side effects of motherhood

Easy like Sunday morning

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It’s been two weeks since my helper came back from her holiday and I’m still basking in the luxury of having an extra pair of hands to help around the house. You know how you thought your life was hard but it suddenly gets 18,000% worse and you realize how good you’ve had it all this time. Then when it goes back to the original level of difficulty, you’re like THANK YOU GOD I WILL NEVER EVER EVER COMPLAIN AGAIN.

How amazing is it exactly? I had a nice long shower today. In the middle of the morning. Without a baby staring me down as I lathered up. Or kids banging on the door yelling for gummies “RIGHT NOW I AM SO HUNGRY!!” For a moment there, I thought I was on vacation and it was glorious.

Also, it’s such a treat to be able to put one kid to bed at a time. So relaxing. Having to get Finn and Theo and Hayley to sleep at the same time was a nightmare because this sweet baby whom I adore so much is a total diva during bedtime. Her immediate vicinity must be void of any disruptions as she partakes in her evening feed. If she hears the slightest whisper, she shrieks. If she detects someone shifting their body weight from the left side to the right, she shrieks. If someone just breathes a little deeper than usual, she will immediately be alerted to the oxygen level imbalance in the room and  yes, there will be shrieking.

Most nights, I’m pleading with Finn and Theo like “guys, please don’t talk and don’t move and try not to breathe too hard.” Who am I kidding? Asking these two to not move for 40 minutes is like asking them to donate both kidneys and an eyeball. They can’t even last 2 seconds without loudly whispering “mommy mommy tomorrow let’s eat popcorn it’s so delicious!

SSSHHHHHHHH if you can be quiet until baby Hayley sleeps I might consider it. Now just shush!!” I whisper back too loudly, causing the baby to unlatch and frown. She had been side eyeing me with disapproval the whole time and she needed to let me know this was too much.

Five minutes go by in relative peace, with the exception of two coughs and a spasmic leg shift.

Mommy I need to poop!” Theo announces triumphantly. He had taken five whole minutes to cultivate his need to poop and it was a success. Around here, poop is a treasured free pass to party during bedtime and he celebrates by doing his nudist victory lap around the living room.

I try not to begrudge my kids their right to poop but this was a most inopportune time. By the time I washed him, chased his naked bottom around the house and got him changed, baby Hayley would be back at level 0 on her falling asleep scale.

Phew, glad those days are over.

But there’s one good thing to have come out of this experience. Having spent three weeks doing their share of chores, Truett and Kirsten have gotten used to the routine and they’ve continued to help out around the house with packing and cleaning and vacuuming and I JUST LET THEM. They now feel responsible for the cleanliness of the house, so much so that when they saw Finn and Theo dropping a trail of cookies in the bedroom, they hastily um, reaccommodated them to the deck chairs outside and made them eat their cookies by the pool. They were like “sit here and eat!! Don’t come back in until you’re done with your cookies understand?

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Can’t say that I wasn’t extremely pleased.

the husband

The big 10

We celebrated our 10th anniversary two weeks ago. It was right in the middle of the no-helper mayhem, so we celebrated by stealing a quick kiss in between doing laundry and cleaning poop, which seemed poetically fitting because this just about sums up our lives right now.


It wasn’t always this way. It was 2001 and we were both doing our first year in NTU – I was 19, he was 21. We had our first conversation out of necessity because I wanted in on a project he had dibs on (specifically “Hey, I heard you choped the Madonna presentation, want to work on it together?“), but we fell in love several months later after some *ahem* study sessions + that one ill-fated evening jog that turned out to be my last + a copy of Baby Blues. 

At that point, I thought I knew all there was to know about falling in love – as much as any 19-year-old could know about anything, I suppose. I had watched a very impressive list of romantic comedies, read pretentious poems about love, tuned in religiously to Class 95’s love songs every night, and gave a lot of thought to how my great love story would turn out.

I was very clear on the kind of guy I would marry. Hot, obviously. Someone with a wicked sense of humour, who would write me poetry via ICQ. He would sweep me off my feet and we would ride off into the sunset to have our 7 perfect children.

When I met the husband, I learnt something new about love. He wasn’t the cliched tortured artist type that my 19-year-old self was so into. He didn’t serenade me or make exaggerated declarations of love outside my bedroom window. But he was the guy who would pass me his detailed set of lecture notes because I couldn’t wake up in time for class. He was the guy who didn’t mind having to walk home for 2 hours after missing the last bus just so he could make sure I got home safe. He was the guy who knew what to say to make me smile when I was having a bad day. He would listen to me talk about my dreams, then tell me that he’d do whatever it takes to make them come true. And I knew he meant it.

Three years later, he proposed and I said yes. I was starting to realise that I didn’t know that much about love after all, but what I knew then was that I found my best friend in the world and he made me happy.

In the 10 years that we’ve been married, I feel like we grew up together. We graduated together, started our careers together, had kids and built a family together. People talk about how marriage is hard and it is. Because life is hard. Somewhere along the way, we realized that we had to stop being the carefree students who slept in till noon and watched movies all day (for research!). We found ourselves having to trade that hakuna matata problem free philosophy for a life with real problems, the kind that keeps you up at night feeling terrified and sick to the gut.

But what people don’t talk about enough is that being married is pretty darn amazing. I’ve been able to spend the past 10 years waking up to the one person who brings me the most joy. He’s the one I want to have conversations with till 2 in the morning, the one whose one liners over fb messenger make me laugh out loud in the middle of a chaotic day, the one who knows exactly how to talk me out of my crazy. There’s no one else I’d rather do laundry and clean poop with. 

Happy anniversary, babe! You’re still the one that I want. :)


from around here

Getting ready to paaaarty

It’s been a very long three weeks but we made it. My helper is back and I can finally take a bit of a breather. In fact, we will immediately celebrate tonight by going for Coldplay!!

I’ll be dropping all the kids off at my mom’s house and then RUNNING out of there like…


Imma get a whole evening without any babies getting all up in my face yelling “MOMMY LOOK AT ME I WANT…”?? That alone is enough to guarantee that it’ll be a glorious night. Also, sorry guys, mommy will definitely not be looking at you because I’ll be looking at my delicious dinner at a place where people are not allowed to speak above 30 decibels and then after that I will be too busy looking at Chris Martin instead.


I’d like to say in retrospect that the past several weeks weren’t so bad but then I’d be lying. It was pretty bad. I hope I never have to do it again without significant advancements in the field of cloning. Kidding. I’d be totally weirded out if I had a clone, that would never work.

On the bright side, here are some of the things I’ve learnt from having to manage 5 kids alone for 3 weeks.

1. Kids are actually very useful. 

No question about it, I would not have survived without the help of these kids who took on everything from babysitting to food prep to packing and even laundry. You know how when you try to get the kids to do stuff and they’re not very good so they end up doing a half-assed job and you have to redo it and you’re like “okay, it would have been so much easier to just do this myself?

I learnt that sometimes, a half-assed job is better than a no-assed job, and after they get in enough practice, they’ll be able to full-ass the thing, so everybody wins.

2. As are husbands. 

Husbands are extremely useful for tagging in when you need to go lie down and cry into your pillow at the end of the day.

3. I can be a better parent when things are in order. 

When I was younger, I used to have a very respectable tolerance for mess – an organized mess, I used to call it (which is basically an excuse to not clean my room). My room could look like I just got robbed and it wouldn’t bother me one bit.

These days, for better or worse, I feel my cortisol levels rise when the house in a state of disarray, like my world is spinning out of control. Which makes it very hard to be all “don’t worry about the mess, I’ll just be over here carpe-ing the diem with these babies for 5 hours straight“. If I bought into the whole cleaning can wait, just enjoy the moment with the kids all day nonsense, I’d be living in an actual slum by day 3.

I realized that while it seems counterproductive to pack and repack and rerepack multiple times a day, it makes me feel like a better parent who can seize the day when my world is in order.

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4. A little slack goes a long way. 

Few nights ago, it was one of those exceptionally rough days. The post dinner mayhem was in full swing, the babies were refusing to shower, Kirsten’s eye was hurting and Tru was all “why do I have to be the one to clean up this ridiculous mess? I didn’t even play with all this stuff!

Because I spent years packing up after you and now it’s your turn to do the same, it’s called the circle of packing,” I wanted to say. “And we’re a family, it’s what we do. We clean up each other’s messes.

But I knew this was a lot to ask from a 9-year-old. He had already done a lot of cleaning up after his siblings the past several weeks, much more than I had expected. So I told him that it’s ok and he could take a break.

Hey Tru, you can go get a can of 100 plus and read for a bit. Just make sure you’re ready for bed by 8 okay?

I went about bathing the little ones and getting them in their jammies and when I came out, I saw that Truett had cleaned up the entire house. And it wasn’t a shoddy job either. It was like the gold standard of packing, all the toys were put away neatly and everything was in order.

Thanks Tru, that was an amazing job! Why did you decide to do it?” I asked.

I just wanted to help you. And everything was so messy, I couldn’t take it.

I think I’m just gonna go ahead and keep these kids. :)