Months, MONTHS late with these photos, but I thought I’d share what little photos I managed to take and borrow (thank you Andrea and Famiza!) that were taken during our trip to Singapore in late January.
A bit of a milestone for us – I flew solo with both kiddies in late January on a budget airline to Singapore and stayed at Gail’s for 10 days. It was quite the ride. Bear in mind that this was back in the days when Atticus was still a terrible sleeper and we were just days out from attending a sleep clinic out of desperation. (One day I’ll summon the energy to talk about Atticus’s sleeping, if only to remind him one day what a tyrant he was for the first 15 months of his life!)
What I was mentally prepared for was a potentially difficult airplane ride, where I would need to depend on the kindness of strangers and/or grow a very thick skin. What I was less prepared for was a long delay ON THE TARMAC with the kids, which meant an extra hour and a half cooped up in the plane, resulting with all three of us finally tumbling into bed at Gail’s after 1am Canberra time. The children were fabulous, however. They hardly slept on the plane, but Arddun was contented and cooperative, and Atticus just wanted to make friends. I was also flanked on all sides by couples of many nationalities who gave me Shiny Eyes of Encouragement with Big Smiles whenever I glanced their way, and a stewardess who ushered me to the business class toilets so I would never have to queue. It was one of our better flights, and I emerged exhausted but more in love with my children than ever, just because I was so thankful they didn’t give me hell.
I was less prepared for Singapore, however.
There is something truly debilitating about humidity. It completely sapped my energy the entire time we were there, and I found I really struggled to maintain composure and good humour whenever it was hottest and muggiest. I hated the weather. I longed to catch up with everybody and enjoy myself more, but I really yearned for the climate back home. I had just left Canberra after a particularly scorching week, and yet Singapore’s climate — though lower in temperature — really made me feel miserable at times. Coupled with the sheer physicality required to constantly haul two children to appointment after appointment, I was thoroughly depleted by the end of each day.
And yet, what a blessing to catch up with so many. I caught up with school friends from Ngee Ann and friends from Mei Chin — both rather rare treats, even rarer now that we have to coordinate children’s schedules. I had the best homemade durian cheesecake — ever. The kind that makes your eyes roll to the back of your head, and eat until you die a happy, fat lady with severe halitosis. Kenneth, if your mother ever monetises her cheesecakes, I think there’d be a queue months long.
I really loved staying at Gail’s as that meant our girls could play together, and we could catch up late into the night. At the age of 15, or even 25, I would never have imagined us browsing Suntec City as two not-stay-at-home mothers with our children. The Japanese lunch was probably the most predictable thing in that picture!
I loved seeing the church in Singapore again. Sundays are crazy-overwhelming as the sheer volume of people descends on us like a huge wave each time. But warmth, the glee, the genuine delight in seeing each other again… It is a wonderful family reunion. In many ways, I can’t wait for heaven because we’d finally have eternity to catch up in depth and in earnest.
My family. Now that Arddun is older, I can tell she knows who is kith and kin. She relaxes with them in a way she relaxes with us at home. Even though we are physically apart for most of the year, it’s so good to see her understanding who her family is.
Home. This was the first trip where I wasn’t staying in my old house at Mei Ling Street. But until I came back to Singapore and felt the full effects of never getting to step through that sweet, familiar doorway again, I was always in limbo. Now that my mother’s flat in Mei Ling Street is gone, home is definitely Canberra now.
If it hadn’t been so full-on solo-parenting with the kids, I think I might have sat down to cry a little or a lot. But we were surrounded by friends and loved ones, and so I didn’t. The transition has to happen at some point, after all. My immediate family is in Australia. My life is in Australia. Singapore will always hold my beginnings and own my heart. I will always be faithful to her. But I am married to Australia now. It’s taken me 11 years after the wedding, but I’ve finally leaving and cleaving country-wise. Even now, it doesn’t feel like I’ve completely reached the other side. But losing my mother’s house has been a big push to truly embrace the other.
I wish I had taken more photos. I realise now that I hadn’t taken a single one with Gail and her family, the biggest regret from the trip considering how much time we spent with them. The only consolation is that we’ll see them in November, God willing. And I’ll be sure then to document our precious time together.
Here are some other memories and moments.