I love meeting up with friends over coffee.
We enjoy the coffee, catch up on each others’ lives and keep an eye on the littles, all at the same time. Sometimes, a cake (or croissant) will sit on a plate on the table as we nibble while listening to the other speak. The afternoon sun will stream in, lighting up the place with its magical sparkle.
Every time I meet up with Y and her lil Missy, the conversation seems endless. We may not have seen each other for a while but there’s always something to say. And she is always taking me to new places to check out the coffee. Missy, on the other hand, will tell us stories and draw pictures and – in a recent development – send me Whatsapp messages, alternating between declarations of love and images of cupcakes.
This was exactly what I needed, a leisurely afternoon away from work. Forget about deadlines and that pile of marking, forget about the very little sleep that I had had the night before.
Coffee. And friends. A most enchanting combination.
I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade but I’m not really into Mothers’ Day.
While my Twitter and Instagram feeds are filled with pictures of carnations and gifts and tales of husbands/kids behaving themselves, I have none of it. Instead, we had breakfast at Tiong Bahru market and headed off to the beach to spend the afternoon with my mother and sister’s family. The day ended with dinner at my brother-in-law’s.
You see, to me, every day is Mothers’ Day. Every day that I get to be mom to the most awesome kid in the world is Mothers’ Day. And every day, I know that husband appreciates me and all that I do for the little man.
My lifetime of Mothers’ Day gift was handed to me more than 14 months ago, when the little man was born. Having battled most of the previous two years to be a mom, his birth was like a present handed to me on a silver platter. And since then, I don’t take any moment for granted.
Sure, it’s not like my life as a mother is a bed of roses and OMG AM SO DELIRIOUSLY HAPPY THAT RAINBOWS ARE SHOOTING OUT OF MY ARSE. (Can you just PICTURE IT! Hilarious and slightly disturbing image.) There are days when I am flat out tired or when I find it difficult to manage the kid or when the lack of sleep gets me down. There are days when I slump on the sofa, drained of every ounce of energy that I possess, or when I lose patience with him.
Watching him grow is the greatest gift on earth, it’s the most amazing PRIVILEGE. To see him develop from this orange-skinned, frowny little fellow into a toddler who is ready to walk and conquer the world with his favourite things – banana, ball and that bee night light – is nothing short of MAGICAL. His hugs and smiles and love for me warms me everyday and brings me so much joy.
And so, every day is Mothers’ Day to me.
Oh, and there is no need to wait until Mothers’ Day to be pampered by husband – he fetches me a glass of wine and an ice-cream whenever. Hee.
(PS I did spend it with both my mother and mother-in-law. And also bought my mama a pair of purple sparkly FitFlops. Just cos hers were old and ratty and falling apart.)
I just wanted to pen this moment down before I forget it.
Last night, I went to pick up Aidan from my in-laws’ as usual. He was sitting on his Nai Nai’s lap and wanting for me. As I got out from the car, I saw his eyes light up in recognition and delight. He started bouncing up and down, pointed at me and shouted, “Mama!”
My heart melted.
Right now, the little man’s favouritest person in the world is mama and I am relishing it. I know that one day, he is no longer going to want to be a mama’s boy. One day, holding mama’s hand will no longer be cool, and neither is kissing mama on her lips. One day, he will want to hang out with papa, because they can do boy stuff together. One day, he will prefer to have meals and watch movies with his friends. One day, his parents will no longer be the people whom his world orbits around and we will be seen as fuddy-duddies.
But right now, he loves me unconditionally. And I, him.
14 months after delivering my little man, I went through a lengthy process of coming up with another baby: my new site, Bubsicles.
Bubsicles was born out of my identity as a mother and it was really a desire for me to build a community of women sharing their experiences of being and becoming mothers openly, freely and without prejudice. Too often do we see “mommy wars” being ignited. If anything, parenthood has taught me that there are many different options out there and not one is better than the other.
I started toying with the idea last year but it took a while for me to get my act together and I bought the domain name in November. Then work took over my life, I was busy fighting fires in school and the little man slept so poorly. Somehow, through sleep-heavy eyelids and fuzzy brains, I managed to put together a site that looks halfway decent.
There are times when I think I must be crazy, starting a new project when I barely have the time and energy to deal with whatever is on my plate now. Call it itchy fingers or being a stubborn old mule – but once I had that idea in my head, I could not get over it without getting it done. Yannisms will still be here and I will still be writing about this little boy of mine. Bubsicles is more about life as a mother and all the tips and tricks that get me through it.
So here it is, my bubsicles. Right now there’s just me and me alone but I hope to be able to gather more women in future to share their words and lives. In the meantime, enjoy and please send any feedback or suggestion this way!
As I sit here typing this, my nose is running, my hands are as cold as ice, and the back of my throat feels like sandpaper. It’s no exaggeration when I say that I FEEL LIKE CRAP. And obviously, I look like crap too.
BUT. That is not the point. I am not here to whine and whinge about my illness. Okay, maybe just a little. WHINE WHINE WHINE. Now stop.
I have never appreciated how much work my mother put into bringing me up until I became a mother myself. It’s so cliched but true. As a mother, you don’t have “off” days. Even if you are sick, you still have to haul your ass up to do whatever is necessary because your child needs you. My baby isn’t going to feed, bathe and put himself to bed just because mama is feeling ill. Even if you had a bad day at work, you still have to put on a big smile and pull on that Mama hat because you just have to.
At least I have a helper now who can take over the cleaning up, and a husband who is able to put my little man to bed while I lie on the bed for a brief respite. Back then, my mother never had any of that. It was just her and two kids, whom she had to bring up by herself.
As someone who never had the privilege of education, she had to work long hours in order to feed us two. And she missed out on so many priceless moments of our lives. Not once was she able to attend the ceremonies in which I received book prizes, neither did she attend a single choir performance of my life. And I sang for 13 YEARS.
Which is why now that I have my own child, I am absolutely insistent on letting her have at least partial care of A while I am at work. She never had the chance to be joyful about our growth, it was always about survival for her. How to make sure that we have the money to go to school and pay for textbooks, how to make enough money such that we are not deprived of little treats like renting books to read (for me). Toys were non-existent in our house but books, oh my, all the books that I read!
Now that the stress of having to bring up her own children is out of the way, she can finally relax and just be a caregiver. And it’s evident that she is enjoying it immensely. She shifted all her furniture out of the way so that the boys have a large space to run/crawl/ride their trikes, switched out pieces that had sharp corners to those without, and plays with them. She turns on music and encourages them to dance, and takes them down to the playground every evening.
Never mind that her house has been turned topsy turvy, never mind that toys line the hallway, never mind that milk bottles clutter her dining table. It’s a little house that’s full of love and warm and joy. The house speaks of laughter and tears and milestones reached.
Sure, the situation is not perfect. She gets upset with me when I refuse to feed A porridge (I mean, he gets porridge EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Surely it’s not wrong for me to offer him variety.), turns on the TV in the house even though I have said that I am limiting A’s exposure to TV, and slips some sugar into the chrysanthemum or barley drink that she feeds him.
But to see her eyes light up every time A smiles at her? And to see my little man kiss her goodbye? It’s well worth it.
It was just a month ago that we were there and yet it feels like a lifetime. Yup, that’s what parenthood does to you.
(Sidenote: every time I forget something or have to stifle a yawn in class, I tell my students that I am exceedingly tired and that if they value their sleep, they should AVOID having children at all costs. Am I not a terrible educator? DO NOT BLAME THE FALLING BIRTH RATES ON ME.)
Anyway, we had quite a quiet time in Perth. Being there with family meant that we could not afford to be overly ambitious with our itinerary, given that we had to take into account the comfort level of the other members. If it had been just the three of us, I am pretty sure we would have explored more places.
But it was just as well, taking it slow and easy. Oh, tip: don’t go over to Perth during the Easter break. It’s ridiculously quiet. All the shops are closed and as one radio DJ said, Easter is the dullest period of the year. Hah, no shit. Lesson learnt.
What I loved about Perth: the wide, open spaces; brilliantly blue skies; laid-back pace; the breathtaking sunsets; and THE COFFEE. How can I forget about the coffee? We didn’t go cafe hunting this time around but the two or three cups that I had were excellent. And they weren’t even recommended by Foursquare!
Writing about this brings up the wanderlust itch all over again. There is just something about being on the plane that makes me feel happy. Never mind that I may only be flying to KL, the notion of going somewhere brings me so much joy. I guess I just wasn’t made to stay in one place for very long – I’m like the sea snail with an itchy foot (is it any surprise that it’s one of my favourite books to read to A?).
If you need more ideas on where to visit while in Perth, drop me a note and I’ll try my best to help!
Last night was a difficult night for me.
It was the first day of school and I was pretty beat up from lessons. Talking for four hours a day, non-stop, can be a really tough thing to do, let along managing a large group of teenagers at the same time. By the time I headed home, my tank was running on low.
And my little man, oh my little man! His sleep has been downright ugly for the past six months but that’s okay, I am used to it. But between the two of us, we spent an HOUR putting him to bed. That’s one hour of Mr A crying and sobbing and yelling before he finally fell asleep. By the time I came out of his room, I was ready to throw in the towel and call it quits. Whatever “it” may be.
Maybe it was the Universe toying with me, or maybe it’s just me being stupid on social media. Randomly scrolling through Instagram as I sprawled across the sofa, I came across two separate pregnancy announcements from ladies whose babies are not even one.
Let me repeat that: their babies are not even ONE and they are PREGNANT.
I broke down. I couldn’t stop sobbing, the tears just kept flowing fast and furious. All I could think of was how exhausted I was, how I wanted a second little one too, how is it that everyone else can have it all while I was barely keeping it together.
But you know what, life goes on. My lessons are not going to run by themselves just because I had a rough night. I can’t be all mean and nasty and grouchy because I didn’t get enough sleep. My baby still needs his mama. So I get up, brush the dirt from my knees and walk on.
It’s okay though. It’s okay to have one of these bad days. Life is not perfect, not for me anyway. Motherhood is not all peaches and roses. I’m not glamorous, far from it. It is tough and there are days when we hit rock bottom. On those days I do what I can to get through it. And then it gets better.
It will, it eventually will. Just tell yourself that. And then wipe those tears dry, hold your head up high and get on with the day. Because you are strong enough. We all are.
In the end, I cleaned my face and nose on husband’s tee-shirt. Went into the bedroom, turned on the AC and tucked myself under the quilt. At 1030pm. And I slept until Aidan woke up and needed me.
And it was a brand new day all over again.
We are driving down Swan Valley on Mr Thick’s 25th birthday…
Me: Okay. Let’s pretend that we are not in Perth. Instead, we are at the vineyards in San Francisco.
Me: And that’s my birthday present to you.
Him: Which is?
Me: The power of imagination! A most important present indeed. Happy birthday!
I haven’t written about infertility for a while now but it’s always hanging at the back of my mind. Even as we think about having a sibling for the littlest of us all, the possibility that we will have to go through all that heartache again is something that has never left my thoughts.
Recently, a friend of mine confided that he and his wife had failed to conceive after a series of IUIs. Luckily for them, they conceived their two kids after one shot at IUI respectively. Well, I use the term “luckily” very loosely and reluctantly – if they were that lucky to begin with, they wouldn’t be needing the help of artificial reproductive technology (ART) to conceive in the first place. But in the world of infertility, getting it right the first time around is considered extremely fortunate indeed.
Anyway, given their age, they have decided that this would be their last shot at having another child, despite their strong desire to add another little one to their family. He teared while sharing the news with us and it was patently obvious that the decision to give up was not an easy one to make.
While sharing this story with two other friends who also went through IVF, the first reaction that I got from both, on separate occasions, was: but they already have two, they should consider themselves lucky.
It’s true, and yet as I watched him wipe his tears, I realised that the pain of secondary infertility is no lesser than that of primary infertility. The longing for a child is not lessened by the fact that you already have children. While yes, it may help the heartache fade away easier, it’s still painful nonetheless.
Sometimes, I find that those of us who have gone through infertility tend to be a lot more judgmental. Unconsciously, we compare the amount of trauma and hoops that we have had to jump. To be honest, I am guilty of that myself too.
You went through one IUI? Pish, that’s nothing compared to SEVEN.
I had to go through 3 IVFs to conceive, you are so lucky to get your baby at your first IVF.
The thing is, ultimately, all infertility survivors are champions. Full stop. Every journey, every experience is different. Some are stronger than others, some are still searching for that happily ever after. But in the end, we are all brave, brave souls because we dare to take the unknown by the horns and wrestle for a different future.
We are all strong people because we DO something to solve the problem. We try and we try and despite the tears and the heartbreaks, we try and try again. Every little Clomid tablet that we take, every raging headache that we suffer from due to the influx of hormones in our bodies, every experience with the freaking speculum, every indignity that we willingly go through – we do it again and again.
So no matter how many IVFs we had to go through, or how many times we crumbled at the tell-tale sign that our efforts did not succeed, we are all brave and strong.