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!

Terrified

If what most people say is to be believed, you’d think that the worse thing about parenthood is that you lose your freedom, your sense of individuality and your ability to sleep soundly without a care in the world.

But honestly, I think they are utterly wrong.

The most terrible part of parenting is really this: Constant feelings of guilt, inadequacy and worry.

Guilt because you almost always feel like you aren’t doing enough for your children. A regretful sentiment that convinces you that, time and again, you fail them in multiple ways that you cannot even recount yet cannot simply forget.

Inadequacy because you can’t shake off a nagging thought that perhaps you aren’t really suited for this virtually lifelong responsibility. Hence, you are perpetually messing things up.

And worry because you know your children are still vulnerable, and yet you can’t protect them enough from every single danger there is that lurks out there.

To top it all, the terrifying truth about all this is that there is no quick fix to dissolve all these tumultuous emotions for you. You have to live with them, and they inescapably change you.

But perhaps you can attempt to determine what kind of impact you will allow it to have on you. At the very least it’s something you can control.

The end looms far into the future, but you have today. And maybe, if you remained focussed on the right stuff, it just might be enough to get you through.

This ought to be your hope. It is certainly mine.

A movie tale

Hubs and son posing outside the cinema hall after our first successful movie watching session as a family.

Yesterday was a momentous day for our little boy. It was the first time he sat through an entire movie and actually watched it and was completely absorbed in it.

I suppose this isn’t a big deal for other parents or kids, but for our son, this was significant.

We once took him for another movie screening two years ago, while he was only 2, and we had to leave the cinema just minutes after the movie had commenced.

It was disappointing for us because my husband had specially applied for leave from work for us to go on this cinema trip, and both he and I were really excited for our son because it was a movie about Disney characters that he already liked. We also booked tickets for the screening at the family friendly hall at that cinema.

The reason this happened? We believe it’s mostly because of the large screen images and the loud volume of the audio. Mostly the audio, I think.

My son is mostly a gentle soul, and he is slightly bothered by loud noises and huge visual displays. It is such that when we visit electrical stores and walk pass the TV section, he will hesitate and ask to walk through another route. This is so he can avoid going past multiple TV screens that are blasting varying imagery at louder-than-necessary volumes (which is typical at such shops because they are trying to showcase the merits of each product).

When we are at shopping malls over a weekend and there is some event going on, he will also seem uneasy and eager to be at a comfortable distance or to exit the scene as quickly as possible.

This situation has improved slightly in recent times, especially since he is fed educational content via TV both at preschool and also at Sunday School in church. He has been able to sit through and concentrate on short videos. And at a visit to a friend’s place not so long ago, we witnessed his ability to sit quietly and watch videos and parts of various movies without too much hesitation.

So we figured why not try taking him along for a full fledged movie. We chose a movie that we thought he would like (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) which was being specially screened under an Oscar ’19 themed celebration at TGV Cinemas. It was a movie my husband had wanted to catch when it was first released, but was unable to due to our current family circumstances.

And guess what? It was a huge success. Our son managed to endure all the trailers and ads prior to the movie (something we were also worried about, since we had no idea what they would show and whether it would stress him out even before the movie began), and also enjoyed watching the movie. I even caught him smiling/laughing at one point. 🙂

So it’s a big deal for him. And for me too.

(He did, however, ask to wear his ear muffs throughout the movie, as I guess the loud volume still bothers him a little. But he claims he was still able to hear everything with the thing on, so I guess I should just let that be as long as it helps him enjoy the movie.)

It’s so different being a parent and living through these little life experiences with your child. In many ways, we become so jaded as adults that it feels like a rebirth of sorts to be seeing life through their eyes and doing our level best to cheer them on as they go through growing pains and overcome challenges along their way. It revives your resolve to want to live life more deliberately and fully.

And it makes you dwell, even if just for a little while, on the wonders of small things. Those tiny milestones that perhaps, someday, will mount into something big.

Probably someday I’ll tell my son about his aversion to big screens and loud noises. He might even doubt what I say, unable to fathom how such a trivial thing could have bothered him so much. But I’ll remember these days. Just as I’ll remember how proud I was when he overcame this fear.

Here’s to many more victories in his life both in the present and beyond! 😀

Provision

Life, it seems, is this odd collection of events, jumbled together in seemingly random combinations.

Just when I think I’m finally about to get a breather and play catch-up with things I’ve been neglecting for too long, something new springs up and my attention is diverted again.

For once, I actually managed to get my work done way ahead of schedule. And so I thought I’d have this considerable amount of time to get the home organised and perhaps, even be able to indulge in some hobbies for awhile.

But alas, something evil lurks about in the background. Well, somewhat.

I get a new ad-hoc request for work. My son falls sick and has to skip school.

My life is topsy turvy once again. Goodbye, plans.

I ought to get back to bed soon. I fell asleep not intending to earlier, and then was awakened twice in between all that by my son, who is currently running a fever.

I had a shower after we took his temperature and gave him meds. And now I’ve just finished having a midnight snack (way past midnight, really) of air fried frozen nuggets and lettuce with Kewpie sesame dressing. Listened to some new music via Facebook and indulged my curiosity for a bit in the singing couple, Us The Duo, who are currently doting over their firstborn infant.

Ah, why do so many women look so gorgeous post delivery and during the first year of their newborn’s life? I remember looking worse than crap and feeling pretty much the same too. I was stumped on what to wear, and struggled to locate breastfeeding friendly clothes from my wardrobe (didn’t really want to spend unnecessarily on nursing wear, so tried my best to use what I have). My hair was pretty much in a bun most of the time, unless I finally chopped more than half of it off in an attempt to simplify grooming (which I clearly had no time to do, especially in that first year of parenthood).

I guess I don’t expect to feel any better when #2 makes his/her entrance into the world. Only good thing is, as my ob/gyn says, I have the benefit of experience now. So I know what to expect, more or less. Ha.

International Women’s Day has just passed lately and being a Work-At-Home Mum (WAHM), there was no employer to surprise me with flowers or delightful treats at my (non-existent) work desk. In fact, I spent last Friday mostly working in a silent home while being grateful that I actually could find the time to work because my son could attend preschool that day as his flu seemed to be getting better. (It has since morphed into a cough and fever. Bah.)

Anyway, social media reminded me through the many posts of others that this significant day was being commemorated. So it made me think for a moment about my womanhood and how it has been so far.

In some ways, it’s sad to think that I had to choose to become a WAHM because my former employer had no options available for me to explore in terms of more flexible work arrangements. Perhaps it might have been different for my career had I been able to remain a journalist in some form or measure while raising my young son. But that was not to be.

So ultimately, being a Mum came with certain choices that needed to be made. Essentially, this is part of being a woman too. As much as men sometimes like to belittle the female gender saying we harp too much on gender equality and all that, the truth is sometimes that we do have a different set of life circumstances dealt to us just because we are female. And we do need every bit of support we can get from others (men included) to help make it possible for us to become the best people we can be. And to not let being a woman become a hindrance in any way.

Just my two cents.

On another matter, I am marvelling at how God is graciously providing for us during this pregnancy so far. I am thankful for a uni friend who so happens to be also pregnant at this time (our EDDs are like just weeks apart, with me being in the lead). We are both also expecting our second child, so that makes our experiences pretty similar in nature. This makes me feel not so alone in my journey.

I remember I had a similar situation last time during my first pregnancy with Jamie. A friend I knew from my days in iBridge (a Christian ministry to support young adults who are just entering the workforce) and I were pregnant with EDDs that were also just weeks apart.

It was cool. We shared so much with each other throughout our pregnancies, and we also discussed so much together throughout the first year of our parenthood experience. (However, things changed rapidly moving from then onwards, and we haven’t been as much in touch as before – but that is a tale for another time).

These are just little stuff, but it really does help.

Got plenty more things to be worried about this pregnancy (costs of healthcare being one), but I’m trying my hardest to take things one step at a time.

Meanwhile, I am also thinking a lot about whether I am doing enough to bring out the potential in my eldest child. I have seen him grow so much in the past few months, and I’ve never been prouder. But I also know there’s going to be a lot of changes ahead for him. I wonder whether we will be able to help him navigate through this season well.

Guess I have to trust that God will provide for us in every way, be it in terms of physical needs or even the emotional/mental/spiritual aspects of this part of our family’s journey. He has been faithful all throughout past seasons, of course, so I have literally no excuse to believe that things would be any different now.

(Small note: The image you see at the start of the post is my son’s masterpiece of arranging magnetic music notes on my old music board which my Mum kept since my preschool days lol).