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Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places

Month

February 2012

TTT – Like a prayer, like a pampering, like a pair of pants

1. People who pray with technology
This week, I got two text messages filled with love and practicality. It said I was prayed for, it told me what the prayer was about, and it had a pretty handy piece of scripture attached to it. Short, to the point, powerful. You know how you read a chunk of scripture over and over, and nothing quite sinks in? Not deep-and-meaningful like? And then you get sent one verse at just the right time in your life and – ka blam! Impact.

This was the verse:

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Somewhere in my spiritual life, it got trendy to ONLY ask for strength to handle the come-what-may. Somehow, somewhere, it became the done thing to NOT plead with God. To not beg Him for a specific outcome. Not ask that it be A, and not B. Pretty please. Somehow, somewhere, the idea that we submit to God’s will mutually excluded the bit where I run to Him like a child and pester Him. To take what’s nearest and dearest to my heart and go… “Dad, this is my heart’s desire. Could I please have it?” Rinse, repeat.

I don’t know where I learnt not to ask for healing, but only for endurance. Not to ask for the removal of the impediment, but only to beg for fortitude.

So thanks for the reminder. And for finding the words, when my own brain lies still and rather useless at the mo.

2. Pretty vouchers
Arddun’s Christmas present to me: a very generous get-pretty voucher at a spa in the city. This, on top of another pedicure and facial voucher. Which is on top of my hair appointment this Saturday.

Well!

After feeling all mumsy and like a dag for months on end, it’s lovely to finally book in these pretty-me-up dates. The impetus is a wedding in late March and my trips to Brisbane and Singapore. Oh who am I kidding. I don’t really need a reason to book in afternoons of massages and pampering!

3. Hand-me-down Happies
Now that my weight and body shape have stabilised, I’ve had to take a deep breath and start throwing out things I can’t wear anymore. Which is about half my wardrobe, easily. And while I’ve been putting off the putting-aside because of laziness, the bigger reason has been my reluctance to pass on my clothes to complete strangers.

I donate regularly to Salvos and Vinnies… but these clothes spell history for me. And because most of these pieces have been with me since I was a teen, it’s been even harder to give away remnants of my past life in Singapore. These clothes aren’t just clothes – they’re memories of dates and break-ups and Sunday services and tertiary life and first jobs… They are one of the very few things in my house that came with me from Singapore. That were part of what I brought to our marriage home.

But then the Kirky girls have suddenly all grown up – and so I’ve found new clothes horses! It’s been happiness on both sides, because they get a new wardrobe while I see my clothes get a new lease of life every Sunday morning. Now complemented with gorgeous chestnut brown and strawberry blonde hair.

So, whaddaya think?

After sticking with the fresh, green look for almost 16 months, I decided to give this blog a facelift. Trying out this theme, but not too sure if it’s going to work for all of us. I dunno… I’m not quite in love with it yet.

So I’m putting it to a vote.

Please let me know which you prefer! Am keeping this poll up until the end of February.

Month Eight

Standing tall and calling loud
You do both your parents proud
Crawling here, reaching there
Fearless lunges off the chair
Climbing anything that’s “stable”
Pushing prams and chewing cable
Standing every chance you get
Terrorising Leila’s cat
Doing laps around the pen
Watching Wiggles now and then
Playing independently
Seeking jiggles on my knee
Interacting with your toys
Hugging dad and kissing boys
Eating like it’s all the fashion
Trying new foods with a passion
Growing teeth and chewing more
Rice cakes, mango, meat galore
Laughing, clapping, every day
Always with so much to say
“Mum-mum-mum” and “ba-ba-ba”
“Oh look there, a zoom-zoom car!”
Chasing after vacuum cleaner
Once so scared, but now you’re keener
Finger-play and Peek-a-boo
Not a fan of Gymbaroo
Crawled through tunnels, kept the pace
Hated covering your face
Learning how to throw your voice
Across the room – your favourite choice
Testing bound’ries, making mess
Learning “no” does not mean “yes”
Once so helpless, now so bold
And you’re only eight months old!

MNG

Arddun eating mango
I love mango. Sometimes, I even get some in my mouth.

TTT – Room (in my heart) and a view

1) Beautiful views

Eight years, seven months and four days ago, I came to Canberra and thought it a grey, lonely place. I couldn’t get over how abandoned it looked. How empty, lifeless. (It was a winter week night in Civic.)

But it’s hardly that. I just didn’t know where to look at the time.

We went to The Deck for afternoon tea yesterday. The sun was out, the grass was greener than I’d ever seen it, the waters were still and lovely. The cafe was empty save for the table of us, which meant we were treated to the most stunning view of the lake and Regatta Point. In air-conditioned comfort on a hot Summer’s day. Our babies, crawling and clapping at our feet, oblivious to the magnificent background they’ll one day inherit.

And I fell in love with Canberra all over again that afternoon.

NO PICTURE, though! What a pity!

2) Love notes

Read melancholic mooing. See loving, heartfelt comments. <3

3) Hello, friend

It’s the most natural thing, I realise. It’s such an easy trap to fall into. But with every new milestone I seem to reach in my adulthood, I see my friends less. It’s a two-way street. My timetable’s all different now, and the first few months with Arddun were busy as I tried to settle into my new role. But it’s almost like old friends don’t think to call you anymore when you reach a new stage of life, because they’ve already assumed you’d say no as you’re too busy. When actually, the opposite couldn’t be truer.

But then someone pinged me this week on Facebook, and this afternoon I found myself at Urban Pantry, thoroughly enjoying my linguine and the great company. And talking about non-mumsy things. And feeling HUMAN. A little bit of my old self, peeping through the laid-back jeans and wind-tossed hair. Before I was a mother, I was This Other Person. And she came out and had linguine today.

The mother of mall rats

I’m just walking the pram down the laundry aisle at Target, when I hear them.

The shrieking.

Two children playing catch or hide-and-seek or some fusion of both. Their little brother in a stroller, wailing because he is missing out. Their mother, deep in conversation with their grandmother over a pillow. (Seriously, lady. It’s Target. They’ll all go flat in a year.)

Without a word, I swing my pram with its precious, sleeping occupant around, and make a hasty escape to the bathroom section. Quick, quick… before they stampede over to –

Too late. A herd of tiny elephants comes running over. There’s shouts, an over-excited shriek that could break glass, except Target only stocks cheapies.

The pram jolts. I wince and wait for it. One thousand… two thousand…

Arddun awakes with a wail. It starts low, because it’s about to climb the decibel charts and stay at the #1 spot for about two weeks.

She’s at least half an hour early from her wake time. And she’s not happy about it.

Meanwhile, Mother and Grandmother have given up on the pillow and are now moving on to bathroom gear.

I make my exit.

Only to run into them again at the check-out, where they all end up at the cashier adjacent to mine.

Arddun is calm by now. She’s playing with her toes quietly. La-la-la, and holding onto both feet with both hands. Harmless.

Stroller Kid – the one who got left out earlier – takes one look at Arddun’s inner peace and shatters it completely with a sudden, belated shriek.

Another jolt. Arddun completely loses it. She yells so hard, her eyes tear up from the sheer force of her face-scrunch, and her head looks like it’s about to pop.

And the Mother, and the Grandmother. They stare at my bawling baby. And proceed to tut tut about how sensitive my baby is, and how this wouldn’t happen if she had siblings because babies with older siblings can sleep through anything.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME???

I am so gobsmacked, I actually go blank. The only thing I can think to do is pick Arddun up and cuddle her. To her credit, she has more to say on the matter than I do, because every time she makes eye contact with Stroller Kid, she gives him the evil eye and yells at him.

And the Mother, and the Grandmother. They ask the cashier how many children she has (3) and whether she grew up with lots of siblings (yes, 5), and only child, eh? Nudge nudge. Obviously.

Traitorous mind still in a blank. No comeback. Blind-white fury building, but not quite sure why. Scowling so hard now, my unplucked, mumsy eyebrows are starting to ache. Only thing left to do is throw all purchases into my pram and stiffly wheel it out of Target while jiggling indignant baby on my left hip.

L’esprit de l’escalier. The afterwit – which isn’t very witty at all – is for me to have fronted both obnoxious women with, “I know deep down that you’re only saying this because you know your kids are feral today. You’re embarrassed. I get that. But if it wasn’t bad enough that you’ve chosen to patronise me, did you really have to INSULT MY BABY?!”

Except I really couldn’t have said that, because I remember being one of those kids, running around a shopping mall like a rodent on speed.

Yes. I was a mall rat.

Because Singapore is so stinking hot and humid, we spend most of our days hiding in underground shopping malls and paying for borrowed air-conditioning by pretending to buy things. When I was 9/10/11/12, my family used to swan off to a mall with close friends after Sunday morning worship. We’d have lunch together, perhaps dessert, and then there’d be window shopping for the grown ups. And the other kids and I would beg to go to Toys ‘R’ Us or Kids World. And the adults would let us go because they were probably hoping thinking that we’d spend the half hour or so calmly debating the finer merits of Mattel’s Crystal Barbie and Hasbro’s Transformers (first generation).

Not so.

We were playing catch or hide-and-seek or some fusion of both. I got really bummed out on the weeks I had to wear a dress, because it made climbing and crawling slower. The most impressive hiding place I remember was when the smallest of us climbed up a huge toy shelf and hid behind a row of overstuffed plush toy teddies. The stuff of legends, man.

Sales ladies used to scowl at us till I thought their eyebrows would fuse together from the heat of their killer stares.

So yes. It’d be hypocritical of me to get too narky with the Mother, the Grandmother, and their three little squealies.

But I admit I’ve been fantasising about following them home so we can climb into the Mother’s bedroom at 4am and have Arddun press her sweet little mouth into the Mother’s ear and go,

“EEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

But she has three children. She should be used to that.

The long kiss goodnight

I can’t sleep tonight. Lots running around the brain about love, and forgiveness, and how the internet has a memory like 20 gajillion elephants.

It’s Valentine’s Day. Tony and I celebrated yesterday to avoid the 800% price hike across the continent, and today I got some beautiful red roses and watched season 4 of The Tudors. (We’re at the Queen Catherine Howard bit.)

Then I checked my emails and read one that I probably wasn’t supposed to receive, let alone digest and lose sleep over.

Darn Reply All function.

I’ve blogged for almost 10 years now. Started lots of blogs, but they didn’t go very far because I was writing either to vent or psycho-analyse. And then one day, at my most heartbroken, I forgot myself and in a very selfish act, went and burnt many bridges through my writing. And it doesn’t matter how much spax you throw at it. When something like this happens, the bridge doesn’t get built again. You have to go and build a new bridge. Or you build it halfway, and you wait for the other side to respond. Which may never happen.

Some people murder, others steal. I hurt people through clumsy, hot words.

And if you’re reading this and thinking, “Huh? What happened? What’s she talking about? What are the specifics?” – complete dampener here. This post isn’t about rehashing past regrets. But it is about words.

As far as possible, I try to have my insides match my outsides. But this also means that my inside words sometimes shoot past the filter and land on the outside, impaling individuals in the process.

As far as possible, I try to forgive easily. And most of the time, I do. But I really, REALLY struggle with forgiving others who have not forgiven me. Especially after I’d forgiven them, only to find my forgiveness rebuffed and my wrong, forever embossed on their foreheads and their hearts. And then I fall a little bit to pieces.

There’s a video that’s gone viral in the past week. It’s a father’s video response to his teenage daughter’s Facebook rant. Huge spoiler – he shoots her laptop to teach her a lesson. It’s a tit for tat response, father to daughter.

You can watch it for yourself, if you can stomach all of it:

It makes me squirm for so many reasons, chief of which are:

  • The daughter reminds me of what I’ve been like.
  • The father reminds me of what I’ve been like.
  • It’s an awful lesson on parenting.
  • I’m almost certainly capable of doing something that desperate and petty to Arddun.

The worst part is how public it all is. Long, loooong after that teenager grows up and marries and has children of her own, that video will be lurking around somewhere on the internet. It’s hard enough trying to forgive and forget… but now there’s a replay button.

What am I trying to say?

On a day when love is celebrated, I received an email that confirmed that I was not loved. Words floating around on the internet, biting me for a change. And perhaps I read too much into it. The email didn’t dwell on specifics. And perhaps I’m being quite melodramatic. Expecting to be loved is a huge ask.

Except I wasn’t asking to be loved. Just forgiven.

Except that I know forgiveness requires the forgiver to love.

Gah.

If there’s one big, multi-pronged life skill I hope to teach Arddun even though I have such a lousy track record myself, it’d be this: the ability to shut up and love her enemies, and bless those who hurt her. I’m thinking real hard about this as I type, because it’d be more simplistic to wish that she could just make friends, not enemies.

But enemies sometimes find you, even when you keep right out of their way. It is the nature of bullies.

And as for forgiveness – the devil is in the detail of remembering. And I pray tonight for a heart that can let go and let God.

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