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Monday, September 27, 2021

Cambridge

 


So, it finally happened. Little Boy has grown up and flown the coop. I thought we would spend some Mama-Baby time buying his supplies but before I could get around to it, The Son had driven out with his girlfriend to get everything he needed for the trip. He managed to get a Uniqlo down filled coat for half price and a Herschel backpack for half price. When I saw his packing, I understood why he did not go shopping with me. I would have got him a backpack from Chong Pang Market.

I am too auntie already.

I worried a little. Just like when The Daughter flew off to Israel, I had a strong urge to lock The Son up in a cupboard to keep him safe. I guess making my then 13 year old son navigate with maps, and pick restaurants, as well as book train tickets paid off. The Son is a well seasoned traveller. It was on the tip of my tongue to tell him to book a flexi ticket from King's Cross to Cambridge, when he opened his mouth and explained to me why he paid 10 pounds more for a flexi ticket. The urge to lock him up in a cupboard to keep him safe, melted away.

In the car, on the way to the airport, I worried again. I scared myself with thoughts of gay rape. So, I opened my mouth to tell my son not to walk out late in the night, and if any of his Professors made a move on him, he was to tell us. In the past, such things happen to women. These days, men are not spared. My family laughed at me.

Then, I worried about him getting robbed. We booked a flight that would arrive in the morning so that he would not need to spend the night in London. The big cities like Paris and London are where unsuspecting travellers get pickpocketed. I wanted him safe in Cambridge as soon as possible. Later, when he has gotten more acclimatised to the new environment, he can explore London with his friends. It was on the tip of my tongue to tell him that he should split up his money and place it in different places so that if his wallet got picked, he would still have cash stored away. Just then, he opened his mouth and told me that he had split his cash up 3 ways.

Then, he strapped on his chest bag (to keep valuables close to his chest, and under his coat), and walked through the Departure Gate. He did not even look back.

Before I knew it, he had arrived at his lodgings in Cambridge and was all settled in. I worried about his lunch and he said that the meat pie he had bought was very good. His lodgings look clean and comfortable. He even knew how to do a bedbug check because every time our family books into a hotel, he helps me do a bedbug check.

He has his own room with ensuite bathroom, but he shares a kitchen with 5 others. His lodgings look super Hogwart-sy from outside, but inside, it is all quite modern.

I think my son will be fine.









Monday, August 16, 2021

God's Promise To Me


A text blinked into my phone yesterday afternoon, from The Daughter. She is attending marriage preparation class at her church. They covered Proverbs 31's Noble Wife. The Daughter offered me high praise. She said that I ticked all the boxes of the proverbial Noble Wife.

The first time I encountered Proverbs 31 was in March of 2004. My family was riven with conflict. My MIL fought with my helper. The Daughter fought with The Son. The Son fought with his father. The Husband and I also fought with each other. In those days, I knew much less than I do, today. It did not occur to me that much of the conflict was due to my MIL's discreet machinations. She sowed discord and messed with the family dynamics to divide, so that she could rule. 

Not knowing any of this, I was convinced that I was both a bad wife and a bad mother. I desperately needed help. A God-fearing colleague showed me Proverbs 31 on a day when I was especially distraught over a quarrel I had had with The Husband. When she showed me the chapter, it did not at all comfort me. Instead, it made me feel even more of a loser. It drove home the point that there can be no worse mother nor wife, than I.

In despair, I prayed. God answered. In a miracle no one expected, God uprooted my family and plonked us in the USA, right inside the Bible Belt. Removed from the machinations of my MIL, my little family grew emotionally strong. The children began to thrive. The Daughter went from scoring in the bottom 25% of her cohort (before USA) to top of her cohort (after USA). The Husband's career really took off.

Me, I was the yellow-faced woman stuck at home, reading and re-reading Proverbs 31 compulsively whilst crying over my lot in life. I went from being a hotshot management consultant who gave advice to CEOs, to the woman who put her hand (up to the elbow) into a toilet bowl to remove a wad of toilet paper that was stuck. I went from power suits to shorts and tees. Even worse, I wore the same t-shirt design every day. I went from perfumes to body odour.

As I read and re-read Proverbs 31, things began to change. God's hand moved powerfully. The Husband, The Daughter and The Son all became what they had hoped to become, and more. I envied The Husband. I envied The Daughter. I envied The Son as he grew up. They became everything they had hoped to become, and more.

I was still nothing.

I was the dirty mud and soil from which their roots drew nourishment. When people visit a garden, people praise the flowers, never the soil. No one ever looks admiringly upon the soil that feeds the flowers. I was still nothing, and they were everything they had hoped to be, and more.

So, when a Teochew muay hawker jokingly commented that since I didn't work, I didn't deserve to order a double-portion of braised pork, I was very hurt. When the hawkers at Chong Pang Market commented that I probably cannot cook, and don't work, I felt the need to prove that I am not useless. 

Suddenly, on Sunday 15 August 2021, The Daughter offers me high praise.

You are all of them! On point!

Now, I realise that Proverbs 31 was not God telling me what a bad mother and wife I was. Proverbs 31 was God's promise to me, that if I allowed Him, and I trusted Him, and I obeyed Him, He would remake me into that woman. Looking back, I recognise that many breakthroughs into becoming a noble wife were serendipitous. God took my family to the USA where I had space away from my MIL to help my family heal. Despite my protests, God lead the way for the EQ Enrichment Centre that I currently run. God provided insights and wisdom into every single challenge that faced me as I evolved from 2004 till now. 

Till now, I have no clue how I know some of what I know, about parenting.

My journey is not ended. Despite what The Daughter thinks, I know there is space to grow and the change must continue. However, I am encouraged. Instead of despair, I feel joy. There was a time when reading Proverbs 31 made me feel like a Bombay street beggar staring at a picture of Prince George (The Duke of Cambridge's young son).

Whilst I still think that the ideal is unattainable, I am contented to note that my life is already more joyful and more fulfilling even when I am only halfway there.


Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character
 
11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. 
He does not trust me to redeem vouchers. I always forget. I do try to make sure he lacks nothing, though.

12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. 
As long as he puts his dirty laundry into the laundry basket and pees straight, I don't hurt him.

13 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. 
I knit with wool and silk. Does that count?

14 She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. 
Aaaaah! The miracle of online grocery shopping.

15 She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. 
That would be insomnia.

16 She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. 
The EQ Centre was really God kicking me down a path He had decided I should go.

17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. 
Hmmm... vigorous? That does not sound like me.

18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. 
Yes yes... I do try to be "profitable", but I get very mad when the kids don't switch off the lights at night.

19 In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. 
Knitting needles... and knitting basket.

20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. 
Okay... this I do.

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. 
Yes, we have clothes to wear, and enough laid by for lean times.

22 She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. 
I did embroider 2 quilt covers! Check!

23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. 
Not among elders of the land, but he is respected enough.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. 
Yes, yes... the EQ centre is my version of this.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. 
Yes, yes... I do wear strength and dignity more easily now. And I do laugh at the days to come.

26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. 
Oh dear... the recent stream of Chinese language invective I sprayed at MIL: not proud of that. Even though it was immensely enjoyable.

27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 
Yes, I do monitor the household and try to fill my time productively.

28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 
This is true too. My children and husband do praise me.

29 “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” 
Wah... this one... a bit hard leh...

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 
This one is true. Wrinkles, flab, fat...

31 Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
Maybe... one day...






Friday, August 13, 2021

A Heart Full of Poison

My heart is full of poison.

Back when I did not know I was autistic, I believed it to be my fault every time someone was nasty to me. It was this trait of mine that lead to my perseverance in the face of my MIL's abusive treatment. No matter what I did, it was never enough for her. I believed it to be my fault and I felt guilty. So, I tried harder.

In all those years, all I felt was guilt. Not vengeful.

I have made personal progress. Today, I am able to see that some people are nasty to me because they simply are. It was nothing that I did or did not do. I no longer feel guilty. Instead, I feel a whole new emotion that I struggle to control: vengefulness.

I have been badly treated for 30 years. The person who inflicted pain on me deserves to feel at least half the pain that I was made to suffer.

In a recent altercation, I put my newfound linguistic ability in Chinese to good use. Out of my mouth flowed an eloquent stream of Chinese. None of the words were flattering.

吃人不吐骨头

使用卑鄙的手段

装可怜

耍阴招

卑鄙

下流

没有素质的人

说谎不眨眼

假心假谊

笑李长刀


It felt good to spew this stream of words. It felt good to watch her slink away. The poison in my heart flowed out. Then, my heart filled with poison again. I wanted badly to re-inflict pain. It is now that I most need God's grace. I need God to cleanse my heart. I need to hang on to God's word, telling me that vengeance is not mine to exact. I don't like this poison in my heart. If I allow it to stay, it will poison everything: my relationship with The Husband, my soul, my relationship with my children-in-law... and goodness knows what else. 

 I need to let it go. 

 It is hard.


Friday, July 23, 2021

Knitting Projects

 


Now that we have gone back to Phase 2, I have more time for my knitting projects. The white sweater is 100% Peruvian highland wool. A sweater like this retails for between SGD$350 to SGD$600. Knitting it myself, I spent only $120. I bought the yarn from a site called Lovecrafts.

The brown sweater is made of 100% cashmere wool. A 100% cashmere wool sweater retails for upwards of SGD$1500. When we travelled to Bologna, a handknitted cashmere wool long shawl cost 800 euros. Knitting the sweater myself, I spent only SGD$98. I bought the yarn from Colourmart. Colourmart collects leftover yarns from textile factories, and sells them at tiny prices. The problem is that they don't restock the same colour of yarn if it runs out. That is ok, though. I simply buy a larger quantity than I think I need.

I am thrilled that I manage to complete the cashmere wool sweater before The Son goes off to Cambridge. Both sweaters are warm and soft. The Peruvian highland wool yarn was an extremely enjoyable knit. It felt so good to touch and feel the yarn through my fingers. Soft, strong and fluffy yarn, it was. 

I am a yarn addict. It is hard to say "No," to luxury yarns. So, despite worrying that I won't have time to knit even more projects, I managed to still collect yarn inside my cupboard.

This is 100% silk yarn that I bought for SGD$112. 
This is enough to make a mid thigh length pullover for me.

This is bamboo yarn that I bought for SGD$24 a bag.
I bought 2 bags to make a long summer dress.
Bamboo yarn wicks perspiration and draws heat away
from the body. Maybe, I can wear this to The Daughter's wedding.






Sunday, July 11, 2021

Little Things and Love


On a daily basis, I have one gesture of love for my husband. I sun his bath towel and wash his masks. Both these activities engage my 2 autistic sensitivities:
- touch
- smell

I don't as much enjoy washing these little things. What I most love is when the masks and towels are dry. I touch them. I run my fingers over them. I smell them, breathing in the fragrance of sunshine. We throw our undies into the wash but masks are different than undies. I can smell my masks. Every 2 hrs, I must change out my reusable mask because I cannot tolerate the smell of stale breath in my own mask. 

I like the smell of freshly washed and sunned masks and towels. It makes me happy, calms me and because I derive so much joy from touching and smelling freshly laundered masks and towels, it has become almost a ritual in my head when I wash The Husband's masks, and sun his bath towel. I imagine that he too can experience the same joy when he uses the items.

He does not you know. He does not have the same sensitivities that I do. The Husband's nose does not quite work. Even when his towel is dirty, he cannot smell a thing. However, he tries very hard to enjoy the smell and the feel of these little things, because he loves me, and wants to appreciate what I do for him.





 

Mangosteen Pericarp

 


I had previously thought it an old wives' tale to have to eat durians and mangosteens together. Practical experience has taught me otherwise. Having greedily stuffed myself with 5 seeds of durians, I woke up the day after with a splitting headache, and hives. Desperate for a solution when herbal teas did not really help, I ate a whole bag of mangosteens.

The headache went away.

I googled mangosteens and discovered that mangosteen pericarp is a thing. People desiccate the pericarp, smash it into powder, and eat it as medicine.

Durian seems to do something that dilates my blood vessels. I get low blood pressure. The dilated blood vessels and arteries press into my brain and it hurts, oh boy it hurts. It is the same thing when the weather turns too hot. To cool down, my blood vessels and arteries dilate. Then, the headaches come.

Now that I know it is a thing. I am stocking up on mangosteen pericarp. I dehydrate it and store it in the freezer. Then, I pound it into smithereens and make a tea. Most people will find the tea bitter and bad tasting. I actually quite like the bitter and dry taste profile. What serendipity to find a natural remedy for hot weather migraine!


Masik All Natural Toothpaste

 


A friend passed me one tube of this toothpaste to try. After the first brush, I was sold. This magic toothpaste cleans very well and disinfects properly. It contains Dead Sea salt grains, lemongrass oil, peppermint oil, orange oil and lavender oil. There is no fluoride. My friend used to get mouth ulcers. She does not get them anymore.