As I grow older I realise that resolutions are nothing but a bother to me; an unnecessary and usually unreasonable expectation that I force unto myself, and for the love of God above, I cannot figure out why I even bothered in the first place. The truth be told, resolutions often, if not always, consist of starting to do things I hate and stopping doing things that I love. So for 2017 I decided to make a real change…which I suppose is a resolution in itself, minus the pressure if I fail.

Instead of making a New Years’ Resolution List, I decided to make a ‘’Fcuk It’’ list! This is a list of things that I have decided to NOT do for the New Year, and the Fcuks I plan NOT to give!


  1. Accept disrespect

This can be a difficult one to understand and even remove from our lives, because we often think of disrespect in a very direct way: someone cursing at us; someone embarrassing us in public, etc. Disrespect, however, takes many forms. So, for me, I decided that 2017 was my year to stop allowing the disrespect in the more subtle forms. No longer am I going to allow anyone to assume my time. I can’t have plans made for me to do things for others on their time, with no respect for my time and my life. My time is my own, to do as I please, with whom I please. Disrespect only occurs when we allow it to occur. When people treat me as though I am not good enough for some things, but good enough to run errands, I will have to make the necessary adjustments. So for 2017, if I am not good enough to be part of the fun times, then don’t make plans for me to pick up your junk, do your dirty work, or accept the scraps of your tribe. I’m out, bitches!


  1. Need acceptance

I’ve always been somewhat…or quite a bit…of a non-conformist. I have never felt, seen or understood the value of fitting into a group, society, family or clique. While teamwork is an entirely different concept, I have no desire or inclination, in my personal life to be accepted by anyone. To make matters even more complicated, I have tattoos, a bitch face that offends, a teacher’s tone of voice even when I’m actually being nice, and a clear intolerance for people in general. I’m tired of trying to smile at random children who actually irritate me in the supermarket and other public places, or at people who are deliberately stupid as though it’s in style. Usually people accept you more easily when you conform to their idea of what you should be. I have decided that in 2017, if you can’t accept me as is, you need not accept me at all. I am not at the age of the possibility existing of drastic change. In fact, I am pretty comfortable with who I am, numerous faults included. My faults are cute to me and since beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, I really don’t need anyone else to appreciate my ‘cuteness’. So with the exit of 2016, though for me I think it may have actually been 2013, so too is the exiting of filling a mould. Like I have said many times before, moulds are for cakes.


  1. Smile through insults

Our parents have always told us that if we can’t say anything good, we shouldn’t say anything at all. Value in this took quite a long time to penetrate my psyche. I suppose I never saw the importance of that golden rule because of the brazen confidence of youth, perfect bodies and pretty faces. As my old ass approaches 42, and my body has decided to grow in its own direction, without my direction, I realise that there is never any need for people to be blatantly unkind to others. However, since one good turn deserves another, I will no longer be accepting the unwanted observations of unimportant people without the return of an equally discourteous observation about them. So the next time some scholar notices any weight gain, or doesn’t like my new hairstyle or comments on the difference in age between my husband and I, 2017 shall meet them with a relentlessly politically incorrect me. Usually the ones who notice your faults are blind from their own. So, if I am going to be insulted, my 2017 reaction to it is going to be less than accepting.


  1. Reduce my vices

Every New Year meets us feeling guilty about our vices, accompanied by promises to break them. Why? I quite enjoy my vices, which is why they ARE my vices. Coffee is a necessity on a morning, before I can even have a rational thought that is even applicable to life. It is also a necessity at least two more times during the day, since alcohol is not as yet allowed in the workplace, if I am to even function on a semi-normal level. And to be clear, I love coffee. I love it so much that I’d prefer to be caffeine deficient than have to lower my every standard and swallow instant coffee. Life is way too short for anything other than French-pressed Italian espresso. The other vice I intend to NOT eliminate or even reduce, is my love for, as well as my consumption of alcohol. I am not an alcoholic (as all alcoholics say), because I don’t NEED prosecco; I just LOVE prosecco and yes, there is a difference. Prosecco makes me happy; it makes me tolerant and tolerable. I can’t understand why we must cut out the things that we love the most. Isn’t life just way too short and unpredictable to not eat the cake? To not buy the shoes? To not drink the prosecco?


  1. Stop dropping the ‘F’ bomb

The extent to which people’s sensibilities are so offended by curse words, has become ludicrous, if not comedic. I think they are offended by these words because they believe that they should be; good people are not supposed to like curse words; intelligent people don’t need to use curse words to express themselves. Don’t get me wrong – I do take time and place into consideration for all that I do. I obviously won’t curse in front of a class, around children, in the presence of my in-laws – all for the same reason: respect. But seriously, I curse and I really don’t care. There are so many worse things I could do – like kill, scheme, cheat, lie, be cruel to animals! But if I just like to drop an ‘F’ bomb or two in every conversation. Wtf is really the problem?


  1. Feel guilty

This is a pretty big one! Family especially does a great job at guilting you into doing things that you really have no interest in, no time for and really just don’t want to do. I’m pretty much done with it. I am no longer going to be dancing to anyone’s music a minute before they need me to help with something or someone, on the ridiculous assumption that I MUST have the time because I don’t have children. Neither am I going to be guilted into cooking, running errands, dropping or picking up anything or anyone, if it isn’t convenient to me and not ASKED of me in a considerate amount of time in advance of the favour. Respect my time. Respect my life. Respect me. ‘No’ is a perfectly acceptable answer. People finding me to be rude because I opt for that answer, simply have an inflated sense of self, and believe that they are entitled to me submitting and committing to them in ways that aren’t convenient to me. In 2017, guilt has been put out of this house and got its ass kicked to the curb.


  1. Grow old

I have just pretty much decided that growing old just isn’t for me. What does that even mean? Growing old? Growing up? It is quite overrated if you ask me. Responsibility is a part of life regardless of age or status. I don’t see why I need to grow old and fit a mould of what people in their 40’s should be or should do. For example, the amount of times I have heard that I am too old to be enjoying social media as much I do. But why? I am technological – in my job, in my personal life. So why should I not be keeping up with technology, while having a job in which teenagers are everything? So old folks like me should just sip some tea, take their calcium and not understand how a computer works. We should not dress trendy, sexy or risqué in any way. We should not dance until the sun comes up. Well! These limitations do not work well for me. While my girls stand straight without the sag, I intend to enjoy any bloody-hell low cut top that I want. Not only will I dance until the sun comes up, but I will do it on a table, if I so desire. Age isn’t a number; it’s a state of mind, a mentality, a hindrance. I will live and dance and drink and love until the day I die, because life has no meaning if we stop living while our hearts are still beating.


  1. Save useless relationships

I have often compromised myself in order to avoid confrontation in relationships. I have often turned a blind eye to disloyalty, dishonesty and destructive behaviour in order to save a relationship, whether it was a platonic, familial or romantic one. The only result was me always feeling disgusted with myself and others for remaining part of a toxic relationship. Family and friends who truly love you and care about you, would not have you accepting their poor behaviour and sacrificing parts of you, just to have you keep them in your life. These types of relationships are truly useless. They serve no purpose other than to suck the joy and life out of you. In 2017, I will work on the relationships that are worth it, with the people who work on their relationships with me. Everyone else can go toxify themselves elsewhere.


  1. Stop dancing

No, I am not too old to dance. I am not too old to be a dance teacher. I am not too old to dance on tables. For so long, dance and dancing have been silently associated with children, whores and the shameless. I’m none of those…well at least not the first two anyway. Every time my husband and I travel, we somehow end up somewhere, in some bar or restaurant or club, in which they play our local music. For anyone who knows me, I cannot hear ‘soca’ music without ‘bussin a wine’. So yes, when I get called out in Mango’s Tropical Café in SOBE, or in Café del Mar in Ft. Lauderdale Beach, I will dance! In front of everyone, I will represent my country, my music and just be me. So my answer is no – I do not feel shame to just get up and dance. I am a dancer, I am a dance teacher….I mean, seriously, have you met me?


  1. Worry

I just can’t do it anymore. I can no longer worry about what might happen with my health as I get older. I can no longer worry about how my life may look to others. I can no longer worry about useless relationships. I can no longer worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to come whether I am here to celebrate it or not. Tomorrow will bring its new joys and its new sorrows, regardless of how I spend today. So, in 2017, worrying will not get the better of me. Tomorrow will come until it doesn’t, and I will deal with it however I need to. Until there is something to worry about, I’ll just sip my hot, rich, French-pressed Italian coffee, guzzle my fresh, bubbly, extra-dry prosecco, dance like there are no worries in this world and just live my life. Shit happens regardless.


  1. Feel ashamed of what my body looks like

Oh mother hell! I’m almost 42. I only exercise when I feel like it. I juice my vegetables and then eat fried chicken. I don’t work out like a mofo and I refuse to starve myself into skinny! That’s for people who still need to impress others and receive their validation accordingly. Don’t get me wrong…I think exercising regularly and eating healthy is great, but only when it’s for the right reasons. Validation and recognition can never be some of them. I have cellulite, granted, not as much as I should have at 41. I have wrinkles around my eyes, probably because I spend so much time laughing with (and sometimes at) my husband. I have lines on the sides of my mouth, probably from the constant smile he has on my face. I will no longer entertain a navel breaker or a micro mini. But that’s ok! After one time is another. I enjoyed my twenties, maybe a bit too much. I was even able to dress as I wanted way into my 30s! What more could I ask for? So now, I wear what’s comfortable and I accentuate that which has not as yet started to sag or wrinkle. I’m ok with my highly imperfect body, because this ‘temple’ of imperfections still allows me to dance every single day and share that joy with my students. So I’m good…tattoos, sag, wrinkles and stretch marks alike.


  1. Be impressed with people’s perfect pictures

Seriously parents! Just before you finally got that perfect picture of your little angel smiling just right, he or she was eating his snot, digging his ass, or peeing his pants! You post away and I will continue to hit that ‘like’ button, but don’t be fooled into thinking that we don’t all know the reality of parenthood. As for the pictures of the non-models putting VS models to shame with their posing techniques, feigning aloofness and unawareness of the orchestrated photographer…gosh you do look great, but at the expense of some poor husband who has no choice but to feed your ego and take only 15 shots before you find the perfect one that will project the image that you so desperately NEED to project so that you can be validated by people you don’t know and by those who don’t matter. I’m no model and I don’t know how to stand to look sexy, cool or slim. My husband takes THE WORST pictures, because he only believes in ‘candid’. Like, wtf! I will always look like a crow if he’s taking the pic, which is how I know how many snaps it takes to get a perfect one, or in my case a semi-decent one. So this year, I will like the crap out of your posts and pics but you ain’t fooling me!


  1. Need an HGTV home

Yeah, I’m not the best homemaker. I’m uncreative, and very likely unambitious when it comes to having a picture perfect house. My home is my haven. It is where I need to just relax and be me. It’s clean and organised but the buck pretty much stops there. Ornaments are the devil’s gifts and dusting is the lifelong punishment for having them in your house. I like simple and uncluttered and I absolutely love convenient. So our TV snacks are kept in the living-room ottomans; we have a completely separate beer and prosecco fridge that’s usually fuller than the food fridge. The treadmill is in front of the TV, because there is NO WAY I can exercise without watching one of my shows. Our second bedroom has been converted into a ridiculously well-equipped gym, which I actually use. There is no TV in the bedroom, because we take our night sleep very seriously. Every single room is air conditioned because i feel hot all the time. I hate to decorate for Christmas, because it is such a bore to put up and take down a tree. The only two clocks in the house, reflect dance, coffee and alcohol. I do not make up my bed on mornings, because when I get home after work, an afternoon nap is a high likelihood. We have no children to entertain and dazzle with Christmas trees and gifts, and we don’t allow people who intend to judge us, into our home.


  1. Publicise charity

Public charity is always easy, and I suppose fulfilling in many ways. It has its value, I am assuming, in group and team work, pooled resources and maximising of time and effort. However, there seems to be a movement and mentality that has surfaced, especially in this age of social media, where all charitable offerings and activities are shared with the world. It isn’t something I understand or necessarily subscribe to. While I would never bash any form of helping others, I am highly irritated by people who feel the need to TELL me that they are going to feed the starving, help the poor, clothe the downtrodden and house the homeless. Do your thing! Why must you make that the sole topic of your conversations with others? Is it that you need the validation or recognition or reverence? Or maybe you think that if I knew about your ‘selflessness’ that I would be so inclined to follow in your footsteps. However, that would then be your inflated ego assuming that I don’t do anything to help others. Well I’m not the oak up which you should bark. I do not ever feel the need to let anyone, and I mean anyone, know what I do to help others. In fact, no one except my husband even knows what we do. It doesn’t mean that our hearts are in a righter place than anyone else’s but we simply do not NEED anything in return, especially attention. People who must always tell me about all the good that they do, don’t impress me; they worry me. I worry that your hearts are in a place of doing, so that others can see. Karma is real. If you do it for the wrong reasons, that shit comes back to bite you in your ass. For 2017, and way before, this boastful mentality has turned me off tremendously and disgusts me when that is the only thing about which you can converse. So this year, my response to your boasting is simply, ‘Yeah ok’. Charity is the way you live your life and the way you treat others everyday, not just when there is a reverent audience.


15. Allowing last minute demands of myself

While this was touched upon in previous points, I feel that it needs to be re-iterated and expanded upon, all by itself. I think people believe that because I have no children that my time is more available than theirs; or because my work day ends at 2:15 p.m., that I have more free time that others. But what needs to be clearly understood, is that being childless is a choice; being a teacher is a choice; having a husband who helps with all that needs to be done at home is a choice in partner. While my choices have allowed me certain comforts, it must be understood that they are still MY choices. They are not up for discussion or assumption. So when people continue to assume that they can call me for favours at the umpteenth hour, I will have no choice but to say ‘no’. I almost always have plans; whether with my husband or whether by myself. I value my time alone and even more so, our time together. I will not upheave my plans for anyone who didn’t have enough respect for my time, in the first place. Most times, the very people who don’t respect my time, know very well that they cannot do that to others or to their own people. That in itself sends a very clear message to me. I have no problem assisting family and friends whenever I can, on the condition that I am given ample notice to check my plans and choose if I want to adjust them accordingly. But you cannot expect me to give a care in the world about what YOU need from me, when I am not important enough to you, to be respected. So toodles to you and your assumptions of my time. Not this year!


16. Allow anyone to mistreat those I love

While I am quite aware that I am neither Superman or Wonder Woman, and I can’t stop people from treating others badly, I can control my interaction with them and limit it to the absolute necessary. In 2017, out the door goes any respect I used to or would have had for people who are exhibiting a blatant disrespect for the people I love. So, you treat my grandmother as though she is a second class citizen, who is supposed to be a punching bag for insults, you can fcuk yourself out of my life. You treat her as though she must bear the burden of your incessant complaints about me, you can fcuk yourself out of my life. Man the hell up and deal with ME if you have a problem with me. She is 85 years old. She has NO control over me, so attacking her will never get you what you want, except a very special place in hell. If you treat my parents as though they are there to serve you, you can fcuk yourself out of my life. Be clear, any courtesies they extend is out of the purity of their hearts and not to be taken advantage of. They can continue to do as they please and I will always respect them and their choices, but I will see people for who they really are in 2017. As for my husband! Well!!!! The buck stops there! I will not only allow you to fcuk yourself out of my life, but I will do it for you. He is an amazing, loving and generous man with no ill feelings or ill intentions towards others. So when people decide to speak ill of him and assume I don’t know what is being said, all hell will and has already broken loose. I will not be tolerating anyone to speak of him or treat him as though he is some sort of nuisance. The most ignorant parts of my soul will surface and I am happy to sin my soul for him! So in 2017, please be aware that I know more than you think I do. My husband is off limits!


17. Stop boasting about my husband

We love to talk about our failed relationships and blacken the names of friends and spouses who have wronged us in some way. It is so easy and entertaining to make horrible people look bad. We take pleasure in portraying ourselves as the victims at the hands of others. So if I think that my husband is the most amazing man I have ever met, I don’t see why I can’t shout it from the roof top! He does everything in his power to make my life easier, happier and less stressful. He is attentive and thoughtful, hardworking and dedicated to our life together. He is incredibly accepting of all of my faults, having very few himself. He is considerate and accommodating to who I am, who I truly am. He doesn’t just allow me to be me and and to do the things I love, but he encourages it. He has made my happiness and comfort his priority and treats me as though I can do no wrong. He loves the people that I love, because they are my people. His commitment to us has been resounding. So, if I want to post on social media about him, and post pictures of all that we do, it isn’t to show off, or to make anyone feel bad. It is to revere him, because I know how much he deserves it. So in 2017, the people who feel the need to ask me if I must post everything we do, and ask me if I don’t feel like I am embarrassing him, please think twice. He is perfectly happy with my posts and I am perfectly happy with him.


So these are the Fcuks that will not be given in 2017. I shall continue to live carefree, think happy thoughts, forgive endlessly and love completely. Cheers to good health, acceptance and lots of prosecco!


Happy New Year!!

Success vs. Happiness

I have been an educator for over 19 years, and even though I made the decision to not have children, I was a very involved step parent for 13 years, before the divorce. I have always maintained a close relationship with many of my former students and even some of their parents. I love being an involved teacher, going way off and beyond the curriculum to get to know my students…who they are, what their families are like, their interests and goals, how their parents think.

What I have learnt over the past decades is that almost all parents that I have encountered, truly want the very best education and opportunities for their children; they want them to be successful in life and in their careers; they want better for them than they had. I have to assume that if I was a parent, I’d feel the same way. But I am not a parent. So, I have the advantage of seeing it all from the outside. And sometimes what I see isn’t always pretty.

Our education system forces students to choose school subjects at the age of 14. These subjects determine what subjects they can then do at a higher level of secondary education. These choices, of course, affect what they would have the pre-requisites for at university level. Therefore, the choices they make at 14 years old, in essence, dictate their future careers. This entire process is disturbing to me on so many different levels, but seems so normal and to so many other educators and parents. The fact that they find nothing senseless about a teenager making major life choices at that age and stage of development seems almost cruel to me.

To compound this already dire situation, I meet parents and teachers all the time who decide for their children and charges, what career they will pursue. It’s almost always the same answers I get – she wants to do medicine, law, architecture, engineering, actuarial science, leaving me amazed that they all believe that a 14 year old actually knows what these fields entail and actually have a passion for any of them!

In many cases, the subjects that a child loves, aren’t the ones they are encouraged to pursue. In fact, many parents discourage any thought of following a path any less than the careers previously mentioned. In all my years as an educator, I have never had a parent tell me that their child wants to be a business owner, accountant, fashion designer, dancer, athlete, physiotherapist, HR manager…or God forbid, a teacher.

There are the students who hate the science subjects and are not very good at them, if we base it on the marks achieved. Yet their parents insist that they must do the sciences in order to enter a good, high paying profession. I would ask if the children had a say in what they wanted to do, knowing how much they loved and how good they were at art, literature and the social sciences. Parents tell me all the time that it didn’t matter. She is to get a degree in the sciences and change careers later on if she wants. So a particular student that always stood out to me, did as she was told and succeeded at all her science subjects, hating every minute of it. And her parents continued to be oblivious to her self-harming, unhappiness and resentment. But at least she is on her way to an excellent career, if not a happy, healthy life.

These stories are endless over the years of me teaching and they differ in subject areas, families and careers. The constant is always that she must get a good job in order to be successful. In speaking with and more so, in listening to my students overs the years, I have come to understand that their parents have taught them that success has been equated with wealth, and that happiness comes from that genre of success.

What we are doing, essentially, is raising generations of children and students who see success in terms of prestigious jobs and wealth. While not wanting be a hypocrite and undervalue the importance of a good education, a substantial standard of living and a successful life, I wonder why we are not teaching our charges about what happiness should really be. I have not met a parent in many years who has said to me that I want my child to follow whatever path will make him/her happy. Job satisfaction no longer seems to be that feeling of fulfillment you get on an afternoon when you get home, or that excitement you feel on a morning to go to work. Job happiness seems to be determined by the pay cheque received at the end of the month.

So many of these very parents are in jobs that they hate, in which they are underpaid and miserable. Yet, they are seeing no value in preventing THIS outcome for their child. To hear parents of toddlers saying that he is going to become a lawyer seems only psychic to me, rather than ambitious.

I had a conversation with some students recently, and was of course very careful not to present views that were opposing to the ones in which their parents raised them. I explained to them, that I teach Dance and French, my two passions, and there is no greater feeling than to be paid for what I love to do most in this world. Because I am academically qualified in both areas, I am paid the same salary as the teachers who teach the ‘important’ subjects. I told them the truth – I don’t feel Monday blues; I don’t dread the end of a vacation; I love what I do. This is all that I want for them as well.

Now I am not saying that becoming a lawyer or doctor cannot be someone’s passion. I know a doctor who is young and vibrant, thorough and caring. I have never met a doctor who loves what he does more than him. He has expanded his practice into a very dependable, high tech machine that is still surrounded by love and care. His parents should be enormously proud of him, but not for BEING a doctor, but for BEING so happy at his job. That is his true success, whether he realises it or not.

Parents are admirable for wanting what is best for their children. But what is the best for them? Why are we proliferating a life full of success is success is wealth? Why aren’t we encouraging them to be happy in what they do? The money will always come. But to become a professional who loves your job is the true success and will bring true happiness. We were not all made equal or alike and not all of us fit the moulds of the same professions. My former dance teacher always told us that, ‘God is not a Communist, we aren’t all the same.’ This has always resonated with me, regardless of how funny she made it sound.

Parents and educators are no longer tapping into the real strengths and passions of students in order to really help them choose a career path. We are helping them to make loads of money when they are adults. So essentially, we are helping to mould generations of rich, miserable professionals who resent what they do and who made them do it. But at least they can buy nice things.

WTF moments are not AHA moments

Oprah calls them ‘Aha’ moments – those moments when you experience sudden insight or discovery. Psychologists describe them as ‘sudden comprehension that solves a problem, reinterprets a situation, explains a joke, or resolves an ambiguous perception’. It is also known as ‘The Eureka Effect’ which refers to the ‘common human experience of suddenly understanding a previously incomprehensible problem or concept’.

We have all had them. Our ‘Aha’ moments all differ based on our lives, acquaintances, experiences, personalities. Recently, however, the moments that I have been experiencing, were much less sugar-coated and much more along the lines of, ‘WTF’ moments – moments that made me question myself on so many levels; moments that made me wonder if I was in the twilight zone; moments that made me wonder if the people involved were of the same planet as me.


1. I have a WTF moment every time a parent says to me with a straight and serious face, that their child is still very sheltered, innocent and shy. They even go on to explain that they are lacking in self-esteem but are so happy to be working on those problems. I slip into a WTF moment when I get déjà vu visions of the same children practically attached by the lips to their boyfriends/girlfriends in public, away from the same parents. I realised just how deluded some parents are about their children and how very much they are NOT amenable to an insight into the truth. Parents, please have a relatively realistic knowledge of your offspring. While you all hope for perfection and even assume that your children are, being created in the eyes of God and love and your spouse and all that good stuff, the reality is that you gave them life, but you do not control who they become. Be very careful how you boast about them. They tend to bring you embarrassment, not because anything is wrong with them, but because your perception of them is warped into a false sense of the actual truth. Children are NOT perfect. They were never meant to be. They were meant to human.


2. I had a huge WTF moment when I realised just how very dangerous power can be. If not filtered properly, one’s professional position begins to make them believe with all that is inside them, that they are better than others; that they are more powerful than others. It can blind the weak in mind from their actual reality and these delusions of grandeur make them forget time and place and behave petty over the most trivial of matters. Supervisors, Middle management, Managers, Directors should really try not lose their sense of self, their send of humanity, empathy and compassion. It should at least not be replaced with arrogance or haughtiness, because by doing so, they create a work environment that breeds power struggles, dishonesty and unhappiness. My WTF moment blew me away. I realised, in a sudden jolt, exactly how much some people need to feel important over others, without actually being able to understand the phenomenon. My WTF moment of being reprimanded over the triviality of where I park, made me wonder about people’s home lives. I truly believe that when people are happy at home and live in equality and harmony with their partners, they feel no need to exert aggression and control over those with whom they work. In fact, when one’s home life is fulfilled, they see the workplace as somewhere that people all work together as one team on one level, working towards one goal. Like they say, Power in the hands of stupid people, can be dangerous – Hitler proved it.


3. I still believe that ‘time’ changes us, whether we accept it or not, whether we realise it or not, or whether we want it or not. However, I recently realised that some people need a whole lot more time to change into someone better, stronger, softer and kinder. Until then, they remain the same old bitter souls that they always were. I feel that if someone approaches you kindly about a matter, there is no need to gloat, or laugh, or be mean. Reproach is a way of trying to instill indignity into others, by use of your own over-indulged pride. While being reproachful may bring someone that pleasure of ‘sticking it’ to someone else, all it really does is remind others of who you really are – someone who is vengeful and unforgiving, tactless and lacking in grace. So when I had the WTF moment of being reproached recently, I felt hurt for an instant, confused about its necessity, in disbelief about its lack of value. Then I realised that the problem wasn’t mine.


4. I realise that many people do not like to see others happy or successful and will find every single ridiculous reason that they can, to dirty their waters. It comes from a place of dire insecurity, whether personal or professional or both, and it skews their vision of all that is true and fair. This is something that happens regularly in the workplace, as well as in families. This has caused to me to have many WTF moments. These moments occur every time someone says that I married younger than me because of desperation, or when they ask a question about my life and I answer them honestly, then they say I boast. Or if I succeed at some silly, trivial thing, and people them criticise me before I even start the task. These things evoke a very loud WTF in my mind, but then I remind myself that happy people don’t condemn and confident women do not hate.


5. I have always known that family isn’t always about blood. It’s about the amazing people we meet and who enter our lives, bringing joy, and generosity and love with them into it. Sometimes your blood can be the some of the most discriminating people, your hardest critics and the most callous gossipers that exist. Blood family can find it so easy to turn their backs on you for reasons that often escape my capabilities of understanding, while other family members are so giving of their love, care, support, inclusion, encouragement. My WTF moment happened some years ago when I realised the extent to which I did not fit the mold of what was expected of me, but instead of communicating with me, I was banished from the kingdom of the obviously more-righteous than me. Another WTF moment occurred recently when I realised that not only was I not needed, but I was not wanted. These moments hurt like hell. But at the end of the day, people show you how they feel about you by the way in which they treat you, the ways in which they include or exclude you from their lives and their loved ones and by the ways in which they speak about you behind your back, especially when they believe you never found out what was said. But that’s okay, everyone has their own journey to follow, and I will never get in the way of anyone following theirs.



6. The best WTF moment I have ever had, was when I looked at my husband the day we got married. It was a whirlwind moment, of seeing where we came from and from what we came through, to where we were at that moment. All I could have thought was WTF did I ever do in my life to deserve you.

Social Graces at their worst

According to the gospel of the internet, Wikipedia, social graces is defined as ‘’skills used to interact politely in social situations. They include manners, etiquette (the specific accepted rules within a culture for the application of universal manners), deportment, fashion and refinement (also known as sophistication)’’.

Social graces are an extreme pet-peeve for me. I think it is because society has become so self-centered and individual-driven, that people no longer feel the need to think about anyone or anything beyond themselves. Social graces are glaringly lacking in today’s adults, leaving little hope for what can be taught to the upcoming generations.

All that follow are my experiences with a lack of certain social graces in various circumstances, with my socially ungraceful take on those found guilty.

1. The Cell-Phone Lovers

These people feel the need to be on a call at all times, I suspect, in order to feel a sense of importance. Their lives, jobs and circumstances are always more important than anyone around them and they cannot, for the love of God above, get off their phones to conduct the matter at hand; whether they are at a bank, doctor’s office, cashier, or in front of me at Parents’ Day. A parent was on his call from the time he sat in front of me and rudely gestured to me to start the conference with his wife and daughter while he was doing something that was obviously more important. Needless to say, I greeted the mother and told her that we would wait until he was finished his important call before we discuss his child’s academic performance in my class. Cell-Phone lovers do not care about you. They are rude and disrespectful, ill-bred and devoid of class.

2. ‘Good Morning’ haters

While we are not and cannot all be morning people, once we brush our teeth, shower, dress and leave our houses, it’s time to shake it off! Nothing irks me more than when adults walk into an office, bank etc., and sit there without a general greeting to all there. Equally disgusting to me, is when I walk into an establishment and greet everyone generally, and no-one responds. At that point, I usually continue with, ‘’or not’’. When adults are so ill-mannered, whatever are we to expect from their children? Too many times our staff room door would be knocked on and as we answer, a students is there, eager to ask for who she needs to see. No greeting. No apology for disturbance. Nothing. My solution is always the same and quite simple. I tell them that since they left their manners at home, they should probably return and get them, and when that’s done they can come back and ask for whom they need to see. These types of children are raised to feel entitled; entitled to no manners. They are usually raised by entitled adults who feel themselves better than others in the first place.

3. Men who hate to open doors…for anyone!

This breed of jackass is so prevalent everywhere. They don’t just lack chivalry towards women; they lack basic manners towards humanity. Dude, opening the door for me does NOT mean I want you, or that I will want you…ever. It means that you weren’t raised by a hooligan mother. I have seen men NOT open the door for me, as they glance across at their significant other, knowing it’ll be hell to pay if they did open it. Ladies, if you are one of these women, please ask yourself why you would want to be with a man who won’t open the door for someone else. Does it means he loves you less? If your answer is yes, then seek some help…psychological and social. If my man didn’t open the door for a woman, I swear, he would never hear the end of it. I’d hate to be with a man like that, as much as I hate men like that. I was walking into a pharmacy some years ago and a couple walked in before me. He held the door open for his…whoever she was, and was about to keep it open for me. I was a few strides behind. Just enough time for her to look at him with daggers. He let the door go. I opened the damn door myself (not that there was a choice at that point), walked in behind them and said, ‘’Thanks! You are such a gentleman!’’
Now this door-hater can also be women. I think women believe that they do not need to be chivalrous because they have vaginal immunity. Ladies, really. When you let the door go behind you in someone’s face, you are simply lacking in poise, grace and class. You are a hog in mud!

4. They see you fall…literally

Boy, have I had some experience with these twits. They transcend all gender and age. They are a special breed of crass. They would see you trip, drop something, get your clothes caught in a door, or fall down and would glance at you and continue along their path of righteousness. You are in public, people! Interacting with other human beings, not wild animals that if were in a mall, should actually be avoided at all costs! Were you seriously raised by wolves? Or in a barn? Or fed pellets as a child? Shopping in the mall one day, I had many packages in my hands and for those who know me well, that is not uncommon or difficult for me to accomplish. However, that day one bag was slipping out of my grip and as I tried to regain bag-control, they all slid to the ground. This imbecile walking behind me, watched me struggle to get all the bags back in my grip…from the ground, and watched me as he walked around me to get on his way! I got up the same time and said to him, ‘’don’t mind me! I’m fine, thanks for helping…ass!’’
Then there was the less amusing time that I was trying to get into my car when I slipped off the pavement and was dangling in the drain outside my house, while holding on for dear life, or at least dear shame, while my neighbour opposite simply looked at me. Apparently, I was the daily soap opera! I ungracefully, and with extreme difficulty from the pain caused by the skin scraping off my leg, climbed back on to the pavement. He didn’t even ask me if I was ok! You are 90 years old (or look like it), with daughters and granddaughters! Have you no upbringing whatsoever?? Death stare to you, forever.

5. Get your a$$ off the seat!

You are in a bank, office, bus, agency…doesn’t really matter. You are in a public place with provided seating. The men and even the women who sit their asses down with no signs of mobility, even when an elderly person, pregnant woman, woman walks in! Oh sweet baby Jesus, the patience that I am forced to muster when I witness such social disgrace! Selfish people who are self-centered behind closed doors, is no concern of mine. But to be so lacking in etiquette and basic courtesy is as unbecoming as a human being can get. While I have no examples of this happening to me, I have witnessed it too many times to count. I don’t know if it is culturally rooted or just rooted in the grossly ill-bred among us.

6. You put on weight?

Help me, oh Father, for I will sin, the next time someone tells me that! I cannot understand the pleasure that one gets from saying that to another person. Furthermore, is there a particular point you are trying to make, that you feel they will remain ignorantly unaware of, if you don’t ask that question? And exactly what answer would please you? Yes? And then what? Or no? And then what? Women, and the more oestrogen-friendly men, are particularly guilty of this social blunder. Maybe women FEEL skinnier when they point out weight gain to others. Then there are those who haven’t seen you in 20+ years and ask it. Yes, I have put on weight since you saw me last….at 21…22 years ago….fool. I believe that lacking this particular social grace is quite hurtful to others. You don’t know what their struggles and insecurities are and why it’s so. For me, it is quite difficult to hear. First of all, I have had chemically induced weight gain, from medication and resultant hormonal imbalances; weight gain from steroids that I NEEDED for asthma control. In addition, for anyone under 40 years of age, you should really consider shutting the front door! You have no clue how hard it is to lose weight after a certain age. I don’t eat excessive white flour at three meals a day or gorge myself on pasta, fried foods or desserts. I train hard, almost everyday, but it’s hard after 40. And it’s depressing. In addition, I have and always had inherently broad shoulders, which is not common in women, so I am automatically considered, big…or strong…or fat. I don’t have a big ole belly! But who cares! All we see is shoulders! I have never in my life told anyone that I found that they had put on weight…never. It adds no value to my life, their life, our relationship or our conversation. It would simply shine my lack of grace everywhere. And grace is essential to us dancers.

7. I’m not hungry right now, can you pack it?

I was married to this breed of poor carriage so my experience in cringing is endless. If you are invited to someone’s home for a meal, then you go and you eat. It is a very simple concept to understand and execute. You knew in advance what the evening’s plan was, so there is no reason to go to eat somewhere, with a full stomach. To compound the lack of social sophistication, you tell the host to pack it for you because you are not hungry and prefer to take it away. Is this Mc Donald’s? The lack of culture makes my blood crawl. By all means, if the host asks you to please take some home, that’s a different story altogether! But at least allow them to insist before saying yes. It is simply inelegant to go to someone’s home for a meal with a pre-conceived plan to pack and carry!

8. The children of the socially ungraceful

Parents please! I understand that it must be hard for you to raise children with decorum if you have none of your own, but please, do some reading, take a class, do something. But don’t send or bring your children in public if they lack a certain level of behaviour! Supermarkets and restaurants see the worst of this. The child who cries incessantly, shouts at the top of their voices, bangs the cutlery, wants everything in sight. I have so often been reminded that I am not a parent, because clearly I didn’t get the memo that I am without child. Yet I can still accept that children will be children to a certain point. Anything beyond that point becomes parents being irresponsible, inconsiderate and impolite. Teach your children to cover their mouths when they sneeze and cough in public because we don’t want their germs. It is quite straightforward. Teach them to greet people in a becoming manner, whether at home or in public. Not doing so, reflects your haughtiness, not just theirs. Show them the value of thanking people for gifts, rather than raising entitled brats, that you the have the audacity to send off into the world. Please have them stfu when adults are speaking and understand that adult conversations do not invite their input. While I understand that children will take time to learn social graces, it doesn’t mean that it must be short changed. Do the work, do it consistently. Raise well-bred young men and young ladies who will be able to shine and share their social etiquette wherever they go. After all, a child’s manners, or lack thereof, is a reflection of their parents.

9. The Doctors

This is a special one that unnerves me. Your momma didn’t name you ‘Dr.’ so don’t be introducing yourself as ‘Dr anything’ in a social setting! You are at a party, house warming, club, dinner….news flash! Nobody cares if you are a Doctor! You are just you…if you even know who that is! By all means be proud of your title…when you are at work or a professional function. My granny, at my grandfather’s one-year memorial, introduced me to someone as ‘Dr. Whateverhisnamewas’. So I asked him his name. Granny repeated herself and his title. So I asked him if his mummy named him ‘Dr.’. Granny said I was being rude so I re-introduced myself to him. I said, ‘Hello, my name is Teacher MyLastName.’ Doctors and their God complexes are as unattractive to me as crying babies. I think it irritates me even more since, years ago, my friend, who is a Doctor, was coming over to my home. As he walked in and I was about to introduce him to everyone, he whispered to me, ‘Please don’t say Doctor, Barry is fine, please V.’ That’s when I realised that being a socially ungraceful Doctor was a choice of arrogance and feeling of being better than your social acquaintances, not a phenomenon inherent to the profession. Furthermore, being a Doctor in a social setting, only impresses the unaccomplished and ailing among us.

10. When are you getting married/having a baby.

The sheer unfairness of this question to women of any age is just heart wrenching. This is another hurtful display of social misgivings. You simply do not emphasise someone’s ‘singleness’ if they don’t do it themselves. You don’t know how they feel about it or if it a result of choice of circumstance! It can make people feel inadequate when it is really your lack of upbringing that is. Similarly, the baby questions is just as horrific. Do you know their medical history of possible infertility or miscarriage? If not them please invite yourself to silence. Not everyone wants or needs to get married or have children. Those social expectations are becoming increasingly archaic with the onset of the educated in today’s world. Neither one leads to the path of happiness for everyone, and frankly it is really absolutely none of your business. Know your place in life: in need of some social training.

In-laws and Out-laws

Today I was sitting at my desk in work having lunch that I had packed from home. It was leftovers from Sunday lunch that my mother-in-law had cooked, and delicious, to say the least. My husband and I often go there on Sundays and she always cooks a lovely lunch for us, my father-in-law and my brother-in-law. They eat a lot of pepper in their food, whereas I am allergic to it and eat none at all. So my mum-in-law stopped cooking with pepper when she knows I’m coming, or she would cook the food separately for me. In addition, she always cooks enough so that I would have enough to take to work the next day. If all of this wasn’t incredible enough, she would prepare a half cooked casserole and freeze it for me to take home so that I can cook it during the week. She even bakes bread for us just because we love it. These things are just the tip of the food-iceberg that she shares with me. So as I was having my wonderful lunch today, it had me thinking about in-laws.

My husband and I had a lot of external factors working against us when we started dating. As a result, his parents were always conservative and cautious not knowing me very well, at the time. I suppose their greatest concern was that their 30 year old son wanted to marry a 40 year old divorcée. On any level, no matter how liberal parents may be, this would have been a hard pill to swallow. Yet, not one day did they ever make me feel that this was a concern for them. I know of so many other families with lesser issues, where parents refused to be a part of their union. I often asked myself, why his parents were so accepting of me and of our marriage, even after knowing they would be getting no grandchildren from us!

The relationship between parents and their children-in-law is not exactly a straightforward one and there seems to be no formula for ensuring a healthy one, much like parenting itself, I suppose. I see and hear so many horror stories between my friends and their in-laws. Yet, there are so many beautiful relationships that have developed in other families. It is always extremely saddening to hear people I know speak ill of their in-laws, especially when nothing malicious was done to them. I have heard complaints of how annoying and foolish they find their husband’s mothers to be; and others complain about their hygiene and how poorly they babysit the grandchildren. I have even heard that they can’t relate to their in-laws because of the self-proclaimed disparity between them, in class, education, culture and upbringing. I understand that there are genuine circumstances of bad relations and bad habits and even ill intentions between younger and older in-laws.

What resonates the most with me is the consequence of our choices in how we treat our in-laws and the effects they have on our marriages. As I have said numerous times in various articles before this one, I cannot speak for anyone else. I can only share my experiences and my humble opinions…and sometimes I share my not-so-humble ones, as well. Completely understanding and accepting on no level, that I am anywhere close to perfect, it goes without saying that neither would my or anyone else’s in-laws be. They are a completely different family from the one in which I was raised, with similar or sometimes different values and customs and certainly with their own unique personality, just like my family.

It would be unrealistic of me to think that I was marrying into a family that was exactly like mine or that my role in my husband’s family should ever be the same as the role I play in my own. One of the most important lessons I learnt in being a daughter-in-law, is my place and role in his family. It isn’t a role that was bestowed unto me, or told to me, or taught to me. It is a role I adopted after much reflection on possible consequences. I haven’t been married for long, this second time around, but I’ve learnt a thing or two along the way:

– My role isn’t to control the route his family takes or to dictate their pace. At the end of the day, it’s their family that I met that way. My addition should be an asset rather than a liability and I should be there as an accessory rather than an entire gown. It isn’t for me to tell them how they should do things or to disapprove of how they run their family.

– If my husband chooses to share information with me about his family, it’s his choice, just as it is his choice not to. As I said, it is his family, and he is not mandated to make me a part of decisions that they need to make. If he shares occurrences, problems or opinions about his family, it is for me to listen and support him. I do not feel it is for me to swagger myself on to a high horse and tell him how his family is wrong and how they should do things, because I say so. My role is his support, not their dictators.

– They are my elders, my new surrogate parents, and people who have a whole lot more experience than I do. So I listen when they speak. If I agree or disagree, I am respectful of how I express either to them. They do know more than I do and they know better than I do with most things. I may not agree with their generational customs and advice, but neither will my nieces and nephews agree with mine in twenty years. So I listen as attentively as I can, and try to understand who they truly are and why and hope that I can learn something along the way.

– I am not and will never be better than them. We are different…everyone is, but these are people who have feelings and problems and similar experiences just like me. They have been educated, raised and succeeded in their own right, whether differently from me or not. But I am not better than them and if I ever treated them like that, it would be sending a very bold message to them that they aren’t very good, and therefore, neither is their son.

– When I do feel the need to stand my ground…and that’s really only when the ‘baby’ talk starts; I try to do so as humorously and as respectfully as I can. It is funny really, how parents-in-law find very clever ways of slipping in the topic, adding a dash of guilt and a pinch of sadness. It is the one thing I had to decide that I can’t give to them, and I love how they are coming to respect that.

– I will never insult my husband in their presence. In fact, it’s not a habit that I want to develop in the privacy of our home either. But then again, with a husband like mine, if you don’t have a very broad and varied sense of humour, suicide or divorce are viable options at times. His and my parents need to see how I love and respect him, rather than just assume that I do, and vice versa. As my father-in-law said at our wedding, respect and tolerance are the keys to a healthy marriage. For me, it wasn’t just him saying that. It was seeing him and his wife live like that all the time. They embody what they advise, and in doing so, set the bar at a beautiful level to which we can aspire to reach.

– I love being able to go there any day and at any time and be offered home cooked food. My dad passed away fourteen years ago and my mum and step-dad live abroad. My in-laws’ home is like going to my parents’ home, with people there who are always willing to provide, please and protect. They became my parents in this country while my husband and I have parents in another one as well. It doesn’t get much better than that. They love if we spend the night, wake up and have coffee with them, or just come home for a meal and some drinks…usually a lot of drinks (another reason they are awesome sauce).

– They help me to understand my husband, which on my own, often feel like a self-taught PhD. I see him in them. I see my brother-in-law in them. I see how they work as a unit. I see how they think. I see how they see things. I see my husband through their eyes, and he starts to make more sense to me. They are like a magnifying glass through which I can see not just who he is, but how he is made up, how he thinks and see things, and of course how he feels.

– Joining a family through marriage is like immersing yourself into an entirely new culture. It can be overwhelming, a bit irritating to get accustomed to, entertaining, enlightening and dazing. However, immersion into any new culture means you learn things you never thought existed. More so, the entertainment value is extremely high, especially at special occasions. I was a little but traumatised for the first birthday celebration I attended there. Of course, my husband NEVER prepared me for it in advance, because it was so utterly normal and natural for him. With no notice or previous knowledge, after then meeting them for the sum total of the second time in life, I realised that they all went around in turn and said something about the birthday celebrant. So I had to do it as well, in front of everyone, after meeting them only once before. It’s funny now, not so much then, and my husband and I did have a very long chat about it on the way home. But I am now a part of this new culture, and I love it.

Marriage isn’t always easy and it isn’t made any easier when relationships with in-laws are strained. At the end of the day, parents, especially the smart, more evolved ones, would choose to love their children more than they will ever allow themselves to hate their children-in-law. This helps them to tolerate and accept us easier and respect the choices of their children. It is only parents who are willing to chance losing their children, by hating their children’s mates, decide to not be a part of the union. This is a real lesson to me. I understand that loving my husband is much more important to me that disapproving of his family, even members who may not adore me. The door swings both ways.


The most important thing that my husband and I try to remember, and it really isn’t very hard to, is that these parents gave to us the person we love most in this world. His parents raised a most amazing man who would not have the kindness, generosity of self, honesty and ability to forgive, if it wasn’t for them. They created and helped to shape a man that amazes me and astounds me almost every day that we are together. They did that. I cannot possibly love and respect him as much as I do, without understanding the extreme ramification the love that he gives to me would have been impossible without them. So if for no other reason, other than the fact that they gave me this most precious gift, THEIR most precious gift, I will always try to make them happy by making him happy.

No one says that they want to grow up to be a step-parent

Every step-parent’s experience is as different as apples and oranges. Approaches differ tremendously. Expectations are oftentimes unreasonable. It is often as thankless as the teaching profession. One thing is common to each step-parenting experience – when blame and resentment are to be delegated, it starts and stop with the non-biological parent.


I was a step-parent for 13 years, and not a very good one, at that. Ironically, during those years I felt that I was a pretty good step-mother: dedicated, caring, willing and selfless. Now that it’s all over, along with the marriage of which the children were a part, I realised that I failed at the role thrusted on to me; a role that I, all too willingly, accepted.


They were young children at the time and perfectly lovely: fun, excitable, willing to accept me for the sake of their father’s happiness. I was close to them, I thought. I loved them, spent almost all of my time with them. I thought and felt that they loved me. I looked after their school work and other education matters, being the teacher in the reconstituted family. For many years I felt that we were all happy together. We all knew it was not the most ideal situation, as children should really be with their biological parents. We made the best of it. Their mother and I got along better than she and their father did, which was ironically funny for us all.


It may have been happening much earlier than I had realised, but somewhere in the last five years of an extremely tumultuous marriage, all had started to go awry between me and the children. They witnessed every nasty argument, accusations of infidelity, physical abuse and generally unbecoming behaviour from the two adults who should have been setting the example. Even if their father did not know better, I should have. I should have stopped. I should have left sooner. I should have done something different.


In retrospect, I see the many mistakes I made:
– I should not have been so involved in their academia. Being an educator or not, it should not have been my primary role.
– I should not have participated in their discipline. If their parents were fine with certain things, then I should have been as well. If their parents were dissatisfied with certain things, I should have been neutral.
– I should not have involved myself in their babysitting when their parents could not be there. They were not my children. I was reminded of that many times.
– The gifts I bought them were because I never had siblings and I was thoroughly excited about special occasions like Birthdays and Christmases…it was how I was raised. So even when their father discouraged it, I should have listened to him, that they could do without.
– There should have been a separation between my life as an individual and my role as a step parent. I should have travelled more to visit my mum, rather than be solely financially responsible for the raising and maintaining of children who did not love me the way I loved them.
– More importantly, I should never have been responsible for paying off the debts of their mother, when their father couldn’t.
– When money and clothing was stolen from me, and clothing was damaged repeatedly, and their father said he couldn’t do anything about it, I should have let it go. The battle was not worth it between me and him and me and them. They were just material things.
– When I found out that they were complaining about me bitterly to their mum’s family for years, I should not have been devastated and depressed and hurt and betrayed. I should have shrugged it off. They weren’t my children, after all.
– When their mum’s family told people I treated them badly and that I instilled too many rules, I should have stopped. Wanting the best for them was not my responsibility.
– I should never have gotten into uncountable arguments with their father about him having a better and closer relationship with them; even after he complained that the girls remind him of their mothers and he just couldn’t. These were not my battles to fight.
– I am sorry I pushed a university education and exposed when lies occurred – that really was not my business. Only my money was.


This list goes on and on, full of mistakes I made. The general rule I broke as a step parent was that I became over invested in something that was never mine and was never going to be mine. You can’t be a good or successful step parent by yourself. You need parental support just as they do, from whom they do, as well.


Children learn so many things from us, adults. They learn how to give or withhold respect, honesty and integrity. If children see a parent disrespecting the step parent, they learn from example. If a parent doesn’t appreciate all that a step parent tries to do, then failure is destined. Being a step parent was very hard for me. I tried with everything within me, but failed every step of the way.


Loving children that are not yours is no easy task. Parents and children can judge all they want, but unless you actually are a step parent, you truly do not have a clue! You can easily make a thousand assumptions…but you are still a step parent dunce until you become one. Nothing you do is right. Nothing you do is enough. You are always deemed as having ulterior motives. You are blamed for every problem under the sun.


Yet, the hurt you feel, is the same as a parent; the worry when they go out is the same; the panic when they don’t answer the phone is the same; the nervousness during exam time is the same. Their feelings were always of the utmost importance. It was until after the divorce I even realised how much feelings I had. Hurt was the most overwhelming one when they decided after the divorce that I was the devil’s spawn.


Life is so funny…for thirteen years they were the reasons I never wanted children…because I was so happy to have them. Now the reality of parenting that they taught me, is also the reason I don’t want children. This blog entry is by no means a pity party…just my experience – apples or oranges.


If I had the chance to do it all over again, I’d pass on the experience. Being a step parent is emotionally overwhelming and complicated. It entailed way too much responsibility – emotional, psychological, and physical. I understand that reconstituted families work well for many – I’ve seen it in our first years together, and now in my profession. But being a step parent isn’t for me. I tried it. I loved it. I hated it. But I wouldn’t want to do it again.


Despite my influence, they turned out well…all credit to the real parents.



Wise parents listen as much as they speak

We were all taught while growing up, the importance of listening to our parents. Not to mention how detrimental to our physical being it would have been if we didn’t. We were always told that parents know best and because they always wanted better for us, that we should heed their never-ending advice.


Likewise, we are always told about the realness of intuition – that we all have it, we should listen to it and that it should never be ignored. It has even gone so far as being said that not listening to our intuition is why things sometimes go wrong in our lives.


As an educator, I have noticed that many parents haven’t learnt how , or don’t want to mesh the two concepts. We were all born with intuitive qualities, some sharper than others, of course. So why do parents not ‘listen’ to their children about the path they want to take. I have realised that the answer is simple. It is fear. In most cases, parents are scared that if they leave big decisions to the child, a bad decision will result and a life-path would be wrong.


However, I am in contact with teenagers day in and day out, and some are very clear on what they want to do. When their dreams differ from the path already planned for them by their parents, the result is usually a very unhappy teenager.
It is worth the effort to get to know your children for who they are and not for whom you hope they become. So many of them have a sharp sense of intuition that shouldn’t be ignored. Dreams can and do become reality and sometimes they know what they want to do with their lives. If you force them down a particular path, they may achieve some of what you want, a certain lifestyle and salary, but they may not achieve the happiness and job satisfaction that their intuition has them seeking.


The last thing we want to do is kill a spirit, that fire, that enthusiasm and passion for what they believe in. We tend to nurture that curiosity and enthusiasm when they are toddlers and infants, but then want to quell it, even chastise it as they become older and their intuition sharpens.


A particular student stands out. She desperately wanted to choose business subjects so that she can get her Business degree, get herself further qualified, because she wants to own her own spa. Her mother insisted that she must choose the sciences because if her spa ‘fantasy’ falls through, what good job can she possibly get with those qualifications. Her argument was that since the student was young she always wanted to be a doctor. The child’s response was that she was 4 at that time. I tried in every way I knew to convince the mother otherwise. As I looked at the student, having failed in my attempts, the child silently mouthed to me, ‘Thank you, Miss, but don’t bother. It’s ok.’ I saw a look of defeat and dejection on her face that I felt inside of me. Her life flashed before me. A successful doctor, unhappy but rich, resentful every time she went for a mani, pedi and facial.
Sometimes it’s worth listening to the younger ones because they may actually know better than us at times. And what is success really?


The importance of child bearing and child rearing at 40

As a divorced woman, now happily re-married, months before my 41st birthday, and childless, there has been urgent pressure exerted on me to not waste any more time before having children or at least my first child. I’ve always been bewildered by this urgency as well as by the significance placed on having a baby. I have even had a friend tell me that a woman isn’t truly one until and unless she becomes a mother. This too confuses me as I find it all so difficult to relate to.


Obviously, deciding not to have a child was a decision that I made while sober, un-medicated and in good spirits, not scotch. It was thoroughly thought out and discussed with my life partner, my amazing husband. The traditional reasons for having a child as part of my family do not touch me or convince me in any way…


REGRET. Regretting later on in life not having a child is possible but not guaranteed. Therefore making a permanent decision over a possibility seems senseless and a very unconvincing argument. Furthermore, I’ll be 41 in a few months…dudes, this is later on in life…no regrets.


NO ONE TO TAKE CARE OF ME. This seems to be the most foolish thing I hear people say. How selfish are the people who bring a child into the world so that they can have someone take care of them in their old age. Seriously? Seems way more selfish than me not wanting to raise a child.


UNCONDITIONAL LOVE OF A CHILD. The lack of reality and honesty of women amaze me. I suspect this statement comes from an inability to comprehend the meaning of unconditional love. Most of us love our parents to the end of the earth and back, but unconditional love means all the time no matter what. We did not love our parents like that when we were punished, told no, we’re embarrassed as teens etc. We learnt to appreciate our parents tremendously especially with age but let us not confuse it with unconditional love. Obligatory love probably, but try to be honest folks. Furthermore, love is universal and indescribable regardless of the source.


TO COMPLETE ME. Proper mental health teaches us that we do not and should not need a man to complete us or make us happy because happiness and wholeness of self comes from within. The same goes for needing any other human being or external element to complete us. If my existence is so sad that I need to bring forth a child to be happy then some serious self reflection needs to occur. If one’s life is happy then there is no need to plug holes.


TO SOLIDIFY A MARRIAGE/RELATIONSHIP. For me, this would be the worst and most pathetic reason to have a child. If I had to take such drastic measures to solidify a relationship then that could not be a relationship for me. A relationship must be strong and able to stand on its own. It shouldn’t need a child to fix it. If 2 people want a child by all means they should but when a woman silently decides it’s time, she’s not trapping him. Like a fool, she’s trapping herself.


SOCIETAL PRESSURE. Well anyone who knows me well would know that conformity is not my strong suit. Society makes people feel that they NEED to get married because religion says it’s wrong to live in sin. Well, truth be told, I love it. Sin, to me, is something far worse than living with, loving and building a shared life with a man that I adore. Sin is something that many married people commit all the time since marriage is not absolution. People succumb to pressure to get married and have children because it is what’s expected of them. They fail to question their reasons for making life changing, permanent decisions. Obviously I have thought long and hard about not wanting children.


CHILDREN ARE SO CUTE. Well…not really. I find them annoying. They are loud and grimy and mostly obnoxious and need to be trained. Something I have not the slightest inclination to do. I don’t find them entertaining or amusing and that’s my opinion. I don’t like pets either. I know myself well enough to not be deluded by the pseudo grandeur of a smiling face staring at me.


GOOD AUNT ≠ GOOD MOTHER. I love, absolutely love being an aunt. I have the luxury of spoiling them rotten then returning to owner. My nephew, Oz, is my greatest joy and I admire my cousin, Anasha, for the fantastic mother that she is. He is a happy, always pleasant, amazing little human who I love. I would take care of him and do all that I can to protect him. But this must not be confused with the automatic assumption that I’d be a good mother. A good mother is one who loves being a mother. I love being an aunt.


YOU CAN STILL HAVE IT ALL. I hardly think so. Granted lots of parents are happy being parents but let’s get real for 5 seconds. They don’t and can’t live the life that child-free people do. They made a choice so they should very well embrace it and own it and tell themselves whatever they need to, in order to get through the day…or their lives. But don’t try to convince me that I’d still be able to make my 72 pairs of shoes and 40+ handbags my priority. Or that I can jump in my car or on a plane anytime I feel. Or that I can still do P90X as I want. Don’t be a hypocrite. Hypocrisy is simply a more polished form of idiocy. children change your life and your priorities and that’s PERFECTLY fine. I simply do not want my life or priorities to change.


To conclude, I find nothing wrong with people deciding to have children, regardless of THEIR reasons. That’s not my business. But I have MY reasons to not want any.
People have every right to bombard my FB feed with pictures of their children as they beam with pride telling, what seems to me, to be the dullest stories in the world about them. Well likewise I have the RIGHT to be thoroughly disgusted by the sickening sounds of crying and screaming children in restaurants and groceries, airplanes and malls.


I am in no way imposing my opinion on others or feel like my choices are better than theirs. But these are my opinions and choices.


I have a different plan for my life. I like different things. I value my time and my quietude. I make choices that suit me.


So before you bombard me with comments that are condescending and insulting…please understand you made your choices. Leave me let me make mine.



What Is Intelligence?

Being a teacher at one of the most acclaimed and successful Girls’ High Schools in the country, I feel that we help to produce some of the most brilliant minds and critical thinkers of tomorrow. However, is it at the expense of basic common sense?

As I listened to a colleague correct mock exam scripts of her Form 5 students, I became increasingly concerned about the type of student and child we were helping to develop and send out into wider society. The student stated, without any finesse of writing or remorse of thought, that there was no need for education in the career of cooking. Other students in her class stated similar ideas, like the “common classes in society educated themselves and were, therefore, less educated”. And these are bright girls sharing such thoughts.

It provoked a memory in me from not too long ago, when I was watching an interview with one of our country’s most popular female soca artistes who was sharing her views on the importance of soca, and by extension, the arts, in our education system. She felt that teaching our youth about the soca and music industry in Trinidad and Tobago, was essential, because it created an outlet for students who were “less academically” inclined.

I then remembered many a Parents’ Day when meeting a countless number of parents who did not hesitate to share their absolute support of the Arts being taught in our high school system BECAUSE it gave the students a “break” from the academics; or the parents who tell their daughters not to bother with dance and drama assignments, as they should concentrate on the more important areas.

Sometimes it feels as though Parenting goes against everything I believe as an educator. Our prestige schools seem to promote careers that have traditionally been considered of a higher class…..medicine, law, architecture, engineering. Of course, there is nothing wrong with such careers that derive high incomes, help people etc. But are we promoting these careers at the expense of creating students who understand the value of all other careers, or understand the value of job satisfaction? Have we aligned success with net income and happiness with wealth? Or are we producing a society of rich professionals who don’t love what they do?

Developmental Psychologist, Howard Gardner, proposed the theory of multiple intelligences in 1983, in which he proposed that intelligence existed in specific (primarily sensory) “modalities”, rather than seeing it as dominated by a single general ability. “Gardner argues that there is a wide range of cognitive abilities, and that there are only very weak correlations among them. For example, the theory postulates that a child who learns to multiply easily is not necessarily more intelligent than a child who has more difficulty on this task. The child who takes more time to master multiplication may best learn to multiply through a different approach, may excel in a field outside mathematics, or may be looking at and understanding the multiplication process at a fundamentally deeper level. Such a fundamental understanding can result in slowness and can hide a mathematical intelligence potentially higher than that of a child who quickly memorizes the multiplication table despite possessing a less deep understanding of the process of multiplication.”
Intelligence exists in many varied forms. A lawyer may not be able to fix a car. A musician may not be able to balance accounts. A financial adviser may not be able to read music scores. Who is to say which one is the true mark of intelligence and which career is the true mark of success?

A holistic approach to education should be one in which our students are tested to find the career in which they are most pre-disposed to succeed. Gone are the days when one has to be academically low achieving in order to pursue a career in dance; or the thinking that all sportsmen and women must be less inclined to be able to hold an intelligent conversation; or that one teaches because one can do nothing else.

I remember, with a small degree of hurt, when I was in Form 3 and choosing subject for CXC, that my grandfather, a retired Electrical Engineer, had stopped speaking to me for weeks, because I chose Modern Studies rather than Sciences. I wanted to be a Teacher instead of a Doctor. With my mother’s support, I pursued my career. I don’t earn $30, 000. a month but I wake up every day excited and hopeful to go to work. I have never felt a sense of dread when I think of Monday mornings and do not understand Monday morning blues. Sure, I love my vacation, but always look forward, with renewed exuberance, to the opening of every term. When my students succeed at my subjects and achieve excellence, the sense of fulfillment I feel is unmatched by any monetary earnings. When my students come to me to confide their fears, problems and joys, I feel something that cannot be described accurately. My worth is not measured in money, or raised salaries or in society’s opinion of what I do. It is measured in the development of my students.

All I want is for them to feel the same job satisfaction that I do…the same happiness I feel every day to face them. I want them to know that success is not measured in money. It is measured in happiness. We live in a society in which University degrees, both undergraduate and post-graduate, can be pursued in all aspects of the Performing and Visual Arts, Culinary Arts, Counselling. I want them to understand that they don’t have to be Doctors and Lawyers to be considered intelligent. I want them to be happy…..