Friday, August 28, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
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
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
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
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
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
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.