The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

On an extra day

So what do you call today?

 

Besides 29 February 2016.

 

This year is a Leap Year but is today a Leap Day? I don’t know. I just know that there are 365 days in a year except in a Leap Year when there are 366.

 

You know, standard textbook trivia that you practiced hard remembering when you were like five. Not like now. When you can just Google it. Though you really shouldn’t have to Google this stuff.

 

But do you know why there’s an extra day every four years? That you may have to Google.

 

Anyways, I found I had an extra day to my weekend today. Ah, the luxury of the long weekend. Especially since returning to Gainful Employment are days of Annual Leave allowance precious. Not to be squandered as you please but to be saved and hoarded until most needed during the school holidays.

 

 

Whilst that is important, it’s also important to give yourself a break. I’ve just finished an event last Friday. I forgot how exhausting and stressful these things can be. The event had been at the back of my mind for at least six months and snowballed into late nights at work and so many To Do Lists that needed ticking off. The pressure of it being a success in so far as people turning up and for there to be no massive hiccups. Yes, the pressure was huge. Coupled with the fact that the late nights take you away from bedtime stories, dinner with Husband and give you a pre-occupied mind even when you are together.

 

So today was a much needed break. An extra day of dedicated ME TIME! Yay! You start thinking about what you can do. All the possibilities of a free day.

 

Like:

 

  • Coffee/lunch with that person you haven’t seen for some time.
  • A massage to undo all that tension in between your shoulders.
  • Baking an abundance of snacks for school packed lunches.
  • Go for a run. Get some new running shoes.
  • Sorting out the mess in your home you haven’t tended to for the past few weeks.
  • Buying some new shoes to replace the ones that make your feet smell at work.
  • A swim and lounge by the pool.

 

So many choices to fill just one day. Which isn’t really one day at all when you take out the time for tending to the needs of #1, 2 and 3. Equally lost was time spent hungover. Yep. Totally. In fact I’ve spent Saturday, Sunday and today hungover. Quite possibly tomorrow too. But you know, it’s good to do once in a while. Because I’m not going to be repeating the pain for at least a month or so. There’s just nothing I can do about the 48 hour hangovers these days. I’ve realised that Day 2 hangover feels like the equivalent of a Day 1 hangover from my youth.

 

So once the fog cleared from my brain this morning, I realised there were some Must Dos. I mean clearing out the junk and tidying up is an endless task so that can wait another day but there’s also other admin stuff that needs doing like checking all vaccinations are up to day and having to spend your day off taking #3 to be jabbed in the thigh is not as much fun as heading to the zoo. It wasn’t that traumatic for her actually, she was very brave. We went for lunch that we haven’t been to for a very long time. We used to go there quite often with Brilliant New Adventure, so I sent her a photo of #3 watching the soba noodle man do his soba noodle making.

  

 
That’s one thing I miss you know, since heading back to Gainful Employment full time. It’s that time you get unrushed to have lunch with #1, 2 and 3. I really must make more time at the weekends to go out with just one of the three or even two of the three or even all three really.

 

After lunch we went shoe shopping to replace the shoes that make my feet smell at work. Then it was to school to pick up #1 and 2 and talk about school stuff with #1’s Teacher. When I do get to pick them up, they’re usually waiting at the School Pick Up point but today we had the time to wander around the play area where #1 pointed out the spot that he used to go to dig for worms and to show me the tadpoles in the School zen garden. All these things I didn’t know about their daily lives.

   

It felt so unrushed today. Quite possibly due to my Day 3 hangover. Or perhaps it’s been because these past few weeks have been so busy that a regular day feels slowed down. Perhaps tomorrow when I’m back in the office, everything will continue at the same hi-speed because there is always going to be another big project coming up.

 

Today though, on this one extra day, I appreciated the opportunity to spend it with #1,2 and 3. To just be with them and thank them for understanding that last week is not going to be the normal week. Also to set a precedence that we are allowed a break and today whilst I’ve had messages relating to work, it’s ok for me not to respond to them because it really can wait until tomorrow.

 

And today being a Leap Day,  of course I proposed! And Husband accepted.

  

  

 

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Love is……..a bag of M&S Square Crisps

That’s right! I’m embracing St. Valentine’s Day in all its glory. Forget I ever thought being showered with gifts today was all a load of commercial coercion. I totally didn’t feel a modicum of cynicism walking past the florists with their huge bouquet of beautiful roses priced over $200. Thinking of what else you could buy instead of something with a shelf life of five days max in this humidity. Then feeling a twinge of guilt as I clocked the lady sat in the corner on a hard plastic stool hunched over, carefully arranging one rose next to another and interspersing them with some baby breathe and fine greenery. Gosh no, not me.

   

I LOVE VALENTINE’S DAY!

 

Like I love Christmas, Easter, Chinese New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival, my Birthday, your Birthday and any occasion that you choose to celebrate. Or in this case any occasion that #1, 2 and 3 choose to celebrate.

 

If I’m going to attempt to bring up #1, 2 and 3 fully in touch with their emotions and be able to express them freely and recognise that love should be given and received openly and equally then I can’t exactly start them off on the path of declaring Valentine’s Day is just a money grabbing corporate conspiracy. They’ll come to that conclusion themselves when they pay taxes and have a mortgage. Until then though, I hope they enjoy all the anticipation of Secret Admirers and cards in envelopes that are S.W.A.L.K.

 

Before they set their eye on that lucky someone, some other lucky someone gets to be the centre of all that love and attention. I wonder who though? Exactly right. Me! More me and just a little bit Husband I have to say. I received three cards, flowers and a bag of M&S Square Crisps today. I’ll let you guess which gift was from #1, 2 and 3 and which was from Husband. What is there not to love about Valentine’s Day. What have I been thinking all these years!

 

My Dad, Mr Li always calls without fail every Sunday. Not really to talk to me, well a little bit to me but mostly to #1, 2 and 3 and I could hear #2 wishing Gung Gung ‘Happy Valentine’s Day, did you get any cards?’ and that made me smile. Love is many a splendid thing and the love of small people has no other rival.

  

 
Just to show that I really am embracing today, as well as a home cooked dinner ready on the table complete with apple crumble, I bought Husband these strawberries. Note the shaped container it came in. I could have bought the ones in the regular square container but I went all out for the heart shaped ones. You must be rather proud of me too? I’m sure my former colleague who may still be doing heart shaped potato wedges for today’s dinner as a Valentine’s Day tradition most certainly would be. She was right and I was so totally wrong.

 

However you may acknowledge today, may it be simple and meaningful.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

 

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Your hand in mine

It has been seven years, one month and three days since #1 arrived and turned our world upside down. Making it a much better place and changing the value of things that I thought I once knew. The value of time being one of them. It goes by too fast. The value of creating memories. To look back upon because time goes by too fast. The value of my own judgement. Am I making the right decisions in guiding #1, 2 and 3. Especially #1.

 

Why would this be so? I often feel #1 gets a rough deal. There really isn’t that much difference in years between #1 and #3. Yet #1 is definitely seen as being the older, responsible one. How can he not be? There are two impressionable younger siblings to emulate his behaviour. Very keenly as well. Not much encouragement is needed for #2 and #3 to follow in his footsteps. The good stuff of course we let them roll with it but the not so good stuff, well you just can’t. It would turn an already chaotic household into an unruly one that would have people running in the opposite direction for fear of the terrible family with the feral children.

 

It occurred to me the other day that whilst I may act like the Parent-in-Charge, the one setting boundaries and seemingly with all the answers, it’s actually #1 leading the way. It is his growing needs, interests and behaviour that shapes most of our parenting. Being the first of them all, we started this parenting journey together and what we know and we have have done differently with #2 and 3 has been because of what we have learnt with #1.

 

I’ve had an interesting turnaround of opinion right now as a parent. I remember those early days and the sleep deprived nights that really put a ravine between your Life With Sleep and your Life With No Sleep. We think those days are hard. The seemingly endless feeding, cleaning, changing of nappies that made up the early routines that quickly turned into cuddles, giggles and chubby cuteness. Chasing after the runaway toddler and the reading of the same book on loop night after night. Enjoying the key milestones they reach, all well documented in thousands of photographs.

 

Then there are the moments that you’d rather forget. The not so easy times that leave you all exhausted and yearning for the clock to reach 7pm so you can put them to bed and draw a line under that particular day. Perhaps you’ve yelled at each other and made a number of serious threats. Perhaps you’ve lost it completely and feel full of guilt at not keeping one’s shit together. Especially when you think that you’re the only one who gets wound up so easily at the defiant, unreasonable and downright bewildering behaviour your child, made from your genes has managed to exhibit. Just ignore it. Let it wash over you. You’d ignore that really annoying person you know in your place of Gainful Employment. You can hold your thoughts when someone is being highly unreasonable anywhere else. Yet a 7 year old, and on occasion a 5 and 3 year old can make you suddenly vent in ways that you didn’t think possible.

 

   

How is it possible? Seemingly calm, rational and regular with other grown ups do you turn into a screaming banshee at times with your own offspring. It’s because I always make the mistake of assuming they are capable of calm rational reasoning like most other grown ups I know. How simple is it to understand that I said no more snacks because it will be tea time in just five minutes. But Mummy, I’m hungry. I know and tea time will be in 5 minutes. But I don’t want to eat my dinner. I want to eat toast. I’m hungry. Then you’ll eat your dinner super fast won’t you. But Mummy, can I have a snack please. What did I just say? What happened to the dictatorship we once had? Regular as Gina Ford predicted.

 

I still don’t get the why bother asking me a question or for permission if you’re just going to go ahead and do as you please. That is for much later on in life when you’re not seeking someone’s approval, you’re just politely informing them of what you intend to do anyways.  So when asked, can we watch tv? Not right now, you’ve watched quite a bit already. But Mummy, can we watch tv. I said not right now. But Muuuummmmy, can we watch tv.

 

 

Same goes for can we have a biscuit, ice cream, play on the iPad, phone and I’m constantly saying not right now, later, how about something else. By constantly asking for stuff you know I’m going to say No to then you’re taking all the fun out of parenting. No one likes to be the person that takes the fun away. But that’s what it often feels like. Especially in triplicate.

 

And what happens when you say No but they go ahead and do it anyways? Rage is what happens. Disappointment, anger and fury that leads to the dark side. Bewilderment and confusion too. What is it about my children that makes them not listen to a word I say. I actually can hear myself sometimes and lose the will to carry on. No one appears to be listening. Nothing is registering. Eyes are blank and their thoughts are probably chasing after Lego Stars Wars, rainbows and unicorns.

 

And yet I have to carry on. As much as it would be nice not to have to correct behaviour that would have them deemed feral in some circles just so I could give myself a break. The truth is, they rarely put a foot out of place with other people who are not me. A delight to teach, very helpful, never a cross word are phrases I have heard about them. It’s a relief to know this of course. But why can’t we have a day, weekend, week of never a cross word?

 

Recently it got to a point with #1 where there were far too many days filled with cross words. With nothing getting through. Lots of anger and upset on both sides. It hit a pinnacle before I realised it was me that needed to break the cycle. I was focussing on the wrong thing, as I’m sure the Generic Parenting Guides could have told me but sometimes with so many other things going on you miss the point.

 

#1 may have turned seven but it’s still only seven. In my mind he was this boy growing up so fast and at times he’s astounded me with his thought processes and questions. He’s interested in many things and is kind and caring. Naturally he likes to wind up #2 and she’s an easy target but because of the volume of noise that ensues, it can get blown out of proportion and the amount of times you are roped in to play referee is tiring. Sort it out yourselves, as a friend once advised her own children, if there’s no blood then I don’t need to know.

 

Of course he’s going to try it on. I said just the one pineapple tart and he sneaks in another when he thinks I won’t know but I always do know because I’m looking out for it. And because he knows I almost always find him out, he knows (sometimes) not to do it again (but easily forgets this).

 

Choose your battles. I understand that better too now. You can’t pick up on everything. Otherwise it does get to a point where you seem to be critical of everything they do and neither of you will like you for it.

 

I look back to when #1 was this tiny bundle of new discoveries to be made. How frightening it was to have this responsibility of something so precious. Wishing away the days when both of you were exhausted and crying thinking it will be easier when they get older. It is in many ways. But not so in many others. The parenting journey is forever changing and #1 is teaching me new things all the time.

 

Time goes by so fast. Every day that I hold #1’s hand in mine I inwardly smile and think how his hand still has that child like roundness to it. Everyday I hold each of their hands. Just so I will have those memories for when they think they’re a bit too old for it and I will try and not be too upset about that. Not in front of them at least.

 

I’m sure there will be other challenging days ahead and we will both be yelling at each other which sounds totally ridiculous when I say it out loud here.  I’m 41 and he’s seven for goodness sake.

 

But to have your hand in mine is one of my greatest simple treasures. It’s a reminder that I’m here to guide #1, 2 and 3. I’m not really sure how but together I’m sure we’ll figure it out somehow.
   
 

 

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