Posted in Marriage, Motherhood, Relationship

Why Our Kids Are Not Our Priority

It wasn’t always that way, just so you know.

Before our eldest son was born, my husband and I were the best of friends. While we did almost everything together, we still had our own space so that strengthened our friendship, I guess. What I love the most about us then was how we could talk about literally anything. Every day, there was something we talked about – we shared our thoughts on it, we compared what we knew about it, we argued when we had different opinions, and at the end of the day, we would come to a conclusion on what we talked about.

Sure you might think that sounded serious, but when I said we could talk about literally anything, I really do mean anything. I remember once how we spent several hours arguing if a snail without its shell is naked or homeless.

When our son was born, things sort of took a turn.

It was fine for the first couple of weeks because I just got back from the hospital and I had help for the first few days I was home. Then slowly the truth of how we’re parents now started to dawn on us. I find myself constantly pushing myself to keep up with my son’s needs in between juggling housework. My husband felt the sudden importance of earning because now we got extra things to pay for for our son.

Along the way, our eyes were set only on our son.

Every single thing revolved around him. Me taking a shower? It had to be while he was asleep. My husband needed to go out and get some bread and eggs? It had to be after my son was fed and burped so I could take a minute of sleep while he slept. Our sex life? Had to be scheduled when our son was in his deep sleep.

It was okay, I guess, for us to go through all that because we thought that’s how our lives were going to be from that moment on. I mean, hey, after all, we have a son now. We can’t exactly go out whenever we want anymore, right?

Wrong.

Turned out making our son’s (and soon our other kids’) needs as our priority was one of the most damaging things that ever happened in our relationship.

From the best of friends, we tried so hard to be the best parents. To be the best parents, we believe in being attentive to our kids, attending to all their rational needs, we believe in being there for them.

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What we forgot to do was being attentive to each other. We forgot to attend to our rational needs. We forgot to be there for each other.

In the chaos and pressure of looking after our kids, we forgot to look at each other.

Our sights were dead set on our kids, we neglected each other. Our attention was so focused on our kids, we lost track of each other’s lives. Our thoughts, passion, and hope were directed to our kids, we lost our own way to each other’s mind and heart.

Being parents to two kids (then) was so crazy for us that at one point, I realized that we have not touched each other for almost a month. I’m not talking about sexual caresses or romantic cuddling; the actual human physical contact was gone between us and it was only after a month I realized it.

I was watching the TV while our kids were in bed and my husband fell asleep on the couch next to me. I turned to look at him and I realized how much I miss the man who was sleeping right next to me. I forgot how warm his hands were, I forgot how he looked when he smiled, I forgot how safe I felt when he hugged me. As much as I wanted to lie down on his chest while he slept, I was more taken aback by how I was afraid he might react. It literally felt as if I were to lie down on a stranger’s chest on the subway.

The next morning I told my husband how I felt when he was asleep on the couch last night and while I was ready to hear him say he was too tired from working, I didn’t expect him to look at me under hooded eyes and said he felt the same way too. To be honest, I would’ve preferred to hear him raise his voice complaining that I didn’t understand his workload than it was to hear his quiet voice telling me I felt like a stranger to him too.

That very weekend, we decided we needed a break from our kids.

I battled guilt and shame for wanting time alone with my husband. I came up with hundreds of scenarios to tell my mother she needed to watch over the kids while my husband and I had to attend “a function.” I packed and repacked our kids things before we dropped them at my mom’s place. I almost told my husband we should skip going out because I was feeling too guilty about leaving my kids behind for no apparent reason.

But that’s just the thing. We had a strong reason to go out.

We were falling apart.

We thought having kids would bring us closer, but all it ever did was sent us down different paths, further and further away from each other each day. We had to do something before we were too far away from each other and could not see a way back home.

Our first date night felt extremely awkward. We both rushed through dinner, quickly finished our drinks, and went for a quick stroll, each tried to discreetly check our watches. We talked, yes. But it wasn’t like any of our talks before. It felt scripted, it felt forced. When we finally picked up our kids from my mom’s, I swear to God I heard my husband sighed a tiny relief.

However, the next day, my husband came and hugged me around the waist while I was cleaning up after our breakfast.

He told me he actually had a nice night and he felt bad for feeling rushed and wanting to be home quick. I told him I felt the same way and he told me we should go out again that weekend.

Our second date was definitely more relaxed. We took our time finishing our meals, we enjoyed our drinks, and after our stroll, we even stopped for some coffee. And we held hands while we were drinking coffee.

I can’t tell you how much I felt like myself again. That night on the way home, I cried and told him how I miss him and how I wish we could be like how we were before. I hated leaving our kids at my mom’s, but I hated it more that I feel like I don’t have my husband with me anymore. My husband called my mom and said we were not picking our kids up that night and we would be there first thing the next day. To my surprise, my mother didn’t make any fuss and said it was getting rather late and she hated to wake the kids up.

With tears and snot running down my face, I realized that it was late. I forgot to look at my watch during our date and I didn’t feel the hours passed at all. Just the way it was when it was just the two of us before kids.

Ever since that night, we realized how making our kids’ needs our only priority was damaging to the both of us.

Choosing to spend time with each other doesn’t mean we’re not paying attention to our kids. Having some alone time doesn’t mean we don’t need to take care of our kids. Putting ourselves before our kids doesn’t mean we’re selfish.

And being able to have regular date nights ever since then actually made us better parents. We’re not stressful when we’re facing challenges with our kids, we’re not losing our temper as often as we did before, we could laugh more, we talk better to our kids, and our kids somehow behave better too.

We can really see how they are happy when my husband and I are truly happy.

I used to feel guilty and embarrassed for wanting time for my husband and I. I used to feel that I shouldn’t feel too free anymore now that I’m a mother. I used to think people would think I’m a bad mother if I want to go out for a movie with my husband.

Not anymore.

I feel free to be who I am not because I’m in denial I’m a mother and I want none of the motherly restraints.

I am free to be who I am because I know by taking care of our happiness and priorities first, I can definitely be a better mother to our kids.

 

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Posted in Children, Motherhood, Parenting

How Did The Baby Get Inside Your Tummy?

I’m having a bad menses cramp today, so I was curling on the couch with a hot water bottle pressed to my stomach.

Sophea: Mommy, what’s the matter with you?
Me: I got period pain.
Sophea: Why?
Me: Because I got period.
Sophea: What’s period?
Me: It’s when I got blood come out from me.
Sophea: Blood? But why? Are you going to die?
Me: No. It happens to every girl. When you’re big like Mommy, then you will have period too.
Sophea: So means I’m going to die too?
Me: Everyone is going to die, but not because of period.
Sophea: If you’re not going to die, then why you have period?
Me: It means that I don’t have a baby in my tummy.
Sophea: Why no baby? I like baby.
Me: Me too. But people don’t have baby in their tummy all the time.
Sophea: How baby go inside your tummy?
Me: When Mommy and Daddy love each other and we sleep together, then sometimes baby will go inside my tummy.
Sophea: But where that baby come from?
Me: It’s from Mommy and Daddy. We make it.
Sophea: What? You can make baby? You and Daddy got magic?
Me: It is kind of like magic. But it’s because of love.
Sophea: And love is magic?
Me: Yes.
Sophea: I don’t understand.
Me: You see, when Mommy and Daddy love each other, we feel love inside our hearts. And that love feels like magic. Sometimes when the magic is strong, Mommy and Daddy do a secret dance. From that dance, sometimes baby can happen.
Sophea: Happen where?
Me: Inside Mommy’s tummy.
Sophea: What secret dance?
Me: You know how you guys can’t go into Mommy and Daddy’s room? That’s why. It’s a secret dance for Mommy and Daddy only.
Sophea: So when Mommy and Daddy sleep in your room you do the secret dance?
Me: Yes. Well, sometimes. It depends.
Sophea: Okay. I don’t understand. Can I have a cookie?

I never thought this baby talk would come this early and it totally caught me off guard, least of all coming from Sophea. I thought Eros would be asking about it first.

Okay, I should be more ready in the future.

Posted in Marriage, Motherhood, Parenting, Relationship

Sometimes I Need To Punch Something

I’ve been feeling extremely angry for the past few days.

I blame the heat because it has been seriously hot and humid where I am and I don’t function well in heat. I don’t. At all. I get irritated easily, I get pissed of at almost anything and everything.

But deep down, I know that it’s not really the heat. I mean, it helped to make things worse, that’s for sure. But it wasn’t entirely its fault.

It’s just that for the past few weeks I’ve been feeling like the lousiest mom on Earth. I’ve been yelling a lot, I’ve been really short with Mohen, and what I hated the most was, I even woke up feeling angry. Yeah, that was the first thing that I felt the moment I open my eyes. Then the whole day just went from bad to worse in like matters of seconds.

Of course my kids were at the ugly end. I can see it in their eyes and faces that they have no idea why am I yelling. I even felt that they distanced themselves from me.

It sucks. It feels like the worst kind of punishment I could ever face. And if it couldn’t get any worse, I felt like it was my fault. And I know it is.

I’ve been working so hard to make ends meet because most of the times we don’t even have two pennies to rub together. So my work has taken my attention away from my kids because I had to take in as much work as I can so that we’ll have enough to buy food and pay for bills at the end of the month. The suckiest part is, I hate the feeling of having to work while my kids are left to entertain themselves. I couldn’t even catch a break with my deadlines being really close between projects what more to sit down and play with my kids.

I read somewhere that you should always choose your time with your kids because there will always be time for work.

But if I do that, I would end up doing my work when the kids are asleep and I will only go to bed around 5am and by 8am, they’re awake. I guess that is why I’ve been waking up feeling really, really angry. It’s not about me being angry that I don’t have enough sleep; I’m just angry because of the situation I’m in and I literally feel like I have to do everything and there’s not enough of me to go around.

I try not to yell at my kids most of the time, but sometimes, I just can’t help but lose it. And obviously I feel like the lousiest and most useless mom on Earth. I know I’m not the only one running a home on my own, but sometimes I feel how can other moms do it.

Most days, I feel like just curling under my covers and shut my eyes real tight and pretend I don’t have to get up and cook or clean or do my work. How can I do that? My kids don’t feed themselves. And once I decided to just sleep in, I heard my kids in the kitchen trying to get some cereal because it’s almost noon and they were hungry. At that very moment, everything in my just crumbled. I cried and cried I felt like stabbing myself. They don’t have to be pushed to that extent just because I’m the hopeless one.

Most of the time, I’m okay.

I can push on and get through the days without thinking how I feel. But sometimes, because I’ve been bottling it up for weeks, I just lose it.

It feels selfish for me to say this because I feel like I shouldn’t. But sometimes, I have been taking care of everyone I feel like no one is taking care of me.

Posted in Marriage, Relationship

Facebook me your twitter so I can WhatsApp you my Instagram

I had to take a minute to let that sink in.

I don’t know about you, but that didn’t sound weird to me at all. But then again, these words are part of everyone’s conversation nowadays that they’re hardly alien or weird at all.

It starts with that, doesn’t it?

Conversations.

One person decided to text a person and they started to talk for hours, ignoring everything and everyone else around them.

This is not a big deal if you‘re not seeing anyone. But it can get pretty darn annoying when it’s your spouse who’s doing it. He or she might spend the whole day texting back and forth with whoever it is, and you can’t even get a minute of their time. When you ask them about it, they say it’s just a friend.

Okay, hang on. Let me backtrack a little because even I feel as though I’m jumping the gun here.

I feel, ever since we’re more savvy with technology, many things have gone wrong with the way we live our lives.

Our kids are more glued to their tablets and smartphones than they’re with books or board games, many of us are hooked on online games that we spend hours and hours trying to win the next level, and one of the most common problems I hear from my friends is how their spouse spends hours on the phone talking to friends.

Isn’t this weird? I mean, you have your wife there, she’s watching TV with you and there you are on the couch, alternating between looking at the screen of your phone and the TV. Or your husband is watching the TV and you’re the one who’s playing Candy Crush.

Not a single word is spoken between the two of you.

Is it just me or I find there is something very wrong with this picture?

1 in 5 divorce cases in America was caused by Facebook and instant messaging. Arguments and fights between husbands and wives are most of the times caused by WhatsApp or some other instant messaging services. I’ve personally known 4 friends who were divorced because of affairs that started from instant messaging.

A friend, who recently went through a divorce not 6 months ago, bitterly said to me that nowadays relationships are just messed up – You can know everything about me there is to know but don’t ever touch my phone.

I don’t have to go far. I experienced it myself before. You just know that your partner is not talking to just “some” friends (read: guy friends) because

1. He’s on the phone from morning and checking it every 5-10 minutes and,

2. There’s that sometimes playful smile when he reads the text.

I can’t tell you how it drives me crazy while I pretended not to care. I don’t want to ask because I feel that it’s his space to talk to whoever he wants. But I feel like an idiot hanging around him trying to get his attention focused on me instead. Me. His wife.

Almost every other woman that I met has experienced this with their husbands. And when asked, they said he would almost always say, It’s a friend and we’re just talking.

I’m not just talking about guys. I know women do this thing too. I’ve done it as well. But just to see what it feels like to spite my husband by me doing the exact same thing he’s doing.

Of course, all hell breaks loose. I guess it’s all right if he does it, but not me.

But then again, thank God I hated it. It made me feel weird to be texting a guy at 2am in the morning and started flirting, because I know he knows that I’m married and I don’t want him to think that I’m being available that way.

Call me old fashioned, but I believe in changing the way I am once I’m married.

I might be too available, or too promiscuous or too easy before I was someone’s wife, but now that I’m married, I feel I can’t be that way anymore. Especially now I have 3 kids. I believe in women being liberal and open about who they are or their sexuality, but I draw my own line about how I need to behave now that I’m someone’s wife.

My mother taught me to take care of my actions and my words, especially around other men, because I’m now a married woman. I have an obligation to my husband and I can’t be embarrassing him by being flirty with other men. My mother said it’s okay if people think I’ve changed drastically or that I’ve become boring, as long as I don’t do anything to jeopardize my marriage.

To be honest, I personally feel all this secret texting and late night Facebook chats can jeopardize a marriage even though a lot of people that I talk to say that it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have the intention to cheat.

I mean, I find it disturbing that your partner is sleeping alone in the bed and you’re talking away to someone until the wee hours of the morning. When asked, It’s just a friend. It’s not like it’s anything. Can you just trust me?

Ah, “Trust me”. That’s another phrase I feel it’s being overused in marriages and relationships.

With trust, I’m supposed to be okay if you’re talking to someone on FB chats at 4am. With trust, I’m supposed to be okay with all the comments you make on someone’s Instagram photos that are rather provoking. With trust, I’m supposed to ignore how I feel and agree with you that I’m overthinking.

You know what, maybe I am. Maybe because I’m a woman so I distrust my whole species for talking to my man. Maybe because I’m a woman, I feel that my man can easily fall for some other women that he spends hours talking to every day.

But before you think I’m on a men-bashing crusade because of my experience, I know for a fact women do it too.

My guy friend, also just went through another divorce, because his wife was always on the phone with a long lost schoolmate (who also happened to be an old flame) and ended up falling in love with her old friend all over again. My friend was devastated because they had a daughter and he thought he was being nice to her, letting her talk to her old friend. *Yes, I read his message with my husband next to me so there’s no secret messaging there, mind you.*

See where trust gets him?

I know it’s probably the wife’s fault that she abused his trust, but he did wonder if things would’ve been different if he told her not to text her friend too much.

This kind of things takes two to tango. If one person keeps on sending messages, but the other person never replied or replied curtly with one word replies, I don’t think it would’ve gone too far. People that I spoke to tend to say that, Oh, I can control myself. I know what’s the limit and I don’t flirt. It’s nothing.

But can the other person have as much control?

Say if I were to flirt with another man on the phone, then he would probably see it as an open invitation. Suppose he doesn’t flirt back (because he knows I’m married with kids), but never fail to reply me anyway, I would feel encouraged to continue texting him. And it goes from there.

People probably get thrills or something from this kind of thing. It’s exciting to know we’re texting someone that our spouse doesn’t know. Or that person says something your husband or your wife doesn’t say to you. We start to see other people as more interesting than the one we married.

My friend (the one who said modern relationships are messed up) told me that when she asked her husband what was wrong with her that he had to find someone else to talk to, she said he told her that she has started to bore him. That she’s no longer interesting.

In my heart, I felt this unreasonable anger toward her husband. Was it so hard for him to tell his wife this? Was it so hard to tell his wife that he wanted her to try something new? Or that she’s become so tied up with work and their kids that she’s no longer the woman he remembered her?

When a married couple starts to feel that other people is more interesting, more exciting than his or her own spouse, this is when the cracks start to happen.

One of the things that I’m really terrified of is how I might be boring to my husband.

How I wontbe able to excite him the way I did when we first went out. How he won’t get the butterflies anymore while thinking about me at work. This paranoia is worse when I’m running around the house with 3 kids while trying to squeeze in my writing projects, because I know when I’m this hectic person, I become snappy, sarcastic and spiteful toward anyone. I’m afraid this behavior might drive my husband away because he sees me as this annoying housewife that blabbers and bickers all the time.

My mom always says, When we start to feel our spouse is boring and no longer attractive, even the slightest temptation is enough to drive us away from them.

I can’t stop technology any more than I can stop the Sun from rising. But I honestly feel a lot of couples are affected by this and it’s completely unhealthy. I bet things were greater when technology wasn’t that advanced for married coupled now who were going out then. Couples actually talk and spend time together. They actually look into each other’s eyes and laugh while they share stories.

Call me old fashioned, but that’s the kind of relationship that I want for me and for almost anybody who’s going through hell fighting over text messaging.

But then, maybe I’m just overthinking and being absurdly jealous.

I guess I’ll just text a guy friend to pour my heart out to, eh?

 

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Posted in Marriage, Relationship

Dear Some Women

Dear some women,
Give your man a break.

So much stereotype and expectations are put on them that it’s no wonder they feel like letting you down sometimes. He’s only human. Just as the way you complained that you’re only human when you feel like you have to do everything around the house.

Women always talk about how men need to please her and do things to make her happy, but most of the times, many of us are not doing half of the same effort we expect men to do for us. We want men to appreciate us, see us for the women that we are and notice little things that we do for them.

For all you know, men want the same thing too.

He too wants you to appreciate him, he too wants you to see him for the man that he is and maybe he too wants you to notice the little things he does for you, like buying that extra loaf of bread even though you didn’t ask him to.

Women don’t have the pressure to keep things inside because we can blabber to our men, or we can talk to our girlfriends. Men don’t usually have that luxury so don’t you think it’s more pressuring for them to keep it all in while at the same time try to be the man of your dream?

I’m not a man.

But I believe they need equal attention, equal affection and equal passion from us. I believe they want to talk to you, but too conscious to do something like that. I believe men are actually more sensitive than women, but certain things don’t allow them to show it.

So dear some women, when your man is not being all that you want him to, give him a break once in a while.

I would like to think that at least he’s trying.

Posted in Marriage, Relationship

Dear Some Men,

Dear some men,

 

I know you work hard to provide for the family. I know you have millions of things on your mind about where the money goes and you worry about how much you have left at the end of the month.

 

But take some time to look at your wife.

 

Look at her as a person that’s busting her chops to keep the house clean, look at her as a person that’s running around sending kids to school and going to the market to get groceries and hope she will be back home on time to cook lunch. Look at your wife as the person that wakes up before everyone else and sleeps only after everyone has gone to bed.

 

She looks to you as her support, but do you feel that you’re there for her as much as you expected her to be there for you? She looks to you as her rock, but do you anchor her to her feet so she doesn’t lose her mind or are you only weighing her down?

 

There are so many wives who are depressed because her husband don’t lift a finger around the house. There are so many wives that filed for divorce because she can’t take doing everything on her own when that one person she counts on doesn’t even say thank you for what she does.

 

If you ask her, she doesn’t really care if you make RM1000 per month or RM10,000 at that.

 

She works at the office just as you do too. She gets stressed out over a dumb colleague as well. She gets pissed off at her boss too. She gets caught up in the traffic jam just as you’re making your way home from the office as well.

 

She wants you to see her as a person, as a woman who dedicated her life to serve you and make you happy. She doesn’t want to be made to feel like a maid in her own house. She does the cleaning and the cooking out of love. She understands that’s her job and she understands that you expected her to do all that.

 

She understands what you have to go through and she expects you to understand her as well. She never complains she has to cook, she never complains she has to fold a mountain of laundry, although if you ask her, she would rather sit and do nothing. Of course she would not tell you this because she knows your expectations of her.

 

Just as she expected you to appreciate her. Just as she expected you to hug her and say thank you. Just as she expected you to give her 10 minute break once in a while.

 

Wives know that their husbands can change a diaper, wives know their husbands know where the broom and mop are kept, wives know their husbands can take care of the children and the house without them despite people always degrading men as caretakers.

 

She just wants to know that she’s not alone in this thing because marriage is about working together as a team. Not a one (wo)man show.

 

Just a thank you and a hug will do. And yes, please take out the garbage too, while you’re at it.

 

Posted in Marriage, Motherhood, Parenting, Relationship

Another Year Gone, Another One Approaches

Another few days to 2014.

Where the heck did the time go? I remember when I was little feeling like the year will never end. Now I didn’t even know where each day went.

Despite waking up every morning not knowing whether I can make it through the day with so many things happening around me and challenging me to push through harder than the day before, I’m glad that I always wake up to people that I love – my kids and Mohen.

As I grow older, my new year resolutions get less fancy. I used to want to travel to certain countries before the year ends. I used to want to be able to play the violin before the year ends. Now I just want to make it through the day so my kids have something to eat and so that I’m given another chance to wake up the next day.

Am I scared of 2014?

For the first time in my life, I’m scared of the future. For the first time I feel that fear of not knowing what’s going to happen next. For the first time, I’m scared of “seizing the day”.

While there were so many people that helped me through 2013, I felt that I’ve done my share in helping others too. I helped a depressed friend who was on the verge of suicide, I helped a grieving mother who felt like she wasn’t good enough to be one, I helped a friend who felt he’s worth nothing in this world.

I know I don’t ask anything in return in helping others but I wonder who’s going to save me in 2014. I have never counted on anyone else but myself to make something happen but to be frank, I’ve never felt helpless and hopeless as I did this year.

I guess for 2014 I just want to be able to breathe easy again, to laugh genuinely again, to feel light again and to see Mohen smile again.

I hope I’m strong enough for 2014.