To that tired mom staring off into space, finding herself questioning every life decision she has ever made — I see you.
To the moms who traded in their Type-A careers to stay at home and raise the kids they have brought into the world. To the moms who once navigated the challenges of the workplace with effortless calm and precision, but now are grappling with the often irrational whims and moods of infants and toddlers — I see you.
To the fiercely independent babes who once backpacked alone and swung off to solo adventures in their previous lives, who now find themselves planning virtually every nook of their day to day around what may least trigger their kids to be uncomfortable or unruly — I see you.
To the fellow moms taking a rare, peaceful break from the insanity on the exceptional moment that none of the kids need to be consoled, fed or changed at this singular point in time — here’s to us.
May we survive (as we always try to do), and still be happy with whatever version of ourselves we find once we finally stop grasping for air, and are finally just able to breathe.
I realized that I voluntarily brought my two small kids to a town famous for losing all of their kids mysteriously overnight — have I lost my mind?!
Before our trip, my curiosity was piqued while listening to this Hamelin podcast episode from Stuff You Should Know, which claims that the legend of the Pied Piper is one of the few fairy tales which might actually be based on truth. Strange circumstances, like a very specific date in the tale itself, to numerous artifacts referring to the sad day when the town “lost its children”, made historians take a closer look — and made me want to take a peek at the town as well.
To be honest, I was in for a surprise when I first caught glimpse of Hamelin. Perhaps I was expecting something, well, more like a hamlet? A small, almost theme-park-ey town devoted to a fairy tale? What we met was actually a bustling, sprawled-out city — not exactly as busy as Hamburg, but Hamelin was bigger than I thought and had more to offer than simply rat-themed tourist traps.
It’s been already a year since we moved to here to the south of Germany, but I feel like it’s only until now that I’ve been able to really sink my teeth into exploring our new home. In between settling into the new apartment, and then giving birth just a few months later, now I’m finally able to catch my breath, loosen up, and open my eyes to all the wonders that are barely 3 kilometers away from where we live. Sure, I’ve been to Ochsenhausen a thousand times before, visiting my in-laws every other weekend, but a few sights that I’ve just visited with my kiddos only recently had simply made my brain go, “What? This glorious thing was here the whole time?!” And the best thing is, all of the places below are accessible for free! Country life does have its perks.
It’s 10 am and at arm’s reach is my newly-opened bottle of (alcohol-free) Corona beer (it’s been a whirlwind week, so cut me some slack). The only other times I could remember when I would think that beer this early would be a good idea are, (1) when I’m lounging on the beach while on vacation, and (2) when I’m killing time on a layover at the airport. I couldn’t help but think of this tweet:
Now that this tweet’s stuck in my head, I also couldn’t ignore all the other ways this stay-at-home-with-an-infant life is so similar to how I’ve usually acted in airport terminals. For example:
I don’t care if it’s dirty, I’m going to wear the most comfortable pair of shorts I own. Like every single day.
Time passes as I’m on a sleepless daze, just waiting for the moment that somebody announces that it’s time to board now (yay!) and I could finally pass out and doze off in my airplane seat.
One of my fears is my phone running out of battery, so I’m always on the lookout for a chance to charge (if you’ve ever been held hostage by a sleeping baby on your lap, then you probably feel this one).
A lot of time is spent just sitting, sitting while dreaming of all the productive things I could have been doing.
At some point, I lose track of what time and/or day it is, and I don’t know whether I should have a beer or coffee.
After two years of not flying anywhere, I found myself positively giddy on my first time back at an airport — even if I wasn’t the one getting on a flight at all. We were bringing my sister to board her flight, and we had the whole gang in tow: me, my husband, my 3-year old and my 6-month old.
I barely remembered how small Stuttgart Airport was — you could probably walk from one end to the other in about 15 minutes (maybe 5 minutes if you’re late for a flight and are running). We arrived at the airport with a lot of time to spare before boarding time, so we roamed around trying to find a decent restaurant where we could settle down with the kids while we wait.
Aside from the McDonald’s and a rather well-stocked Edeka supermarket, there wasn’t much going for options (the big buffet restaurant is now unfortunately closed). What we did stumble upon had no food, but was actually a better option for keeping the little ones entertained.
Visiting beloved flower gardens during spring is always a good idea; it’s time for Mother Nature to show off her vibrant hues and delicate silhouettes.
The last time we went to Insel Mainau, though, we did not have two kids in tow yet. Now that I’ve seen the park through the eyes of an ever-alert parent, I just realized how much of a refuge it can be for families with small children.
I never really thought of visiting zoos as a children’s activity; I’ve always enjoyed meandering in zoos as an adult whenever I travelled. Now that I have a toddler who is thoroughly fascinated with making monkey and lion sounds all day, now I see the appeal of taking along your kids to see living, breathing, amazing animals.
My husband (born, raised and living in Germany) and I (born and raised in the Philippines, now living in Germany) have had variants of the same heated discussion several times: it would typically start with a short news piece on the radio, and then he’ll go and complain about what nincompoops they have in their government. An outraged me will then reply that if he thinks that this is what idiocy in governance looks like, then he’s ungrateful and has no idea what suffering under a dysfunctional state means (I mean, how could he not appreciate Mummy Merkel?!?). He’ll then respond that it’s not fair to expect him to just shut up whenever he’s unhappy with leadership. In fact, if there’s one thing he gained from all their WW2 history lessons, it’s that he shouldn’t hold back on criticizing the government, no matter how negligible others may think matters may be.
I haven’t felt the gravity of his reasoning, at least not until now. I’ve labelled him as a whiner, perhaps because I wanted him to see how he won the place-of-birth lottery, as compared to my fate where governance was mainly symbolic: a big circus, where you never really expect any output except maybe for scandals and entertainment. I wanted him to see that he was stressing out about nothing, that he has an amazing security net, in comparison to my place of birth, it was every man for himself.
But now, more than ever, I realize that he was right all along: I shouldn’t tell him to complain less; if anything, I should have complained MORE. Their culture of holding their leaders accountable, no matter how trivial you think the issue may be — maybe if Filipinos had that, maybe we wouldn’t be in the sorry mess we are now. A famous quote from Lee Kuan Yew points out that the Filipinos’ downfall was that we were too quick to forgive and move on, that we spared harsh punishment in the name of virtue, a habit of amnesia and leniency that generations to come will pay for dearly. I used to think that if I myself couldn’t do a better job, then I am in no place to complain. Now, perhaps, I should adopt his way of thinking and hold people to a higher standard, and to never underestimate what people are capable of delivering.
When I first became a mom, I found myself often mourning the loss of my old self, of my old freedoms. I guess it’s quite common — unless you have an extra pair of hands to watch over your kid, you’ll find yourself saying goodbye to impromptu trips to the mall, sports events, the gym, anywhere where it may be overwhelming to try to do your own thing but at the same time, give your full attention to a small child.
In a few years, I would have been living abroad longer than I have lived in my childhood home. Whenever I return to the Philippines, there is that tiny, nudging feeling that agitates me whenever I think of spending the night sleeping in my childhood bedroom, and I think I’ve FINALLY pinpointed one big factor why: COCKROACHES.
I don’t remember being particularly morbidly afraid of roaches. Unpleasant as they are, they were a common sight in the house, and then there’s the occasional flying one. As if that wasn’t enough, every now and then, you would catch the whiff of what is unmistakably a dead rat stuck that got stuck somewhere behind all the furniture. I abhor these pests, yes, but not enough to lose sleep over them — not until now. When I moved abroad for the first time to Singapore, I discovered that you could actually live in a house and not actually have to worry about disease-ridden insects crawling all over your stuff. Once you go roach-less, it’s a bit hard to literally go back.
I’ve always thought that our pest problem was because of how our childhood home was situated — a house built in the 70’s with a growing pile of discarded junk in our backyard. I thought that this state was unavoidable — or is it? Is it actually only our home that was this way? The thought of asking my friends how it was growing up with roaches in their own homes never crossed my mind. If you’re not bewildered and disgusted yet with this random post and would care to fill me in, please do enlighten me.