Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Ugly Side of Motherhood

I'm coping with the ugly side of motherhood by trying to smother it with a huge quarter chunk of sinful chocolate cake for breakfast! Now, you know why I can't seem to lose any weight!

Osh Osh wet his bed this morning. He didn't want to wear a diaper last night due to the praises he received from his teachers at school yesterday for not wetting his mattress during afternoon nap. I tried my best to explain to him that he's not ready to sleep without a diaper at night because the hours of slumber are much longer at night as compared to an afternoon nap of only an hour or two. Osh Osh insisted and was close to tears when I said he still needed to wear diapers.

We made a decision to respect his decision and hoped for the best. At 5am, I woke up because I had to go to the toilet myself and went over to his room to check on him. Unfortunately, he was soaked, together with his bolster, towel, extra bed sheet and rubber mat (which I had put on top of his original bed sheet) and his bed sheet as well. When I woke him up to clean him and change his pajamas, he was still drowsy and mumbled, "I didn't wet my bed in school'. I told him that he wasn't in school, that he was in his room and that he did wet his bed.

I spent the next hour washing all the soiled stuff, not wanting to disturb DH because he has a long day at work today. I tried my best to be patient but at such an early hour in the morning, it's an arduous task to have the calmness of Mother Theresa.

When DH woke up and got Osh Osh ready for school, I told DH that I know now why I am so unhappy. I am not cut out for married life. I would have been happier back home and single. I would have been happier working in my old job. It was a stressful job but at least, I was good in it. Right now, I'm not good at work or at home. I am not a go-getter at work. As a result, I will not be going anywhere in the company. As for family life, I feel like I'm struggling to get my act together.

I love DH. DH is a good man. I told DH that it's not his fault. We should have never gotten married. We could have carried on dating and have a long distance relationship. I know he misses his life back in England. We could fly over to see each other during holidays and live a jet-setting lifestyle. Work hard, play hard and have wild sex each time we meet up! I know this doesn't sound very Christian-like and seems to go against my own belief and values.

However, I want that sweaty palms, palpitating hearbeat, "I'm so excited to see you and I can't wait to tear your clothes off" type of feeling which we used to have. Right now, it's more like "I'm glad you're home because now you can help me with the dishes and get Osh Osh to do his writing exercises".

Last Sunday, I asked DH if he missed that feeling too and he said yes. He said the stresses of life and lack of time has taken it away from us. We need time and a lot of effort to get it back and I don't know if we can.

It's not Osh Osh's fault either. Being his mother is the greatest blessing for me. However, to be honest, it is also the greatest burden. It's two sides of the same coin. I know most mothers can handle the honourable task of motherhood very well. I'm just not one of them. The sight of soiled diapers, puked up food and the topsy-turvy house strewn with toys; and the sounds of endless wailing, whining and shouting overpower and drown the joys of motherhood for me, especially on days like these. Maybe, God has more insight than I give Him credit for. Maybe, this is why I am not able to conceive another child. He knows I can't handle another one! do I cope with this life I have? I know you folks don't want me to whine anymore so I will head to the kitchen. Let me see if I have a tub of chocolate chip ice cream in the freezer. If not, I will definitely add that to my shopping list today!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mid Year Review

I have just finished writing my performance contract for my mid year appraisal. It's like a self promotion marketing piece to provide my manager with sufficient information to appraise my work performance for the first half of this year. I'm really not good at this. I'm not good at blowing my own trumpet and "selling" my achievements. I worked hard this year but for the corporate management, it's not enough just to write that. You need to tell them that you have done something beyond your work scope, something extraordinary and remarkable. I didn't do anything like that so it was a challenge to write this piece. I remained truthful throughout and used modest language. I prayed for the best before I clicked the "Send" button.

While I was writing my performance contract, it made me think about how those closest to me would appraise me for the first half of this year. How would I fare if I asked God, DH, Osh Osh, my parents, my inlaws and my friends for a performance rating? Here's what I think the answers would be:

GOD: Good effort in coming back to me but my child, remember that I am in control and let go. Why do you keep holding on and struggling? Can't you see that I am taking care of everything for you? Just trust and rest in my care.

DH: I think you are too hard on yourself. You're doing a good job at being a wife and mother. However, you often forget to count your blessings and demand too much from everyone around you, especially me. In view of our busy schedules, it's perfectly fine to be relaxed and flexible. You don't have to be a perfectionist. I wish you would not get so tensed about everything and trust me to handle those difficult matters for us.

Osh Osh: Mummy, I like you. I like you even if you are naughty and angry. Mummy, why do you have to work all the time? Can you come and play with me? Mummy, read for me! Mummy, I like to stick to you!

My parents: We miss you a lot. It's not easy for us having you live far away. We appreciate it that you call us often to keep us updated on events in your life. Do remember to take care of yourself, DH and Osh Osh. Mum: I know you are married and now a mother yourself, but to me, you're always my little girl. Don't be so stressed about things in your life. We are here for you.

My inlaws: Thank you for being more open to us now and for letting us into your life more. We know that at times you interpret our actions for care and concern as being intrusive. We can see that you are making an effort to improve our relationship. This means a lot to us.

My friends: You are a sincere and genuine friend to us. We know that you love us a lot and try to be there for us even though some of us are are miles apart. However, at times, you tend to be very negative and melancholic. You often sound like a broken record. No matter how many times we try to assure you that things will get better, you don't seem to listen. That is why we, at times, stay away from you, because you tire us with your negative energy. Please stop wallowing in self pity. Your life isn't as awful as what you make it out to be. Live in the present moment and stop comparing!

I don't know if I have hit the right chord with everyone but I don't think I'm too far off. What about my own personal assessment? I agree with all the things I've written above. I know I am too hard on myself at times and I tend to be judgmental and critical. I expect a lot from DH and Osh Osh. As a result, I can be quite harsh and controlling. The one thing that rings loud and clear for me from this exercise is that I have to let go. Let go and let God be in control. Let go and let DH be the head of the family as he rightfully deserves to be. Let go and let Osh Osh act his age and just enjoy him as he is. Let go and let my parents and inlaws have the freedom to be the type of grandparents they want to be for Osh Osh. Let go of any negative feelings of envy, anger, frustrations and self pity. Hopefully, with all the letting go, I wouldn't view life as being so heavy-laden and I can finally live with a smile.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Down and out

I'm definitely down and out! Please do not read this post on a full stomach as it's not going to be pretty.

I am down with food poisoning since Saturday morning. I haven't got a clue which food caused it because DH and Osh Osh had the same things I did and they are fine. It's one of those fluky mishaps that you can't explain. One that made me think that someone out there is playing a bad joke on me. Okay, I won't go on and on about how unfair life is because I know if I say that, it's not the logical me talking. Rather, it's the voice of the physically tired, diarrhea drained, puked out and bled dry (yes, I'm also having my menses cramps at the same time! Blood and shit...the whole works!) soul which is being poured out in this post.

I didn't think it was going to be this horrible so I actually took Osh Osh to the mall near where DH worked so that all of us could have lunch together after DH finished his duty on Saturday afternoon. I had to run to the public bathroom 4 times while we were there. As I couldn't leave Osh Osh outside the cubicle, he had to come in with me. He was very patient despite having to stand in the foul stenched cubicle with his nauseous Mummy. I knew all he wanted was to go to the bookshop and yet, I had to keep dragging him to the toilet with me. DH finished work late so by the time we met up, he had to buy packed lunch home as I was feeling too tired and drained to be decent company to anyone.

Still, I kept my chin up and insisted that we attend the cell group meeting later that evening. DH was concerned as he knew that I was not doing so well. I told him, "This is Satan trying to keep us away from our cell group! I won't let him win! We will go no matter what!" If DH thought I was delirious when I said that, he didn't show it. He let me nap while he bathed and tended to Osh Osh and got him to nap too.

My stomach was churning so much that evening that it was very difficult for me to sit there to pray, share and worship God. It was an ordeal and finally towards the closing prayers, I had to dash to the toilet. I threw up in my host's guest toilet! I cleaned the place up and sheepishly came out of the toilet. I whispered to DH, "I puked in the toilet. Did anyone hear?" He said no as our cell group leader was still talking when I was in the toilet. I felt so bad as the toilet smelt bad. I prayed that the next person who went to use it wouldn't say anything. Thankfully, he didn't! Whew! Still, I can't help but feel so embarrassed.

I still had a stubborn streak in me to not allow Satan to win. Somehow, in my mind, this affliction is his doing to keep me from attending church. We all went to church on Sunday morning. Thankfully, I didn't throw up and I only had to go to the toilet twice. The two good things about church yesterday were Pastor's sermon was good and Osh Osh had a nice time in Sunday School. He proudly told me that he now has his own name tag. They didn't give him one earlier as he was a new student and I think they wanted to see if we were really serious in letting him attend the class each Sunday. Osh Osh now feels included because he has his identity etched out on a plastic name card hung at the end of a green ribbon which he wears around his neck.

I was so tired last night with the diarrhea and the painful cramps that I told DH this morning that I am going to take the day off. I couldn't get out of bed to go to work. Osh Osh was very sympathetic. He climbed into bed with me this morning and asked me if it was his fault that I was sick. I assured him that it had nothing to do with him and prayed for him before he left to school with DH.

Looking back, I must have been delirious. Why did I put myself through the agony of fighting this bout of food poisoning and pretending that I was well enough to go about my daily routine? I wasn't able to worship God properly. There were several times throughout the weekend that I was cranky and took it out on DH and Osh Osh. I'm sure God would have forgiven me if I stayed home to rest.

So, the next time I try to be this neurotic "no illness can make me stay down" woman, knock some sense into me!

Friday, July 24, 2009

It's all in the touch

I believe that most of us are tactile people, of course, some more than others. Babies first learn that they are loved from the touch of their parents. Adolescent boys show their connection to each other by punching each other on the shoulders or slapping their backs. Come to think of it, adult males do that too especially after a few drinks and watching their favourite football team win!

It's easy to forget that the simplest way to express love to another human being is in the form of a touch. I'm not referring to sexual touching. It's the simple non sexual touching that speaks volumes.

I was reminded of this several times this week. On our way home from school, Osh Osh was sitting with me in the taxi and he had his head on my lap. He looked up at me and touched my upper lip. He said, "This one has dark colour," then he touched my lower lip, 'This one has light colour". I smiled and explained that my lipstick had faded. He smiled and for that moment, I felt so much love for him. It was a simple act of curiousity but to me, it served as a timely reminder of how easily one can feel love through a simple touch.

A friend recently shared how much it meant to her when her husband gave her a hug and reassured her of her worries and troubles. It helped her to hear the words from her beloved but I believe it was the hug that cemented the assurance convincingly.

I gave my father in law a box of chocolates as a token gift for their 40th wedding anniversary. He didn't expect a gift from us and I could see that he was very touched. He took my hand and held it to his face for a brief moment. We don't normally hug. His gesture was powerful to me in that it clearly told me that he appreciated my thoughts for him and my mother in law.

In the midst of our usual morning rush today, as I was helping Osh Osh put on his uniform, DH came to stand beside me and gently ruffled my hair. He bent over to kiss me briefly and then we carried on with our busyness. The brief moment of connecting with DH helped me keep things in perspective. We may have countless things to take care of today but we should never be too busy not have to our hair ruffled!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

While I'm Waiting...

I have nothing planned for this Saturday morning and I'm amazingly happy! DH is not home today as he's working today. Osh Osh is sitting beside me, watching his cartoons on tv. Osh Osh and I both had our morning beverage boosters - him, his milk and me, my thick milky coffee and our lunch is cooking in the crock pot. The laundry was done last night and our home is clean.

I feel at peace. There is no need for me to rush around to get things done. No school bags to pack, no letters to sort, no phone calls to make, no work email messages to reply. Nothing. It's so nice to not have to do anything. In these calm moments, I'm thinking. Yes, as you know by now, I think a lot. DH thinks I think too much!

I'm thinking that I'm only at peace when everything is in order and I am in control. That's why it is so complicated for me when I have to deal with stress. Stress and external circumstances throw me off my balanced footing simply because I am not in control.

I know this is not a healthy way to live life. I should learn to let go and trust that God has everything under control, that whatever hardships I'm going through now, He will give me the strength and resilience to sustain and live through it. I can hear DH's voice in my head, saying "Be flexible." He often says this when he sees that I am bogged down by circumstances imposed on me which are not within my control.

The biggest "thorn in my side" now is my inability to conceive another child. I do all that I can to conceive, including planing the timing we make love and adopting the optimum love making positions to increase chances of conception. Then, each month, we fail. It is so frustrating for me as this is an area that is not within my control. I know it's frustrating for DH as well as I take away the spontaneity of our love making by all my obsessive planning. Logically, I know that I am not rational but in my heart, I want this so much that somehow, by my own irrational logic, I think I can do a better job than God by doing all that I can to control the circumstances.

As a result, I end up disheartened, depressed, disillusioned and drained.

Then, God spoke to me through a song that I have been listening to. The song is from the soundtrack of the movie, Fireproof, titled "While I'm Waiting" sung by John Waller. The lyrics are as follows:

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait
I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait

Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord

God used John Waller's song to enlighten me about keeping my perspective. He wants me to wait and be at peace. He wants me to worship and serve while I wait. He knows it is very painful for me but He wants me to move ahead in boldness and confidence, confident in His love for me.

I often sing this song either aloud in the privacy of our bedroom or in my heart when I listen to it on my MP3 player in the train, controlling my tears when I am in public. It is my heart's cry to God, in all sincerity.

So I wait. I wait faithfully...

Monday, July 6, 2009

What matters in life?

It's the simple things in life that matter.

I don't mean to sound cliché. This was what DH said to me last night when we were out for dinner. We went to a small hawker centre for a simple meal. It was a nice cool evening. Osh Osh was in a very good mood because he had a nice long nap earlier in the afternoon and had the chance to play with Daddy before we left the house.

As we were about to finish our meal, it started to rain. The rain came down hard and every now and again, we would see a flash of lightning followed by a loud clap of thunder. As we were seated outside with the awning of the shop as our only shelter, I tried to hold Osh Osh close to comfort him. He smiled at me and said, "It's ok, Mummy. I am not scared of the thunder. Sometimes I am scared but now I am not scared."

DH decided to buy a drink to prolong our stay because we couldn't walk home. Osh Osh happily followed him. I had expected that DH would buy him a soft drink but they returned with a hot glass of thick milky tea. DH had put a straw in the glass and taught him how to extract the tea using the straw and his thumb. He showed Osh Osh how to transfer the column of trapped tea carefully from the straw into his mouth.

Osh Osh's eyes gleamed. He carefully practised what he had learnt and ended up drinking half of the tea in the glass in that manner. I was conscious of the amount of caffeine that Osh Osh was drinking. I said to DH, "Should we stop him? He has drunk a lot of tea!" DH didn't think it was a serious matter to be worked up about. As a matter of fact, DH was very relaxed and happy at that moment. That's when he said, "It's the simple things in life that matter." We could see how happy Osh Osh was having learnt this new skill. He looked as though he had figured out one of the great mysteries of the world!

The rain became lighter as Osh Osh finished the last few drops of tea. As we had only one umbrella, DH carried Osh Osh and we huddled close together. Osh Osh was laughing and talking excitedly about the rain, lightning and thunder as we walked home. We all laughed and felt a warm closeness as a family. Was it the caffeine that gave us the extra perk? Or was it like what DH had said? We shared a simple moment together and that's what matters.