Aidan, Letters to

2.5 years of Aidan

Dear Aidan,

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,
mama

Aidan, Photography, Two of Us, Zac

Of beautiful moments perfectly captured

We love beautiful photographs, husband and I.

When we decided to get married, one of our priorities was photography. We knew that we didn’t want just anyone to shoot one of the best days of our lives. Oh forget about the expensive gowns and jewellery, we were willing to pay for photography. And we found it in Eadwine.

And then we got married and we decided that the fun was not over yet. Since my wedding dress was hanging in the wardrobe doing nothing much, we decided to do a trash the dress shoot with my friend Alywin.

Two years later, two (finally) became three and I thought, hey, we should update those photo albums. So Alywin came in to take photos of us and our newest addition – Aidan.

So with the birth of Zac, I could not NOT have a shoot done, couldn’t I? But then my friend Alywin had to move to Shanghai and leave me stranded without a photographer friend. I was searching for a photographer when a friend shared with me Joshua‘s crowd-funding endeavour. To help someone achieve his goal and to get a shoot out of it, why not?

Mr Thick and I are not fans of studio shoots and we never have – we find those too repetitive, too unnatural, too predictable. And, most importantly, there is no natural light. Without batting an eyelid, we decided on an outdoor shoot for this particular one as well. As the day drew closer, however, I started to panic slightly. Handling two kids on a humid summer day? What was I, insanely optimistic?

Thankfully, the weather held up and both boys were on their best behaviour. I mean, nobody cried and NOBODY POOPED. That’s like striking lottery! Plus, Josh was a very nice chap who made us feel all comfortable and the shoot went better than expected.

Even if the matching tees that I got for the boys were actually purchased from the girls department. (BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW THAT!)

We kind of weren’t really expecting much, just a couple of pictures of the family. But what we got from Josh in return was so, so, so much more. We are so chuffed by the album. He definitely made us look more beautiful that we really are, thanks, in part, to the gorgeous light (see, natural light). You can’t even tell that I am absolutely gutted by the lack of uninterrupted sleep.

Also, Photoshop is our best friend. Here’s to being Fabulously Gorgeous forever!

Aidan, Zac

Version 2012 vs Version 2014

2_months

I just had to do a comparison photo of my two babies side by side. And man, they look so different at the same age!

It may appear as if Aidan is more smiley than Zac but the truth is, I was alone when I was shooting Zac so that kind of explains his bewildered expression. With Aidan, Mr Thick was next to me performing all sorts of tricks to coax a smile out of him. No wonder my boo boo was grinning like a cheeky monkey.

Re-reading the post that I had written when Aidan was two months old, it just reminds me of how tough those early days were. Compare this with how I am right now with Zac, you can see how much I have grown.

Ah, my second-born. You may lack the undivided attention of your parents, which your brother received for two full years, but you get the benefit of our experience AND the affection of your sibling.

Aidan, Motherhood

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.

Aidan, Motherhood, Two of Us, Zac

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.)

Aidan, Bun in oven

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.

Aidan

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.

Aidan, Letters to

To my firstborn (25 months)

Dear Aidan,

I am sitting here typing this to you while 32 weeks pregnant with your younger sibling. And it’s a rather bittersweet feeling. Because, as I was telling Papa, we are having so much fun as a family of three, that I feel slightly guilty for changing your world completely.

Oh, I know that you probably won’t remember the years that you spent with just the two of us. You won’t remember just how we would sit on the floor, building towers and trains of bricks with you. You won’t remember how we read Where We Go and Out in the Sun with you every night before bedtime. You won’t remember standing in your learning tower, stirring your yogurt in the kitchen with me. You won’t remember lying with me on the sofa in the evenings, listening to your favourite songs (currently Coldplay’s Viva La Vida, live version, “uncle song with clapping,” you say) while your hand gently sits on my big belly. You won’t remember curling up next to me as you fall asleep, your hand reaching back to hold mine.

Right now, you are the sweetest, sweetest boy in the world. You look up to me as we walk and say “hold mama hand” in your adorable voice. And you kiss and hug us so lovingly and generously. You insist on kissing the baby everyday.

Just the other night, we were out way past your bedtime for the Electric Run. You were sitting in your stroller in that sticky, suffocating heat, quietly absorbing the atmosphere. From time to time, you would call out for mama to seek reassurance.

Meanwhile, mama was feeling miserable. We had been standing for almost an hour just to get to the starting line, and I was irritated by the hot temperature and the crowd. My calves were in spasms, my back was aching, I was this close to losing my temper. And we haven’t even started the 5km walk yet.

I stood by your stroller, bent forward to relieve the ache in my lower back. Tears sprung into my eyes. I felt like a total failure for being a party pooper when everyone else around me was in such high spirits. I just wanted to go home.

And then suddenly, I heard your little voice pipe up, “Mama? Mama?”

I turned to look at you and you were staring at me with those big eyes. You reached out and patted me on the arm. And in that instant, I wanted to cry.

I wish I can encapsulate every moment that we spend with you and you alone. The process of watching you grow up is so magical and beautiful that I wish time wouldn’t move so fast.

But time is indeed flying by. In a blink of an eye, I am 32 weeks pregnant and, as mama’s colleague reminded me today, we could become a family of four in a month’s time. Especially if your little brother or sister has your propensity for arriving into our world ahead of schedule.

When I was waiting for you to join us, I wasn’t afraid. I was ready to face whatever challenges parenthood would bring us. But now, I find myself worried and slightly anxious. Because this time, the change would not only affect us but also you.

I hope that if you ever read this as an adult, know that we love you very much and all we ever want is the best for you. I hope that you will grow to love your sibling and to rely on one another. I hope that you will realise just how important you are to us, as our firstborn and the one who made us parents.

Remember that no matter what, you will always be loved. No matter what.

Love you to the moon and back,
Mama

Aidan, Travel

Dramatic tendencies

We took a quick holiday in Bali over the past week and, man, hauling around a toddler is an exhausting thing to do. There were times when he just pushed all the wrong (or right, depending on which side you are looking at) buttons and drove us absolutely nuts.

Thankfully, we took turns getting mad and were able to defuse the situation quickly. Ah, parenthood is really a partnership. And I feel like I need a holiday to recover from the holiday.

Having said that, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. The OMGHEISDRIVINGMEINSANE moments were far and few, and there was plenty of good fun too. There are good stories to tell but right now, I need to edit my photos and I’ll leave you with this gem of a tale.

So there we were, at the top of some rice paddy fields in the middle of nowhere, waiting for the sun to set and our organic food to arrive. How we got there is a story worthy to be told on its own so I’ll leave it for another day.

Anyway, yes. Picture this. We were sitting in some rustic “restaurant” that’s really a hut. Over in the far horizon, the sun was slowly setting. The adults – me, Mr Thick, my mum and my Cousin Ching – were all hot and sweaty from the hike up to the “restaurant”. Aidan was in his element, yelling and attempting to run all over the place, refusing to settle. Mr Thick was at the point of eruption. He plonked A onto the chair and delivered a grim and firm ultimatum: “SIT!”

In a bid to divert Aidan’s attention, my cousin started to talk to him.

Cousin Ching: Oh look, Aidan! Look at the sunset!
Aidan: (stops whinging and looks up with a WOAH expression) Oh! (pause) My god!

– End of scene –

Aidan

Aidan turns two

Two years. Wow. Have they flown by so quickly?

I have been a mother for two years. And everyday has been a joy for me. Some days are longer than others and some nights more wakeful. But not a day goes by without me being thankful that I have the opportunity to be a mother to this little buddy of mine.

It’s a cliche uttered by all parents but man, can time slow down and let me enjoy being a mother to my baby (read: toddler) just a little more?

I love everything about this phase. He’s in a delightful age where he is trying to string complete sentences, enjoys cuddling up to me (“sit on mama lap!”, “mama carry!” etc), loves reading books, dances to music awkwardly but oh-so-passionately, finishes the sentences from his favourite books and laughs all the time. He kisses us readily, leans his head so lovingly on our shoulders and grins widely when I pick him up after work.

Sure, there are the usual tantrums. There are the odd outbursts which we cannot account for. But these incidents are generally the exception, not the norm.

Over the past weekend, we celebrated his birthday with our families. There is no fancy set up, no elaborate party, no artistically arranged cake/dessert table, no expensive goody bags, no professional photography. We kept it simple, deliberately: just food, the people who love him and us, and cakes. That’s what I remember of my childhood birthdays and that’s how I want him to remember his.

Call us crazy but Mr Thick and I also decided to make him a cake from scratch. Hah, us? He loves trains, so we thought we’d made a train cake. The internet made it look so easy! I baked the lemon pound cake and made the swiss buttercream frosting. I coloured the frosting and then turned everything over to the cake engineer. He sat at the dining table and painstakingly sliced, cut, drilled and frosted the cake.

The result? A really awful looking cake. REALLY. UGLY. Absolutely nothing like what we had intended. My girlfriend jokingly called it the “Pinterest fail”. But hey, we had fun doing it together and had a good laugh at what terrible bakers we make.

And then, MAGIC. Aidan laid his eyes on the cake and shouted out in glee, “Oh train!”

He couldn’t keep his eyes off of the cake, as ugly as it was, and dug at it with his spoon happily. And over the following days, he would open up the fridge and ask for “Thomas train cake”.

And this was how I knew that this is our family: the imperfect love that makes us us.

Happy birthday to my boo boo. Mama and Papa love you to the moon and back (multiply by infinite times).