Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Ups and Downs

The other half was asked recently, he told me, by a childhood friend what marriage was for him. The other half replied it has its ups and downs. Because the question came from a friend whom I’d known well enough for decades, I took it as an affront that my other half presented the marriage to me as being not such rosy a bed to lie in. That must mean I’m not that fun to be married to half the time, no?
Let me dissect this.
My first question to myself was, why did I feel betrayed? Did I think my marriage was perfect?
Perfect, I knew it’s definitely not. But I measure mine against one I know most about — my parents’.

Theirs fell apart when they were in their late 40s, where I am now. Granted, they’d been married longer by then, having started younger. So, the fact that I’m still in mine must mean that my marriage has more ups than downs.
Secondly, I worked hard at maintaining this household financially, and at not aggravating my spouse. That’s not perfect enough?
I helped bring two kids into this world. (with God’s grace).

The above was written in February 2018.

Since then, I've forgotten that this was my angst then. Isn't it odd how I viewed such trivial things as the one and only thing to make me blow my top then but yet today, I'm able to look back and just hurrumph it? (May 2, 2018)

So, the lesson learned for me is, do not sweat the small stuff, it's all small stuff.




Toughest Role

You and I have many roles. Wait, why am I writing as if I still have an audience to write for? Must be the two decades of journalistic journey I had. One can't shake it off that easily.

Assume a role and it doesn't go away even when I've had not had a career as a journalist career the past half a decade.

Roles are what we take on. And today, my whine, my rant, my cathartic outburst shall be over my toughest role to date.

From my earliest memory, I was a sister. Since the time I was aware of what's around me, I've had two younger sisters -- the twins.

There never was a time when I remembered being an only child, so I've never grumbled then about my siblings' existence. Though later, when more came along, I did. I told mom that it wasn't fun for me that she has so many kids. There's less of everything to go around. That's my rationale.

So my earliest role that came to mind, being a sister.

Being a daughter didn't seem to imprint itself on me very much as a child. Could it be because I didn't need to manage the old folks then? Perhaps.

When mom and dad were splitting up, however, it was a role that bothered me. I felt helpless as a child, seeing my parents' marriage falling apart and yet without the authority to make them get back together, much as my siblings and I wanted them to.

So, some roles in life meant we have little say in how we want the outcome to be.

I enjoyed being a granddaughter, though. Being smart and respectful meant I was loved by my paternal grandparents. They weren't the kind to shower us with hugs and kisses but their love for me was evident. My maternal grandmother I saw less of, but it was good to hear her tell her friends that I'm the clever granddaughter. What irked a little was also how, in the same breath, she'd describe me as the "gua soon" in Hokkien, meaning maternal granddaughter. But the "gua" means "outside" or "foreign" and I understood that as to mean I don't belong. Odd.

Being a niece was great too. My maternal aunt was always showering my sisters and I with gifts of candies, Mickey Mouse watches, clothes, when we visit annually. Till today, she's my favourite aunt, someone I'd go a long way out for.

In my teenage life, it was so wonderful to be a girl, yet this role came with a lot of angst as well. I wasn't as pretty as others, What can I do? Nothing. Argh. But wait, I could be witty. And smart.

As a girlfriend, I was on cloud nine. The first time I was loved for being me, right? Parental love seems to pale in significance.

Being cared for is as great as caring for someone who belongs only to me.

My marriage cemented that role, turning me into a wife. The daughter-in-law role came hand-in-hand. Many days, this was not a fun one to be in. I had a very supportive husband and that made the daughter-in-law role an easier one to stomach. SF was always fair to his parents, and his tack was to tell me to let them be.

At work, I'm a colleague, a friend, a subordinate and a superior. Those roles I take on with gumption, especially as a subordinate.

I've gone all over the world, and now here I am, in the toughest role I've taken on -- as a mother.

A mother should be nurturing, pushing her child to experience the world, seeing the good side and being the shoulder to carry on when the not-so-great side hits.

A mother grooms her child into the best that she can be, and someone that society respects, someone other mothers want their kids to emulate, and later someone other mothers want for their sons to marry.

In this respect, I may have failed. I've taken on that role twice over. And I'm not coming out anywhere near a C, never mind a B, on producing a child whom people respect.

Cleanliness and hygiene are my priorities at home but no, the elder girl thinks otherwise. The fear I had in venturing into the room was always the fear that I would be "discovering" some unknowns stashed away under the bed, in the wardrobe. I've seen a whole box of candy wrappers, empty cans of tuna and moldy bread in there. Who can fault me for shivering when I step in?

Update
Since writing this post in 2017, and not publishing it, I've seen some positive changes in the elder girl. Is it maturity? I pray that's the case. I can now rely on her to keep her bedroom cleaner. I nag and she gets on it. She still has books on the floor, but clothes in the wardrobe are neater now.

The point I always make is this -- how can a roommate or a spouse tolerate the daughter I've brought up? Will her co-workers like working with her as a teammate?

Hence, the need to be a tough and unwavering mother, my toughest role to date, in ensuring my daughters grow up to be society-valued and well-respected and easily-loved people. Being God-fearing may be one way to start.

Mommy loves you girls a lot.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Old

Today, Karen had the question of the day. 
"How old are you, mommy? One hundred? One-zero-zero?"

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

When 2016 Ends

It seems I post about once a year these days. As I review the year that has been, I want to honour and thank my soulmate. He's been there for me for years but this year has been one where he has quietly outdone himself.

When MIL had to be hospitalised this year, he managed almost everything on his own. He singlehandedly took care of her admission, dealt with the doctors, and her after-op visits. When she came home and was unwell still, he took on the task of getting her set up to be home with us. And when she once defecated all over the house because of the inability to control her bowels, I came home unaware of it all. That took place when we were sans a maid. This was evidence that my soulmate, my spouse and my best friend had cleaned up the place thoroughly,

He managed the girls all on his own while I was away for a week at St. Petersburg. He's the one who manages to get them out for breakfasts on days when I work and he doesn't.
On days that he works and I don't, the girls and I are still wallowing at home in pyjamas at 11 am.

This year, when I ran my first road run -- at the StanChart KL Marathon on Aug. 7 -- he stayed home with the girls. Karen was unwell, too. If it wasn't for him, I'd be sleeping that day away. He had tugged my toes to wake me up just before 5 am that morning because I had overslept after staying awake that night to mind Karen, who had a fever while we had a power disruption.

"Why did you marry daddy?" Kayrin asked me often,

This week it dawned on me clear.

"Because daddy lets me do whatever I want," I said.

Last week, we went for our first overseas holiday in three years. I picked Ho Chi Minh City when SF had opted for Kota Kinabalu,

At the Vietnamese city, SF had looked up the Ipa-nima outlet I wanted to check out, and brought us there. After a large amount of purchases, I wanted to be back for more. This he made happen by getting us there again the day we flew out.

When I want to shop, SF doesn't hold me back. When I wanted to run, he encourages me to in his quiet way. When I want to travel and eat, he's there with me.

We share a love for food but he loves his Penang curry mee while I love Hokkien prawn mee. We love art pieces but he's into abstracts and I'm into water colour paintings. Music we enjoy -- his is loud while I'm into ballads. We love books but no one loves being at home more than him. He's the real homebody, seriously.

To my partner in every way, thank you and I love you.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

School

Every year, this time of year, I get queries on my experience with Sri UCSI. As big K wraps up six years there, perhaps I can document my journey through that school.
When she started at that school in 2010, quite a few private schools offered the local syllabus still. There was demand for the local syllabus still -- mainly because, in my view, Maths and Science were taught in English. Sadly, that was the final year for such a policy. The following year's students had to study the two subjects in BM and English.
That, in my opinion, eroded the demand for local syllabus private school education. Many schools, including Sri Nobel, moved entirely to international syllabus for primary and secondary school. Sri KL had moved by 2010, if I'm not mistaken.
Sri UCSI wanted to do the same but pressure from parents with children doing local syllabus at the school led to two "streams" at the school. Sri UCSI proceeded to start an international school.
As I started my search for secondary school, albeit a little late in 2015, I realised the proliferation of private schools or learning centres over the past few years.
Many are small learning centres, a few are large and considered premium ones, such as Taylor's and Rafflesia.
Oddly enough, not all expensive schools work for the kids. I encountered one parent moving her son to Sri UCSI from Rafflesia. A few others withdrew from Sri UCSI for Taylor's and Sunway International.
My take? All schools will have their pluses and minuses. For me, the time spent commuting to school is equally important as the the type of school that suits the kids.
Big K is now in a school that she thoroughly enjoys though the hours are longer than what she had in Sri UCSI. So,  from grumbling about being home from school late, she now talks about missing school on weekends! Sure hope the feel-good factor lasts. 


The Run That Didn't Happen

As a kid in school, I never excelled in sports. I couldn't run fast enough, jump high enough or throw far enough to earn a medal. Cooper's Run I could complete but anything else was just not good enough.
This year, I eagerly awaited the start of 
registration for the Standard Chartered KL Marathon. I signed up within hours, for the 10 km Run for a Cause, which means I get to raise fund for a charity I pick. I chose Hospis Malaysia. I've always wanted to do more for Hospis. This organisation assisted Woan and I dedicated my first road run to my sister.
September came along, and less than a month before the run, we were engulfed in haze, smog from forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia.
Two days before the race, the race was declared still happening. I rushed to Dataran Merdeka after work Friday to collect running kits. The haze was so awful that I'd told myself I wouldn't turn up for the race. The following day, the race was declared off.
I'd spent that Saturday house cleaning, so the news arrived my end only when my work was done for the day.
I was still glad to have raised money for Hospis even though my first road run failed to take place. Next year then. And here's little K with the finisher medal that Big K said I "cheated" to obtain. Whoops. 

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Running

Running was not my area at all. My legs, thighs would itch when I run. So I never ran. Hardly run. Avoided running.
A year ago, the gym closed for renovation. I'd just returned to the gym after I stopped breastfeeding Karen in April.
I couldn't just stop my workouts after a hiatus of 20 months for breastfeeding and the nine months of pregnancy. I'd just started working out!
I chose to run at the park then. It started with one loop in the park. About 1.3 km. then I put on my earphones, and achieved 3 loops or 4 km. I felt great!
By August, during a holiday in Penang, I had gone on to 5 km.
The running in the morning also meant I had to shower in the surau because the gym was unavailable for use.
In October, I reached 6 km and 8 km. and the 10 km milestone was achieved in December.
Somehow, along the way, I'd lost the sensation of itch on my legs and thighs. How very odd.
Today is also an achievement because I made 10 km on a treadmill. My first. 

It's odd to run because one will never run out of space to run. And I have this in mind when the running gets tough: Why walk when you can run.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Thank you, 2014


The year 2014 simply flew by. But which year didn't, eh? May be the year that Woan was diagnosed.
Last year was a year to be extremely thankful for, for the family.
I kept at nursing baby Karen till she was 20 months old. She adjusted well to formula when we started her on it at 17 months. After stopping breastfeeding, I went back to exercising.
Just as I was getting into the habit of hitting the gym, it was shut for an upgrade. Shucks.
I took to running, or rather, jogging and walking in the park and at home. That was in July. 
I got a boost in this activity when SF gave me a jawbone UP fitness band for my birthday.
He also gifted me an iPhone arm band for running.
Off I went. Half a year later, I've gone from being a total non-runner to a 10 km one. It's been hectic trying to squeeze in running when there's no gym to shower in and there's the school run in the morning. I could go on and on about the obstacles, couldn't I?
How things turned out is testament to a bit of willpower and a lot of God's blessing. I showered in the surau and made time for running before starting work.
This year, I've started yoga classes again to build core strength. Running isn't taking a back seat and I'll keep striving at it. I work at it to have better health -- physical and mental.
This is a year of Kayrin's first major exams. I'm anxious but I've also pushed her to better herself at her studies.
Challenges will be thrown at us, whenever and whatever we do. It's our will that will carry us through. Happy new year!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ipoh food trip

In June, SF made a long-talked about food trip to Ipoh come true. He booked the hotel after doing his own homework. I merely dictated how many pieces of clothings each of us could bring.
It was one of the best short car trips we've had! For one, the short drive made it less stressful. Without a pool at the hotel, we wandered out often enough in search of food. And with the hotel smack in town, we traipsed back to the hotel every chance we could for siestas. How wonderful is that?
The food was unbeatable. Dim sum was declared among the best we've had. Bar Hong Kong's, perhaps. The street food at tong sui kai was cheap and super delicious. From the hor fun soup with Ipoh's fat, crunchy bean sprouts to the large fruit-laden ais kacang, we thoroughly had a feast.