Son

Never knew having a son could be as heartwarming as it is.

“I want to comb hair for Mummy.”

“I want to hug Mummy. Make Mummy happy.”

“Mummy, have a bite.”

“Mummy also come along.”

Never knew a son could be so endearing. Prior to having one of my own, I thought only daughters would think such sweet thoughts. Guess I’ve still a lot to learn.

Advertisements

Midway point

Midday breather.

This is us at 1.40pm in the afternoon. He has just fallen asleep. 

What happened prior to this was a pretty much non-stop blur of activities. Right from the time he opened his eyes and woke up as I carried him into our apartment, having just returned from dropping my husband off at the LRT station, where he would catch a train to work. 

I have not yet had my lunch. He hasn’t either. But he had a pretty sizeable breakfast, involving 2x as much bananas as I expected him to consume. 

He also wanted to do art activities with BOTH markers AND paint right after breakfast, much to my dismay. 

But overall, there’s still plenty of daylight hours left to salvage so off I go. 

I shall attempt to tell you more true to life tales of my everyday adventures soon. 

Just so you know though, this is what life at home feels like. Not as leisurely as you’d imagine. Pretty packed with chores and mundane things. But with some occasional magic to spare.

Hidden treasure

The days slip by quickly, and each time something shifts in leaps and bounds.

Dear Globetrotting Friend,

As wonderful as it is to see these picturesque views you encounter at each magical destination you arrive at, I often wish you would not post them on social media. It’s not that I would want to deny you the right to revel in the beauty around you, but sometimes your endless stream of picture perfect images makes me feel a little out of place.

I spend most of my hours behind the same four walls, living a quiet, unnoticed routine. Views like the one you see above are what my eyes feast on every day. It is nothing extraordinary, but it was important enough to me that I decided to be bound by them. To be this hidden person, seen only by a tiny pair of eyes to whom I am the world.

I wish I had inspiring images to show others just as you do, but the ones I take are instead mostly commonplace. They do little to hide the mess behind them. The haphazard tumbling through hours. Days slipping by quickly, one after another; each time something shifting within them, an unnamed thing, growing in leaps and bounds.

My husband is often discouraged with this dull, mundane world we live in, enamoured instead by the adventures you tease us with from your Instagram feed. He always had this bit of wanderlust gripping him, and at times, I feel sorry as if I am the one holding him back.

But this is the life we are building now. And it is called Family.

Beneath the mountains of laundry, behind the unkempt array of toys strewn all across our living room, there is this little boy coming into his own. His is a slow and steady journey, years stretching ahead of him, yet uncounted, unwritten. Mine is the heavy burden to shape this life, to offer it meaning and hope in a universe that often cares little for the crumbs that fall from the tabletop or the stories that need to be read… aloud…. and right now. Or else.

I don’t envy you, my dear Privileged Traveller friend. I just wish I didn’t often find myself making comparisons between us , thinking how vastly different our paths are now, and how we were walking the same trail once upon a time, long ago, when we were but youth.

Because it seems like I have lost myself, and that my days will be endlessly meaningless as they feel. And that I am not living life to the fullest and condemning myself to a predictable outcome.

Perhaps someday I will find greater confidence in the choices I have made.

It’s just that right now those photos of yours don’t seem to be helping.

Tales from home

It's a rare moment. I am able to sit here with the leftovers of my latte and cake (from my Mum's birthday celebration earlier today) and write. This is too good to be true. I expect to be interrupted anytime. Perhaps soon.

So… while I can, I'm checking in here for a bit.

Here's a brief snapshot of what things looked like for me this past week:

Prolonged mealtimes at the dining table with Jamie. Overwhelming restlessness and boredom felt. Lots of "I don't want" which strangely morphs into "I want" the very next second. Plenty of crying. Some shouting (from me). The usual helpings of guilt afterwards. Just so you know, he's two years old.

Most of it was down to an ear ache. Which turned out to be an infection, as confirmed by the paediatrician. It was yet another visit to the clinic on a Wednesday night. The night we are supposed to attend cell group. Which we have not been attending for months. Probably since Jamie was born, actually.

So we're on a course of antibiotics now. Jamie is, I mean. But it might as well be said as "we" since all of us were up at 4am when Jamie awoke and decided he was energetic enough to stay up from then till 6+am. We cooked in between. Again. YES. If you pass our apartment door at silly hours in the middle of the night, you will most likely smell nice things coming from our kitchen. And yes, we are sort of insane.

Books about cars. Jamie's got new ones, quite a few. It's his latest thing. And trucks. Still some interest in trains. But CARS! Lightning McQueen. Ka-chow!

Plants flourishing on the balcony. Testing out my own concoction of compost tea on them. Nearly dying from the stench (smells like vomit). For the first time ever, I have plants doing well on my watch. I still remember the ones that inevitably died when Jamie's delivery day rolled around. We were all so busy we forgot about the plants and a pandan plant died. Those are supposed to be really resilient.

The house is a mess. And laundry started piling up again. Often times, I don't know where to begin dealing with this chaos. We've begun plotting a solution to the problem of clutter and lack of space in the kitchen. Bought some stuff from Ikea to improve the storage part of the equation. But we have yet to fix a time for the handyman to help us assemble the racks. So the problems remain for the time being. Sigh. It's to the point that I have to waste time clearing or moving things around daily just so I can cook or reheat food. We really need to reclaim our kitchen counter space.

Thankfully, there is a lull in work at the moment. I am waiting for further instructions from my client before I proceed to complete my part of the bargain. So technically, I have time to spare for Jamie. Other than dealing with chores, that is. But ironically, I don't feel like spending time with him when I have the opportunity to do so. It's an odd feeling. I feel bad for even feeling this way. But I do. What do I do? I hope this changes soon.

I keep a lot of things in hopes of recycling/upcycling them. So this contributes to more mess at home. I need to get round to certain craft projects or home improvement projects.

Okay, Jamie is up from his nap and crying. Gotta run now.

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.

Madness or the fine line between 

Apparently, I used to lead a different kind of life before Jamie. I just about almost cannot recall any of it. Or even when I do, it all feels like a distant memory. 

I was talking to my Mum about it in the car just now. About how when you become a mother, you don’t have time for things like taking care of yourself. 

I have 2 separate toes oozing with puss that I have yet to figure out what to do about. 

I am deprived of sleep. Even when I do sleep, it’s mostly sitting up thanks to difficulties nursing Jamie lying down. 

I just had a cold yesterday thanks to being topless too long in a room with the air conditioning on (something we seldom do at home, but chose to do yesterday in order to keep the room extra cool so Jamie would feel more comfortable while battling his high fever). But I couldn’t rest because Jamie was unwell and he was constantly needing me. 

I have been due for a follow up appointment with an ENT doctor since the middle of this year. It’s now December. 

I never used to have this, but now I am almost constantly with a red/pink spot on my nose and dry patches of skin all around my mouth. Hideously ugly and hard to hide, even with makeup. 

Am I less of a selfish person because of all this?

Yes and no. 

Circumstances can shape the person you become. But it does not determine who you eventually will be. Only you alone can do that. If you allow yourself to learn the lessons you need to, and to let go of the things you needn’t cling on to. 

Every day, I am trying to be more patient with Jamie. And with myself. I still fail. 

But I wake up with each sunrise, and try again.