Awkward alien

Image source: Flexo

Becoming a Work At Home Mum (WAHM) is a double whammy. Not only are both those roles tough to navigate, there is this additional problem of becoming an awkward alien. 

What do I mean by that? 

Well, basically everyone else in your life who isn’t a mother and/or isn’t living a homebound lifestyle (which is probably like 90% of your social circle, if you’re in your 30’s like me) will be unable to understand you and the things you go through on a daily basis. This transforms you, essentially into an alien. And this then leads to some pretty awkward situations and conversations. 

To give you an example, here are some questions and/or comments I had to field lately: 

“So you guys don’t eat out much anymore nowadays, right?” 

– Hmm, while that is the truth, what this question reeks off is the underlying assumption that because I am now at home, therefore I must be cooking all the time. And also, since we have less household income, that we would probably want to be frugal and eat in seclusion, thus morphing into kataks di bawah tempurung.

“So when are you going to go back to work?”

– Thing is, I am working. Just not in a way that most people would comprehend since I don’t have fixed hours or fixed clients (except for one that I have been doing work for since last year). Read: I freelance. It’s not much compared to what I used to do in my old full time position, but I like to keep my career alive and options open. AND I’d like the freedom to be around to raise my son rather than let someone else do it for me. 

“Ah, so it helps you keep your mind active lah, gives you something to do.” (In response to finding out that I am taking on freelance work wherever I can.)

– I guess you can’t blame a person who hasn’t really spent day after day at home at all hours, because they would not have realised just how much there is to do at home. Even if I don’t come up with a list of things to do, or my son doesn’t throw a tantrum or mess up something and give me things to clean up after, there will ALWAYS be things to do at home. My home is my office, and whenever you are in the office, your working mode will be on. Which pretty much means I am almost always working on something and the chores never end. This isn’t even taking into consideration my actual freelance work. And, the fact is that just managing the household requires plenty of brainwork, because instead of doing it mindlessly, if you are a mature, educated adult, you will always want to find ways to improve things at home, be it the efficiency and speed of accomplishing chores, the organisation of furniture, storage solutions or other things. 

There was also this incident where I was having a conversation with two other ladies around my age. The two of them were going on and on about how kids are like this or that, citing examples of nieces and nephews and children of other friends. Perhaps it was them trying too hard to identify with me, the only one in the conversation who was a mother. Mmm. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking about young children since I have one myself, but there is an invisible boundary somewhere, which once crossed, makes it uncomfortable and unnatural to carry on discussing this topic. It is especially so when the people keeping the topic going are those who don’t have kids in the first place. 

Just to clarify, being a WAHM doesn’t make me hate all these other more normal and sane people in my life (yes, I’m probably getting more and more queer with each passing day, if I have not yet morphed into an oddball) . But it does make it feel like a large chasm just opened up between us. And that makes it a bit harder, though not impossible, to connect. 

Well, I guess I should apply the same rules of conversation as a WAHM that I had used in the past: Always seek to understand more than to be understood; to ask about the other person and to care for them, rather than to expect them to be concerned for you. 

And then, all will be fine, and no one will suspect what an awkward alien I really am. 

It’s just that… it would be nice if everyone in general understood the WAHM situation better so less misunderstandings and explanations would need to be provided. 

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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.

Mayhem of motherhood

  

Some time has passed now since the entire experience of pregnancy and delivering my first child has taken place in my life. Now that things have settled down a little more, I think it’s time to pen down my thoughts and feelings about the whole thing. 

Several people I know have encouraged me to blog about parenthood with a view of earning an extra buck or more from what I write. It seems like a tempting thought, but I do wonder what compromises that would entail since nothing which involves earning money will ever be entanglement free. 

So until such a time that blogging somehow has so strong a pull that it inevitably uproots me from my journalism career (quite an unlikely occurrence I feel, since I am mostly a boring person haha), I shall choose to write about my journey to motherhood in my own terms, with no other goal in mind other than to share what I have been through in the hopes that someone may find encouragement and be even helped by what they read. 

This would not be the first time that I am contemplating writing about my real life experiences, but hopefully this will be the occasion in which I actually see it through. 

After all, the year has reached its midway point and I believe I am still more or less underutilising my blog. And I’m paying for it (literally). So, it’s high time I put more effort into posting more content here (also not the first time I’ve said this; goodness, I’m becoming even more of a bore as time goes on). 

Alright, so expect more tales from the lens of motherhood to show up here. I don’t intend for this topic to take over ALL my blog posts, although it’s quite likely it will have a bearing on most, since being a parent has now become such an integral part of my life. 

I will be assigning a special category for all my motherhood related posts so as to make it easier to locate on this blog. I am considering creating a separate page linking to all these posts as well, if I do manage to keep a steady flow of such posts going. 

So I hope you’ll enjoy my little stories about this personal journey of mine and that you’ll drop some comments here and there to let me know what you think. Meanwhile, if you’ll excuse me, I really need to go change my son’s soiled diaper.

The countdown to nine

image
Source: Red Orbit

I keep losing track of how far along I am in my pregnancy.

Of course, it’s easy to answer this in terms of months. But what I mean is in terms of days or weeks.

Most people (meaning family, friends, colleagues and the general public) tend to ask a pregnant woman how long she’s been carrying in terms of months. But it’s interesting to note that doctors tend to talk in terms of weeks.

Why so, I wonder. Perhaps the urgency feels greater when it is expressed in weeks. And even more so in days, but I think not many of us monitor the countdown to our due dates that closely.

Well, measure it in whatever way you like. The fact remains that my delivery date draws nearer and nearer. In a matter of months (3 or less, to be exact), I will be a mother and Deric, a father. This is still something that continues amazes me.

Currently, one of the things I look forward to every day is feeling Jamie (which is the name we are planning to give our son) poking about as he moves around in my tummy. It is a sign to me that all is well with him.

For people like me that succumbs to occasional bouts of worry, it’s assuring to feel little Jamie inside of me. It’s such a special feeling knowing that he is part of me biologically; so close and dependent on me, more than anyone has ever been in my life.

Even Deric has his own entitlement of privacy and space. But not Jamie at the moment.

My yet-to-be born son goes with me everywhere. He hears everything those around me say to me. He also listens to every word I utter as I live through each day – both the positive and negative. He absorbs the tunes I play in the car as I drive. He draws from the nutrients that I consume in my diet.

It is such a precious thing. I have thought this over in my mind time and time again. In fact, I want to cherish it more than I am doing right now, but am unsure what else can be done in order to adequately savour the moment while it lasts.

It will be great to finally meet Jamie in person once he pops out of my womb and into this world. I look forward to it. But, when that does occur, I will, in many ways, miss the intimate connection we had while he was still inside of me.

The moment he joins us out here marks the beginning of his journey towards his own independence, which inevitably will involve slowly but surely distancing himself from me. (And Deric too, of course).

I am sure I will be happy for him as he arrives at the various crucial milestones of his life. Yet at the same time, I guess I will be hit by a certain tinge of sadness and melancholy at each of these points, knowing what it will eventually mean: That he will detach his life from mine, and go forward on his own to pursue whatever God has in store for him in the future.

Technically, I am not a parent yet, since Jamie is still just a fetus in my womb. But already I am coming to a realisation that parenting is all about the gradual process of letting go.

Of nurturing, no doubt, but doing so in the knowledge that it is so someday the life that now is so dependent on me will graduate into becoming his own person, carving his own space in this vast and often cruel world.

It will definitely be a long, challenging process. But at the very least, if I never make anything else significant out of my life, I hope I will be able to leave behind me on this Earth children who will be able to continue the legacy of faith in an everlasting, dependable God; the defence of godly virtues; and a healthy love and respect for everything and everyone around them.

If I can achieve just that, perhaps when I arrive at my final breath, I will embrace it willingly, knowing that I have done all I was capable of doing in this life.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I am now 26 weeks into my pregnancy. 🙂