Letting go

Aidan started school this week and it’s been a rocky start so far.

Oh, we expected it. There were tears and a lot of wailing. He has been extremely clingy to me. At night, he wakes up sobbing and asking for mama. In the day, he wants me to carry him and play with him and read to him and take him to the potty and wash his hands. Basically, he wants mama for everything.

It’s been hard on us too. I cried when we dropped him off on the first day. And tears rolled down my cheeks when I picked him up and saw him sitting on the lap of the teacher, crying his little heart out. On the second day, I cried at seeing his joyful smile when he realised that I was there to get him. On the third day, I cried when his face crumpled at catching sight of me peeping through the doors.

In short, I cried a lot. Even though I know that eventually, he will enjoy school and it will be a good experience for him. At the present moment, I am still feeling my heart crack at seeing my child in this state of uncertainty and confusion and sadness.

Remember that quote from Elizabeth Stone? “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

My heart wrenches when I see Aidan cry at being away from his parents at a new environment. My heart wrenches when I see Zac choke and sputter and then cry from reflux. My heart wrenches when Aidan waves goodbye and blows kisses at his teachers in the midst of his sobs. My heart wrenches when Zac wailed inconsolably on the bilibed.

It’s an awful feeling.

But then again, my parenting mantra has always been this: my role as a parent is to love them and nurture them, and then let them go. They need to learn to find their own way around in this big, bad world. I cannot hold their hands forever, nor baby them forever.

And so, in this little way, I am letting my son take his first step into the world by himself. I know, it’s only school and he is only 2 years old. But still, it’s a step towards independence and away from mama. And if I can’t even do that gracefully now, I will become that awful, controlling and overbearing mother who will insist on running my sons’ lives even when they are 50 years old.

I wish, though, that time would stand still and let me keep them so little forever. The way Aidan lets me cuddle and kiss him. The tiny newborn-ness that Zac is fast losing every single day.

Being a parent is so bittersweet, ah.

Keep calm and parent on

Second time around, things are admittedly easier than before.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, we are all exhausted. A typical night looks like this: bathe both boys, put both boys to sleep and then concuss at 10pm, wake up at 2am in alarm because I had forgotten to set the timer for my three-hourly wake up call to feed the baby, feed the baby, change his diaper, feed the baby again, place baby gingerly into his cot, sleep, wake up at 5am when baby fusses, feed baby, change baby’s diaper, feed baby again, place baby gingerly into his cot, sleep, wake up at 7am because toddler is up.

Some nights, Zac will not go back to sleep after his feed. Which means that we will be staring at each other for a good hour (or two, or three) before he conks out. If I am lucky, he doesn’t cry much. If I am not, he will be fussing and whinging and I will be all WHAT DO YOU WANT, KID.

But it’s cool. One night, both Mr Thick and I collapsed in our bed and laid there in silence for a little bit. And then I said, “Good thing we know that it is not going to be like this for too long.” He nodded and we shared a quiet laugh.

With two littles, there is no time for us to sit there shell-shocked, wondering what the heck is going on and how do we do it. We just roll up our sleeves and do. And having experience on our side helps, we know that eventually, things will get easier.

Admittedly, it’s tough during the day when I need to juggle the needs of Zac and Aidan at the same time. Thankfully, I have my mother over and she’s been a gem at helping me with the boys. She adores Zac and will put him down for his nap while I give Aidan some one-on-one attention that he craves. And when I am nursing Zac, she will feed Aidan, bring him to the potty and keep an eye on him.

And let’s not forget that I get all my meals prepared for me for a month. I have no idea how I will survive without her after this but mmm, let’s take it one day at a time.

So yes, having two kids has been great so far. Extremely tiring, but also extremely joyful.

(But no, this family is going to be a family of four for a long, long, long time.)

Wasting time

We had our 39-week routine check at the obgyn’s yesterday. Okay, I’ll admit it: I was hoping that he would say something about me going into labour anytime soon. At this juncture in time, I can say that I am finally ready to have this baby.

Like, NAO.

Instead, Dr T waved us off with a cheery, “See you next week!”
“Next week?” I asked incredulously. “Will I be seeing you here next week?”
“I think so!” he replied with a smile.

WHAAAAAAT THE.

I left the clinic feeling a little deflated. You see, back when I was pregnant with Aidan, I decided to work all the way until I delivered the baby, so that I could spend all 16 weeks of maternity leave with him. The timing worked out pretty well: I gave birth to him at 37 weeks and the work load had been light since it was already term break.

This time, I opted to start my leave a little earlier because I am just flat out from six weeks of school. Plus, I was hoping that Two would arrive before my estimated due date since his/her brother had been so impatient. That would allow me a tiny pocket of rest and I’d still be able to spend much of my maternity leave with my babies.

Now, I’d be potentially “wasting” at least a week of leave doing nothing, until Two decides that it’s time to vacate Camp Womb. Which means I’d have one less week with Two the Baby before heading back to work. Sob sob.

I really, really, REALLY expected to have had this baby by now.

Hah. HAR HAR HAR. Goes to show just how obedient my kids are.

Anyhow, silly me. Rather than see the glass as half empty, I should take this as an opportunity to take a breather from work. And more importantly, this is a wonderful chance for me to spend some quality, one-on-one time with my firstborn before his life turns upside down.

We’ve gone to the park to play ball (he kicks and I chase, that impish monkey). We’ve taken train rides. We’ve cuddled up and napped together, his little hand lying gently on my swollen belly. We’ve had tea and cake together. We’ve read books and played with trains. We’ve laid on the sofa and listened to music. We’ve sat together on the bed, looking at the rain pelting down on our window.

This afternoon, he asked me to read to him. The book in his chubby hand was Joanna Cole’s “I’m a Big Brother” – one that he loves to be read to. When we were done, he pointed to one of the illustrations and said, “That’s papa and mama and baby and gor gor.”

I told him that he will become a gor gor when baby is here, and will he be a good gor gor?

“Yes,” he said, thoughtfully.

Beautiful, wonderful moments, just me and him. Like how it used to be when he was born.

It’s not all rainbows and roses, of course. He’s thrown countless tantrums over the oddest of things, and his record is 20 minutes of sobbing over yogurt and biscuit while I was fixing dinner. But rather than lose my temper, all I can do is tell him off firmly, ignore him and then give him a hug and a kiss. He’s always so happy and smiley after that, it’s like the waterworks never happened.

Two-year-olds are the strangest creatures.

So that’s where we are at now: waiting for Two to make his watery exit. In the meantime, it’s just me and my little man making some precious memories together.

A quick note for my memory

We’ve hit 38 weeks and I’m just so physically tired these days. But it’s all good – everything that we need for Two’s arrival has been put in place and I’m finally, I think, ready for him/her to be here.

At the same time, I am also relishing in the company of my first-born. Knowing that his life could change any moment now, I have been spending as much time with him as possible. And I try to dole out cuddles, hugs and kisses to him as often as he will let me.

And oh, my little man. He’s simply been amazing so far. At almost 27 months, he is the most delightful little person to be around.

Sure, there are the usual tantrums and occasional outbursts. But we’ve always managed to smooth things over without losing our temper or resorting to shouting. And I don’t say that to show that we are model parents.

No, on the contrary, it’s because of his temperament. Aidan is a sweet, gentle, warm and loving toddler. When he doesn’t get what he wants, he cries. But he never gets unreasonable, we’ve always been able to make him see sense somehow.

He says the funniest things and is so full of love and affection to those around him, even when we are stern with him and tell him, no you cannot have another Oreo cookie. Maybe I am biased because I am his mother but man, this boy makes me laugh EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Just this evening, we were in the car heading home after dinner. The Pretenders was on the radio and Chrissie Hynde was belting out a song. And, typical of my little man, he asked for a change of song.

“Can you wait until we get home?” I asked.
“No!” he insisted. “I want the ‘aunty song’.”
(‘Aunty song’ = Regina Spektor’s Fidelity. I know, poor Regina Spektor.)
“But this is also aunty singing,” replied husband.
“No, I want the aunty song,” said A indignantly.
“But this is also an aunty song.”
“No papa, this is uncle singing.”
“No Aidan, this is an aunty.”
Poor Aidan. He sounded genuinely perplexed when he answered, “No, this is an uncle.”

My beautiful boy. How I love you. You are a joy to behold and we are so lucky, lucky, lucky to have you. I hope that you will never lose this spark, this gentle sweetness, and this kindness. You are just so easy to love and I pray that you will always, always be like this.

Friday, it’s coming!

Oh boy, it’s been one of those weeks.

My work week usually starts off with a 6-hour teaching day and I am always, always so drained by the end of it. And then I’d be slumped on the sofa, wondering why I was crazy enough to think that I can teach all the way until I pop this baby out.

So yeah, I think I am kinda exhausted.

Everyone’s been asking me when I am due, and when I tell them that I have under five weeks to go, they look a little surprised. Some tell me that my belly looks too small for that gestation period and I always wonder why people think that it’s perfectly okay to tell an expectant lady that. And when they find out that we don’t know the sex of the baby, they look even more startled and decide to offer me their (unsolicited) guesses.

So far, we have had guesses ranging from boy to girl to boy to girl. Some say it’s a boy because my belly is pointy. Some say it’s a boy because my belly is round. Some say it’s a girl because I don’t look awful. Some say it’s a girl because my belly looks like a girl belly.

Mmmkay. We shall find out in due time. ;)

But it’s all good so far. Two has definitely piled on the pounds recently – I can’t speak without going all breathless now and my stomach has shrunk drastically! He/She seems to be a little lower too, I can now feel the squiggly wriggly movements low on my pelvis. The Braxton-Hicks contractions are definitely increasing in both frequency and intensity – the doctor did warn me that these will be more painful the second time around.

We’ve been going for our fortnightly checks at Dr T’s and Aidan has enjoyed every single visit. Every night, he would pull out that rubber tubing that came with the air pump that we use for his swimming floats, hang it around his neck and tell us that he wants to “scan the baby”. He then gently rubs the end of the tubing across my tummy. He also loves to rest his head on the belly and say that he wants to “sleep with baby”. And let’s not forget the kisses that he doles out on the belly every day.

It just makes my buttery, pregnant heart melt!

Fingers crossed that he will remain as loving towards Two when he/she is finally out.

Can’t believe that the little one will be joining us soon!

Psst, that’s me at 35 weeks two years ago!