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I am self-quarantining myself for a suspected case of HFMD–which means that since yesterday, I have not been able to: be in close proximity with my son Timothy, nor bathe him, nor sleep near him… In short, I shouldn’t breathe the same air he breathes. (…I might exaggerate a bit on that last point, but you get what I mean.)

Thankfully yesterday was a public holiday, and today my wonderful hubby took a leave from office to take care of Timo while I am being a useless invalid. (…That last point is also exaggerated. But the number of exaggerations in this post so far shows the present state of my mind :p)
So Timo has been mainly with his dad, and Hans is an awesome dad who makes Timo laugh all the time, but usually after some time Timo will get antsy and ask for me.

This time however, he has NOT asked for me, knowing that I’m sick and I can’t be near him. And just now after dinner (which we ate semi separately–they eat first and I start when they’re almost done), he came near me and smiled very sweetly. “Mama is Bombom, hehehe… Bombom!” (Bombom is his favorite stuffed dog’s name) then he moved to my other side and smiled again, “Bombom! Hehehehe” and then he went towards the bedroom and said:
“Mama I love you!”
Me: “I love you right up to the moon and back!”
“Mama good night!”
Me: “Good night sayang…”
“Mama cepet sembuh ya… (Mama get well soon)”
Me: “Yes dear sorry mama can’t sleep with you…”
“It’s okay mama…”
“Mama good night!”
And then peeking from behind our bedroom door, he blew me kisses.
Me: “Timo, mama will pray for you. Timo pray for mama too, ok?”
“Okay!”
Me: “God bless you Timo….”
“God bless you mama…” (His first time saying this!)

This is actually not a rare occurrence because we say I love you’s a lot, but my heart was already breaking because I can’t hug him, or kiss him, or snuggle him, or do nose rubs with him… And seeing him bearing it so calmly and so unselfishly just melts my heart.

I am strict and can be annoyingly self-centered; like a 5-yo I get cranky when I don’t get enough sleep, and I want to get my way most of the time. But having a son has helped thaw me, and as I’ve said in a previous post, it seems that I learned so much more from him than him from me.

Being a mom can be busy, can be maddening, and most definitely is tiring; but the reward is–as VISA ads go–priceless beyond any treasure.

I love you, Timothy, and I thank God every day for the gift that is you. Please forgive this mama who doesn’t always behave her best… I can’t wait until I can hug and kiss you again.

11 into 12

It’s 2012 already. And I will write down my resolution for the year so I can have some accountability check at the end of the year..

1. I will pray and have daily devotion DAILY. No excuses, even in the form of baby or travel or overtime at work.

2. I will try to be less negative in responding to people and in my general attitude. I will listen more, and will say yes more.

3. I will be strict with my skincare :p

4. I will do regular yoga or pilates with hubby. Most important thing: find a workable schedule and drag hubby to it.

5. I need to save more than I did in 2011.

6. I will knit 12 gifts, learn 12 new knitting techniques, use up 12 stashed yarns, and knit 1 big lace project (Crown Prince Shawl?)

7. I will spare time everyday to call family.

There. No tick boxes but I hope I can cross them all by December 31, 2012.

What’s your New Year Resolution?

It is alive and well

Have you ever been shocked by something foreign, only to realize later that the shocking thing actually exists much, much closer than you previously thought? Like being shocked by the news of a snake appearing in a toilet bowl somewhere in Papua, and thinking to yourself: “what a different place Papua is! We’re really coddled by modern luxury. I can’t imagine a snake suddenly appearing when I’m taking a crap. It must be the wilderness out there…” And then suddenly a few weeks later a friend sent you a picture of her toilet bowl, with a huge honking snake head peeking out from the water. A friend who lives in a posh urban house with good sanitation and electricity and technology and no wild jungles visible from the window.
Have you?

I just had a similar experience today. Only, instead of a snake (freakish, I admit, but it doesn’t shake your core belief or fundamental sense of self), it came in the form of FGM (female genital mutilation). It is something I learned from the pages of Cultural Anthropology textbook about African cultures. It is something I read in feminist books condemning the widespread African practice of it. It is something that shocked me when African victims made video testimonies. It is something I’m passionately, personally against. It is something shocking, outrageous, alien, foreign. It’s African.
Only it might not be so African as I thought.
Apparently the practice is not only alive in Indonesia (my own country, for crying out loud), it is very much alive and well and widely practiced and and and… accepted as a norm!
The snake has suddenly appeared in my living room!

There’s this article in (6-12 August 2011 edition, if you’re interested in reading the article and can get your hands on one) highlighting the practice of ‘female circumcision’ in Indonesia. And I just happen to be sitting in a hair salon, and I, in self-righteous shock, blurted out to my hairdresser, “Hah?? Sunat perempuan (female circumcision)?” And what did she say? (And her three other friends who happened to be around) “Oh yeah. Sure. Usually done together while piercing the baby girl’s ears (tindik).” Like talking about their daily menu!

So am I the only one being rendered speechless, slack-jawed, and reeling from this mind-boggling revelation? Or am I just not well-read/connected/updated enough?

I guess it’s the fact that FGM’s not such an ‘aboriginal’ concept after all that boggles me. (Or that Indonesia is not as ‘civilized’ (insert my culturally-tied definition of civilized here) as I thought. One or the other.)

I had further discussion with my hairdresser about it, including its ties with regional customs, religious beliefs, and local medical practices, but I’m not going to elaborate about it here because it’s too loaded. If anyone comments and asks about it maybe I’ll write some more (some time). For now, suffice it to say that I’m still tipsy and reeling from the culture shock.

Motherhood 101

In Motherhood 101, there’s no grade. You either pass, or you fail. You might barely pass, pass alright, or pass with flying colors. But if you fail…there’s only one way to fail: miserably, irreparably, disastrously.

Every little thing I did wrong makes me question myself: would it permanently harm Puffy? Would he hate me? Would it make him antisocial/self-righteous/rebellious/any other malignant trait I can think of?
Just yesterday, while bathing him, I accidentally dunked his face under water for a split second. He must have snorted some water into his nose or mouth or eyes, for he started bawling. And I felt like I just scored ‘Klutziest/Worst Mother Of The Year’.

I’ve always liked the motto ‘it’s the thought and effort that matters most, not the end result.’ Oho, but would that work for motherhood too? Only if you want your child to be a failed social experiment. He won’t thrive on good intentions alone–you need a mixture of affection, tough love, informed knowledge, common sense, and a willingness to learn new things for the sake of teaching it to your baby. And then you need to find the right amount of each ingredient–put in too much tough love and he’ll grow up rebellious, extra dollops of information makes you one confused parent, etc.

In th end, I am the one being taught by Puffy. When I was worried about him being addicted to swaddled sleeping, he squirmed his own way out of his swaddle and resolved my problem. When I was worried about his frequent spit-ups and acne flares, he suddenly grew out of it and one day just stopped spitting milk and sprouting acne. When I was worried about his crying spells, the next day he returned to his usual angelic self and forgave whatever it was I did that frustrated him yesterday.

I am so in love, in love with you, my baby, my Puffy.
Had never thought myself capable of such love, like a spring that wells up and flows into a gurgling brook, and grows and grows to be a mighty river that drowns my selfishness completely.

white silence

my tongue is tied
when you hit a barrier where would you go?
if you’re assaulted from above, beyond, left, and right
east, west, north, and south
where would you run?
how would you dodge?
i couldn’t

you laid landmines
in veiled hopes
vague pleas
masked confessions
how could i dodge?
in the end, i lose
i always lose
shattered to pieces,
vanquished and alone

no one wins in
this war, no one wins

it’s me and white silence
i’ve lost
my
voice

Entah kenapa hari itu, common sense lagi ambil cuti: aku langsung naik saja taksi pertama yang berhenti, tanpa mengecek warnanya biru berlogo burung atau bukan.

Kalimat pertama yang si pak supir ucapkan, setelah tujuan ditentukan:
“Non, saya tanya ya, situ cines kan?”
“E? Maap pak, apa?”
“Cines? Cines, cines, itu loh, orang cina?”
“Ooo..hh, iya pak, kenapa?” Pertanyaannya sudah cukup aneh dan sangat terus terang, sistem pertahananku langsung naik…

Terus dia nyerocos tentang temannya (lebih tepat disebut mantan teman) di Bandung, seorang Chinese, yang banyak si bapak ini bantu saat masih di akademi militer.
“Kalo ada apa-apa dia itu minta bantunya ke saya lho” “Tapi terakhir ke Bandung, kok lagaknya acuh kayak ga kenal gitu lho” “Masa kayak begitu, padahal dulu sudah saya anggap keluarga sendiri”
Aku manggut-manggut dan mengerutkan kening sepantasnya di kursi belakang, tak tahu dia bisa lihat atau tidak. Defense mechanism full sekarang.

Pertanyaan selanjutnya: “Nah sekarang pertanyaan saya, apa semua orang cines itu begitu?”
Setelah menunjukkan sikap tidak setuju dan mengatakan bahwa temannya (ex-temannya) bukan karena Chinese jadi tidak tahu diri, tapi karena memang pada dasarnya tidak tahu diri, orang seperti itu jangan dianggap teman pak; aku agak lega karena kelihatannya si bapak puas dengan jawabanku.

Di tengah macetnya bunderan menuju perhentian bus, dia bertanya lagi, tentang politik kali ini.
“Kalau situ, nanti pemilu presiden, bakal milih siapa?”
(Alarm di kepala bilang, ‘hati-hati’)
“Wah, kalo saya sih, masih nunggu ya pak, kampanye mereka nanti ngomongnya apa.”
“Ah, kalo saya sih ya, jujur aja, udah nentuin pilihan langsung, pasti SBY.”
(Alarm berhenti, lumayan lega denger jawabannya.)
“Ya habis yang laen tuh ya, Prabowo dan Wiranto kan militer, bakal kacau jadinya.”

Tepat hari itu baru dikeluarkan pengumuman daftar harta cawapres, dengan Prabowo memiliki aset paling banyak sebesar 1.7 triliun rupiah. Si bapak bilang, “Ah nggak mungkin segitu.”
“Lebih banyak ya pak?”
“Ya kurang lahhh” (nadanya menguliahi anak SD) “Coba situ bayangin, kalau diperiksa lagi setahun ke depan dan kekayaannya cuma nambah sedikit, kan ga akan dicurigai, padahal sebenarnya lebih banyak tapi nggak kelihatan.”
Dan dia memberikan analogi karung yang seolah-olah gembung tapi isinya udara–saat karung itu benar-benar diisi emas, orang tak akan curiga.
“Menurut saya, asetnya yang saham itu juga tidak benar… pasti dia mbantu pengusaha terus dikasih saham kosong, begitu…”

Saat ini kecurigaan sudah berubah menjadi keheranan dan kekaguman pada si bapak supir taksi.

“Coba saya tanya, situ kerjanya di bidang apa?”
“Properti pak.”
“Nah coba pikir, kalau situ ada proyek bagus, terus JK yang pengusaha mau juga, dia bisa pakai kekuatan militer buat ambil dari tangan situ. Kan jadi situ yang rugi.”
“Ya iklan boleh bilang dia bantu rakyat kecil, tapi buktinya mana, malah kekayaannya yang nambah.”

Aku manggut-manggut. Mengiyakan. Sepanjang jalan, sepanjang 45 menit kemacetan jam bubar kantor di Jakarta, aku mendengarkan, manggut-manggut, dan belajar banyak tentang politik militer Indonesia.
Dari seorang supir taksi sederhana.
Yang ketajaman pikiran dan kehausan akan pengetahuannya lebih dalam daripada kebanyakan orang bergelar sarjana yang kukenal. Yang kecintaannya pada bangsa tidak membuatnya berpahit-pahit dalam kesulitan hidup. Yang dalam pekerjaannya mencari nafkah, membuat perubahan dalam hidup orang-orang yang ditemuinya. Salah satunya, aku.

Aku menanyakan namanya, kalaupun tidak akan pernah bertemu lagi, setidaknya untuk disimpan dalam hati.

Di manapun bapak sekarang, pak, semoga Tuhan pelihara selalu. Mari sama-sama berdoa semoga presiden baru nanti bisa membawa Indonesia lebih baik lagi.

Sleeping with books

No books, no soft toys.

(You guessed right… this post has nothing whatsoever to do with caterpillars)

Is what the my surgeon told me. After my sinus surgery, it is imperative that I live in a very controlled environment–no stray dust or mold or mites can be allowed. In the olden days before Kindle, I would have squirmed and protested. No books on my desk? No books on my bedside table? No BOOKS? I can’t imagine a bedroom without books. Those who know me well know that books have a tendency to appear and accummulate in my bedroom. Over the course of any one week a half dozen books seem to have teleported themselves to my room.

So you can imagine my chagrin when I was told I was to live in a bedroom without books. That is, if I hadn’t had my Kindle :)

With Kindle now on my bedside table, it’s like sleeping with piles and piles of books in the room, with barely enough space for the bed. Imagine a heavily-curtained reading room, Victorian style, with big heavy books in tall wooden armoires, and me cuddled with a blanket in the middle of the books. Only, there are no books. Just one Kindle.

Someone has to tell Jeff Bezos that this is another accomplishment to be written on Kindle’s FAQ: Sinusitis-safe, rhinitis-safe, recommended for post-septoplasty-turbinoplasty-surgery care.

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