It really takes a village

Last night, I took a leisurely shower all by myself.

I don’t know about you but ever since I became a mother, baths have become speedy affairs, especially during weekday evenings. To save time, I usually bathe with my babies after dinner. They sit in the tiny Flexibath at my feet – yes, both of them! – and splash away. Meanwhile, I, the human jukebox, will entertain them by acceding to song requests while frantically scrubbing at my scalp. Once I am done, I bathe one, then the other, and then I haul everyone out of the bathroom.

So yeah, showers are no longer luxurious me-time.

By a stroke of fate, both boys were showered by the time I finished dinner last night. Zac had gotten his evening bath at my in-laws’ before I picked him up while I had bathed Aidan soon after we had reached home because he took a dump. I decided to leave them in my helper’s care and headed off to the bathroom to wash off the grime and dust from the long day’s work.

It felt so good. Not having to sing Majulah Singapura (Aidan’s song of the moment) for the 83527th time. Not having to deal with screams of “Mummy! Zac moved into my space!”. Not having to rinse soap off one yelling child while trying to stop the other from eating the open shampoo bottle.

Mmm.

It got me thinking though, about how I am able to have this peaceful shower, amid other privileges. It is the village that supports me in raising my children as a full-time working mother, which grants me the ability to chase my dreams. And there are many people whom I am thankful for.

For instance, my mother. Every Monday to Wednesday, she travels to our home to watch over Zac. And mind you, she doesn’t drive. Instead, she has to battle the peak-hour crowds to take a bus down. I am ever so thankful that I no longer have to speed up and down the expressway every morning and evening, cursing and swearing like a crazed woman. In addition, she fixes dinner for us, which means I get to come home to a cosy home-cooked meal. And come Saturday, the boys go over to her place in the morning to spend time with their cousin, which frees up the time for the husband and I to do our own thing.

Then, there are my in-laws. Frankly speaking, we have had heaps of disagreement with them when it comes to raising our boys. The boys are their only grandchildren and it is only natural that all their attention, devotion and indulgence are trained on those two. In fact, I have no doubt that they would pluck the moon from the sky if Aidan were to so much as look at it.

What is undeniable, though, is their willingness to spend time with the boys. If anything were to happen to us, they have been more than happy to take the boys off from our hands. When we crave couple time, we know that we can leave the littles in their loving care.

Then there is also our helper. She is not quite the world’s best housekeeper – which is why I sometimes end up packing and organising my home with what little free time I have – but she truly adores my boys. I am not going to even pretend to be one of those Super Mums who do it on their own. I have a helper and while we perform 99% of the kids’ chores (like bathing, feeding, playing etc) on our own, having her around means that I don’t have to stress over laundry and dirty dishes in the sink and cat hair piling up on my floor after a tiring day at work while juggling the littles. It’s a huge relief, especially when I have a husband who pulls in long hours in the office. It also means that I can escape into the bathroom for a little shower with the knowledge that my kids will be safe.

So there you go, our village. Without them, I doubt we would even have a second child, to be honest, and we are very thankful for their help.

PS: Read about my friend Lyn’s ode to her village here!

The merits of daycare

When Aidan was born, we were lucky that both sets of grandmothers were willing and able to look after him while we were at work. The arrangement worked well as they split the caregiving duties during the weekdays, and neither were overly taxed by the responsibilities of looking after an infant.

But when he turned two, we made the decision to place him in the full-day childcare centre near my office – a decision that certainly did not endear us to our parents. In fact, I am still getting guilt-tripped about it! But we persevered and managed to get a spot for him about a month after Zac was born (Dragon babies can be so much trouble!). And four months on, I can say that we made the right choice.
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I survived!

barely.. but it still counts right?

I’ve been trying to prep myself for the start of infant care.

I knew it was going to be hard emotionally so I did pretty surprisingly well on that front. Some moments are really hard, moments like when her teacher takes her from me and she desperately tries to reach for me, big fat tears rolling down her face and her little paws grasping at air.

Mommy don’t you love me? Don’t leave me. Why are you leaving me??

That image is almost permanently etched into my head. And then I get over it almost immediately. Today, I lingered awhile as she was brought up the stairs. Once she reached the stairs the crying stopped.

Ah! I see what you’re doing there boss!

Oh course then, I proceed to spend the whole day wondering if she’s okay.

What I didn’t know was how exhausting it was going to be!

We’ve been dropping her off early as to simulate when I start work (next week), and then I get dropped off at the office to prep for next week. So far, I’ve been late to work every morning (Hopefully, next week, sheer stress and desperation will motivate us to wake up earlier). I spend about half a day at the office and then go off for lunch (everything is closed in-house), run errands here and there, head home to offload stuff, do a little pirouette and then it’s time to go pick up the boss!

I read that it really boils down to how you divide and allocate your time to the people and things you love. It’s also about concentrating on what’s happening now rather than what you have to do later. I suspect I’m exhausting myself by fretting and worrying and trying to get a million and ten things done, now that I “have time”. So I’m gonna try to take a few steps back and just chill for a bit so I can enjoy my baby while I can.

Because, when she’s home, she’s like sunshine! She’s just so happy to be home. She squeals and coos while playing by herself, occasionally looking at me and smiling, for no reason and out of pure unadulterated joy. I haven’t seen those in a while.

Bye Mom, I’m off to school!

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 Bye darling! Have a good day at school 🙂

Yeah right. It was more like

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“Where are you taking me to, Mommy?”

Mommy?”

Cue quivering lips, big fat drops of tears and those puss in boots eyes that she does so well. It’s been a long long day.

The husband dropped us off at school nice and early (he had to send the car in for repairs) and little boss lady was ok for the most part, until she had to be changed out of her outfit into something more comfortable. The husband arrived back from the workshop to a very upset, sweaty and clingy little lady.

We eventually managed to pry ourselves away from her to go run some errands.

I held up surprisingly well… until lunch.

I broke down. in. public.

I don’t take to separation very well. My Dad told me that when I started school, I clung onto his arm and refused to let him leave (for two whole months) and then refused to talk or participate in class. I also bawled my eyes out when my best friend went on exchange for half a year (pathetic or what?) and then again when my husband (then boyfriend) went on his exchange. So if my daughter is anything like me, I don’t like what she’s feeling right now.

When we went back for her, she had just fallen asleep from sobbing. And then she heard our voices and woke and clung onto us until we left the place.

It’s heartbreaking how happy she was in the car when she realised she was HOME FREE. She kept flashing us megawatt smiles of pure unadulterated joy. I haven’t seen those in a while. When we got home, she got her appetite back and she was literally bouncing off the walls. No crying, no temper tantrums. And now? It’s almost 10 pm and she’s been asleep for more than an hour (she usually sleeps around this time).

To be honest, it has been strangely liberating, yet terribly heart wrenching. I could get used to this happy child who rushes into my arms the moment she sees me, but it pains me so much how she “seems” to have to suffer through the day.

Or maybe she’s just really happy to see me because y’know, she loves me so much.

And then my friend quipped “Crying is tiring”.

My heart just broke again.

How am I going to put her back there tomorrow?

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