Posted in Thoughts

Paradox(es) and Inversion

Few years ago, there were things that I really didn’t understand completely. But, again, life has been very kind and allows me to reach the point where I finally understand those things. Here are some of my favorite paradoxes.

“Less is more” when it comes to material things, is finally be understood when you are in the position of more, but never when you’re in the less one. What money literally can buy is pleasure. Food, things, experiences. Will the pleasures make you happy? It’s debatable. Then, knowing and defining your enough are important. These ones are not characters, they are skills that should be learned, if possible mastered. Without that, you’ll never know when to stop and that’s the root of all evil.

Less sugar means more health . In the opposite sense, less sleep means worse health.

“To have an ‘easy life’ in the future means you have to make hard choices in the present”. The opposite will happen if you replace the order.

To think for a long term means you have to beat yourself and working on the shortest period of life. Day to day. A huge change (good or bad) happens in one day of someone’s life, most of the time happened from years of waiting and hardworks full of failures (or years of not doing things properly if it is the opposite).

“The more you learn, the more you realize how very little you know”. Knowledge is limitless. Your time to learn things is not.

Also, you’ll learn more doing things that you don’t-like-but-you-have-to than doing one you like and you want to. Being uncomfortable means you face many possibilities of learning that you won’t get with being comfortable.

That’s why I don’t believe in the phrase ‘anak jangan dipaksa-paksa’. In order to know their limit, they have and need to be pushed for the right amount to the right direction. They have to be uncomfortable. Our job as parents is to give them experiences where they can learn things they need later to live their own life. They need to be equipped to face the real jungle out there. To do this, it’s not comfortable for everyone but the more it feels uncomfortable, the more it shows that you are doing the right thing. It is important because the most important ability a child to master is the ability to live without their parents.

Disclaimer : this one is applicable in learning some useful skills, not staying in abusive relationship.

Talking about these paradoxes reminded me with similar thing which is one way of thinking that I have been using since the first time I lived without my parents. It is called inversion.

Inversion is a method for thinking about a problem differently. To solve a problem, instead of think of linear solution, we think about the opposite. Sometimes, to solve a problem, you need to think and see differently. It requires you to look at things from a different angle to embrace a new perspective.

At that time, by doing inversion, literally and figuratively, observing certain things for days, I managed to change my gloomy daily morning trip to school became a happy one.

Before, I needed to leave my grandma’s house at the very least 5.15 am if I wanted to arrive at school on time. I needed to take around 1,5 hours trip by crazily full bus and continued with high-demand-low-capacity angkot. There were many days where I needed to fight for a tiny empty seat because they didn’t want to take schoolers since they paid less than worker passenger. I could and wanted to pay full price, but it was hard when the driver already saw me with school uniform. There were days when I insanely hung tightly on the door of the angkot because I had no choice. There was also a minibus called Kopaja. They welcomed schooler but the problem was their service was not any better. For me it was even worse than angkot because the petite me had to be trapped among so many taller and bigger people and it made so difficult to get out when I arrived at the school. At times, I had to walk longer because the driver didn’t hear my request to stop.

Do not imagine it was like what we have now where almost all public transport are with air conditioner, only stop at the bus stop, and rarely jammed with people. It was hot, packed until there was no room to breathe well, full of odour that made you dizzy, and you felt like getting out of utter mess once you got off. There were days when it felt so frustrating because went through that daily was beyond exhausting.

It kept going like that until I did a little observation for days about the route of the bus. I couldn’t depart earlier anymore (how early an 13-yo should go to school than 5.15am? Departed at such hour it means I woke up at least an hour before!). I also couldn’t afford to go by taxi daily, I couldn’t find any other alternative transportations, I couldn’t find any other routes to go to the school other than what I had been through.

But then, I finally found something through the opposite way of thinking.

The result was incredible. I managed to cut the length of trip from one and half hour to 30 minutes. Instead of following the bus to the end of the route and fought with employees to get on that rare angkot or being sardened in morning kopaja, I managed to find that this bus passed a bus stop that sent me to the school through the opposite direction and it was actually only 10 minutes away from my departure bus stop. Then I could continue with the same that high-demand-low-capacity angkot, only this time, I had the whole empty angkot for myself, waved goodbye to traffic jam, and had chance to do a little bit of morning walk through the pedestrian bridge since I came from the opposite way.

At that time, I went to school daily accompanied by a big brother cousin who had to send me until I got on to the angkot. After that, he went to the office where it was on the opposite location of my school. My school on the south, while his office was on the north. So, that daily morning trip to the school was not only hard for me but also for another person.

When I proposed the idea that I had found another much shorter route to the school, he looked hesitant. But, because I was so persistent and asked to him to see this first, he gave up and followed.

When he finally saw the route, he looked as happy as I was. It meant that he had more time to go to his office leisurely. It showed how a little thinking could improve everyone’s well being drastically.

From Sahil Bloom The Curiosity Chronicle

Isn’t it a literal meaning of inversion? That was one of my eureka moments as an 13 year old. Solving my own problems, although it was so simple, but it went beyond that. It changed my whole mood drastically. It made me study better and felt so much happier.

Another thing that reminded me of doing this kind of thinking was when I managed to find ways to send the whole family to this trip. The paradox of less is more and inversion thinking were truly applicable here. The less money you had for the things you desperately want, the more active your brain in finding solutions to achieve that. Since earning more money or sign up for debt wasn’t applicable at that time, finding ways to reduce cost became the solution.

Inversion is also applicable in other kind of situations. For example, like the famous Charlie Munger said about wealth and investing : it is not about earning more, but the rules is to never lose money.

In parenting, there many things that I don’t know, like what kind of life that my little girl will have or what a kind of person she will grow up to be, but I know what kind of life I don’t want her to have and kind of person I don’t want her to grow up to be, so I started from there.

We don’t always know what we want so it’s easier to go from the things that we don’t want.

If I think about it, I am doing quite a lot of inversion and paradox in daily life. Like when it is fasting day, instead of laying low to not tiring myself and just doing little simple things, I found myself on the opposite by doing more than the usual. Instead of feeling low, I found my energy is higher than usual during fasting day.

Closing quote from the famous wise man book The Republic :

I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.

Plato.

Posted in Thoughts

Sleepless In Solitude

A sudden call from hospital made the doctor packed his things and went to the hospital, the sleeping eyes woke up after short sleep and refused to go back to sleep again.

Disturbed sleep is tricky. It makes your mind wander more wildly. From watching live coverage of Hajj 2021 to reminiscing certain part of old memories through pictures and videos collections, yet nothing can really make the eyes go back to sleep instantly.

This week has been a pretty draining one. Continous sad news, first week of online school which as expected, it was a quite a headache. So much energy taken yet so little learning. With such crappy internet connection and the noise from many little kids and their background noise, what can we expect?

But, let’s leave it there for now.

The heart goes to so many families whose days has been beyond tough this week. Especially the little children and babies who suddenly lost their mother. Also, the girls in college or school who suddenly had no choice other than dropping their study and taking over the responsibilities at home because the passing of their mother, I wanted to say I had been there (with similar situation), but the other part of myself told me to shut up and snapped,

“You’ve never been there”.

There’s no words of encouragement is needed at this time.

Current situation is as sad as it can be.

As bad as it looks like.

As heart-breaking as it is.

I am sending them the biggest hug they might need.

Let’s cry together until we feel better.

Posted in Thoughts

Anger Rants

Been having long rants about how this country official handling this pandemic.

Been cursing the way they deal with this matter since the beginning of this pandemic last year.

Everytime I heard people saying “semoga pandemi cepat selesai”, I couldn’t help sneering. It won’t. Judging from everything that has been happening since last year, it will last much longer than we think or we hope it will be.

It’s no longer the virus that kills. It’s the ignorance of the leaders that even after more than a year, they learn nothing, they do nothing, they NEVER take this seriously, and choose to let people die deliberately with their incompetence.

Up until now, we’re still paying the price of (choosing) having such minister of health for the whole first year of the pandemic. Choosing that person to be the minister of health was weird already and did nothing, (while he could something) until months, that’s the trigger of the tragedies that we are currently dealing with.

And, sadly, we’ll keep paying for this until God knows when and at what price.

This pandemic discloses and brings out the worst and broken system in every aspect of this country. We are broken till the last layer. There’s nothing we do right to the smallest thing.

Social services corruption. Birthday party full of people. Unnecessary bussiness meeting while people down there are looking for hospital rooms everywhere, stupid heartless brainless statements everyday saying those people of house representative deserved a special treatment in hospital if they need it. The paid vaccine. The disaster PPKM without proper help. The last one came today. The news told that the daughter of one of the chief for pandemic handling as well as one of the ministers whose face we could see everywhere around the town, was captured in Japan. Currently enjoying the honeymoon.

Feel like throwing up and put this line below in bold :

Eneg and muak are the terms to describe the feeling towards this stupid useless heartless brainless people up there.

Why cant they only be stupid but not ignorant?

Why can’t they just choose one?

Why cant they only be brainless but not heartless?

Whyyyyyyyy.

Maybe, just maybe, we must have done something terrible to deserve such stupid useless ignorant heartless brainless nir-empathy zero capabilities government in dealing with this pandemic.

No words could describe how screwed it is to be the citizen of this country during this pandemic.

Posted in Favorite things, Maternité, Thoughts

Morning Treasures

If there’s something that we are above average is we are very early morning bunch. Breakfast always served before the first adzan. So, after doing the first prayer of the day, that’s when our morning routines start. By 9 am, we have accomplished sets of morning routines. Our morning could be considered the highlight of our everyday lives. The period of the day I treasure the most.

Morning Quran
Morning Practice
Morning Duet
Morning Math
Morning Chore
Morning Ride
Morning Play
Morning Lesson
Morning Read
Morning Walk
Morning Steps
Posted in Langit Senja, Thoughts

Keluh Kesah tentang Sekolah

Tanpa mau bilang ngga terasa, tapi akhirnya (sebagai orang tua) sampai juga ke salah satu milestone besar : pilih sekolah dasar buat anak.

Punya pengetahuan yang cukup tentang pendidikan dan sekolah, pernah liat dari dalam beberapa sekolah, beberapa tahun lalu, saya sudah punya bayangan akan mengirim anak saya kemana. Dana pendidikan sudah disiapkan sesuai sekolah tujuan sejak beberapa tahun lalu.

Saya punya sekolah yang memenuhi semua ceklis. Sekolah islam yang moderat, ngga kaku, auranya menyenangkan, punya kebiasaan membaca, visi misinya jelas, dan tentu harus sesuai sama kemampuan. Satu aja kurangnya, lokasi, tapi lokasi ini masih bisa dikompromi. Apalagi mereka juga menyediakan shuttle bus.

Saya sudah stalking berbulan-bulan bagaimana mereka menjalankan pembelajaran selama pandemi dan suka sekali. Hal-hal yang diperlihatkan jauh dari sekedar akademis, tapi lebih ke life skills dan well-being, yang mana buat saya lebih penting di saat seperti ini.

Sayangnya, ketika beberapa bulan lalu saya wa untuk minta info pendaftaran, kuotanya sudah full. Kami sempat berpikir untuk menunda sampai tahun depan lagi tapi diurungkan karena nunggu setahun untuk satu sekolah dan mengorbankan hal lain adalah pilihan yang kurang tepat.

PS : mereka wa beberapa bulan setelahnya bahwa ada tempat kosong, tapi kami sudah selesai daftar di tempat lain.

Sekolah lain yang ada di daftar saya adalah sekolah umum yang saya sudah pantau sejak tiga tahun lalu tapi ngga kebayang akan kirim anak saya kesana karena secara lokasi kurang bisa dikompromi dan hal-hal lainnya yang dulunya saya hampir yakin bukan hal yang tepat buat anak saya.

Tapi, seperti biasa, hidup itu ngga pernah linear dan hampir ngga ada hal yang dikasih persis seperti rencana awal. Tinggal di London mengubah hampir semua pandangan tentang banyak hal termasuk sekolah. Seperti sengaja dikirim jauh untuk dikasih liat sekolah seperti apa yang anak saya butuh dan ini sama sekali bukan tentang sekolah apa yang kami mau.

Saya suka vibe sekolah ini. Halamannya luas, area hijaunya banyak, dan salah satu yang jadi magnet adalah mereka hanya punya satu kelas per angkatan dengan maksimal 28 anak. Jadi jelas bukan sekolah yang mementingkan uang dengan buka kelas lebih banyak seiring meningkatnya permintaan. Saya cuma tetap ngga yakin karena secara lokasi agak ngga terbayangkan oleh saya kirim anak saya sekolah di sana.

Tapi, jodoh emang gitu.

Waktu pertama kali saya menanyakan pendaftaran lewat salah satu medsos, di waktu yang agak ngga biasa karena waktu itu masih di London, ternyata langsung dijawab. Dijawabnya pun panjang lebar dan niat. Tadinya saya cuma mau nanya hal-hal dasar dan umum, tapi dengan percakapan yang mengalir saya jadi lebih nyaman bertanya lebih detil dan dalam seperti apa mereka menerima anak denga kesulitan belajar, punya perpustakaan yang proper, seperti apa budaya membacanya sampai apa kantin tersedia atau tidak (saya ngga pro kantin ada di sekolah), sampai tradisi merayakan ulang tahun. Hampir semuanya memenuhi kriteria saya.

Saya suka sekali dengan jawaban :

“Kami adalah sekolah inklusi”.

Cari sekolah umum inklusi di Jakarta yang secara reputasi cukup baik itu sulit sekali. Jadi satu hal ini, sangat penting buat kami.

Pas sekali ternyata mereka baru buka pendaftaran gelombang kedua. Jadilah kami langsung daftar dan beberapa hari kemudian, jadwal wawancara pun dikirim. Karena adanya perbedaaan waktu 7 jam pada saat itu, proses wawancara kami dilakukan oleh ketua yayasannya yang saat itu sedang studi di US. Di awal rencananya wawancara hanya sekitar 30 menit, tapi ternyata jadi cukup panjang hingga 1,5 jam.

Kami cukup teryakinkan dengan pertanyaan-pertanyaan yang diajukan pada saat wawancara. Ngga ada yang bersifat akademik dan lebih kepada rutinitas dan perkembangan anak. Seminggu setelahnya dijadwalkan untuk observasi anak. Sekali lagi, mereka cukup akomodatif dengan perbedaan waktu ini. Jadwal observasi kelompok yang seharusnya jam 9 pagi dimundurkan jadi jam 2 siang waktu Jakarta.

Saat observasi pun tidak ada pertanyaan yang ngga wajar seperti salah satu SD yang menanyakan siapa proklamator Indonesia kepada anak TK. Semua pertanyaan benar-benar sesuai apa yang seharusnya anak umur 6 tahun tahu. Warna dasar, angka dasar, bentuk dasar, dsb. Ketika observasi one on one pun, gurunya juga dipilihkan yang berbahasa Inggris.

Beberapa minggu kemudian, surat penerimaan pun diterima. Kami cukup lega karena ngga menyangka alhamdulillah semua dimudahkan untuk pencarian SD ini meskipun dari jauh. Masalah tempat tinggal setelah dari London pun jadi lebih jelas setelah tau dimana sekolah buat enam tahun ke depan (salah satu hal baik dari belum punya rumah, pilihan tempat tinggal kami jadi lebih fleksibel).

Sudah diputuskan karena jarak ke tahun ajaran baru tinggal 6 bulan, selama 6 bulan ini kami hanya akan belajar sendiri. Karena toh semua sekolah di Jakarta pun tidak ada yang berlangsung offline.

Dulu saya pikir jeda 6 bulan itu sebentar. Tapi, ternyata dalam waktu enam bulan ini, jeda antara sekolah formal terakhir di Alfred Salter dan tahun ajaran baru ini, banyak sekali hal yang mengubah pandangan saya tentang sekolah. Menjalani rutin baru yang terbentuk sejak pandemi di London, mulai banyak baca tentang homeschool, mengikuti beberapa akun orangtua homeschool luar negeri (susah sekali buat ngga iri), terutama melihat pesatnya perkembangan anak ini selama lockdown, baik di London, maupun beberapa bulan tanpa sekolah di sini, perasaan terusik makin sering dirasakan.

Merasakan ‘nikmatnya’ unschooling, melihat beberapa anak homeschool, melihat banyaknya anak-anak yang sama sekali tidak menikmati sekolah dari rumah selama setahun lebih, dan akhirnya jadi sama sekali ngga belajar apapun, jadi buat saya semakin bertanya-tanya, dengan kondisi saat ini, dengan kondisi pendidikan di Indonesia saat ini, apakah ‘kembali’ ke sekolah formal adalah pilihan yang tepat?

Saya belum tau jawabannya.

Tapi, semakin dekat tahun ajaran baru, perasaan malah semakin galau. Kehilangan semua fleksibilitas dan kebebasan dalam belajar selama ini buat saya agak khawatir. Selain itu banyak kekhawatiran kecil yang ntah penting atau ngga. Antusiasme menyambut sekolah baru jadi ngga seperti yang dibayangkan.

Senin ini orientasi hari pertama sudah dimulai dan senin depan akan menjadi hari pertama dari perjalanan panjang yang kami ngga tau akan jadi seperti apa.

Karena kami ngga tau, makanya kami ingin cari tau. Semoga apapun keputusan yang diambil, apapun yang ada di depan, akan jadi pelajaran baru yang bisa bermanfaat buat semua.

Bismillah.

Semangat, Be.

(Mami kali yang semangat).

Posted in Thoughts

Mood in Paragraphs

Current situation makes a mixture of feelings.

Too depressed to stay sane.

Too guilty to feel okay.

Too hopeless to do something.

The heart goes to everyone who’s currently dealing with any difficulties, struggles, pain and sickness.

May you have the strength you need to get through everything.

Posted in Thoughts

The Rain in June

This June feels so much longer than the whole year. It’s been raining for weeks. The situation outside is bad and unfortunately, the inside one is pretty heart-breaking too.

At the beginning of this year, I have known that 2021 would be tens times tougher than 2020. Only no idea how tough is tough. But maybe, things that happened so far up until 25 days of June could show it.

The virus started getting closer to the closest inner circle possible. It started with an uncle. He has been staying in the hospital for almost a month. Few weeks in ICU, and thankfully he’s recovering. Hopefully, he could return safely home soon.

It was only two days ago when June striked with another news. This time is my father. There were so many mixed fellings towards this news. Angry and frustrated were two of them.

Angry because I had, continously, repeatedly, giving him reminder, warning, or whatever you call it, to not take things for granted. To not overlooked the vaccine he receieved, to not loosen the guard by going to the places that potentially give him a chance to contact the virus. I told him not to go to the mosque anymore, not to go to the office, because he has that choices. I was angry because he kept doing all those despite witnessing everything that happened .

But more than angry, the frustration is bigger. Because there’s almost nothing I can do to help. I could help with helping some instructions but,really couldn’t anything more than that. One thing that is still being grateful for, he’s been fine so far. Almost no symptoms.

At the day we received the news at night, we planned to visit his house in the afternoon. The old carpet in the living room was sent for laundry and I needed another. I was thinking whether to buy new one or to take my old carpet from the storage at my father’s. Finally we decided we would look the new one first within the budget at the store downstairs, then if we didn’t find any, we would go there.

We found a good one at the store with reasonable price so we canceled the plan to visit his house.

But, the rain didn’t stop there. The following day, the doctor receieved some news that two of his colleagues whom he met in the common room last Monday tested positive. For countless times, he signep up for another PCR test yesterday. The result came this morning and if there’s any words bigger and higher than gratitude, I will use it for every negative result that we have receieved so far.

These days, we need more of negativity than positivity in a literal meaning.

There was one question asked by the little girl one day,

“Mommy, why do you do your last sujud so long?”

It‘s been more than a year, having the doctor deal with (covid) patients daily in the hospital, which something that we couldn’t opt out, whether in London, especially in Jakarta, the only choice other than doing things that we can control, is asking for The One who has control on everything, for the utmost protection from any dangers, any diseases, our own unintended mistakes and also…

Other’s negligence.

My sujud won’t get any shorter until further notice.

Stay vigilant and stay safe.

Posted in Places, Thoughts

Monthly Field Trip and Staying Sane

Arranging proper outdoor time the little girl deserved took quite amount of researches. It’s not only about the places but more about how to get there, whether we should go by car or better with public transport, when to go there, what schedule we had after and another important thing, what else we could visit other than the main destination.

Although everything has been arranged thoroughly, yet the execution often happened on the total opposite of the plan. Just like yesterday’s field trip.

Weeks of slow careful planning executed quickly on a quiet Friday morning, cutting the duration of other morning routines after a morning ice cream shop nearby a park that was not even on the list we had planned to visit suddenly detected.

The park is only 15 minutes drive, safe parking, we even brought the bike. The little girl had all the wide space to ride for herself while I enjoyed reading in a tranquil bench while listening to the bird singing.

After an hour, we were heading to the nearby ice cream shop by bike. The Blueberry Choco Chip Peanut Butter was a perfect dessert to end the field trip. Sadly, few last bite were thrown into trash since the little girl dropped it while walking on a bumpy pavements. Such a thrilling experience to ride a bike in Jakarta’s unfriendly pavements. But, hey, at least now we know, it wasn’t a good idea. I love testing a new idea.

From Pamela Druckerman

One of the pages I read described well what happened yesterday. The Chinese General wisdom was right. Life is so often goes according to what we don’t plan and that made having a plan becomes important. When we have a plan, it means we have already certain possibilities in our head, so if one doesn’t work, we could try another one. But, without any plans, the choice is only between yes or not at all. While in life, things fall between the wide gradation of yes and no.

After more than a year dealing with this pandemic, We could stop asking, arguing, hoping or whatever it is about having old life back and start converting to play (live) a long game. Prepare even longer, because in this country, more than the virus, it’s the absence of leadership in crisis, people in power who have no clear plan since the beginning, that killed the most.

Make it in Bold : > 10 YEARS.

After more than a year dealing with the chaos, staying sane becomes a more important advice than staying at home.

It’s tiring to see the doc tired of doing such inhumane schedule for months without proper break and rest day.

Worrying about what might happen being exposed to the risk daily.

Heart-breaking listening to many stories and sudden loss(es).

Staying sane becomes non-negotiable.

So, what we can do is :

Keep living.

Keep doing what needs to be done and should be done.

Keep measuring carefully every single risk from every action.

Staying sane took a lot of consideration, a little bit of courage, and a huge amount of faith.

Managing and controlling the mind between fear and hope. Saving the energy to (hopefully) ‘reach the finish line’ safely and sanely.

Someday.

Posted in Past learning, Thoughts

How It Feels

In this post, I babbled about how words and lines in a book could be more comforting than a human. The right book found me at the right time. Other than books, some articles also did.

Stumbled upon a good one from Michael Batnick. Reading his writing about losing the mother felt like talking to a comforting friend. There are certain things, like huge grief, that only could be understood by ones who had experienced exactly the same thing.

Although it’s the same event of losing a mother, the degree of sad feeling could be entirely different. Losing your mother in certain period of life could left a huge hole inside, made you fall into dysfunctional period for days or weeks, cried over the smallest memories, thought how life could go on with her gone. While losing her in the other phase of life might only left certain bruise, received the news didn’t even shaken the eyes for a slight tears and it was just another ordinary sad event that happened in life.

It’s been almost 10 years since she left, yet, my tears are still running quickly in the slightest thought of her. Especially on Friday. I found Michael writing yesterday and every line of his work truly explained my feeling till I couldn’t help capturing every paragraph and want to keep it in a writing for myself. I felt like talking to a friend over a cake and coffee while reading it.

Exactly, Mike. Only I was 28 at that time. The most heartbreaking part is not that I didn’t have enough time with her. It’s her who didn’t have enough time with me. Witnessed many of important things in my life like ticking Paris from my dream list, to see her granddaughter growing. It’s painful and I considered this is one of my daughter great losses to not be able to meet and knowing her grandma in person.

How could you read my mind so well? Although it’s sad and devastating, there’s nothing I would change. I am a better person since she left. My vision becomes more clear after she left. And yes, if I looked back to ten years ago, I am myself right now is in a better place and better person, if it’s not a successful adult.

No explanation needed for this one.

Or maybe I could add with this one from my favorite happiness researcher book. Living the life you imagine, isn’t it enough definition of being successful?

Losing my mother gave me true insights not only about death but more of how to live your life. You’re so right when you said in your subconscious, you think about it all the time. It’s been almost 10 years since I clear Thursday evening from anything to be able make time with proper energy to send Yasin for her. It was her death that made me not to take things for granted, especially time spent with the one who matters the most. Let alone years, even tomorrows aren’t promised. And yes, for me after iman, health is the second thing that matters.

This last paragraph hit me the most. The fact that my daughter couldn’t meet her in person is painful enough. The only way I could make it up by paying forward everything she gave to me to my daughter, in double, triple, or more.

I believe she’s watching me. And I hope when we meet again later, I could face her and listened to her saying “I am so proud of you”. It’s the only external validation I need from someone.

Thank you for the cake and warm tea, Mike.

Unlike my mom, I don’t fancy coffee.

Posted in Thoughts

‘Je Suis Femme au Foyer’

If some people are not really fancy the idea or the fact, I don’t mind growing old. In fact, I love it. I love this period better than ten years ago. Growing old makes everything more simple, when it comes to other people. Simple, not easier. I am getting more comfortable with myself, with what I think more important for me and care very much less about what others think. Growing old makes me more relax about things that are not in my control yet more conscious about what happens daily.

I am more comfortable with ‘Bu’ and ‘Mam’ than any other greetings from strangers. I don’t mind people knowing my real age. Even when people asked about what I do, I will clearly say it without hesitation.

When I was in London, ‘parent’ is considered a job and has a specific box to tick in any forms I fill.

Funnily, being what I am now, doing what I am now, it is a situation that I consciously wrote sixteen years ago in entrepreneurship class back in college. At that time, we were asked to make a dream board and dream book. At that time, I had my three big dreams in my mind already. I knew what I want to pursue after college. Although, I totally had no clue what, when, and how long it took to complete all those three.

When the third and longest one completed five years ago, I didn’t know it would feel so empty. Not knowing what to pursue is scarier than facing all the obstacles in pursuing something.

But, fortunately, the ‘what’s next’ question that kept disturbing the night sleep finally found the answer as written here. Up until now, we’re still trying to survive to get through this pandemic safely. Hopefully.

When I thought life couldn’t be more full of surprises, it came with even a bigger one, as big as London for the third time. As I boringly have written this thousands times, how 15 months in London were a life changing event, without I realized, it also ticked two items that I once wrote in the dream board and book many years ago.

The crazier thing, it was granted exactly as written. I was ‘retired’ from my 15 years job at 35 and the only title left is the one with which is written in red.

When many people considered such job is less-valued, less important, and totally not flashy, I had been observing for a long time that this one, just like any other jobs, is something which could make so much difference in one’s life, if it’s done whole-heartedly. In fact, this one is what makes one’s life keep running well. It is as well important and could be as fulfilling as any other jobs. It doesn’t matter about the gender.

Without someone in charge with all the house chores and home affairs, no one could function well outside. It’s either hiring someone to do it or we have to manage to do it ourselves. During master degree abroad period, I could stay till midnight happily working on my assignments, but always felt so pressured looking at a pile of dirty laundry in the corner. I could read pages of papers, journals, fixing power point for hours excitedly, yet, felt so anxious when it came to weekly meal-plan. It drained my brain to arrange what to cook and what to eat more than to deal and had presentation in front of a killer professor. No wonder, I lost my weight a lot during that period. Below 40 kg was the lowest that I could have in history.

Moving to London became the period where I had to deal with all the house chores on my own. Although most of main house chores are not new for me, but, it was the first time that I had to deal with them, with very minimal helps available, while taking care the other two members. My two biggest worries : how could I survive with cooking and laundry since I had been outsourcing these two for almost a whole life?

As always, most worries only happened in our head. There’s nothing we couldn’t do if it is the only way that we should do to survive.

Since London days and being a full time house manager and spend most time at home, for a big picture, instead of suffocating, most part of it feel liberating. It gave me more time and chance to be focused on important things that I missed before. One of the most rewarding ones how it changed the dynamics of daily habits done with the little girl. How a little bit of time spent working on things that we have never been done before could improve thing that we had been trying hard to fix for years. Like how learning and practicing piano and Quran daily 7 days a week without excuse has significant impact on little girls’s speaking, confidence, and if I may say, happiness.

When previously I arranged my home duties according to my work schedules outside, since London days until now, I have done the opposite way. My activity outside should be done accordingly to my at home duties. Because now, the outside one is negotiable but the inside ones are surely not. Thus, In London, my kind of week would be like fasting Monday for groceries, Tuesday for library and cooking day, Wednesday for volunteering in Little Village, fasting Thursday for house cleaning and Friday for my solo or date tourist day.

Returned to Jakarta, with current pandemic situation, choosing our activities outside is tricky and should be done carefully. Since we’re currently doing unschooling within the interval between the end of London days and new school year next month, staying at home becomes the only best choice to do.

Although returned to Jakarta means more helps are available, I am no longer the same me that want to outsource things that I did before. Although it’s far from perfect, not depending on others for doing the house chores daily is more preferable. We have no nanny or helper and deal with the tasks together, including the little girl. She deals with her own dishes daily and her own laundry twice a week. A must thing to do is : we simplify.

When people said staying at home means nothing to do, it must be because they never really stay at home for a long period. When someone work outside, they go because they’re paid to do the job and must do it, but it doesn’t work the same for this job. There’s no obligation you have to do what, how and when, it’s all up to you.

It’s all up to you what kind of day you want to spend and create for your child, what kind of food you want to serve, what kind of schedule you want to follow, you have all the freedom to decide. For some people, it could be a disaster. For me, that’s a blessing.

Being at home makes me much more discipline than I had been before. It makes me more conscious for not ruining the day and let my self being controlled by this leisure time.

It allows me to apply many things that I picture inside. Morning becomes the most important period of the day and more than half of our compulsory schedules are done before 12 pm and start as early before 5 am. Being at home allows me having four school days as once written in one of the posts last year. Doing daily schedule consist of Iqro, Quran, math, piano, reading and writing religiously seven days a week without rushing, arranging afternoon classes, and many more. Even in piano, we really go extra miles with two sessions of daily practices and four other classes with teachers. There’s no way I could do this years ago, in terms of time and energy.

Being at home makes me understand that clear sink and clean floor are the compulsory requirements before 9 am. The earlier, the better. Because only when those two are taken care of, I could start to be functioned well.

Being at home allows us to have a sudden plan outside like to go to the park, visiting my dad’s house or simply just going to ice cream shop or swimming downstairs.

I also have proper time to deal with the house chores that I don’t really fancy like meal planning and laundry. Only those who are in charge in daily meal planning will understand how tough it is to arrange this task. More people, more headache. I take certain hours to sit and think to decide what food should be served and cooked for a whole week. My meal planning is not only about what food to serve, but down to which food for when (or for who when dealing with the leftovers) considering the other people schedule for that day. Not only that, it goes deeper to have at least a back up plan if something happens. Last minutes changes happen a lot.

The whole house affairs and houseworks are as well taxing, if it’s not more, than the job done outside.

However, when it is managed well, and I certainly take this one seriously, this job allows me to have proper time to take care my self daily more than I did years ago. As one of this pandemic’s blessing in disguises, it’s been more than a year that I have no compromise and excuse for daily exercise, even during holiday. Reading daily also becomes my sanity.

When I chose to do volunteering in London, here, I decided to return to the class that I enjoyed a lot years ago since last January. It’s been six months since I returned to a class that I took during my 20s.

Restarting this class from the very beginning, although the lessons are pretty much the same, but, the whole experience is entirely different. Facing new way of learning, the technology, it’s been thrilling. This class becomes my happy place five times a week among other daily routines at home. Doing things happily turned out to contribute a lot to satisfying result.

Again, I am truly conscious how much privileged I am and we are to be able to make such choices during this pandemic. To be able to stay at home without worrying how to pay the bill means a lot during this pandemic. Thus, there’s nothing I want to take it for granted, especially the chance and the time which I could spend according to my will, doing things I like, with and for the ones that matter.

Thirteen years ago, I was one of the youngest students in the classroom. But now, I am the oldest one with quite significant age differences with the other. Even quite much older than the teacher. If years ago I had few jobs to describe, now whenever it’s time for introduction, I chose only something that described me most.

For the past six months, whenever it’s time for introduction and qu’est-ce que vous faites related questions, I replied with clear voice :

“Je suis femme au foyer”.

I’ll keep such answer for a while, living the dream life that I wrote half-conscious half mindlessly sixteen years ago, as long as it needs to be, while enjoying daily morning blessing below.

Precious morning routine with a view