Friday, May 29, 2009

Empty womb

I have been having bad menses cramps even since I hit puberty. It's something I'm used to. However, this month's pain was worse than usual and lasted longer than my usual first day symptom. It made me worried.

I called my gynae on Tuesday to fix an appointment for a scan. She was kind enough to fit me into her busy schedule. The appointment was this afternoon at her clinic in a general hospital. I had mentally prepared myself that there will be many pregnant women as after all, what do you expect at a gynae's clinic?
However, I guess the mental preparation didn't help. When I stepped into the clinic, I immediately felt like I didn't belong there. Everywhere I looked, there were happily beaming women with little and big bumps, all accompanied by either their husbands or mothers or both! You could feel the excitement of new life, new hopes and new beginnings in the air.

I wanted to run away as quickly as I stepped in! Instead, the rational "me", the one I normally listen to, led me to a seat in a corner and asked me to take out the book I was reading. I tried my best to immerse myself into my book but every now and again, the nurse would call out a patient's name and I just had to look up. I would see the familiar image of a man with his hand against the back of his pregnant wife, carefully ushering her to the doctor's room. The nurse would be smiling and making small talk with the couple. The pregnant woman would smile and nod and look at her husband with love.

I suddenly felt a wave of sadness engulf me. I fought back the tears in the waiting room. No, I shall not cry, said the rational "me". You're a grown woman. Of course, there are pregnant women in this clinic. It's not like you went to football stadium. Now, that would be odd if you happened to see so many pregnant women there! Then again, there might just be a friendly match going on between mothers-to-be!
Suddenly, I heard the nurse call my name. I looked at her, puzzled. Why would she call my name? I have no reason being here. The rational "me" then yelled at me, "Get off your butt! It's your turn!"

I smiled and followed the nurse to the scanning room. She prepped me for the procedure. As I lay on the table with my skirt pulled over my waist and the lower half of my body covered by a white cloth, I prayed for peace. Five minutes later, my gynae came. We had some small talk as she inserted the scanning device (which looked like a long thin mushroom) up my vagina. It was not pleasant, to say the very least!

I know she did her best to make me as comfortable as possible. I felt sharp pain a few times. She said she needed to move it around to have a thorough look inside me. I could also see the scanned images. She said cheerfully that it didn't seem that long ago that Osh Osh was just a little speck in me. I smiled but deep inside, I felt a great pang of sadness. I looked and saw that my womb was empty. I felt empty.

The good news is that I am fine. My uterus looks fine and she didn't see any cysts anywhere. My blood pressure is a bit on the high side so I have to watch my diet, exercise and remember to relax and not let stress overwhelm me.

Before I left the room, my gynae said to me, "Hope it won't be too long before we see you here again with happy news". I pray that it will be so too.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The "next thing"

I've been hit again. It seems that every time I move forward in my walk with God or even make a small improvement to my attitude towards my life in general, something happens to pull me back down into that dark ugly pit of gloom.

So, I am there now. It's not a pretty sight. The more I struggle to get out, the more I find the miry pit having a stronger, tighter grip on my sanity. What do I do? Stay put? It's not very pleasant for DH and Osh Osh when I dwell in this pit. DH stays away from me lest I start barking at him. Osh Osh attempts to come close but he gets a very cold treatment in return. The poor little boy goes away wide-eyed, not really understanding why although his Mummy still looks the same, she is behaving like the Queen Monster of Gloom. He rather have an imaginery fight with Magneto (nemesis of the X Men leader, the Professor) than try his luck to talk to his Mummy again.

When I checked my online Christian devotional today, the article was on taking the next step when one is feeling overwhelmed. Don't attempt to resolve all your troubles within the next few hours, it declared loudly. Just think about the next thing you need to do and then get up and do it. If you need to do the laundry, go do it. Once that's done, move on to the next thing that needs to be done. Along the way, you will meet God in those next steps, the writer shares confidently as she felt peace while doing these little things on her to do list.

I'm doing the little "next things" in my list. The top of the pit still seems far beyond my reach but prayerfully, a ladder will be lowered and I will get a good grip of it to climb out of this pit. In the meantime, I better send this off to be published and go wash my mug of coffee.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

God spoke and my nonsense

I know my title for this post doesn't make sense to you right now but bear with me. It's about two separate incidents which happened this weekend. On a first glimpse, they look completely unrelated but if you give it some thought, you would find the corelation there.

First incident happened yesterday (Saturday) evening. DH and I attended our second cell group meeting at one of the cell member's home. This cell member happened to be hosting a charismatic speaker/evangelist from the US at their home. So, it was only natural that they asked him to share the word of God with us during this meeting. He is a man filled with God's love and wisdom and had the gift of prophesy and healing.

Towards the end of his sharing, he looked at DH and said "I'm not a Christian fortune teller but I know that you are seeking the Lord." He went on to say that DH is an intelligent man who reads and studies a lot. He said DH lives his life by thinking and using his intellect and also, DH leaves the spiritual stuff to his wife. He then looked at me and asked, "You are his wife, aren't you?" All of us started to laugh as earlier, he was sharing about convicting someone of committing sexual immorality. We assured him that we are indeed legally married!

He went on to advise DH that in order for him to seek God, he has to put aside his intellect and let God fill him. He didn't say exactly how but DH later shared with me that he knows what he needs to do. He needs to surrender every aspect of his life to God and to trust him more.

I asked DH if he was cynical. He said at first, yes but he truly believes that God indeed spoke to him through this speaker. I was also amazed that DH actually asked for healing for his stiff neck and shoulder and he was healed! All in all, I am hopeful that DH will find the peace that he is looking for in God.

The second incident happened just this afternoon after Osh Osh and I came home from church. DH is working all day today. I was showering Osh Osh and we started talking about his behaviour. He's been quite difficult these past few days and both DH and I have been getting very angry at him frequently. He asked me if I still love him. I said yes. He said, "But you don't love my nonsense?" I said no. "You don't like me being naughty?". My reply was again "No".

"But you still love me?"



"Because you are my son".

I then went on to explain that God loves him too but God doesn't like his naughty behaviour. Osh Osh asked why. I gave him the same reason that it's because he's God's son. He said "But God is not my Daddy." I said God is not his earth daddy but his daddy in heaven. He then exclaimed, " I love God, my Super Flying Daddy in the sky!" Ok, I know I need to explain it to him better but this is a good start.

Then, he looked at me and surprised me by saying, "I love you, Mummy even if you have nonsense." That simple statement struck me. That's how God loves me. His love is forever there for me despite my nonsense. I may screw up in life over and over again but the only constant thing is that He loves me.

I am humbled by the fact that God chose my own son to speak to me at that moment. Just like how DH was surprised by the word of knowledge the speaker had for him, I was truly moved that my son's Super Flying Daddy in the sky used him to speak to his full of nonsense Mummy.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mismatched expectations

DH and I had an argument last night. This morning, when I was in the train to work, I reflected on the events which led to our argument. I believe the root cause of it was a case of mismatched expectations.

I had to stay back in the office last night due to an overseas conference call. DH had brought Osh Osh home and my father in law came over to help. The call lasted longer than expected. I was mentally exhausted and hungry. DH has sent me a text message earlier informing me that he had bought my dinner. I looked for a snack in our office pantry to tie me over before I started my journey home. As it was late, the pantry had not been stocked up and I could only find two wheat biscuits.

DH offered to meet me at the train station. He asked me to send him a text message a few stations before my arrival. So, I did just that. I was feeling very low because this was not what I signed up for, job wise. The reason I joined this company two and a half years ago was because they offered a good work life balance for their employees. Now, with the onset of globalization and the related projects to bring this to fruition, all of us are working around the clock and taking on extra responsibilities on top of our day job. I hardly have any time to work on my writing, which is what I really want to do. I was mulling about this and it was making me very sad. I told myself, "You'll be home soon. You'll see your family again. Cheer up!"

When DH met me, he was grumpy. Osh Osh was fussing as DH was about to leave the house to meet me. So, DH was stressed as he wanted to meet me at the station to cheer me up and to help me carry my heavy laptop bag. However, everything went downhill from the moment we met at the train station.

I was angry because:

1) I expected DH to be happy to see me, after a long day apart. Instead, he was grumpy and spoke about how difficult Osh Osh had been that night.

2) I expected things at home to be calm. Instead, Osh Osh was fussing, refusing to listen to my father in law when we got home.

3) I expected DH to give me a hug to comfort me after my long day at work. Instead, we ended up arguing.

DH was angry because:

1) He expected me to be grateful as he had bought me dinner and met me at the station. Instead, I complained about being hungry and about my long day at work.

2) He expected me to be grateful for all that he has done at home in terms of looking after Osh Osh and tidying the house. Instead, I criticized him and questioned him about not disciplining Osh Osh the way I would.

3) He expected me to give him a hug to comfort him too as he had a tough time with Osh Osh. Instead, I was cold and hostile.

I don't know why Osh Osh was behaving badly last night. By arguing, we made my father in law feel sad and awkward as he is a very sensitive man. Osh Osh didn't quite understand what was going on but he was very quiet and kept sucking his thumb. Both DH and I went to bed angry, tired and drained. We prayed together but very reluctantly.

All this happened because my expectations were unrealistic. DH did his part of ensuring Osh Osh was home safe and sound, bathed, fed and taken care of. It's natural for kids to misbehave. Osh Osh was probably testing his boundaries as Grandpa was there. DH was tired too as he also had a long day at work and he had expected his wife to be sympathetic and caring instead of being the target of her attacks.

Lesson learnt: Do not go home after a long day on an empty stomach. Have a more realistic expectation of your spouse and your kid. Bite your tongue, until it bleeds if necessary, to avoid hurtful angry words. If all else fails, breathe deeply and leave the house, only to return when you are sensible and sane!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Are we all mask wearers?

The short answer is "Yes!".

You don't need to be a rocket scientist to answer this simple question. So, why am I writing about something that is so obvious? Well, it's because it struck close to home for me today.

A few of my colleagues and I attended an all day personal development course organized by our Human Resources Department. The topic was "Delivering Extraordinary Outcomes during Times of Change". In short, it was a course of effective communication and also recognizing factors that hinder your ability to be a better person in all aspects of your life.

We were all nominated by our managers to attend this course. Perhaps, they thought we needed an upgrade in our relational skills. My colleague commented, "Maybe we communicate so badly that we are in real need for such lessons!" I like to think our managers see that each of us has the potential to deliver extraordinary outcomes. All it takes is some guidance and this course is a good pointer in the right direction.

However, as the entire course is focused on each of us sharing our personal stories on situations that we are currently stuck in, we can only receive the maximum benefit of the course when we share honestly and openly without holding anything back.

As you can guess, since this is a work setup and the people attending this course are those we work with, a lot of us are hesitant to share openly and honestly. Some of the situations we're stuck in may actually involve the person sitting opposite you in the room!

Hence, all of us wore masks. We hid our true selves and feelings. We shared stories which were "safe" in that it wouldn't hurt us if the stories went outisde the four walls of the conference room nor would it hurt the people we spoke about.

I shared about a real ongoing work issue but it involved my counterparts located in other parts of the world. That's "safe" enough as I don't think what I shared will be heard by them. Even if they found out what I said, they wouldn't be hurt as I shared the issues objectively and focused on how I can make things better instead of what they can do better.

Did I really learn a lot from this course? In all honesty, no. I learnt some new ideas and approaches to communication but I didn't receive the in depth benefits as I wore a "safe" mask. I didn't lie but I didn't openly share all my inner thoughts, concerns and worries. As a result, by holding back, the solutions that we brainstormed about in a team or on a one to one basis were not that effective or dynamic. Sure, they solved the issues at hand but these issues were not the ones that I am really troubled with in my life.

I started to think about various scenarios where we often hold ourselves back by wearing masks. We wear a confident 'I'm fine, we don't have to talk about this" mask in front of our spouses when addressing difficult issues, especially when we want to avoid a confrontation. We wear a "Yes, I can handle this. My family will understand" mask when we are given more work responsibilities when in reality, our act of juggling work and family hangs on a precarious balance. We wear a happy go lucky "Let's have fun" mask when we're with our friends because we don't want to show them that we are having heart-wrenching personal problems. We wear a comforting "You will be alright" mask when we talk to our children about their life threatening illnesses. We wear a faithful "God will provide" mask in church despite feeling lost and not hearing anything from God.

Are wearing masks wrong then? Should we all drop our masks and let the world see us for who we truly are? Are we ourselves prepared to see ourselves for who we are? I can't answer these questions with a confident "yes" or a resounding "no". All I can say is that I am now more aware of my own personal masks. I want to find the courage to tear away all my masks when I am with those who truly matter to me. I pray that I will never need to wear any "safe" masks with them and they will love me for who I truly am.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mummy Monster

I didn't start off on a good note on Mother's Day Sunday. We woke up late and were in a rush to get ready to go to church. Osh Osh tossed and turned in defiance when I tried to wake him up. When he finally awoke, he didn't want to change his clothes and kicked up a tantrum. I was stressed hence my temper was short. So I scolded him, "Why are you so lazy?!!"

As you can imagine, tears followed, voices got louder and blood pressures rose. We rushed through breakfast amidst sniffles and "I don't like you!" and by the grace of God, we all got into the car without killing each other!

I know a lot of you would be able to identify with this story as I'm sure each of you experienced this at some point. I must admit that it was due to poor time management and preparation on my part. If we had woken up earlier, we would have been more relaxed. It would have been a peaceful start to the day and not a family battlezone with the exchange of "harsh words" missiles which could not be retracted once launched.

Osh Osh was scheduled to start his first Sunday School class yesterday. Naturally, he was anxious and shy. Part of DH's Mother's Day present to me was to take Osh Osh to the class by himself and allow me to attend the main church service. That way, I get a break from Osh Osh. When I was sitting in the pew, praying, I was filled with guilt about how I treated Osh Osh in the morning. I did not exhibit the attributes of a loving, nurturing and patient mother. I was a "Mummy Monster"!

About midway through the worship session, the pastor asked all the mothers, grandmothers and mothers-to-be to stand and be prayed for. I stood, still feeling heavy-hearted. He prayed a prayer of gratitude, of wisdom and of vision. One of the things that he said which struck and stayed with me is that the love of a mother is the closest thing to the love of God. I thought to myself, "I definitely did not love Osh Osh this morning as how God loves me."

After the service ended, I went to the classroom where DH and Osh Osh were. When Osh Osh saw me at the doorway, he beamed from ear to ear. He had a rose in one hand and a card which he made in the other. He came to me and hugged my legs before I could kneel down to his level. He looked up at me and said, "I love you, Mummy. Happy Mother's Day!". I looked at his card. DH has written "Happy Mother's Day" and "I love you, Mummy" and signed his name. Osh Osh drew stick figures in the card, of various features and colours. He explained to me who each stick figure represented: there was Daddy, Mummy and Osh Osh himself together with his favourite Ben 10 and Ben 10 Alien Force characters, Four Arms and Humongosaur. What a privilege it is for me to share the ranks of those that he holds dear!

Seriously, I was very touched. What did I do to deserve such love? I consciously gave him more hugs and kisses for the rest of the day and we laughed and played together. Of course, there were still several episodes of temper tantrums including one before bed time. Such is life. It is not perfect. An important lesson I learnt yesterday is that Osh Osh is not mine. God gave Osh Osh to me, to care for him, to nurture and guide him in the right path to be a godly man. Along the way, I will falter and make mistakes which will be forgiven. I pray that no matter what tests and trials lie ahead for Osh Osh and us as his parents, he will always be able to look at us and say, "I love you, Mummy, Daddy. You're my favourite!"

PS. The other part of DH's Mother's Day present to me was a bar of sinful dark chocolate which is so sinful that I dare not unveil it yet!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The dust settles...

…and the storm is now a quiet breeze.

We were blessed with a long weekend given the Labour Day holiday on May 1. DH and I also took a day off on Monday, May 4 as it was his birthday. DH was finally able to relax and unwind. He could play freely with Osh Osh and not worry about his study time being taken away. I can see that he is "mentally and emotionally" with us now whereas before the conclusion of his exams, there were times when he was physically with us but his thoughts were on his books and exams.

As DH observed and shared with me, "So, this is what a typical family does on a long weekend. It feels strange to me. I bet these activities are taken for granted by many families." DH also admitted that he is still very tense about a lot of things at work and it will take some time before he feels that he is "normal" again.

Over the weekend, we:

1) took Osh Osh to the beach where he made volcano sandcastles and kicked football with us.

2) had the luxury of long afternoon naps.

3) went on a movie date - DH enjoyed a good action movie and I got to see Hugh Jackman's butt! What more can a couple ask for? ;)

4) enjoyed a sumptious dinner in a four star hotel in pre celebratory spirit for DH's birthday and Mother's Day for my mother in law and myself.

5) went house hunting which made Osh Osh excited. He chatted happily with the real estate agent, informing her which room he wanted for his new room. We didn't buy, of course, as it was beyond our budget.

6) allowed Osh Osh to decide where he wanted to have dinner and it's no surprise we ended up at MacDonalds!

7) went window shopping on a weekday.

8) chilled out in Starbucks over two cups of java.

9) talked intimately about anything and everything, read the Bible together and prayed.

10) had great sex! Something we have not experienced in a long time!

DH is still continuing in his current role and has been promoted after the passing of his exams. He will stay in this role for at least six months to get a feel of it and prayerfully decide which road to take next. I believe we are slowly getting our act together, as children of God and of our parents, as individuals, as a married couple and as parents. There is a lot of work that needs to be done in all of these areas of our lives but I know in my heart, that this time, the road will not be so lonely or treacherous as we are not relying on our own strength anymore.