Expenses and savings

"A man who both spends and saves money is the happiest man, because he has both enjoyments" Samuel Johnson

Living on our own proves to be a challenge where expenses and savings are concerned. I think many would agree that no matter how difficult, our wants and needs have to be clearly marginalised because the budget has now gone tight.

I am not a shopper to begin with. Shopaholic? Not even close. But I like to buy (read : treat) myself things which are worth to be spent on. Being a girl that I am, mostly those things are girly things; clothes, books, shoes, handbags, accessories. Now that I am a mother, most of my spendings are directed to buying my kids stuffs, sometimes more to my liking than theirs. But because now I have a tight budget, these things are not a luxury anymore. Our savings and expenses are now on matters which are far more important.

  I have become someone who would think twice where spending on 'wants' is concerned, and I have learned to accept the fact that yes, one simply will not die because of this. And because of that, I have become more 'mature' in my spending (but one who needs constant reminding from le hubby hehe). Of course, it is not easy. It never was. But we gotta do what we gotta do. Living in an era where everything just skyrockets, following a stringent spending frame is inevitable if you do not want to be swamped with debt. 

Having said that, of course the wants for things is just unavoidable, especially when it's payday. Truth be told, I have never felt happier come 25th every month because when you are literally living from paycheck to paycheck, that one day of the month is like a breather. That one day gives you hope that you can treat yourself even if it's just a scoop of BR's Chocolate Mousse Royale. And you can start dreaming again on saving and buying things that would make your heart blossom.

But you know, one thing that I have greatly learned from our financial situation and management is that, enough is better than too much. So true isn't it? And it's not like we're dead poor or something (to put it bluntly). Allah's rezeki has been with us all along. It has never been short of generous although it might not be as abundance as everyone else's. And I believe that all the things that He has eased for my family and I - that is the ultimate Rezeki, I think. 

So, yes. For now, everything is sufficient for us. Everytime if I think I have extra, I would think of the time when I have almost none, and those people who suffer a greater deal than us. If we fasten our attention to what we have, rather than what we lack, a very little wealth is sufficient, no? 

Because materialistic wealth, as we are well aware of, will not be our companion to the other world. Let us work hard and start saving for the real afterlife, insyaAllah!

Public parenting

Kids don't always behave as we'd like when we're out and about. When they are out, they get extra excited and off schedules that their behaviour can be particularly challenging. The hard part is not only we, as parents have to be extra creative (and patient) to help our child cope in a way that is acceptable and doesn't infringe on the right of others, we have to do it in front of an audience, for whom we struggle under their judgmental gaze. 

How many times have you felt urged/coerced into parenting in a way you don't normally do because you were in a public situation? I know we have and just recently, our public parenting is put to the test. Like really put to the test.

It was last Friday night, at a talk by the renown Islamic scholar Mufti Ismail Menk, that we have never felt so embarrassed, our instincts were compromised and our parenting skills were probably being scrutinised.

I still remember how my husband asked me repeatedly whether or not I am pretty sure to bring our kids to the talk. My answer was a firm yes, reason being if we do not try we will not know the outcome. Plus, if we really want this, insyaAllah with Allah's mercy He will ease everything for us. So, the five of us, together with bibik, we made our way to the venue. 

Luqman, upon arrival, was all fidgety and over excited. He didn't want to walk. We had to keep up with his pace for he was running all the time. At first, we quite enjoyed it and some strangers even seemed floored by his cute antiques. And then when he started asking for 'susu' I began to feel burdened and I actually panicked. He was showing signs of tantrums so I scooped him out of the venue and fed him at a disclosed area until he was satisfied. Pheww! Before entering the tent, I even talked to him nicely saying that he has to behave and sit with ayah all the time. He said 'Ok!" But, who are you kidding??

The next one and a half hour was probably the longest we had to endure, no kidding. Luqman was somewhat out of control, running here and there, to and fro along the aisle and he screamed in the dead silence of the talk. He was in his own world, acting like he's Ultraman, kicking here and there, showing off his heroic stunts.  He fell a few times, to add to that. He acted out worse when my husband grabbed him for him to stay put (I mean, of course). And at one point, he ran almost to the centre stage that my husband jumped up from his seat and ran towards him and carried him back. 

And I was there at my seat, wishing I could dig a hole and hide my face there. My heart was in constant fear that he would do something inappropriate at an event that is so appropriate. I was so well aware that all eyes were on us. Yes, we're his parents and we should know how to control our kid but apparently, my friend, it's not that easy. Yes, we know that the audience have the right to a talk that isn't dominated by our kid, but I think you'd agree with me when I say that focusing too much on what others will only undermine our ability to help our child. I kept on consoling myself by saying, "Don't think of what they might say. Just focus on him. Focus!" at the same time catching the apologetic smiles from other understanding parents.

"Why don't you remove him from the situation?"

You think I didn't think of that? The thing is, there was really no way out. The whole place was like swamped with attentive audience. Though seated at the back, the audience that formed another crowd outside the tent made it difficult for me to move and disappear as quickly as possible. So, I had to just stay put and put on my extra alert tentacles on for Luqman. I smiled with gritted teeth, too. At that point, I just couldn't be bothered anymore and was silently praying for the talk to end fast. Honestly, I barely focused on Mufti Menk's talk (thank God for the recorded one) and when he did, I stood up with both hands on the air, letting a huge sigh of relief.

On our way back to our car, some strangers smiled to us and I smiled back, knowing that they knew. One lady actually stopped at us, and said what an active boy he was. Apparently, he successfully stole the limelight that night. We took that as a compliment and when we held each others hands, I told my husband, congratulations on surviving Luqman. And we laughed.

Had we been more authoritarian, Luqman might or might not behave either. I think we'd done as much as we could. But of course, he can't always get away with his carefree behaviour. We as parents need to tell him nicely and be persistent if good outcome is to be expected. 

Those strangers at the talk? Well, we probably won't see them again. Sometimes, we all have bad days. And you'd understand if you're a parent yourself. As for us, we have learned a great deal from our kid. Will we ever regret bringing him to public events? No. Because now we know better how to deal with him, insyaAllah :) Experience is our greatest teacher!

There's Luqman in his white jubah. Picture taken from Sinar Harian online. I was there somewhere, hiding :)

Never stop

I am feeling a lot of things lately. With recent happenings, I can't help but feel sad. Well, sad doesn't really sum up my inside. This tremor has left me scared, anxious. Angry, even. At one point, I think I wasn't feeling a thing. I just couldn't be bothered because it was just too much for me to digest. 

 It's a sign, for sure. A very clear message to us, the forgetful. A warning, a wake-up call for us to sit up and repent. We have drifted so far, whether or not we realise it. 

There's just so much that we can do, but in the end, He is the most powerful.

Kun fayakun.

May we never stop praying. May we always be under His blessings. And may we always, always be those among the righteous, the good, amin!

sleep debt

Sleep deprivation is an inevitable part of having a baby/small kids, and surely that's been true. For ladies/mums especially, our sleep deprivation starts in pregnancy when our sleeping is a discomfort due to our growing belly and the frequent visits to the loo that disrupts our sleep. 

Sleep deprivation is one area of parenting that I personally have experienced enough. I am sure all of you new parents do too. Having two kids under three is challenging and up until now, I am so well aware of my sleep debt. However, I think that after awhile, we forget how much sleep we're missing and daytime yawns become our new normal, no?

That wonderful, nightly activity that involves closing your eyes and remaining horizontal for eight hours (or more) until sunrise? I can't even remember the last time I had that kind of sleep. Probably not for the next few years, too. 

However, we are lucky that our kids are good sleepers once they grow. We were zombies for the first three months of our babies' lives as they were struggling to adapt their sleep patterns. For now, they sleep well with a couple of rises at night for their feeding. But even these are expected because we have already tuned into their sleeping patterns. It's just that they are early risers, too. So, snuggling in bed during weekends or during our holiday getaways remain a wishful thinking. 

There are times when they have interrupted sleep, waking up every half-an-hour, especially when they're down with any sickness. That time is usually the hardest because that also means less (read : no) sleep for us parents. It's a hurculean task, to be awake at night, and yet we still do it. 

I always, always promise myself that I will definitely catch up on my sleep when the kids are asleep, but almost everytime, too, I break that promise (much to my husband's dismay). True, I don't get enough of sleep and don't even get me started on how tired I have been, but it is that treasured ME time. To be able to read a novel in the awakening silence of the day, to be able to watch the telly while lying on the sofa with the remote in one hand, to be able to enjoy a sip of coffee and breathe in the aroma, or to be able to just take a long hot shower are all the things that need catching up too. And it feels so good to actually do that without disturbance. 

Yes, sleep deprivation sucks, but after our second baby I think we have managed our sleep debt quite well. Our experience with our first kid had taught us pretty well at handling sleep at the same time juggling responsibilities. I could say that our sleep is also 'efficient' in the sense that when it is time to sleep, we really sleep, no tossing or turning or doing other unnecessary things. We're also getting better at taking power naps (my husband is a champ!). Somehow, our past experience makes us prioritize sleep more, and at times when I am just so tired I crash hard at every opportunity hehe But that is on days when I just couldn't be bothered with housework or anything else and decides to cut myself some slack.

I guess as long as we still have our kids with us, keep counting our sleep debt :)

postpartum weight

Every woman who delivered would have at least one common thing in mind; to shed their pregnancy weight pronto. Me, included. 

I remember putting on so much weight during my first pregnancy that I actually worried about not getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight.  But I guess I am among those who don't seem to have problem with that (much to my surprise). I have to thank the corset that I wore and breastfeeding of course, for letting me get back to my ideal weight. 

However, it took me awhile to shed those fat. Face it, we put on weight for a duration of nine months prior and it's not going away overnight, isn't it? Plus, as a first-time mum, we need to recover from childbirth that losing weight immediately isn't such a good idea. I didn't go on a fad diet (I didn't even have time to even think of dieting). Like I mentioned, breastfeeding really helps in shedding my weight. 

Then, the second baby came along. I was quite confident that I would eventually get back in shape, in which I did. The corset and breastfeeding were  (again) my plan. No dieting, no exercising. I continued to eat healthy and watched what I consumed in order to be energetic and be the best milk supplier to my babies. In fact, I had enough on my plate to constantly be active. Handling a toddler and a newborn is definitely an exercise of the physical, emotional and mental. 

And, the pregnancy weight just went off like that. Now, no pregnancy pooch, no wriggly thighs and arms. In fact, I am very much surprised at how 'normal' my postpartum body looks. No stretch marks, too, if I may add. 

Before you mums start to roll your eyes and babble on what a show-off I am, let me just clarify one thing. The fact that I lose so much weight this time around makes me concerned a little bit. I didn't realise that I am way lighter than my pre-pregnancy (and even pre-marriage) weight until more than 5 people actually commented of how skinny I looked. Yes, skinny. And to me, that word was enough to make me alarmed and I went on the scale for the first time in months and got myself a surprise. The number that appeared was the lightest that I have ever been in my entire adult life!

While some people might rejoice with such weight, I didn't. I became so concerned that I actually thought I might be sick. I was very much affected. My BMI showed that I am underweight. The fact that more and more people kept on commenting on how thin I have become didn't help at all. 

The thing is this; it is definitely out of my control and beyond my expectation that I would finally come to such physical state. When asked, the only reply I would repeatedly give is breastfeeding. And that is totally it. Exhaustion? Yes, maybe. But no, I do not go on a crash diet. And it hurts when some actually gave such remarks. I was down for a couple of weeks and meeting people became a forced thing. I was worried and embarrassed that people would comment on how I look. 

But fret not. I regained my confidence and I am now taking a positive outlook on things. For one, I should be more than grateful that I am actually healthy and my weight is one that others are silently wishing for. Second, I am still active, running here and there. Third, I don't have to worry about dieting and I can stuff my mouth with whatever I feel like eating (of course taking into account the healthy meals). And of course, last but not least, I know myself and my body better so any negative remarks will be flushed out. 

Yes, I admit I do look thinner but I am not scrawny and frail-looking. My husband has a nice and funny way of putting it; budak gemuk yang kurus. 

For now, I am trying to put on a few kilos to get into the ideal weight group. Other than that, I am just one thin, happy mama :)

The Writer

The Writer
I am a wife, a mother, and a teacher by profession. At times a pessimist and one who is easily amused. I find comfort once entering the threshold of my bedroom. I write because I want to and it makes me feel good :)