If I had a penny for every time someone told me it’s time for another child

There are many ways to respond to someone who says now is a good time to for me to have a second child.

I can smile politely and ignore them. I can go through a list of well-rehearsed reasons on why they are wrong. I can write a book about it and make some money.

But really, most of the time what I want to do is break into a tantrum and cry: BUT BUT BUT, WHAT ABOUT THE FACT THAT I HAVEN’T SLEPT IN THREE YEARS?

As I’m writing this, my toddler is giggling in her sleep, in our queen-sized bed where three is definitely a crowd. So forgive me if I don’t want to share what little space I have with a growing belly or one more human being.

What has been on my search page lately

Well.

Yesterday we had a family gathering event from her school, where there were FOOD. And GAMES.

It doesn’t matter if we win or lose, what’s important is the solidarity–definitely not my motto.

We’re totally winning

You’d think I’d be able to sleep after all the exhaustion from winning. But nope. Why would you go to sleep when you could ruminate over what happened 10 years ago? My brain seems to say.

Anyway. My husband is starting a new job next week. Since his hours will be unpredictable, he will spend most of his weeknights in Jakarta. We have tried this arrangement for a few weeks now, and it went surprisingly well. I think all this time we kept invading each other’s personal space, so it’s nice to have some room.

It’s past midnight now. Better try and get some sleep.

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Preschool and Decision Making

With DD starting preschool and me suddenly having uninterrupted time to write my novel, blogging is not exactly on top of my priorities right now. So, a few updates.

DD is in preschool now, three days a week, two hours each day. I sat with her in the class during the first 3-4 days, but after that she seemed to be doing quite well. Of course, please remember I have a low standard, so by “quite well” I mean she still follows her teacher around and was too shy to talk until very recently. That’s fine for me. I don’t really expect her to instantly warm up to the new environment.

I think preschool is a much-needed break for both of us. She seems to be more cheerful and independent; she self-feeds and puts on her own shoes and, most importantly, her tantrums are tamer now.

I, on the other side, have six hours a week to write. It feels so good to have uninterrupted writing time. And, now that I have other mommies to talk to, this is also an improvement to my social life, lol.

Putting DD in preschool feels like a good decision now–at least it’s not one of those parenting decisions that keep me up at night, ruminating: “Is this the right thing to do? Did I just ruin her life?”. But months before that, I used to agonize over the choices, wondering if she’s too young, if it’s just me wanting to have a break from her, and so on and so forth.

In one of NPR podcasts, I heard that we usually feel better once we made an irrevocable decision. This counts as irrevocable, I guess, since we had to pay quite a lot for the admission fee. So once we paid for it, we just don’t look back.

But what interests me now is what happens when the decision is not irrevocable. What with having an overwhelming number of choices (in just about everything in life) and the FOMO phenomena, I often find myself agonizing over the road not taken. There are two types of people in regards to decision-making, if I remember correctly: satisficers and maximizers. And, not surprisingly, I realize I’m on the more miserable team, the maximizers. So it’s not that I’m lousy with making decisions. Instead, I’m just lousy at being satisfied with the decisions I made.

Wanted: A Love Interest for My Protagonist

Long time ago, I wrote a list of my fictional crushes. This list hasn’t changed much throughout the years, though, because I don’t often find a lot of fictional love interests that are believable.

Most of the time they seem more like the author’s fantasy of a romantic partner rather than an actual human being. And instead of being swoonworthy, these characters just fell flat. Can we agree that perfect people are boring? At some point I just stopped caring because they always do all the right things and say all the right stuff. They never mess up, so what’s the point?

The reason I’m saying this is because last week I filled out a character sheet for my protagonist’s love interest, and later, I found out in horror that I was guilty of the same crime.

In my previous writings, romantic relationship never played a major role in the storyline. Only when I decided to add a little romance to spice things up did I realize how hard it is to create a believable love interest.

I decided to rewrite the character, but until now I can’t even get past his physical characteristics. He needed to be flawed, but how much? Describing him with adjectives like “tall, dark, handsome” just felt dry. I find myself struggling with describing physical appearance without boring myself to death with eyes and hair details.

Leigh Bardugo did a fantastic job describing Kaz in Six of Crows:

Kaz shook his head, dark hair glinting in the lamplight. He was a collection of hard lines and tailored edges – sharp jaw, lean build, wool coat snug across his shoulders.

And how Inej saw him in her POV:

Inej knew the moment Kaz entered the Slat. His presence reverberated through the cramped rooms and crooked hallways as every thug, thief, dealer, conman, and steerer came a little more awake. Per Haskell’s favoured lieutenant was home.

Can we have a moment of silence to appreciate how powerful this sentence is?

I’m no Leigh Bardugo, though. So I better start working on it soon.

Life Lately: Health Insurance, Emo Songs and Podcasts, and HGTV

​Asuransi lewat limit

Sepanjang tahun 2017 sejauh ini, kami sekeluarga sakit mulu. Jangankan tiap bulan; tiap minggu aja pasti ada alasan yang mengharuskan ke rumah sakit: konsultasi, kontrol, tes lab, dsb.

Dari kantor suami, kami dapet jatah rawat jalan sekian juta setahun buat bertiga. Once upon a time, asuransi kesehatan ini pernah ga terpakai sama sekali karena saya dan suami (waktu itu belum ada Amel) relatif sehat. Malah dapet hadiah sepeda karena jatahnya utuh selama setahun. Sepedanya masih ada sampai sekarang, tapi bannya kempes entah udah berapa lama ga dinaikin, lol.

Itu dulu. As I said, belakangan ini kami sering sekali bolak-balik RS. Karena transaksinya cashless tinggal nunjukin kartu doang, saya ga terlalu aware dengan biaya yang dikeluarkan. #adultingfail

Kemudian beberapa hari yang lalu, suami saya ngabarin bahwa total transaksi rawat jalan kami sudah melebihi limit periode ini, lalala. Periode selanjutnya baru mulai bulan Oktober nanti. Which means we better not get sick sampai Oktober.

Emo Songs and Podcasts

Entah karena faktor ga sempet atau gagal move on, koleksi musik saya belum diapdet sejak tahun 2012. Yang mana, bahkan di tahun 2012, isinya adalah kumpulan lagu emo awal dekade 2000-an, gyahaha. Lagu-lagu band macam The Used, Taking Back Sunday, dan Finch pada jamannya dulu sangat relatable bagi angsty teenager macam saya, lol.

Tapi belakangan ini saya agak bosen dengan koleksi musik saya, karena ya itu tadi, ga pernah diapdet. Jadilah saya mulai coba dengerin podcast, dan ternyata … ketagihan.

Berikut beberapa podcast favorit saya:

  • Terrible, Thanks for Asking: kalau ditanya “how are you?”, jawaban umumnya adalah fine, biar ga panjang-panjang. Podcast ini menyiarkan pengalaman orang-orang yang, kalau mau jujur, bakal jawab: terrible, thanks for asking.
  • Secular Jihadists: gengnya salah satu penulis favorit saya, Ali A. Rizvi, dan tiga orang ex-Muslim, ngomongin isu-isu kekinian. Warning: ga cocok buat orang-orang yang gampang merasa agama mereka dinistai.
  • NPR Ted Radio Hour: karena who has the time buat nonton video Ted.  Satu episode isinya highlight dari beberapa Ted talks dengan tema yang sama, beserta interview dengan speakernya. Suara Guy Raz, hostnya, soothing banget.

Ada yang punya rekomendasi podcast Indonesia?

HGTV: is it fake? Probably. Do I love it any less? Hell no.

Buat yang ga tau, HGTV adalah channel dengan spesialisasi di bidang renovasi rumah, berkebun, dsb. Beberapa program yang terkenal mencakup House Hunters, Property Brothers, dan Love It or List It.

Harus diakui saya merasa channel ini agak meng-glorify (apa sih istilahnya) konsep home ownership. Belum lagi rumah-rumahnya yang bikin saya mikir: do you really need that much space? Ditambah lagi, misalnya di program Tiny House Hunter, orang-orangnya selalu mengeluarkan dumb comment macam, “This is so tiny!” Like, wtf do you expect?

Tetap saja, nonton HGTV itu guilty pleasure banget karena I just loooove seeing those beautiful homes dengan open floor concept, granite countertop, dan subway tiles backsplash, lol.

Suatu hari pas nonton Lakefront Bargain Hunt, saya dan suami sama-sama mikir: this is so fake. Jadi, percakapan di programnya tuh berasa scripted banget gitu lah. Dan rupanya memang beredar kabar bahwa reality show di channel ini, well, not so real.

Tapi apa itu lantas berarti saya berhenti nonton HGTV? Haha. No.

Happy Moms Raise Happy Kids (or: Sorry, Kid, You’re Doomed)

Let me first point out the elephant in the room. In just about every parenting article that shares this view (i.e. happy moms raise happy kids), the implication goes both ways; sometimes rephrased mildly as: your behavior mirrors your unhappiness and frustrations, and the children will absorb it and reflect your negative emotions. In other words, it’s not a logical fallacy when I say (according to these articles) unhappy moms raise unhappy kids.

Damn, what a way to make a mom feel pressured to be happy.

At least that’s how I feel, with all these #blessed and #yolo and “live in the moment” and “be happy NOW” circulating throughout the internet. Am I happy? Er, not really, at least not NOW. Can I be happy later? Is that okay? No? I have to be happy NOW? Oh, dear, my kid is going to be as depressed and anxious as I am.

I always think “are you happy?” is a somewhat useless question. Happiness is just one of the various human emotions. Yes, but are you happy in general? Well, there’s no in general. I’m not happy most of the time, if that’s what you’re asking; nor do I make happiness my life goal. You see, while happy times are good to experience, it’s the bad times that make a good story. Why else do you think Game of Thrones is so popular?

Bottom line: I’m not happy all the time (heck, not even most of the time) and I’m okay with that. But does this mean my kid is in bad hands?

Now let’s move on to the statistics. Studies find stay-at-home-moms are at greater risk for depression. Though in my case, I think this has less to do with the “stay-at-home” part than the “mom” part. I’m pretty good at staying at home; it’s the motherhood part that’s driving me insane. Now combine this with another study: premature babies are more likely to get anxiety problems. Then add my shitty genes to the equation.

Let’s just say I feel sorry for my poor kid.

*This post is written in half jest by a mom who, despite the odds, wants her kid to be happy.

When I Yelled At My Kid

Last Friday was quite eventful, for both good and bad reasons. I managed to finish my first draft at last, after starting it more than a year ago. It’s still a very rough draft–even for a first one–and in need of some major revisions. But I’m putting it aside for a while now so I can revisit it later with a new perspective.

That was the good part.

Before that, unfortunately, I did something terrible: I yelled at my toddler. And by that I mean screaming bloody murder at the top of my lungs.

My kid is pretty much potty-trained at home. It’s been quite a while since she last had an accident. But that Friday, for some reason only two-year-olds know, she refused to sit on her potty. I repeatedly asked her if she needed to pee; she said she didn’t. Five minutes later she wetted her pants. 

Throughout the morning she still refused to use the potty, no matter how nicely (or not) I asked her to. Then she wetted her pants the second time. And when it happened for the third time, I just lost my cool.
I yelled and yelled for the next three minutes.

She looked unfazed through the whole thing, just playing with her toys in the bathtub and looked at me as though I’d lost my mind (which I probably had).

Truh is, even while I was yelling, I could hear this voice in my head: you’re gonna regret this later. But I was too angry, I could not stop myself.

Guilt started to rush in almost instantly the second I closed my mouth. I cleaned her up and mopped the floor and felt like the biggest failure on earth. What if I scarred her for life? What if she was permanently damaged by my yelling?

Afterwards, I apologized to her and asked if she was sad or angry about being yelled at. She answered “no” to both questions and even patted my head, the way I always do whenever she’s upset. While this did not look like a sign of permanent damage to her personality, I still couldn’t let go of my guilt. What if I can’t stop yelling? The next time, she might not be so forgiving. What if I continue to yell at her well until her teenage years?

Guilt is something I experience a lot during motherhood. For not being able to carry her to term, for every goddamn time she’s coughing, for every time I reassured myself I made the right decision to stay at home and raise her my own way and still ended up yelling at her.

On days like that, I felt like a terrible mother.

On days like that, I questioned my decision to procreate when I’m too short-tempered, too self-centered to become a parent.

I can see now that all that yelling can be avoided. Even when overwhelmed with anger, I still could think clearly enough to move her from the slippery floor and remind myself to never, ever lay a finger on her. Surely I could have taken a few seconds to calm down?

I could write a book on why I’m not planning to have another child. But mostly it comes down to this: I don’t think I’m doing a good enough job at raising this one I currently have.

Amel dan Bronchopneumonia

Setelah bulan kemarin suami saya sakit, selanjutnya giliran Amel yang dirawat. Penyakitnya sama dengan dua tahun lalu ketika dia bolak-balik dirawat sepanjang bulan Maret-April: bronchopneumonia.

Sejak suami saya keluar dari RS, kami sekeluarga memang ngungsi dulu ke rumah mertua di Jakarta supaya suami saya ga terlalu jauh commute-nya untuk kerja. Memang sehari-hari kami jadi lebih santai, tapi pas weekend aduh capek banget sis. Nengokin rumah di Bojong bukannya untuk istirahat tapi malah harus bersih-bersih karena kotor banget kelamaan ditinggal.

Nah hari Minggu di jalan dari Bojong mau balik ke Jakarta, badannya Amel panas banget. Sebelumnya memang dia sempat batuk pilek demam. Sudah ke dokter dan diuap setiap hari, tapi batuknya masih ada. Hari Minggu itu panasnya sampai 39.

Hari Senin besoknya, saya bawa ke dokter lagi. Ternyata oleh dokter direkomendasikan buat dirawat. Skenarionya sudah all too familiar buat saya: sesak napas, saturasi oksigen rendah, dehidrasi, banyak lendir di paru-paru. 


Ya sudah, akhirnya Amel masuk kamar perawatan. Pas dipasangi infus, dia teriak-teriak, “Mau pulang ke Bojong!” Lol. Selanjutnya, pasang selang oksigen juga buat membantu napasnya.

Menurut hasil lab dan rontgen, ada infeksi bakteri di saluran pernapasannya. Dokter-dokter di RS ini umumnya pada RUM semua, tapi karena judulnya infeksi bakteri dan bukannya virus, ya terpaksa harus dikasih antibiotik.

Hari Selasa pagi ketika bangun, Amel bisa dibilang masih cukup ceria. Ngeluh laper, minta makan. Tapi dikasih makanan RS, baru sesuap langsung dilepeh. Rasanya hambar kali ya, lol. Makannya susaaaah sekali. Setiap makan mungkin cuma masuk 2-3 suap.

Sepanjang hari itu Amel masih demam dan banyak tidur. Mungkin obatnya bikin ngantuk ya. Besok paginya, selang oksigennya dilepas karena saturasi oksigennya sudah bagus. Sampai di sini Amel masih ceria meskipun demamnya belum turun.

Sorenya ketika visit, dokternya menyatakan concern karena Amel masih juga demam meskipun sudah diberi antibiotik. Diminta ambil sampel dahak untuk diperiksa kultur bakterinya. Duh, saya langsung inget almarhum ibu saya yang juga demam terus-terusan sampai infeksi bakterinya menyebar ke seluruh tubuh. Mana saya sendirian pula nemenin Amel. Rasanya sedih dan bingung banget.

Hari Rabu itu juga saya mulai merasa ga enak badan. Soalnya ngurusin orang sakit itu emang capek banget cyin. Malamnya ketika suami saya datang sepulang kerja, saya langsung berobat ke dokter umum. Takut kan kalau saya batuk pilek lalu nularin ke Amel lagi.

Hari Kamis besoknya, demam Amel sudah turun setelah obatnya diganti dengan yang lebih ampuh. Tapi anaknya lemes banget. Ga ada senyumnya sama sekali, ga mau makan, ga mau ngomong. Dijawab ‘ya’ dan ‘nggak’ aja udah untung. Tiap ada suster masuk, dia langsung nangis jerit-jerit.

Hari Jumat, kondisi fisiknya sudah membaik. Demamnya hilang, batuknya berkurang, dan sudah mau makan sedikit-sedikit. Tapi anaknya masih jutek banget sis. Saya ajak ngomong, dia ga responsif. Kalau ga lagi tidur, cuma bengong aja sambil cemberut. Saya stres banget. Gimana kalo dia ga kembali ke her normal self? Seharian itu saya nangis sendirian di kamar. Mana badan rasanya rontok udah berhari-hari ga pulang.

Besoknya dokter sudah mengizinkan pulang. Kondisi Amel belum terlalu fit, tapi bisa lanjut rawat jalan aja. Minum obat kan bisa di rumah, nebulizer juga saya punya. Selain itu, saya dan suami juga khawatir liat dia kayanya depresi banget di RS. Bahkan dibeliin boneka Baby Alive yang videonya sering dia tonton aja ga mempan. Boro-boro dimainin, dilirik aja engga.

Dari RS, kami langsung pulang ke Bojong. Beli Bebek Slamet di jalan karena di rumah ga ada makanan dan saya mana sempet masak. Di mobil, Amel langsung minta makan saat itu juga, ga mau tunggu sampai di rumah. Akhirnya saya suapin. Doi makan nasi + bebek goreng banyak banget, lol. Sampai rumah, Amel tidur nyenyakkk banget ga bangun-bangun. Saya sampai harus bangunin untuk makan malam dan minum obat. Anehnya, tiap waktu minum obat di RS dia jerit-jerit heboh, tapi di rumah malah gampang  minum obatnya.

Hari Minggu, Amel masih minta saya gendong ke mana-mana. Ga bisa lepas dari saya sepanjang pagi. Boro-boro mau masak. Akhirnya suami saya yang belanja dan beli makanan. Pulangnya dia sekaligus bawain balon kucing warna pink. Nyatanya, balon 10 ribuan itu ampuh sekali, lol. Senyum Amel yang ga keliatan selama berhari-hari langsung kembali. Dia langsung minta turun dari gendongan dan main lagi.

Besoknya, she’s back to her normal self. Malah lebih lincah dan bandel daripada sebelumnya. Suami saya sampai komentar, “Kamu ini, anaknya baru dua hari sembuh udah diomelin lagi.” Abis bocahnya main tanah pake gayung mainan lalu ditaro di ambang jendela. Gimana ga ngomel coba.


Setelah itu, giliran saya yang sakit, lol. Setiap hari capek banget abisannya, daya tahan tubuh saya jadi melemah kayanya. Dua hari terakhir saya rasanya constantly pengen buang air kecil terus, lalu setiap buang air kecil rasanya nyeri banget. Karena ga ada tanda-tanda membaik, tadi akhirnya saya ke IGD dan didiagnosis dengan cystitis. Dikasih antibiotik dan pereda nyeri. 

Siang ini harusnya ada agenda makan-makan bersama keluarga suami saya, tapi saya kayanya ga kuat. Jadi saya bilang ke suami, saya di rumah (mertua) aja dan tolong Amelnya dibawa. Begitu semua pergi, saya langsung tidur. Baru bangun ketika mereka pulang … jeng jeng 3,5 jam kemudian. Enak banget tidur tanpa harus ngurusin Amel dulu, lol. Badan langsung terasa lebih seger.

Dulu saya orangnya suka menahan-nahan sakit. Jadi kalau sakit sering ga bilang, gitu. Ditahan aja rasa sakitnya, apa lagi saya sepertinya punya pain tolerance yang cukup tinggi. Ga kaya suami saya yang kalau ga enak badan dikit langsung heboh lol. Nah, tapi saya lagi berusaha mengubah kebiasaan ini. Pasalnya, almarhum ibu saya juga suka menahan sakit begini. Sakit sedikit doang cuek aja, ga langsung ke dokter. Hingga akhirnya sakitnya sudah terlalu parah. Padahal kalau diperiksa sejak awal kan mungkin bisa dicegah supaya ga semakin parah. Begitu juga waktu saya hamil Amel. Bayangin aja, sampe rumah sakit udah bukaan lengkap. Coba saya sedikit lebih rewel. Mungkin persiapannya bisa lebih matang. Makanya sekarang saya belajar buat ga meremehkan rasa sakit.

Besok Amel kontrol ke DSA. Mudah-mudahan setelah ini udahan sakitnya deh.