Bloopers

Boy with a sunny side up personality.

* Edit: Para 14 – Changed 20.5 to 18.5 years. Yes, it’s true. I cannot count.

We have been blessed with a beautiful little boy. Sometimes I think I take this for granted.

We could have nearly lost him on his day of birth because of his fetal heart rate dropping rapidly midway during labour. I ought to remind myself about this every so often. God was gracious though and here he is.

We’ve just reached the 2.5 year mark of spending life together. It’s been mostly a fabulous time, but some days, like how it was yesterday, I feel horrible about the way I parent him.

I am not very good at handling the clumsiness and apparent fickle nature of toddlers. So sometimes I make a fuss about small things. At other times, I think I may have outright misjudged his actions, interpreting something he did as rebellion when maybe it was just plain ignorance or innocence even.

I realise that there is a difference between punishing him for behaviours which would endanger him or which are bad habits that he should not carry forward into his adult life versus things which he does that cause an inconvenience to me (like playing with his food and dawdling and messing up the dining table and the floor at mealtimes. Or choosing to explore some random object or corner in the house and getting himself dirty in the process, which is not essentially harmful, just that I would have more work to do clearing up after him).

Regrettably, I sometimes respond in the same way for both categories of behaviour.

It’s come to a point where my son automatically responds in the cutest voice ever: “Sorry Mummy. I won’t do it next time.” without properly understanding the extent of the cause and effect of the event at hand. I feel awful now for the flawed reasoning I am teaching him. All he wants to do is literally kiss and make up. He will also say things like “I want to hug Mummy. Make Mummy feel better”.

SIGH.

Some modern day child psychologist will probably tell me that I am ruining his future because of the negative ways I am responding to his inquisitiveness or his inherent nature as a toddler. And that by yelling at him and spanking him for certain behaviours I am wrecking havoc on his social behaviour. Or some other complicated line of reasoning that I might not be able to actually comprehend.

All I can say is that I am still trying to improve, though I do fail a lot. I sincerely do not want to hurt my lovely little boy, but I do not want to spoil him either. At the same time, I also do not want to abuse my authority and dictate how he does things just because it’s to my convenience. He is a unique individual with quirks of his own, and I hope I do not curtail that unwittingly.

Plenty of Mum bloggers out there will give you post after post about how to do things right, tips and tricks, etc. Apparently, they must have got it all worked out. Bless their dear hearts. Well, here I am with a dose of reality for you instead.

Parenting is tough and will test everything you are and what you stand for. It will shake you to the core. It will taunt you for all the things you were so sure of earlier in your life. All those smug solutions you swore you would do when it’s your turn to parent a young one.

At the end of the day, it’s entirely possible to feel awful and disgusted with yourself and how you handled a situation with your kid. It’s discouraging and yet, it’s not something you can just back out of. It’s a commitment you took when you decided to raise a child. It’s not like there is a Return Policy you can negotiate with God or anything like that.

So, ladies and gents, I am stuck with a mountain of problems on how to ensure my wonderful boy turns into a useful, respectable man who is a blessing to society. We’ve still got about 18.5 years to go till I let go of my responsibilities and he gets to choose his own path. It seems like a daunting task that I am not sure I can complete. I guess it’s only possible by the grace of God.

I’ll be sure to stop and pen you a note when I finally figure some of these things out. For now, it’s 5am and all I can do is imagine that today will be a better day. And determine in myself that I will find a better way of managing my household and the behaviour of my son without losing my cool and unnecessarily punishing him.

My son is more forgiving towards me than I am of myself though. He loves me unwaveringly. I wish and hope that God is just as kind (though I know He is, it is still hard to believe often times). I feel like if I fail this parenting thing, it’s literally the end for me. (Okay, so I tend to over-dramatise things a bit. Well, don’t all writers?)

If we ever needed an opportunity in life to prove ourselves and to correct the mistakes we made earlier in life, parenting sure is one of them. Our children are that second chance. We got to make sure we make it count.

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The hazards of hyperconnectivity

Staying in sync with what’s going on in the lives of those around you has become far too easy a task. By simply consulting your mobile device and connecting to the Internet, you immediately have at your fingertips access to a whole lot of information about the people in your social circles, perhaps more than your brain can actually absorb and retain at times.

But do you really know the people you are friends with on social media? To what extent do you have a real connection with them beyond the clever comments you leave all over their Facebook wall or Instagram images?

In the weekend that just was, my mother had a second episode of stroke. It happened fast, and was soon over, and she reacted fast enough to get herself medical attention such that there doesn’t seem to be any lasting damaging effects from the incident.

While I am relieved that all turned out well and that God was gracious, this unexpected event brought to the fore once more a very disturbing reality that most of us unfortunately now live in: The fact that, although we are often surrounded by people both in real life and virtually, hardly anyone (or sometimes, even no one at all) is aware of a difficult situation that has befallen us.

In this instance, no one outside of my immediate family knew about what happened to my Mum or that we spent a considerable part of our Saturday at a nearby hospital.

Not a single person from any of those I communicated with online over the past few days. Nor anyone whom I met on Sunday, which was yesterday (and this includes all my fellow church members too).

Of course, you could say that part of the onus rests on me to let others know whenever I am in need of help and all that. And that me sitting it out in a corner and lamenting that nobody cares is just a self indulgent thing, since everybody has their own set of things to deal with in life and it’s sometimes asking a lot that people concern themselves with me in particular.

But what does this say about the superficiality of relationships these days?

If you must know, I do not count you as a close friend if you don’t really understand or know about how I feel or the things I think about. The fact that you had a conversation with me or that we have some things in common isn’t enough for me to feel like we really know each other. However, in case you think I am such a high maintenance individual, I do, in the same vein, hold myself to similar standards when it comes to the way I would like to ideally relate to others.

Is this asking too much?

Maybe.

Yet, every so often , I rethink this entire social setup that we as a society have gotten ourselves into and I feel that we have sadly settled for far too low standards when it comes to who we regard as our friends. Perhaps we should be more specific and call these people — who have no clue about who we are on a personal level — for what they truly are: acquaintances.

And if you’re reading this and you do know me in person, I hope it somehow moves you to reconsider how we relate to each other. Or how you are perhaps overlooking what is actually happening in the lives of the people you are in touch with on a regular basis.

Weekender

The weekend! That wonderful breather from the weekly grind.

It’s the weekend! 

Over here, I love the weekends because that’s when Deric will be around all day and we get to do stuff as a family which we can’t do at other times. 

Jamie is also generally happier when everybody is together, just as I am too. 

This weekend, we haven’t done anything too fancy so far, but a lot of what we did was influenced by a desire to create fun and happy experiences for Jamie. 

Actually, that basically sums up a lot of our motivation whenever we find ourselves with a considerably sized block of free time. 

This time around, it was about taking him on a train ride via the LRT line that runs near our place as well as letting him linger at the car workshop while we sent one of our cars for a routine service. 

Along the way, he had other delightful wishes fulfilled too, like yet another ice cream and a chance to use his new kid sized umbrella. 

It’s interesting to note how our focus changes when we’re a family now. 

Back when Deric and I were just dating, weekends were wide open for whatever we fancied doing. We would often go for dates that lasted all day (and night too, sometimes). Eat lots of nice food. Hang out with friends. Practically anything. 

But now, we need to break our weekend activities into segments to make sure we don’t get our chirpy toddler into a nasty grumpy spell. 

And then there’s the consideration of how crowded a place might be and how unsuitable that might be for him. And limiting dining options to venues where there’s something decent on the menu for a young tummy to ingest. 

These and more. 

But the part that makes our hearts sing the most is when his face lights up while experiencing something that we had planned for him. 

There’s hardly ever enough time on the weekends, and usually not much from my To Do list gets done, but these tiny moments we have, these joy inducing ones, they make it all seem worthwhile somehow. 

Making memories with our son is the little bit of magic that we have been afforded and for which we are grateful.

Shift, twist

I guess the way I blog really needs to change. No more long and windy posts. Mostly because there’s not enough spare time to write them. 

But still thoughts and feelings and stories aplenty. If only I can manage to find the words to describe them adequately… 

This shift in style and approach begins now. Let’s hope for better things appearing here.

Failed!

So it’s August already and I might as well say it now. I failed at Camp Nanowrimo. Me and the word “Nanowrimo” really don’t seem to jive very well. It’s sad.

But a part of me knows that I had sort of already declared myself defeated (internally) before it actually happened in real life. Funny thing is that I did try at first. Yet I kind of expected it. 

And when that distasteful blowup occurred with family lately (an incident that I suppose I should address to some degree of greater detail at some point), I guess I gave up keeping on with the writing. Because it all made me feel so lousy. Like, why bother doing it when I’m such a horrible person inside?

See, the thing about this family issue was that it hits at one of my core beliefs that family is everything, and a huge part of my heart is broken when I realise that sometimes the things I felt about my family weren’t always valued as much by the people on the other end. Also the glaring reality that family members still to this day do not really understand what I am all about nor seem to actually care that I have an avenue to express my feelings or be myself. 

Well, this is something that has been brewing under the surface for awhile now, so I guess it’s no wonder that an eruption would take place at some point.

Whatever it is, it feels like there’s a splinter that just got embedded on the inside of my heart. And although melancholy does sometimes help writing along, something of this magnitude isn’t something you’d want to hope to have even if it is for art’s sake.

Perhaps I have myself to blame? For all these unfinished writing endeavours. For even starting in the first place yet being halfhearted and torn about it all. Ironic too that the theme of my writing project had been imperfection. Oh yes. Seemed like a brilliant idea at the time.

And then there are all these relationships I’m supposed to have nurtured better. Which I am apparently not doing too well at either.

It’s never fun when things explode or implode in front of you. I feel like I just had both.

Nobody reads this

It's just a hunch, but I'm almost pretty sure that none of the people I know in real life are actually reading my blog. Or even know that I have this one out there.

I could do the narcissistic thing of posting about it on social media like what most people might do. In fact, I had done so in the past. But then it feels so much like asking for markah kesian from the school teacher. I'd rather people stumble upon the blog than me having to stuff it in front of their face and make them feel obliged to comment or do anything about it.

But this isn't saying I don't appreciate you, my random reader. If even one person out there reads any of this and derives something positive out of it, at least I can feel that this is all worth it.

Anyway, whatever the case may be, I'm still committed to writing here and keeping this blog alive. For now. Unless and until something tells me to stop. That moment hasn't come yet.

Time and again

Ironically enough, it's become extremely hard to write anything that I feel is heartfelt and of significant worth nowadays. I've been feeling so ever since I made writing my official career path, I think.

Funny, isn't it, since you'd think that because you're devoting more time perfecting your craft, you should be better at it and everything should come so much more naturally than it did in the past?

But this is how it's been. Regrettably too, might I add.

I revisited the old, first proper blog I ever wrote, Veritas Project, recently. It surprised me just how differently I used to write. So uninhibited. So candid.

In some ways, I wish I was back at that place and time of my life, and that I had utilised those moments more fully to revel in the emotions of that season more, to write more wholeheartedly. Because now that I am where I'm at in life, here in my 30's, there's a great difference in the things I'd write and how I'd write them.

Yet, of course, I'm not discounting the value of experience and where it has gotten me. I write now through the lens of someone who has seen more, who realises what she is capable of, and who now knows so many more precious things about the world and the seasons and rhythms of life.

Time and again, though, I keep returning to this point of contemplation that I need to put forward a more genuine version of myself whenever I write. Particularly when I blog for a wider audience, like I do here.

The difficulty here lies in the fact that having been a journalist in the not-so-distant past, my writing disciplines have been shaped to habitually involve the practice of self censorship. We do it all the time in the newsroom, although the reasons for doing so may differ each time. The words we allow to escape our keyboard are filtered: tapered down in its depth of feeling, politically correct, shifted and sorted to take on a supposedly neutral form, appealing to the average reader. Which is, in reality, probably no one.

Here in Blogdom, everyone is writing nowadays to garner as much Likes as possible. Building a band of followers that will faithfully swallow whatever you put out for them, just because they feel like you know them. You are like them.

For that is what is being peddled. Writers putting on a front of being an expert and knowing something special. Teasing readers with minimal prose, abandoning the art of it all, and replacing it with GIFs, memes, haphazardly compiled lists of things that nobody needs but everybody identifies with and wants to know about. A place where words are money, so make as much as you can, with as little beauty infused into those sentences. Because, what is the point in poetry? It is unnecessary and underappreciated.

Then there are those writers' circles, those exclusive associations formed amongst writers on social media platforms. Where writers rant and rave about the perils of the realms of publishing and lament the naivety of rookies seeking their way into the fellowship. Spouting advice like, "If your writing is rejected by publishers, it's because it's worthless. Please move along".

I somehow cannot fit into this landscape.

As it is, I already have trouble believing that I am a writer, and even more so calling myself one. And all this… this massive community of successful people before me; corporations who make profits from the words crafted by others; the formality of it all; the formatting of pages, columns, fonts; the rigours of being part of the publishing process… all of this feels stifling to me.

I want to go back to that spot where simplicity and freedom of expression were. That quiet corner in the middle of nowhere that I could sit at for as long as I needed to, use as many paragraphs and pages as I wanted, and express precisely how I feel without fear of judgment or ruthless editing.

Where it was just me and you, my darling reader.

I still want to tell my story. But (and this may be hard to believe, coming from a person with a history like mine) I am having trouble finding the right words.