A Year of Journaling / Week 4
It is morning. Lewis are I are in the front room, playing with Lego. The morning sun streams in through the shutters. I open up one of the windows so that we can listen to the noise from the street.
First, Lewis makes a ‘flying jail’. I suggest ways to make it stronger, but he ignores me; he has a vision, and he is sticking to it. To my surprise, it doesn't break.
Next, we make stairs together. Yellow stairs, out of yellow Lego. I help him find the pieces he wants, and he adds one step at a time. After a while, he pauses.
‘Mummy, can you get me the pink Lego? I want to add some pink steps.’
And so our morning goes.
It is our first sliver of one-of-one time together in over a week. I sit close to him, so that I can breathe him in. Whenever I can, I sneak in a kiss.
‘I love you, my big little boy.’
‘I love you, mummy.’
I have two dates today.
First, a breakfast date with a friend from church. As I pull out of the driveway, I see Lewis’ face appear in the window of the front room. He waves his little hand at me.
‘Have a good time, mum!’
‘I will! Love you, Lewis! Listen to daddy, okay?’
‘Okay mummy! Love you!’
My friend is already at Meze Me when I arrive. The restaurant is bustling with people. We are seated and given menus to peruse. When Josh, the waiter, tells us about the omelette of the day (salmon, spinach, and three cheeses), it is an easy decision. Two omelettes please, we say. And coffee.
We chat about her son’s trip to Europe, my past design work, her responsibilities at her current job, and our families. As the morning disappears, I realise that this is our first time catching up one-on-one.
‘We need to do this again,’ I say as we leave.
In the evening, Peter and Mary arrive. The boys are excited to see them. I retreat upstairs to get ready while Rick chats to Mary about the boys’ dinner. Last time we had a date night, I was cold. So tonight I wear all the layers, including my Harper jacket, my black stockings, and my grey woollen scarf.
While Rick drives, I doze off in the passenger’s seat. It has been an intense week of work, and I am both exhausted and emptied.
At Masuya, we place the same order as we did back in March for Rick’s birthday: agadeshi tofu, wagyu beef steak, chanko nabe hot pot with extra udon, and two Cokes. Despite how tired I feel, we chat happily for almost three hours. We reflect on fifteen years of marriage and conclude that it’s been a blast.
(When it comes time to cook the udon, Rick points out that, fifteen years ago, he would’ve dumped all of it. But now, after fifteen years, he'’s learnt that I like to take hot pot slowly. Hilarious.)
Later, in bed, we hug and hold hands as we fall asleep.
‘Love you, Rick.’
‘Love you, Ronnie. Happy wedding anniversary...’
For some reason, I cannot sleep.
I lie in bed, clutching Rick’s hand, with an unexpected ache in my heart. I feel sad. Sad that the boys are growing up so quickly. Sad that I missed out on so much time with them in the past week because of work.
I wake in the morning with a renewed intention: to savour the moments I have with the boys and to be present in both thought and action when I am in their presence.
And so, over breakfast, I observe the boys as they play: Gus and Jamie face off (yet again) in chess, while Pete pretends to be a teacher in a classroom teaching his two bright-eyed students, Bear and Lewis.
And on the way to church, I tune in to their conversations rather than just tuning them out.
And when Lewis asks me to stay with him in creche, I do.
And when, at quiet time, Bear wants to read Uno’s Garden and my body is desperate for a nap, I happily sit with him on the couch and force my eyes to stay open so that I can listen to my son read a book that he loves.
I spend most my working day prepping and scheduling posts for Instagram and Facebook. I also create my first newsletter using Squarespace, and I rejoice at how easy it is. I send myself a few test emails, and I’m delighted at how lovely it all looks.
In the afternoon, Rick cooks ribs for dinner. They are huge, and they are delectable! Soaked with the juices and the marinade from the pork ribs, the roast vegetables are delicious as well. Even the boys say so. I steal two small pieces of potato from Pete’s plate. He looks at me with feigned surprise but doesn’t seem to mind.
At Rick’s encouragement, I go for my first evening walk in over a month. I listen to old songs by Britney Spears and Shotgun by George Ezra as I walk around the block three times. It is impossible to resist bopping and singing along to the music (sorry, neighbours). Needless to say, I return home refreshed and keen for a bit dancing...
By some miraculous design, everyone who turns up to Bible study today can understand Cantonese. And so I lead my first Bible study in Cantonese. Google Translate comes in handy quite a few times.
Afterwards, I zip over to school to attend the open classrooms as part of Education Week and to watch the band perform in the concert. There are also numerous choir and dance performances. By the time I return home, I have just under an hour to eat lunch before driving off again to do the one-hour round trip of picking up all five boys from their various locations.
Exhaustion descends. On the last leg of the trip, I can barely keep my eyes open. Nonetheless, I push on with our usual mathematics homework on a Tuesday afternoon. James and Bear are great, but Pete gives me attitude, which I decide to overlook. Later, over dinner, when every last ounce of my reserve has been depleted, I find out that Pete has been talking about running away.
This pushes me over the edge.
I beckon Rick to join me in the front room, where I burst into tears. I am deeply hurt—having exhausted myself all day for the boys’ sake, now one of them wants to leave simply because I asked him to do some homework? Rick encourages me to go for a walk, so I do.
Half an hour later, I am much calmer. I return home. Pete comes to find me and immediately apologises for his prior attitude and for hurting me. We embrace, and I tell him all is forgiven...
I savour the solitude at home today. With cups of tea at my beck and call, I finally start writing in the boys’ journals for the first time since our winter holiday. One by one, I weave my memories into words. Momentum gathers, and it all comes pouring out.
With every memory that I record, I am reminded of the treasure that I have.
I continue to gather and collect my memories of the boys. I also have the idea to republish my mini-essays on The Art of Journaling on my new blog. This leads to a few hours of work as I seek to incorporate this into the body of content I have already planned and put in place.
In the afternoon, I begin working on a conceptual moodboard for a Jane’s logo identity and website. I read over her answers to my questionnaire and, immediately, the ideas begin to flow. I start researching images and quickly build up a preliminary moodboard that I am confident will resonate with Jane. I send her a link and some questions to ascertain her response and feedback.
At bedtime, I ask Bear about his time at IGA with dad—something I know that he looks forward to every Thursday afternoon. ‘It was good,’ he says. ‘But we only bought a few chocolates, and we finished them all, and then I was hungry all the way till dinnertime.’
You can read the other posts in this series here.