Category Archives: Journey of life

I will

He already knows how to make me desperate…. he knows what he wants and it is impossible to divert his attention when his mind is really set on something.

I just need to remember that it is this tremendous will that kept him alive at the very beginning. I don’t think he will ever give up things easily.

Six months old today. Grabbing and playing and fidgeting. Thankfully, not crawling yet. He knows where to look for me when is fast asleep but a little bit in pain. He can snuggle up to me at night. He laughs and giggles and screams and complains and it feels like he can almost tell a story after a busy day out. Still enjoys all new impulses, people, and going places. Still difficult to keep him entertained all the time.

I’m trying not to worry about things but it is difficult.

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Nature or nurture?

Not a chance that I can contribute anything meaningful to the age-old debate, but I am definitely blown away at times by the magnitude of what I had always thought to be true about the “nature” side.
My son already has a personality, whether it came from his soul, whatever that is, or his genes. He needs people, things happening, entertainment. He would be so much happier in a big family 😦 I’m desperately trying to connect with people, and find a space for us outside these couple of square metres, but I am too old or broken to reinvent myself, and anyway, even that would need soft skills and connections that I have always been unable to manage. Yet again, as I see more of the local “parenting scene”, I perceive myself as insignificant and sometimes extremely inadequate. My son needs me, and in many ways, I am already letting him down.

I’m not in a good shape. I need to focus on just doing this day by day, the best I can, and try to keep out any thoughts or doubts of anything beyond that.

Because my son is wonderful and he needs me, and I need to figure out how to give him the things that I cannot as yet.

I’m reminded of his big brother in many ways. I miss those kids, too.

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To what extent is Asia already in his blood? The jungle, the music, the joy? Going to sleep at sunset definitely works out better at the tropics 🙂

And the all-important question also is not only what I can give him… but what am I going to take away from him? Which half of his family? Where would he be more successful? Happier?

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(sleepy.)

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The last couple of days have been really rough and I am struggling even to find my voice to speak about it, find the way to relate to my own feelings about it. He has started a weird mixture of separation anxiety and a roller coaster of emotions. He has always been so calm and cheerful. Now he already has a voice to let me know about his emotional needs, the trouble is, I don’t understand him at all at times. Would his father understand? Would he just simply take him along to the tourist centre and hold him in his arms while he is chatting away with people? I think it would all come to him naturally, because they have a similar personality.

I need to think. I need to calm down. Too stressed out. Too sleepy again, typing away here, instead of accepting that luxury that I could have gone to sleep myself at 6 pm as well…

Day by day

DSC_0432The thing is, I still have no clue what I’m going to do with an extroverted child. He demands entertainment. The more people around, the better, he even tries to skip meals and naps to see people. Other babies his age are either fidgeting with their toys, hugging mommy, or screaming their heads off, while my son is watching everybody with eager eyes and soaking it all up. He has barely even noticed his own hands at the same time. They are too near. Too boring.

The photos keep jumping all over the page and my patience is gone so all the text goes here and you are required to imagine a nicely formatted and edited blog post here :-/

I’m trying not to despair but it is not easy sometimes.

At the moment, colourful leaves dancing in the wind against the clear blue sky and shimmering sunlight will suffice… but guess what, those leaves are falling off fast.

I don’t have any friends anymore. It is a long time to be away for 9 years. Or 4. Or a year and a half. Those were the years when I moved countries. And everywhere I look, I see people who are, or at least manage to appear, self-confident and accomplished. I have a son who sleeps through the night and never cries, and yet I cannot finish or sometimes start) anything. We go for these walks every day, now that it is still not raining and not freezing during the day. And then what, when he starts crawling and climbing and pulling the place apart, all of these couple of square metres where all of our stuff is all over, because there is no place else, this tiny little space left from the entire world that was mine just a year ago. Yes, I feel trapped. Alone with all the responsibility.

I’m happy but I am really scared at the same time, screaming for help all the time, yet nobody can hear me, or if maybe they do, they don’t care enough.

I do all that I need to, but my heart is still frozen. I do all the singing and trying to research all the stupid little things that might be important, but I am not really here. This is still a movie I am watching. Is my son constantly looking out the window and trying to get out of here because that’s what I am doing too?

How on earth am I going to relate to my son if at the age of 4 months he can already do what I have never been able to figure out in this life, although I have always desperately wanted to: get on with people?

The only time he can roll over now is when he is looking for me, even in his sleep. I need to go. His hands are freezing even in a warm room when I am not hugging him.

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At 4 months now:

  • he loves red
  • he loves brown bear brown bear, and watches my hands when I show the ASL signs,
  • he does a cycle of eat-nap-have fun every two and a half hours, naps are almost 30 minutes to the second
  • his favourite toy is a soft plastic cube with sea animals
  • we have switched to cloth nappies now, he doesn’t pee a lot so it’s easy for now
  • those little teeth are moving, sometimes lots of screaming during the day, and two really restless nights, restless meaning scream in his sleep only, not waking up properly
  • he has eaten a couple of slices of apple but we are not telling the health visitor because he really shouldn’t
  • he loves listening to people on the phone and music on youtube
  • he has stopped growling like a dog while he is eating, and not fidgeting with his ear anymore, more like holding on to me so I don’t run away
  • only rolling over and reaching for things by accident
  • he babbles less and less, except for angry protests and complaints when he wants a bath after sunset
  • sun worship! sunset means time to go to sleep, sunrise means time to wake up, would work neatly in a tropical country….
  • only crying when really in pain
  • this is boring but just so I remember at least a little …..

Learning to smile

Things are going well. Or, who knows. By the time I get here, I am barely capable of putting grammatically correct and meaningful sentences together. Even though I don’t really do anything much during the day…. just smile and babble and hold my son when he is feeling lonely.
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Of course, I was kicking and screaming at some of the consequences of the big families in Indonesia. Like, I was always pretty much the last afterthought, anything came before me, like slaughtering a cow for a family feast and playing brainless music for two days on end for a birthday party. I would go insane if I never had a minute alone to myself, if anyone could walk into my house anytime unannounced, drop in to lunch whenever they please, no privacy, no free time to myself. Always multiple cousins and uncles to consider, somebody always drops dead in an inconvenient moment or needs an urgent loan. It is exhausting even just to look at it from a distance.
But the other extreme over here is also really harsh. Not that I am left completely alone to fend for myself and take care of my son, western style, very far from that. I can consider myself lucky, somebody helps me every day. I just really wish I had a little more time for myself, just an hour a day when someone else holds my son and I can cook or go for a walk or whatever, just switch off.
If we were part of an Indonesian family, someone would be helping to take care of him all day. You would never be alone with a problem.
You would never be alone, even when you wanted to be alone.
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Why just extremes, I wonder. Why the complete western break with even the closest family, even grandparents considering it a favour to help out. Why the complete eastern lack of privacy and self-reliance. I’m not even sure which one I would take harder on the long run. Luckily I don’t have to make that choice for now. We will go back someday to see our Indonesian family. And we go from there. Until then, It’s just this small circle of us, teaching each other to smile more. Like some vicious circle. Who knows, I might even end up happy one day.
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One thing is for sure, I need to learn to live in the present moment. Now. Not always dream about the past or plan for the future. Just sing some silly song now or make faces or just hold him in my arms when he calls me. Not worry so much about what will happen when he starts to crawl or talk or needs toys or needs to go to school. I need to stop worrying or I will go crazy.
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By the way, I still don’t understand how this all happened and why. I’m still not living my own life. I’m watching this in a movie. And it is now beginning to scare me. It is just too easy and dreadfully difficult at the same time, and I’m still not sure I can deal with what is coming up now. The dark, cold, gloomy days and all the rest.
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I still wish I was somewhere else, although this is where I wanted to be all my life. And for now, it is enough to smile, even with tears in my eyes, and I can deceive him, he won’t know the difference. But this won’t last forever. I need to learn to smile for real, not just go through the motions. Before he catches me and asks me why I am crying all the time.

Lose control

Oh no, we are fine. I am damn lucky. He sleeps and eats well, and overall he is a happy, cheerful little guy.
I didn’t do anything right or wrong, he just happens to be this way. It’s not even my genes, most probably.
I’m still wondering though how all those mashed potatoes I ate in Bali got converted to eyelashes, bones, little fingernails and everything else around and in between. I’m still stuck at, like, pregnancy 5.0 in my mind.

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Anyway, what I meant to say is that this whole experience must be so difficult for control freaks and people who are used to having things their way. People have always been unpredictable for me, and I also used to have a rather chaotic job, curve balls thrown at me left right and centre, so I’m not really rattled in this regard. He is who he is, at this moment. I knew and I accepted that he would come with this pre-programmed package regarding his basic temperament, and there is precious little I can do to change any of it at this time. He slept through the first night – and every night ever since. But if he didn’t, it’s not because I’m doing something terribly wrong. It surprises me how difficult some people find it that they lose control completely. I got lucky, well, I’ve slept enough to be able to think clearly, I suppose.
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But then, of course, I have other fears. Like, he is still so perfect, and I will definitely screw it up. And of course no idea how I will deal with the stressful stuff, when you need to be strategic and resourceful and firm, like, when he starts crawling and pulling the room apart, and later when separation anxiety comes in. Others would have a lot more experience managing stuff like that. I would think general people skills matter. So many things will be up to me, then. Those basic installed programmes can be modified and upgraded and tweaked, but not erased or uninstalled. It won’t be any of my doing if they are right or wrong, but what they develop into, that’s up to me. Scary.
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I’ve just realised I haven’t had a table for something like ten years and never in those years did I have a meal at a table in my home (obviously, I’m really good at eating in my lap in a reclining position, plate on my tummy, while typing emails). I still remember how to use a table because you can’t really lie down in a restaurant, let alone the school canteen. But I got really upset when it dawned on me that probably I will need to teach this kid of mine to eat properly at a table with spoon and fork and all that. Hell, I can’t eat properly with a fork and knife, and nor do I want to. But I can’t inflict the consequences on my son, now can I?
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It’s all set now, and there is hardly anything I can do about it, no control anymore, just wait and see, but I really do hope that the early eye contact and huge smiles and all the effort that goes into formulating short cries and communication means that he didn’t inherit much of the autistic traits. Or maybe just a little bit, only the good stuff. Still years until we find out. My heart is in pieces, partly in Asia, I would be devastated if we weren’t flexible enough to travel the world later, in a few years’ time. I want to be able to put him in a mei tai and board a plane and go see places like the beach or elephant park. And go see daddy’s family in Indonesia. I’m a single mother, I can deal with “normal”, maybe, on a good day, but sadly, not with a “challenge”. I would crumble. Besides medical issues and accidents, this is my biggest fear, that my little son will grow up to be very weird and have meltdowns all the time.
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I know…. I know this is simply not how it works. I still need to learn an awful lot about losing control. How to accept the fact even in extreme situations, if I have to. Baby steps. One day at a time. It’s gonna be difficult enough to be my son anyway, as it is. It’s gonna be really difficult to be a good mother.  If only I was a bit stronger… now it’s still easy. Food and cuddles whenever he wants them…. (why is losing control really so difficult for anyone at this point….?)

 

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My little son is not a newborn anymore…. he is not just eating and sleeping, eating and sleeping, quietly and innocently staring into the wide wild world…. he has changed so much, and I need to let go already, so many little things slipping away…. the way he clenches his fists while eating – now he prefers to fidget with his ear…. sleeping peacefully – now he is restless and squirming…. looking for me as he is inching his way around the bed in this very moment as well.
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He has started communicating and interacting. Nature is smart, just before parents go nuts because of sleepless nights (not me…. we do sleep a lot….), babies learn to smile whenever they see a face. and we do take it personally, though I read it’s not. but I prefer to believe anyway that it is. that even in between two bouts of fighting with the stomach genies he is smiling at me because he is genuinely happy to see me. he does tend to recognise me. my mother means fun. I mean food. he can also stare at my boobs and smack his lips in a really funny way. the munching and piggy grunting still goes on 🙂 he does know now where food comes from. he likes to listen to voices and sounds. he makes his own little sounds, really really putting a lot of effort into shaping his lips and getting it right. he has tried “talking” while eating when he is happy 🙂 he is fascinated by colourful moving Himalayan Buddhist prayer flags and everything green. the rainbow ducks can hold his attention for five minutes. he can push himself to be near me at night in bed. he can push himself forward when lying face down in his cot. he already knows where he wants to be and what he likes to look at.

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He has his father’s easy-going smile and sunny disposition. nothing can make him scream and get upset for long. the next minute he is already smiling. he does take after me a little – he can sleep all night and eat all day. like, all day, really. but I still don’t see any of me in his features. I don’t see his daddy’s features either, only certain faces he makes and the way he holds his hands sometimes while asleep.

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boring, isn’t it? he is my little world now. I’m still waiting for lightning to strike. if it ever will.
by the way, I never understood why people like Obama and Lewis Hamilton are referred to as “blacks”. they are just as white as they are black. why aren’t mixed race and mixed heritage people referred to as such? as if blackness was like a stain. like in the old times, even a single drop of blood can ruin it.

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Now my little son is just smiling at everybody and has no idea that he is a mixed kid too, and that there are people out there who will hurt him for it. I have no idea how I can help him to be strong enough to deal with it. I’m not strong enough myself. I cannot teach him to be Indonesian, he won’t have much to hang onto. his father, well he’s not gonna be part of our everyday lives for sure. I’ve read stories, seen movies… but I guess the stories that go all right don’t make it into a book or movie. only when something goes really awry.

Looks like there is something small to learn every day. now it’s how not to go nuts being attached to him so many hours a day, with so many things that should be done, but tied down, just the thoughts running wild, in circles, chasing each other desperately. a few weeks from now I will need to childproof the bed. there will be something for every day. one day I will need to deal with the coffee latte situation too. –  still many hours of nursing while I can think about it. maybe it would be easier if he had been born with his final skin tone. I don’t know. I still need to deal with all this in my heart 😦

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so many things I would like to write about the cultural polar opposites that collided in a moment, I even have sentences half ready in my mind during the day…. but not by the time I get here 😦  in many ways, I wish he could be a child for some time out there, running wild with the other boys on the beach, chasing crabs, climbing coconut trees, carefree and crazy… but then, that godforsaken place doesn’t even have books or milk. or anything resembling a decent education, for that matter. but it is still so far away. we’ll go back sometime… he needs to see his other family. I’m already shattered into so many pieces. he can hold all those pieces together now, in his own way. I’m crying and he doesn’t know yet what tears are. he looks into my eyes and gives me a huge smile. nothing and nobody scares him yet. that’s my son.

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I see now that this last photo is not sharp. but I still like it anyway.

Perfect

The thing is, I was given a perfect little baby and I am scared I will screw it up, and he will ask me why on earth I ever wanted to create him out of nothing.

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I still cannot come to terms with the absurdity and near impossibility of creation.

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And now it’s supposed to be easy, I sleep when he sleeps, I feed him when he smacks his lips, and I hold him close when he cries. But somehow I still find an hour or two every once in a while to cry my eyes out. These are the tears he knows, from when he was still inside, when I had hardly anything else circulating in my system to nourish him but tears, and he just stares into my eyes, innocent but still omniscient, and I cry even harder.

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