July was a month of reunion as I met up with some old friends at weddings and gatherings. You know that part where you get to chit-chat with people you have not seen in ages, come face to face with friends who are all busy with their separate lives and would otherwise not meet up, and then you go on to update each other on how you have been? Yeah, I did that aplenty.
For me, my updates were pretty much straightforward. It would be things like "Yes, I am back from Sweden at last." Or "Oh, I got married and I have two girls now - Angel and Ariel." Or "Nope, not working. I stay home to look after my kids". I might have been a little hesitant in the first year or two but over time, I have grown used to telling people that I am a stay-at-home mum of two, and I do it proudly with a big smile.
I had a friend who was telling me "I remember you were one of the smartest people in class and you had all the A grades." Thinking back, since we were all enjoying the free flow of booze, I can't really decipher if he meant it in the sense "Wow, you were one of the smartest people and you are doing just as awesome in your life now, look at your kids!" or "What, you were one of the smartest people and look at where you ended up - a stay-at-home mum who is contented to, well, stay home all day long." Then he went on to tell me his plans about starting his own company in the near future.
One of my best friends got married this month, just got a new job, had a pay raise and is moving into an executive condo in a couple of years' time. Another friend, for some reason talked about income, mentioned that he now earns a five-figure monthly salary.
You see, everywhere I go, I hear people talking about occupations, careers, ambitions and dreams. Me, I am jobless, have no income, stay in a HDB with 15m² of space per person, only hobby is blogging and there is no doubt about it, my biggest and most valuable assets at this point in life are - my kids. It's not that none of my friends have kids, a small handful of them do but summing up, we probably make up up less than 12% of the people in the bunch and Angel is definitely one of the oldest kids around.
I am not sure how I can make anyone understand this, if there was even a need for that in the first place. I don't know if one day when these friends become parents,they will feel what I feel and view life in a different way than before. And I can't say for sure if I would have had a more fulfilling career and choose to have kids much later if we did not move to Sweden.
But I do know that everyone's parenting journey is unique and we get to choose which path we wish to take. I know there is no right or wrong in the choice you make, only commitment and perseverance. And most of all, I know even if I don't have a job, a 4-figure salary or a big house, I am just so, so very rich in my life now.
In this month's "Happiness is", I am going to show you my riches.
-> I am rich because I have time - I get to be with my kids every morning, afternoon and night, watching them grow, seeing them try new things and bringing them to explore new places on the island.
|We visited the Sports Hub and the kids had fun at the fountain just splashing around.|
|I loved seeing how the big sister held the small sister's hand and said "Come, follow jiejie,everything will be ok."|
|We tried to keep two caterpillars in the hope of turning them into butterflies, thanks to a reader who passed them to us. Alas they did not make it but it was nonetheless a precious and memorable experience for Angel.|
-> I am rich because I get rewarded with joy - big smiles, hearty laughter, bear hugs and sweet cuddles are just some of the things I can't imagine living without and no amount of money can buy me.
|These two are getting great at posing for pictures together. Even Ariel is learning to say "Cheese" and smile at the camera.|
|The poor girl had a bad case of fungal infection on her waist and bum, yet she would smile whenever you asked her to. How can you not love a baby like that?|
|Ariel cooks up a storm in the kitchen and offers me the first meal. You should see how her face lit up when I devoured (or tried to) everything on the plate.|
|I bring the kids to the supermarket twice weekly and it's amazing how much they can learn every time. Nowadays, Ariel helps me to put things in the basket while Angel helps me to carry the groceries home.|
|Enjoying our unique Korea-inspired corn cane ice cream at Ngee Ann City. It feels like eating vanilla ice cream with Kaka!|
|Look, Mama! I can hang! Those few seconds, though fleeting, were of pride and pure joy. We just gotta cherish and make the best out of every moment in life, right?|
Of course, I know I am deeply loved by my kids but since you have heard enough of that, today I'm showcasing something different if you are one of those who happen to read till the end of my long-winded post. July is a special month for the hubby and I because other than holding our fairytale wedding at Regent Hotel six years ago, the 29th of July also marks the 11th year of us being together in love. 11 years! That's more than a third of my life.
Being together with someone for more than a decade, someone who loves me for who I am from day one till now, someone who accepts my flaws and sees my strengths, someone who cherishes and truly cares for me, and more importantly, someone whom I love just as much, if not more, back in return - now, that's rare. If true love exists in this world, I am just glad to have found it.
Well, enough of the mushy talk, I'm going to take a walk down memory lane and share with you some moments from the beginning of our love journey where we did things, travelled around and explored places as a couple. Which means I was around 10 years younger then. Care to read on?
|Oct 2005. We went to JB for a quick getaway. Oh yeah, the days when I had colour in my hair.|
|Aug 2005. In our (actually it's my) hostel room in NTU Hall 6, the place where we knew each other. What were we doing? Don't ask me. I had a whole series of different expressions.|
|Jun 2004. He built a huge sandcastle using his bare hands in East Coast Park which totally impressed me.|
|Feb 2005. We attended a wedding and I loved this blue long dress bought from a pasar malam. Guess what? I just wore it to a friend's wedding this month, nearly a decade later. Cheap things can be good, y'know.|
|Jun 2005. We went on a 3D2N fishing trip and this was the biggest fish we (I mean, the hubby) caught! I was the only girl on board and the captain was amazed that I didn't puke because the sea state was so bad!|
|Jul 2005. Oh man, I miss this steamboat we had in Bangkok! Super oily and unhealthy, but super cheap and yummy!|
|May 2005. A common love for sports, outdoor and beach was something that made us closer.|
|Dec 2006. At the Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan. We went with a tour for 7D6N and it was so tiring that we decided to go free and easy for our holidays ever since.|
|Dec 2005. We rode on elephants, went on boat rides and had fun at the beach as a couple in Bintan.|
|Dec 2005. Oh yeah, not sure if you like it or hate it, but we probably had a dozen matching couple shirts.|
|Apr 2005. Competing at an archery game in Genting. Those were the days when we could hit the casino together!|
|Dec 2007. *cough* Did I just say couple shirts? Looking at this pic, I'm thinking if I should cut my hair short again!|
To anyone who ever feels that you are poor or not as affluent as you think you can be, just look around and realise all the riches that are surrounding you this very moment. Love, joy, time, freedom, memories - these are just some of the things that make up a beautiful life. It's not the tangibles, but the intangibles that matter when it comes to wealth, don't you agree?
There, I'm totally not sure if any of you liked seeing our younger pics, but if you do, drop me a comment and I'll dig through my hard disk to find more. In fact, I'm half thinking if I should write about our honeymoon in 2008 since I never got down to blog about that. It would take me ages to sort through the pictures but I think it might just be worthwhile.
How was July like for you and what was the one thing that made you happy?
Happy memories have a special way of touching our hearts every time we think about them. Join in my linky party at the end of every month and let us smile, rejoice and share the simple joys of life. Highlight and press Ctrl + C to copy my button above, include it in your post/sidebar and add your link below. For happiness is all around us.