"So what's it like? Taking care of 2 young kids?"
I personally find it hard to answer this question because it's as general as "So, how's your life in Germany?" - which people ask me whenever we meet up once a year back in Singapore.
I waver between saying the obligatory "Oh, it's fine" to a more genuine answer of going into a bit more detail of my life.
But seriously. How does one answer a question like that? How does one summarize the 24/7 job of being a Mom into one sentence? A short, but meaningful sentence?
Usually, I say "Oh, it's fine. There are stressful moments, but in general I'm really enjoying it."
The truth is, as Mums we tend to forget how stressful the stressful moments are. I think the brain has this innate capacity to shut out unpleasant situations and replace them with positive ones. Mummy amnesia I suppose. That also explains why a woman has a second, third or even fourth child. The experience, or should I say trauma of childbirth should objectively be enough to put women off ever wanting another kid after experiencing it once.
But still, women continue to reproduce and the world's population didn't die off after one generation.
Well, to give you a glimpse of my life, here's what I did yesterday.
7:30am - Gabriel wakes up and is super mega tired. He's sick and hardly slept properly last night. His mild bronchitis, coughing and flu keeps him awake and his Mummy too obviously.
I stumble out of bed and in my half-slumber, I try to figure out if I should try putting him back to bed or should I start the day.
Sammy wakes up because he sees that Gabriel is awake and says, "Play Gabe Gabe". To which I reply, "No Sammy, Gabriel is sick. He should go back to sleep".
9am - Fast forward to making an appointment at the paediatrician because Gabriel continues to cough and run a fever after being sick for 2 days.
Called grandpa to come by to watch Sammy while I bring Gabriel to the doctor. Doctor says that Gabriel has a bacterial infection on top of a viral infection and prescribes him antibiotics.
12pm - Done with the doctor, drive home and deposit both kids at home with Grandpa while I run down to get medicine and a bit of meat for dinner. Both kids are asleep by now.
1pm - Get home to Sammy still sleeping, while Gabriel is awake. Attempt to heat up lunch from previous day with one hand. Warm up Gabriel's lunch which I prepared and froze before.
Feed Gabriel and myself, while Sammy comes tumbling into the living room and cries because he's in this half-awake-but-still-tired-but-doesn't-want-to-go-back-to-bed thing.
Gabriel starts crying because Sammy is crying. Both are crying. And I'm trying to figure out what to do.
Distract Sammy by turning on music on my iPhone and asking Sammy if he wants to join me for lunch. Offer him my chicken soup while sitting him on my lap and feeding him with one hand.
He takes a bite, realize that it's good enough to eat and proceeds to sit on his own chair.
Gabriel refuses to eat anymore and starts crying cos he wants to get off the chair. I try to distract Gabriel by giving him some toy so that he remains on his high chair while I try to finish feeding Sammy his lunch. Gabriel keeps throwing the toy on the floor cos you know, it's Mummy's job to pick up the toys from the floor.
2pm - Call my friend to tell her that we can't go to her child's birthday celebration because Gabriel is sick and I don't want to infect anybody. She says that I can leave Sammy with her so the boys can play and I have a bit of hands free with "just one kid".
I agree and proceed to clear the lunch while the kids play around me in the kitchen.
2.30pm - Everything is proceeding well and I think of what I want to do while Sammy is at his friend's. That's when I hear a sickening thud of glass shattering on the floor. I turn around to realize that baby has knocked down a bottle of red wine that was standing in the storeroom next to the kitchen.
Gabe is sitting in a mess of red wine and I see red wine spilt everywhere. Under the door, under the potato box, under the other bottles of wine. Argh!! And the glass!!
My mind goes into panic mode. Should I clear the glass? Should I attempt to wipe up the red wine before it spills into the entire storeroom? Wait! Baby's most important!
I pick up Gabe, remove his red-wine-soaked clothes and give him a fresh change of clothes, meantime trying to make sure that Sammy doesn't step onto the red wine.
Put baby back on the floor in playroom and proceed to do the big clean up. Close the kitchen door so that the kids do not run in.
This peace lasts all but 5 mins before Sammy opens the kitchen door and baby comes crawling in after. I carry baby away and put him back in the playroom, while pulling Sammy with me.
The same thing happens again for a second time and I lug both kids with me again. You see, none of the doors in this rented place of ours can be locked. So I'm prisoner to unlocked doors and a toddler who doesn't do what he's told.
I wipe up all the red wine and am in the midst of mopping up the entire kitchen floor and storeroom.
Just then, I hear another sickening thud. This time, it comes from Gabriel who has somehow managed to fall backwards while scooting around. I remove my cleaning gloves, carry him and attempt to calm him down.
I put him down and proceed back to finish my cleaning. In my attempt to finish the job ASAP, I decided that I do not need my cleaning gloves and tried to squeeze out the excess water from the mop. I prick my finger on one of the shards of glass that was attached to the cloth and I see blood.
I'm like $%&*# under my breath before reminding myself "Ok ok, it's gonna be all over. Oh yeah, pray!!!" I manage to utter a prayer of "Oh God, please help me to finish cleaning this without the kids coming in, or someone falling down, or me hurting myself". And I think, "Why didn't I pray before?"
I summon every ounce of energy and patience I have to finish vacuuming the place and mopping it again.
4pm (I spent more than an hour clearing up the mess that baby did in 2 seconds!)
We are an hour late for the party already before I finally brought Sammy to the party. Things become somewhat more controllable after that.
5.30pm - Gabriel takes his nap while I get to cook a decent dinner before the hub comes home at 7.30pm after picking Sammy up from my friend's house.
Yeah, that's one of my crazy days. I felt exhausted just recalling what a crazy Monday I had. But to be fair, not everyday is as crazy as yesterday was. Our Mondays are usually English playgroup in the morning, followed by a quick lunch at home and the boys nap after that. Or the boys nap in the car and we eat lunch after, followed by children gym in the late afternoon.
Obviously all forms of group play have to be suspended when the kid(s) are sick, so that's when things get more stressful.
Still, I wouldn't exchange this job for the world. I love my boys to bits.
I'll leave you with a video I took recently of my boys over breakfast. Sammy counted from 1 to 10 in both Chinese and German.