Find your feet

Hello, I’m back!

It’s been a pretty decent start to 2019 so far.

Our little family of 3 has more or less gotten used to waking up a whole lot earlier every day, in order to adapt to the new preschool routine that we all have a part of now that Jamie has started kindy.

On the whole, it’s been a relatively positive experience. I think we’re all benefitting from waking up earlier and trying to have earlier dinners and bedtimes. It’s not been perfect, but I think we haven’t done too badly either.

Jamie started off his first week of school with lots of pee episodes, sometimes changing up to 2 sets of uniforms in just one morning. But the situation has improved tremendously since then, I am glad to report.

I am happy to see him learning lots of new stuff (which he will randomly inform me of we are spending the day together, like while having lunch or when I am bathing him or grooming him). He is indeed growing up so fast!

Since Day #1 that he stepped into kindy, Jamie has not ever cried at drop off time. In fact, I notice he is the kind of boy who goes right in to join in the action and doesn’t look back. I am so proud of him.

Deric is also turning up at work each day earlier than before, thanks to him joining us for the morning commute to school and hopping off at the nearby LRT station to catch the train to work.

Now February has rolled in and Chinese New Year is almost upon us. It’s going to be a week long break from both school and work (Deric’s on leave as well for this period), so I do have my concerns on how we’ll adjust back to the regular routine afterwards.

For now, I’m looking forward to having lots of enjoyable family time this week and hopefully having plenty of yummy cookies and other delightful snacks to munch on over this festive season.

I’d like to share more about the other stuff going on in the background right now, but I am still struggling with regards to how to do so.

In particular, I note that people sharing their parenting journey online tend to reside within some extreme camp or another.

Some take on the cool and collected stance, sharing their truckloads of wisdom and zen. Others are constantly spitting out profanities and making light of every possible thing, sometimes in the most irreverent and distasteful of ways. There are those who go out of their way to snap pictures of life at its worse, just so they appear more relatable. And then there are the others who upload picture perfect snapshots every time: Holidays, fancy food and sponsored posts aplenty.

I’m not sure I fit into any of those categories.

To be honest, I just want to share candidly what we have been through, and hope to inspire others in some form or another. But I feel like my words are so dull and flavourless, and my stories so ordinary. So I hesitate.

So far, though, my son seems to be growing up just fine, and we aren’t in dire straits financially yet. I have still managed to maintain at least ONE steady client at all times. And I have a bit of my sanity back now that I have time alone for a few hours every school day.

There are some other changes coming up which I am already aware of, but for now, I guess I ought to be thankful for what I do have. And I really ought to talk more with you guys about these many thoughts in my head.

I’m off for a Mandarin orange for now. Will be back soon in another post (I sincerely hope).

Countdown to Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year!

Being Malaysian Chinese carries along with it so many things that make up who I am. As much of a banana* that I am, so many aspects of the Chinese culture have seeped into my life. For instance, the kind of food we eat, the way we relate to our elders, etc.

Add to that the labels and expectations that are attached to being Malaysian AND Chinese, and then there is a whole added layer to what makes up my personality.

Anyway, the predominant thought over here at this moment is that I am not 100% proud of the heritage that we inherit by being Chinese (although only in part by now, since my ancestors have been on Malaysian soil for a good few generations by now), but this is who I am and I guess there must have been a reason for God to have fashioned this background that I have been born into.

This little video here, in some ways, says a lot. Never mind that it’s not about Malaysian Chinese in particular, it still reflects a lot on how the Chinese culture and mentality affects those of us who are born into this ethnicity. Notably, it speaks a lot about Chinese parenting in general: That emotionally distant, tough kind of love, the emphasis on studying hard, that inclination towards mathematics and numbers and money, that dedication to work, and sense of duty towards providing for the family.

Chinese New Year is mostly a family centred celebration. So all these things come up. All these family traditions, histories, imperfections… It is, to me, happiness tainted with a large dose of reality. The realisation that there will always be some family member that is alienated. Another who is indifferent. Yet another who tries too hard to unite everyone. All these things.

The angpaus. The hierarchy of family positions and titles. That emphasis on money. Those seemingly eternal debts: be they financial, emotional or all sorts of other in-between stuff. The polite small talk to mask the years of stories, sometimes buried out of convenience.

Hope I haven’t dampened the cheeriness of your Chinese New Year. These are just my musings. I love my parents. I like certain aspects of my Chinese heritage.I just hope to break the mould and be that bit different somehow.

Not to be that stingy, uncaring, crude person that the world might expect of me because I am inevitably Chinese. (Let’s leave the Malaysian bit for another post, another story – that too has a long list of things to be said about which is not worth delving into right now).

What’s your CNY reunion like this year? Mine’s alright, but a part of me always feels it could still be way better.

* A local slang which is used to describe a person who is Chinese but yet cannot speak/write in any of the Chinese dialects proficiently.

CNY again

Chinese New Year decor at a mall in PJ.
So we’re midway through Chinese New Year (CNY) already. Or for the picky ones, Lunar New Year. 

To be honest, I find that the older I get, the more I find that I don’t feel much of anything for this entire festive season at all. 

Well, for starters, since our family are Christians, we don’t observe much of the rituals surrounding CNY. We just celebrate it for the fact that it’s part of our cultural background. So a lot of hustle and bustle is already cut out of the equation. 

Then, there’s the current situation with my extended family where no one really gets together for Chinese New Year anymore, with the exception of the few that we usually reach out to and make an effort to meet. There’s no massive family gathering like there used to be in years past. It’s a bit sad, really, but that’s how things have been ever since the passing of my last surviving grandparent (on my Mum’s side of the family).  

Even amongst my cousins, the closeness really isn’t there. Well, truth be told, even if we did meet up over the CNY period, it would feel somewhat pointless since we don’t connect at all during other times. Like it would be just something we do for the sake of keeping up appearances. Or something along those lines. 

That’s for my own family. With Deric’s family, it’s even worse because we only meet his cousins. His father has passed on, and his mother isn’t even in the country. 

So there is no balik kampung for us. There isn’t anything to look forward to during CNY for us actually. 

It’s just that now that we’ve got Jamie around, there’s angpaus to be collected whenever we meet friends and family. But that’s about all there is to it. 

Oh, and of course, we have to prepare our own set of angpaus to hand out to other children too. And to have gift packs ready to cart along for visits to homes. 

Last but not least, there’s that stash of Mandarin oranges we habitually will buy and consume over the CNY season. 

But that’s that. That’s our CNY. 

I guess you could say it doesn’t necessarily mean if we had big family gatherings and lots of family activities over the CNY that things would be any cheerier. I do know of some people who dread meeting their relatives as they aren’t really the sort of people that they’d like to hang around with in the first place. And whenever there’s older folks around, there’s bound to be lots of unsolicited advice and nagging and awkward situations. 

Oh well. We Chinese ARE a complicated bunch of folks after all.  I bet every Chinese family has their own brand of domestic drama to contend with. 

I’m generalising, definitely, but it’s mostly true though: We’re loud, money minded, food centric and steeped in loads of tradition. 

Speaking of tradition, I’d really like to build our own set of CNY traditions to observe with our little immediate family, but I haven’t really got round to thinking what that should look and feel like. It doesn’t help that my husband isn’t the kind to get into the spirit of things during any festive season (even Christmas, I might add). 

But it’d be nice to, someday, see the kids excited to usher in CNY and bustling about the home making cookies, decorating the hall, etc. 

Kids, I say. We only have one son at the moment. I dream plenty. I wonder whether we’ll ever get there. 

Since we’re on the topic of CNY, I might as well address my sentiments about being Chinese. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about my racial heritage (the other bit about being Malaysian is another story altogether, which probably will warrant a separate post of its own). 

I like that as a Chinese, the general perception people will have of you is that you are hardworking. Also, the fact that the Chinese have a long history of success to their name and are regarded as being very resilient, able to survive and thrive anywhere that they are found all across the globe. 

But that’s probably as far as my Chinese pride goes. 

I’m not so happy to acknowledge that being Chinese means also being associated with being frugal , conniving and selfish. Being perceived as having an attitude of looking down on others that are of a lower socioeconomic standing than you are. Being loud and brash, inconsiderate towards the needs of other races in the community. 

I guess the only saving grace I have going for me is that I am not from China (or not anymore, anyway, since my ancestors had migrated years ago) and was born and raised a Malaysian. 

What does it mean that I am a Malaysian though? That’s something worth pondering. I will need to think more about this and come back at a later date to write a decent discussion about this. 

Does the world think anything good of Malaysians anyway? Do they remember anything about us and our nation other than the curious incidences of disappearing planes and the fascinating array of food we have to offer our guests? 

Oh, this post is such a disjointed collage of my thoughts. I should take my leave now.