BARBIE: OUR UNLIKELY HERO

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 Cape Town, South Africa


We all have a few memories from our childhoods that stand out as being more memorable than the rest. For me there are many, but one I always go back to, especially now that I have two daughters of my own is a memory of one of my sisters birthdays. I am not which one. My parents were also very diplomatic at birthdays. They didn’t waste their time explaining that getting a birthday was reserved for the child whose birthday it actually was. We all got gifts. The birthday girl got a big lavish gift, and the other two got lesser, but equally delightful gifts. On this particular birthday, I got everything I ever wanted and it wasn’t even my birthday. I got a Barbie. A real Barbie.


I will never forget opening the pink box and delicately taking this coveted doll from her packaging. I remember pressing her hair to my little face and inhaling so deeply. She smelled amazing. A fruity, exciting smell. I was in love.

I played with my Barbies long into my teen years. I know that is a little odd perhaps, but these dolls and their clothes, and their little accessories gave me a world to escape into. A world filled with innocence and possibility. And now that I have daughters of my own, I find myself once again being drawn into the world of magic and wonder and possibility.



In recent years, Barbie has become somewhat of a pariah though. Her physical appearance has been touted as reinforcing the impossible beauty standard imposed on young girls and while I struggled to disagree, I also see more diversity in Barbie that I ever have before. Sometimes I sit and watch Sophie play with her Barbies, getting sucked into elaborate stories of Barbies life and it reminds me that while we as adults may frown at this little doll, to girls everywhere, she is a symbol of everything that they can one day be.


Barbie is accomplished

She is so successful, has there ever been a doll who was both pastry chef and astronaut? Who could straddle both life as a fashion editor and an Olympics gold medallist? I think not. By allowing my girls to explore the wonderful world of Barbie, I am allowing them to explore a world where they could be anything they chose. And there is so much power in possibility.

A true friend 

One of Sophie’s favourite Barbie movies – and let me tell you, we them ALL – is Barbie and the Diamond Castle. It is a story about two friends who grow up with very little and through a slightly bizarre turn of events, end up embarking on a quest to save the world from an evil queen. But what this movie is really about is the power of friendship, and how there is no treasure truer than a real friend. Every time we watch this movie, Sophie ends off by listing all her friends and how far she would go to help and love and protect them. That is a lesson I can thank Barbie for.

Barbie is unapologetically living her best life

She has her dream job, her dream house, her dream car and her dream guy. She is kind, hardworking and a great friend. She claims these things without explanation or apology. Fictional though she may be, she represents the very real aspirations of many, many grown women. To live a life that is laced with happiness and success.

Endless teachable moments 

Playing with Sophie and her Barbie provides me with endless teachable moments. The one aim I have in my life is to raise my girls with the knowledge that being a real women is as simple as being the most authentic version of yourself. While we may sit and play a pretend game of Ken and Barbie going on a picnic, I am always there to remind her of how to take these moments of play and turn them into the lessons that will frame the person she one day becomes. The fearless feminist who breaks barriers and challenges stereotypes who shows her peers, her sister and herself just how limitless their potential really is.

Barbie is an unlikely hero in my house.
She is there floating in the bath with Sophie, she is squashed under the couch pillows, she is rammed into the toy box with mismatched shoes and khoki pen stains tracked down her face.

She is everywhere and her presence will always remind me of one thing: The unshakable power of possibility.

Nikki
Xxx

HOW TO RECHARGE WHEN YOU’RE FEELING EMOTIONALLY EXHAUSTED

Friday, June 01, 2018 Cape Town, South Africa



I don’t think there is a mom on this planet who has not gotten to the point where her cup was not just empty, it was bone dry and starting to crack. In those moments tears flow freely and our exhaustion feels very much like a physical presence, looming over our shoulders. So how do you recharge when you’re feeling emotionally exhausted? When you are at your breaking point? The thing about being a mom is that taking time to look after your mental health can feel incredibly indulgent when you have kids screaming for attention, a husband who’s working late and deadlines at your day job that need to be met. But when you are so tired that you LITERALLY STOP FEELING FEELINGS you are not going to be doing your best as a mom, a partner, a chef, an employee and you know, just generally as a person. Girl, you need to recharge those batteries because you will burn out (I’m talking to myself here).

I can’t tell you what will work for you. We all fill our cups differently (I am really running with this analogy now, hey?). But I can tell you what works for me. So let’s do this:

HOW TO RECHARGE WHEN YOU’RE FEELING EMOTIONALLY EXHAUSTED


SLEEP

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! OMG I know! Hilarious. But hear me out, you will literally go insane if you do not get enough sleep. It’s no secret that moms are perpetually tired. We don’t ask for help and we sometimes feel like we need the permission of our entire families to actually just go to sleep. Sleep is not a luxury. It is essential. As essential as food and oxygen and water. I always feel bad if I take a nap, like I’ve left Regan to do more than “his share”. But if I am tired and I see him sleeping, I get really fucking angry. Sleep envy is a real thing, and you know why it’s a real thing? Because we are tired AF. Do me a favour, this weekend, take a nap. Don’t ask permission. Just tell everyone, “Mommy is going to lay down for an hour and whoever wakes me will have to clean the toilet”. Your partner will manage. Your kids will survive. You, my friend, may not.

DO SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU PROUD OF YOU

Ok now that you have had a rest, you need to do something that will remind you of how freaking amazing you are. For me, this could be cooking an awesome, complicated meal or exercising. Whatever you decide, get those happy, self-loving hormones flowing through your system.

LISTEN TO MUSIC

Music is cathartic for me. It is the glue that holds my broken spirit together. Now that we have Spotify in SA you have no excuse, go and make a radical, happy mood boost playlist. You need it. Turn up the volume, sing along, dance if you want to!

TREAT YO’ DAMN SELF

This is something I have only started to do quite recently. Historically, all my money went to my kids and Regan. Spending money on myself was utterly ridiculous, why when my kids needed things too? I have silenced that voice. Now I treat myself once a month. Sometimes it’s a big treat – hello new Air Max Essentials, sometimes it’s a small treat like a new nail polish or a face mask. It doesn’t matter how much it costs, it just matters that whatever I chose is just for me alone.

LOOK GOOD

So you’ve rested, you’ve done something to make yourself feel proud, you’ve gone out and splurged a little, the next step is easy… Get your ass dressed, put on some makeup and stare at how absolutely breathtakingly gorgeous you are. Because you are. Put on your favourite outfit, fix your hair, put on makeup (if that’s your thing) and just enjoy how flipping good you look.

GET OUT OF THE HOUSE

Call a friend, grab your husband’s hand, call your mom even, but make a date and go out. Talk to another human being about a topic other than your kids. Enjoy this innate ability to hold a conversation with another adult. Enjoy not being asked to fetch a juice or wipe a bum or change a nappy. Remember that girl living deep down underneath all the tiredness and the tears and the stained trackie bottoms, she’s clawing her way to the surface and you need to give her a little boost ok? The hardest part about being a mom to small children is the loneliness that comes along with it. That loneliness is so toxic, don’t forget that there is a world out there, a world full of people who love you and want to see you and want to hear about more than just your kids.

REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE AND YOUR INHERENT VALUE

Now if you have followed all of my tips, this last one will be really easy. Make a cup of coffee or tea, sit down on the couch, look at the mess, the kids, the gorgeous partner, look at all of these wonderful people who fill your life and your soul and remember, to them, you are irreplaceable There is no one who is able to kiss an eina or make a mac and cheese quite like you can. And while those skills are not the measure of who you are as a woman, the fact that here, in this living room, with these people, you are an absolute queen is pretty incredible.

Don’t forget, none of us suffers alone. For every mom that feels like her sanity is frayed, there are at least two of us who can hold her hand. Don’t let your friends suffer alone, you might be ok today, but who knows, next week it may be you in the trenches. And if you know of a mom who is struggling, please do share this with her. Or maybe share your own version of this.

Nikki
Xxx

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