How it feels like to live away from family

Everyone’s been in a very reflective mood these days, probably because of the new year. But for me, I have been extra reflective because our first wedding anniversary is approaching soon.

I have been spending a lot of time with my family and extended family from mum’s side because 3 of my cousins got married in December and we also had a big picnic with almost everyone on 31 Dec. That was when I realised how much I miss them.

The separation anxiety was instantly strong when I first got married and moved out of my parents’ house. And then I slowly got used to it and adapted to marriage life with my husband, living on our own. Now, almost one year on, I am starting to miss them again, but in a different way.

When I first moved out, I miss my family because I miss my mum’s cooking, sleeping with my sister although she kicks me in her sleep all the time, waiting up for my brother then disturbing him when he reach home late at night, and all the simple things we used to do together on a daily basis. But those are easier to get used to. Now that I have lived without my family for almost one year and established my own new daily routine after marriage and managing household chores on my own, I realised it is not just about missing living with my family and going on our routine every day. I don’t just miss having my family under one roof. I don’t just miss seeing their faces every day. I don’t just miss having mum around because she cooks and cleans and does the laundry for us every day. I actually miss growing with them.

Even though I try to meet my family every week and catch up, surely there are some details or little bits of information that will be left out simply because I don’t live with them and we don’t get to share how our day went when we get home from work. And when all those bits of information that are left out have snowballed for almost a year, it really feels like I have been missing out on their life. Because those details are not merely information, they are also what makes up experiences, life and growth. Like how mum has been bullied at work, my brother’s journey of pursuing his part time degree and looking for a new job, my sister’s thoughts on her new job while waiting for her O level results and starting her poly education, my dad’s constant struggle in trying to keep his career alive as a taxi driver.

The last time I experienced something like this was during my exchange when I lived in Toronto for 5 months. But that was different because I knew I was going to return home. So it just felt like my family life was paused for awhile. This is entirely different.

I am sure they adapt better to living without me than me adapting to live without them. I’m sure they are very understanding when I cannot spend too much time with them because I am supposed to put my husband first now and I have been busy with setting up my BTO house. As H and I have been adulting so much for the past one year and busying ourselves with our new life, I realised we take it for granted that our families will always be there, going on with their day-to-day life, giving us moral support from the sideline and watching us as we set up our new home. We tend to forget that our parents are also growing older and getting physically weaker. Their eyesights are blurring, their legs are not as strong any more, their health is deteriorating, even their tastebuds are getting less sensitive. Our siblings are also growing up every day, meeting new people, making new friends, learning new things in school or at work, and all these will shape their personalities and perspectives as grown-up adults. And not living with them means not being in their journey every day or every step of the way. And this is what has been causing a small hole in my heart recently.

But I guess it’s understandable for me to feel this way because I’ve been living with my family for 26 years. I just need a little time grasping the fact that I will never be a part of their lives the same way again and that my new life with my husband will probably last more than 26 years insyaAllah.

Haiz kan dah emo..

With this realisation, hopefully I will put in more effort to be more present every time I spend quality time with my parents and siblings and show more interest towards their individual lives. Life is too short to take these little things for granted. My family has never been the kind to show affection openly and my relationship with my dad has never really been that great. But since we are now quite “far” away from each other, perhaps it’s time to put away the awkwardness and show how much we really treasure one another. My siblings and I are more grown up now and this is usually the point where the kids start to take care of the parents more than the other way round. Our parents should be parenting us less now and befriending us more. After all, their jobs are almost done now that their kids are almost all grown up. At this age, their mission in life should be different now and old people just want to focus on their iman and spend time with their kids and family. And I look forward to see our dynamics improving.

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Wrapping up 2017

2017 has been nothing short of life-changing events, discovery, growth and full of adulting. In no particular order, these are the most memorable events in 2017 that I never want to forget.

  • I got married!

This is hands-down the most life-changing event ever. Getting married to my best friend is the bestest feeling and I can still remember vividly how happy I was on that day to finally tie the knot after 8 years of courtship. Can’t believe our anniversary is coming very very soon, because it felt like just yesterday! Where did all the time go..

  • Getting our own rental flat

This is perhaps one of the achievements that I am most proud of, as husband and wife in our first few months of marriage. It was not an easy decision to make, to move out of my in-laws’ place. But with a clear conscience and intention, we did it. We are one family unit now, separate from our parents. And it’s the husband’s nafkah to provide shelter for his family, which is me. Setting up our home in the temporary flat also allowed us to discover more about each other. If you think you will learn more about your spouse only after the wedding and living together, you will discover even more new things about him/her after getting your own house together. We have been living in Boon Lay for 8 months now. As our first ever home, we have made so many memories here even though we still hate the west side. Will never forget this journey of setting up the home, taking in our foster cats, prepping the house for raya, cooking for iftar in ramadhan, hosting our guests, dealing with eccentric neighbours and horrible neighbourhood.

  • The best honeymoon ever

Allah’s plans are indeed the best. After our Hawaii trip was cancelled, we decided to go to New Zealand just one month before the wedding. I know for sure New Zealand is in my bucket list. But to be able to experience this country during a honeymoon instead of a normal holiday, is really the best form of trip I can ever imagine. The highlight was definitely the campervan experience. I realised I have become a more adventurous traveller than I expected and that I can indeed live without a hotel bathtub during my trips.

  • BTO keys

This is no doubt another life-changing event. Mainly because it got us into a 300K debt with the government hahaha. Seriously though, I am beyond happy to be able to secure the best unit I can think of. It is the top floor, has a gorgeous view, 10-15 minutes away from Simpang Bedok, and only 5-10 minutes walk away from my parents’ place. The funniest thing is that this BTO was launched in 2012, when we were both still in uni. And when I saw the BTO under construction, I thought “hmm wouldn’t it be awesome if I could buy a house here, so close to mum” but H and I were still studying and nowhere near talking about house or wedding yet. But we still managed to secure it as a SBF flat last year. Like wow, I really feel like Allah has reserved a spot for us in this BTO. Alhamdulillah.

  • Bintan trip

It was H’s first birthday as a husband. So of course I had to plan a huge surprise. It was more or less an all-expense paid trip for him. Now member tengah panic cos I spoil market for his birthday and he still has no idea what to do for our anniversary in Feb and my birthday in March. Hahahaha. Although it was my first time staying in a resort, I think The Canopi was pretty awesome.

  • H’s career progress

H has been making really good and impressive progress in his new job. He switched teams this year which gave him more responsibilities, and will be embarking on another new journey and milestone again next year, which is even more exciting. I couldn’t be prouder of him. Looks like my road to taitai-hood is underway! Hehehehe

  • Discovering the truth about marriage

I recently saw a youtube video by Sid & Dina Tokio about surviving the first year of marriage, which is so on point! I never really noticed this, but I guess it makes sense for a couple to fight a lot in their first year of marriage. For me, I find that marriage life is like becoming a vampire. Everything feels amplified. We had the worst fights after the wedding than we ever had during our courtship days. But we also laughed the hardest after marriage. If you know he is a loving guy before marriage, you will discover how much more loving he can be after marriage. And same goes for the negative traits. But after awhile, you learn to choose your battles. We used to pick on each other’s small irritating behaviors and create a fight out of it. But now we embrace them more or just be more tolerant because some things are not worth fighting over. Time and energy are just too precious. We also learned that being married to each other also means being “married” to each other’s family, friends, colleagues and everyone else in our social bubble.  Sometimes it’s not as easy as saying person A sucks and has been treating you like shit, so why must we attend his/her wedding? But most important of all, marriage allows us to share our lives together so that when we are happy, we feel happier because we have someone to share our joy with and when we are sad, the sadness doesn’t feel that bad when we have someone to share our sorrows with. The best thing in marriage for me is the companionship, that feels like no other. Nothing can ever provide us with such a wonderful companionship better than a spouse.

  • Our foster cats!

I will never forget our very first experience of having, not one but two cats! Even though it was a very short 6-week stint, my love for cats have increased so much. They are really really natural source of anti-depressants and can instantly lift your mood after a long day. But at the same time, their naughtiness can also drive your blood pressure up after messing up the house and destroying our floor mat and boxes. Will forever remember Arnold and Bernard as our first babies.

Family Research part 2

Something different happened to my menstrual cycle ever since I returned from my Bintan trip, in terms of the flow – how it starts and ends. I am not sure if it was because of the massage I did there, because the masseuse did massage my tummy area – I allowed her to. The cramps are still there, but slightly less intense. And then I remembered an acquaintance talking about sengkak some time back. Did the masseuse did a sengkak on me? I have no idea. Another weird thing that happened was that my face broke out quite badly in the middle of my menstrual cycle. Which was weird because I thought when estrogen peaks, our skin is supposed to be at its best stage. So was it some sort of hormonal imbalance?

Anyway, I was googling about sengkak and I really cannot find much info. The most common thing that came up was postnatal urut. But I’ve been hearing that some people do sengkak as a prenatal massage to help to return the womb to its original position so that it’s easier to conceive.

And speaking of conceiving, I also chanced upon a few posts about pantang larang or do’s and don’ts of a woman who is trying to conceive. Like you can only drink warm water and instead of cold drinks. You should eat heaty foods because the body needs to be warm. Cannot lift heavy weights. Cannot be too active/sporty/lasak. I don’t know man, some of these things don’t really make sense to me cos isn’t being active good for us because we are keeping fit? And isn’t it supposed to be easier for fitter and healthier people to conceive? Lifting weights is also keeping fit what.

That’s when I realised that not a lot of people write about tips and advice or pantang larang (with logical justifications) when trying to conceive other than to take supplements or folic acid (any brands to recommend?). My mum has already been nagging at me to eat dates and drink goat milk. Just looking for info for my future reference, in case I become ready to actively start our TTC journey full-steam (pun unintended). If you know of any useful sites or posts, please share in the comments k. 🙂

Family Research

Although H and I are obviously taking our own sweet time to start a family, we have been low-key doing our own research to find out how life will be like when we have a kid. Every family and couple is different, but we have been trying to talk to as many people as possible, ask them as many questions as possible, stalk them on social media as much as possible etc just to find out how life has changed in terms of finance, husband-and-wife dynamics, living arrangements, childcare arrangements, when pregnancy/baby happens.  Just in case.

So far, it’s pretty scary.

One of the things we always talk about when discussing about the future is whether I am going to continue working, or quit my job and stay at home. Thankfully, H does not really expect me to be a housewife, but prefers me to have an ambition career-wise and to be able to work towards my goal. Continue reading “Family Research”

Sons vs. Daughters

The other day H and I were talking about something related to marriage and kids. I have a 24-year-old brother and H has a 24-year-old sister. We were just casually mentioning how both our siblings are still single and do not have a proper career yet although both have finished school, so they are nowhere near settling down and stuff. And H mentioned how my parents are not too worried about my brother not getting married any time soon, but his mum is more worried for his sister because she’s had no luck finding a partner so far. Continue reading “Sons vs. Daughters”