Month: November 2015

Amphigory Number 1

I am restarting.

***

I have a deadline tomorrow. I also have a deadline next Tuesday. And the next Thursday. And I have at least three more essays waiting to be written.

I feel like I have no time to breathe.

And always, always at times like this I begin questioning the whole purpose of me putting myself in this position, when I could easily walk on a calmer path.  Why bother thinking and thinking and trying to find solutions to the neverending stream of problems in this world, when I could easily confine myself to thinking no further than my little life?

Why bother with preparing for a presentation, structuring and re-structuring my essays, reading articles over articles, squeezing whatever left of my brain juices when there is always a way out while making sure the children are all showered, clean, and fed? I could, at these moments, I told myself , settle with laughing with my children, truly enjoying them without suffering even the tiniest speck of worry, wait for my husband to come home and enjoy his company over a film or two?

After all, my doors to His Jannah are opened when I perfect the Prayers I offer, fast in Ramadhan, protect my chastity and faithfully obey my husband.

But then again, my other side of refuses to agree.

And that part keeps reminding me of a time – just a few months back – when I had nothing on my plate other than looking after my two kids and devoting myself to the family life. I remember feeling like I was losing my mind that I could not wait for September to come so I could begin again working on my degree. I could not imagine going through what I did during that period day by day, week by week, year by year and stay sane. I could not.

I resolve at that point that it is down to my nearly primal need  for movement. I need movements. Movement of some sorts. Perhaps of any sort in which I could see myself progressing. Achieving milestones that I set. Just something. Something of my own.

If my sanity of any importance at all to the family, I should keep doing this. I should not surrender to this temporary slump – this I need to be telling myself more often than I do now.

I do not know what exactly causes my restlessness when it comes to the idea of focusing solely on homemaking. Certainly not because I see it as a worthless or undervalued enterprise.

Possibly because it doesn’t satisfy me intellectually. At the end of the day, I always find myself exhausted of any physical energy, but upon lying down my brain can’t stop working and thinking – that’s when I knew that part of me has not been satisfied.

Maybe because it offers me less possibility of meeting new people – those who would inspire, those who would challenge me (not that my husband doesn’t) to move out of my comfort zone. Perhaps it is the thought that some parts of me will be left underutilised should I focus all my energy only for that trade. Maybe, just maybe.

I don’t know, really. I am yet to discover the root of my uneasiness, which appears whenever I toy with the idea of doing ‘nothing’ after completing my Master’s degree.

But I am certainly lucky that my husband needs no further convincing on this. Very, very lucky in fact. He has his own ideas on what a woman, or maybe, his woman should and should not be, and I am just happy that up to now our views are still parallel.

This is me, mentally vomiting. Till then.

 

 

 

 

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Kembali di Meja Itu

Saya bercuti, dalam erti kata yang sebenar.

Saya diam-diam mengisytiharkan pada diri sendiri yang saya akan bercuti dari belajar dan mengulangkaji,juga terlepas 1-2 kelas sepanjang minggu ini (Pensyarah manakah yang begitu rajin mengadakan kelas ketika cuti pertengahan semester? ). Saya sungguh-sungguh bercuti, melayan anak-anak juga mengemas rumah ala spring-cleaning. Sempat juga bermusafir ke pantai timur untuk urusan keluarga; majlis pernikahan adik ipar di sana.

‘Percutian’ saya ini juga membenarkan sang suami lebih fokus untuk belajar. Hari peperiksaannya tinggal kurang dari separuh bulan dan saya betul-betul boleh merasai kekalutannya menghabiskan buku teks yang hampir dua inci tebalnya. Dalam perjalanan lima jam kami ke pantai timur pun sempat diusahakan supaya suami boleh mengulangkaji – bila anak-anak sudah tidur di belakang, suami hidupkan pilihan pemanduan ‘auto-cruise’ dan saya bacakan nota untuknya.

Tapi hari ini, hari terakhir cuti pertengahan semester ini,  saya kembali di meja belajar. Sesak di dada melihat senarai tugasan yang perlu dibereskan tidak akan hilang jika saya terus bertangguh. Dan momentum untuk kembali belajar perlu dibina sehari lebih awal sekurang-kurangnya.

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Sarapan? Sudah.

Kopi? Ada.

Internet? Sudah disambungkan.

 

Ayuh, kita mulakan kembali langkah dengan nama Allah!

 

 

5 Things I Learnt About Going to Grad School as a Mom

#thingsthathappenwhenmommystudies

#thingsthathappenwhenmommystudies

Someone fell asleep while waiting for mommy to be home

Someone fell asleep while waiting for mommy to be home

When we took this path, where one of us is working full time, and the other one stays at home with two little children under 3, while both are enrolled in some sorts of graduate programmes, we may have thought that we have it all figured out. After all, we have gone through one semester with both of us working full time and both were attending classes – and taking out one responsibility off the shoulder of one us, it could only get better…

…Or so I thought.

In reality, it is another round of juggling responsibilities and finding balance.

Now, two months into my second semester I have made some conclusions, and learnt some important points.

If you are a stay-at-home mom and a student, you may agree with some of my points here:

  1. Keep the priority right : I think this takes precedent over every rules I am listing here. It is fundamental to come back to this. Some of us take the road of grad school for as a license to advance in their careers. My purpose is different: I do this for the love of knowledge and the potential benefits it will give me to myself as an individual, my family, and hopefully the society. And right now, this agenda comes after (not directly after, though) spending time with the children – which is the major reason why I quit my job. This is a side thing I am doing – so if my husband just couldn’t get away from his office on time for me to go the my classes- which rarely happens – I won’t fuss over it. If the kids keeps tugging me begging for my attention, surely they will come first. I don’t mind this whole thing taking the backseat, really. Because Allah says  ‘Be Mindful of Allaah and Allaah will protect you’, and just by fulfilling my responsibility at home as required by Him, I know Allah will take care of my studies.
  2. Days are for the kids, and nights are for the books : Multi-tasking is not doing me any good. In fact, research shows that it doesn’t do any good to anyone. There is no benefit in me worrying about the books/journal articles/notes I am yet to cross out from my reading list during the day, when my children are crying for my attention. I push those worries aside and focus on them (or trying hard to do so) during the day. I have attempted going the other way, and it only made me more impatient and more frustrated when my reading is interrupted. I do make some exceptions with this though, especially when I have deadlines to meet where I’d resort to Nick Jr 😛
  3. Focus, focus and focus : I try to make my studying less of an interference to my family life, despite acknowledging its benefits. When I was single, and was an undergraduate efficiency may not be as crucial as it is now – after all I had only myself to take care of, and if I slack now, sooner or later I’d be the only paying the price of having to stay up late etc. Now that both of us are parents, and both need to allocate some quiet times studying, we take turns: when one is studying somewhere else, the other one will be with the children. And the time slots are not that long, more often limited to 1-2 hours. And in this one or two hours I am forced to make the best of it – because if I am not, someone else is also paying the price.
  4. Keep everything else simple : Being at home, moreover with two little children is consuming, and it doesn’t help that we have this constant ‘mommy war’ out there. It is imperative that I always review my KPI  whenever I see myself having the tendency to be overwhelmed by all the chores and things I thought I need to do. I am not here to become a domestic goddess or another Martha Stewart. I chose to be home so I could be with my children first and foremost, and that doesn’t entail slaving myself in the kitchen. I keep a generally less-than-strict cleanliness standard and try (very hard) to live with that (or maybe I should attempt to emulate the Japanese style ), and cook whenever I can whatever I could. What this constant reminding makes me is nothing more than a happy, content mother and wife, and one who has lots of extra energy for the late night revision.
  5. Family support is crucial : Other than my ever supportive husband, I have to give credits to my other family members who contribute to make this full-time-housewife-part-time-student venture a bearable one, if not joyful. My younger sister often lends her hands, so did our both sets of parents. My parents are planning to come over and help look after Isa and Khadijah during the January 2016 exam week, just the way my in-laws did last time. In all honesty, I think extended family support is crucial, whether you are a housewife, or in the same shoes as mine, or working full time. It is unfortunate that in this day and age child-raising involves only the parents of the nucleus family (which,  other than sparing no time off for the parents, also deprives the children from beneficial experiences) , and we are not living closely to our extended relatives.

When my mother insisted long before, that if we girls we to study or further study, it is better that we do it while we were single, I didn’t think much about it. Now I know that it is not to say that doing otherwise is making it totally impossible, but the changes you do impact more than just one soul; more than yours only. There are responsibilities you just can’t delegate (who else can breastfeed Khadijah, for instance), and there are just too much collateral damages should things go south.

But again, a lot of people have gone through this situation and aced it, so I say – bring it on!

The Scar I Keep Hidden

*(Day 2 of NaBloPoMo)

I have a scar on my right foot.

It is in the shape of a slice of tangerine, or so I thought when I was smaller. The scar grows as my foot widens, and now it is nearly 2 inches length.It has been there as far as I remember.

As much as possible these days I would hide it from being seen by my parents. Now that I’ve become a parent myself, I come to understand how they feel when they see this, especially my sensitive dad. My dad often mentions of it with a tone full of guilt when he sees it.

You see, the scar came about when I was not yet two years old, according to my dad. I accidentally ran onto a still hot electrical iron my mom had just used, and forgetfully put on the floor. My dad would recall how I would limp a few days after the accident, often regretfully.

After nearly 30 years you can say that they are probably over it by now, but judging from how I’d feel whenever I see a mosquito bite on any of my babies (which will have some scars imprinted) , I’d rather keep doing what I’ve always done. This kind of things give a punch to a parent’s heart, a pang of guilt to add to the existing, neverending list of things ‘I should have done and not done’. It is the kind of guilt which elicits the well-known advice to parents: ‘Forgive yourself’.

I hold no grudge. The scar has never bothered me.

Khadijah: the Eighth Month

My daughter Khadijah turns eight month old a week ago. Looking at how I missed recording her monthly development here on this blog, I reckon it is time for me to put some effort to do so.

In all honesty, eight month passed very quickly with Khadijah. I don’t remember feeling so overwhelmed by Isa’s development last time; even when I only spent half of my waking hours with him on average. But with Khadijah, days moved a bit too quickly to my liking despite me being around her nearly 24/7. Days turn weeks and weeks to months, and now there she is attempting for the umpteenth time today to stand unsupported – a skill she’s been trying to master since the last two weeks.

Khadijah often surprises me. Physical developmental-wise, I have learnt to be extra vigilance with her. Just after two weeks of her reaching the milestone of creeping, she begun the attempt to crawl, and before I knew it she started pulling up. And just as she mastered moving around while holding on to things, she has built the confidence to let herself stand unsupported – which means more hit, more falling down and all things that could make a mom begs for heaven’s protection.

She adores her brother immensely, and you can tell by how she looks at Isa each morning. Isa adores her too, and he loves seeing her all dressed up in a gown, glad that her sister turns into a ‘princess’ (but insists that he is a king instead of a prince -_-‘ ). I find it funny that neither of them can stand being awake alone for too long, and would do whatever they could to wake the other one up – despite the well-known fact that they actually can get more of my attention, and can play alone uninterrupted without the other one around.

I often wonder if their relationship would be that close if I were still working. They would still have been sent to the same creche, but with less contact time due to the different age group would they be, as Isa terms it, ‘best friends’? Is this another plus point I could add to the ‘list of things I or (we) gain from being at home’?

Khadijah’s strong character is observably growing each day. I have a thing for strong women, and aspire to be one of them – and I am thankful that she has  at least some traits of it – with the downside of having to witness both my son and daughter roughing up each other (no kidding about this!) and withhold my urge to stop them because they are clearly having fun. As my friend puts it – I need to stop being the party pooper!

It is important to record here that Khadijah is being extra nice to mommy being refusing milk from bottle and can remain happy with 3-4 hours between feedings – a mercy to me since that exempts me from having to express milk (and all the hassle that comes with it) in order to leave her for my thrice-a-week classes. Well, of course at some points her crankiness will appear but so far my husband can still handle it well…or so I think. Funny that she would happily snatch her brother’s bottle at any given opportunity but refuses to drink from hers. I should retrain her, really, but I am more tempted to leaving it as it is, partly because we have started solid food, and well, having to NOT pump milk and worried about the stock is mind-freeing.

Of course, at eight month the separation anxiety – the inevitable phase in a child’s life I assume – still strikes. For half of the day she’d be happy to play together with her brother without me within sight, but the other half would be spent tugging me, and holding on to my legs (now how am I suppose to cook, or eat, or even poop happily that way?) and crying and screaming her lungs out, if she’s not stuck on my chest. But this too shall pass, shan’t it?

My little Khadijah has indeed been a blessing (who screams), but I am just happy I get to enjoy her (and her screams).

Alhamdulillah.