Out

It’s April and I’m out of work.

Or at least that’s how it seems right now as I was more or less dismissed with an “I’ll get back to you later, I’m working on something” response from the client.

My guess is nobody would want to pay a freelancer like me at this time since finances may be tightening and the prospects for future business income may seem pretty bleak at this point.

Ah well. It’s not the first time that I have been without work since I began this full time freelance venture. It’s just that I can’t recall when this last happened, or how long it lasted (usually not long).

Anyway, it’s not good to leave my writing muscles unflexed throughout this period of work inactivity, so I guess the best way to stay in shape (mentally, I mean, mostly) is to find outlets where I can continue to write in some form or another.

I’ve been contemplating starting a social media mini series. I haven’t completely decided what it will be about yet, but I’m thinking something with positive vibes or a theme of hope would be good since there is so much fear and rumour mongering and depressing news going around lately with Covid-19 still in circulation.

Another thing I’ve sort of halfheartedly done (because in the past I usually fail at it) is sign up for the April Camp Nano. I couldn’t decide what to write about there, so tentatively I’m designating it as a collection of short stories, which I will write at random. Unless of course, some sort of direction or theme emerges along the way.

Meanwhile, life at home carries on in its usual fashion.

Today is just slightly out of the norm only in the sense that both hubs and I are already awake at 6+ in the morning (it’s usually only me) and there is activity in the kitchen already. Oh, and the Eldest One was awake out of the blue too (but hopefully, drifting back to sleep soon).

A grocery run may be imminent, and I do not look forward to finding out what is left or what dire straits we may actually be in soon. Sigh.

I’ve told myself I should write something here other than always journalling about real life. But I can’t seem to grasp any useful topic at the moment. I shall try next round, my dear Reader.

May your day today be brighter than the former, and may rays of hope shine amidst the darkness of your little corner.

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.

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).

Alert

It’s 4.46am in the morning over here and I’ve just finished off writing some social media copy for my client. On one side of me, I have my son sleeping, and on the other is my husband. Yup, this is the Work At Home Mum life.

But hey, I love that my life is built around my family first and foremost. A career is important, but should not hinder me from tending to what I love most.

Anyway, it’s not such a good idea for me to stick around too long as I still do need a bit more sleep before the morning rush hour comes swooshing by.

I guess besides letting you know that I’m still awake at this odd hour, I also wanted to share some exciting and also scary news. Hehe.

I’m pregnant for the second time. 😀

It has taken us longer than expected to conceive, so this new development came as a joy + relief for us, but it has also got us worrying about things to come. A lot of changes are coming up, but perhaps it will be good to take things one step at a time.

We have already made this known to our son, and he seems to be taking it really well. In fact, he’s really excited. He’s in this phase where he’s fascinated with babies so he’s thrilled to know that soon we will have one in our family too. He calls it his baby. 😛

There’s a whole lot more other things I could say/share about this topic, but perhaps that’s best left to other posts.

Goodnight.

Reality check: The Work-At-Home life

Stuffed animals in disarray.
What my life feels like right now.

Greetings from the home front! Weekly routine has resumed, after much disruption and unusual activity in late December due to Christmas and my husband being on leave, etc.

As the caption above clearly states, this is how I feel about my current state of affairs right now. Everything is in disarray and all muddled, with unfinished business piled up high into one huge To Do mountain (the word “list” seemed too mild a word to describe the mayhem heh).

But I’m not really here to complain. We have enough negativity online, don’t we? To the contrary, I’m just here to share some candid stories with you.

If it’s your first time here, let me just give you little background by saying that I am a mother to a 2+ year old son and I maintain a home based career as a freelance writer while managing my child on my own during the daytime (until my husband returns from work at the end of the day, that is). That’s most of what you need to know, really.

Alright, let’s get on with it. Here’s what this post is essentially all about:

Working at home and its wonky consequences

Part of the reason that I started this blog was so that I could encourage you, my dear reader, through tales from my own life. This is one of my attempts to do just that.

Right now, my current lifestyle involves being homebound so let’s talk about that.

In particular, if you’re someone who’s contemplating whether the Work-At-Home arrangement is suitable for you, perhaps what I am about to say will help.

Let’s talk about what working at home really looks like, shall we?
For starters, there is no such thing as a typical day at home. Ironically. Haha.
However, I can share with you some regular features in my daily and weekly routine. Here are some of them:

1. Scrounging for time to work wherever I can. This is usually during my toddler’s nap times, after he has gone to bed at night or while he is absorbed in some play activity all by himself. The pockets of time that I normally manage to seize range from 5 minutes to perhaps 45 minutes. Anything block of uninterrupted time of a duration close to an hour or beyond is very rare indeed.

2. Multitasking: The unavoidable, lesser evil. For example, this morning, I had to prepare my invoice which I needed to send out to my client while nursing my still sleepy and slightly grumpy son at the same time. This meant balancing him on my lap while trying to type at the keyboard. Other examples of feats I have had to perform include cooking with multiple interruptions from my son or having to pause to check whether he has gotten up to anything mischievous while doing my best not to burn any food. Also stuff like eating lunch while standing or moving around the home doing chores (such as hanging out the laundry) at the same time.

3. Staying available on the phone to reply work related messages. I often settle work related conversations via WhatsApp which means sometimes offering divided attention to my son. What this looks like in reality: We would be eating lunch and as I coax him to keep feeding himself and keep a conversation going with him, I’ll also be hashing out ideas to a client about what content to put up on their Facebook posts.

4. Working in odd circumstances or conditions. Basically, not being fussy about when or where or how you work. When I’m desperate, I’ll write social media copy while relieving myself in the toilet or in bed when I get up in the middle of the night and realise I’ve unfinished work that’s soon due. Sometimes, I also write while sitting at the back of the car as my husband drives us to our destination.

5. We don’t cook as often as I’d like to. We manage only 3 homecooked meals weekly, and we eat 2 dinners each week at my parent’s place where my Mum would cook. Although we only cook several times a week, we somehow manage to salvage enough leftovers to cover lunch times on weekdays. So most days, Jamie and I eat leftovers for lunch in the daytime. Whichever other meals that are not homecooked or eaten at my parent’s are store bought.

6. The first thing to be neglected is usually chores. Since my time is divided between house chores, freelance work and minding Jamie, this is how things often gets prioritised. If you are the kind that cannot stand physical mess, this will likely irk you as it does me. I can tolerate a certain degree of untidiness, but what we experience over here often exceeds my threshold. But I have to live with it. Because being at home and working only on a freelance basis means we don’t have much extra cash to play with so hiring paid help to handle household chores is highly unlikely.

7. Child minding takes up most of my time. This is especially so if you have a toddler. They haven’t really learned patience yet. And they are almost always needing you or clinging to you. So if you can’t stand someone always being in your face, maybe leave childcare to a babysitter and keep that full time job so you can afford the corresponding fees. A win-win for you, since you will not go crazy dealing with the demands of a young child. Trust me, there’s a lot involved.

8. Lack of personal time. This is probably the pessimistic part of me speaking, but more often than not, you will not have any time to yourself. Even glancing through the notifications on your mobile device is a luxury. Being able to eat whenever you’re hungry is another thing you might need to sacrifice. Hobbies? Sure, but normally that’s only once all the necessaries have been dealt with, eg everyone in the family has been fed, essential chores are out of the way, no client is waiting for any deliverables from you.

9. Be prepared for interruptions anytime. This means that you will often have multiple tasks at various stages of completion at any one time. The interruption I am talking about is the kind that comes from your child. The sort of interference that you wanted to be at home for in the first place: To be there when your child needs you. But this also implies that other things will need to be set aside in favour of that. Tasks that might take only a few minutes can end up requiring double or triple the time to get done because of the said interruption.

Does all of that sound mighty gloomy to you? Well, it shouldn’t because being at home with your child has its generous share of blessings too.

Here are some of them:

1. I did not miss a single developmental milestone for my son. In fact, most times, I was the one who was right there to see him do something for the first time. The one I remember most vividly was when he sat up on his own for the first time. I couldn’t imagine how he might learn how to do it and was stumped on how to encourage him to achieve it. Then one day, while he was playing and rolling around on a mat which I had set up on the living room floor, he suddenly did it. The look of surprise and pride on his face when he had just realised what he had done was priceless. As was the memory of that incident which I hold to this day.

2. I was there whenever my son needed me. Being at the tender age of two that he is, he often seeks me out for all sorts of reasons: For comfort, to share with me a thought or feeling, to invite me to play, to ask for a hug or to be held. Although I cannot always meet his needs right away, I am available and near him and hopefully this helps him to grow up with a deep sense of security and confidence.

3. Because we are around each other 24/7, I get to observe his behaviour all the time and hence, am aware of tiny nuances of change in him. Children grow up so fast. Nearly every week or every few days, something potentially changes for Jamie. His preferences for food. The vocabulary that he uses. His thought processes. His physical skills and inclinations. I am also more likely to notice when he is about to fall sick or if anything is bothering him eg he is not sleeping well or has any insect bites or injuries.

4. A closeness that cannot be obtained any other way. I like the fact that Jamie is closest to me, and prefers me for most things. This isn’t always a good thing, and I still need him to be able to accept my husband handling him as well whenever I am not able to, but it’s a privilege that I enjoy immensely. That special connection that can only come from my son being around me 24/7.

5. Freedom from the superficiality of the corporate work environment and avoidance of time wasters like epic traffic jams. All because I am at home and can be more selective of who I work with and when I choose to be out and about (not during rush hour, as much as I can help it).

Alright, duty calls so I have to scoot. Hope you read all the way to the end. And that it has been eye opening. Hehe. See you again soon!