I started weaning Harley about two weeks ago now, and it’s actually going surprisingly well. After reading a ton of other moms’ experiences, and also knowing the parts of breastfeeding that I was truly tired of, I decided that I would still give her boob for sleep. It doesn’t bother me to nurse her in bed as a way to help her fall asleep. It’s sweet to spend those moments together, in between wakefulness and sleep, when she drifts off in the comfort of my love and boob. The first few days she’d ask for boob at other times, but pretty quickly she learned that boob was for sleep and only to be experienced in bed. Sometimes she still manipulates and says she tired and wants to sleep when all she wants is the boob, and then gets up and plays, but mostly, she’s pretty good with this first step towards weaning.
This was going to be a whole post about weaning Harley, about how the fact that I’m ready to wean her a bit means she has to be ready and I’m not going to feel guilty. But I’ve realized that it’s also all about my weaning. Sure, I’m doing without the hormones, without the bonding, but it also feels like with so much upheaval, I’m being involuntarily weaned off all the things that usually give me comfort.
I’m not a big fan of expressions. They seem to reinforce lazy writing and cliches. But there’s an expression about saying goodbye and don’t let the door hit you on the way out. It feels like the right visual to use when describing what happened when we left South Africa, and when I became an “undesirable”.
I’ve been having residency issues in South Africa pretty much forever. I arrived with a life partner visa, and had a wonderful lady help me with my first application. I think she even helped me when I did a renewal visa, but then she vanished. Like, stopped responding to emails, calls… just gone. I ended up having my residency lapse, and I had to pay a fine, but was able to resolve it with a new residency guy. But things got way worse.
I lived in South Africa for almost ten years, and I really did love it there (how weird is it that I’m describing it in past tense, by the way!). I always described it as a first world experience in a third-world country. When people would ask about it, I would almost always give the example of the fact that I could drive from Joburg to Pretoria to get my waxing and nails done, eating sushi with my friend/beauty technician… but I’d have to drive past a township of shacks to get there. I didn’t think I had illusions about the poverty in South Africa, but it wasn’t something I was aware of on a daily basis until it all felt a lot closer to home.
To be clear, I knew there was intense poverty in the country. I saw it in the scale of the maternity ward when I did the Mother’s Day Connect event. And I even saw it when I got a domestic worker once a week to help clean my house – realizing how little she lived on and how grateful she was for anything extra that I could give her.
I keep starting and closing or deleting this post, I think because I don’t know quite how to write it all. Or even how to just get started. I’m writing this on an ancient laptop that will be my machine for the next few weeks or months. I am writing this from my mom’s dining room table, which will be my desk for the next few weeks or months. I suppose you could say that we’ve arrived at our new home, but that doesn’t quite feel accurate.
After a ridiculously long journey (and let’s not even talk about moving day) from Joburg to Phoenix, Dean, Harley and I have arrived at my mom’s place. The flights themselves weren’t so bad. Harley slept a lot and was generally just a trooper. The first flight was pretty nice, but the second one was a much older plane and less comfy. Regardless, eventually we made it and have started our new life here. But it all just feels a bit surreal still, and I feel so totally out of place.
October would have been ten years of me living in South Africa. Almost a decade of my life spent in this amazing, complicated, beautiful, bizarre country. I have lived here longer than I lived in The Netherlands, which was a huge part of my formative years, and despite the fact that South African Home Affairs never resolved the issues with my residency, I truly feel like South Africa has been my home for a decade. It’s hard to believe that in just a week, Dean, Harley and I will be getting on a plane and moving away.
On the 15th of August, we fly to the US to start our new life. It’s something we’ve been working towards for months now, something that seemed to take forever and then all of a sudden is happening so fast. We only have one week left to sort everything out. One week left to finish packing, one week left to finalize all our arrangements, one week left to say all our farewells. It’s emotional and stressful and chaotic, I’m feeling so many mixed emotions that I thought I’d try to blog them all out, but apologies if a todo list sneaks its way in – that seems to be how I think these days. Also, huge apologies for the infrequent blogging at this point; there just aren’t enough hours in the day for all the things.