My happy village

A couple of people at work have commented that I make balancing work and family look so easy, like I am fleeting seamlessly between one and the other without ever dropping a ball (as least not one that’s been noticed anyway).

Well, that is very nice and thank you for making that observation. I try to do my best, but I would though like to respond by mentioning these three points.

Firstly, what you see is just an illusion which I admittedly try to put up when I walk out the door. Sometimes anyway. There are days when I feel exhausted even before I step into the office and I would have had two cups of strong coffees before 9 am. And there are definitely days when I come home at night and I would be too tired to even pour myself that glass of wine which I so deserve. There are also days when I would only do the minimum at work just so that I would not drop a ball. However given that I deal with both internal and external stakeholders on a daily basis I do place value in looking professional and giving people the confidence that they can work with me. And through my many years of experience being a woman I conclude that there is nothing that good foundation, lipstick and a cup of coffee can’t fix on any given morning.

Secondly, I try to give myself a break and not be affected by little things around the house; which I think has made me a calmer person. Initially I would let a lot of things get under my skin, like dog bringing sand into the house, plates piling high in the basin and kids throwing toys everywhere. It drove me nuts. After several episodes of just losing “it” and then collapsing into a crying mess (which my poor husband had to bear the brunt of) I convinced myself that these are things which I can’t just control and since I do not really want to be vacuuming the house five times in a day, I decided to change my own outlook instead. It is ok for us to leave a few dishes to be done in the evening after we come home; it is also ok to only vaccum once in the morning and another time before you go to sleep since the dog will be coming in and out all throughout the day anyway, and if the kids’ room looks too messy, just close the door beind you (ps. if you are a bit of a control freak like me do read this article on Kidspot, it is rather entertaining).

And finally and most importantly, you know how they say you need a village to raise a kid? Yes, that is so true and I have a wonderful village whom I rely on day-in and day-out to look after our kids and the occasional home issues when husband and I are at work. Our village is also big, comprising of both my own family and my in-laws who lovingly, diligently and unconditionally take care of our kids when they are not at daycare. It is not without challenges though, these kids who are raised by dual (and even triple households) as values are being taught from all directions (try telling a kid that they can’t have something which Grandma has already promised earlier on) and your No. #1 position in their hearts gets consistently challenged, but at the end of the day it gives us reassurance and a peace of mind when the kids are not with us which means that we can focus our attention on other things like work and not get distracted. It also allows us kids to see that there are different ways to living and hopefully give them a wider perspective to life.

So yes, we are who we are and we can become who we want to become because of the circumstances and people surrounding us (with a bit of change in attitude and mentality and a lot of tolerance). And yes, we are lucky but we are also grateful and we do not let ourselves nor our kids forget that. 

Happy Sunday everyone.

PS. Lastly, I have to share this funny post which a friend put up on her Facebook which I can relate so well with.

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PPS. My dear readers, I am asking for a favour. If you know of other women (or men) who would enjoy a weekly light read or maybe benefit from the experience of a fellow mom can you please share my link with them? There is nothing more encouraging for someone who writes to know that people are reading 🙂 With thanks and lots of love.

In the Beginning

I was wondering about the content of my next post when my husband suggested that I write about the kids.

“The kids… ?” I said.

“Yes, the kids,” he replied. “Isn’t that what inspired you to start this blog in the first place?”

Ok, that’s true. But … what about the kids? Where do I even start?

After much consideration I decided that the right place to start is from the beginning, from when we decided to have kids. As that would be the start to the story and put context into all that we do and experience from that point onwards.

Our story is not unlike millions of others’. Man and woman meet, date, fall in love, go out for a few years while we pursue our careers, decide that we are ready to start a family and get married. Everything up until then happened in the intended sequence and as planned, but not so much after.

Only after we embarked on this journey that I learnt these few things:

One. It can take a long time for a woman over the age of 30 to fall pregnant. A woman between 30-35 has only about a 15% chance of getting pregnant during each cycle (article) and it is not uncommon for her to only get pregnant after 6 to 12 months of trying (as confirmed by the doctor who saw us at the time and advised that she would not consider any additional tests until after at least 6 months). 

Two. Stress can have a huge impact on your success rate. I underestimated this and only after a year of trying, we decided to take a break from everyday stresses and went on a trip to New Zealand. And that was when I first got pregnant.

Three. 1 in 4 women who gets pregnant in Australia suffers a miscarriage. This happened to us after our New Zealand trip. It was devastating at the time especially given that I wanted it so much and I was not able to talk about it because it happened very early on in the pregnancy, but after understanding the statistics that helped lessen the grief to some extent.

Four. Lastly, alternative treatments may sometimes work for you (although when I say alternative, what we resorted to was pretty much mainstream in some parts of the world). I am referring to acupuncture. Without trying to mislead anyone; the acupuncturist explained to me that she could only help us if the issue was with the condition of my body and my womb, and not if we had issues with the conception itself. So imagine us trying to grow a tree, she could only help to condition the soil but not to produce nor fix the seeds (which I believed was our case since the tests performed prior did not come up with any other conclusions).

So, 4 weeks after I started the treatment and 18 months since we embarked on this journey, my tests came back positive (I took 3 just to be sure). I continued with the treatment 3 months into the pregnancy and was careful not to take any unnecessary risks e.g. rigorous exercise, travels etc and we carried this beautiful child to full-term.

Every couple has their own story, and this is ours. There were many ups and downs, tears and doubts and really tested our relationship as newly weds; but ultimately defined us as a married couple and how we worked together to resolve the challenges.

And as for the kids, we constantly remind ourselves how fortunate we are to have them (and on some days we just have to remind ourselves harder :)).

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Girls’ Night Out

Last Saturday I went out to dinner with an old friend. We went to Lalla Rookh, where we sat down for an amazing three-course Italian meal starting with raw kingfish, followed by creamy beetroot risotto and finishing off with an amazing chocolate mascarpone dessert. We also had good wine and even better conversations. After that we went for a nice stroll in the city – it was a warm night with a light breeze and there were lots of people about.

And for that few hours, it was as if we didn’t have kids. Imagine that. And that we were just two adults, having a night out.

It has been a while since I did this. This, to be able to go out and just enjoy the night. Almost four years to be exact.

These kids, they change your life. These little creatures who come out completely helpless and dependent on you for all their physical and emotional needs; for survival. And overnight, all things simple in your life, like going out to dinner, are no longer simple.

Why? Because you stop living only for yourself from the moment you realise you are pregnant. For your baby’s well-being you would give up half the things on the menu (the good half) when you go out, including the fun drinks which continues to stay off the diet for the period you breastfeed. If you breastfeed exclusively (like me as my children refused to take the bottle), this means that you have a baby who latches on to you every three hours and increasingly more closer to his/her bedtime, which makes it extremely inconvenient for you to be out in public. Then even as they get older and feed less, there is still the issue of night waking, to the point that you are uncomfortable of leaving them with a sitter in fear that they will not be able to comfort your baby back to sleep should they wake.

So after a while you just give up and stop going out at night altogether. You ask family if you can have dinners at their place instead, and you try to catch up with your friends either over mommy dates at the park or you sneak in an hour over your lunch break. Other nights when cooking gets tiring you become frequent customers of Menulog and Ubereats. At times you yearn for your old life back, and that spontaneity which allows you to decide, 5 minutes before 6pm, where you would like to dine that night.

Then one day, out of nowhere, you realise that hey, I can actually do this now. The kids are a little older and the husband is experienced enough to be left to his own devices. So you call your friend to arrange a date, very glad that you are finally getting some of your independence back.

Then for a brief moment, only very fleetingly, your mind went back to that time when your newborn woke you up at 3am and then fell asleep while you nursed her close to your chest; when you both stayed so still as if you might interrupt the stillness of the night if you moved; when it felt like you were her entire world and she was yours. And you felt a little sad that perhaps it would never be the same again.

Side note: Lalla Rookh is a trendy, bustling Italian restaurant in the heart of the city. It is a popular spot with the city dwellers, and was recently frequented by Rob Broadfield who wrote a neat article about it in the West Australian.