Camp Nanowrimo 

Find out more here
Okay, so I decided on a whim to do this. Yes, this bum of a writer will finally take on a creative mini project. 

Great news is that you can set your own goals for Camp Nanowrimo, rather than the daunting word count require of the usual Nanowrimo held every November (which I had always failed to achieve on all the years I joined bleh). 

This time, I’m keeping it short and simple. So hopefully I’ll make it this time. 

My project has been christened as Imperfect: A creative project. I’ll share more when July arrives. Meanwhile, I’ll need to put some thought into planning this first. Stay tuned! 

Awkward alien

Image source: Flexo

Becoming a Work At Home Mum (WAHM) is a double whammy. Not only are both those roles tough to navigate, there is this additional problem of becoming an awkward alien. 

What do I mean by that? 

Well, basically everyone else in your life who isn’t a mother and/or isn’t living a homebound lifestyle (which is probably like 90% of your social circle, if you’re in your 30’s like me) will be unable to understand you and the things you go through on a daily basis. This transforms you, essentially into an alien. And this then leads to some pretty awkward situations and conversations. 

To give you an example, here are some questions and/or comments I had to field lately: 

“So you guys don’t eat out much anymore nowadays, right?” 

– Hmm, while that is the truth, what this question reeks off is the underlying assumption that because I am now at home, therefore I must be cooking all the time. And also, since we have less household income, that we would probably want to be frugal and eat in seclusion, thus morphing into kataks di bawah tempurung.

“So when are you going to go back to work?”

– Thing is, I am working. Just not in a way that most people would comprehend since I don’t have fixed hours or fixed clients (except for one that I have been doing work for since last year). Read: I freelance. It’s not much compared to what I used to do in my old full time position, but I like to keep my career alive and options open. AND I’d like the freedom to be around to raise my son rather than let someone else do it for me. 

“Ah, so it helps you keep your mind active lah, gives you something to do.” (In response to finding out that I am taking on freelance work wherever I can.)

– I guess you can’t blame a person who hasn’t really spent day after day at home at all hours, because they would not have realised just how much there is to do at home. Even if I don’t come up with a list of things to do, or my son doesn’t throw a tantrum or mess up something and give me things to clean up after, there will ALWAYS be things to do at home. My home is my office, and whenever you are in the office, your working mode will be on. Which pretty much means I am almost always working on something and the chores never end. This isn’t even taking into consideration my actual freelance work. And, the fact is that just managing the household requires plenty of brainwork, because instead of doing it mindlessly, if you are a mature, educated adult, you will always want to find ways to improve things at home, be it the efficiency and speed of accomplishing chores, the organisation of furniture, storage solutions or other things. 

There was also this incident where I was having a conversation with two other ladies around my age. The two of them were going on and on about how kids are like this or that, citing examples of nieces and nephews and children of other friends. Perhaps it was them trying too hard to identify with me, the only one in the conversation who was a mother. Mmm. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking about young children since I have one myself, but there is an invisible boundary somewhere, which once crossed, makes it uncomfortable and unnatural to carry on discussing this topic. It is especially so when the people keeping the topic going are those who don’t have kids in the first place. 

Just to clarify, being a WAHM doesn’t make me hate all these other more normal and sane people in my life (yes, I’m probably getting more and more queer with each passing day, if I have not yet morphed into an oddball) . But it does make it feel like a large chasm just opened up between us. And that makes it a bit harder, though not impossible, to connect. 

Well, I guess I should apply the same rules of conversation as a WAHM that I had used in the past: Always seek to understand more than to be understood; to ask about the other person and to care for them, rather than to expect them to be concerned for you. 

And then, all will be fine, and no one will suspect what an awkward alien I really am. 

It’s just that… it would be nice if everyone in general understood the WAHM situation better so less misunderstandings and explanations would need to be provided. 

A trip on the craft side 

It’s late (again) and I shall need to scoot real soon to catch some much needed snooze. But I thought I’d just drop by to share this fantastic Pinterest song parody that I pretty much identify with because I have always been a crafter at heart. 

I think I haven’t said it enough on this blog actually, but these things have their roots all the way back to my childhood. I remember crocheting and knitting in primary school while sitting it out during P.E. period (hehe a long story as to why, and which I shall address in a separate post). 

I still think of DIY and craft projects as a brilliant way to unwind and to serve as my creativity outlet. I may not be that capable in the things I produce, but somehow just working on something is hugely satisfying for me. I shall attempt to blog more about this undying passion of mine (which seems to be surviving even better than my love for writing, ironically). 

Okay, gotta dash. See ya! Meanwhile, enjoy the video! 

Response ability 

Should we merely to point out to our loved ones their weaknesses or actually help them change and improve on it? 

And if it is the latter that we are to do, is it considered meddling too much into their personal life/development? Or is it part and parcel of our duty to them, because no one else would take the trouble? 

Well, if they do want the help, then that’s all really great, but what if they don’t? Do we insist on working to change them because we know it will benefit them in the long run? 

Or… Do we just tolerate their behaviour while only gently prodding them to make the change on their own time and based on their own readiness? Because if they don’t see the need for improvement, why should we force it out of them? 

After all, if we do actively try too hard to change them, then we are not loving them just the way they are. 

Then again, is love meant to be just that? Accepting of a person in their entirety, but with no effort to help them shape the best version of themselves? With that thought, the question also arises: “Best version” on whose terms, anyway? 

What a neverending line of thought. Perhaps it’s enough just to work on my own weaknesses. 

Prep

How do you prepare yourself for parenthood? 

The answer is, in many ways, you don’t. 

You tell yourself this is a good thing, something you want to do. To leave a legacy. Then you just brace yourself and roll with it. 
With the bad moments come many great memories too. Just like everything else in life. 

And if your heart is steadfastly fixated on the right things, it will be a wonderful journey. 

Mother nature


‘Twas Mother’s Day yesterday. And we made that up there (not the grapes, silly, the two coloured kuih thing). It’s called Ban Tng (at least it is in our family hehe) and it was a recipe that Mama (our grandmother) used to cook. She’s long gone now, but since my sis and I wanted to spend time with our Mum yesterday in conjunction with Mother’s Day, that’s what we decided to do. Cook together using a family tradition kind of recipe. 

Except that since it’s common for the older generation to use approximate measurements and cooking methods, my Mum decided to Google for a recipe that’s available online to refer to that as a guide. Hmm. So not quite the tradtional family recipe I was hoping to learn of. 

Nevertheless, it was a similar recipe and actually fairly easy to do. So, if you’d like to try what Ban Tng is (I realise this is not sold commercially anywhere in the Klang Valley, at least), you can visit this link for the instructions. Apparently the author of the post  has translated it as Three Layer Egg Custard Cake, so there you go… that’s essentially what it is). 

Well, it turned out more or less like what we expected. Except I remember Mama’s one being a bit tougher skinned. But that isn’t really an issue for me. I’d reduce the sugar ratio further though, as I felt it was still a tad too sweet. And the next time I try this out at home, I’m gonna weigh my ingredients so I can use a standardised measurement for it instead of this agak-agak philosophy. 

Anyway, since we’re on the topic of Mohter’s Day, I might as well share a bit about how I feel about motherhood at this juncture. It’s only my second Mother’s Day celebration though so perhaps my views may still be pretty naive. Hehe. Well, at least this year’s celebration was better than the last one (which I spent in the hospital with Jamie – you can read about that here). And I digress. 

So… 

I have always thought I would end up a mother. Never really expected that I would ever feel otherwise (though I actually did for a season, which was right after I got married, up till the time we actually conceived Jamie). I guess a huge part of me believes that as a woman, this is a quintessential experience that I must have before my life’s end. 

The reason for that? Well, on a biological-psychological level, I guess it’s to satifsy my maternal instincts. Which from a very young age was already present (I remember carting stuffed toys around and pretending to feed and care for them as though they were in fact alive). Also, I believed having children would bring a different level of meaning and purpose to my life. This was how I felt prior to having a child. 

Do I feel any different about parenthood now that I’m in it? No, actually. It is pretty much what I imagined it would be, but perhaps it is more too. 

More demanding – I am often placed into situations where I have to consciously decide whether to put my needs or the needs of my child first. 

More tiring – all those countless nights of falling asleep while Jamie nurses (indicative of how exhausted I am in reality. 

Yet, it is also more fulfilling than I could have ever envisioned beforehand. There are so many special moments that I am glad to have shared with Jamie. And I hope for many, many more as the years roll by.

Another thing that happened last weekend was that I had to give up a tooth due to a terribly severe cavity that had taken place inside of it. 

I was really sad to have it extracted, but it was the best option, at least according to the dentist that I consulted. The reason it bothers me so much is because so much of dental work has been done on my teeth over the years, and it feels like an awful waste that the tooth should still end up being unable to be saved. 

But that’s that, I guess. Had to be done. Was the cheaper option too (thank God), and hopefully it will prevent me from having anymore significant aches on the right side of my mouth which I used to have really often. 

I guess inevitably my body is ageing and succunbing to wear and tear in its own ways. I am not really that old yet, but I already see so many signs that I am not as young as I used to be. It’s a little unsettling, but there’s no stopping time. Probably my life has already had half or two thirds of its entire lifespan carried out already. It’s a scary thought. 

I guess the most I can hope for is for God to be gracious enough to grant me enough years so I can see Jamie (and any other future children of mine) grow up into adulthood and help them to safely transition into a life of independence and confidence. 

I am a fairly simple person. I do not have such lofty expectations of the outcome of my life. If I can just be around to ensure the wellbeing of my family to the point in time where they can function well even in my absence, I think I will be content enough. 

Jamie is asleep on my lap as I type this. I usually take such oppotunities to smell and kiss him to my heart’s content. It’s an everyday privilege of mine, but one that will vanish someday. What will I be like when my motherly duties taper down to a bare minimum in the future? The thought somewhat terrifies me. I worry I will go crazy because I would have become so accustomed to it by then. 

But I suppose if God has meant for me to be a mother, and if He is indeed the source of the strength that has sustained me all this while, He will preserve my sanity when my motherly tendencies are not so much required anymore. 

The only conclusion I can make for now is this: If being a mother is the only significant thing I accomplish in this life, I think I will still be pretty much content. 

Hope you had a great Mother’s Day if the mummy title applies to you too. Now, back to (house)work.

Thoughts

I can’t decide what I should write on tonight. So many thoughts swimming around inside my head. I’m trying to filter them because well, you can’t be too forthcoming about your personal life online (as in there are limits) and I feel I might be in danger of surpassing what is wise to reveal right now. 

So… rather than not writing at all, let me list down a brief summary of the things going through my head. If at all you gain nothing else from them, perhaps at least it is evidence of how frustratingly complex our minds can be at any one time. And how overthinking can be more of a curse than a blessing. 

1. Mother’s Day is this weekend. I feel like not becoming a celebrity. Last year, my first Mother’s Day was spent in the hospital caring for my sick son. Any peaceful day for this year’s Mother’s Day would be more than fine by me. 

2. Parents. What do you do with them? It feels like the longer I live my life, the less I understand them. And it feels sad and alienating and frustrating. 

3. I always have the feeling I am not doing enough. This is especially true on the home front. 

4. The feeling of loneliness isn’t the worst when I am physically alone, but rather when I feel that, despite being surrounded by people, nobody understands me or cares enough to want to understand. 

5. Poetry. I miss writing poetry. And all forms of creative prose. 

6. “Do I miss my full time job?” This is a question I am forever asking myself. And for which I can never completely answer. 

7. People are always saying how you only live once and that you’ll regret if you die and didn’t do this or that. But is that really so? Perhaps when you do die, you are just content that life is at its end. That for all the pain and difficulties, joys and sweet memories, successes and failures and lessons learned, there is a conclusion to it all. And, for better or worse, you made it through at last. 

8. I worry my son will one day hate me. That someday I will commit a terrible, unforgivable mistake. 

9. People always say spend time with your loved ones so you don’t regret it when they’re gone. But what if I want to spend time with them but they don’t seem to want to make time for me? Will I still regret it? Or will they?

10. Order and cleanliness is underrated. I’ve heard of books exalting the virtues of messiness and that it apparently does some good. Well, for some of us, a lack of these two qualities in our surroundings means we can never feel at ease. Or function at the best version of ourselves. 

11. No matter what we do, our human nature always tends to swing back towards self indulgence and conceit. 

12. Don’t just tell someone not to worry. Give them tangible, solid reasons to believe you. 

13. Why does everyone like Lang Leav’s poetry? And is Michael Faudet a real person? Why has modern poetry morphed into something so plain and lacking the aura of mystery in its wordplay?

14. I am wired to imagine the worst possible scenario. But as grim as that sounds, it sometimes helps. Because I am prepared for the worst. And the worst very rarely actually happens. 

15. Social connections feel somewhat pointless at times. Because people are more keen in talking than listening. I am not excluding myself from this description. 

16. I would love to tell my blog readers more about my passion for arts and crafts and DIY projects. 

17. Do dreams/ambitions really matter? And is actually achieving them the important thing, or is it more about letting it become the driving force that compels us to continue improving ourselves and striving for greater things in life? 

18. It baffles me why a “happily ever after” life will often dull a artist/creative person’s craft such that their creations afterwards seem to be of a lower quality. Must we continue to torture ourselves to produce outstanding masterpieces?

19. My body is troublesome. It is almost always giving me some health woe or another. Why? 

20. I do not seem to have the capacity to plan for my distant future anymore. I seem to be stuck living day by day. Just thinking about what to do next. But never going beyond that. But maybe life is less terrifying that way. 

Alright folks. Enough baring of my soul for now. Goodnight.