Reminisce

Back when I was a new Mum, I started a blog with a friend about our early days in motherhood. It was great, but sadly, it didn’t last for very long.

I’ve often thought of reviving it since having my second son, but have been delaying it because the site does kind of need some kind of sprucing up, and just as with every other project I hope to embark on, I am always hoping to devote enough time till I am satisfied with the result before making it public/known.

But aargh. Will it ever happen? Or will it be like almost every other motherhood related project I’ve ever dreamed up: Never executed, only to have my child grow up. Pfft.

I intended to recruit a bigger pool of writers this time, and to maybe extend the content contribution to go beyond just writing to maybe even art forms or any other kind of expression that can properly encapsulate the journey of motherhood.

So far, I’ve only mentioned these intentions to the original friend whom I started the blog with and another Mum friend. Heh. I wonder will I be creating unnecessary expectations that I can’t meet. I seem to be always doing that.

Anyway, it was kind of quaint to revisit those old blog posts and to briefly remember what it was like in Jamie’s first year of life. Oh how well I wrote back then. How I pen words these days seems to be but a shadow of my past writer self.

I can’t stay for long at the moment (isn’t that always the case nowadays?) but I’m glad I popped in.

Dear reader, I hope you are well. I certainly haven’t blogged as frequently as I had hoped (again, normal behaviour by my standards, isn’t it?) but I hope you’re still hanging on every word. Rest assured that whenever I am not posting something here I am actually endlessly thinking of what is worth writing about here. But self censorship prevails way too often, unfortunately.

Well, the morning’s coming so I’ll catch you later.

In between

Dear Reader,

How is it like in your corner of the world today?

It’s Day #3 of the Restricted Movement Order here in Malaysia.

I am up early ahead of the rest of the family. Expressing breastmilk in a silicone collector as my youngest is not awake to nurse. Next in line for list of activities would be to put the cloth diapers into the washing machine and to gather the trash for my husband to take out when he goes out to get groceries.

Unlike many other families within the Klang Valley, we did not stock up food in anticipation of the Order. We only bought enough to last us for about a week during our last grocery run, and the week is almost up. Hence, I will need to plan meals very soon (within the next hour or so), and wake my husband to get to the stores as early as possible since we don’t know what stock levels are like in our neighbourhood stores yet.

From what I heard from a friend staying in another part of our city, it was crowded at the shops within their community. I certainly hope there won’t be too much of that where we are at.

I’ve generally always thought of where we live as being one of the quieter, less noticed part of Petaling Jaya. And yet, we kept hearing of Covid-19 cases in several nearby areas, giving us the notion that the virus is literally all around us. The most disturbing was the case of a preschool teacher who got it. This preschool had been opened recently at the mall where we normally go for our grocery shopping.

My husband only started taking this Covid-19 pandemic more seriously after he visited that mall on one of the days where they were still disinfecting the preschool and screening all shoppers seeking to enter the ground floor (where the preschool was located) for any signs for fever.

Now he finally wears a mask or brings a long a small bottle of hand sanitiser while he is out. He promptly cleans his hands upon his return from a trip out, and changes his clothes. There was an occasion where he even decided to bathe right away.

For our household, things aren’t too different during this Order than they are at regular times. This is because my husband and I are both self employed at the moment. A situation at work worsened around the time our youngest was about to be born, and so he left his full time job and has been in limbo since.

At the time the Order was issued by our Prime Minister, he had already begun taking on projects for this new consultancy gig he has embarked on. There had been relatively positive signs lately, and several possible work projects have been popping up.

On my end, my freelance writing work was finally beginning to settle into a routine after the abnormal activity I had over the past few months where I was serving a new client in a temporary role that ended in February.

Now everything is more or less slowing down due to the Order. We are wondering if we will get paid on time. Or whether there will be multiple delays and even a lack of work opportunities in the near future.

I know there are families out there with an even bleaker outlook to their household income sources than we have. Some cannot even work at all right now because their jobs require them to be out, or to be meeting people. There is no Work-At-Home option for them. I wonder how they will cope.

It’s only supposed to be a 2 week exercise, but my husband and I anticipate that this Order will be extended beyond just a fortnight. As it is, with the way many Malaysians are behaving, we might even see a far greater spike in Covid-19 cases. The thought is chilling.

I think of my two very young kids and I worry. They are happy with us at home at the moment. But will we be able to keep them happy and well once our funds run too low? Can we continue to afford preschool for our eldest one?

And what sort of world will they be growing up in, given the terrible turn of events that we keep seeing both on a local as well as global scale? I sometimes wonder if it would have been kinder to have not introduced them to this cruel, cold world.

But as I tried telling my husband last night, perhaps the best thing to do at times like this is to just keep looking ahead. To just keep focussing on the very next step. Because I think that’s all we have the capacity to do right now.

It’s daybreak now and I must go. I hope things are brighter where you are, my dear Reader. Till I return, I wish you a good day.

Phases, changes

I saw her today as I was about to get out of my car and head back to my apartment.

Her back was turned towards me, and there was confidence in her stride. She wore fairly fashionable clothes. Attire that probably contributed to that healthy sense of self-esteem she seemed to embody.

She was walking to her car, obviously with somewhere to go. At this hour, it would undoubtedly be an office of some shape or form. Or, at least, to a venue where a work related appointment awaited.

Before long, she was behind the driver’s wheel and then off she went, into glorious realms unknown.

I was her, once, not so long ago.

I would wake up just in time for breakfast and to groom myself and look presentable for work. I would rush off hoping to reach the office in record time. (Or at least before the boss arrived or noticed).

I would only have myself to worry about for most of the day, while only occasionally relating to my boyfriend/husband. And eagerly awaiting for the next moment when we would meet again.

Now though, I have to rise early every morning and rush to prepare breakfast and to get a little boy up and ready to face the world. My morning commute consists of a school run, followed by a return to the quiet yet familiar surroundings of my home as I spend the next few hours alone till my son is back from school.

Work for me takes place whenever and wherever I can find the space and time to do so. The main objective is to get it done, and to have it completed by the deadline I’ve agreed to with my client.

I rarely have time to myself, and most waking hours are spent attending to the needs and demands of my son. My husband and I chat throughout the day about our son, and other household matters like what to cook for dinner or what has run out in the kitchen inventory and hence, needs to be picked up from the grocery store on the way home.

Life has indeed taken a different turn, with its own new set of challenges, but I tell you truth: I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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).