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

This Happy Father’s Day 

We all want special occasion days to be, well special. Birthdays, holidays, weddings, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, school events and so on. 

With small people in tow, ‘special’ in my imagination usually means good, kind, helpful behaviour. No bickering, fighting, shouting, answering back, whining, crying and so on.  In other words, no such behaviour that requires parental intervention to keep the peace and maintain balance to one’s well being. I wish for this every day to be fair but on special occasion days, please can we?

Of course we can’t. I waste my breathe asking for it and yet some small glimmer of hope is there at the start of every special occasion day only to flicker weakly and fizz out before the special occasion day has even warmed up. I mean the day wouldn’t be the same without them being just as they are with us and with each other. It’s no reflection on how much we are loved by them, we know that already from the little things they say and do every day that make you happy like specks of dappled sunlight. 
I read in one card Husband received today the reason why Daddy is special and the answer is ‘because he loves me’. Yes he does. 

We have been parents for a relatively short space of time but it feels like the days and weeks are galloping by so fast. We seem to be working in fast forward mode, especially so since #1 and 2 started Big School and the year is broken down into three chunks of frantic activity and three more chunks of frantic activity. Blink and you’ll miss it is what people say who are many parenting years ahead. You kind of fail to appreciate these wise words in the early years but I totally get it now. 

This Father’s Day, I can only describe myself as thankful. Thankful for Husband and the love and care he puts into our family. I’m also thankful that earlier today I was able to call my Dad, Mr Li to wish him a Happy Father’s Day. A few months ago, I was faced with the stark reality of one of life’s only certainties and I felt the ground beneath me open up. During those days of waiting and waiting and progress moving so slowly, you have a lot of time to think. Mostly to think about the things you didn’t do enough, didn’t say enough, didn’t spend time together enough. The panic in your heart over whether there is time to do more. Even when people say there is, do you dare to believe it though you want to believe it so badly. 

As I recall this now, those deep feelings of grief but not quite are still quite fresh.  Though it seems, I am very lucky. My Dad, Mr Li says it is he who is lucky to recover from this spell of illness. But I know it is me. 

Time spent together is time spent well. Not always do you need to spend this time doing something momentous. Often it’s quite enough just to be sat there, talking to each other.

But I can still imagine that special occasions will at some point elicit special occasion behaviour from #1, 2 and 3.

Happy Father’s Day.  

Leave a comment »

#1’s first sleepover

Bedtime is a smooth running affair in our household. Sometimes.

Most times it’s fraught with dawdlers unwilling just to go to sleep when quite clearly the anger levels suggests they (or I) need to just go to bed. GO TO BEEEEEED! 

I have never quite understood that relationship between small people and sleep. The tipping point between coping quite well with the day to the sudden must-be-in-bed-screaming-like-the-whole-world-has-done-them-wrong can happen in a matter of seconds.

Invariably at least one of #1, 2 and 3 can be in this state once every few days. And at least one of them will feel the impulse, the need to drag bedtime out just that bit longer by hiding a favourite bedtime friend say, or disagreeing on bedtime story of choice and insisting on ‘their own’ bedtime story of choice. Then there’s demands for ‘one more story pleeease, that was so short’. It was short for a reason kids. 

By this stage, I just want them all to go to bed. JUST GO TO BED!! Goodnight kisses are hastily issued. Lights off. Door closed on disgruntledness. Then hopefully within five minutes all is quiet and good. Hopefully. I don’t know when bedtime because such a rushed affair that can take a two person approach. 

Tonight though there is one less in the bedtime mix but it still doesn’t seem to have made much difference to bedanger as I can hear that tone coming from #2 who is quite sure SHE IS NOT TIRED. Quite.

But bedanger is not today’s topic. Tonight #1 is away on his first ever proper sleepover. It’s not the first time he’s slept away from home without Husband or I being around but I guess being 19 months old doesn’t really count. Neither does sleeping over with family feel quite the same as a proper sleepover on your own all night. It’s in turn exciting and a little scary I imagine. 

 #1, 2 and even 3 have often asked for a sleepover but we’ve never gotten round to it just yet. As much as there’s a lot of talk about it, when it comes down to it, I don’t think they’ve been ready. They haven’t? Or I haven’t? Well I know for definite that #2 can’t have a sleepover until she can go to a drop off party for two hours without getting upset. But it is nice to be missed as her school friend’s Mum kindly put it, ‘she misses you a lot’. Indeed.

I wonder whether at 10.41pm. #1 is alseep yet. I very much doubt it but I’m sure he’s having a great time. What an adventure to be on to have your first sleepover with all your schoolfriends at school. This will be the first of many and it is another step of the journey towards independence. A necessary step of course but one that seems to come around far too quickly. I think back to when I had my first sleepover as such. I was 14 and it was a school residental trip to the Lake District. Completely exhilarating to have that freedom for a whole five days. Comparing the residential trips of then to now, it feels like seven or eight years old seems quite young but I forgot that when I was 10 years old there were already skiing trips away to France and weekend trips to Amsterdam which seemed a bit too adventurous for my Dad, Mr Li to allow me to go on. But I guess that’s exactly why #1 and eventually #2 will benefit from going on sleepovers, to build that confidence and reassurance that they can be away from home for one night, perhaps even two, and we will all be ok.

It’s an odd feeling without #1 at home. The things that I know he would do in the mornings. Such as being the first one up and alerting you to the fact by the bedroom suddenly bursting open and being woken up with whatever question is on his mind and ready to be asked with no consideration for the fact you are still sleeping and then getting impatient because you’ve not given an answer to said question immediately. And it won’t be just Husband and I missing his presence but #2 and 3 are also asking when is he coming back home which is a good sign considering I often wonder whether they even like each other the way they bicker and fight. 

There are times, many of them, when you say out loud how lovely it would be to have a night away from small people and all the crazy late night stuff you’d do. How you would love for someone else to do the bedtime routine. For one night maybes yes. So the next time I get a sleepover offer and off go #1, 2 and 3, I’ll make sure I have a long list of all the crazy late night things I’d go off and do. 

Leave a comment »

A very lazy Mother’s Day 

Usually Sundays start early with rugby training for #1 and 2, followed by homework, grocery shopping and other households jobs. 

Today there was none of that. Just as it nicely coincides with Mother’s Day. A morning of lazy starts and breakfast in bed. Followed by high tea with fairly impeccable behaviour from #1, 2 and 3.  

I received three more thoughtfully decorated cards. #1 has continued with the Tie Fighter theme this year. #2 worked hard on hers for two days. #3 could barely contain her excitement yesterday as she informed me she was doing something secret that she wasn’t go to tell me about for Mother’s Day…

This was exactly about as much as I could cope with today. I am so tired right now I should be in bed. In fact I already gave myself another gift of an afternoon nap. No, I’m not hungover. That was last weekend. 

Last night I was doing something wholly virtuous. I was in fact running a 10km race. Which flagged off at 9.35pm. I know! It’s only since running in Singapore that I have come across these running events that take place at all hours. Literally all hours. Think 9.35pm is late, the full marathon flagged off at midnight! 

So anyways, I thought 10km would be ok. It would take about an hour or just over. I can that distance fairly comfortably if I practice and I’ve often ran that far in the early evening so how different could this be? It’s been a long while since I’ve ran in an organised event and I’ve missed it. The sight of seeing other runners heading to the event, soaking up the atmosphere and waiting at the start line. Then of course seeing the Finish line. 


What I hadn’t accounted for is all that adrenaline takes quite a few hours to wear off. Like a good five hours or so after the race. I should have organised the spare room instead of trying to sleep. Hence today felt like a non starter, I wonder how all those marathon runners have spent the day.

So today’s very lazy Mother’s Day has been just the ideal way to spend it and now I need to go to bed. 

Leave a comment »

Just this one Mother’s Day Gift please

Although chocolates, flowers and trinkets are very lovely gifts to receive on any occasion let alone Mother’s Day, yesterday I put in a special request for something that I really, really wanted.

 

Now of course I know it’s rude to ask for something when all gifts should be a surprise but sometimes you just have to try your luck. I brazenly asked #1, 2 and 3 if for Mother’s Day they could for the whole day not bicker,  fight, tell tales on each other, scream or shout.

 

Too big an ask? Really? Yes really. But if we had such a day, it would be just one of the best gifts you could give me. It’s not like they are really at each other all the time but even the slightest winding up of each other, whine and retaliation can just accelerate your tolerance levels from zero to minus 10.

 

I have no answer for when I walk through the door and the first thing any one of the three tells me is “#1/#2/#3 (delete as appriopriate) pushed me/was mean to me/hit me on the head (delete as appropriate.)” The tragic thing is that once Husband walks through the door, the first thing I say to him is “#1/#2/#3 (delete as appropriate) pushed/was mean to/hit #1/#2/#3 (delete as appropriate.)” I mean what do I expect Husband to do? We both were not around at the time and it’s just one’s word against the other! But in a show of solidarity I need Husband to share this perplexing daily state of affairs.

 

On the whole #1, 2 and 3 have been very good so not much to report on that. Unlike yesterday. For the amount of bickering going on, I made #1 and 2 hold hands until they stopped irritating each other. The more they protested the longer they had to hold hands for. I actually saw someone post a photo of their own kids doing this and at first glance it looks like two siblings who get along amazingly well and never have a cross word for each other. Until I read the Mother’s explanation that whenever they fall out, they have to sit on a step holding hands until they stop it. I’m not really sure if it helps but it does look cute and makes me stop being annoyed by whatever petty squabbling is going on.

 

Oh actually did I say they’ve been on the whole very good today. I’ve just remembered at one point during afternoon tea that Husband suggested next year, the best gift would be to give me $100 to go off and enjoy afternoon tea by myself! All the best goodies were fast gobbled up by #1, 2 and 3 whilst spinning around on their chairs making me dizzy. But then we lost them for some peaceful minutes as they went off to explore the vast hotel space.

 

Then to really tired them out, we took an early evening walk along the promenade overlooking Marina Bay Sands, one of my favourite places to be in Singapore where they proceeded to climb columns and cling on like koalas.

 

I’m very happy to have these three running amok around me. As much as I am getting to know them and their changing and differing personalities, I also see that they are getting to know parts of me too.

 

I love how #1’s Mother’s Day card was filled with Tie-fighters, snow speeders and X wings with tic tacs, presents and Go WWF Go!

 

 

I love how #2’s Mother’s Day card is filled with hearts, flowers and a sweet message that’s she’s been working on for a couple of days.

 

 

I love how #3’s Mother’s Day card has hearts and a snake on it which I won’t spend too long on with interpreting the subliminal messaging going on there.

 

 

And as soon as they’ve gone to bed, I look forward to sitting down quietly and calling my Mum to wish her Happy Mother’s Day. It’s a bit later than usual that I call and she’s already out and about. I’m about to say that I’ll call her another day but she quickly says “No, no, I can talk now.”

 

 

And that’s what Mums do. They give you their right nows.

 

 

I know I could be a whole lot better at giving #1, 2 and 3 more of my right nows.

 

 

A timely reminder from my Mum.

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all Mums near and far and to all sons and daughters who make today special.

 

  

  

 

Leave a comment »

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.
   
 

 

Leave a comment »

All by myself……..

It is the plight of many people with young children who say, sometimes complain, they never have a quiet moment to themselves. I am one of those people. The amount of times you just want to have a bit of privacy going about your personal hygiene business when all of a sudden a small child just magically appears out of nowhere. It’s an assault on the senses when #1, 2 and 3 compete at the same time for your attention. One starts talking, then the other and then the third joins in for no other reason than to just join in. It results in a mounting crescendo of high level noise like a conductor waving his baton at the orchestra for the grand finale of some complicated symphony.

I really wish I were one of those people who can serenely function with a cacophony of activity going around them. But what I find is that my ears begin to ring, the blood pounds behind my temple, I barely know where to begin to stop the noise and I feel the need to retire to a dark, quiet room.

I’m pretty used to it now during the waking hours of #1, 2 and 3. Their boundless energy and capacity for more noise is quite something. I look forward to that golden moment of quiet as soon as they are all sound asleep. It’s like running on all cylinders firing and then suddenly you can just be still.

But it never feels long enough. This time in the evening which you may need to use to do other jobs left over from the day or preparing as much as you can before the next day starts all over again. 

Time to yourself is rare. 

And how often have we imagined just what we would do if we had time to ourselves. Read a book? An uninterrupted coffee? Get wildly inebriated and wallow in your all day hangover? Meet a friend for lunch and stay out all day?

And how often do we reminisce how much less time it took to get from A to B without organising a multitude of people with a multitude of accessories ‘just in case.’

And then there’s of course sleep. Oh my gosh. Uninterrupted blissful consecutive hours of sleep. With no small person visiting in the early hours. 

Yes, it does all sound rather attractive. 
And of course it is. For a short while that is. 
I rather unexpectedly had to go away for Gainful Employment purposes. Just for a couple of days. All by myself. 
Get up at 5am, just me. Quick shower. Carry on luggage, just for me. Taxi to airport. Already checked in online. Straight through Departures. Through whizzy finger print recognition gate thing. There’s an hour and a half before my flight. I’ve never had so much time to spare before. 

There’s time for an unhurried breakfast, a browse in the bookshop, a stop to buy paracetamol and then a saunter to the gate furthest away from anywhere. It’s the most stress free pre-flight experience I’ve had in ages. I’m almost congratulating myself on this achievement. 

And whilst on the flight there is no luxury inflight entertainment system, that’s ok because I’m not busy unpacking half a toy box to keep #1, 2 and 3 occupied. I don’t have to worry about any of them kicking the seat in front or tipping the contents of water/juice/tea over themselves. I can just be still. 

I brought a book with me but I’m not even going to bother opening a page. I’m going to do nothing for the whole 2 hours and 15 minutes. I might even have a nap. I do.
It’s all so civilised, none of this gathering bits and pieces of Lego because #1 insists that’s appropriate inflight entertainment. Not having to gather five pieces of hand luggage because everyone needs to have their own stuff. Not having to gather three small people together and ricochet off the seats because the galley is just not wide enough to herd three small people, five bags and yourself.

It’s the same going through Immigration and straight out to Departures where for the first time ever there’s a person stood with a sign with my name on.

The hotel room is ginormous and far too much for just me. But it’s oh so comfortable. I get more than 7 hours uninterrupted sleep. No waking up and going straight into a non stop routine. Just need to get myself ready and a table for one.

But the truth is, I’m not used to being all by myself anymore. I’m used to having several questions thrown at me at once. To be thinking about what I need to do next. To get things ready for the next day. To be in the company of other people. In the company of Husband and #1, 2 and 3.

It’s all very well jet setting off to some exotic location. It once sounded so appealing. Exciting. But now, as much as I enjoyed sleeping in a massive space for one uninterrupted night, I miss the cacophony of home where Husband, #1, 2 and 3 are.

It’s not like I’ve never been away from them before. It’s the first time it’s been all by myself. 

And as the song goes, I don’t want to be all by myself and so, I can’t wait to get home. And I’ll never complain about not having time to myself ever again.

I bet that lasts all of 30 minutes after walking through the door!
  

Leave a comment »

The new Sporting Sunday

Sundays are meant to be a day of rest. 

Or if not a day of rest, Sundays are meant to be a day of doing something constructive because you wasted Saturday in a state of Hangover Hell. 

There was a time Sporting Sunday meant watching the football in your local pub with a couple of pints of beer. Or sat in Highgate Woods watching the local cricket teams play in the distance with a couple of cans of beer. Sometimes it could be a long leisurely run followed by a light afternoon of rewarding beer.  

Sundays are no longer a day of rest since the arrival of #1, 2 and 3. You will already know this if you are the parents of small people. You will already know this if you know anyone who are the parents of small people and they have stayed with you/you have stayed with them. 

So it appears we are so used to Sundays no longer being a day of rest that we are actively seeking out activites to ensure no long leisurely lie ins even if they were available. I know! What exactly are we thinking?

Since January 2014, #1 has been ‘playing rugby’ every Sunday morning with his team the Titans. 

I say he’s been ‘playing rugby’ in loose terms because he’s still getting to grips with it all. It took some time for him to get into it and enjoy heading off on a Sunday morning for an hour and a half of training. He’s now so into it that it’s the only morning he doesn’t drag his heels in getting out of the door. If we don’t tell him in advance that he’s not going to rugby training, it really ruins his day. Like the mornings (though rare) when Husband is too hungover to face directing a bunch of 5/6 year olds to run with the ball in the right direction.  

I’ve only been to watch #1’s team play rugby on a handful of occasions but my favourite part by far is watching a really keen small person having grabbed hold of the ball and running full pelt with it in any direction they choose. With complete disregard to their Coach shouting at them ‘You’re going the wrong way, you’re going the wrong way!’ This never fails to crack me up. There is nothing that a small person enjoys doing more than eating ice cream than just running in open space. A small person running in full flight is a joy to behold. Except when they’re doing it around the living room. 

For the last two days, Husband and #1 have been up and out of the house by 7.15am for a rugby tournament. At this stage, I think it’s still more about the taking part and joining in rather than the intent of competing. Though I can see a competitive streak beginning to take hold in #1 as he gets older. There was a time during training where they would play a knock out game and #1 and his best mate Master Cake Pops would be first or second out. This never bothered them because the sooner they were out, the earlier they could get themselves an ice pop from the cool box. Priorities.    

Usually on a Sunday whilst Husband and #1 are out at rugby, it is Boiled Egg Sunday with #2 and 3. I know! We know how to rock a Sunday. This is because the smell of boiled eggs makes #1 vomit in his mouth. 

But this morning, #2 and 3 were taking part in their own debut sporting event – The Cold Storage Kids Run 2015! An 800m route around Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. They have been so excited all week about taking part in this event. Mostly enamoured with the idea of getting a medal and quite rightly so. I always need to know if there’s a medal involved when partaking in an event. I’m not so bothered about the t shirt as they are usually rubbish and totally oversized. Though not so much in Singapore where you actually get a proper sporting top.  

They’ve all heard me say that I’m just off on a run and they’ve seen me come back all hot, sweaty and smelly. They’ve seen my medals from recent running events and they like to pretend they’re running too with a lap around the coffee table. But I seriously think today’s run really made them wonder what all the fuss was about! A known fact some of you are strongly familiar with.  

It was very unclear to #2 that the run had started and very unclear that the run had finished. #3 made a rookie error and started off too strong and hit the wall 50 meters in and demanded to be carried. Then she’d recover and optimistically take off at speed, only to hit the wall again. This was more or less her running style for the whole 800m. #2 took a slow and steady approach with sweat dripping off her profusely about 100m in that didn’t stop for a good couple of hours. 800m may not seem any distance but to small people it is a very long distance and it is even longer if you have to carry one of them for half that way.  

I could see the look on #2’s face after we crossed the Finish Line that she had no idea what had just gone on. There was no fanfare or flag waving, just me saying how great they had done. I’m not sure she’s going to be so enthusiastic for the next run that comes along! But the sense of pride for them and for me, when presented with their Finishers Medal was a very proud moment.  

Today has been a real Sporting Sunday for #1, 2 and 3. It was quite a haul of medals for their (and ours) hard work in the sun, giving up the potential of long leisurely lie in and seeing as it is Sporting Sunday, Husband and I are now rewarding ourselves with Sporting Sunday beer. Even though for the most part, Husband and I haven’t been doing most of the sporting activity, it is exhausting!  

Sunday is definitely no longer a day of rest but looking at the way #1, 2 and 3 are cherishing their hard earned medals (half earned for #3), I’m ok with that. 

Well done #1, 2 and 3!

  
  
  

Leave a comment »

For all Mums on all days

It is Mothering Sunday or Mother’s Day today in the UK. The benefits of celebrating this occasion in Singapore when everyone else will be celebrating in May, is that you can go out for lunch without places being fully booked. Luckily for Husband, there are shops savvy enough to realise they can make good use of their stock of Mother’s Day cards twice a year.

Overall today is a Sunday like any other. #1 still has rugby practice first thing in the morning, #2 and 3 have eggs for breakfast without #1 around complaining about the smell (and yet he finds smelly farts hilarious). They all have endless appetites outside of mealtimes, require entertainment and meltdowns can happen at any time.

But they do try and remember that today is a ‘special day’. However if that special day doesn’t involve presents and surprises for them then the good behaviour can be short lived. But I do love the enthusiasm and excitement that small children adore when they are involved in a conspiracy. Even if they don’t quite understand the full meaning of that conspiracy as Husband is still leading Operation Mother’s Day Appreciation Plan.

They love the surprise presentation of cards and gifts with a flourish that elicits exclamations of joy and gratitude. The knowledge that they have made you happy. This doesn’t just extend to me on Mother’s Day but on all occasions where they share something with someone that makes the other person happy. And who doesn’t feel good when they’ve made someone else feel good. It’s part of who we are. I have a purple painting of me done by #2 as my special gift. #1 and 3 went for a more abstract take on things.

But this year, a lot more than previous years on Mother’s Day, I really miss my Mum. There’s still an eight hour time difference between us and I couldn’t wait to give her a call and hear her voice and wish her Happy Mother’s Day.

Perhaps it’s because my last trip to the UK my Mum did a lot of home cooking for us that reminded me of my youth. For what can be more comforting than your Mum’s (or Dad’s) cooking. I try to cook the same way my Mum does but it never will be as good. And whilst I have eaten in some really fabulous places and tasted food that can only be described as exquisite, nothing can really compare to dinner at my Mum’s with my Mum.

I find one of the most challenging aspects of living an expat life is the absence of family. Especially with having a family of my own without my Mum being around to guide me through the days when I didn’t know what was going on. Still don’t to be honest. Perhaps living near or around London would also mean I wouldn’t see my Mum as often as what my ‘if I wasn’t living an expat life’ imagination leads me to believe. But I would be able to call her more often without having to calculate the seven or eight hours behind. Sometimes you just want to be able to call now and not have to wait until later. As much as we have amazing stay in touch technology that has helped keep many of my relationships going without missing a beat, there’s something quite special about talking on the telephone that feels much more personal.

All I know is that I miss my Mum and now, more than ever as I get older, do I appreciate just how much she is. Just how much comfort she gives me in something so ordinary like the meals she still cooks in the same way she has done all my life. That level of consistency. Just like my Mum.

Happy Mother’s Day to all Mum’s near and far. But especially to my Mum for many reasons that keep coming to me every day.



Leave a comment »

Teacher’s Appreciation Day 2014 – How to show your appreciation

It’s Teacher’s Appreciation Day today in Singapore and most of the local schools are closed giving pupils and Teacher’s a much appreciated day off.

I assume it’s not Teacher’s Appreciation Day in all countries, such as the UK with the new school year having just started a few days ago.

Why am I talking about this? Well, Teacher’s everywhere deserve our appreciation for taking our beloved offspring off our hands for half of their waking hours, five days a week and for weeks at a time. I’ve often said that school was invented to give parents and their children a break from each other.

Plus there’s the whole teaching them to read and write and do sums. I don’t know how they do it but #1 listens to his teachers and absorbs what they say. So why can’t he do the same at home? Why do I have to repeat myself endlessly over all things? And why when I give him some piece of information that I think is interesting and new his answer is ‘I know Mummy, I know that’.

The other reason I mention this is because it makes me That Mum again.

The one that doesn’t remember it is Teacher’s Day until arriving at school on the day.

The one that sends their children to school sans token of appreciation to all their teacher’s whilst Mrs Cake Pops has individually personalised handcrafted candles of the Teacher’s signature scent. I’m exaggerating of course but you get the picture between Prepared and Organised and well, just not.

The one that will never make it onto the elite Class Mum In Waiting training programme.

But not this year.

This year, I am Prepared and Organised.

#1 and 2 are bringing in homemade cookies and brownies all wrapped up neatly with handmade gift tags signed by #1 and 2.

In reality, #2 measures one or two ingredients and tips it into the mixing bowl. Followed by one or two stirs of the wooden spoon. Followed by one or two rolling out of cookie dough. Followed by one or two attempts at writing her name on the gift tags.

#1 didn’t even hold so much as a wooden spoon but did eventually write his name on all 15 gift tags.

I’m up past midnight because I didn’t get a chance to bake the brownies until after their bedtime as we chose to spend the afternoon at Mrs Imperturbable’s condo instead. Of course this was way more fun than having to ‘work’ at their Teacher’sDay gifts.

But that’s ok because this year I am Prepared and Organised!

This morning we arrive at school with our basket of goodies. #1 and 2 proudly announce they are cookies and brownies they helped to bake. I suppose both touched a utensil required at some point of the manufacturing process.

This morning I wasn’t That Mum.

I may get an interview for the Class Mum in Waiting Training Programme after all.

Some hours later and I’m on my way to get #1 and 2 from school because it’s a half day finish. My phone rings. It’s the School.

They’re just wondering if I’m aware it’s a midday pick up today so that the Teacher’s can head off early and enjoy their Teacher’s Day lunch.

No matter how good the cookies and brownies are, I’m sure they’d rather have their much appreciated half day off without #1 and 2 in tow who waste no time before telling me how such and such was picked up and they were still in class and then such and such was picked and they were still left in class.

Next year I’m going to be The Mum Who Reads The Whole Email.

As well as being Prepared and Organised of course.

Incidentally, so you’re much better Prepared and Organised, Teacher’s Appreciation Day for most countries is 5 October.

20140905-232138.jpg

Leave a comment »

%d bloggers like this: