Archives for category: Imperfect Wife

Last week, I chanced upon a very interesting discussion on BBC Radio, about why 60 per cent of cohabiting couples in the UK still opt to get married when living together is now acceptable in society.

A BBC reporter spoke to callers about their thoughts on the subject, and why they thought people still believed that marriage was an important institution when cohabitation is now a norm.

There was this one guy who said something really interesting, which was that while marriage is an important institution, people should only get married when they’re 30 or older after successfully cohabiting before for a number of years. If – and only if – they can still tolerate each other, they should tie the knot.

“In fact, they should only issue marriage certificates to couples who are 30 and above,” I believe his statement was.

Now isn’t that just the simplest, most brilliant thing you’ve ever heard?

When you think about it, governments should truly consider this measure to help uphold, ironically, the sanctity of this increasingly meaningless formality. In the US and the UK, where couples are able to have children without getting married without raising an eyelid, it makes little sense to want to ‘carve it in stone’. There are, of course, if I remember my family law correctly, certain legal benefits particularly for married women, and their children, should one’s marriage go south. But I’m sure that can be resolved quickly with an act here and a couple of court-set precedents there.

In Malaysia, a considerably conservative country, getting married is a sign of maturity, a definite statement to the world that you have finally come to your senses, and are ready to take on the responsibility of creating a family. Although the divorce rate is rising, as in every country in the world (except perhaps for Japan since the women there are apparently refusing to ‘come to their senses’), marriage is still mandatory if you want to have children. As yet, the shunning and ostracising of illegitimate children – and their parents – have not gone out of fashion. And now that Siti Nurhaliza is married, the institution has perhaps taken on cast-iron strength.

Are people over 30 more likely to make their marriage work compared to couples who got married when they were in their their 20s? Speaking strictly of people living in the modern world (and not some tribe in remote Uganda), I believe so. Of course, there are exceptions. There are always exceptions, but if one of my daughters tells me she wants to get married at 17, I’d tell her to go live with the guy for 13 years and then decide.

When you’re in your early 20s, it’s no time to settle down. You’re supposed to be having fun, experimenting, exploring and most importantly, making most of the mistakes that you don’t want to be making when you’re in your 30s or worse, 40s.

What do you think? Should people still get married in this day and age? Is there ever a better time to get married?

The hubby is home. The world is right again.

How are you, my dear friends? Why are you still visiting my blog? Does the lack of posts not make you want to slap me up a little bit? Take me off your feed list? Tell me I’m the worst kind of blogger ever? Where’s the consistency? Where’s the commitment? WHERE IS THE PROMISE OF MORE CRIPPLINGLY CUTE PICTURES OF MY ADORABLE SPAWN?

Things have been a little crazy around here. Lokes is going off tomorrow for a week so I’m just blue about that. I hate the stupor I seem to wallow in a week before he takes off, and I’m talking about a husband who used to take off quite a fair bit that he’s earned enough Frequent Flyer points to fly us to Jupiter, first class (wouldn’t that be SO cool?). We’ve been together almost a decade now. Surely, the lovey dovey effervescent piquance of our relationship has fizzled out by now to be replaced by hard, crusty bare tolerance?

And yet.

I’m just a fat old sod sap (apparently, females can’t use the word ‘sod’), whaddya gonna do? I still gulp silently at the sound of his suitcase zipping home. These eyes still well up when I see him walk through the double doors at the airport, all by his lonesome. My poor baby. Flying off a million miles away from me and his kids, one of whom will be bawling her eyes out the moment he steps out of the car, who can guess which one? Did he remember to pack his deodorant? His toothbrush? His comfy old shorts with the hole in the crotch?

“Is it because there’s no one here to help you out?” he asked the other day, after one of my five-minute sighs.

“Why the impud-! How can you even-! The kids need their father! And I really miss you! ” I cried.

He is right, of course. I have grown indolent with my husband’s after-hours help and assistance during the weekends. How ever would I be able to sit my kids in front of the TV all day AND feed them chicken nuggets for breakfast AND dinner?

Seriously, I will miss you. Although I will relish not having to drive you to and from work. And eat braised chicken seven days in a row. And watch Pride and Prejudice again.

Still, I am in the doldrums. I’ll be okay in a few days.

Just remember to get me a nice, juicy gift, ‘s’all.

You never quite know how to respond when an acquaintance tells you, “Oh my, your girls are so beautiful. Well done!”

After thanking them graciously (although accepting praise for successfully passing down one’s genes still seems a little like…stealing credit. Beyond the actual making of the baby, there’s really no physical labour involved in its assembly, you know?), I am even more lost for words when they say, “They look nothing like you!”

“I’m afraid you can only see the resemblance when they cry,” is my usual polite response, eliciting, most of the time, a hearty giggle or a smile with a squeeze at the elbow perhaps to say, “Awww, you poor plain fuck”. This is my biggest weakness, the need to be agreeable even when insulted, when it is all I can do to not pummel the person a little bit. I’m a mother, after all. I have appearances to keep up.

Don’t get me wrong. I do appreciate the kind words, especially those of you who continuously inflate my ego by heaping such undeserved praise here in my blog. Honestly, I think both my girls look more like their dad, the handsome devil. Believe me, being cute and pretty are traits both girls have acquired not by my design – although I do sometimes plant these things, just to provoke gushing episodes from total strangers on the street.

Allow me to demonstrate:

Skyler eating chips

(Edit: I changed the picture because this one’s even more adorable, and hence, not at all like me. If not for horrible memories of her premature entry into the world, I would doubt very much she was really my daughter!)

Like any other tired full-time mother who’s once again forgotten to soap her armpits the last time she bathed (summer), the occasional kind word is far from superfluous. So when you think about it, I have only myself to blame for bringing attention to their good looks, and hence by unavoidable comparison, to my own aesthetically-challenged non-features.

Once in a while, I thank my husband for giving me these two perfect little children. Once in a while, he tells me that really, I’m quite beautiful. I would like to believe him if I’d actually cared two shits about being a blog babe. I already have not one, but two of them (blog babes, not shits).

Yes, be prepared for extended exposure to my adorable offspring to luuuree you into my cave of wonders.

Come, my lovelies. Coooommmmme…

A good start to the week is always crucial.

Every Sunday night, I prepare myself for the week ahead by winding down the last few hours before midnight, vegging out on old movies or my books, after checking and rechecking what Rae’s school calendar is like, what my duties are for the school, make sure all my playdates are RSVPed (or declined, very nicely) and basically just so nothing goes so wrong as to piss me off so badly that the no amount of video games or junk food can cheer me up. When this happens, you’ll see me walk around with this smile on my face, you’ll think everything is fine and dandy, when all I’m thinking is how many ways I can kill Lokes for not telling me that he had dinner plans today until THIS MORNING and we have only ONE CAR to try and get both of us home at different times of the day, without resorting to public transport.

You can call me anal, but believe me, I am not bad at all.

Of course, we don’t live in Ideal World. Plans change. People forget. I can understand all that. But you know what? It used to piss me off a lot more a year ago than it does me today. And for not even making so much as a peep, I deserve Every Single Gift he has ever given me – and will give me in the future.

:)

Once upon a time, there was a little boat in the middle of a little river.

And Mommy and Daddy was in it.

They sailed down the river, and there was a Shark!

And Mommy and Daddy fell into the river, into the Shark’s pizza cake, because he was having his birthday party in the river.

The pizza cake was icky and gooey, and Mommy and Daddy got stuck in the cake.

And the Shark tried to eat them, because they were on his cake.

But Mommy and Daddy got out of the sticky pizza cake, and swam down the river and got back on the boat and they sailed away.

The End

 

by Raeven Tan

 

Life with you has, for the most part, been smooth-sailing. Sure, we have had our rocky – and sharky – moments, but we always manage to get unstuck and climb back into our relation’ship’, and move on.

For life without you, would be boatless, pizza-cakeless and sharkless – and that would be meaningless.

Happy 5th Anniversary, baby.

 

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Upon the very persuasive ‘recommendation’ of Karli (I can’t find the exact post but it’s the one with the book memes or something), I went and bought a copy of Dr John Gottman’s Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child (link at my sidebar, too lazy to copy and paste).

And man, is this some book.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about never having read a parenting book (again, too lazy to look the post up), so Raising is really my very first one. And with every page, I was just riveted, nailed to my side of the bed or the couch or the can or wherever and whenever I might be reading it. More than once, it’s made me stare into nothingness, thinking about all those times I’d said or done all the things the book said were not the best approaches or methods to employ, and basically how my husband and I might’ve destroyed the self esteems of our two little girls forever. And then I’d jump out of wherever it was I was sitting, and look for Rae, and then give her a hug coupled with several slobbering sorry kisses, ending with my first born violently pushing her emotional mother away as though I was the plague.

For over a week now, Lokes and I have been trying out the approaches and strategies detailed in the book. What I really like about it is that it gives us real examples and situations where we might try and apply these lessons, instead of just throwing a ton of psychobabble at us which we might not be able to fathom, much less use in everyday parenting situations. So far, the results have been promising.

Yesterday, I was just reading the chapter on how we as parents should not try and solve our kids’ problems right out for them, and instead pay attention to their feelings when they share these problems with us. The example quoted was a typical situation between a husband and wife. I decided to read it aloud to Lokes. Basically, the example showed the difference between trying to tell a distraught wife how to solve her problem at work and resulting in making her feel stupid, versus giving her a backrub, listening to the problem and THEN after she talks about what she might do, to offer some advice WHEN she asks for the husband’s opinion.

This is totally OUR problem, Lokes and I. Being the ever-methodical, logical problem-solving guy, you can set a clock by Lokes’ approach to every dilemma and situation that needs to be confronted – even with the conflicts that occur between the two of us.

Having said that, you may imagine that I am quite the opposite. And I am a very emotional, sensitive person. But I’m not devoid of logic. Sometimes, I find that when it comes to HIS problems, I too use his approach, the cold, unfeeling method of attacking the problem with solutions, half because I know that’s his way of dealing with it, half because I want him to know how it feels.

Of course, how do you make someone who refuses to feel, feel?

The good news is, whatever problems we have, when it comes to our kids, and for the sake of our kids, we are willing to make changes. And Dr Gottman’s book has definitely started something wonderful in our family. As I read this chapter to him this evening, Lokes actually paid attention as I went through the passages, instead of pooh-poohing at all this time-wasting emotional stuff, had it been my idea and not some doctor’s research.

“Why does it have to be like that anyway?” he asked at the end of it.

“Because even if it’s something to do with work, where we’re not supposed to be emotional, we ARE human beings. And we have feelings,” was my answer.

In many Asian cultures, to show emotion and to indulge in them is a sign of loss of control and weakness, and a source of embarassment which may bring shame and dishonour to one’s family as well. For example, Chinese movies or serials rarely have kissing sequences, except for the really risque ones that are made for less than artistic reasons. To see a Chinese or Malay couple kiss in public will invite havoc, even if they’re married. “Why are they behaving like gwailos?” would be the usual remark, when it’s really just two people celebrating their love for each other in a moment of passion, and probably have nothing to do with whether or not they’re imitating what they’ve seen in a Western movie. Inevitably, it will lead to a discussion of the erosion of Asian values and what the country is coming to and how the world is going to hell because people are all following the gwailos and kissing on the streets.

Part of the teachings in this book is to allow our children to go through the full spectrum of human emotions, including the negative ones, such as anger, sadness, jealousy and so on, because they are, after all, natural. This means allowing them to cry and to throw a tantrum, as long as nobody gets hurt or nothing gets wrecked.

This brings me to one of the most deeply entrenched tenets in Asian societies: the respect of one’s elders. This is true throughout a person’s life. We may not love our ancestors but we must honour and respect them, without question. As such, being loud and rude to one’s parents is never, EVER, done, even at home, no matter how angry one is.

However, anger and frustration are natural human emotions, and the tendency to act or lash out is just the result of these emotions. If these feelings are let out towards a parent, we will most certainly push our parental agendas to quash them simply because it is a big no-no, as uttering a loud word in anger or disappointment is as serious as slapping a younger sibling or smashing furniture around. And if even speaking loudly is not permitted, how else does one express anger?

As I continue to read, I can’t help but wonder what Malaysians would think if they see me telling Rae that it’s okay to feel angry or to be sad, instead of telling her to stop crying or to stop being silly about throwing a fit about a toy. They’d probably think I’m ‘one of those overindulgent parents who spoil their kids rotten’, letting Rae walk all over me.

And if I tell them that I read this somewhere, they’d think, “oh no, another touchy-feely book parent”. Which is, I’m sure, another gwailo thing.

Coming to the US has become more than a cultural experience for my family and I. It’s become educational as well, and I’m glad that I got to start doing this stay-at-home parenting thing here because I am just learning so much, things we wouldn’t have learnt had we remained in Malaysia because we’d probably have a maid and our parents telling us how to raise our kids (or raising them for us) instead of having to acquire the skills and knowledge to do it properly.

In learning to be better parents, Lokes and I are now learning to be better partners as well in this endeavour we call marriage. Back home, we probably would’ve lived our lives out as husband and wife, daddy and mommy, without ever experiencing the challenges we’ve faced winging it here on our own. These challenges have tested the strength and foundation of our relationship, our trust in each other and the tenacity of this love we always profess to have, without really knowing what it truly means – until it becomes so hard to hold on, but letting go would simply tear you apart.

Many years ago, a friend of mine asked me how I knew that Lokes was ‘the one’. My naive answer had been, that I didn’t feel the slightest doubt about the prospect of marrying him. Today, I know that he’s the one because I could not imagine a better dad for my kids.

Or a better partner to clean house and wipe butts with.

I got bored of going to the gym in the mornings and decided today that I would, instead, take a brisk walk through downtown Redmond, right at the crack of dawn.

And what did I have to motivate me?

A venti non-fat doubleshot latte from Starbucks.

No, not the one just a stone’s throw away from my complex.

Not the one two blocks away either.

Not the one two blocks away from THAT outlet.

But the one in Redmond Town Center, some two miles away.

I know, it’s ambitious, but you don’t know how much I value my freshly brewed caffeine, especially in the mornings. Even though I’m in coffee land where there are more espresso joints than there are bus stops so I don’t really need to walk THAT far. Thing is, I know that if I ever do wimp out, I can stop at a Starbucks (or Seattle’s Best Coffee or Tully’s) within the next five feet.

Ah, coffee and me. BFF.

ps. On a totally separate note, the seller of the house we wanted to buy in Duvall came back with a counter-offer and we had the house inspected today. Some very minor water damage in the garage which the inspector guy said to that the seller should remedy, or else. I’m not very keen on the ‘or else’ so I’m keeping my fingers, and toes, crossed.

pss. And WTF is with all the comments in my last post, huh? I craft out beautiful entries and I get like four miserable, “Aww shucks, that’s sweet”, and then something about my husband’s rekindling with Modern Talking gets a whopping 11 comments (well, two of them were mine, but still!!!). What is up with that? Friggin’ egg recipes and jinjang Joe posts getting more love than my lovingly written soul-searching pieces.

And for the record, until recently, my husband was listening to Regina Spektor, Madeline Peyroux, Snow Patrol and freakin Kings of Convenience, okay? To suddenly be assaulted by Back Street Boys and Modern Talking is traumatic. I felt betrayed, I tell you, betrayed!