Because human

9 Sep

In the light of the -what some say- “European invasion” and how ridiculous it’s been getting these past few days (I’m not talking about the “invasion” but the opinions and comments) I feel the urge to write about it. So here it is and I shall try to keep it as light as possible. I’m afraid the topic isn’t something to be joked around about, neither is the point I’m trying to make that is this post. So, maybe this one will be an uncharacteristic post. 

Now that we’ve cleared that out of the way, let’s get me rambling, shall we? 

For the last couple of months, I’ve been purposely keeping quiet about it. I haven’t posted anything on my social media pages nor commenting on any posts. Mainly because I’ve learned the bitter truth a couple of years ago, of which I shall not disclose because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Anyway, like I said I have been keeping quiet about it, simply reading news about it and, well, you know, keeping up-to-date on the subject. Oh, have I not been clear about what the subject is? Excuse me… I’m talking about the refugees coming to Europe from the Middle East. Yah, ummm… I’ve had the urge to help back then. I wanted to go to the camp in Traiskirchen and help out. But I guess I’m too much of a chicken… 

Fast forward to the last few days, or has it been weeks? I’ve lost count. Mainly because I don’t keep track of the dates anymore since I’m a full-time mom… so…

I don’t think I have to give the blow-by-blow details in this post. I’m sure anyone reading this has at least a slight idea of what happened, especially last week, where it was (or shall I say is, as it still is) the loudest. That was when people starting posting stuff on social media, the good and the bad. That was when suddenly everybody had an opinion on the subject, the good and the bad. But let me say this, that was also when my heart broke for this world, TO PIECES. I was completely crushed and I have my poor husband to vouch for it – stress on the “poor” – because I was a depressed wreck a couple of days after that.

A lot of people rose to the occasion and showed the world (especially me) that there is some love left in this cruel, cruel world. But there are some who, well, reminded me of the said cruel world. The posts I’ve seen and the comments I’ve read from the people who are not very happy about this “invasion” left me utterly flabbergasted and I couldn’t, still can’t, understand how anyone in their right mind would have the heart to say/type such things. I remember asking myself, “what happened to compassion? Is there no empathy left in these people?” I won’t repeat those comments here, because to be honest, I’m still quite a mess (because hateful posts and comments still show up on my news feed… Yes, sadly some of these posts are coming from people I know… Maybe that’s why the scale of my disappointment is blown up to about ten times more. Or maybe I just need the drama…). But one comment, one that oddly struck me the hardest for some reason, was saying that the person didn’t think that these people were suffering that much; this person saw an interview with the refugees and there was one woman, her nails were polished, so obviously she had time to pamper herself, and there was a man who said he had to sell everything he had just so he could flee. This person wrote that obviously they had a good life that he was able to even sell stuff, so why not stay there and make out of that good life? 

Now, I’ve never fled from a country before. I left my country, yes, but not because it was at war. But I’d like to think that I’m quite well informed, or should I say I read a lot, that I know that you sometimes need to pay a smuggler to flee. And these smugglers aren’t exactly the cheapest service you can get, not the best service either for that matter. There’s zero guarantee that you or your family will make it in one piece or alive. And I don’t imagine that the smugglers will really try to protect your lives even if their own depend on it. So, why risk it? Why trade your “good life” for something you’re not even sure of of the outcome. I don’t know, like I said, I’ve never seen any wars in my entire life, except on movies, so I can only imagine. But if you are willing to take that kind of risk, I would say that you’re pretty damn desperate. Maybe you saw your neighbor’s house being bombed, or you saw your neighbor die in the hands of the soldiers, or you had to witness your sister being raped, your father being tortured and you ask yourself when your turn’s going to be. So maybe you ran and traded everything that you had for a slight chance that you might live without any fear, however slim that chance may be. Maybe you thought that was the only way, and for these refugees, it was the only way.  

And as far as the polished nails go, I imagine a bit of “normality” in a life that’s been turned completely upside down can do wonders to your being. This is by far not to scale to that woman’s ordeal, but ever since I’m a mom, I seriously am thankful for quiet 5 minutes, just to do my “business” on my own, without the little man standing right in front of me, staring or trying to unroll the toilet paper.

Last weekend I went with my husband and the little man to Vienna’s main train station, Hauptbahnhof, to give what we could. Being there stirred a hell of emotions in me. It was by far the most sobering moment of my life. I saw so much uncertainty, so much confusion, exhaustion, grief but at the same time hope and relief. I overheard an old man telling an Austrian lady his story. I saw him smile but it was the saddest smile I’ve ever seen and my heart bled. Just a couple meters from that man, I saw a young woman. She was just sitting there, staring into the space. Her little son, probably 2-3 years old, playing and I seriously started crying when I saw that he was happily playing with a rope stuck to a stick… So happy. When we headed back to our car, I saw two young men standing just a few feet away. One was trying to make a phone call through his cellphone and I wondered who he was trying to reach. His family back home, to tell them he’s alive or to check if they’re still alive? Or friends or relatives who got separated from him during their journey? Needless to say, I was crying a river the whole way back home. Then I made the mistake of checking my social media…

I must say that, of course I haven’t forgotten about the wonderful people who were and still are helping the poor souls. It really does give me hope and tells that there is still a bit of compassion left, regardless of race, religion, nationality or origin. And I truly am thankful for that. I have a feeling that I will meet more wonderful people in the next couple weeks/months or however long our help is needed. And I’m looking forward to that. Eagerly.

But to the naysayers, to those who say that these people are only trying to conquer Europe and are looking for global Islamization (seriously? Do you have so little faith in your own belief that you think and are actually afraid that it will happen or the world will let it happen?), to those who say that they are only after your tax money and want to live the easy life in Europe as asylum seekers (ummm, how easy do you think that life is? I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but I personally know an asylum seeker, and his life is anything but a breeze…), please do let me say this: I accept the fact that you are entitled to your own opinion and have the absolute right of voicing that opinion, freedom of speech, right? I also accept the fact that I – or anyone for that matter – can’t change your mind about how you see things (I wouldn’t even dream of trying), we live in a free world, right? If you don’t want to help, then don’t, that’s fine. There are enough of us doing that. However, as a human being to another human being, I implore you, keep your hate and judgments to yourself. The world is already filled with enough hate as it is. If you don’t have anything nice to say, then simply say nothing. Please? 

Cheers, rv

The Death of Tolerance 

18 Jun

We live in a very strange time, where people constantly complain about anything and everything. Stranger still, people are trying to convince you to an idea and/or to change your lifestyle into the one that they deem best and you’re a freaking lunatic if you don’t comply and well, you pretty much don’t deserve a space in this world. 

I’m a fan of freedom of speech and passion. However, I’m also a fan of tolerance and compassion, which, I’m afraid are the exact opposites of freedom-of-speech and passion’s child. Just because someone doesn’t share my idea of belief or my lifestyle doesn’t give me the right to judge them, let alone the need to “help” them to see things the way I do.  When did it become necessary to force others to see things the way you want them to see? Whatever happened to the beauty of diversity? Whatever happened to respect and tolerance? 

We are so busy these days to condemn others who have different point of views or another lifestyle or to ridicule those who are or look different from us that we fail to see past all of the differences and to just be kind. Everyone is fighting their own battle and until we can overcome our own battles, who are we to assume? When has it become a necessity to “teach” others of our “better” lifestyles? When has it become necessary to question others’ choice of life? 

What am I going to tell my son when he questions me why do I keep telling him to be kind when he doesn’t see the very kindness in society? This is a rethorical question; of course I know what I’m going to tell my son. But I don’t want to see the disappointment in my little man’s eyes when, one day the society fails him, just like how the society fails us today.
Pffff, enough of these deep thoughts! Let’s go get some ice cream or frozen yogurt, if you’re trying to fit into that bikini… 

Cheers, rv

The Long Awaited Return to Lion City – A Very Late Post

18 Jun

Those who know me personally (and well) know that I spent half my teenage years in Singapore. And those who know me even better know that I haven’t been “home” for more than 10 years, 16 to be exact (I was there briefly 14 years ago, but I say that doesn’t count). So, when my husband agreed to visit Singapore for a couple of days after our trip to Indonesia, to say that I was excited was an understatement. I was practically beside myself! Imagine a screaming teenage girl who has just seen her pop idol (let’s leave Bieber out of this, shall we?). Yah, multiple that by a thousand. Uh huh.

My first thought when we got out of the airport and hopped onto a taxi was, “Ummm, where are we?”. I literally recognized NOTHING except for a few street/area names. But what blew me away completely was when the driver made a turn onto Thomson Road (one of the places I used to live and one of the roads in Singapore I knew like the back of my hand) and recognized absolutely nothing. I wouldn’t have known it was Thomson Road if it wasn’t for the road sign.

On the first day I dragged my poor husband and the poor little man for an unnecessary hike. I wanted to show them the boarding house I used to live in and remembered that one could take a bus along Thomson. But I wasn’t sure if that bus line still existed so we took the mrt. Apparently the mrt lines have had elaborate extensions and now there’s an mrt station called Marymount. So we got off there thinking it can’t be far from the Marymount Hill… Hence the unnecessary hike. We could’ve done much better by getting off at the station after Marymount, but I’ve become a tourist in my second home.

One thing I noticed and made me ask myself the question over and over again, if it had been like that when I was still a Singaporean resident, the whole time we were there was how well connected the malls or shopping centres are by the underground tunnels. There’s practically no need for you to step outside and leave the air conditioned spaces (yes, the tunnels are air conditioned, whuuuuut?? Who’s paying for all that? Seriously?)

It was somehow a confusing trip for me, emotion-wise. I was so thrilled to be able to get my feet back on Singaporean lands once more but felt so overwhelmingly enstranged by the massive changes the country has seen. But one thing’s for sure though… Actually two… a) I should go back there again soon and b) three days are way too little…

Until then, I shall be very curious about what new changes the city will see.

Cheers, rv

Little Kids are 4$$holes…

31 Mar

… They only care about themselves and don’t really give a flying *bleep* about you, YOU, the one who’s made them and brought them to this world and practically given them their lifes (yes, I needed the drama). Or anyone else for that matter. They have their own agenda and can’t be bothered to be flexible, like when you need to get out of the house pronto because you’re running late for that doctor’s appointment, they decide to poop right there and then, or maybe puke all over their outfit. Or maybe you’re feeling a little bit under the weather and you just need a bit of a rest and are hoping that your kid will play quietly on his/her own only to find that he/she has woken up on the wrong side of the bed today and is extra clingy and whiny and oh-so-annoying. How about when you can’t even go to the toilet for two minutes because he/she is having a serious fit of separation anxiety today (and are reserved to take the little monster with you because you’ve seriously considered if you could fit into his/her diaper? Desperate times call for desperate measures, right?) 

Yeah…

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE kids. But let’s be honest to ourselves for a second (especially if you’re a parent), this thought must have gone across your minds at least once: “Dear Lord, what on earth have you sent me?!?!?” or this one: “WHAT THE HELL IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?!?!?” (to be read with a very exasperated tone) or perhaps: “I swear, I will sell this child to the neighbours!” 

No? Well then, congratulations. You must have a unicorn-kind of a child! And might I just say you’re completely lying? 

It’s not their fault, really. They just don’t know they’re being perfect pricks and it really is our job as parents to teach them not to be one, or at least guide them to a non-4$$hole way of life. 

Just to be clear, I completely and utterly love my little man. He is, for the most part, a perfect little angel. But even the nicest little cookies have their meltdown-moments at times. And even then, I’m still head-over-heels in love with this little monster… Only I’ll also be thinking how much I would make if I succeeded selling him to the neighbours.

 

Cheers, rv

Screw You, Sleep Training!!!

25 Feb

So we had a little “meltdown” recently. I call it meltdown because it basically disrupted everyone’s sleep and routine plus I was so very irritable on the couple of days this event took place.

First things first: a) listen to Mr. Thomas Bertram Lance: if it ain’t broke don’t fix it and b) I should stop beating myself up about the things that I’ve done or still am doing differently than recommended in all the leading baby books/guide. Especially when… refer to point a.

Now, this is quite a long post of ramblings. However, do stick around and read to the end and I might have some pretty good advice for new moms out there.

Having said all of the above let’s proceed to my rambling and as the Indonesians call it “curhat”, shall we? (Umm, for non-Indonesian readers out there, I’m not even gonna bother explaining what curhat means… Because that means I’ll be going out of this post’s context and as I’m still suffering from scatterbrain-mommy-syndrome, that is very dangerous for this post)

So, at night the little man has been co-sleeping with us since day 1 (well, day 6 actually. That’s when we got home from the hospital. At the hospital he slept in one of those little see-through bassinets and frankly, I was too scared at the time to co-sleep for fear of crushing him in my sleep. Aaaah, the good old days of all-time and never ending worrying). He has never spent a single night in his crib. He has, however, taken naps in his crib but never spent the night there. I will not go into details why my husband and I have decided to opt for co-sleeping (because again, that’s not the point of this post). He – the little man, that is – has actually always been sleeping well – providing no pearly whites are trying to sprout, or blocked, stuffy nose or nasty ear infection with the fever that comes with it are trying to get in the way of his good night’s sleep. On a good night he’ll sleep about 4-5 hours straight since I put him down to sleep (with one or two occasional short wakings). Then he’ll want to nurse one or two more times after those initial 4-5 hours. I really don’t know how often he wakes. Since we co-sleep it’s very easy to just whip out a boob and (we both) drift back off to sweet, sweet sleep.

Now, I know that the last sentence will make me sound like a human pacifier and I may well be, to some extent. That plus the little man’s sudden changes to this pattern a couple of days prior to the “meltdown” (i.e. frequent wakings with probably just an hour intervals in between, sometimes less than that and difficulty falling back asleep), which brings me to the third reason for the thing that led to our ‘meltdown’: the little man hasn’t yet mastered the art of falling asleep on his own or soothing himself back to sleep. All these made me consult my baby apps and guides and of course, the ever reliable (note the sarcasm) internet.

And not surprisingly, everything’s telling me (or I should say, the readers aka clueless new moms) that the little man needs to be sleep-trained and to some extent no more co-sleeping.

Why no more co-sleeping, you ask? Well, my friends, if babies who are just beginning to understand object permanence should fall asleep on their own because it upsets them when the sleeping environment has changed (i.e. “mommy was there when I fell asleep now she’s gone… WTF?!?! I must throw tantrums!”) and that one must make sure that it is absolutely safe for the baby when they are left alone in the room, how else would you interpret “do the bedtime routine and leave the room when your baby is drowsy but not yet asleep”??? (disclaimer, not an actual quote, but pretty much on-point).

So, being the gullible person that I am and I was at my wits’ end trying to understand the sudden changes of my little man’s sleeping patterns, with a pinch of that never-ending-mommy-worrying, I thought the guides and the internet must be right. After all, all the articles were written by experts or at least with references from experts.

And I made the biggest mistake: I ditched my old (but actually efficient) tactics and took on the new ones, those that are ‘approved more by these articles/experts/whatever’, against my better judgement. But worst: I took away all that is familiar and comforting for the little man. I made him sleep in his crib and I didn’t nurse him to sleep or hold him and stay with him until he’s well asleep before leaving the room.

It was the worst 4 days and nights of my life, especially the first one.

Not only did I lose lots of sleep and my poor little man as well – sure, he was so very tired during the days, which made him want to nap more and longer (leaving me with time to actually do the things that are on my to-do list since almost 9 months, although in the end I didn’t because I was so zombied-out that I couldn’t do anything right!) – but he was so irritable and clingy too. Plus he would actually whimper whenever we went anywhere near his crib, eventhough I was carrying him and wasn’t going to put him down there (sometimes I do, when I need to do something really quickly in the room). And on top of that, it increased his separation anxiety to the max.

I decided it has to stop. After 4 days there was no sign of progress, if anything it seemed to get worse. Now, I know that 4 days seem short for trying out a new strategy. But if you haven’t been sleeping at all for 4 days straight, you’d think you’re going to run amok. Also, I didn’t have the heart to torture the little man any further. So I decided I’m going with my old strategy and he’s coming back to our bed. And lo and behold! The very first night I did it, he slept peacefully and longer before he decided he needed the boob. It was like miracle, or maybe it was just the extreme relief, and we both slept better than ever that night.

Am I being a lazy mother here, because I prefer co-sleeping so that it’s easier for me to soothe the little man back to sleep without me losing too much of sleep? Maybe. But that makes the little man a happier baby and me a much more patient person during the day. That equation, my friend, points to a much less stressful day. Of course, there are days when I think “what the hell went wrong?!?!?”. These days are inevitable, especially if you’re a mother. But at least I’ve had a decent-ish sleep (let’s face it, when you’re a mother sleep is like a part-time lover).

So yes, as this post is (finally!!!) nearing to an end, here are some of that good (maybe not) advice to my fellow sleep-deprived, clueless, never-ending worried new mommies: 

  •  Those articles, guides and books are there to help you get some idea of this new, confusing world that’s been thrown at you ever since you held that little bundle of joy for the first time in your hands. I do admit that you get pretty good stuff from them and they help you a lot by giving you some idea of what to anticipate and what to look out for, etc.. But consider them as guidelines, as opposed to the holy bible of motherhood. Heed them for advice, or should I say guidance, but at the end of the day it’s your choice and no one else’s on how you care for your baby. And your baby is not a by-the-book baby. 
  • You know your baby best. Do what you think and feel is best for you and your baby. Even if it’s against what the articles and baby books say. If your baby is a sleep-champion and sleeps on his own without as much as a peep, then kudos to you. But if your baby needs to be rocked and sung to and nursed to sleep, who the hell cares? Bottomline is your baby is being cared for and is getting whatever he needs from you. And don’t beat yourself up, thinking you’re doing it all wrong because the articles tell you to do otherwise. Every single day with your baby is a success, even the small ones count! 
  • And, please, for the love of everything that you hold dear, don’t forget the number one person for you and your baby: YOU. Caring for a baby is not an easy job and no one really understands this until they’re actually doing it (this also doubles as a message to those who are not parents yet. It’s not always sunshine, guys. If you ever think that it is a breeze, let me say this: a breezy motherhood is just as common as a rainbow-farting unicorn). 

 Now, if you’ve come this far with this post, I truly am honored and may I just say you’re awesome! And now I must let you go on about your business on the internet as it is now past MY bedtime and as I mentioned, I’m a lazy mommy who needs her beauty sleep. 
 Cheers, rv

New Year and Sick Baby

30 Jan

Remember when your news feed on the social media was all about wishing everyone happy new year and how awesome 2015 would be? Yeah, I decided to join in on that a month later. Because I like to be fashionably late. Or maybe I’m just lazy… Whichever it is, here’s wishing whoever’s reading this a healthy and happy 2015.

Actually I do have a pretty good excuse for a) not wishing people happy new year – and let’s throw in Christmas as well while we’re at it, actually can I also throw in Christmas 2013? Because we didn’t send out any Christmas cards either… and b) for not blogging for the past… wow, has it been 3 months? Well yes, for the past 3 months. That reason is: we’ve been all over the place around the globe. Literally.

We went to Indonesia to visit my family there and show off the little man for the first time. Then we were in Singapore because why not? I will have a post coming up about Singapore soon (I hope, at least I’ve already started a draft). After Singapore we came back home for only a couple of days and headed on to Dubai for Christmas and then back home again for the New Year’s. But that’s not all! Oh no. We topped it off with a trip to Berlin to visit my husband’s family. Yeah.

So we’ve been back for a week and the little man decided to settle down with an ear infection paired with a very nasty cough. The first one ever in his life and also marking his 8-month “monthversary”.

It started with a very runny and snotty nose and I didn’t take much into it. He’s had a few colds before, so I figured this one’s going to be just like the other ones. That is until he developed a pretty high fever (the first one as well) that very night. Yes, it had to be at night, when there’s no pediatrician on duty. My reaction was of course one that would make any soap opera starlet or director proud: with too much drama. I panicked and I cried with the little man, and when I managed to get him to sleep, I cried some more… Yes, drama. Who doesn’t love it?

So yeah, he’s still recovering now. But he’s already (almost) his usual self: all smiles and playing and all. Just a little toned down version of it and he still needs to get his voice back. He’s still a little clingy and wants to be carried around most of the time. But I guess all of us are, when we’re feeling crabby, right?

Well again, here’s wishing you a happy and healthy 2015! What did you guys do during the holidays?

Cheers, rv

Tuner-Outer

17 Nov

A couple of weeks ago I read a hilarious blog post about the signs of a mom to a toddler. One of the points was something about how a mom to a toddler can tune out specific noise.

I’d like to think that this gift is something a woman acquires once she becomes a mother. Immediately. I came upon this revelation while I was at a concert… Yes, a concert. Well, actually while I was sitting outside a concert.

Let me explain.

Last Christmas (or was it the Christmas before that? Enh, who cares?!) my husband and I decided to take my teenage brother to a concert of his choice and he may bring a friend along, as a Christmas gift.

Intermezzo: we were actually pretty excited about the concert he originally picked. It was “Die Ärzte”, a distinguished German punk rock band. Might I add, I was actually relieved that he did. But the concert was cancelled due to bad weather conditions. If I remember correctly it rained for days and, since it was to be an outdoor concert, the ground had become too soft for the stage to properly and safely stand… I might be making this up, though… so um, disclaimer?

So that didn’t happen and after a few months of “hiatus” on the subject, he told me he’d like to go to Cro’s concert. Another intermezzo: I have never heard of this person/band. Apparently he’s a German rapper and his type of music falls into the “Raop” category (rap and pop), a category which, according to Dr. Google and Prof. Wikipedia is a self-invented category by the artist himself.

I bought four tickets, two on the floor at the standing area for my brother and his friend and two with designated seats for my husband and me (we’re old… And my feet killed me the last time we went to a concert, which was about three months before Cro’s concert – oh, it was Neil Young and it rocked!!!). Off we went to the concert, which fell on a Monday (seriously?!). So my husband had to come straight from work (which included flying back to Vienna) and he would meet us at the venue and he took one ticket with him. Well, more precisely, he would meet me at our seats, since there was not a chance whatsoever for my husband to arrive before the concert started (by the way, those seats? Yes ummm, mostly moms and dads who took their kids to see their idol were around us… Dang, that’s gotta say something…). What’s the problem, you ask? Nothing, really. Except that he took the wrong ticket. So we were left with two seating tickets and one floor ticket.

Well to cut the story short, I managed to get my brother and his friend in and I told my husband I’d wait for him at the bar in the hall. And that’s where my revelation came (whoa, that’s probably the longest intro I’ve ever written…)

So I sat there by the bar and the hall started emptying as people went inside. I decided to catch up with some reading while waiting. No, I wasn’t dork enough to have brought a book to a concert with me. It was an e-book (Total win!). Then suddenly the lights in the hall went dim, the music started and about a gazillion teenage girls screamed at once (and a couple of them who were still in the hall actually ran at the speed of light to get inside, screaming all the while).

So the concert has started.

I looked up to follow the running, screaming girls with my eyes and had to laugh out loud. Then something happened: I went back to my book and continued reading!!! Yes, with all the screaming and the loud music, so loud that every beat made your whole body bounce to it. Now, unfortunately I’m not very well gifted in the concentration department, especially when I’m trying to read books. I need peace and quiet to absorb and understand what I’m reading. So, this situation was a humongous achievement for me. And that’s when it hit me, I heard all the noise but I wasn’t listening to it and I had to think about the post I mentioned earlier.

Well, the perks of being a mom? LoL

Oh, and before anything nasty comes my way: I don’t, by any means, ignore the little man when he cries, it’s just that by now I’ve sort of figured out which cry means what and to which urgency. So, sometimes I do let him cry a little bit if he’s just being a mopey little man.

Yeah, sorry for the long post. I’m doing this while tuning the little man’s crying out… Haha!

Cheers, rv