Sunday, March 24, 2013

Your Life Will Never Be The Same

These pictures were taken six weeks after I gave birth to Baby Michael. The local custom dictates that a new mother should not leave the house, take a shower or wash her hair for forty days. I understand that the old custom was made to protect the new mothers from illness or getting a cold, but in these days we are lucky to have conveniences and amenities like hot water just with a push of a button, so it's no longer fully applicable. Even with air conditioner I cannot imagine not taking a shower and wash my hair for forty days! So I followed the modernized version of the local custom: I didn't leave the house for forty days, but I still took a shower everyday! :)

The first forty days were all about taking care of the baby and myself. It took a lot of will power and discipline to do all of the things that need to be done. My baby arrived a month early, so he was very very small, only 2,4 kilograms. I took care and breastfed him as good as I could and knew how, so he would gain some weight. But I also realized that I needed to take care of myself, as well, or else I would get sick and wouldn't be able to take care of him. 

I used to be the kind of person who cannot function without a good eight hours sleep, so after the baby arrived, it was really hard for me physically to do well with only about five hours of interrupted sleep every night. I envy those who don't need that much amount of sleep daily and can still be an energizer bunny during the day!

I tried to eat as healthy as I could: fruit and veggie juice, with tomatoes, apples, pears, carrots and some greens blended in. Hearty soup with chicken broth and veggies and filling potatoes. Beans. Milk. At least two eggs per day. Oh, the things you could do with eggs! You could have so many options with them: scrambled eggs, poached, boiled, sunny side, throw in some cheese, green onion, mushroom, veggies, you name it. And it all tastes good! I also consumed multivitamins and vitamin C. I breastfeed my baby, so I try to eat quality food so he will have quality milk. I'm a meat and potato kind of gal, so this is the first time in my life I ever consume so much fruits and vegetables on daily basis in my entire life! Couldn't say I enjoy it, but I want the best for my baby! ^_^

The first weekend after forty days, my husband and I left Baby Michael with my Mom - who stayed with us for the first two months to help with my recovery and taking care of  her grandson - then we went out to lunch. Yep, we had a date! 

They said after baby your life will never be the same, your marriage will never be the same. Well, it's true, and we kind of expected it to be that way. My husband and I knew that from this point, there's no return. We cannot go wild and just follow our impulses to go out from morning to night, hopping from restaurants to lounges as we used to. We can no longer take out of town trips or vacations on a whim the way we did. But we don't believe that our roles are just as mother and father. We are also husband and wife. A spouse needs attention too, just like a baby does. 

I'm a firm believer that one of the best things I could do for my son is to treat his father with love and respect. As a new time mother with a baby, it's so easy to focus all my attention and my energy on the super cute bundle of joy and neglecting the father altogether. As an introvert who needs a tremendous amount of me-time on regular basis, it's so tempting to just indulge in my own world, read a book or surf the internet once the baby is asleep, irregardless my husband is there and has been waiting all day to be with his wife. 

So here are the list of things I have been doing and determine to do, and has been maintaining up till now (when I'm writing this post, Baby Michael is almost three months old) to treat my husband with love and respect. Note that I wrote "to TREAT him with love and respect", not just "to love and respects him", because what is love and respect without real actions?

You might read through my modest list and think that they're such simple and little things to do, they're insignificant. But the point why the list is so short and modest is: I'm an inexperienced, newly married wife and a new mother as well. I don't want to eat more than I could chew. i don't want to make a long list then get discouraged because I can't keep up with it. I don't want to start with a plomb then get overwhelmed after a while and abandon the list altogether. I want to start with something small, stick with it on a daily basis consistenly, and improve myself over the years.  

Give him a hug and kiss before he leaves for work, and wish him a good day.

My husband often leaves very early in the morning to go to the gym before work, so sometimes I'd still be in bed. Prior to leaving the house, he would come into the bedroom and give me a kiss. I always kiss him back and give him a hug and say "Have a wonderful day at work, Honey!", no matter how sleepy I am, or how many times Baby Michael woke me up the night before. I didn't just stay there under the blanket.

Greet him at the door when he arrives at home from work.

By the time I heard his car's engine, I would stop whatever I was doing at the time and prepare myself to greet him. Even when I was upstairs, I would come down and greet him. Of course I cannot greet him when I was taking a shower, haha, but even when I couldn't meet him at the door because I was breasfeeding Baby Michael, I would call out to him, "Welcome home, Honey!" I have to say it goes both ways, because the first thing that my husband would do after he comes home is to look for me and greet his wife. ^_^ 
This is something I intend to do with our children also. I remember my own father coming home from work, and we would greet him, even after we were adults. How sad would it be to be coming home to your family, and it seems like no one cares? It's a humanly thing to have a warm and cozy feeling when we know that our loved ones care.

Accompanying him at dinner whenever I can.

I eat when I'm hungry. I don't neccessarily wait for him since sometimes he comes home very late in the evening. But even if it's 10 pm and I'm already in bed reading my Bible or watching a DVD, I will come down and accompany him having his dinner. My husband loves to converse with his wife, telling me about his day, and discuss many things from coworkers to politics to our child to a cool new hangout place. He loves his wife to listen to him, really listen to him, which mean that I present for him both physically and mentally when he was talking. Believe me, sometimes it's tempting to just nod my head and pretend to listen when all I could think about in my head was about that new episode of TV reality show I was watching when he came home. 
It's again, a matter of love and respect. You make time for the ones you love and respect. You are never too busy for your someone you love and respect, because you simply prioritize them over everything else. You are too busy for those lower in your priority list. So if you don't have time for your husband, well, perhaps you should check your priority list. Does cleaning the house is more important than your husband? Does your girlfriends are? Or the TV? The internet? It's OK when you are single, but when you choose to be married and have a family, it's just the right thing to hold yourself responsible for the decision you made, including making time for your family.
Again, my husband appreciates this little ritual that during weekdays he skips meeting his buddies for dinner, opting for coffee instead. Once, he came home around 10.30 pm after meeting a friend at the mall, and because it was so late, I automatically thought he already had dinner. Turned out he didn't, just had coffee and pastry, because he thought he would have dinner at home, but then he got stuck in a traffic jam, he couldn't reach home until very late in the evening. Luckily I still had some rice and fried chicken left!

Keeping up the appearances, the house' and mine

With the baby, I know I will have much much less time to primp and fuss about my appearance. But I do make an effort to look presentable. I take showers twice a day and slather myself with subtly scented body lotion afterwards. I wear more comfortable, but still stylish outfits. I still apply makeup, though I opt for a simpler (and quicker) look, which works well especially when Baby Michael suddenly wakes up and cries when I was applying eyeshadow on my eyelids. I keep everything more streamlined so I still have time to take care of the way I look. It's just respectful for any husband to have his wife make an effort to look (and smell) nice and clean.
Same thing with the house. I try to make the house tidy and clean, but don't spend hours and hours scrubbing the floors and puttering to make it picture perfect  that I become too exhausted and can't be mentally available for my husband at the end of the day. There is a trade off for everything, and I believe the people in the house comes first, the house itself comes second. 
Going on a date with my husband once in a while, just the two of us.

We love our child with all our hearts, but we do believe that parents also need some time on their own.   When we can, we have a date lunch or dinner just the two of us, leaving Baby Michael with a trusted sitter. We can no longer go on long dates which include dinner, then movies, then drinks that last until past midnight, but we try to sneak in a short date once in a while. You know, dressing up, then going out for about two hours, flirt with each other, have fun. It could be just going out to a nearby coffee shop, or eat at home then watch movies at the mall located five minutes drive away. I think it's very important to remind each other that we are not just a mother and a father, but also a man and a woman who finds each other attractive. ^__^

I like this verse, because it highlights that both the wife and the husband has obligation to fulfill their respective duties within the marriage. And yes, marriage includes lots and lots of duties, whatever the Hollywood movies say. It's a ministry in itself, to serve the family, not just to serve oneself.

"The husband should fulfill his duty toward his wife, 
and likewise the wife toward her husband." 
(1 Corinthians 7:3)

This lovely handprinted batik dress is something I wore for one of those kinds of date. The red satchel is a secondhand Nina Ricci I got from my Mom's closet a couple of years ago. It's almost as old as myself, but it still looks good and of good quality leather, it lasts forever.

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