Jan 25 2015
It’s funny, but the love-and-parenting essay that most resonated with me last year was written by someone named Kayden Kross. If you know who she is, you probably wouldn’t admit it to me, but that’s OK. Her essay was about how she landed in her profession, and this got to me:
Growing up, I was constantly aware of my mother’s penny-pinching anxiety: the quiet calculations as she added up the cost of our school supplies, the flashes of anger each time we outgrew clothes.
She also gave an interview that I read, where she said this:
There are other things—like, I was lucky enough to get in, do porn, do it right, put money aside, and I have set up a nice future for this child. There’s not going to be some point where I have to choose between buying her a Christmas present and buying her lunch. You know? I always knew that I wanted one [child], and I always knew that when I had one it would be at a time when I could afford to, forever.
In the third quarter of last year, Alf and I sat down and talked, and he decided to return to school as a full-timer in 2015. He doesn’t teach, which is good because he still hates it. What he does is to fill in as a sub, and handle discipline and other matters that will free up teachers to do what’s important. It sounds like a dream deal, especially to other teachers, but I know he’s sacrificing his time and freedom–as well as his career as a real estate agent–for us, and I don’t want to downplay that.
As for me, I am the mom who sometimes chooses between lunch and a present, and I think I could do much better for my kids. For the first time since I’ve been home, I’ve set myself a financial target to help Alf clear his outstanding debts and for us to start saving aggressively, for travel, for education, for rainy days. A potential work-from-home arrangement with a regular paycheck didn’t pan out, but I’m already in the midst of new opportunities: Being part of a local rock music exhibition for SG50, and a new and unexpected regular assignment where I get to do for a fee what I’m already doing for fun–reading and sharing parenting-related articles. So far so good!
While I’m waiting to firm up other work arrangements, I’ve decided to put some things in place. Z and I take almost daily walks now, with him in the stroller because the walk is really for me to get some exercise in my day, minimal as it is. The timing still needs tweaking; I’d like to start the walk at 7am for that perfect morning chill, but I’ve been over-snoozing and we head out closer to 9 sometimes.
And because I discovered late last year through a health check that my cholesterol levels are borderline high, I’ve made some new food rules for myself this year. Breakfast is a must now, and it’s lucky I’ve developed a taste for plain oatmeal because it’s quick, cheap, easy, and also great for the heart. If I need a treat, it’s soya beancurd; I’ve found that it helps so much with digestion and acid reflux. I drain off most of the sugar syrup so I’m not worried about the sweetness factor.
The first half of January was also about adjusting to Layla’s P3 schedule, where gym training was bumped up to 12 hours a week, from 6 last year. I heard that national gymnasts train for over 20 hours a week, but 12 hours is already threatening to consume us. Time is scarce for Layla now–training ends at 6PM sometimes, we don’t live near the school, and there was a day last week where it rained and we got home at nearly 8PM (her bedtime). The timer has become our indispensable parenting tool; with so little time to waste, every minute is precious and I’ve had to step in and help Layla get organised by telling her she has 15 minutes to shower, 5 minutes to pack her schoolbag, that she shouldn’t spend more than 20 minutes on this piece of work, and so on.
And yes, about Layla. Yesterday, she said to me, “I didn’t like it when you told Aunty S that about me.” It was something tiny and innocent, or so I thought. But I suppose in some way, it was the sign I’d been waiting for, the indication that her stories aren’t mine to broadcast anymore.
And so I won’t.
My blogging agent asked me a few days ago what I’ll be writing about this year. No plans yet! It’s a question I’ve been asking myself too. In the meantime, these life updates will have to do.