My priority ring (An actual ring)


One night about a year after I had Q, after a particular harried day trying to balance my incredibly full plate of obligations, errands and what have you, I had a massive meltdown. It was not your average huge cathartic cry type of meltdown; but a real questioning of “what the heck are you doing?” that I think shook the depths of my very being.

The full gravity of motherhood (having a tiny little thing fully depend on you is a scary scary reality to behold), the massive weight of growing a company, the colossal undertaking to constantly keep it together was simply too much to bear. I think most new moms, or even more seasoned ones, sometimes hit that kind of mountain. It makes you doubt who you are, what you are doing, your self worth and it’s a slippery slope.

Anyway, I waded through THAT quagmire and somehow found my footing again- yay to my amazing mummy support system; but I felt like I needed to find a physical anchor, like a reminder of what I needed and decided to design myself a priority ring. Also, another excuse for new jewelery (yay!).


The design is fairly simple: two distinct but connected bands (at the base). One thin and gravelly, one broader and smoother. The thinner band was to represent me and my “me life”. I asked for it to be sand blasted so that it was gravely to touch and textured to look at which represented my imperfections.

The thicker band was to be in smooth gold (though it’s now sporting a slightly more worn look) and represent my other identities: my being a wife to W, mom to Q (and now Ev), a daughter to my parents, sister to my sisters and a friend.

Both bands are joined at the base, ultimately, a connected life of personal space and growth and my life’s obligations, duties and priorities.

I deliberated over the order of the words for those became my priorities and it took me a long while to decide that my first priority is to be a WIFE, then a MOTHER. That whilst mummy duties take a lot of time, energy and effort, it is important that my better half is, well, my better half and kinda my partner in the whole parenthood business so, it makes sense that I remember that.

Of course, not to say I’m going to run off to do frivolous things with W while our poor kids languish at home like unwanted latch key kids. But that the husband has to matter. That its dangerous for a marriage to simply get caught up with being a mom, or parenting. So, yes, WIFE, then MOTHER.

I had wanted to write child-of-God right in front, but it wouldn’t fit hence I made the ring out of gold because I have always loved Job 23:10 that says:


So, the ring reads:

Wife. Mother. Daughter. Sister. Friend.

I never used wear the ring much, but I find myself wearing more and more, even daily, these days as I find that life today so often means we so easily lose track of what is important to us. We are so caught up with doing stuff, we forget to give weight to the things that should matter.

That amidst all the doing, I’d always be reminded of the being.

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That magic moment before bed

E asleep

As a full time working from home mom, I don’t have any defined office hours- not on most days, anyway, and work,  mummyhood and wifeyness all flows one into the other.

On any given day, I could be painting with Q one minute, then answering an email the next while waiting for him to take his bath, and then prepping my grocery list for a later-in-the-day grocery run while watching Evan practice his new fangled walking skills out in the garden. In between, I field calls, answer SMSs, pack the kids’ forever messy room and try and feather through the latest book I am trying to read, usually something on parenting, education or politics. I have help that sorts the unsavoury household chores (no more toilet cleaning, laundry and ironing! Yay!), and, for that, I never cease to be grateful. Small mercies eh?

But for all the here-and-there-ness that is my day, I relish when night rolls along cos there is simply something magical about bedtime with my boys. It’s a time that is different from all the other amazing moments in the day: quieter, calmer and more peaceful.

Evan sleeps earlier, usually about 830pm give or take and still has to be held pretty much to sleep. He snuggles into my neck, bounces himself (I joke that he needs to expend the last of his residual energy) and, for lack of a more accurate description, sings himself to sleep. It’s when this rambunctious child finally winds down, slows down and we spend those sacred quiet moments that are so far and few between in the day. Its when we say our goodnights, our night bedtime prayers and I talk about his/our day. And when he’s almost at sleep’s door, I put him down and he squiggles and squirms and enters dreamland.

The parade is the same with Q who now goes down at about 930pm, no thanks to school (yay!). We both squeeze in his little bed, he needs to arrange the stuff in his bed just so- the panda yiyi bought him, his blanket, the crocodile bolster Uncle James brought from Abu Dhabi… we talk about our day (I prod him along, he does the bulk of the talking), about what we are going to do the following day and funny things that stood out. Today, it might be Evan playing peek-a-boo, tomorrow might be a funny show he watched during TV time, sometimes its a made up story or joke. Then, we “say goodnight to God”, give thanks for the day, and pray for loved ones as we call an end to the day.

So, for a moment, or in my case, two- I get to slow down and go to a quiet place with my children. I get to go to a place where I  get to leave my crazy busy life aside for just a while- no emails, no calls, no interruptions; and just be mummy. It is a time that calms me down, allows me to catch my breath and soothe my soul.

Difficult kid questions (Part 1): Why do some parents abandon their kids?

We were at a friend’s baby’s baptism (Hello Alison Png!) earlier in the day. Late, no less, cos we were waiting for Evan to wake from his nap; the fella slept on and on, so I ended up with a (truth be told, much needed) one-on-one date with my firstborn. After the party- grateful that we caught the tail end of things, I decided to swing by Animal Resort so this animal loving kid could go feed some animals.

We were just about done there when this lady who voluntarily takes care of several abandoned parrots came by and brought out said parrots for a small meet and greet. Naturally, we had to go see the parrots, one of which was blind, squawking its guts out and almost featherless. Q, of course, had to know why this bird was bald when its friend was in its full plume glory.

Q to the volunteer lady: Why does the parrot have no feathers?
Lady: Cos the parrot is sad.
Q: Why is the parrot sad?
Lady: Cos his mummy and daddy didn’t want him anymore.
Q: That’s terrible. (To the bird) I’m sorry you are sad, parrot. Here, have a carrot.
(We had a pack of carrots cos we were just feeding the not-very-hungry horse)
Lady: He’s blind, so although he can hear you, he can’t see the carrot.
Q: He cannot see? How come?
Lady: Cos he had no shades in his cage and the sunlight made him blind.
Q: He needs sunglasses.

We left shortly after and he was recounting to me in the car all the animals he saw at the farm and spent a long time talking about the parrot with no feathers. Other than telling me that he had to tell Evan and daddy about the parrot- that he saw, fed and pet it; he had more questions for me. I had an inkling as to how this was going to go down….

Q: Why the parrot’s mummy and daddy don’t want the parrot anymore?
Me: I don’t know son. Maybe they felt like they can’t take care of the parrot anymore.
Q: Did they throw him away?
Me: I suppose so.
Q: That’s not nice. (Long pause)
Me: Some mummies and daddies think they can take care of a parrot, or dog, or baby; but then they realize they cannot. So they have to give them away and hopefully someone else will take better care of them.
Q: Like in Myanmar

It took me a while to figure this link out, then it dawned on me he was talking about Grace Home Orphanage cos Aunty Amar (matron of the home) explained to him the last trip that some kids there were there because their mummies and daddies could not take care of them (or want them anymore).

Me: Yes, like in Myanmar. Grace Home. Like Noble (his friend at the home his age)
Q: We (should) buy Noble bubble tea. I am tired, I going to sleep.

Five minutes later, this little boy was fast asleep in his car seat.

These are the moments I really wonder what goes on in that little mind of his; how much he knows, how much he understands. There are moments he seems to get a lot- far more than I ever give him credit for. Then there are moments, like when he was home and talking to/at Evan- about the giant rabbit, the noisy ducks, the hungry fish and the bald parrot; it seems the depth of what he asked me about in the car never happened. Its like his brain hits a “query”, he asks-gets his answers, files them away in this little mind vault, and he’s moved on to the next curiouser thing.

Kids, they keep you on your toes don’t they?

between the shadow and the soul

My friend S texted me the other day about a helicopter crash that claimed 12 lives, one of which was an acquaintance of hers; she is also friends with his widow, and his brother. He leaves behind a young wife (after a whirlwind courtship), a two year old son and there are expecting their second child in a little under five months.

She ponders how his widow would feel when she delivers, what it would be like to lose the love of your life after only being together for such a short time. She heart wrenchingly questions how things would be later that night as mother explains to toddler why daddy would never be coming back again. And she concludes with these words: “It’s a truly very big ask and I am thankful that God has not asked that of me.”

I recently said goodbye to a friend who was only 31; there was no “real” reason he passed away, his heart, brain and general physical being was in tip top shape- coroner ruled,  sudden death syndrome.  He was Possibility personified: he was successful, well liked and an all round amazing guy. He was a great son and brother and the world was his oyster.

I’m not yet 32 and have buried several friends called before their time: some to illness, some to accidents, some self-inflicted. Its hard to comprehend how or why things happen. The famous question we ask is :why bad things happen to good people. And really, there’s no answer except the belief that the “will of God will never send you where his Grace cannot keep you.”

The day I became a parent, the notions of life and death took on a different perspective completely. The frailty of life, the fragility of our humanity beckons at these moments and I find that sometimes I find it hard to breathe if I dwell on “what it all means”.

I look at my young sons and I learn that I cannot take tomorrow for granted- who knows what the future holds? But what I do have is Today, the now and for most days, that’s enough.

mummy choices

I am grateful to be a full time working from home mom.

Its a fragile balance I am mindful to keep cos while it means I get to be home with my boys, it also means there are nights I barely sleep because I only get to work after the kids go to bed.

It is a perpetual battle to stretch (or bend) time, prioritize my insane to do list with my mummy duties of loving, educating and hanging with my energetic and curious two year old and mummy-ing my equally as energetic and wakeful four month old. They are one of those nap phobic kids that would rather mummy entertain them. Oh, sure, they nap- only when mummy is by (read: either carried by mummy or cuddled by mummy). Ah well.

I keep my training to a minimum as far as possible and I am constantly grateful that my team are ok to work around my mummy duties, sometimes even pulling babysitting duties. Yeah, I know, they kinda rock, huh? 🙂 On days I do have training, I make it a point to make up to them: if my gig is in the morning, I spend the afternoon with them, it the training is in the avro, maybe I’d take them out to the zoo before heading off to work.

Today I spent a rare day working all day: before the sun rose and right till dusk. No less, by the time I got back, I was completely knackered. No less because I spent the entire day around people whilst maintaining energy levels of an Energizer bunny all I want to do once I get home is crawl into a hole of silence and solitude. (That’s how us introverts recuperate). Which means, well, that post-(long)-training me makes for a poorer version of being mummy.

And its in these moments that I am so grateful these days are few and far between. Tomorrow would be a new day. A busy day, undoubtedly, but not crazy like today. Thank God.

 

My third mother’s day

I’ve not had the chance to catch my breath since the year started. And these past few weeks has, if possible, seen my schedule rise from “crazy bad” to “nutcase” status.

Yes, I work from home, an arrangement I’m able to have cos I run my own company. Yes, it’s a big luxury because I still get to be with my two boys and oversee the house personally. Yes, it means I get to hang with my kids and do all the fun stuff SAHMs get to do. Yes, I have live in help these days ( I didn’t till Q was about 18 months old) and that has most certainly made life a tad easier.

But what working-from-home-moms don’t tell you is the sheer lack of sleep you get, the virtual zero personal time you get and the fact that you are on the go-go-go all time. And I do mean, ALL the time. When I’m not sorting Quentin out l, I’m answering emails, or I’m tending to Evan or working on a proposal for a client. In between, I plan playdates, go on excursions with the kids, meet my colleagues and pow wow with W (the husband) cos, well, we also jointly run his company.

Anyway, my fatigue level has been climbing and I broke out in rashes just before mother’s day weekend. My left ear sprout a ring of eczema when my body is kinda teetering over (my great grand mother had the same thing, as so my sisters) and i’ve always regarded it as my body’s own warning bell to slow down. I’ve never had full blown rashes before though and with all that HFMD going on I hauled myself to the doctor right and early on Saturday.

To cut the long story short, it turns out to be exhaustion related rashes and we made a quip about my not being able to enforce an MC, he gave me some cream and ordered me to rest plenty before my body fully and truly gives out on me.

And so we canned all our plans (luncheons, meet ups, meetings…) as far as we could Si that I could REST. My folks happen to drop by so I felt a lil better that Q got some serious playtime (my

mom is great at entertaining Q). I took a dose of magnesium (yay to my osteopath) and called it an early night where thanks to my helper stepping up at watch Evan at night, I had my first solid six hours of sleep in over a year.

Mother’s Day started uneventfully too. I slept through several alarms according to W and after Sunday school today, we all (four of us!) unceremoniously crashed out for close to four hours. We decided against battling the crowds and opted to cook (W cooked, Q supervised while I played with E).

And as I write this, Evan is sleeping on my chest, curled up like a little furball and smelling all baby, Q is watching a show with W and the rest of the house is quiet.

Yes, i have a mountain of work and an early start to my tomorrow. But for now, life could not get any better.
Happy Mother’s Day. 🙂