Tomorrow

It’s my son’s birthday tomorrow.

It’s going to be a very different sort of celebration as we’re still confined by the conditions of the Movement Control Order (MCO) that is still ongoing in Malaysia, at least till the end of the month (or longer, depending on what the government decides).

I am a mixture of feelings. Generally speaking, a tangled mess of emotions.

First of all, we haven’t really done much to prepare for this occasion. (We barely made it to shop for some simple birthday gifts today).

Secondly, I feel sorry for my son, because he will not be getting the usual round of celebrations that most family birthdays call for: A meal with grandparents, a private celebration with us at home, and a birthday bash at school with his classmates and teachers.

All of that… not happening this time around.

He just has us. And we have him. (Oh, and our youngest son too, of course).

He isn’t complaining though. He’s already told us what kind of cake he wants and in what theme. He is at ease, confident, that having made his requests, it would be fulfilled in some measure tomorrow. He knows there will be a present, but even then, he didn’t make any specific demands about it.

He isn’t doubting in any way that there will be some form of birthday party tomorrow. Though, of course, my husband, our youngest son and I will be the only ones in attendance.

I guess at this young age he is still content with simple things.

Perhaps I shouldn’t despair as much as I am doing, and ought to laugh it off the way he does most of the time.

My crazy, happy-go-lucky boy version of Winnie The Pooh turns five tomorrow.

Maybe I should just let that be enough for now.

Never mind the new job that I’m barely coping with, and the mayhem and mess all throughout the home, and the fact that we are still uncertain about many things in the near future.

Tomorrow. I’ll have it all together tomorrow.

Out

It’s April and I’m out of work.

Or at least that’s how it seems right now as I was more or less dismissed with an “I’ll get back to you later, I’m working on something” response from the client.

My guess is nobody would want to pay a freelancer like me at this time since finances may be tightening and the prospects for future business income may seem pretty bleak at this point.

Ah well. It’s not the first time that I have been without work since I began this full time freelance venture. It’s just that I can’t recall when this last happened, or how long it lasted (usually not long).

Anyway, it’s not good to leave my writing muscles unflexed throughout this period of work inactivity, so I guess the best way to stay in shape (mentally, I mean, mostly) is to find outlets where I can continue to write in some form or another.

I’ve been contemplating starting a social media mini series. I haven’t completely decided what it will be about yet, but I’m thinking something with positive vibes or a theme of hope would be good since there is so much fear and rumour mongering and depressing news going around lately with Covid-19 still in circulation.

Another thing I’ve sort of halfheartedly done (because in the past I usually fail at it) is sign up for the April Camp Nano. I couldn’t decide what to write about there, so tentatively I’m designating it as a collection of short stories, which I will write at random. Unless of course, some sort of direction or theme emerges along the way.

Meanwhile, life at home carries on in its usual fashion.

Today is just slightly out of the norm only in the sense that both hubs and I are already awake at 6+ in the morning (it’s usually only me) and there is activity in the kitchen already. Oh, and the Eldest One was awake out of the blue too (but hopefully, drifting back to sleep soon).

A grocery run may be imminent, and I do not look forward to finding out what is left or what dire straits we may actually be in soon. Sigh.

I’ve told myself I should write something here other than always journalling about real life. But I can’t seem to grasp any useful topic at the moment. I shall try next round, my dear Reader.

May your day today be brighter than the former, and may rays of hope shine amidst the darkness of your little corner.

In between

Dear Reader,

How is it like in your corner of the world today?

It’s Day #3 of the Restricted Movement Order here in Malaysia.

I am up early ahead of the rest of the family. Expressing breastmilk in a silicone collector as my youngest is not awake to nurse. Next in line for list of activities would be to put the cloth diapers into the washing machine and to gather the trash for my husband to take out when he goes out to get groceries.

Unlike many other families within the Klang Valley, we did not stock up food in anticipation of the Order. We only bought enough to last us for about a week during our last grocery run, and the week is almost up. Hence, I will need to plan meals very soon (within the next hour or so), and wake my husband to get to the stores as early as possible since we don’t know what stock levels are like in our neighbourhood stores yet.

From what I heard from a friend staying in another part of our city, it was crowded at the shops within their community. I certainly hope there won’t be too much of that where we are at.

I’ve generally always thought of where we live as being one of the quieter, less noticed part of Petaling Jaya. And yet, we kept hearing of Covid-19 cases in several nearby areas, giving us the notion that the virus is literally all around us. The most disturbing was the case of a preschool teacher who got it. This preschool had been opened recently at the mall where we normally go for our grocery shopping.

My husband only started taking this Covid-19 pandemic more seriously after he visited that mall on one of the days where they were still disinfecting the preschool and screening all shoppers seeking to enter the ground floor (where the preschool was located) for any signs for fever.

Now he finally wears a mask or brings a long a small bottle of hand sanitiser while he is out. He promptly cleans his hands upon his return from a trip out, and changes his clothes. There was an occasion where he even decided to bathe right away.

For our household, things aren’t too different during this Order than they are at regular times. This is because my husband and I are both self employed at the moment. A situation at work worsened around the time our youngest was about to be born, and so he left his full time job and has been in limbo since.

At the time the Order was issued by our Prime Minister, he had already begun taking on projects for this new consultancy gig he has embarked on. There had been relatively positive signs lately, and several possible work projects have been popping up.

On my end, my freelance writing work was finally beginning to settle into a routine after the abnormal activity I had over the past few months where I was serving a new client in a temporary role that ended in February.

Now everything is more or less slowing down due to the Order. We are wondering if we will get paid on time. Or whether there will be multiple delays and even a lack of work opportunities in the near future.

I know there are families out there with an even bleaker outlook to their household income sources than we have. Some cannot even work at all right now because their jobs require them to be out, or to be meeting people. There is no Work-At-Home option for them. I wonder how they will cope.

It’s only supposed to be a 2 week exercise, but my husband and I anticipate that this Order will be extended beyond just a fortnight. As it is, with the way many Malaysians are behaving, we might even see a far greater spike in Covid-19 cases. The thought is chilling.

I think of my two very young kids and I worry. They are happy with us at home at the moment. But will we be able to keep them happy and well once our funds run too low? Can we continue to afford preschool for our eldest one?

And what sort of world will they be growing up in, given the terrible turn of events that we keep seeing both on a local as well as global scale? I sometimes wonder if it would have been kinder to have not introduced them to this cruel, cold world.

But as I tried telling my husband last night, perhaps the best thing to do at times like this is to just keep looking ahead. To just keep focussing on the very next step. Because I think that’s all we have the capacity to do right now.

It’s daybreak now and I must go. I hope things are brighter where you are, my dear Reader. Till I return, I wish you a good day.

Measure of days

My two sons within arm’s reach.

Here I am sitting in a parked car at McD’s with the engine on. My two sons are asleep in the backseat, and so is my husband, who is in the driver’s seat.

Meanwhile, I am savouring whatever remains of my very late lunch.

It is 4.27pm.

Such has been our family’s lifestyle of late.

We have not been eating at regular times. We eat whenever everyone becomes hungry. During the meals where we cook, we get to eat whenever we manage to finish getting the food prepared. Which is often late too.

These days, my husband is at home with us every day. He decided to quit his job abruptly, just before our second son was born. It was not an ideal choice. And it was certainly not the best season for our family to have this happening either.

But this he did, and of course, having discussed it with me beforehand. I metaphorically grit my teeth back then, saying it would be better he left his difficult situation at work than to be stressed out managing work challenges at a time such as this.

Anyway, here we are. He has been without work for the past 3 months or so.

It’s an ongoing worry on our heads, no doubt.

I ended my self declared maternity leave prematurely just to ensure we could get some extra income from a job opportunity that came up. This is not what I would have liked, as I had wanted to be able to focus my attention on just loving the boys and being available to them at this time without the complications of dividing myself between work and them.

But what needs to be done needs to be done. And even with this going on, we still are not making up for my husband’s loss of income.

We have some money to keep afloat for now, but it will not be for long. We still have not yet worked out a concrete plan for the next few months.

So far, bills are still able to be paid. But will we reach a point where we fail to? God only knows.

There isn’t much that gets done every day, even with both of us adults at home. Most times, it’s just about getting the minimal amount of chores done, meals cooked and keeping the kids alive through those daily routines of baths, naps, etc.

On the surface, I guess you could say there is nothing at all magical about our day-to-day affairs.

I don’t know how to put it without sounding too whimsical or unrealistically optimistic, but somehow to me these days are special.

Every day is a countdown to a reality which I will eventually have to face one day: That my boys will grow up and go about their own lives, probably apart from me.

And until that day comes, I cherish every one of these seemingly ordinary days. Each with their own share of chaos and their own sparkle of tiny battles and victories. Laughter and memories.

I also especially treasure the fact that my husband is present 24/7 for the boys at this time too.

I don’t know how to make this last, but if I can, I want it to.

I’d like the whole family together. And I hope we can find a way to make this work, yet to have everyone happy too while also not dying of poverty.

I’ll tell this story if you will listen.

And I’ll look forward to (as I hope you will) that happy ending that is just around the bend. Fingers crossed.

Almost there

Jamie showing his yet unborn baby brother some love.

This pregnancy is almost over and I almost cannot believe it! (I’m at Week 34, FYI.)

I guess in some ways I feel a bit sad about it all because this is likely going to be my last one. Deric has said before that ideally he’d like to stop at 2 kids, so that’s what we’ll go with (barring any accidents that might happen along the way, of course).

Jamie has been nothing short of positive this entire time, right from the moment he found out he was about to gain a sibling. I guess what helped a lot was that many of his other friends at church had also recently inherited new siblings or have one on the way. So it’s like he feels he is part of this cool growing gang of peers who have brothers and sisters and who can call themselves “Kor Kor” (big brother) or “Che Che” (big sister).

Of all things, that has been the greatest source of relief. To know that he is looking forward to this new phase of our family life, and that he intends to love his “Di Di” (younger brother) to bits.

Although we’ve been making effort do get certain things done in preparation for baby’s arrival (which is just next month aargh), it still feels like it’s not enough. We do need to step up the pace. It’s just that… it’s tiring enough as it is being pregnant, and sometimes I do feel like I’d want to be doing things I enjoy for a change and not just the stuff that needs to get done.

Due to my personal health quirks and upon recommendation of the Ob/Gyn that we are consulting, I will most probably have to go for a planned C section to deliver this baby. The very thought of it somewhat scares me because I had an emergency C section the last round and recovery was not fun at all. But I tell myself, perhaps a C section may be a good thing this time round, as it helps eliminate some of the unpredictabilities of the onset and duration of labour, and other ad hoc decisions that tend to take place in a normal delivery.

With a preschooler on hand and parents that aren’t exactly very involved when it comes to babysitting, I guess being able to say I will be delivering the baby on such and such a date and time will make things easier for everyone. Just perhaps not so convenient for me.

I do not look forward to confinement month (due to the expected painful recovery and the usual fare of responsibilities I might have to shoulder at the same time) but beyond that, it’s going to be loads of fun with 2 boys at home with me. (Not being sarcastic here, I do honestly look forward to happy as well as crazy days with them). I only hope we can continue with this arrangement of me being at home with the kids yet carrying out some form of freelance work. (Finances are undeniably a concern).

Ah, I am sharing too much personal details which may be boring you, my dear reader. But you know, some days, it feels almost as if there is no one else to listen to my thoughts or to take an interest in what’s going on at my end. So it might as well be you that’s reading this and keeping me company.

Thanks for stopping by as usual. I certainly hope to write more frequently in the coming days (I know, I know… I always say that… sigh).

Got tons that need doing around here so that’s it for now!