Aidan, Motherhood

To the quiet chaos

I just put an overtired baby to bed.

Ever since our trip to Sydney, his sleeping patterns have gone all crazy and he’s stopped sleeping through the night consistently. This morning, he woke up at 5am, all ready to play. And I had to nurse him back to sleep – something I hadn’t done since his last mental leap.

He also skipped a nap in the day and because we had to go to the in-laws’ for dinner, little man couldn’t go to bed early.

Which meant that his meltdown at bedtime wasn’t surprising. He didn’t want his father to put him to bed, only mama can. And I gladly took him from his father and held him in my arms as he nestled onto my chest in the fetal position: legs curled up and arms tucked beneath his chest.

I sang his favourite song – Twinkle, twinkle, little star – and cuddled him for a little while. And as I did that, big fat tears started falling from my eyes.

I felt the strongest, most intense love stirring in my heart. For this boy who came as a surprise and who has brought so much light and joy in my life.

I felt the familiar painful tug of guilt, something I battle every single day. I wish I could be there for him every day of his life. I wish that my career doesn’t mean so much to me. I wish that our caregiving situation is smoother than it currently is.

I felt the dawning realisation of how my mother must have felt all her life. For her to slog most of her life away just to bring us up on her own, all the while missing out on the important milestones of our lives.

I felt the bittersweet pang of resignation. That while I can’t wait for him to grow up and do stuff with us, I also wish I could bottle up this glorious period of babyhood and live in it forever. But I know I can’t. He’s growing up, so fast, too fast, and one day he is going to leave us behind.

I felt all these emotions churning in me in those short fleeting minutes before I gently laid him down in his cot.

He will never understand this mix of feelings that burns in my mind every day. But that’s okay.

Because as his mother, my job is to nurture him and then let him go.

Two of Us

Married life #26

On the way home from a late dinner date…

Me: (reminiscing about my past) My time in JC were the best years of my school life. It was fun. Except I wasted time pining for stupid boyfriends.

Him: Oh well, you learn from your mistakes.

Me: Yeah. What an idiot I was. He clearly did not deserve the fabulousity that is me. (pauses) Hahaha. You are not going to like what came to my mind next.

Him: Oh, what is it.

Me: Hah. I was going to say, “I was clearly meant for bigger things.” HAHAHAHA.

Him: Yeah, yeah, whatever.

Me: I’m so clever with these puns! First, the whole “thick and thin” thing. And now this. I am meant for bigger things. YOU!

Him: Whatever. Go and blog about it with that photo.

Me: Okay.

The organised chaos, Werk

Creativity and crap

The thing I love about being an educator is that more often than not, I end up learning something new myself.

I don’t have any lofty ideals about teaching, I don’t see myself as some paragon of knowledge. I’ve always been frank and upfront with my kids: I’m not perfect, I don’t know everything so please, do challenge me. And it’s true. I don’t know everything.

During my first lesson with them yesterday, I perched myself onto the table (why stand when you can sit?) and chatted to them about creativity. I told them that in order to be good at whatever they do, be it photography or writing, they need to expose themselves to a variety of influences and practise, practise, practise. That they will start out producing crap at first but then the crap will slowly turn into gold one day if they work hard enough.

And then I realised that this is sort of how life has been for me.

In the early days of my career, I was confused and trying to find my direction in life. I dabbled at different vocations and left when I felt I had reached the learning ceiling or when it stopped feeling right. My family members tsk-ed at me and labelled me flighty, unreliable – I didn’t bother justifying myself. But I figured that since I am spending a good part of my day at work, I had better be enjoying what I do or I’ll be a most mentally unhealthy person. Of course, I went through a lot of emotional struggle back then, trying to do what was right but at the end of the day, I realised that my sanity was what mattered most.

So yes, there was quite a fair bit of crap involved back then.

But look at me now. I’m doing something that I enjoy. Those various stints that I did in different industries? I gained all that knowledge in so many areas and the experiences have made me valuable in this organisation. I now teach a range of subjects in the school, my supervisors look at me and see versatility and adaptability.

My career has turned into gold.

If I could speak to the me of then, I would say: go forth and explore. Don’t worry about what others are saying behind your back, just listen to your gut instinct. It’s okay to fail, it’s okay to be crap. Because you never know where the failures and the crap will lead you.

(The whole talk about producing crap was inspired by the following video from Ira Glass)

Aidan, Travel

G’day mate!

We’ve had a such a fantastic time Down Under and needless to say, none of us – baby included! – wanted to be back.

The little man was such a perfect traveller, charming the pants off everyone that he met. Mama here scored a free donut and a babycino on his behalf. This one is definitely not shy, he was smiling and babbling to anyone who would even glance in his general direction.

Wonder where he gets it from, as his parents are v v v stoic persons of v v v few words.

Anyway, I’m still exhausted from all that holidaying. Plus, school has started and I have classes to teach! So postings will be a little light until we have finished packing and catching up on our sleep.

In the meantime, here is a photo of the little buddy looking oh so cool for school in mama’s sunnies.

Oh how I love, LOVE this boy of mine!

Photography, The organised chaos

That’s not my name

I tend to get squeamish when I see blood, animals being manhandled in any way and actors getting pummeled on screen. Oh, and also when I am labelled a “mommy blogger”.

See, I have been writing for eight years now. This blog existed way before my body nurtured a baby and then kicked him out of his watery home. I wrote when I was going through career ennui, angsty breakups and wedding preparations. I started taking pictures when I earned enough money to travel and posted them on the blog. In my mind, I am not a mom blogger but a writer who happens to be a mom.

A writer whose life happens to be revolving around her child these days.

I know, I know, it sounds sad. It’s almost as if my life has been overtaken by this not-so-little eating/pooping machine. It’s true and yet not true at the same time.

It’s true in a way because I am having a ball of a time watching my child grow and develop. His every skill, his every milestone are observed by us with much amazement and humility, and we do whatever we can in our capacity to nurture his interests and skills. As a full-time working mom, I like to have as much time as I can with him since the better part of his day is spent with the caregivers. This effectively leaves me with very small pockets of time to indulge in me-activities.

But that doesn’t mean that I am not doing stuff for me. I just don’t write about it. Well, I am too tired to blog every other day, for starters. And because I am so stuck up about having nice photos on the blog, I only post pictures that I have post-processed and that takes time.

I could write about my work. I’m handling two core subjects for the kids and I am enjoying it.
I could write about the cafes that we have been checking out. Henry Congressional, Selfish Gene, The Pigeonhole, Chye Seng Huat Hardware, Strangers’ Reunion etc.
I could write about my driving exploits. I recently went up against a bus and, erm, lost.
I could write about the concerts that we have attended. Snow Patrol was fabulous and I am in love with Ingrid Michaelson.
I could write about this little blogging project that I am embarking on but haven’t got the energy to keep going at it.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I don’t want to be one of those people who write about what I did and ate. This is not a diary. And I am honestly trying not to let the little man run this blog. I want to write about my thoughts and experiences but man, am I too busy/tired to pen those words. And so, the blog remains a bit empty.

Really, I am trying my best.

I was going through my photo archives while preparing for the Photography module that I will be teaching and was struck by how nice some of them actually are (some, on the other hand, should have gone straight into the trash!). Taking a second look at them made me appreciate them all over again, and made me miss shooting.

We are off to Sydney next week and I am going to be lugging my 60D along. I don’t how I am going to juggle baby wearing, a diaper bag AND my reliable mule of a camera but I am going to try. Hopefully, that trip will kickstart my inspiration and get those creative juices going again.

Carousel at Disneyland Tokyo
Ginza at night
Coco under the duvet
Up close and personal with Jason Wade (Lifehouse)
New Year’s Eve fireworks

7 months of Aidan

Dear Aidan,

Every month, I remind your dad that it’s time to take your photo. And every month, he will say the same thing: “So fast?”

Yes, time seems to flash by when you are with us. Such a difference to that trying period of time when we were trying to conceive! The days just seem too short and I wish we had more hours together, you and me.

I go around telling everyone who will listen to me that this is such a fun part of our journey together. And it is! You are such a funny, adorable and chirpy little boo boo.

These days, you are a chatty fellow. You are constantly yakking to us and making strange sounds. To my sheer delight, the first “word” that you have been uttering is “MA”. Whenever you complain, you have this way of saying, “MA MA MA MA MA. MA MA MA MA MA MA.”

Case in point: I put you on our bed one evening before nursing and accidentally boinked your forehead with my elbow. For that split second, we stared at each other in incredulous shock, before I hastily gathered you up into my arms in a flimsy attempt to prevent any form of waterworks from happening. Imagine my surprise when you didn’t cry but started bitching instead, going, “Ma ma ma ma ma. Ah ma ma ma ma ma!” Tsk.

Recently, you have also added the word PA into your vocabulary so, sigh, I guess your dad and I are even now.

The thing is, you cleverly save your complaints for us and is all charming and adorable in front of others. Whenever I bring you out to meet my friends (and their babies), you win their hearts over with your shy smiles and happy, flappy moves. You let all and sundry carry you and coo sweet nothings at you. Everyone thinks that you are the cutest baby ever and nobody will believe me when I say that you can be a brat sometimes.

But even though you CAN be such a monster, whining and whinging to get your way, I always tell your dad that I am addicted to you. Your cheeks are always begging to be kissed and those chub-a-dub-dub thighs are so nom nom nom-worthy! Everytime I nurse you, I have to resist giving your bum a smack or two. The resounding PIAK that ensues just makes me squeal like a silly schoolgirl.

Remember those days when I was all, I don’t want to carry this baby to sleep forever! Erm, changed my mind. I love, LOVE to cuddle you close these days but you won’t let me no more! You wriggle and wriggle like there are ants in your pants. Dude, you can’t sit still. Can you just let poor mama here hug her baby to bits for a while longer?

We will be off to our first family holiday in a week’s time and I can’t wait! We’ve been doing baby led weaning with you and every day, I find myself amazed at how far you have come. You are sitting up unassisted now and it’s oh so convenient for us. You can stuff food into your mouth with ease now and you eat anything and everything that we eat. Just the other night, we had bak kut teh for dinner and we gave you some meat off the ribs. You loved it! You even had a go at sucking the juices from the rib bone. I am so looking forward to having all our meals together in Sydney and you eating off my plate.

You light up our lives, baby boy, and we love you so much that our hearts are bursting at the seams every day. That smile of yours is so infectious and your joy so unbridled and warm. You remember how I say “Good morning, sunshine!” to you in the mornings when we come get you from the cot?

That’s because you are such a beam of pure sunshine. I hope you never lose that beautiful sense of wonderment and happiness.

Your mama

Aidan, Two of Us

Ate, shot and left

Okay, so the headline is not that funny. Hey, this is what a lack of sleep will do to you.

Actually, the little man has been sleeping through the night and we have been getting decent six-hour chunks of sleep. But the interrupted sleep from his last mental leap absolutely wore me down and I find myself still tired and sleep-deprived.

Parenthood! Thy name is synonymous with “Sleep? WTF IS THAT?”

But I digress. This is not the point of my post. The main thrust (sniggers, I can never say that word without thinking of those trashy novels that I used to read. USED TO, okay) of the post is to talk about the family shoot that we did recently.

I’ve been wanting a photo shoot of the family for the longest time now. The truth is, we don’t have friends who are handy with a camera and who understand that composition doesn’t refer to the essays we wrote back in primary school that can take pictures of us. We usually take pictures of each other with Aidan and that’s that. So for our fourth wedding anniversary, I decided to surprise Mr Thick with a family shoot. And who better to photograph us than the awesome Alywin – he who jumped into the smelly waters of Sentosa with us, armed with his precious camera.

(He also literally jumped out of the bushes and yelled SURPRISE!! at husband. Yay.)

We’ve never been fans of the posed studio shots and this time, I opted to have the photos taken at Gardens by the Bay – Bay East. Husband and I really like the place: it’s quiet and has a great view.

The result? A set of beautiful photos that captured our happy moments.