Of Gifts

It seems that the higher you are on the tier of the social ladder, the more people want to gift you things. When in fact, you could actually afford these gifts in the first place. Maybe it is more of the experience that comes with it. The human connection and a web of relationships with benefits.

Good father, lousy husband

Disclaimer : not my husband

Just over a year ago, on this date, I came to know the story of a lousy husband. Let’s call him H. That time around, Covid-19 was really bad. People were very scared of it. Anyone who is known to have the disease was immediately quarantined for fear it would infect other people and bring out the worst health complication for the person.

H’s wife, J unfortunately got the disease. Worse still, she was not vaccinated. There was a long queue for the vaccine and her turn had yet to come. What pissed me off was H having the nerve to not allow J to enter their home. His wicked ass packed J’s clothes in a bag and was thrown out the door. J was to sleep at their second home, roughly 20km away. Only that, the house was not furnished with no groceries in the house. Or clean water. Did he expect J to buy them on her own? J was to drive herself there while being ill. Ini ke yang orang panggil sehidup semati? Ini ke yang orang panggil sayang bini?

J drove to her daughter’s house instead, who also has Covid and stayed there. H and J are considered a couple in their 60s. They already have adult children.

The only thing H was concerned about was whether J sanitized the taps at the other house after use. He had no idea J was at their daughter’s house undergoing quarantine together. He did not even think of J having meals to eat, a blanket to cover herself in case it gets cold or if she needed basic necessities like soap to wash.

Having such a lousy husband did make me wonder why J didn’t leave him earlier. In search of a better husband. It also made me realize it is not easy to just walk out of marriage especially when children are at stake. J had put up with a lot of things just so her children could have a father. To her, it would be difficult to raise her children especially when she lacks the qualifications to land a job that would pay good money to do that. So, she remained patient with her kids. It didn’t take long for a decade to grow into 20 years and then into 30 years.

In a way, H was a somewhat doting father but he could be a better husband. His children had a wonderful childhood, he showered them with gifts. He made sure they have a formal education. It was only with time as they grew up that they discovered he wasn’t a great husband to their mom. At this point, I also realized that even if the children become adults, in their parent’s eyes, they are still children and that they do not have to interfere in ‘adult’ things.

Get the kids in bed early

If there is one tip I could give to mothers in improving their physical and mental well-being is that – try to get your kids in bed early.

Mothers always yearn for ME TIME. The meaning differs from one mother to another but the concept is the same – having time for yourself. It can mean getting your beauty touch-ups done, time to enjoy a movie, shopping, studying or worship. It could be taking a rest from the rest of the family to just do nothing and get some quality sleep. If you have an understanding partner, they will learn to give you that time even without you asking for it. Otherwise, it will be up to us to make it happen.

If my husband is around, he would usually give me My Time on Friday afternoons – the long break between office hours or certain hours over the weekend when he brings the kids to play with their cousins at the grandparent’s house (5 mins away).

My Me Time means I could focus on my part-time studies, eat in peace and just enjoy simple things that bring me joy. I do not have a specific day for it and it usually happens at random times of the week. But one thing I am sure of is that I try to make my nights free from the kids. Which is why I turn them in early. For now, early means before 10pm. But they rarely go past 930pm unless there is a special occasion. For example, takbir raya, big family activities etc. Most of the time, especially on school nights, the house is quiet by 9pm. Leaving me to attend to my own matters such as studying, cleaning the house, doing laundry, soaking in a bathtub, extra TLC to the skin and all. Of course, I am also tempted to turn in early which I usually do anyway.

So, how does it work? Don’t the kids rebel against sleeping early? So far, not much drama. They are manageable.

I finish work by 5 pm and after fetching the kids from daycare and religious school, I would usually be able to reach home by 6PM. Latest, by 615pm. I would prepare a simple dinner. Sometimes, my MIL would give us a tiffin meal if she cooks extra. In the meantime, the kids will respectively take their own evening showers, turn on the air conditioner for the bedroom and resort to their own activities until it is time to eat.

My eldest son would use the time to complete his homework. My younger daughter would either sit with him at the table doing her ‘homework’ scribbling something, read a picture book or play with her toys. I don’t allow them to watch Tv or play games on the mobile phone on a school night. So, once my son is done with his homework, he would usually read a comic book or assemble his lego. It’s a different scenario when their father is home. He is pretty liberal with TV time but that only happens on a Thursday night when he is back for his weekly visit. He is working in a different state. In other words, I oversee the kids more on their academic days.

Taking the husband out of the picture, we usually have our dinner by 7pm. Followed by Maghrib prayer and then with whatever that the kids want to do. By 8 till 830pm, I’d already been reminding them to keep their toys away and for the son, to pack his bag for tomorrow’s class. The kids would then have their milk – a mug for my son and a bottle for the girl. I have restarted my son on taking milk properly as I find that he has problems with his teeth. It is gradual with the plaque and loosening but I don’t really want all of them to fall off. He needs the calcium for his teeth and bones. Lights are off once they finished their milk and that is when my Me Time starts.

How do you allocate your Me Time?

Awkward visit

My dad came over last weekend. Alone. Usually, it will be him and my mom. However now that mom has passed away, it is just him. The trip is an excuse for him to drive his car on the highway. Honestly, it was an awkward visit. I’ve never actually talked to my dad about stuff. You know that little stuff about school, movies, actors, anything.. I also rarely seek his advice for anything. Unlike some dads who are naturals at passing on wisdom or relating life stories. Come to think of it, I don’t do that with my mom either but I still love listening to her gossip. I am a wonderful listener like that.

Back then, when the parents come over, mom would usually bring over a bag of goodies. They can be leftover cakes or random vegetables. Or anything that she manages to buy from the shops or her little trips. Then, we’d be talking about activities and whatnot. She will talk and play with the kids. Now is that deafening silence as I don’t really know what to talk about. Even if I do, I don’t really want to talk about it. Thankfully, there are grandkids. At least, it’ll buffer the white noise.

I realize that the glue to the family is mom. Without her, everyone is living as their own. Minding their own problems and matters. Perhaps the visit would be less awkward if my sister came. She is the next glue to this family.

Adulting

The more people you meet

The more stories you hear

The more books you read

The more drama you see

The more you understand WHY some people make decisions you thought were horrendous, ridiculous, selfish and completely absurd in the first place. The motives behind a murder, an organized crime, an obsession, an affair and other seemingly anti-social behaviour. Human behaviour is very complex. Never a clear black and white. Always a grey area.

You learn more about yourself and the values that you hold on to. You will begin to seek those who think on the same wavelength. You begin to distance yourself from people who don’t make you happy anymore and indulge in the pleasures lounging in your own mind. The world in the mind is better. Closing the eyes is better. Being numb is better. Maybe that is how neuroses start. Leading to psychosis. To hallucinations. To being bonkers and if uncontrolled … escalating to a person becoming a sinner.

The trigger to that sunken yet manic feeling can happen anytime. To anyone. I witnessed that ‘snap’ moment of insanity once before, at 17 years old. In my mother. My late mother. I would have thought that if problems were to happen in a marriage, it would be done by the decade and any marriage that supersedes that time frame is true love. I was wrong. Melinda and Bill Gates could testify to that. It seems that marriage could still be on the rocks and in ruins after 10 years. Bercerai di usia senja, I was told.

People do fall out of love.

What happened at 17 years old?

Mom packed her things in a suitcase, rode out in her car and was ready to leave the family. A lot of angry conversations took place between her and dad at the time via telephone. I was the middle person. Not the negotiator but the person who received the angry statements from both ends. Mom came back after a few hours though and said she just wanted to give dad a scare. Back then, I thought she was selfish to do what she did but now, I really really understand why. If I had known better back then, I would have told her to

just go. be happy. we, your kids will still love you. keep in touch wherever you are and whoever you’re with mom. just go and be happy.