Archive for October 2011

On marriage

October 31, 2011

How would you define a blissful marriage? What are the secrets of a happy marriage?

Is it never arguing? Is it never spending a day apart? Is it having children? Is it not having children?

Gosh, if only I could figure out the answer, then I would no doubt be one of the richest people, if not THE richest person on this planet.

The truth is, after 3 years of living together with the man I love, 2 years of being married and 1 year of being parents to our only child, I am only just beginning to discover how to make my marriage work.

Now you may disagree and say, if you have to make it work, haven’t you married the wrong guy? To which I shall quote the girls in Sex & The City 2, “Marriage is not a job, but it is work.”

I remember attending M&J’s wedding in June and something that J’s mother said on marriage really struck me. She said, “…要懂得体谅、忍让。要幸福。” (which translates as one needs to be understanding, tolerant, patient and happy)

Interestingly, Auntie didn’t say “You must love and respect each other” like a lot of people would, but instead she said we have to be “understanding, patient and tolerant”. I understood it in two ways. First, love and respect merely unites a couple; it’s being “understanding, patient and tolerant” that will truly make a marriage last. Second, Auntie was teaching us how to love and respect each other- by being understanding, patient and tolerant.

It’s about holding your tongue when tempers flare so the argument hits a dead end. It’s about stopping yourself from saying terrible things in angry moments that you will later regret. It’s about seeing beyond just you as an individual but you as a family unit. It’s not about you nor me but us and we. It’s about taking a few steps back on your own so that you can take a few steps forward together. It’s about not being too hung up about personal pride. It’s about not sweating over the small stuff so you can focus on being making a happy life. It’s about pacing yourself because your love needs to last a lifetime.

And of course, it’s about recognising and more importantly, accepting that love needs sacrifices. And if you are not willing to make those sacrifices or be at peace at heart with the sacrifices you have made, then that’s when trouble brews.

See, this is all new to me. I always thought I was very feminist in my thinking. I have to be as capable as a man. I will never walk behind my husband or kneel down to remove his shoes and put his feet in slippers when he comes home. (Not that I do that now). Why should I wear something my husband wants me to wear? I must prove we are equals in this relationship by not being a pushover. I must make my views and opinions heard.

But the reality is we have to face situations where life’s corridor gets so narrow that one of us has to walk in front and the other has to walk behind. And so I learn. That sometimes I can’t always walk in front. It’s not about being not feminist, or not standing up for your rights. It’s because “I love this man so much.”

Believe it or not, it is about love and respect. By being understanding, patient and tolerant.

Kids = no time, no energy?

October 27, 2011

Whenever my friends (all with no children) ask me, “Hey how are you these days?” I ooh, ahh, umm and eventually condense all the crazy stuff I go through with my 16-month-old into, “Yeeeah..not toooooo bad…” Though I don’t have a physically demanding job unlike my husband, spending all my waking hours either in the office or looking after Lucien leaves me permanently exhausted. I think this brilliant article written by Carolyn Hax for The Washington Post sums it up for me, or rather you, but I must say, I think I am pretty darn good at staying in touch and on top of things. *pat pat*

I’m not naughty, I just hate shopping

October 22, 2011

Ka-BOOM!

On a rare afternoon off together, we decided to catch the train into Cardiff to do some shopping. We thought we might actually start our Christmas shopping early this year. It started off okay, Lucien was quite well-behaved on the train and enjoyed the ride, we had lunch at John Lewis department store, but then it all went downhill from there.

Unhappy about being confined in the pushchair and taken to different shops, our dear little boy turned into a right monster. We took him out from the pushchair and put the reins on him, but whenever we dragged him away from messing about with the displayed merchandise, he screamed and shouted.

So it was virtually impossible to look at anything at all in the shops because we had to keep a tight rein (literally!) on him and to deal with his screaming fits. At one point we just gave up and let him lie on the floor screaming in TKMaxx. We walked away and oh my god, the shame and embarrassment! I never thought I would one day become the type of parents whom I used to feel sorry for when their kids go bonkers in stores.

I didn’t have time to whip out my camera to photograph the tantrum because I was too busy finding a hole to hide, so I am using this  picture by rmrayner to illustrate my point.

Needless to say, we didn’t have a very fruitful shopping trip. The only thing we bought in the end was a remote control car which we intend to give it to Lucien at Christmas. (Why the hell should we be so nice to him after the horrible stuff he’s put us through, I don’t know, but I suspect it could because all humans are programmed with the default setting of “loving their young”. If you ever find the reset button, let me know.)

Today I had to make a trip to the Chinese supermarket to get some supplies. With a heavy heart I took Lucien with me, mentally preparing myself for the screaming and bad behaviour. I was in and out of the shop within 10 minutes as I knew exactly what I wanted to get. Then we spent the rest of the 45 minutes before our train home strolling along the streets of Cardiff. Amazingly I did not once hear a scream from him. He was also rather well-behaved on the journey home, but that could be because I was force-feeding him with snacks to prevent him from making any noise.

Perhaps Lucien isn’t really naughty, he just hates shopping. You know, it’s a male thing.

If so, please god let this last throughout his teenage years!

Busy bee

October 19, 2011

Sorry for the lack of updates, I have been crazy busy! I am organising this massive event at work and when I get home it’s time to cook dinner, go to the gym, bathe Lucien and put him to bed . I have some free time after that but I am usually so exhausted I just want to sit down in front of the telly with a glass of wine, rather than post an update.

I definitely miss having my mother around. I never realise how wonderful it is to have an extra pair of hands around until she goes. I never have to worry about meals because she devotes her time in the kitchen. When we come back from the supermarket with a huge haul of food, she can keep Lucien company while the two of us put stuff away.

So without my mother with us now, it’s back to dancing the frantic cha-cha again. I realise I really have no time nor energy to cook every night, so we raid the freezer for quick fixes on some evenings. On top of this, we try to fit in regular work-outs at the gym, general cleaning and tidying of the house, food shopping and educational and recreational activities. Twenty-four hours are hardly enough for me!

And what exactly is the point of this post? Sorry I have digressed, but I guess I just wanted to write something to say, “Hey I am about, I just don’t have time to blog!”. But R is working nights this week so I will have some time in the evenings by myself and you know, I may just give up an hour of telly to bang out some entries just for you.

Stay tuned.

Lucien at nursery

October 12, 2011

The big news is Lucien is going to nursery! While my mother was here, we went to check out two nurseries near us who were able to take him one afternoon a week. They both had pluses and minuses and in the end we settled for one about 5-10 minutes’ drive away from our home, on an industrial estate with ample parking.

He has so far spent three afternoons in nursery, where I’d dropped him off at 1.00pm and picked him up at about 5.30pm or so. The lovely ladies at the nursery play with the kids, give them snacks and milk, sing with them and give them lots of cuddles.

We decided to put Lucien in nursery once a week for a number of reasons. First, I am starting to find it really hard to work from home when I’m alone with him in the house. He used to be entertained by his toys and the cartoons on telly but now as he gets older, he wants me to play with him more as he is bored of just running around on his own. Second, because he doesn’t have any siblings, he is constantly with adults who are predominantly, his parents. We felt it would be good for him to mix and socialise with other children his age and interact with different adults in a different environment.

Like many mothers who were putting their children in nurseries for the first time, I found it very difficult to leave him. I would put him in the nursery and quickly exit when he’s not looking. Then I would drive home and try to get on with my work. On the first afternoon, I found myself creeping around the house. Then I asked myself, “Why am I creeping around for? He’s not sleeping! Hell he’s not even in the house!” That’s because normally, when the house is quiet, it’s because he’s in bed. And I was so not used to him not being around!

I spent the rest of that afternoon looking at the clock, wondering what he was up to in nursery, was he being looked after properly, was he crying for me… Oh it was agony! Twice when I went to get him, I found him with his dummy in his mouth and clutching his bolster. The ladies always told me, “Oh he cried a little bit but he was okay generally!” If only he could speak and tell me what it was really like!

Each time I put him in nursery I have to tell myself to harden my heart. It’s for his personal growth and I can’t keep him in my bubble all the time. But when I see all his “classmates” running around with a streaming nose or a chesty cough, I think, oh my goodness, why am I exposing my poor kid to these horrible infectious germs and bugs? Every time I drive away from the nursery with a heavy heart, I have to remind myself I can’t be over-protective and I have to see the big picture.

Lucien needs to grow up.

Cotton

October 9, 2011

We celebrated our second wedding anniversary on Tuesday. I bought a pair of Nike trainers for R. When he opened it, he said, “I’ve been thinking about getting a new pair of shoes this week!” I went to work as usual but came home an hour early. R had taken Lucien out to the supermarket to get me a big bunch of flowers and a beautiful card. We went to our local pub for dinner. My sister-in-law did offer to have Lucien so we can have a meal in peace at a nice restaurant, but we decided to go somewhere nearby and take the baby with us. After putting Lucien to bed, we put the telly on and sat down to enjoy a glass of Rose and some cake. There were no expensive gifts or big gestures to mark the day. But we reminisced about our wedding day, looked through our photos, talked about “the kiss”, which I thought was a very sweet and genuine way of celebrating an anniversary. This was what we did last year.

When the going gets tough

October 3, 2011

Lucien caught a cold when he went to nursery (Yes he will be starting nursery! I will save that for another post) so he was really miserable on Thursday.

He cried when he woke up in the morning (not usually the case), grizzled while I fed him his breakfast, cried when I put him on the floor after his breakfast, cried when I wanted to leave the room, cried when I tried to distract him with toys. Oh my god, he just wouldn’t stop crying! And clinging on to me. I ended up having my breakfast only at 11:00am when he finally caved in and went for a 30-minute nap (as oppposed to his usual 90-minute ones).

That gave me just enough time to have a shower and have my toast before I had to deal with more whinging, crying, clinging on. This went on for the best part of the day and then he gradually got better by late afternoon.

Then yesterday two of my female colleagues came around ours for a get-together with their kids. My heart went out to one of them, who has a 8-month-old boy who is teething. She doesn’t get any sleep at night because he would be up crying every hour, and she told me she felt down sometimes because she could see no end to this.

It reminded me of what I went through in December/January, and how terrible it felt when someone whom I thought was my friend told me to “stop whining”. Coincidentally on the same day I came across this post on Karen Cheng’s blog and realised that whining actually keeps you sane. Talking keeps you sane. Being together with supportive, positive people, especially fellow mothers going through the same stuff, keeps you sane!

Then I also realised this: it’s not what you are going through that’s important, it’s what’s going to get you through it.