Just Imagine

The other day, Zoe and I went diving. Our goggles were at the bottom of the swimming pool and we needed to get them, so we stood on the edge, counted to 3 and then said, “Big Breath!” like they do in Zoe’s swimming class before taking a big breath as we jumped in. We kicked our way across the pool and then retrieved our goggles. Hooray!
Zoe’s and my goggles sitting at the bottom of the swimming pool. Hers the red and mine the blue.

Then last night, as we were driving our cars, we ran into a problem as they got stuck in a muddy puddle! Fortunately, we were able to push our cars out of the puddle which was a good thing because they kept on getting stuck in the same puddle!
A quilt made by my sister became a giant muddy puddle!

I’ve been amazed in a couple of ways. First of all is that Zoe isn’t even 2 yet and is engaging in imaginative play. (Not that I actually know when kids are meant to start doing this, but I just didn’t expect it to be so soon) But what’s amazed me more is that Zoe came up with all these games entirely on her own! I didn’t tell her that the fold-out mattress that’s also been a tunnel, slide and bridge could also be a swimming pool, nor did I tell her that the blue and red necklaces could be goggles. And I didn’t tell her that cars could get stuck in muddy puddles or that the quilt could be such a puddle. It’s so exciting to see her make connections in ways that I can’t imagine myself.

As hard as it is being a full-time SAHM, I’m so glad that I get to go on these adventures with Zoe and literally see how her mind is developing. I think I’m starting to get the appeal of this stay-home parent thing just that little bit more.


An Epiphany

The other day I had an epiphany. But before that, let’s talk about what happened a few days prior.

I was at a playgroup with Zoe, a place where you just show up whenever you want and there are lots of toys and activities for the kids. Parents talk to each other. So I started talking to a fellow stay-home mom who said that she just loves doing the stay-home parent thing and she feels so lucky to be able to do this. Then I talked to a stay-home dad who said the same thing and that he prefers this to working! And there I was thinking man, these guys must be way more cut out for stay-home parenting than me. I love spending time with Zoe but I can’t say that I’ve ever gushed about it.

I suppose this must’ve been on my mind because one day, when I was sitting on the couch blobbing while Zoe was having her afternoon nap, the epiphany came. I realised that up until that point, I had been viewing my time with Zoe as second-rate; that I was missing out; that this was a phase to ride out and there would be better things later on. It may sound rather shocking for a mother to say this about her own child but this is honestly how I had been looking at my life. I had just kept thinking that I could be much more productive (and happy) by working and contributing to the household income and that choosing the stay-home parent route was a cop-out because I wasn’t stretching my brain and realising my full potential. But in my moment of illumination, I suddenly realised that all this time I’ve spent with Zoe and every minute I have with her is quality time, even though it doesn’t feel like it all the time. When put in writing, this may seem really obvious, a duh-concept that I should’ve known all along but it’s taken me one and a half years to get here.

Now, I wouldn’t say that I’d gush about my job still, but this epiphany has helped to change the way I view my everyday. In a way, I’m more present and am treasuring the exchanges I have with Zoe. I’d still love to have the opportunity to do part-time work but till then, being a full-time momma is pretty alright for me.

I’m Having Way More Fun Now

Yes it’s true. Now that Zoe is 16 months old and can walk, say some words and is generally much more interactive, I’m having heaps more fun with her now. Yesterday, I sang the song “Mr Sun” from Barney and she started dancing along to the song. Did not know she’d do such a thing! And today, my Dad and I brought her to the playground and let her try out the merry-go-round. She LOVED it, especially when it went fast enough such that she felt the g-forces (?) and she kicked up a big fuss when we had to pry her off it when it was time to go home. 

Raising a child is hard work and requires huge sacrifices, but I’m beginning to see why people treasure this time so much and reminisce when it’s passed. It’s pretty funny – I’m really looking forward to when she’s older and can self-entertain more, but I also wish I could freeze Zoe in this current time frame cos man she’s cute! This is how nature makes us have more babies!!! 

Life in NZ is also pretty sweet. There are so many great mums and bubs activities to get involved in here. Twice a week, we go to a place called Playcentre which is an early childhood education centre for kids aged 0-6. It’s very free-form and child directed, meaning that we let the kids determine what they do based on what they’re interested in at the time. It’s also a place that encourages messy place and boy has Zoe been getting into that! 

So the pictures have been uploaded in reverse time order. Oh well! 

A typical day at Playcentre: 

Getting messy! 

The first day that Zoe got her hands in the pots of paint and loved it:

I’m grateful I have the opportunity to watch Zoe grow up and be a part of her development. There are many days when I still miss working and just having more freedom, but at the same time, I know I’d be gutted to be missing out on all this! 

Today I did something extraordinary

Today I did something extraordinary. I woke up, fed Zoe, ate my own breakfast, then took her to our weekly Friday activity – Playcentre. For the next 2.5 hours, Zoe explored, experimented and got really really grubby. Here’s her outfit after today’s session: 

After we got home, I cleaned the paint off her face, fed her lunch, put her down for a nap, then cooked and ate my own lunch. Midway through lunch, Zoe woke up, so I quickly gulped the rest of it down and then went to get her up for the next part of the day. For the rest of the afternoon, I did a mix of child entertaining, cooking or cleaning, and a tiny bit of relaxing. The child entertaining included playing with play dough, trying to prevent Zoe from eating play dough, reading books, watching Zoe squish some play dough through the gaps in our balcony grille and then seeing the bits on our neighbour’s picnic table downstairs (sorry neighbour!) and oh, more play dough. At one point, I was so slammed that I did what I promised myself I wouldn’t do and turned the TV on. While Zoe sat and watched the program, I put away the dishes from the dishwasher and tidied up a bit. 

At some point, I tried to put Zoe down for a second nap and during this time, I sat on the couch and ate 2 chocolate biscuits. She didn’t go down for a nap, so I got her up again, gave her milk and then started cooking dinner. Guess what, she wanted to go outside and play with the play dough again. I finally got dinner going properly and so I took a few minutes to just sit with her outside and play with the play dough. And finally, at about 6, my husband got home and there was someone else to entertain our kid. Whoo! 

I got dinner up, we ate, got her showered and put to bed, then I cleaned what I could of our clothes from the big paint job today, rinsed her cloth nappies, made some tea and sat down with my husband to watch a movie. And then here I am, in bed writing this post. 

We mums do extraordinary things every day. When there’s nothing left to give, we dig deep and give some more. We keep the house running, keep our kids alive and happy, and manage to still be loving wives (most of the time). It may seem and feel mundane sometimes, but when you really sit back to think about it, damn girl, you’re doing a hellava job. 💖💖💖

Some Musings on Happiness

The other day, my friend asked if I’m happier now that I have a child. My answer to her was a no, but before you get all up in arms about how I don’t love my baby, let me explain.

I told my friend that I don’t think I’m any happier right now than I would be were I not to have a child. You see, if I didn’t have a child, I’d still be working the job I love, sleeping in on weekends, going for dates with my husband whenever we want, staying out late (midnight counts as ‘late’ at our age), going on staycations, mini holidays, and even just going out for that midnight McDonald’s run on a whim. Instead, I’ve quit my job and I miss it most days, I wake up at 7am every day, dates with my husband consist of watching movies at home (which isn’t a bad thing mind you… Netflix and chill!), I have to organise a baby sitter if we want to go out at night, and even a 2 hour trip out of the house means you have to plan plan plan.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I love my baby more than anything in the world and she’s brought me immeasurable joy. What I’m saying is that I think I would be equally happy at this point in my life if I hadn’t had a child yet. I’d still be living, as my sister wisely said while we discussed this, ‘the selfish life’.

And oh, how we love ‘the selfish life’. We’re young, we’re independent, our careers are on the rise and we have our own money which we can spend however we want. We’re stressed, yes, but that stress means that we’re busy and needed. We’re finally becoming who we really are and finding ways to express this. Then our babies come along and suddenly, everything changes. We now have to set our lives in relation to another, and nothing is truly done just for ourselves anymore. Reconciling this fact is one of the hardest things about being a parent, especially a stay-at-home one. Now, intellectual challenges are replaced by cooing and the incy-wincy spider, and the grind of work is replaced by the grind of cooking and cleaning. I distinctly remember a day when I sat watching Zoe playing with her toys. I checked the time and it was 8.20am. After an eternity, turns out, it was only 8.25am. And I still had a good 10 hours to go before it was her bedtime. The challenge of monotony is real, one that must constantly be met with playgroups, social engagements, or even just a walk around the neighbourhood.

A study was done which shows that while people think that they’ll be happier once they have children, they actually become more unhappy after the birth of their first child. This is especially so in parents who are older than 30 and who are more educated. The biggest reason for this unhappiness is “the continuous and intense nature of childrearing. Parents reported exhaustion due to trouble breast-feeding, sleep deprivation, depression, domestic isolation and relationship breakdown.” Interestingly, I fall into the ‘most likely to be unhappy’ group in this study. I’ve thought about it more, and I think the real reason for this unhappiness is because of time. Time is finite and forces us to make choices. We women are all familiar with the “our biological clock is ticking” line, hence we try and have our first kid somewhere near the age of 30 if we hadn’t done so already. But this also probably happens to be when we’re starting to thrive in our careers. We’re then faced with a choice. Do I spend my time pursuing my career and missing out on my baby’s milestones, or do I stay home and give up what could be an illustrious career? No matter what we choose, we’re giving up something that is an equally good option. In each decision, there is both joy and sadness, satisfaction and regret. In my case, I’ve chosen to take care of my child and I’m happy with my choice, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t wish I could still have my old life too.

Back to the conversation with my friend – I also told her that while I’m not any happier right now, I think that having children will add to my overall happiness in the long run. Perhaps time will prove to be the eventual friend, helping me to forget what I’ve given up, and to treasure what I chose. I’m only 11 months into motherhood and there is so much more to experience so… bring it on!

Smart Little Cookies 🍪

I’m still learning a lot about this whole raising a child thing, and one realisation from the past week is that our children are capable of a lot more than I had previously thought.

The first area which I had underestimated Zoe in is food. Up until last week, I had been giving Zoe blended/mashed vegetables and meat for her meals. But after talking to a friend and finding out that she gives her baby whole pieces of pasta, chopped up grapes and so on, I thought it was high time to try all this out. I started by making Zoe an amazingly delicious pasta sauce, (yes, that was self-praise, but it’s really something that I’d eat myself. Recipe to come…) and I cut up pieces of adult pasta into it. Zoe ate it all up without choking or gagging, and I was amazed. I cut up a blueberry into small pieces and gave that to her, and she didn’t have any difficult swallowing it (I had always been worried about the skin). Then last Saturday, when we were at our friend’s house having brunch, she reached out for my strawberry and I let her hold it. The next thing I knew, she was trying to take a bite of it. So I bit off the top and gave it to her. She proceeded to take bites of it and managed to chew and swallow, and after awhile, she had eaten her first strawberry. I was so excited by this that I gave her another 2-3 strawberries later in the afternoon and turns out, she’s allergic to large quantities of strawberries. Oops. 

The next lot of incidents happened today. We were at a hotel having lunch with a friend, and Zoe was sitting in her own chair. At some point, she looked at me and made what we call her complaining noise, and screwed up her face a little. I didn’t get the message the first time. She did it again, and then did her ‘I’m pushing out a poo’ face. I quickly brought her to the restroom, sat her on the toilet seat, and she took her first dump in a public toilet. Later on, back at the table, she looked at me, frowned and made more noises. I inferred that she was tired as it was about her nap time. I put her down in her stroller and she was asleep in 5 minutes. Back home, when I tried to put her down for a nap, she wouldn’t go to sleep, so I got her out of the cot and sat her on the bed to play with some toys. She kept looking at me and tried to tell me something, but unfortunately, I don’t understand her words right now. After a few rounds of not getting her message, I carried her up and realised she had done a poo! No wonder she couldn’t fall asleep! 

What amazed me from today is that in all 3 instances, Zoe looked at me and tried to tell me exactly what she needed. She may not be able to express herself in words that I understand right now, but I’m realising that I need to take her requests seriously and try and figure out what she’s telling me. Our little humans really are smart little cookies who can communicate with us in their own way. 

And now, for the pasta sauce recipe. I don’t measure things by the way, but this is what’s in it. Vary the proportions according to taste. 

Pasta Sauce Ingredients 

  • Carrot purée & roasted red capsicum purée as the base 
  • Chicken or beef stock (or veggie if you’re vegetarian)
  • Finely chopped broccoli 
  • Finely chopped beans 
  • Onions 
  • Garlic 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • Pinch of oregano 


Sauté the onions in a small portion of olive oil on low heat. When the onions are almost done, add in the garlic. When ready, put in the broccoli and beans and sauté for a couple of minutes. Put in carrot, red capsicum purée and chicken stock. Add salt and oregano, and boil for 10-15 mins. And voila! You’re done!

The chicken stock is optional, I just put it in to loosen up the sauce. You could use water too but it won’t be so tasty. 

You could probably also add in some minced meat. I usually add in some chicken breast meat that’s been blended, but I do this just for the day’s portion. The rest goes into the freezer. 🙂 

You could also add in all sorts of different veggies like eggplant, carrot cubes, zucchini, and try putting in some mushrooms! I haven’t tried that yet but will probably do so next time round. 

Bon appetite! 🙂 

The Confinement Mom

In Chinese culture (and I’m sure some other cultures too), in the first month just after a woman has given birth, she goes through a period of ‘confinement’. In the more traditional sense, she is literally confined – she doesn’t leave the house for the whole month. The rationale behind this is that she has just lost a lot of energy giving birth, and now she needs to stay home to rest and recuperate. She’s given lots of nutritious foods to eat, she is kept warm, and she’s helped out as much as she can. Nowadays, most people who go through confinement don’t actually subject themselves to a month of house arrest, but they get confinement nannies to stay in their home to help them for the month. This nanny does everything from changing the baby’s diaper to putting the baby back to sleep when he/she wakes in the middle of the night (unless he’s hungry of course), and she does all the cooking and cleaning. I didn’t have a confinement nanny as I wanted to learn to take care of Zoe by myself from the start. However, I did have a confinement mommy – my very own mom. During the first month and beyond of Zoe’s life, my mom cooked all my meals every day, did all the household chores, bathed Zoe every day and took night shifts when she could. She looked for ways to help me to get more sleep and even organised a day for her friends to come over and take care of Zoe so that I could go out and have lunch with the hubs and get a massage. She worked tirelessly to give me the best chance at succeeding at motherhood.

And right at this moment, my mom is staying with my sister who just gave birth recently. She’s there to, again, be a confinement mommy and I know she’s been invaluable in helping my sister in her journey of motherhood. 

You know when they say that parenthood is a lifelong commitment, my mom has certainly taken that on board and run with it. Even though her kids are all big now, she’s still a mom to us, taking care of us when she can, being an example that we can learn from and encouraging us when we’re down. She gives and gives and gives, always with a cheerful heart. It’s certainly a lot to live up to now that I’m a mom and I realise what a full-on commitment this is! 

As it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow, I’d like to give a shout out to the most awesome mom out there, my very own confinement mom. ❤️