Before I introduce the first mom that has taken the time to share her story, I want to give a little back story about her and how I came to get to know her so that you guys can feel like you’re part of our friendship.
I remember attending a wedding in 2006 (I think) and there was this bottle blond bombshell of a young lady sitting at the back of the church while the rehearsal was happening. My hubby was playing at the wedding and as it turned out, the bride is a mutual friend of ours. She was (then) the bestmans’ girlfriend.
The one thing that stood out about her was her mellow confidence. She has a gentle beauty that obviously caught the eye of her then boyfriend and now husband.
Throughout the coming years we had occasional interactions – nothing major – but I remember we were at said mutual friend’s house for a birthday party and my oldest was attending and my second princess was a little person. This mom had just had her first princess and was in that “fog” that we all go through – ‘bone tired and just making it through the day’ stage. We compared notes and had fantastic heart to heart mommy conversations – now this was the interaction that I think describes her to a T – transparent, real and nothing hidden, in the best way possible.
I don’t know about you – but I love learning from a person like that.
Give it just about 6ish months later and I bump into her and her awesome husband in Ackermans Canal walk (yes, I remember these kinds of details) – her beautiful belly was growing her second princess and it was right then and there that I was impressed with her calm through the surprise of number two.
Facebook was starting to become a thing and I later started following her online and have felt like I’ve been a part of her amazing family through her family blog 3kids2dogsand1oldhouse.
Call me a stalker, but when I’ve met someone in the flesh and so badly wish we lived closer or had more time to interact – her online life would have to do and she does it well.
She has shared her incredible journey from being a mom to three busy little humans and their various challenges. Her losses, victories, adventures and incredible love for her husband and family – if there is any one that I would love to learn from through any of her journeys, its Cindy Alfino.
I’ve asked all of these amazing mothers the same questions and her story is beautifully unique and so many notes can be made. Here is Cindy’s Magical Chaos story and her two beautiful daughters.
Can you describe your childhood – being a little girl and what that was like for you?
I had the privilege of growing up in a very “normal” home during the 90’s. My parents, my younger brother and I lived in a little neighbourhood where it was still relatively safe to ride your bikes with your friends and to walk home from school (although to be fair, the school was right opposite my house). We are a Christian family that regularly went to church, were very involved in the many social aspects of that and I think that sort of bled into my whole childhood and future life. I wasn’t great academically but gosh darnit if I wasn’t involved in some or other way with anything that was needed. I had quite a few friends whose houses we would frequently sleep over at and spend most of my afternoons after school out on the road with the other kids in my area riding bikes, playing cricket and playing tok tokkie. I spent a lot of time with my brother and when I wasn’t forcing him to play Barbies, we’d play GIJoes or make potions on the fire in the back garden. I reckon it was a pretty run of the mill childhood but one that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Did you have anyone in your life talk to you about the changes that were going to happen in your body? if yes, how was that journey for you? if no, what do you wish had been done different?
This matter is a bit up for debate. I remember getting a book from my Mom and her saying something along the lines of, “Read that and let me know if you have any questions” kind of thing. Nicely of course, but not something that we went into together. However, she remembers us talking about it. Either way I think it may have come at a point where I had been exposed to many of the changes that life was about to throw at me from my friends and I felt that I already knew everything and I didn’t need to be told by my mother. But also we were fairly open in our family in some ways, like I knew my Mom got a period and what it was, that it happened regularly and what to expect there, which means that knowledge must have happened over multiple conversations over many years.
When your body started to change, how did you feel about it?
I knew it was coming so I wasn’t really all that perturbed. Maybe a bit anxious that I would get my period at a really awkward time but other than that, I just hoped that I would start growing boobs like my friends were. I was what one could call a late bloomer, but then didn’t stop blooming which resulted in a breast reduction in 2006 but that’s a story for another day. Even my pimples were easier to deal with because everyone had them and felt the same way about them, it was just par for the course.
How long did it take you to settle into being fully comfortable with being a woman?
That’s really hard to answer. I felt fine about everything until my boobs really kicked it into overdrive in Grade 10/11 (I was a bra size 30 G). Even then I felt fine (my Mom had also had issues and got a reduction when I was a kid so I was expecting this). But then boys noticed. That made me feel uncomfortable with my body and as a confused teenager that didn’t really know what was up I felt both proud and loathed of the attention that my gigantor boobs brought with them. I had a reduction in 2006 and was already engaged to my now husband, so I think that’s the first time I really felt cool with my body.
What products did you use (basic description is fine) and what products that are available now do you wish were available when you were a teen?
I am nothing if not completely unable to hold a routine. I never used any of the acne killing products out there for longer than a couple of days. But with regards to menstruation I have always used pads. As a teen I tried tampons but I really didn’t enjoy the feeling and then after reading up on some of the potential side effects I’ve never felt right putting something like that inside my body, especially in such a sensitive part.
What has your relationship been like with your daughter/s with regards to talking about this stage in life?
We have tried to be very open with all of our kids about their life changes and the reasons for them. No diminutive names for private parts, explaining the concept of sex etc. As they ask questions, I answer them which means that we have been talking about many of these issues for a few years. They’ve seen me buying pads, they’ve seen me changing my pads (I felt that hiding it would be counter productive in the long run) and I try and keep the lines open whenever they are in the mood to ask about it. Often we as parents feel like we need to tackle an issue on our terms, but try talking to a kid that doesn’t care at all about what you’re currently saying. It’s like in one ear and out the other. I have found that it’s best to wait until they are ready to accept the info and the key to that is trying to always be their ear to chat to.
Do you/Did you feel ready for the transition? Did you recognise the changes as they started happening?
When I first pictured being a Mom I always pictured myself as a boy Mom. I have no idea why, but that’s just what it is. When I had two girls before I had a boy, I did panic a bit about what life will be like for them as women in South Africa and then immediately jumped to the fact that when our periods sync up it’s going to be a nightmare for my husband to be living with us. That aside, having two girls only a year and two weeks apart, with the second one being taller and more “hormonally advanced” (if that’s even a thing) than the other, with two completely different body types has led to many interesting questions. I think I have been mentally preparing myself for a number of years before we hit the tweens that things were about to start changing so when they did, it wasn’t too much of a shock. In terms of noticing the changes as they started happening it’s quite a wild ride to watch your sweet, innocent 6-8 year old (best years ever) turn into a back chatting, semi pimply, hair growing, bra needing tweenager who suddenly has opinions about clothing, food, school, friends, parents, family, the World, everything. Despite the unique challenges that this phase will bring us, I’m actually excited to be there for my girls as they make this change into women. To support them when they are feeling emotional, to hear them out when things seem like the end of the World and to tell them to snap out of it when the sass hits the fan.
What memories have you made or hope to make around this time? Have you/did you plan specific events or moments to make the change easier for your daughter/s?
Having the girls so close together has proved to be both a blessing and a curse. I thought I would be able to phase into it one by one and then they both started developing simultaneously and so it’s been more of a group project. This is potentially a blessing though as they will have me to support them, but also each other.
Our first big event has been bra shopping when it was evident that it was necessary. I wanted it to be “a moment” you know, like on TV. Where you walk through the aisles, try things on, laugh and chat about the changes. I even planned a lunch afterwards were we could dive into the deeper questions that this experience would elicit. And that’s when I learned that these moments don’t come on my time. We did get the bras and it was fun, but at the lunch afterwards they could not have cared less about asking questions or diving deeper into potential additional changes that may occur. They weren’t ready.
That said, as I can see they are still maturing and additional changes are imminent, there are a few additional “moments” I hope to experience with them.
* Creating a little “Period Pack”. Something that we go and purchase together, discussing the what’s, they why’s the how’s so that if I am ever not there with them (like at school) then they aren’t scared and know exactly what to do.
* Period day celebration. Getting your period sucks, it does. So I want to take some of the suck out of it by taking them out for a lunch or dinner to celebrate. Maybe get some PMS essentials like chocolate, hot water bottle, a new bra and undies. For our situation this will hopefully be an individual experience for my girls, but we’ll see how it goes. Either way it’s a chance for us to chat through things together now that it’s actually happening.
What do you hope your daughter/s gain/s from you as you journey through this stage with her?
A peace that this is not some dreaded experience every month, that she will get through it and that I will be there to support her in any way that I can throughout this stage and all those to come.
We posed a few question to the girls to see what their thoughts would be about what’s happening in and through their bodies. Note, this was a conversation they had with their Mom on a normal day in the middle of whatever they were doing. I love their candid responses because I bet, this is what most of us will get from our daughters…..
Are you excited to become a woman like your Mom?
Riya : Nope! Coz it’s uh, I don’t know, I just don’t want to. I am not looking forward to being angry and getting my period. That’s all.
Kyla : No, I do not want my period…… (Cindy: why?) I just don’t want to (She refuses to sit down and instead of answering me, puts her head in her arms in frustration at my repeated nagging)
Was it fun to go shopping for period stuff?
Riya : Ja, I enjoyed eating….. (Cindy: but we didn’t eat anything) Yeah we did…… (Cindy: No we didn’t…) I like buying clothes, and ummmmm I don’t know, I just liked it. Are you finished with me? (Cindy: No) I think it’s weird, because it’s different. But I am looking forward to moving out of the house.
Kyla : Sort of. It was weird…. (Cindy: Why?) Coz it’s in the women’s and adult section and it felt weird being there. (Cindy: Anything else that you enjoyed about it?) No, Nothing.
Wow! What an amazing share, I just love how honest they all are and straight forward. Those of us with tweens know that there were probably a few eye rolls and huffy sighs with this conversation. That’s the territory and as Moms we often have to dig if we’re wanting to reach into their world. If you want to read more about her journey with her girls (and son) then pop on over to her online space and check their journey out. There’s more coming and so many stories to be told – I know I’m super excited to see them unfold.