Thursday, December 31, 2009

Is it just a symbol?

DH and I had a fight last night. What about? The significance of New Year's Eve and the start of the New Year. I know what you're thinking - what a ridiculous topic to fight about!
DH would not be home tonight for New Year's eve because he will be working. I wanted to have some quality time with him last night, so as to replace our time apart tonight. However, DH had a very busy day at work and running errands that he was tired. After dinner, he had to call our contractor to discuss some problems with the house renovations. He then had to discuss these issues with his father so that he can go over to the house and monitor the workers as we will not be able to do so.
When DH was finally free, I had dozed off. When I woke up about half an hour later, I felt really upset. The evening didn't turn out as I had hoped. I wanted an evening where both DH and I could sit on the sofa and reflect about how our year has been. It was not the best time to bring this up to DH but I did. He said that New Year's eve is just another day for him.It's no different than any other day. There's still work to be done, stresses of life to deal with and the problems that we have won't just go away with the clock striking 12 at midnight.

I told him that it meant a lot to me because I see it as a time to find release and to let all the pain, disappointments, anger and frustrations end with 2009 and to move into 2010 with a new and fresh outlook, filled with hope and joyous expectations.

To DH, New Year's eve and New Year's day are just symbols. Life goes on as per normal for him.

I agree now that what DH said made a lot of sense but given my agitated state of mind last night, I felt aggrieved that we had not spent a picturesque evening, talking about our recollection of the events of 2009 and our hopes and aspirations for 2010.

So, I went to bed, sulking and DH went to bed, irritated and frustrated with me.

This morning, I woke up calmer and somewhat embarrassed with the way I overreacted last night about this whole "New Year's eve, New Year's day" fuss. DH gave me a hug and a kiss in the kitchen before he left for work, wishing me "Happy New Year". I replied saying, "Why say it since it has no meaning for you?" He grinned and said, "It's important to you so I'm saying it."

After DH left for work, the words "new every morning" came to my mind and prompted me to look up this verse in the Bible.

"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:21-23"

The author of the book of Lamentations was in a sorrowful state of mourning. Amazingly enough, these verses of hope and encouragement lie within this book. He doesn't tell us to ignore our pain and suffering and to just put on a happy face and cheer up. Rather, in a very realistic outlook, he told us not to give up hope but to remember the faithfulness of God. We are given a new chance in life every morning.

This means that we don't have to wait until next New Year's Eve to make resolutions to be a better person and to live a better life. We can resolve to do it every day!

True, as DH said, the end of 2009 will not make all our problems miraculously disappear. We will definitely still end up being hurt, angry and disappointed with each other and with the people and events around us. There will still be difficult times, sad moments and lonely periods.

However, with the start of every day, there is hope for something better. With each day, God gives us a treasured opportunity to live our best, to love and to learn from Him. This is a privilege we all have and it's not just restricted to December 31 or January 1 of every year.

On that note, a hopeful toast to everyone for a new beginning for every single day in 2010!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Clutter and me

Today I stared at fear in the face and said, "I'm not afraid of you. I want you out of my house!" Fear looked back at me and laughed mockingly, "Well, let's see what you've got, little girl!"

That was the clutter in our storeroom talking to me. I didn't want to tackle clearing out the storeroom but unfortunately, time is not exactly on our side. Yes, we're only moving at the end of next month, provided that there are no more hiccups with the renovation works but I only have time to pack our things into boxes on some Fridays and weekends. It's difficult to pack during weekday evenings as that's the time we reconnect as a family, with Osh Osh telling us all about the things he did in school and DH and I catching up with each other after a long work day.

Back to my nemesis, Clutter. I was determined not to let it get the better of me. After all, what is Clutter? It's just stuff that we can't let go off. We let it sit in our homes and take up unnecessary space. Every now and again, it mocks us when we catch sight of it, saying, "I know you hate me but you can't bring yourself to get rid of me!"

Armed with plastic bags and boxes, I bravely entered our storeroom and started to weave my way through the messy pile. Some items were given the loving treatment i.e. wiped clean and stored in boxes to be brought over to our new placce. Other items were packed into boxes to be given away to Salvation Army. Th third category of stuff wasn't so lucky. They were ruthlessly placed into plastic bags and headed straight to the bin!

After a few long tiring hours, I was nearing the completion of my task. Clutter no longer had a hold on me. I am free! Or am I? As expected, Clutter wasn't going to give up that easily without a fight. Clutter knew my weakest point and went in for the kill. As I was packing baby items to be given away, Clutter whispered in my ear, "Are you sure you want to give these away? You may get pregnant next year. These could come in handy." I sat down on the floor, amidst the boxes, and started to cry. Should I hold on to these items, in the hope that I could use them again one day? Or should I just let go and give them away to someone else who is already expecting a child?

I plucked up enough courage to stand up, wash my face and resumed packing those items in the boxes to be given away. I'm not giving up hope that one day, I may conceive a child. However, I don't want to spend my "here and now" waiting and holding on to things that are painful reminders, unable to let go. After all, these are just things. It's time to make a clean start.

Clutter was surprised. That wasn't an outcome it expected. It didn't have a fighting chance now and my mission was completed. I am now typing this while having a hot cup of tea, legs propped up on a footstool, feeling tired but with a sense of accomplishment.

A word of caution, both to myself and to others who intend to declutter. If you are not diligent and let your guard down, Clutter will return with a vengeance. So, always ask yourself if you need the item again within a year, whether it enriches your life or simplify your living. Be wary as Clutter can diguise itself as one of these items so be very honest with yourself when you ask these questions and have the resolute to act on your decisions.

I still have other siblings of Clutter lurking in the other rooms of our house. I will have to tackle them another day. If you don't hear from me again before Christmas, rest assured that I am ok. I will not let Clutter win!

God bless all of you! Have a joyous Christmas and a fulfilling start to the year ahead!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hey! Where did the line go??

This week has been interesting for me. I have been reminded on several occasions that boundaries in our relationships are undeniably important. I've also been reminded that I don't guard my boundaries well which has led to a number of complications and unnecessary stress. The lines around our personal space, both in the mental and emotional sphere are often blurred and sometimes, erased into non-existence.

My relationship with my inlaws has never been easy for me. I must admit that our communication has improved greatly over the past 2 years. There is also a better sense of understanding of each other's differences. Nevertheless, there are still times when things are sensitive, potentially bringing up all the unhappy sentiments from the past. I agree that they desire to be closer to us, in particular to Osh Osh and I am happy for them to develop their relationship with him. However, there are times when the three of us want to have family time alone. It's difficult to communicate that at times, short of telling them directly that we want some time alone. DH finds it hard being caught in the middle and I hate to be the "bad guy" to have to tell them that we need some space. This weekend, I had to do that and I felt really bad later. DH called his father that evening to clear the air. It's good that my relationship with my father in law is on a more solid ground now and he didn't take any offence to my directness. As a matter of fact, he apologised for not realising that we needed some space and for overstepping his boundaries. It's a delicate dance that we all have to learn and master. More often than not, I have clumsily and unintentionally stepped on their toes.

Another boundary issue was between our contractor and us. We have been nice and friendly, perhaps a bit too friendly, with our contractor that he has ended up taking us for granted. As a result, there has been mistakes in the renovation works as well as delays. We had a meeting with him yesterday evening. It wasn't an easy one. I was very stressed about it for the past few days leading to it but DH remained calm throughout. The outcome of the meeting was good. Yes, the completion of the works is delayed until end of January next year but we have made it clear that we will not tolerate any more neglect on his part. The lesson for me here is that we should always be careful not to mistake a professional relationship as friendship by being too trusting.

As we returned home late that night, Osh Osh was needy as he missed me. However, I had to rush as I needed to attend a teleconference by dialling in from home that night. I had less than half an hour to shower, grab a quick dinner and prepare for it. That was another boundary issue for me. The conflict of letting work eat into my family time. I had to fulfil my work obligations as that is what I am paid to do. That fact didn't help me though when I saw Osh Osh's eyes tear up when I told him, "Mummy has to lock herself in the room to make this phone call." He didn't say a word but kept looking at me pitifully. With a heavy heart, I walked away from him. I made it up to him once the call ended by reading 4 story books with him. Of course, he ended up sleeping later than his usual bedtime but he went to bed happy. I hate having to choose work over him and this is something that I have to continually grapple with.

Finally, there is one other boundary issue that hits even closer to home. This time, the only person involved is me. I let the boundaries of rational thought and practical advice overlap with my own irrational worries and fear. As a result of not protecting the mental boundaries in my head, I was unnecessarily stressed, lost sleep over the past few nights and had headaches. I had prayed about the situation but somehow, I didn't surrender it all to God. Looking back, worrying about it and fearing the worst wasn't worth it. All it resulted in was an increased number of gray hairs!

I have learnt that the boundary lines in our lives are to be vigilantly protected and respected. They are there to enable us to live a happy fulfilling life. If we let the lines blur into oblivion, our lives would be a mess. We would be tossed about by every obstacle and pulled in all different directions, not knowing where our centre of focus should be. The boundaries that we set in our relationships are not meant to make us into selfish people. On the contrary, when we know where we stand in our relationships, we feel more secure and are better equipped to fulfil the needs that each relationship demands of us. On that note, I intend to vigilantly protect my time with DH and Osh Osh when we are all home later this evening. I know Osh Osh will be thrilled!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Get the juices flowing!

I miss writing. It's as though a part of me is lying dormant, waiting to be resurrected. Unfortunately, my creative juices seem to be frozen at the moment. My sixth writing assignment looks at me in the face, as though taunting me, telling me, "I'm still waiting...are you ever going to get me completed?"

I guess life's busyness got in the way. My daily schedule revolves around work and Osh Osh. My personal time with DH has suffered because of our respective schedules. There is also the additional busyness that comes with the renovation of the new home, the planning and the packing (something I am doing bit by bit at the speed of a worn out snail!).

When I think about all the things that needs to be done before the year end, I have to strongly resist the urge to run away, tearing my hair out and screaming like a mad woman or diving under the covers and staying in bed and not move a muscle, praying that the chores won't hunt me out!

We all know that thinking about things just makes them seem more insurmountable. The tasks at hand aren't all that difficult. I just need to focus, get off my butt and do one small thing at a time. Why is that so hard? Is it all in my mind?

DH asked me to be realistic and not kill myself by all my thinking. He said I think too much about the things that I need not think about and think too little about the things I should be putting my mind to work on. This was actually said in jest but I admit there is definitely truth in his words.

I agree that I have to be realistic. I have to put my writing on hold for now and focus on making the move to the new place as easy and as pleasant as possible. So having said that, I'm getting off this chair now and move my butt to get some decluttering done!

Monday, November 9, 2009

It's good to be home

It's so good to be home. Despite my apprehension and worries, the trip, on a whole, went well. Workwise, it was good to reconnect with my counterparts from the other regions. We were productive. We even had time for some short sight-seeing and shopping.
Both DH and Mum told me that Osh Osh was very well behaved in my absence. I spoke to DH and Osh Osh over Yahoo Messenger on some nights. It made my homesickness more bearable. DH took a lot of effort to record short videos of Osh Osh to cheer me up.
Mum said that Osh Osh was very excited on Saturday night, counting the hours till my flight landed. Mum had to strongly persuade him to sleep as my flight was only scheduled to arrive on Sunday morning.
DH drove to the airport to pick me up along with Osh Osh, my Mum and my inlaws. It was very special for me to be so warmly welcomed home. I bought Osh Osh a magician's start-up kit and he loved it. All throughout yesterday, he was trying out the tricks. He has mastered 2 out of the 21 tricks. I'm sure it won't be too long before he catches on and learns the rest.
DH and I had a lot of time together, thanks to my Mum helping us out with chores and keeping Osh Osh occupied. It was wonderful to reconnect with DH. I really missed him. I was jokingly telling him that I should go away more often so that we can have such special moments being reunited.
Overall, I feel calmer and more at peace. Yes, I have a million and one things that needs to be done but I'm not in a panic frenzy. Maybe, my perspective on life has changed somewhat. I am assured that despite the outward circumstances in my life, the inevitable problems and unforeseen incidents, God is in control and He will not let us bear more than what we can handle. I guess being alone those nights away has helped me appreciate what I have been blessed with in my life. Not to sweat over the small stuff and most things, no matter how demanding or urgent or upsetting they are, in general are actually small stuff.
The "big" stuff in my life is my family. They are well, happy and love me very much. I hope that I never lose this perspective again!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

An invisible shroud of gloom

I seem to be walking around in an invisible shroud of gloom lately. I can't seem to shake it off despite my efforts to perk up. I prayed, telling myself that I have many things to be grateful for and that this is an attack from the devil. Still, the shroud remains. Some moments, it is so thick that it suffocates me. Other times, it doesn't constrict my daily normal functioning but I know it's there.

A few nights ago, I told Osh Osh that I will be travelling overseas for a business trip on 1 November. He looked at me puzzled and said, "But Mummy, you said 2 November!" I had told him last month about the trip to prepare him for my one week of absence. He wasn't happy but he was comforted by the fact that my Mum will be coming over to stay and help us out. I was surprised that he remembered that I said I would fly on 2 November. It was only recently that my manager asked me to change my flight to 1 November to have an extra day there for more meetings. Osh Osh didn't cry when we talked about my travel plans but I could see that his heart sank and he was trying very hard to be brave. He said that he will miss me and it will not be the same not having me there beside him, reading to him each night before he sleeps. I told him that his Grandma will be there to read to him. Osh Osh replied, "It's not the same. Poh Poh doesn't read Froggy the same way that you do!" He started to sound exasperated so I decided to change the topic. We left the "reading" topic and I told him that I will be away for only 7 days. I assured him that I will buy a toy for him as a souvenir. He smiled a small smile and said, "If you cannot buy a big toy, a small one is ok."

Maybe this is the main reason for my invisible shroud of gloom. Just as Osh Osh feels that it will not be the same without me around, I feel that there is an emptiness when I am not with him. I will miss his laughter, his hugs and kisses, his numerous recounts of the events of his day, his acute words of Godly wisdom and our quiet moments of closeness. I will miss him so much that my heart will break. I dread the arrival of 1 November. I don't know who will be the stronger one. Chances are I will start bawling first at the airport! It would be as though a big part of me is roughly ripped out, leaving a gaping hole of loneliness and emptiness.

DH and I talked about this last night. He comforted me in that my business trip would only be for 7 days. The days would go by quickly because my schedule is very packed. I would not have any time to sit in the hotel room and mope or twiddle my thumbs and think of home. DH was very tired from work so he didn't want to stay up until late to continue talking about my shroud of gloom. I was tired too so we slept.

I don't have any answers. A lot of people travel long distance for business trips leaving their loved ones behind for days, weeks and even months. They cope, they make the effort to connect and be a united family despite the geographical distance. I am just going on this one trip. It's not the end of the world. I guess I don't have what it takes to be a true blue corporate Mum. My heart belongs to my "Soft Toy Boy" and nothing in the world will ever change that.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hearing the Voice of God

I learnt a very important lesson on hearing the Voice of God from my son last night.

It all began at dinner time. Osh Osh normally eats his dinner at the coffee table while watching his favourite cartoon as DH and I move about the house doing chores. Last night, for a change, we made him sit with us at the dining table. Initially, he was very reluctant. He had to decide between spending time with his parents or watching his favourite cartoon. If you were a kid his age, you would agree that it was a very tough choice!

I asked him if he wanted to have dinner at the table like a "happy family", thinking that since Osh Osh coined that phrase himself, he would see the importance of it and give up his programme. My attempt failed miserably. DH finally came up with an amicable solution. He will eat with us at the table for half an hour, after which he can go watch his tv. Osh Osh finally said yes!

We had roast chicken last night. Osh Osh asked, "Why did the man kill the chicken?" I probed him for more details. He went on to explain that man keeps chickens in small boxes then he kills them and we eat them. I said that if we want to eat the chicken, it has to be killed. Otherwise, we wouldn't have any chicken to eat. I was curious about how he knew of the rearing and killing of chickens. I didn't teach it to him so I figured he must have learnt it at school.

Osh Osh looked at me and said matter-of-factly, "God told me". Now, I am really curious so I went on to ask him a series of questions.

"How did God tell you?"

"God speak to me in my heart."

"How did you hear God?"

"I hear God in my heart. Not in my ears."

"How does God speak to you in your heart?"

"If you want to hear God, your heart will hear Him. If you don't want to hear God, your heart won't hear Him. God don't speak to your ears. God speak to your heart."

"Do you hear God all the time?"

"Yes, God speak to me all the time… in my heart, not my ears."

"What does God say?"

"God tell me things"

"What things?"

"God loves me. In my heart, not my ears."

DH and I were really impressed. It was as though Osh Osh was preaching a little sermon to us. It was clear and straight to the point. What's more important, we know that it was genuine because our little preacher has practically applied it in his life. His message was also biblically accurate! God speaks to the heart and He will only speak to you if your heart is open and willing to accept Him.

Well, that's the gospel truth from a "babe's mouth"! Amen!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Soft Toy Boy

I've given Osh Osh a new nickname. He's my "Soft Toy Boy". He loves it. Whenever he has the need for extra affection and longer hugs, he will come up to me and say in a soft babyish voice, "Mummy, am I your Soft Toy Boy?" I would reply, "Yes" and give him a hug. He would then repeat the question and I would give him another hug. He can repeat the question up to 5 or 6 times. Our hugs would get bigger, tighter and longer and if we were in his room, we would end up rolling on the mattress and laughing.

Why "Soft Toy Boy"? Osh Osh has 3 small soft toys that he brings to bed with him every night. There's Baby Lion, about 4 inches in length, which we got as a free gift together with one of the children's meals from a restaurant. Then, there's Tigger which he received as a Christmas present 2 years ago and Me Too, a soft rabbit shaped pencil case which was given to him by one of his teachers on Children's Day. Baby Lion is his favourite and he loves to pretend that Baby Lion is him and I am Tigger. So, he would always give me Tigger and we would make the 2 soft toys have conversations together with Tigger as Baby Lion's mother.

Every night, after we've finished playing, he would give Tigger to me to bring to my room. He said Tigger belongs to me. It's very kind of him to share Tigger with me. I would always take Tigger away but when Osh Osh is asleep, I would put Tigger beside him again. I love watching him sleep. He would put Baby Lion in his pajama top because he doesn't want Baby Lion to be cold. He would then lie on his side and hug Me Too.

About 2 weeks ago, when we were having this conversation, I told him that he doesn't need to give me Tigger anymore because I know how much he loves Tigger too. He can keep Tigger along with Baby Lion and Me Too. Then he looked long and hard at me and asked, "Who will be your soft toy?"

He looked so adorable so the answer automatically came to me. I hugged him and said, "You are my Soft Toy Boy". I can see that the name pleased him as his eyes gleamed and he smiled widely. So, the name stuck. He said he won't use the name at school but only at home with me. Sometimes, when we are sitting on the sofa, he would climb onto my lap and stroke my hair and ask, "Am I your Soft Toy Boy?" My heart melts each time.

I cherish these moments with him because I can see that he's growing up so quickly. He's learning to do new things each day and becoming more independent. There are times when I am very melancholy especially when I look at him sleep. Thoughts like "He is the only baby I will ever have" and "One day, he won't need as many hugs from me anymore" would engulf me. I guess these are normal feelings that a mother goes through. They are just that…feelings! What really matters is that the Soft Toy Boy loves his Mummy and his Mummy is overwhelmed with gratitude to be his mother.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Unwired and docked off!

I did a very brave thing. I didn't bring my work laptop home this weekend. I can't remember the last time I didn't have it with me over the weekend. What's more mind blowing for me is that I didn't switch on my home desktop for the entire weekend. I didn't read my personal email messages. I didn't play around with Facebook. I didn't surf the net and read what's on Christianity Today or I didn't visit any of the Christian forums or writing websites. I was completely unwired and docked off! Amazing!

To most of you, you're thinking, "What's the big deal?"

However, if you have been following my blog, you would know that I have issues on maintaining a work life balance. I always bring work home with me. I log on at nights and weekends to tend to work requests from the other offices in different time zones. I seem to be working all the time. When I am not physically in front of my laptop, my mind is filled with anxiety about work. I am never fully mentally there when I am spending time with DH and Osh Osh.

It was hard for me this weekend not to think about work. It's like my recent attempt of giving up coffee which didn't go too well. I would feel that something important is missing and the day's not quite right until I have my cup of coffee. I would feel edgy, grumpy and restless. Sometimes, I would have headaches. I often joke with my colleagues that it's like a cocaine addict having the shakes!

So, what took the place of my online time this weekend? I had good quality time with Osh Osh as I wasn't preoccupied with work. I didn’t use my normal phrase of "Not now, Mummy has to work" with him throughout the entire weekend. DH and I spent more time praying together and reading His word. All of us had a luxuriously long afternoon nap yesterday. We went for evening walks. Osh Osh was happy. I felt that I was more "there" with DH and Osh Osh. Yes, admittedly, there were times during the weekend that my mind strayed and wandered to work but I told myself that work can wait till Monday. I consciously brought my mind back to the present moment. When Osh Osh was happily playing and explaining to me what he was doing, I listened attentively, asked questions and played with him. DH and I laughed more this weekend. Yes, I was irritated with him about some minor issues but I explained my reasons for them. He in return, told me that he was irritated with me too. Nevertheless, we had time to talk about it and as a result, we understood each other better and our irritation with each other didn't escalate into a full blown fight.

Will I do this again this weekend? Yes, most definitely! I will however, have my laptop with me because I will be working from home on Friday. Nonetheless, come close of business day Friday, I will be officially offline. It's a small step but it's a step in the right direction!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Joyful in hope?

I sat in a crowded train, trying my best not to cry. I was listening to Christian worship songs on my MP3 player, hoping that it would dull the pain and make it bearable. As I kept the volume at a reasonable level, I could still hear the buzz of conversation amongst the other commuters. It was stuffy and more than once, my foot was stepped on.

I didn't want to sink deeper into self pity so I fumbled around in my handbag and pulled out a wallet size Christian women's devotional book. I carry this wherever I go with me, along with my trusty notebook. I turned to a topic titled "Hope" and there it was. Romans 12:12. "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."

How am I able to be joyful in hope?

I was quietly hopeful that this month was going to be that special month. Then, I started spotting today. People have told tell me that it will get easier with time. You will be able to deal with the disappointment better if it repeatedly happened to you. Then one day, it wouldn't hurt anymore.

Is that true?

All throughout the noisy train journey, I was fighting hard to keep my tears at bay. I kept reading Romans 12:12. Be faithful in prayer. I can manage that as both DH and I have been praying for a second child for more than a year now. Be patient in affliction. That's harder but I can manage that too. I tell myself to focus and convincingly say that I can overcome the suffering and be a better person after that experience.

Joyful in hope?

That's much harder. On a normal day, even when PMS doesn't hinder my rational functioning, joy escapes me every now and again. What more when I have to come face to face with "losing" once again what my heart so desires? there any left? I have to search all of my being to find that last ounce of hope to hold on to. To be joyful in that last ounce of hope... I don't see how I can do it.

A thought came to my mind. As I was crying inwardly, I felt that God was shedding the same tears as I was too.

In a desert land he found him,
in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
he guarded him as the apple of his eye.
- Deuteronomy 32:10

As I read this verse, I replaced "him" with "her" to identify myself in it. He cares for me.
He hurts when I hurt because He loves me so much. I am His creation. I am the apple of His eye.

I still walked home with a heavy heart. It's never easy for me although this disappointment is a monthly event that I face without fail. As I reached our doorstep, I mustered enough courage to put aside my tears, my grief and my pain as I am returning to my DH and my Osh Osh, my beloved family.

The joy that Romans 12:12 speaks of, I believe, is not one of frivolous happiness which may be easily distinguished. It's quiet and yet strong and secure and it comes from the fact that God has not left me. He is with me in all this muddled up mess that I am going through right now.

Joyful in hope? It's not possible for me right now but I pray in time, I will get that is where God wants me to be.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What lenses are you using?

It's been emotionally chaotic these past two days. I had taken two days off work and since Mum is with us, it was the perfect timing to have some mother daughter quality time. That's not the cause of the chaos, of course! We had a nice time out yesterday, shopping and afternoon facials at the spa.

However, when I came home, I checked my work email messages. I know I shouldn't have done so since I am on leave. The urge was too strong for me to resist. I had several messages waiting for me, all bearing similar sentiments of urgency and importance. I was stumped. I felt that I have been short-changed. These 2 precious days are my days off work. I have hardly taken any decent time off for the past 6 months. Why can't my bosses and colleagues respect that and leave me alone??

Anyway, I decided not to reply those messages, all except one because the sender used some threatening words which displeased me. All of yesterday evening, I was feeling low and upset. It just seemed that as long as I have been doing this job, I wouldn't have any "freedom". The work will always be hounding me. People do not respect my personal time and my boundaries in life. Did I bring this upon myself by being too conscientious with my work in the first place? I was always termed as the "reliable, dependable worker". If you need anything done, don't fret, Busybugz is always there to do it.

That was the lens I used to look at my life yesterday. DH came home tired and wasn't too pleased to find me in such a state. He tried his best to console me but it didn't work. He used a different pair of lenses. He used a practical one where he saw my life as it was, without any drama. He asked me a question, "How many people can really take time off work without having work waiting for them when they returned to the office?" He's right. Everyone shares the same boat as me. No one is left off the hook but others seemed to have a better balance in life in that they are able to compartmentalize their lives, not mixing personal and work time.

I went to sleep restless and very disappointed last night. I know that realistically, I have to keep working in this job because the pay is decent and I should consider myself blessed for having a job. However, somehow, knowing this just made me feel very trapped.

Little did I know that Mum couldn't sleep well either last night. She was bugged by something else. She missed my Dad who is back home now and she was also worried about my grandmother. There are also some other family issues which I don't want to bring up here. What I can share is that the pair of lenses she used was a very emotional one. She just couldn't shake what she felt and was very troubled. This morning, she said she wanted to go home. DH and I tried our best to console her but as you can guess (like mother, like daughter), it didn't work.

So, DH and I went to the train station and changed her train ticket so that she can leave this Sunday instead of late next week. We didn't share her view that she needed to return urgently as the existing problems have been there for years and wouldn't change even if she returned tonight or Sunday or next week. However, her perception was clouded by emotions and she made her decision based on what her heart led her to decide.

As you can see, I am very similar to my mother. There are many times, of course, when I don't want to admit this. I don't want to say that I am rash and emotionally unstable but it's evident here that we are very alike. My Mum's very soft hearted and very kind which often results in people taking advantage of her. I share that trait too although I like to believe that I am made of tougher stuff. I can see Osh Osh being that way too. Kindness is something that comes so naturally with him. I have this fear that in this hard, cruel world that my son will not have what it takes to bear the brutal attacks of those who have stone cold hard hearts.

What am I to do? I can't live in fear all the time. I can't take a baseball bat and swing it around crazily to defend my parents and my son against whatever evil that comes their way. Instead, I have to let go and turn to God in prayer. I have to rely on the fact that "...He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day" 1 Timothy 1:12.

Life is tough. No one can deny that. We survive by choosing the right type of lenses to look at the lives we lead.

Friday, September 11, 2009

An unexpected gem

For those of you who know my DH, the first thing that will strike you is that he is a soft spoken man. You wouldn't expect him to give you a slap on your back and laugh boisterously. He doesn't crave the limelight and is perfectly happy doing things behind the scene.

This story made me see him in a different light. Whoever wrote that you can always learn something new about your spouse is dead right!

I was very anxious for him yesterday. He had told me that as part of his occupational training this month, he needed to be in a chamber filled with tear gas (yes, the type of tear gas that is used to deter protesters and rioters!) in order to learn the skills of putting on the requisite protective gear within a very short frame of time.

I asked him if he can opt out. "Give some excuse - say you're not feeling well!" I suggested. DH said he would like to do this even though he was apprehensive because it would be a good experience. I don't know if it was a guy thing as I personally wouldn't want to be locked in a small confined space with some noxious substance just for the experience. Then again, that's just me. For a memorable experience, give me a bubbled filled bath tub with nice smelling candles and soft music any day!

DH sent me a text message about mid morning informing me that "Eyes, nose and face stung but I'm fine. Not to worry." He also managed to squeeze in that same text message that he has something to tell me that I would be pleased with.

That caught my eye! What did he do? Random thoughts start going through my head. Did he do something brave? Did he help one of his fellow team mates? Did he put others before himself? What ??

Yes, you can see by now that I am not a very patient soul.

Later yesterday afternoon, he called. He told me that I had to wait until I was home before he would tell me. He said it was better for him to tell me face to face. I didn't want to kept in suspense until then because I had to work late last night. I pleaded with him to tell me. He said, "Suspense is good for you. You'll like it. Women like such things!"

What?? What is it that women like? I didn't get a lot of work done yesterday as my mind was preoccupied by that last statement DH said. He sounded so pleased and excited over the phone, that he has this little secret that would make me happy. I'm glad that he is happy but this mama cat was being killed slowly and painfully by her own curiosity!

I finally got home close to 9pm. My father in law was getting Osh Osh ready for bed. I thought DH would be in the room with them as he would always read Osh Osh a bedtime story while tucking him in. My father in law said DH was very tired and had gone to bed.

I irrationally felt disappointed. I had hoped DH would be up and waiting for me at the door, grinning from ear to ear. I went into our room. DH was already asleep. I moved closer to him and nudged him to wake up. Yes, I know, I can hear you saying, 'What are you thinking, woman? Let your husband sleep! Can't you see he is so tired after a long day?!!"

I know but I needed to know the secret. I waited all day for it and I should be rewarded for my patience. What patience, you ask? I did say I was irrational.

DH eventually opened his eyes and said that he had a bad headache. I asked him if it was the side effect of the tear gas. He said no and that it was probably because he was out in the sun for too long. I fussed over him, making sure he took some medicine for his headache and neck pain. He smiled and eventually told me what he did.

At the end of the exercise, the participants were asked to remove their protective mask and breathe in the tear gas. The instructor asked each of them to shout out their names and identifcation numbers. He jokingly added that they could also shout out the names of their wives or dogs, whichever they preferred. When it came to DH's turn, after saying his name and ID number, he went on to say, 'I love Busybugz because she is a wonderful wife and mother." This was greeted by thunderous applause from all those present.

I was dumbfounded. DH said that in public, before a group of men without any form of coercion from me? "Was it the effect of the gas?" I asked. What did the others say? Did anyone laugh? Why did you say that? Did anyone come up to you and say anything later?" I showered him with numerous questions! Typical of a woman, wouldn't you say?

DH was too tired and just smiled again before lying down on the bed and closing his eyes. I wanted answers! Still, I couldn't get angry at him. He was right. It was something that a woman would like. A public declaration of love, freely given and free from any expectations of reward in return. I was still asking myself, "Was it the gas? Why did he do it?"

What was I thinking? Why did I have to ask so many questions? DH loves me. That's why he did it. He knew I would like it. He was not ashamed of his public declaration of love for me simply because it's the truth. He loves me. To him, I am his wonderful wife. He also believes that I am a wonderful mother to Osh Osh. Why did I find that so hard for me to accept?

Maybe I should stop questioning everything and just accept the gems I am blessed this unexpected gem of love that DH has given to me.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Love and Marriage

This tune popped up unexpectedly in my head as I was reading my work email messages. It's an old song sung by Frank Sinatra titled Love and Marriage. The first few lines are as follows:

Love and marriage, love and marriage
They go together like a horse and carriage
This I tell you brother
You can't have one without the other

Things seemed much simpler in that era or it could just be our perception of the way things were. People fell in love and naturally, they would wed. Nowadays, that isn't necessarily the way things progress. Love and marriage don't go hand in hand in this day and age. Many view marriage as being restrictive; like an institutional cage which kills the individual's freedom.

DH and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary yesterday. We both agreed that there has been a lot of ups and downs in our marriage. Some downs are repetitive because they are merely symptoms of their root causes which we have not adequately addressed and resolved. Issues like past hurts, anger, disappointment and resentment hinder me from seeing the full potential of my marriage. Our ups are blemished by such stains and lose the vibrancy of the full joy that they actually hold.

My anniversary gift to DH was a pair of tickets to a classical orchestra performance. It was titled Spanish Fantasia. We both enjoyed the concert. The pieces played took me through a range of emotions. I felt melancholy in one moment, soothed in the next, followed by an unexplainable intensity which transpired into an exhilarating climax, making me applaud till both hands ached.

Will God applaud my performance of wifely duties when He looks at how the 6 years of our marriage has been played? Am I always in sync with DH? Do I approach the music at the same tempo as DH? Does the melody of our marriage inspire and encourage others? Or are we horribly out of tune? Do others wince whenever they hear us?

I don't know the answers (and DH just said yesterday that I think too much!). I'll just pray that at the end of the day, God will hear a sweet, sweet sound when our marriage rhapsody is played to Him.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hope that red turns green!

It's hard when you come crashing down to reality, especially when you have been quietly but excitedly hoping that the change you have been longing for, is finally within your grasp. I have spent the last 2 weeks or so day-dreaming about taking a sabbatical from work. I had pictured my new daily routine and lived it in my head. Waking up and not have to rush around like a mad hatter to get Osh Osh ready for school and ensuring that all of us leave the house before the clock strikes 7.

I'm able to have breakfast with Osh Osh at a leisurely pace and read a book or two with him in the morning before taking him to the neighbourhood playground. I would only send him to school in the afternoon as we would have opted out of our present full day child care arrangement. When he is at school, I would have at least 2 hours to write freely without having to worry about what work email and voice messages await me. I pictured myself having more energy, more alive, less stress and anxiety; and ulitimately happier.

DH and I talked about this in length and he is very supportive. He was confident that we could get by comfortably on his single income despite the new mortgage payments for our home and our other monthly expenditure. I was more skeptical and had this nagging thought that we couldn’t do it.

A good friend of mine introduced me to an online budgeting tool which will assist in our calculations to give us a clearer picture of our finances. I worked on it alone yesterday and my heart sank when the numbers came out red. We would be about $1400 in the red if we were depending only on DH's single salary. DH didn't believe me when I shared this with him last night. He figured that I had overestimated some of our expenses to give us a buffer for unexpected emergencies. I did create a buffer as it wouldn't be realistic if we took this step without catering for unforeseen circumstances.

Although DH was tired last night, he sat down with me and we worked through the numbers again. We got more or less the same results. I was very disappointed. DH suggested that we do a 3 months dry run of drastically reducing our expenses and live now as though he was the family's only income source. I agreed but I know how difficult it will be. DH has always been very frugal with money so it would not be such a big challenge for him. For me, I see money as a tool to lavish gifts onto those I care about as a outward gesture of my feelings for them. I also like to occasionaly splurge on myself when I am feeling blue. Our different styles of handling money resulted from how we saw our parents dealt with their money over the years. After being married to DH for 6 years, I have adapted some of his frugal manner and he has learnt to be more relaxed about his approach to money. As it is with every married couple, we blend and mould each other, take on each other's characteristics and if we get it right, we become stronger and better individuals due to our marriage.

I asked DH, as my lame way of approaching this disappointment in a light hearted manner if he saw the dark cloud hovering over my head with rain showers, thunder and lightning. He smiled and said, "After the rain, the sky will become clearer, the air fresher and there will be a rainbow."

I smiled feebly. I guess I behaved like a spoilt child. I had fantasized in depth about my ideal life for the past 2 weeks. It made my present life bearable because I told myself, "Hang in there, not much longer now", each time I met an obstacle. Now, the fluffly, wooly carpet that I have been standing on has been roughly yanked from under my feet causing me to fall down hard on my butt! Ouch! I nurse my wounded soul.

What do I do now? Brush the dust off, pick myself up and hope. Hope that one day my fantasy life will come true. Hope that the ugly red number that we got from our budget last night will turn into a jubilant green one after 3 months from now. Hope that if it doesn't, He will give me the peace to accept my life as it is. Hope that He will give me the strength to live the life I have now in a pleasing manner to Him. Hope that above all, I will have the inner joy that I long for.

Friday, August 28, 2009

My life is a movie!

Now that I have gotten everyone excited, let me elaborate!

No, I've not been asked by some famous Hollywood director and producer to allow them to film my life and sell it as a blockbuster. I wish that were true but right now, this is as good as it gets.

I came across a movie trailer on Yahoo titled Motherhood. It's directed by Katherine Dieckmann and the stars are Uma Thurman and Anthony Edwards (he used to play Dr Mark Greene in ER - long ago was that??)

As you know, movie trailers are always fast, short and catchy. It did just that to me. It caught me!

The story evolves around Uma Thurman's character. She used to be a writer who gave that up to be a stay at home mother to her 6 year old daughter and her toddler son. She is swamped with the perils of motherhood on a daily basis and starts losing sight of who she was before the diapers, the breast-feeding, the laundry, the errands and various other constant juggling activities of a wife and mother.

She receives snide and hurtful remarks from the other mothers she meets. In a playground, a woman commented sarcastically, "Wow, you're a stay at home Mum? Nobody in this city would admit to that!"

Another scene was when she was speaking to one of her daughter's friend's mother to invite them to her daughter's birthday party. The lady was a classy French woman living in a posh apartment in Manhattan whereas Uma' character lived in Greenwich Village. The lady spoke in a snooty French accent, "You're so brave. Just to live as you do, the stairs, the children, the car, the dog. Oh, are you wearing a nightgown under your coat?"

I've been there before, many times, at the receiving end of such criticisms. It tore my self esteem apart being looked down and belittled when I was trying all that I can to compose myself and be a good mother.

Uma told her husband played by Anthony Edwards, "I'm submitting a piece to a parenting magazine. I have to write 500 words about what motherhood means to me." There was a pause of silence. Anthony spoke without really thinking, 'Do you think this is the best use of your creative energy?"

Uma was shattered. I'm sure Anthony meant well but his words came out all wrong. Many a times, DH has the best intentions and does what he thinks would make me happy but I interpret it all wrongly and it often ends up in fights and tears.

However, I think Anthony is supportive of Uma's quest to find herself and her personal purpose in life. While they were sitting in their car, he looked at her and said, "I want you to live your life with passion," and she broke down in tears.

Uma's friend shared with her this jewel, "Motherhood is about accepting things that you can't control. Do you know how heartbreaking that is?"

The scene changes and Uma sits across their living room looking at her toddler son playing. She waves a little wave at him and he smiles and waves back. She starts tearing up again.

Being a mother is indeed heartbreaking. You feel a range of emotions you have never felt before, the word "fatigue" becomes a daily living reality and at the same time, you wouldn't want to trade it for anything else in the world. Yes, as depicted in the trailer of this movie, being a mother entails a lot of crying. I can vouch for that. As they say, if I had a dime for every time I cried as a mother, I would be rich enough to fund the making of my own movie and market it worldwide with spare change to boot!

I don't know how the movie will end but I have a hunch it's got a Hollywood feel-good ending. Uma probably wins the writing competition and goes on to be a successful published author. She finds purpose and fulfillment in her life. Her relationship with her husband improves dramatically (including her libido!) and her children grow up beautifully.

If my life was a movie, that is definitely the ending I desire!

The release date for this movie is October 16th. You know where to find me on that day - at the cinema, with a big tub of popcorn, a sinful fizzy drink and lots of tissues! Want to join me?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Self made misery?

It is admirable when one has the determination to go through all forms of obstacles and remain focussed to meet one's desired goal. That is all well and good when your ultimate goal is for something meaningful and beneficial either to yourself or those around you. What if you are so determined to make everyone's lives miserable because you feel justified in doing so? You strongly feel that the world owes you something in return for all the unfortunate turn of events in your life. This justification gives you the right to demand others to give in to you, pity you and concede to your every request.

My DH had an encounter with such a person last Tuesday in his line of work. Nothing that DH, his co-workers and superiors did, could please this person. She was upset with almost every single thing they did for her. DH bent over backwards to be patient with her. He listened to her constant griping and her unhappiness about how badly she had been treated not only here but at other places as well. She complained about all the negative experiences her relatives and friends faced in their lives, seemingly taking on the burden of their grievances as well. Overall, she seemed to be a very unhappy person who appeared incapable of coping with her personal problems. Instead, she mulled over them hence reinforcing her own belief that everyone was out to give her a hard time in life.

Unfortunately, despite DH's patience with her, she lodged an official complaint against the organization and also DH's superior on Friday. Thankfully, she didn't mention anything negative about DH. Nevertheless, the matter is far from over! She came to look for DH yesterday and he had to cater to her every needs again. The organization did not want any further complaints from her for fear of adverse reputational implications and they were happy to let DH handle this difficult person. DH remained extremely patient with her throughout the day. However, given all the time DH spent appeasing her, his daily work was left unattended to and he had to skip lunch and work late just to catch up.

When DH eventually came home last night and shared all the day's events with me, I felt very angry and frustrated because I didn't want this person to continue harassing my husband and yet, there was nothing I can do to help him. I also saw DH in a new light. I told him that I was very impressed with his patience and his ability to control his temper for the good of the organization. DH remained calm and focussed in each and every encounter with this person. He didn't allow his own fatigue, frustration and anger to jeopardize this fragile situation.

I told DH that I don't want to end up being like her. It is a lot easier to be angry at everyone else when your life does not turn out as you expected than to take responsibility of your own feelings of disappointment and anger and deal with them in a constructive manner. That way, you don't have to look at yourself and say, "I can get out of this rut. I can make choices to make my life better. It's all up to me." You don't have to do anything. Blame others and seek others to pity you. You get the attention that you want and feel vindicated in your own misery.

We prayed for her before we slept last night. DH was exhausted so I vocalized our mutual prayers for God to heal her mentally and emotionally. I asked God to speak to her so that she will stop making things so unbearable for everyone. I prayed for her heart to be open to receive His peace.

No one deserves to be this unhappy, especially when most of it resulted from her very own thoughts. Is this the type of life you want to live?

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Insane Parent

I must really love Osh Osh! Otherwise, why would I spend 2 1/2 hours in a small confined place filled with other equally insane parents, trying to grab hold of as many Lego boxes as they can carry, nudging, jostling and pushing each other just to move an inch each time?

Where was I? I was at the latest Toys R Us Lego Stock Clearance sale. This was my first time attending one of them. I was told that it was an annual event. I took an extended lunch break to go for this as today's sale was exclusively for Toys R Us Star Card members. The sale would be open to the public from tomorrow onwards. I can't imagine how crazy things would get for the next 2 days!

Firstly, I had to queue for an hour just to get into the confined area where all the Lego boxes were stacked up. It was at the atrium of a shopping mall. The atrium was barricaded with soft board walls, just high enough to prevent any desperate parents from climbing over it but low enough to entice you to stay in the queue as you could see what was available and the low prices for each item.

I felt a sense of panic rising from within when I saw parent after parent take box after box from the Power Miners range as these were the sets that Osh Osh wanted for his Christmas presents. I felt so helpless! I couldn't get in as the queue wasn't moving and the boxes just kept disappearing.

Finally, I was in! One of the Toys R Us' staff gave me their standard large blue shopping bag. I grabbed it and dashed to where the Power Miners boxes were. Praise God! There were still enough for me to take. The prices were at a 50% discount so I didn't hesitate in grabbing 3 different types of the Power Miners boxes. I asked another staff if these were the only ones available. I must have looked really desperate as he smiled a big comforting smile and said yes. Whew!

It ain't over till the fat lady sings, as they say. Well, there wasn't any singing voluptuous divas there. Instead, there was a dark skinned, skinny young man with bleached hair standing on top of a ledge of a side wall with a microphone. Every 10 to 15 minutes, he would make an announcement informing us that the queue for the payment counters was very long. "The end of the queue is where you see my colleague who's wearing the bright green cap. Yes, over there all the way at the back of the atrium." He urged everyone to be patient and assured all of us, tired and frazzled parents, that they are doing the best that they can to expedite the payments. He also cautioned us not to cut the queue as everyone in the queue would know who was standing in front and behind them.

I quickly located the man with the green cap and joined the queue. It was crazy. The payment queue was twice as long as the queue to enter the sale area. What was I thinking? Can I last till I reach the payment counters? I hadn't eaten lunch and it was already 1.45pm when I joined the payment queue. It was either that Toys R Us had a good marketing trick to make us queue around all the Lego boxes that were displayed or maybe, they just ran out of space for us to queue. Whatever the reason, I ended up taking another 3 boxes not related to the Power Miners sets but I thought Osh Osh would like them. I wasn't the only parent doing so. Numerous parents in the payment queue were picking up items along the way.

While I was queuing, I was praying, "Lord, please sustain me and not let me faint for lack of sustenance!" I decided to pay more attention to the various shapes and sizes of parents who were sharing the same faith with me. That was one of the ways to keep myself amused and not lose my temper each time someone bumped into me or stepped on my bag. There were expectant mothers. I was worried for a few of them as their bellies were so large that they looked like they could pop at any moment. However, none of them seemed worried. As a matter of fact, they used their bellies to their advantage as they had people give way to them to move about or they used their bellies to push their way through the crowd!

There were busy fathers in their business suits, either making phone calls or checking e mail messages on their Blackberries. There were young couples and old couples, presumably grandparents. Some like me, who knew exactly what they wanted to get, automatically zoomed in on the relevant Lego boxes. Some were undecided and followed others. Each time a parent picked up a box, there would be 4 to 5 parents picking up the same type of box, probably fearing that if they didn't take it then, it wouldn't be around the next time they walk past it. Never mind if it's not the type their child liked. It was sold at a really good price. That was just too juicy an offer to disregard.

Just as there were as many boxes being picked up, there were just as many being put down by the parents. They probably decided that they had taken too many boxes in the first place or that it was still too expensive or they found something better. I noticed a staff going around picking up boxes and items that were left in the wrong places and patiently weaving his way through the crowd to return them to their rightful places.

I was silently grateful that Osh Osh wasn't with me. I wouldn't have been able to cope with keeping an eye on him and struggling with the big blue bag. He would probably be cranky as he wouldn't have eaten either and his level of tolerance of crowd and noise is definitely much lower than mine.

After about 45 minutes later, I could finally see the payment counters! "Hallelujah!", I rejoiced! The people in the queue at this point appeared to share the same relief as me. They all started to smile, as opposed to angry glum faces earlier in the queue. Some of them even struck up conversations with each other. I overheard one middle aged man talking to 2 mothers, saying that he has 6 children and he's quite used to such sales as it would be impossible for him to buy all the toys his children wanted were it not for these sales. Information such as the ages and sex of their children were exchanged by many parents along with statements like "My husband is waiting for me out in the car which is why I have to keep calling him to keep him updated" and "I have to tell my friend to come earlier tomorrow".

It was finally my turn. I asked the cashier if he has eaten lunch. He smiled and said, "No, but it's ok. We're used to this." Another lady was packing my Lego boxes into large plastic bags and passed them to her supervisor. When I finally got out of the atrium, the supervisor passed the bags to me. I told her that this was my first time attending such a sale and I had no idea it would be this crazy. She smiled and said that there were parents queuing outside the mall at 6am. I was shocked and asked her if the mall actually opened so early. She said no and explained that they waited outside until the doors opened at 8am and queued at the atrium until 11am when the sale officially started. I would never be that insane! Or would I? Hmm...

I was relieved that I bought the items I wanted. As I walked out of the mall, it was pouring. I struggled with my umbrella, 2 big plastic bags and my handbag. I decided that it would be nearer to drop by DH's place of work and pass the bags to him so that he can keep them in the car instead of taking it all the way home by train. DH was working tonight and would only be back tomorrow afternoon. We discussed that he would only bring up the bags once Osh Osh is taking his afternoon nap in order for us to hide his Christmas (and possibly next year's birthday!) presents.

Dh couldn't stay long with me as he had a lot of work to tend to. I finally had lunch by myself and felt so exhausted. I thought to myself, "I wouldn't have gone to such a sale to buy something for myself even when I was single and had more free time." After today, I have learnt that there are certain requisite skills that a parent has to take great pains to hone. They are a healthy dose of insanity, coupled with the ability to starve, withstand physical trauma and still have the resilience to do it all over again, without any hesitation. Count me in...I'll be there for next year's Toys R Us sale!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Legislate sex?

DH and I had an amusing conversation last night. We were about to turn in for the night when DH told me about an article which he recently read on Yahoo news. Legislation was passed in Afghanistan to allow the Shia men, an Islamic sect, to deny food and sustenance to their wives if they refuse to meet their husbands' sexual demands. I couldn't find the Yahoo news link but instead found this alternate link with a summary of the news. DH went on to tell me that the Shia men, on average, required sex at least 4 times a week from their wives.

I asked DH what his expectations were. "Is it 4 times as well?"

DH grinned and said, "No, it's 3 times a week."

"What if you don't get it?"

"I can't do anything about it. I don't control your food!" and he patted my tummy playfully.

I know that we have read in countless literature on the "normal" frequency of sex in a healthy, happy couple. No matter how hard we try not to compare, we find ourselves distressed when we fail to live up to the "normal" standard. I believe there is no right or wrong answer as to the appropriate number of times a couple should have sex.

Coincidentally, a friend shared with me her views on sex in a marriage. She regards it as a form of communication. Therefore, if love making is indeed a form of communication, then would you want to communicate with your spouse only once in a blue moon? The obvious answer would be no. However, if you are like me, there is always something that takes priority over coming together with your spouse. It can be the form of fatigue, stress, an endless list of chores to be done, selfishness (wanting "me" time more than "us" time) and just plain lack of interest.

There are many times that I prefer sleep over sex and many times, sleep wins this battle. I recently came across a Bible verse in 1 Corinthians 7:4 which says that a wife's body does not belong to her but to her husband and likewise, a husband's body belongs to his wife. This verse made me think. Am I intentionally depriving my husband from "his body"? Sure, my reasons were valid as I was really tired, busy or stressed. My soul screams, "What about my needs?"

The worldly understanding of sex is based on the question of "What can we get out of it for ourselves?"

The sex that God wants us to enjoy is based on the question of "What can I give to my spouse for his/her pleasure as a sign of my love?"

When I think about sex in the way that God intended it to be, I find it easier to say yes despite all the challenging deterring circumstances. I dismiss my own selfish thoughts of "Why should I give in to him when he hasn't been nice to me this evening?" or "I am so tired, can't he see that?"

Instead, I focus on the things I can do to make DH feel better especially after he has had a long stressful day at work. I must admit it's not easy and I am still a very selfish person at heart. As with every other aspect of marriage, this area requires a lot of hard work and a strong commitment too. I find that if we persevere, we will reap the benefits.

One of the immediate benefits would be an improvement in our communication skills!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Be grateful!

It's really hard to change one's frame of mind especially when one's current frame of mind is so familiar and comfortable. It's so comfortable that I can snuggle into it effortlessly and am happy to dwell there for as long as time will permit, even if it is detrimental to me. I've always been a worrier by nature. I worry about anything and everything. As a logical consequence, a worrier also tends to convince oneself that the worst case scenario of things are imminent and will occur without a doubt. We have this amazing capability to convince ourselves that no matter how far fetched our dramatized versions of reality are, they are realities to be reckoned with!

So, there you have it. That is how I live my life for as long as I can remember. There are days when I am better and I can see how ridiculous my worries are. I can see how much of my energy is spent on trying to think my way out of "what ifs" that will never happen. The very same energy can be better relocated to better use like thinking about my blessings and thanking God for them.

Last week, I was ill again with tummy upset. I can't pinpoint the cause of it but it was quite likely something I ate or drank at work because DH and Osh Osh were fine. It started on Wednesday evening and continued all the way to Friday evening. I prayed fervently to rebuke my illness but I didn't get any relief. That is until Friday evening when I prayed the same prayer of rebuke followed by thanksgiving to God, which was something I didn't do with the other prayers. I thanked God for healing even before I was healed. That was a small step of faith for me. I chose to be optimistic and trust in God's goodness for me rather than dwell on self pity and bemoan doom and gloom which I am so easily capable of doing.

Guess what? It worked. I felt better and fully recovered the next morning. I could follow DH and Osh Osh to the public swimming pool for a fun family time without any problems. Yes, it could be possible that my illness ran its full course from Wednesday to Friday night and ended naturally. However, I like to believe that God answered my prayers when I chose to let go and trust that He only has goodness planned for me, that He is not out to get me or to make my life difficult because I am a sinner. I acted positively by thanking Him and trusting that I will be able to receive His healing and blessings. For the other earlier prayers, I prayed for relief but each time, I felt the pain in my stomach or when I had to run to the toilet, I lost faith and felt that my prayers were not heard. I started to worry about how long this will last and complained inwardly that this is happening to me again especially when I had a similar episode just last month.

However, when I chose to be grateful, it involved a change in my frame of mind. I forced myself to focus on the positive, to be grateful and to rely more on facts i.e. the Word of God and the promises within rather than feelings i.e. the pain and discomfort I felt and the low moods I was going through. I pray that I can keep this up but changing my frame of mind is difficult. It's like me having to walk bare foot on hot sand and know that I have to keep walking that way without any relief of footwear! That's definitely not my comfort zone. I do hope that there will be plenty of moments, as I walk, where I can see an oasis within reach and that it is not a mirage! Wish me journey mercies on this trip!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I can be so fickle, especially in terms of letting my feelings take control of my reactions to circumstances. A mature person would take stock of what they are feeling at that particular moment and make a conscious effort to either act according to the feeling, if it is warranted, or refuse to let the feeling, no matter how strong, overpower all sense of rationality.

Here's an example of how fickle I can be (the events span from the past 2 days):

1) I had my mid year appraisal conversation with my line manager on Tuesday. It went well. She acknowledged that I have been working hard. I have been enthusiastic to the changes that the organization is currently facing and had been doing my part to integrate myself to the business. Overall, she was pleased with me. Although a pay increment or any form of monetary incentive was not permitted by the company due to their cost cutting and cost optimization policies and I have now been given more responsibilities, I felt happy because my hard work and efforts were recognized. Yes, you heard that right. I am happy to take on more work without more pay simply because my superior thinks I'm valuable to the team. It's amazing how much mileage a few words of appreciation and affirmation have on me!

2) DH and I had a very meaningful fellowship on Tuesday night. We felt closer to God after heartfelt prayers and closer to each other. I felt that it was a turning point for us and that all the walls of anger, resentment and disappointment collapsed. It gave me hope for a new beginning in our marriage. So, I felt really good and at peace.

3) I was not feeling well last night due to tummy upset and diarrhea. DH was busy and Osh Osh wanted attention which I couldn't give him and he fussed. I felt upset and unappreciated because it seemed to me that neither DH or Osh Osh recognized how much pain and discomfort I was having. As a result of my unbalanced view of things, clouded by my churning stomach, I was moody and felt unappreciated. I took it out on DH and Osh Osh. DH felt that I went overboard and we both quarrelled in front of Osh Osh. I cried. Osh Osh cried. DH felt angry and frustrated with me. It all ended badly. The walls of anger, resentment and disappointment were instantly rebuilt. I felt horrible.

I went to work this morning feeling drained and tired. My stomach hasn't settled yet and I have to stay late in the office for a conference call tonight. I'm trying to keep my chin up and keep down my food. If I remain led by my emotions, I would bemoan that my marriage is going down the drain, my son is spoilt and I am jinxed in falling ill so often! If I choose not to be fooled by my emotions, I realise that DH really loves me and is doing all that he can to be supportive. It's just that he is stretched for time and rest due to work. DH's love language is to do acts of service for me and Osh Osh. He is out of his comfort zone to be overtly expressive and affectionate. Nevertheless, that doesn't mean he doesn't care about me. My love language is affection and time as in I need to be told that I am loved and appreciated. If DH sets aside time just to sit down and give me his full attention, I feel deeply loved by him. As our love languages are so different, we couldn't communicate our love to each other well last night and the end result was that we both felt unloved.

If I am rational, Osh Osh is a good boy and most of the time, he does a lot of things just to please me. However, he is only a 4 year old boy so I cannot expect him to be compassionate and thoughtful when I need him to be. The fact that he fussed when I couldn't give him the attention he needed shows how much he missed me while at school and he merely wanted to receive love from me.

As for falling ill so often, a lot of people at work are ill. I've also not been careful with my diet and am often stressed. I am not jinxed. I just need to take better care of myself.

What am I feeling now? I am still tired and after I post this, I will have to run to the toilet. However, writing this has helped me put things in the right perspective. I am looking forward to go home at the end of the day to give both DH and Osh Osh a hug!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Too much?

Am I revealing too much? What do you think? Are my posts too honest?

I received a letter from a dear old friend in England yesterday. She wrote from the heart and I know that her intentions are good as she is very concerned about me. She shared that my posts are too personal and the things I have been writing about are best reserved for a heart to heart personal conversation with a close personal friend and should not be published on the internet. She also shared concerns that my DH must feel pressured and perhaps, adversely affected by my criticisms of him, particularly in the area of our inability to conceive a second child.

She also sensed that I am lonely and that I take on both my own burdens as well as DH's. As a result, she sensed that I am sinking and there is no one to pull me out. She said I seem to have friends but at the same time, if I had friends, why would I be posting all these personal things in a public blog?

I was affected by her letter. It's not a surprise that I have been thinking a lot about this since yesterday evening. I shared the letter with DH and asked him for his honest opinion. DH reads my blog all the time so he is fully aware of the things I write about. He said he is fine for me to keep writing as I do. He said he understands that this is my outlet of expression and he knows it's therapeutic for me. I told him that if he is uncomfortable with the way I write, I am willing to stop writing.

I have this worry that if I perpetually share my problems with one or two close personal friends, I will use up all their "kindness mileage" for me. I dread the day when they eventually say, "Enough is enough! Get a hold of yourself and get on with your life! We are not going to listen to you anymore!"

If I blog about my problems, my friends can choose to read them or they can choose to ignore me. They are under no pressure to be there for me. There is no obligation on their part to be continually supportive of me if they feel that I am sucking all the positive energy out of their lives. If I am prepared for such apathy from my friends, then why do I bother blogging? Isn't my need to document all my emotions sufficiently met by writing it in a journal?

Some part of me still yearns to be heard. I still yearn for some form of affirmation or comfort from the people around me and yet, I don't want to impose myself on them. I concluded that a blog which is open to my friends is there for them to visit if they choose to do so and to disregard if they are fed up of me. If they feel compelled to comment, I am thrilled and I draw encouragement and insight from these comments. If they choose to remain silent, I am not hurt as I do not know who they are.

If I had confided in a friend and she rejected me, it would be a devastating blow to me.

I guess deep down inside, I am a coward. It takes courage to have a face to face conversation with someone about the things I have been writing about, so I use this electronic veil to transmit my cries for help.

My request: If you feel that I am too honest and agree that my friend's letter makes sense (I know it does), please advise if I should be more guarded in my posts and practise generous editing, for the sake of my marriage and family.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Happy Family

It's funny how mixed up a mother's feelings can be. When your child acts like a baby, you want him to grow up and behave like an adult. When your child decides to act like an adult, you feel sad and blubber, "My baby is growing up so fast!"

Osh Osh has been behaving very well lately. Last night, when DH was not home due to night duties, Osh Osh was very considerate. He helped me with chores such as folding his own clothes and pegging the clothes for me on the clothes rack. He also occupied himself (without any form of coercion from Mummy) with his writing exercises. He practised writing his numbers (made it all the way from 1 to 24) and his alphabets. We had a heart to heart talk at the dinner table about how to cope with his temper. I told him that whenever he feels angry about something or angry at Mummy and Daddy, he is to tell us that he is angry and give us the reasons for his anger. I explained that we will then understand him better and can talk about it. It wouldn't be helpful if he merely showed his angry face and shout or cry as it wouldn't make any sense to us.

He then shared with me that he doesn't like to see me and DH fight. He said if we fight, we are not "happy family". He told me that he really liked the restaurant we went to for lunch after church last Sunday. It's not due to the good food there but Osh Osh said it's because we were "happy family" at the restaurant. When we were at the restaurant, he said, "Mummy and Daddy did not fight. Mummy, Daddy and Osh Osh are happy so that is good "happy family"!" I didn't realise how affected Osh Osh was by all our fighting until last Sunday. Both DH and I were careless and selfish to have our fights in front of Osh Osh. We promised each other in front of Osh Osh that we will try not to fight and resolve our conflicts better. I told Osh Osh that there will still be many times that Mummy and Daddy don't agree with each other and that's normal. DH then told Osh Osh that "happy family" also means that he must behave well and not fuss and get angry all the time. He nodded in agreement.

I can see now how much it means for Osh Osh that we give him a "happy family" environment. He is very sensitive and caring in a lot of ways. Throughout yesterday evening, he kept asking me not to do this or that. He said, "I don't want you to be tired, Mummy. I will help." I also saw that Osh Osh is constantly seeking for recognition and praise each time he does something well and helpful. Unfortunately, it is so common for tired, stressed out parents to spew out harsh negative words than shower their children with positive, encouraging affirmations. This is an area that both DH and I have to be very conscious of and seek to improve.

This morning, we took the train to school. Osh Osh did not kick up a fuss in the crowded train although he was hot and sweaty after the long walk to the station. He carried his school bag for most of the way. I kept asking him to let me carry it for him as it is quite a big bag. He said, "No need, Mummy. I don't want you to be tired." I felt really bad. I guess my hysterical ranting of "I'm so tired of taking care of both of you (meaning DH and Osh Osh). Why can't you take care of yourself?!!" last week struck a chord in him. I suppose that is why he kept saying he doesn't want me to be tired. He didn't want to his Mummy to lose her sanity again and yell like a deranged psychopath! Sigh. I wish I could retract that moment of temporary insanity and erase it from Osh Osh's memory.

When we arrived at his school, some of his classmates were already there. He took his water bottle and snack box out of his bag and put them away at the designated area. At the same time, he greeted his teacher, "Good Morning, Teacher." He started to walk away when I called him back for a hug. He shook his head and said "It's ok." I wanted so much to hug him then but we finally compromised to have a handshake. I whispered "I love you" and he whispered it back and quickly walked off to sit down at the table with his friends. I walked away feeling sad. I felt that he's grown up overnight. Did he really lose his babyish ways so quickly? I know by looking at this objectively, it is a good thing that he is a well behaved little boy as he is already 4 years old. However, I can't help but feel that I drove him to this, to grow up quicker than other kids because I am so stretched. My outbursts of anguish and frustrations with the lack of time and rest are often lashed out without any refrain and more often than not, either DH or Osh Osh will bear the brunt of my fury.

Yes, I am a mother with mixed up feelings. Let's pray I get my act together sooner rather than later.