Nothing and Everything

This post originally appeared here on 21st October, and was updated slightly and republished for the Trials and Tribulations linky party hosted by Rachel Teo of Catch Forty Winks.

Dear Xander,

It’s been 3 weeks since your dad’s been out of work come out to work on his own. I’ve been telling friends I’m taking a break for the time being, but as much as I try to be positive about this whole state of things, I’m worried that I am not picking myself up fast enough.

Because in reality, you cannot take a break from life. The bills, the loan repayments, the food we eat, these are unfeeling entities that don’t “wait till I do better”. They’re just going to keep coming, and we have to keep dealing with them, regardless of whether I move on or not.

Your mother has been my greatest source of support. Even when we quarrel, she’s managed to show me how strong her love for me is. I told her that losing the job made me realise I was nothing and when I put myself out there again, I’m effectively starting from scratch.

What I said sort of broke her.

“You are nothing?!” she cried. “What, so you’re going to let that (censored; she was referring to my ex-employer) that means almost nothing in your life dictate your worth? Then what about us? What do you think you are as your son’s father? As my husband?”

As angry as those words were, your mother made me smile when she said that. It was your mother’s reassurance to me that despite the road blocks that get in the way, I mean everything to the two most important people in my life, and don’t I bloody forget that.

I am everything to you both.

Up until the very last day of my last job, I was fighting so hard those two months to keep my full-time job so we would remain safe and secure. On my last day, however, I realised the company I was working for could not by any means secure my position as a father (then again, no job ever can), nor could I deliver what was expected of me as an employee given I valued my family much, much more than my job.

You and your mother mean everything to me.

For two months, I lived a dream. And for two months, I found myself fighting the dream. When it was over, the dream died. Part of me died with it, because despite the fight, it was still my dream.

But the part that survived came out of it stronger. That part of me knows I have to somehow make all of this work. That part of me has kept me going these last three weeks, and I am sure it’s the same part of me ever since your mother and I got together.

I have to get it together. Everything is at stake.

Three weeks is a long time to stay angry, so I’m done. I know now I am not starting from scratch, because I have you and your mother by my side. I have absolutely no reason to be angry. But I have every reason to keep going hard, and you guys are my every reason.

Whoever says you can’t survive on love alone, doesn’t understand what love means, because in the face of everything that’s happened, and for anything that is going to happen, my love for you and your mother was the part of me that survived, and the part of me that will ensure I keep on living.

Looooooooove,

Dad

I’ve The journey continues for me, but what about you? If you don’t mind, do share your most trying moment in life in the comments, or if you have a blog, join the Trials and Tribulations linky party too, and/or experience some of the most powerful life stories I’ve ever read by our community of parent bloggers (just click on the button below).

Lessons Learnt From a Stubbed Toe

Dear Xander,

If change is the only constant in life, then the human capacity for learning is the one constant that will not only reinforce change, but allow us to embrace it. And the lessons we can learn can stem from the simplest and least expected situations.

When you managed to stub your toe last Tuesday, your experience created not one but three lessons, learnt by not one but three different individuals.

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It happened at your grandmother’s house, after school and just before I came to pick you up. You were bawling — hard — in front of your dinner bowl by the time I arrived, and your grandmother felt absolutely helpless (even though you were shoveling rice into your mouth in between sobs; I guess nothing can stop you when you’re hungry, even a stubbed toe.

“I don’t know how to pacify him,” your grandmother said helplessly.

“Let me see,” I replied, and sat down in front of you. When you saw me, you howled harder than before.

“Okay, Xan. Let me see where you’re hurt.” You stuck your left foot into my face. There was blood, so that pretty much voided your mother’s standard “no blood, no problem” response.

“He was jumping on and off the steps and stubbed his toe on his last landing,” your grandmother said to me in Hokkien. I nodded.

“Does it hurt?” I asked you.

“(Sob) Yes… (sob, sob),” you said.

“I see. Don’t worry, Daddy will fix it right up.” You continued to cry, so I continued, “Xan, when you were jumping up and down before you hurt yourself, do you remember if you were having fun?”

Your crying went down a notch as you contemplated the question over the pain you were experiencing. Then you nodded, “Yes (sob).”

“Okay, do you remember if you were happy?” I asked.

You replied, “Yes.” And you stopped crying, almost instantaneously.

“Good. That’s really what matters, isn’t it? That you had fun, and more importantly, that you were happy,” I said. You continued with your dinner, this time with no more tears marinating your rice.

Your grandmother, who didn’t understand English, was absolutely amazed. “What did you say to him?” she asked. I told her I got you to remember he was happy, so he’d forget to be sad.

Your grandmother learnt something that day.

***

As we drove home, I asked if you still wanted to ride your scooter (that was in the boot of the car), considering the pain from your stubbed toe.

You thought for a moment. “Mmm… yes. My toe is not so pain any more.”

“You sure?” I asked.

“Yes. It’s not painful any more,” you chirped.

“Okay.” I wasn’t sure you’d be able to, but I wanted to see how you were going to pull it off.

I parked the car, and offloaded the scooter. Then you mounted and started pushing off with your injured foot — slowly, and with a look of hopeful concentration on your face. I knew then that you took my words to heart, that as long as you were happy and having fun, you won’t let any pain stop you.

I saw that you learnt something that day.

***

As you slowly rolled yourself closer to our lift lobby, you dismounted and started pushing your scooter. “That’s enough for now,” you said to no one in particular. I could tell you were making an effort not to emphasise that you were injured, because you were visibly trying to walk as normally as possible, albeit a lot slower than you normally would, and with a very slight limp.

Looking back on last Tuesday, I realised it only took a stubbed toe, a few words and the joy you found in riding your scooter for you to understand something I’ve taken my whole life to try and understand — to never let pain get in the way of your happiness, and always be happy such that you feel no pain.

I learnt something that day.

With happiness,

Dad