Friday, April 27, 2012

Five for Five: Will he come home tonight?

5277415570_c6c074f5ac


I was always listening for it
The engine humming, hand brake latching
Door shutting, keys jingling, then whistling
Before I’d secretly cheer, daddy’s home!

I knew it was rather strange
For a girl to be waiting
Wondering when daddy will be home
Is it tonight? Or maybe tomorrow?
No one was ever really sure.

It’s a whim; a daily game
Of will he come home tonight?
But really, shouldn’t he be here
nightly, with his wife and daughter?

I’ve often wanted, but never dared,
to ask: Where do you go
when you’re not here with us?
Maybe it’s good I don’t know.

After years of wondering and waiting
Wishing for the miracle of change
Years of missed birthdays and heartache
I stopped listening for his arrival,
Afraid of what I’d hear instead.

The sound of two hearts breaking
Knowing we would never be enough
Knowing he’d never change, or worse
That we might never stop hoping.

 

* * *

 

This is part of Momalom's Five for Five series, where a group of bloggers write about the same five topics in five days. This post responds to the fifth and final topic, Listening.

Also, it’s another “Two-for-One Special” day. Sarah and Jen of Momalom are collaborating with Melissa Camara Wilkins, so this post also links up with other participants for the weekly, Six Word Fridays.

 

       Six Word Fridays

 

image by CHRISSPdotCOM.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Five for Five: Where is the logic in this?

21orOlder

I find it fascinating when I see the term “age-appropriate” or when I come across restrictions based on age. Like the Chicago Public School’s rule of starting Kindergarten at age five. And the standard, driver’s license at 16 and drinking at 21. Not to mention the PG-13 and NC-17 movies.

I rather imagine that these stipulations assume we would be better at handling certain situations when we are at a specific age. Regardless of the fact that we may be ready long before they say we are. Or when we’re not, the rules try to convince us we should be. I don’t know which is worse.

I understand the need for regulations to govern the masses, but some of these can be rather arbitrary and not always in the best interest of the individual. I never really gave this much thought until my own recent encounter with an age-based restriction.

My daughter is only three, but because she’s been in the three-year-old preschool class for this school year since her November birthday, she has been invited by her principal to move up to the four-year-old classroom after the summer. We’re proud of her, but mostly, we’re happy that she will be able to join her friends, many of whom will already be four, turning five.

We’re also relieved that Little Miss will not have to repeat the curriculum. That is, until the next year, when everyone in that class will attend kindergarten but her. Because she won’t be five by the time the school year begins, she’ll have to wait an entire school year before she gets there. 

Nevermind that she did well in a school-readiness study of her this spring. Nevermind that her teachers say she can keep up with and sometimes surpass her older peers. Nevermind that she knows and writes her letters and numbers through 100, when she’s only expected to know up to 5. Nevermind that she may be able to do everything a five-year-old can. Because the system is blind to the individual, and because it says she can’t, she won’t be joining her friends in Kindergarten.

Since homeschooling and montessori are not options for us, she may have to repeat a year of the same stories, same songs, same lessons. My daughter isn’t Doogie Howser here, so it’s not like I’m asking her to be accepted into college. I’m just trying to make sure she continues to be interested and to be challenged in school. There will be many reasons for her to hate school in the future - I’m just hoping it won’t begin this soon.LittleMissLegoCar

But the rules are set, and the odds are against me. 

And it defies logic.

Like it was fine for me to leave Malaysia at the age of 19, leaving behind my friends and family, to pursue an education and live on my own in a country where the culture is completely alien to me, but it was illegal for me to drink.

Like I could get married and buy a car, but I couldn’t rent one on vacation because I wasn’t 25.

I started my post saying age restrictions are fascinating, but after my rant, I’m going to go with stupid.

* * *



This is part of Momalom's Five for Five series, where a group of bloggers write about the same five topics in five days. This post responds to the fourth topic, Age.


 


image from vintagegoodness.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Five for Five: When you look at this, what do you see?


LookingBackAtDecember2010December 2010

If you don’t know me, great. But if you do, pretend you don’t. Now, when you look at this picture, tell me, what do you see?

Laughter? Goofiness? Love perhaps? Maybe even happiness?

Let me tell you what I know.

In this picture was a family falling apart. A family under tremendous pressure. A woman whose past had such a strong hold on her that it was failing her future. A man contemplating leaving his family because he didn’t know any other way out of his pain. A little girl, so innocent and so full of life, completely oblivious to the hurt around her.

I had posted this picture before when blogging about the holidays. I deliberately let the image do most of the talking because I couldn’t. I kept the shadows in the dark, where I thought they belonged.

Then we sought help and worked hard to overcome our troubles. And though it was a tumultuous ride, we survived. We are now happier and stronger than we’ve ever been. Yet when I look back at the pictures, without context, without remembrance, I am struck by how little of that pain the laughing faces revealed.

In a world ruled by images – whether on Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Foursquare, you name it – this picture is a humbling reminder that what we see is not always what we get. Most of the images that reach us are carefully curated by those who share them. We see what they want us to see, and even then, it’s just a sliver of a larger story – one to which we are not privy.

This also means that before I judge or envy, I have to remember that pictures of beaming children on manicured lawns and weddings in exotic islands and families on road trips are only that: Pictures.

* * *

This is part of Momalom's Five for Five series, where a group of bloggers write about the same five topics in five days. This post responds to the third topic, Pictures.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Five for Five: I said yes!

The words swirled around in my head all day on today’s post. I entertained one angle, then scrapped it and started another. Slowly, something started to take shape in my head, and I was excited to see it crystallize “on paper”.

However, staying home with a baby also meant my schedule was at her mercy. Naturally, the one day I depended on her nap was when she became completely unreliable. The post, unwritten. Still, I wasn’t too worried; I had all evening after my daughters’ relatively early bedtime.

But when they were in bed, My Guy decided to relax a little instead of his usual modus operandi, which was to dive into his work and not resurface until our post-midnight bedtime. Because we very rarely just veg on the couch together, I couldn’t pass up the invitation to watch BBC’s Top Gear with him, and I’m glad I did. Tonight’s episode had us in tears, we were laughing so hard. And the night was young; I still had time for the post.

When the show ended, I thought, finally, no more distractions! I’m getting down to business. I walked over to my computer and saw a message on my screen from a neighbor mom that pretty much said, “We are going to grab drinks tonight – Meet in the courtyard at 8:35?” I looked at the clock. I had 11 minutes!

Now. This NEVER happens. A cow knitting a scarf would be a more common sight than receiving an impromptu invite out with fellow moms who just happen to be available on the same night. And what were the chances that this would happen the night I had all this writing to do? My first response was something to the effect of “I need to write but I want to join you more…”

When I relayed this to My Guy, he was flabbergasted: “Are you kidding? How often does this happen? You need a night out. Your blog can wait.” And this is coming from a guy who bought me a new computer to fuel my blogging, so you know it’s been awhile since this has happened to me. If ever.

He proceeded to offer to take my three-year-old to preschool so I could write in the morning. He was ready to do anything but throw me out of the house to make this night happen for me.

But I had all these words in my head…

I was looking forward to Five for Five to help me resuscitate my blogging.  I also enjoy the virtual camaraderie and the wonderful exchanges that organically happen when we share our experience. Moments and thoughts, feelings and reactions captured by sweet and powerful and endearing and meaningful words…

Except they are just words on screen aren’t they? And however wonderful these people are who wrote them, they’re also ones I’ve never met. Shared experiences or not, they have never seen my preschooler shrieking like a banshee when she’s being chased or my infant army-crawling across the floor.

But these women who invited me tonight? They have. They’re neighbors with kids the same ages as mine. I don’t know them well, but I want to. They are a part of my community here, after all.

And so I said yes.

On this night, there were shared experiences, laughter and even a couple of cocktails among friends. And  those words that were lodged in my head, meant for a blog post to help me regain my virtual life, eventually found their way out.  Spoken. Out loud.

In real life. 

 

Cocktail

 

This is part of Momalom's Five for Five series, where a group of bloggers write about the same five topics in five days. This post responds to the second topic, Words.

Also, it’s a “Two-for-One Special” day. Sarah and Jen of Momalom are collaborating with Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary, so this post also links up with other participants for the weekly Just Write.

 

   

Monday, April 23, 2012

Five for Five: Three years

This is part of Momalom's Five for Five series, where a group of bloggers write about the same five topics in five days. This post responds to the first topic, Change.


 

THREE YEARS

Time: April 2009
Family Status: One guy, one baby
Work Status: Full time, outside the home

6948596721_fa0244065e
The alarm sounds. I hit snooze for the third time at 5:30 and eventually make my way to the shower, where I spend too long trying to shake the lethargy from my body. The cats watch me while I dress for work, and I shut the door behind me quietly as I leave the sleeping six-month-old Little Miss and her dad behind. The only sounds I hear are my footsteps on the sidewalk and the occasional car that passes me on the still-slumbering street as I make my way to work downtown.

This would be my weekday morning routine for the next two years, where I would only see my daughter for the first time at five in the evening every day. Until I went on maternity leave when her sister, Thumper, was born.

Time: April 2012
Family Status: Same guy, two babies
Work Status: Full time mom with occasional freelancing at home

Awake

“Baah!” the voice jars me awake. I take a peek and see two twinkling eyes peering back at me, chubby fingers perched on the crib rail. She’s awake.

I roll back over, hoping she won’t notice me if I play dead. “Baah!!!”

Ugh. I glance at the clock and groan even louder. 6:35.

For someone who doesn’t even contemplate going to bed until midnight, the morning comes way too soon. We’re nocturnal, and she’s not. That’s a problem.

I look over at My Guy, and of course he doesn’t even stir. The baby gets more anxious, and I surrender to her in my sleep-soaked state, bringing her into bed with us where she proceeds to help herself to some morning sustenance, followed by exercise, like parent-vaulting and pull-ups with my hair.

I do my best to balance between preventing her from landing face first on the hardwood floor and ignoring her so I could snooze a little longer. Although really, who am I kidding?

Then I hear the thud of footsteps of a preschooler who has yet to master the skill of being dainty. She’s been instructed to stay in her room until she sees “7:” on her digital Yoda clock so she waits patiently outside our door, on the couch, amusing herself with her toy du jour until invited in.

It wasn’t always that way, but with a baby in the room who used to sleep until eight, we had to put a stop to the whole barging in and waking everyone up business. Because, from the moment she enters our room, the noise begins, and it sounds a lot like an orchestra played by untrained chimpanzees. Or wombats.

Please may I have my milk?
Can I climb in between you guys?
Hey, Thumper took my buddy!
I tooted! {giggle, giggle}
Why is daddy still sleeping?
I need to go potty.
Hey, Thumper is in my spot!
I don’t wanna go to school!
I’m hungry; I want “breckfixt”.
I smell something stinky.

And that’s when I roll over to My Guy, who either pretends not to hear any of this or sleeps through it all (that jerk), and I mumble something about a baby needing to be changed.

I hear an audible resignation, and he drags himself from our bed to the parental duties that await us. I follow behind shortly. We change and feed the girls, then ourselves, and I drop My Guy off at the train station for work before driving Little Miss to preschool. Thumper is a tag-along, who I hoist in and out of the car seat to maneuver around spritely creatures and narrow hallways to get Little Miss to her classroom.

By the time we’re back home, it’s a little past nine and the infant is ready for her first nap. I don’t blame her - I am too! The morning routine can get a little hairy, especially when negotiations with a three-year-old seem to happen at every other intake of breath.

I want the zebra shoes!  
How about the black ones? They’re more comfy for school.
But they’re my favorite dancing shoes!
You’re not going dancing.
But..

When Thumper is down for her nap, the quiet sets in and that time belongs to me. And the all important cup of coffee.

* * *

A lot has changed in three years. I’ve traded strategy meetings and high heels for countless renditions of “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands” and crushed Cheerios on the floor. Never in a million years would my 2009 self have foreseen this.

Now, after I leave my bed for the flurry of activities that follow, it takes about three hours for me to finally wake up and turn my focus to myself. 

But it took me three years to open my eyes and see that this is where I should’ve been all along.

 

 

image: Train by christopherous

Friday, April 20, 2012

Six Word Fridays: On hold or hold on?

Here I join Melissa for Six Word Fridays. Today’s topic: Hold

Six Word Fridays


On hold or hold on? Hmm…
I sometimes feel it is time
for a break from my blog.

I post once weekly to breathe,
to find time for other things,
but as memory-keeper, I don’t think
the frequency, or the lack thereof,
does our memories or stories justice.

To cram in full lives within
a blog post to follow schedule
seems to undermine authenticity and spontaneity.

But better than not writing…maybe?
I don’t know; I am torn.
I write but it feels forced.
My writing’s showing signs of wear.

Yet, to quit now feels wrong.

All these words about Little Miss,
my firstborn who inspired my blog,
but to give up while Thumper
is not even a year old
doesn’t seem fair to my secondborn.

She deserves her own stories too.

When she looks back in search
of the childhood she can’t remember,
she’ll know what she was like
as the baby of our family.

How much we adore this girl,
who loves to eat and move
to any music - always in rhythm.
If I don’t write these down
will we remember? Will she know?

EaterAnother food picture! Well, at least
from her stories, she’ll understand why.

But is it better to write
or to live in the moment
of these little tales, I wonder.
If I find time for one
Will I be negating the other?

Mama’s guilt, writer’s guilt – always guilty!

So I’m feeling a little lost
Unsure if I should hold on
for their sake or just quit
for mine; who knows? I don’t.


* * *

While I’m trying to decide, I will be participating in next week’s bloggy carnival, Five for Five, over at Momalom, where bloggers get together to write about a different topic each day. Maybe it will renew my fervor for writing and resuscitate my blogging. Or maybe I’ll realize that I will no longer be able to keep up. We shall see…

Nonetheless, I’m excited to be doing this again, and I hope you will join me next week. Check back every day starting Monday for a new post. Until then, happy weekending!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

More spring less break

   WavePool

Last week was Spring Break for my three-year-old. Let’s just say it was more spring (as in the kind in our mattress) and less break as I tried to keep up with a mobile, teething infant and a restless, energetic preschooler.

After three (exhausting) days at home, we spent the next three at a water park resort for a staycation not too far from home. We’re a family of water babies so it was a good trip - just exotic enough to take us away from the same ole same ole (as long as we didn’t look out our window, that is), but close enough to not feel like we spent most of our time and energy traveling.

SceneryOutsideWindow
Hello suburbia!

We shared a one bedroom suite, where the baby first slept in a separate room so the rest of us could stay up a little more. Or a lot more as a certain wide-eyed three-year-old surreptitiously bought herself three more hours past her bedtime. I blame the Spring Break sugar. (Malt! Ice cream! Lollipop! Chocolate muffin!)

When we did drift off to sleep, we began at our respective beds, but somehow by the middle of the night, I found myself sandwiched between two little girls in one bed. I would complain except I secretly relished it. I’ve not slept with Little Miss in my bed since…well, ever.  Thumper has been in her crib since her eighth month, and I’ve been missing having her beside me. The snuggling was definitely the highlight of my trip.

BathingSuits 
Sandwiched – my new favorite state

Little Miss, however, has a different favorite. She loved going down those crazy tube slides with her daddy the most. My little daredevil even slid down intricate ones on her own! She definitely didn’t get this from me.

The kiddie pool slide was all I did. I wouldn’t even look at the rest, let alone try them. It’s just not my thing. Like roller coasters. But My Guy, the thrill seeker, is the complete opposite. I guess she is her daddy’s girl. I looked at the tubes that snaked and looped around the outside of the building, and I shuddered. Little Miss and My Guy saw adventure!

 

ViewFromHighway

 

I wondered what Thumper would be like. If her giggles as she went down the biggest slide in the kiddie pool were any indication, I would say she’s going to be in daddy’s camp. That means I’m a party of one, but that’s fine by me. I would be just as happy cheering from the sidelines. Someone has to hold the camera, bags, coats and water bottles right?

LittleSlide
Child’s play for this child


PineapplePlayStructure
This is more Little Miss’ speed

I was incredibly proud of my brave girl, and My Guy was elated to finally have a partner in crime. People asked about my daughter’s age when they saw her small frame emerge from one of the bigger slides all by herself, surprised she’s only three. We were both thinking, that girl at the top of this monstrous thing? She’s ours.

But the girl crying and screeching, “I don’t want to go home” over and over as we made our way to our car, avoiding eye contact with onlookers who gave us the eye while we dragged our screaming child along on the last day?

Yeah, she’s ours too.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Magic and milestones

 DyeingEggs2012

Growing up in Malaysia, where Easter mostly meant church, church and more church (for my Christian friends, as I was raised in a Buddhist-Hindu household), I never realized how incredibly fun Easter could be. As an adult, I was aware of the new traditions here in the States, but it wasn’t until I had kids of my own that I learned to appreciate the wonders of this particular holiday.

As a side note, I find it interesting that most of the kid-centric holidays here seem to revolve around creative ways of pushing candy on kids. Like they need help with that. Sometimes I wonder if Halloween and Easter are Hershey’s holidays as much as Sweetest Day and Grandmother’s Day are Hallmark-ones.

But this isn’t a tirade on candy, cavities or capitalism (God, I love alliteration!) As an expatriate, I can’t help but make these observations; these weren’t the traditions with which I grew up after all. While we’re in the midst of creating new traditions for our young family, I unabashedly participated in the holiday as much as any “typical” American would - dye eggs, organize an egg hunt plus brunch among friends with kids, break out the candy, and perpetuate the Easter Bunny myth.

On Sunday, after the joyful discovery of her Easter basket, Little Miss would occasionally look up from playing with a Bunny-sponsored toy and speak to the air, “Thank you for my Play-Doh,” and commence her enjoyment of it. Once, My Guy looked at her, puzzled, and sensing that, she explained, “The Easter Bunny is magic. He can hear me anytime I talk to him even if he’s not here.” He threw me a glance, and I responded with a look that said yep, that was all me.

But everything else? It was the combined effort of friends, old and new, to make this Easter a memorable one for my Little Miss. And me. (Thank you! – you know who you are.)

 EggHunt 

JoyOfBubbles


HeresLookingAtYouEgg

 

But you know what else made Easter weekend memorable? Thumper pulled herself up for the first time! Apparently, Christ was the not the only who has risen.

ThumperStandingAndSmiling

Of course she chose to stand the one time when no one was in the room with her. I walked into the family room and there she was, on her two dimpled feet. So much for switching career gears so I could be home to catch these momentous milestones.

But I’m not bitter; I’m elated. And slightly sad. There is always bittersweetness in the celebration of a new milestone as that also means she is that much closer to leaving her babyhood behind her.

One day it’s magical Easter bunnies and the triumph of standing at will. And the next…I’m just not ready to think about it yet.

 BabyLegs


For now, I will cheer each milestone and encourage my babies to go even further while I try to ignore these very real and often painful pangs in my chest. When I was preparing myself for parenthood, I knew what I was signing up for. But knowing is one thing. Feeling…well, that’s quite another.

I don’t think I could ever be prepared for that.

 

* * *

This is a Wordful Wednesday Post hosted by Angie over at Seven Clown Circus and Amanda at Parenting by Dummies. Click on over for more Wordful Wednesday posts.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Epic Battle (somewhere else)

Psst…I wrote a haiku and shared that over at, my friend, Stacia’s blog, Fluffy Bunnies, in honor of National Poetry Month.

It’s about struggling with choosing my battles. With this three-year-old.

LittleMissPrincess

Comments are closed here, but feel free to chit-chat away at Stacia’s. And if you comment in haiku, you get a lovely prize from Transylvania. Yup, that’s where she is now with her family of five. From Austin, Texas to Romania for a year - what a wonderful experience!

Check out the haiku, create one yourself, (maybe) win a prize and stay for more juicy stories from a part of the world most of us have only heard of in stories. (You know, like Dracula?)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Because now I can

As a newly minted work-at-home mom (WAHM), I don’t quite have a grasp on a routine yet. As you know, I had a less-than-stellar first day, but I’m also a quick study; I learned to stop stuffing my days like I do my laundry basket. By day three, I whittled my daily goals to just two a day, like coffee and shower (not at the same time). Or play date and conference call (I suppose I had to get the W part of the WAHM in some time). 

Having a manageable list means I will at least have a sense of accomplishment at the end of my day. I realize how important that is for this new lifestyle, or else each day would seem to run in to each other, one indistinguishable from the next. Goals, big and small, are nice; they give me forward momentum.

But even then, I have to remind myself that it’s okay to stall sometimes. Life isn’t always about pressing ahead and looking at the horizon. There are roses all around me after all. Wasn’t that why I quit my full-time office job in the first place? So I wouldn’t be a slave to the clock and the unending lists to be done?

And so that I could…

- romp in bed with the baby in the middle of the day and teach her to clap as I sing, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands”. And she does!

Clapping

 

- not worry about wasting paid time off when we all play hooky and start the day with breakfast at a neighborhood restaurant.
 FamilyBreakfast

 

- move and groove with my kids when our living room becomes an impromptu dance floor thanks to Pandora.

DancingQueens 


- continue to savor every fold and every roll on my littlest girl before they melt away.

Thighs



- go to my daughter’s first (successful!) dentist appointment as a family on a weekday morning. The sweet and wonderful hygienist asked\ after spying our troop as we all sat to watch her work on Little Miss, “is this a special family day?” but we only chuckled in response. What I actually wanted to say was, no. This is just what we decided to do that day. Because we could.

Dentist

 

The working and the catching up on housework, and finding the time to juggle between the two in between naps will be a colossal struggle for awhile. But I have to remember (and be grateful) that everything else is cake.

Because it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I guess it’s just slowly dawning on me that now, I can.

* * *

p.s. If you’re wondering about the schizophrenic photos, I was just experimenting with a new online photo-editing site, PicMonkey. They reached out to me after reading my post lamenting the impending demise of Picnik and informed me that several Picnik team members broke away to form this new site. And voila!

It’s brand new, and they’re still adding new features as we speak, but you know what? This may be THE GREATEST TOOL EVER Part 2.

I love the Internet. I express my sadness in losing my favorite tool, and the replacement comes looking for me! Hmm…I wonder…

I’m so bummed that I no longer have a nice, fat weekly paycheck to support my daughter’s chocolate habit.

*crossing fingers*

 

* * *

This is a Wordful Wednesday Post hosted by Angie over at Seven Clown Circus and Amanda at Parenting by Dummies. Click on over for more Wordful Wednesday posts.

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