February 20, 2013

are you ready for motherhood?

When I found out I was pregnant with lil' Ee three months after I got married, a few aunties commented that I should have waited a little longer and enjoy married life a little while longer. No offence aunties, but it's really none of your business - it's not like any of you are going to chip in and help anyway. Fast forward three and a half years later, I still hold true to that sentiment but 'Oh.My.Gawd.' am I exhausted! Having my first kid when I had just started my journey into the three-o zone absolutely knocked the socks off of me. Now after a second kid in my mid thirties, that same pair of socks is still on the moon and is about to launch off to Jupiter.

I guess I'll never know if I was ready to have lil' Ee three and a half years ago. Now that lil' Kai is almost six months old, I think the answer has eluded me long enough to consider it a x-File {insert creepy Mulder & Scully theme here}. 

You see, I thought I was ready - finances aside because that is a story in its own - I read books. I stalked Google. I joined forums. I thought I knew everything. The moment I held lil' Ee in my arms, everything I read and got worked up for in the 38 weeks I was pregnant got on a jet plane to Houston and rocketted off to the moon with my pair of socks. Then when I found out I was pregnant with lil' Kai, I figured the experience I had under my belt with lil' Ee would come in handy but nope ... that kid with chubby cheeks and turkey thighs is a mystery folder all on his own.

Maybe if I read this article by Bianca London back in 2008-2009 and took the test, I may have figured out the answer. Oh well, too late now since I'm living it but perhaps it might help you to decide instead. Basically, it's a series of 14 test to perform to see if you're ready {and fit} to be a parent. I've changed a few details to better customise it to our local Malaysian culture.

Test #1: Preparation.
  1. Go to a local drug store like Guardian or Watsons, tip the contents of your wallet onto the counter and tell the pharmacist to help him/herself.
  2. Go to the supermarket. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to the head office.
  3. Go home. Pick up the newspaper {you can opt to sit on the loo if it's what you do} and read it, for the last time.
For Women
  1. Put on a loose fitting dressing gown and stick a beanbag down the front.
  2. Leave it there.
  3. After nine months, remove 5% of the beans.
Test #2 - Knowledge.
Find a couple who are already parents and berate them about their methods of discipline, lack of patience, appallingly low tolerance levels and how they have allowed their children to run wild. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's sleeping habits, toilet training, table manners ... you know, the overall behaviour of how a child should behave. Remember to enjoy this. It will be the last time in your life that you will have 'all' the answers.

Test #3 - Discovering How The Nights Will Feel.
You can kiss goodbye to precious beauty sleep and learn to accept haggardness as soon as you have a child. Here's how to condition yourself.
  1. Walk around the living room or your bed room from 6pm to 10pm carrying a bag of 5kg for the first 12 months and then upgrade to a 10kg bag of rice thereafter, with radio either turned to static or classical music or whatever obnoxious sound music, loudly.
  2. At 10pm, put the bag of rice down. Set the alarm for midnight and go to sleep.
  3. Get up and 11pm and walk the bag of rice around the room until 1am.
  4. Set the alarm for 3am.
  5. Since you probably won't be able to go back to sleep, get up anyway at 2am and make a cup of tea or whatever you drink you fancy.
  6. Go back to bed at 2.45am.
  7. Get up again at 3am when the alarm goes off.
  8. Sing songs in the dark until 4am - a mash up of Lullaby, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Mary Had A Little Lamb will come naturally to you and you'll wonder why you're not on Glee.
  9. Put the alarm on for 5am - get up when it goes off.
  10. Make breakfast or have breakfast and then go to work.
  11. Keep this up for 5 years - look cheerful
Test #4 - Dressing Small Children.
  1. Buy a live octopus and a string bag.
  2. Set timer for 5 minutes.
  3. Attempt to put the live octopus into the string bag so that no arms hangout. You may get inked but that's acceptable in this test. 
Test #5 - Cars.
  1. Forget the BMW or Audi - buy a practical {usually ugly} five door wagon - I have a Naza Citra.
  2. Buy a chocolate sundae from McDonald's and put it in the glove compartment - leave it there.
  3. Get a coin, any denomination - insert it into the CD player.
  4. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.
Test #6 - Going For A Walk.
Perform these steps in order -
  1. Wait infront of your front door.
  2. Go out the front door.
  3. Come back in.
  4. Go out the front door, again.
  5. Come back in, again.
  6. Go out the front door, yet again.
  7. Walk towards the gate {if you're living on landed property}, towards the elevator {if you're into apartment therapy}.
  8. Walk back towards the front door.
  9. Walk towards the gate/elevator, again.
  10. Walk - very slowly - down the the road for five minutes.
  11. Stop. Insepct minutely and ask at least six question about every piece of used chewing gum, dirty tissue and dead insect you see along the way.
  12. Retrace your steps back towards the gate/elevator.
  13. Yell at the top of your voice that you have had as much as you can take. Do this until the neighbours come out and stare at you.
  14. Throw up hands up in the air and stomp back into your home.
  15. Congratulations. You are now just about ready to attempt taking a small child for a walk.
Test #7 - Conversation With Children.
Repeat everything you say at least five times.

Test #8 - Grocery Shopping.
  1. Go to the local supermarket and take with you the nearest thing you can find to a pre-school child - a fully grown goat would be excellent. If you intend to have more than one child, take more than one goat.
  2. Buy your weekly groceries without letting the goat or goats out of your sight.
  3. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys.
  4. Until you can accomplish the three steps above without losing it in public especially step 2, do not contemplate having children.
 Test #9 - Feeding a 1-Year Old.
  1. Hollow out a wintermelon - a watermelon works too.
  2. Make a small hole on the side of the melon.
  3. Suspend the melon from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.
  4. Now, get a bowl of mush - soggy cornflakes works fine - and attempt to spoon it into the swaying melon while pretending to an aeroplane.
  5. Continue until half the cornflakes are gone.
  6. Tip the rest of the soggy conflakes onto your lap. Make sure that most of it drip onto the floor.
  7. Stay calm.
 Test #10 - Television.
  1. Learn the names of every character from The Wiggles, Barney, Teletubbies and Disney.
  2. Watch nothing else on television for at least 5 years.
 Test #11 - Mess.
  1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and any flavour jam onto the curtains. You can opt to stick those chewy vitamins onto furniture as well.
  2. Hide a fish behind the television or stereo or your Astro decoder and leave it there for a month.
  3. Stick your fingers in the potted plants and then wipe them clean on the walls. Cover the earthy stains with crayons. Be creative - how does it look?
  4. Empty every single drawer/cupboard/storage box in your house onto the floor and proceed with step 5.
  5. Drag randomly, items from one room to another room and leave them there. Lego pieces work best here.
 Test #12 - Long Trips With Toddlers.
  1. Make a recording of a kid shouting "Mama!" repeatedly. Note that there should be no more than a 4 second delay between each "Mama!" - include the occassional 'loud' to 'supersonic jet level' decibel for variety.
  2. Play this recording in your car, everywhere you go - for the next 4 years.
  3. You are now ready to take a long roadtrip with your toddler.
 Test #13 - Conversation.
  1. Start talking to an adult of your choice.
  2. Have someone else continually tug on your shirt hem or shirt sleeve, all the while playing the "Mama!" recording in test #12.
  3. You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult with a child in the room.
 Test #14 - Getting Ready For Work.
  1. Pick a day when you have an important meeting to attend.
  2. Put on your finest work outfit.
  3. Take a cup of full cream milk and add 1 cup of lemon juice in it.
  4. Stir.
  5. Pour half of the mixture on yourself - yes, on the work outfit.
  6. Saturate a kitchen towel with the other half other half of the mixture.
  7. Attempt to clean your outfit with the same saturated kitchen towel.
  8. Do not change - you have no time to.
  9. Go to work. You can spray on some perfume, if you wish.
So, how did it go ... think you're up for the challenges of motherhood? Granted that some of the above may have been slightly exagerrated i.e. not being able to change your stinky puke covered outfit  in test #14, but all-in-all it is quite accurate. Yup, including the dressing a live octopus and grocery shopping with a goat or two or how ever many kids you plan on having.

Motherhood will be tough and sometimes you'll feel like someone switched off the lights permanently on you while stuck in a long dark tunner but it's not without its rewards. You'll have no time to sit down to catch your breath, enjoy a proper meal or even sleep but one look at this face, I'm willing to go through it all over again.

Seriously, how can I not be ready for this face that greets me every morning I wake up when the sun rises? Now, I cannot wait until the end of the workday so I can go home and hug my lil' chubby cheeks.