Every single day, every single night, I look at these two and all I can think of is how much love I have for them.
And yet, there are moments on this motherhood journey when I feel completely spent, lost and doubtful. When I feel like I am simply making things up as I go along. When I am not completely sure and can only cross my fingers and hope that what I am doing is the right thing.
Maybe I will sound like a wuss for saying it but man, life with two little people as a full-time working mother is freaking tiring. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, I love them, I love us. But that’s not to say that this gig is not hard.
It’s not even the fact that I wake up two, three times a night that makes this tiring. There are some evenings when I feel like I have given everything I have got left after a day’s work to them and it’s still not enough. My boys are blessedly not difficult children, they are funny and cute and loving. But they are also very physical and their physical need of me can be very overwhelming, especially when the introvert side of me is grumpy and needs a recharge from this noisy, intrusive world. So I heave a huge sigh of relief when they go to bed and I can retreat into the sofa with my laptop. Or ice-cream. Mostly the laptop though.
That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate their physical side though. These two can be so endearing and affectionate in showing their love, I think we lucked out in that respect. Aidan is so generous in doling out hugs and kisses to his sappy mama here, while Zac is a little more reserved, saving these mostly for mama. But the littlest loves to toddle over to me, tug at my shirt and go “eh eh eh” – his way of asking to be carried. And woe betide me should I dare to put him down before he is ready to go!
But I am…tired. I know the days are long and the years are short, I know all that. In the meantime, I am looking forward to NOT feeling so exhausted one day.
We’ve entered June and the weather’s officially turned. Which means it’s hello to scorching days and sweaty humidity, hello to shorts and tanks and sandals, hello to escaping to air-conditioning.
We marked the first day of June by going on a ride down Lorong Halus to Punggol. Crazy, really, considering that we started so late (the littles took a late nap) and it was blazing hot. When we first started pedalling, I thought to myself, this is going down as one of those mistakes. Yup, we have had plenty of those. You know, when you do something which you thought was a good idea and then once you are in it, you kinda go, Hmm, yeah, NO.
Like when we thought it was a good idea to nap the boys in the car and go check out Some Random Place but the boys didn’t nap and they ended up overtired wrecks once we were out of the car. Or when we decided to go Somewhere Nice for dinner and they were slaying us with their worst behaviour.
I really thought it was going to be a disaster. Plus, Zac was screaming the entire way to Punggol. Don’t ask me why, I think he was just in a snitch. Sort of like, Dude, I was perfectly happy to toss toys all over the house and you strap me into this thing for what?! He wanted me to carry him but clearly, I had my hands full.
So there we were, pedalling furiously and there he was, yelling his lungs out, equally furiously. It was HILARIOUS. I was cycling behind husband, who had him in the bike seat, and I could see the heads of the passersby swivelling towards us to check out the screaming baby.
But other than Zac’s vocal exertion, it was a pretty fab ride. The moon was hanging low in the bright, clear blue sky, which thrilled the three-year-old to no end. And then on the other side was the setting sun: a glorious, majestic ball of fire. We quickly made our way to the beach, just in time to see it disappear over the horizon. The boys ate some banana pancakes that I had whipped up just before we set off, we rested our aching legs and we were quietly relishing the moment.
As the sky darkened, we made our way home. By this time, the heat had dissipated and the wind was rushing in our ears. Our legs worked extra hard so that we can get back as quickly as we could, since Zac had resumed his pissed off yelling. To placate him, we started singing as we cycled and so we became the band of singing cyclists. Only, our choice of songs were limited to Aidan’s repertoire and we were warbling, loudly, tunes about children rolling out of bed and Old MacDonald’s farm. And once we were home, the littlest one was quickly put to bed while the rest of us feasted on frozen pizza while catching the SEA Games on the telly.
So it didn’t turn out to be a disaster after all. And as I rode, all I could think of was how this is home and how these are the memories that I want my kids to have. We may not own anything fancy but these rides with mama and papa, these are the things that they will remember. Not the expensive toys or beautiful clothes.
I hope that one day, when my boys are all grown up and perhaps fathers themselves, they will recall that once upon a time, their parents took them cycling and they caught beautiful sunsets and they felt free, happy, contented and so, so loved.
(Okay, maybe Zac won’t remember that he screamed for most of the ride. He did feel loved and happy and free after we took him out of the seat.)
And just like that, my first-born is fast approaching his third birthday. I know, I know, we all say the same thing but honestly, where did the time go? How did he go from a pipe dream to a newborn to a chubby baby to a funny toddler to a precocious preschooler in so short a time? I look at photos of him when he was littler and my heart goes all funny: a mix of intense love and bittersweet wrench.
If Zac is my redemption at motherhood, then Aidan is my miracle. He is the child that almost never was, the one who came into our lives so shockingly when we were expecting nothing. And he is the child who made me a mother, who taught me what this motherhood gig is all about.
He amazes us every single day. He says the darnest things, this boy, and every so often, husband and I would exchange incredulous looks of “did you hear that?!” over his head. We are just so fascinated by his development and personality. I mean, when he was a baby, he was a happy, chubby little thing (we are very blessed in that both our babies are happy babies) who was so very easily loved. But now, the nuances of his personality are slowly emerging and it’s pretty exciting to witness it.
For instance, he is not very good with new people. When we go to birthday parties, he’s the kid who hangs with his parents and doesn’t want to join the other kids initially. He’d rather play by himself, which is exactly like me. I hate parties and I hate being in an environment where I am the new kid. But, like me, once he warms up, he becomes the ringleader, everyone’s friend. That’s pretty evident from his progress in school. According to his teacher, he loves to chat with his friends, even if his friends are not capable of responding verbally to him yet! And everyone knows Aidan – whenever I pick him up from school, I always get little kids pointing and shouting his name at me. It’s hilarious!
He’s mostly a happy chappy who loves to sing – just like papa and mama. He comes home warbling new songs, which are mostly tunes that we know, and he loves it when we sing along with him. We’ve been meaning to enrol him in music classes, hopefully once the transitions at home have settled.
One thing that we are so very thankful for is his acceptance of his little brother. The first few weeks were tough, undoubtedly, as he struggles with the knowledge that the attention of his parents are being diverted. But now, he is a loving brother who is just as affectionate with Zac as he is with us. He would reach for Zac’s hand and say, “Zac, hold hands, Zac.” Or he would pat Zac when the latter is crying. Or he would console Zac in the car seat with “don’t cry! We are going to NTUC, Zac.”
There are times when he drives us absolutely nuts, of course. But it’s your typical toddler will, trying to assert his independence. And we get that, so we try to remain patient and calm. It doesn’t always work, of course, but these incidents are far and few these days. (Let’s talk when he enters disequilibrium again.)
So there you have it, my almost three-year-old in a nutshell. There’s a whole lot more, of course, but these days I find myself writing less and less about him. Well, I am just writing less and less in general but I am also a little more mindful about putting my kid out on the inter webs now that he’s no longer an itty bitty baby. There are some things that we can share and then there’s stuff that should firmly remain offline.
We are still not too sure how we are going to celebrate his birthday, to be honest. Big parties with fancy food and entertainment are not quite our thing. But one thing’s for sure, we will be celebrating as a family of four.
I love my little man.
At age 2.5, Aidan is right smack in the middle of the disequilibrium stage. Oh, the meltdowns! It’s amazing how much angst a toddler can have. I mean, he’s only 2.5 years old and it’s like the world is ending if mama does not give him his crayons in the car.
Luckily for my first-born, he is rather amusing and highly entertaining so I haven’t harboured the thought of selling him to his grandparents. Yet.
Just the other day, my mum made curry chicken for the adults for dinner. She especially made a pot of porridge for my little man because he was nursing a cough and a fever. As Aidan and I sat down for dinner together, he insisted on spooning the curry gravy from the bowl into my plate of rice. Well, it’s good for his motor skills and all so I let him. But before I could stop him, he had conveniently dumped a spoonful of the gravy onto his porridge. Urghs!
I exclaimed loudly because, man, what a waste of food. Now he wouldn’t be able to eat the porridge, right?
He kicked up such a stink when I tried to stop him from eating the curry-laden porridge – and this was curry that had an extra spicy kick to it, mind you – that I decided to just let him do what he wanted. Because, TODDLER ANGST.
He proceeded to stick the porridge into his mouth as I sat there, watching him. IT WAS HILARIOUS. His face changed as he swallowed the porridge and without making a peep, he started to feed himself soup as fast as he could.
I quickly fed him some water and gave him a little “I told you so” spiel. But did our friend learn his lesson? NOOOOOOOOO.
He picked up a spoonful of curry gravy again, dunked it into his soup and TRIED TO DRINK IT UP. When I sternly told him that he should not do it because it’s spicy, his face crumpled and he started wailing dramatically.
Well, okay then. I stopped myself and let him drink the soup.
This time, the spice irritated his throat and he started coughing and sputtering until his eyes watered and his face turned red. Mama had to come to the rescue (after sniggering inwardly) and fed him water again to clear his throat. I would have felt sympathetic except, well, he kinda brought it upon himself, no? Very or bee good. After that, he didn’t attempt to ingest the curry any more.
After dinner, however, I thought about it and I realised that Aidan had really taken it like a man. He didn’t cry when he realised exactly how spicy the curry was, and he didn’t whine. He choked on the curry, drank the water and moved on. With nary a complaint.
So yes, I was sort of proud of him. Also, YAY TODDLER ATE SUPER SPICY CURRY! Atta boy!
So the kid has been in school for the past four months and we can see that he is truly thriving after the rather difficult start. He sings all the time at home now, with some hilarious and funny lyrics.
For example, Twinkle twinkle traffic light/How I wonder what you are/Red means stop/Green means go/Yellow means wait.
Then, he commands us to make up lyrics for him. “Mummy sing airplane on road,” he says. So I do: (to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus) The airplane on the road goes zoom zoom zoom/Zoom zoom zoom/Zoom zoom zoom. After that, he says, “Sing the train on the sky!” And so on and so forth. I sing whatever he asks of me and it makes him smile.
My little cutie. Love him like crazy.
You know, it’s kinda funny. Time crept up on us so stealthily that we hadn’t realised just how big you have grown so far. I mean, it’s like we have been keeping pace with you and we knew you were growing but suddenly, when we see you with your little brother, we discovered just how far we had all come together.
You, my boo boo, are an amazing little fellow. The past few months have not been easy for you but you have grown through it with such joy and unbridled love. You have shown me how strong you are and how much I really, really love you.
We started June just hanging out, you and me. Oh, we did loads of stuff together: we went to Ikea and had tea, chilled at the playground and looked at photos together. We read books and played with trains. We took naps together and woke up happy.
And then Zac came along and your world changed. Suddenly, you were thrust into the unknown and here’s a tiny human demanding so much of your parents’ attention, especially mama’s. Suddenly, all these weird big people were telling you to hug and kiss that tiny human, saying stuff like “if you don’t do XYZ, I will give your Thomas train to didi”.
Of course you acted out. You are only two years old. You are meant to act out at this age. And you did. There were loads of tears and illogical tantrums and strange demands. But those, those I could handle. What I could not handle was the sobbing: big, fat tears accompanied by cries of “mama! Mama!”. It nearly broke my heart into two, it made me wonder if I had been selfish in wanting to have a second child when clearly, my first-born was in despair. All I could do was to hold you, stroke your back, shower you with kisses and tell you that it was going to be alright and I loved you.
Three months on, you have blossomed into the loving and warm big brother that your papa and I had envisioned. You love Zac and say the funniest things to him. Like, “Zac, we go the NTUC, okay?” and “Mama give the num num to Zac”. You love to hug and kiss him, and then tell me to “take photo! Take photo!”
Of course there is still jealousy, of course you still want whichever parent is holding on to Zac. But that’s natural and to be expected. Bit by bit, you are entering the realm where you cannot remember how life was like without Zac.
You started attending school and oh boy, it was so tough in the early days. You cried your heart out when we left you in the new environment. I could not stop my own tears from falling when I saw you sitting on the teacher’s lap and sobbing. I wished I could help you to understand why we had to do this, I wished I could help you through your confusion and sadness.
But look at you now! There are still tears, true, but they go off pretty quickly. The teacher tells me that you are a happy little chappy who loves to sing, and you have a hearty appetite. Sometimes you tend to wander off and do your own thing but you know, that’s so you.
School taught you independence but it also gave you the “gift” of bugs. You caught a nasty bug and you never really recovered from it. For two months, you coughed and sneezed your way through life and we despaired of ever having you healthy again. Throughout this period, though, you remained your happy self and you never let the illnesses bring you down.
So yes, it’s been an eventful three months. Life has changed so much for you but you have been such a super trooper. I’m so proud to be your mama and so glad that you are ours to love and adore.
Don’t ever lose that wide-eyed wonder, okay?
Love you to the moon and back,