Happiness is... knowing that it's okay to be sad

Posted by ~Summer~ on August 30, 2021


It's something no one wishes to experience. Yet, it happens to everyone at one point or another in our lives. Actually, it doesn't happen just once. The older we get, grief will come knocking on our doors every once in a while because that is just how life works .While I've always tried to look on the bright side of life, July was truly a turbulent and depressing month for me.

You see, while still dealing with the shocking local news regarding mental health issues and trying my best to have an open discussion with the kids as we head into the exam period, my own world fell apart when I was informed that my beloved grandma was hospitalised and in a coma.

For the next two weeks, it was terribly dreadful that we couldn't visit her due to the pandemic restrictions. We had video calls with her almost every day to tell her we love her and gently urge her to wake up but I wanted to be by her side so, so badly. My spirits were lifted when my Mum told me she opened her eyes and we even heard her saying "Bye bye". Surely that is a good sign and she is getting better, right?

Alas, things deteriorated swiftly and by the end of that fortnight, she decided to leave this world. I can't go into details now without being a wreck because I just miss her so much and have so many regrets. For now, I am working on gathering her photos and making a video so that my kids will always remember her. I guess when I am ready, I will dedicate a post to her and pour my feelings out. But for now, I'm just not brave enough to do it yet. In this post of "Happiness is...", I've realised it's okay to sometimes be a little lost and a little sad.

The kids lost both their great-grandmothers in the span of two and a half years. It's not easy to explain the concept of life and death or to help them process their grief when I myself am such a noob at it. I am truly blessed to have my Popo for 38 years of my life and she is the only grandparent I ever had since I was born - which makes saying goodbye so hard because I really sayang and love her deeply. 

I haven't cried so much and so badly in such a long time and I don't know how to deal with it except to let time make the wound hurt less. I try not to cry in front of the kids but it's so, so hard and they see me tearing every time I look at a picture or a memory flashes in my mind. 

Yet I know my grandma is in a better place now where it doesn't hurt her anymore and she would want me to continue to be strong and be the best mum I can ever be for my kids. So yes, I'll pick myself up bit by bit, no matter how badly it hurts. Please know that I love you so much, Popo, and that I am so, so sorry for not spending more time with you in the last few years. Thank you for everything you've done for me and I can only hope to repay you in my next life.

Many of you have asked me how I cook our meals with an infant in the house and how I always have so much energy to bring them out and about. What you don't see are the times that I feel utterly exhausted and want to do nothing except laze on the sofa, the times when I feel exasperated and unappreciated as a mum, the times when I wonder what I am doing with my life and the times that I tear secretly into the pillow thinking that I have failed as a mum. I'm as ordinary and as normal as all of you, and like it or not, there will always be the good and bad days in our life.

Perhaps it's the bad ones that makes us cherish the good ones a little one and remind us that no matter how tough a day it might seem, we will get through it one way or another. So yes, it's okay to feel a little more tired, a little more upset, a little irrational, a little emotional or just feel bad in general. Rest, relax, take deep breaths, unwind and find a way to regain the motivation and strength we need. We might have lost the battle today but we live to fight another day and tomorrow, we're gonna be victorious.

I'm so thankful that Ansel and I persevered in our breastfeeding journey despite a rocky start in the first few months. Now, the baby has not only mastered his latch but we've even been able to practise side latching too in the middle of the night, making feedings much less tiring for me. Phew. You are awesome for not giving up, baby boy!

Then there are the little, unexpected moments here and there that brighten up our day. For instance, the kids and I were playing Play-Doh one day and one of them made a "I Love You" message for me while the other kneaded a figurine of me, him and the baby. How cute, right?

Perhaps it was a sign that bad things were to come, or maybe it was just purely a coincidence. My babies have been using the same bathtub for the past 12 years - yup, this was the tub that we bought in Sweden for Angel and it was passed down to the siblings thereafter. One day, it fell on accident and started to crack. I tried repairing it with superglue but to no avail and the crack got bigger and bigger. For fear of it cutting the baby, we decided that it was time to get a new one. 旧的不去,新的不来,right? Letting go is so hard in life, but sometimes, we just have to do so.

You know how I like to do things myself instead of waiting for the hubby to be free and do it for me, right? I brought the the boys out and armed myself with a baby carrier so that I would have my hands free to carry the new tub back. We chose a big one that had a back support and bought some bath toys too. Then we went to dabao dinner for everyone and it ended up that we were carrying a significant amount of weight home and it was challenging yet fulfilling when my arms started to ache, haha. On the way home, the 5-year-old said he wanted to take the bus and even wanted to go up to the second level so that we could sit in front. And we did it, with tub and baby and all, which was quite an achievement and a fond memory for sure.

Night walks always make me feel better. So whenever I am down, I would look forward to such trips with the family. They enable me to have a breath of fresh air, to distract myself, to think about other things other than those brooding ones. It's a good thing that these kids enjoy such simple walks where they can get close to nature too and if given a choice between going to a park or an indoor playground, I am pretty sure they are happy to choose the former.

I am blessed to have an awesome firstborn who helps me with the baby every day when she gets home. I know, many of you have reminded me of that fact too when I shared her letters or pictures of her helping out. That doesn't mean that we don't have our ups and downs, in fact, we do have many of our bad days too which end up in quarrels, screams and tears. It ain't easy and will never be easy raising a child to become a teen and guiding him/her onto the right path in life. It took us so much hard work to get to where we are and I know that we still have a long, long way to go. So yeah, we are all in this journey together, yeah?

I'm getting good at bringing 4 kids out to the movies these days, woohoo! I surprised them with tickets to Fast & Furious 9 one Friday and they were so thrilled! A movie outing isn't cheap as our family gets bigger but we still like to head to the cinema once in a few months. Other than that, Netflix will suffice for our weekly movie nights, which is something that I hope will stay even when they are all grown up.

What's my number one happy pill these days? Well, it's this ray of sunshine, of course! The baby is getting active these days and demands every minute of my attention, which I'm only too happy to give to him because I know this phase will fly past very soon. He is getting curious, like to tug at things, eats everything he sees and loves to be carried by us.

Here are more pics to prove how he makes me smile. I mean, it's pretty hard to resist that cutie, happy face, right? I remember hugging him extra hard when I was feeling devastated about Popo and even though he doesn't know it, he made the pain a little easier to bear. So thank you, my little one, you are my motivation to keep going strong in life and to never give up!

Water washes away tears, which is also why I like to take a hot bath when I am feeling sad. I think a swim works the same way too. Anyway, the kids were really happy when they saw that I had bought a swimsuit for Ansel and was prepared to take them all to swim when the hubby was away. Yup, 2 kids can swim and 2 kids can't, so I had to be extra vigilant at all times. It was a good session though and we enjoyed ourselves! It seemed like the boy will be a water baby like his siblings because he was so happy being in the pool and didn't even whine in the least though we were there for nearly two hours.

I seldom shop for myself and I don't buy things regularly online too - I guess that is one of the reasons why the hubby married me, haha. That said, I decided to get these pretty ceramic cups recently because I wanted to up my level of making chawanmushi and make it more authentic. The kids were really thrilled to each get a cup during dinner and they loved it to the max, woohoo! So this was really worthwhile and it also motivates me to keep cooking for the family too, no matter how simple my dishes may be.

Thanks to Skechers, we all received new kicks to encourage us to keep walking, keep exploring and keep fit. For this year's Skechers Friendship Walk, our aim is to complete 50,000 steps which means around 38km. Does that sound like too much when you consider that we have young kids and a baby? Well, I'm determined to do it and I think we can! It's such a blessing that we have so many nature reserves, reservoirs and parks in our tiny island and it's something that we don't take for granted. I always look forward to weekends because that means family time for us. Do you too?

July saw a number of media drops and writing jobs for me, which were things that excited me and made me feel thankful about. Yet, when Popo was gone, I was left pondering and regretting how much time I spent on all of it when I could have spent those time with her instead. Yup, guilt struck me in so many ways and I felt so angry at myself for not celebrating Mother's Day and her birthday with her this year by using the pandemic as an excuse. Sigh. 
Then Ariel told me "But Tai Po won't want you to change your way of life for her but to continue doing what you do." Yup, such wise words from my 8-year-old. I guess, deep down I do know that but it's just gonna take time to come to terms with it. The five stages of grief, right? One day, I'll be at the Acceptance stage, I hope.
Regardless, I'm very thankful for all the sponsors who believe in us and have blessed us with so many nice things. It makes me even happier when they ask me to host giveaways because that means I'm spreading the love to others and bringing joy into their lives too, no matter how little that is. If you are reading this, it also means you probably follow me on social media too so thanks for all the support you've given me over the years, yeah? 

Other than the walks, we've not been doing much exercise lately, which is probably my fault because I just wasn't in the mood. We still go to the playground and the kids like to do some yoga or stretching, but we've not been dancing or working out as much as we usually do. It's also a busy period for us as the big girl begins her Prelims and PSLE soon but no matter what, I hope we will always find time to play, relax and enjoy our time together as a family. Happiness, good health and safety of my family are most important to me.

Yup, so that's about it for the month of July and my apologies if it hasn't been as uplifting as my usual "Happiness is..." posts. But, I guess it's still heartfelt, raw and genuine - which is the way any of my blog posts should be. Life isn't a bed of roses and there's no point in trying to pretend that it is.

The good thing is we are never alone and as long as we open our hearts, there is still so much joy in this world to be seen, heard and felt. I wish to thank my kids for being the ones to cheer me up and give me strength in the past month because I think I would be stuck in grief for way much longer if not for you.

Let's hug each other a little harder and cherish each day a little deeper, yeah?


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