The organised chaos, Two of Us

Enjoying the good, good life

Last weekend, I attended my cousin’s wedding and for their photo montage, the couple used this song, OneRepublic’s “Good Life”.

It’s been stuck on my mind since then and as I put it on repeat mode (habit of mine, I can repeat a song a gazillion times, heh), I can’t help but reflect on the lyrics.

Because I’m really leading the good life now at 32.
(Yes, I realise I am revealing my age to the Internetz. And no, I don’t care, I’m proud of how old I am.)

Back in my teens, I was chasing popularity. I wanted desperately to be one of the popular girls but I failed miserably, what with my bad haircuts, thick glasses and bad skin. I wanted to be liked by everyone and I probably tried too hard.

In my 20s, I was seeking myself. Call it an existential angst if you want, but I was trying to find my place in life and the world. I didn’t know what I was good for and looked really hard to find a job that made me sing. I yearned to be one of those chic women with the latest IT bag and perfectly coiffed hair, high heels clicking in harmony.

And now that I am in my 30s, I am astonishingly comfortable in my own skin. I am no longer young and beautiful, true. But I am confident of who I am, of what I am. I love husband and we are still crazy in love. My little man has taught me patience, humility and gratitude and not a day goes by without him bringing us laughter and love.

This has gotta be the good life.

I don’t have that coveted Chanel bag. I’m not travelling half as much as I dreamed of. We often wonder why our bank accounts are not growing. Our flat is done up simply. I get a thrill from going grocery shopping.

But we make our lives. We decide that this is our life, this is how we intend to live, and we should make every day a good one.

Some days are harder than others, some nights drag on for longer than they should. But we are happy. And contented. Because there is so much to feel good about.

Speaking of weddings, the best parts are usually the montages and the speeches by the bride and groom. Montages are so run of the mill, it’s true, but it always warms my heart to see pictures of the couple as they were growing up, as well as those of them creating memories together. And the speeches, they tell you a lot about who they are, and what they went through in their relationship.

Every relationship is unique and each one has its own story. Ours is written here, for our son to read when he is older. And I love listening to these stories, I love hearing about how two people meet, fall in love and make it work.

I don’t really remember the details of the speech that my beloved gave on our wedding day. He sang to me and for me, and then said something about thanking me, about it being fated. I think. But the intense joy, the feeling that it was the most amazing day of our loves – that has stayed with me for the past four years. And as we approach our fifth year together, I’m glad that he’s by my side as my partner and the father of my baby.

This could really be the good life, the good, good life.

To my cousin and his wife, have a blessed marriage ahead that’s full of love and laughter. And thanks for reminding me that life is beautiful.

Jimmy & Yann – our lives, our faces, our love from Jimmy Liew on Vimeo.

The organised chaos

Mama’s girl

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.

The organised chaos

On the day of the dead

Today, my son “met” my father for the first time.

And I was struck by just how much that had meant to me.

You see, my father died when I was six. In the years that ensued, I had built and lived a life in his absence. Because he had passed on when I was still a young child, I did not really feel the void that his death had created in my life, not in the same way that it had affected the lives of my mother and my sister.

Last year, I had missed out on attending the Qing Ming procedures because of the birth of my little man. And this year, he almost missed it again, having fallen asleep in the car en route to the columbarium. We decided that Mr Thick would remain in the car with him while I went up to my father’s niche to pay my respects.

And we did, my aunt and my cousins and my mom – the women who had lost so many people along the way. These days, we can stand around the niches and exchange fond, amusing memories of the dead but that in itself took many long years of learning to forgive and accept. We laughed and knelt and bowed our heads in prayer, hoping that those whom we had loved and departed all too soon were in good hands somewhere, somehow.

Shortly after, we left. And just as we reached the carpark, the little boy woke up from his short-lived nap. I was ready to leave but Mr Thick gently pushed me into taking Aidan to pay his respects to Gong Gong. And so off we went again, hauling the kid up to the niche.

Of course, he had no idea what the occasion was. He pounded his tiny fists against the glass that protected my father’s niche, and gave it quizzical looks. I explained to him that this is Gong Gong.

This is mama’s daddy, I said.

He studied my father’s photo, banged his hands against the glass and made some indecipherable noise.

Knock knock! I said, in jest. Gong Gong is not going to appear just because you are knocking at his door, you know.

My little man laughed, as if he understood my joke.

And in that moment, my heart welled up with an emotion that I could not identify.

I don’t think I can ever put in words or measure just how much my father’s death had altered the course of my existence. I will never know just how I would have turned out if he had been around. And I have always dismissed his absence as an unfortunate incident in my life.

But I must miss him more than I have ever realised.

Papa, this is your grandson. Wherever you are, I hope you are happy to know that you have him. Please look after him, and give him your blessings.


The crisp, fresh air

One thing that I missed terribly about Sydney was the proliferation of gardens within the city itself. The pockets of greenery nestled among the cosmopolitan hustle and bustle of city life was so welcoming and warm. We walked practically everywhere and took breaks on park benches whenever we were tired.

Back in Singapore, however, Mr Thick has an aversion of getting sweaty and hot. I know, TEH IRONY. We live on a tropical island! But well, that’s him, he hates being stinky and all. The humidity doesn’t help. Plus, Mr A inherited his father’s ability to sweat buckets at the slightest increase of the temperature so the warm and sticky air makes him cranky.

Recently, however, the weather has been so beautifully cool that we decided to make walks and exploration of parks/beaches a routine. After running errands at nearby Vivocity last weekend, we decided that breathing in some fresh air was a necessity.

It was hard work pushing the stroller up slope, I can tell you that. Such a good workout, especially with our monster of a stroller! We opted to skip the baby carrier and let the little man get a plush, comfortable ride. Lucky fellow. He just didn’t realise how lucky he was! Most of the time, he was quietly observing his surroundings. That is, when he wasn’t busy trying to reach for and destroy the foam fan that we had attached at the foot of his stroller.

(He did destroy it. The fan valiantly pushed on with just two of its three foam blades remaining before drawing its last breath. I tossed it out summarily.)

What a wonderful home our island makes! The lush greenery, rustic parks, beautiful view…we have it all. Since A is kept indoors most of the time, I am hoping to expose him to the great outdoors as much as I can. Poor little fellow is still terrified of the crashing waves at the beach and of walking on sand and grass. Hilarious!

Hmm, maybe we’ll check out a goat farm on our next excursion.

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.

Aidan, Two of Us

Matchy matchy

We usually don’t do cheesy things like wear matching clothes but ah well, love makes us do stupid things.

These Threadless tees were procured a couple of months before Aidan was born with the sole intention of looking all matchy matchy at the little man’s first month party. Mr A’s newborn onesie has long since been stashed away – I have grand plans of framing it up.

Also, I suppose it’s logical to assume that I am the cow in the picture. That makes husband the…chicken?

Aidan, Motherhood

Slowly. But surely.

So. I’ve gone and had a baby, and then I disappear from civilization.

No, not really. Well, sort of.

To be very, very frank (cos that’s how we rock on this blog), I have been struggling with motherhood. And most of the time, I am so overwhelmed and exhausted that the thought of blogging never, ever crossed my mind.

It started when Aidan was almost three weeks old. He suddenly stopped sleeping in the day, no matter what we did. My mama and I would rock, walk, sing, cuddle him and sometimes he would drift off to sleep. And when he did, it was only for 30 minutes or so and he would wake up a complete crankypants. And then we would have to repeat the entire cycle of soothing him again. And if he didn’t sleep well in the day, he would get overtired come nightfall and be a total screaming grouch for hours on end. We would then take two, sometimes three, hours putting him to sleep. And when he finally slept, he would fuss and cry throughout the night. To make things worse, I absolutely have not been able to nap in the day, no matter how exhausted I am.

Can you blame me for being tired?

There are some days when I would ring up husband in tears, telling him that I have absolutely no idea what the heck I am doing and that I am a terrible mother because I don’t know what the baby needed. And then there are days when I would wonder why motherhood doesn’t come naturally to me. It’s not postpartum depression, thankfully, but I just felt like this was something I could not cope with. Every evening, I would sit in the living room and wait for husband to get home because I felt so lonely with an angry baby grizzling by my side.

It’s gotten better and it’s all thanks to my mother. After my confinement period ended, she had to go back to her full time job of looking after my nephew. Rather than sit alone at home and despair of ever figuring out the kid, I decided to pop over to her place for a sanity break. At least I would be fed and have time to shower with her around. Plus, the nephew is such an amusing source of entertainment.

The good thing is, I have sort of established a pattern of Aidan’s sleeping habits. He doesn’t nap well in the morning but come afternoon, he could definitely sleep for at least a 45-minute cycle. If I am diligent and catch him before the cycle ends, he could go on for another hour or more. Of course, I am doing all the things that parenting books warn against: nursing/rocking/walking/holding baby to sleep. But at this point in time, I am just doing anything that gets my kid to sleep. Eventually, he would sort himself out.

I hope.

In the meantime, I am gradually getting used to this motherhood gig and I am crossing my fingers that it will get easier and I will get better at it.

Happy chappy