So here I am, writing at the unearthly hour of 3am. It’s been a tiring week or so since we’ve been back in Singapore, as we’ve been busy getting the house in order and Noah has been ill with high fever on and off for the past week.
As much as it’s good to be back, Galv and I have been having hard conversations about how to structure our time with regards to the various social events that immediately filled up our social calendar. Perhaps it could just be the festive season, but I still (un)fondly remember how our schedules were so packed prior to leaving for Melbourne that we would only be home one weeknight per week due to the various church commitments and meet ups with different friends.
As an introvert, I’ve realised that I feel terribly drained by large group gatherings which are dominated by small talk. Unfortunately, many of the events that made up our family’s social life were characterised as such. I find that since leaving school, most relationships we have outside of family consist of ‘catching up’ meetings which occur periodically through the year, and are aimed mostly at maintaining relationships rather than deepening them. I’ve found myself hungering for deeper sharing and reflection in my conversations with others, but find that the time and occasion for such relationship building is rare.
The impact of such a social calendar on Noah’s schedule also worries me. After a year of staying in most nights, it seems overwhelming to find that most meet ups back here in Singapore are at night, over dinner. Meal times with a toddler in crowded, noisy places not conducive to the pitter pattering of tiny (and unsteady) feet are not exactly my idea of a setting for great conversations, while being out at night results in a hurried rush to bundle the little one off to bed upon reaching home. This is in such a sharp contrast to the leisurely way in which I prefer to spend time with Noah and Galv winding down at bedtime, sharing laughs over a book, songs, or silly games. It’s simply a reality though, that most people are only free to meet in the evenings, or the already packed slots of precious weekends.
I would like a sheltered, unhurried environment in which Noah can develop, learn, play, and grow. I need time to read, reflect, and write. I cherish rambling conversations with Galvin, which are now fewer and more far between than I would hope.
Emerging from the harried rush of completing assignments during our year in Melbourne, I know that such an unhurried life is not determined by the country in which we reside in. I know it remains up to us to draw the boundary lines of how we will spend and structure our time as a family.
How can we still nurture relationships with and spend time with friends and family who are important to us? I think for me, it means aiming for more small group meetings and having to say no to large group meetings in order to do that. It means sacrificing precious sleep time to write what I need to write and read what I can (we’ll see how I go on less sleep.) It means spending Noah’s nap times in the day on quietly resting or responding to email/sms with cherished friends instead of rushing around trying to complete household chores. I need to curb my OCD and become comfortable with dishes in the sink and toys strewn every which way around each room in the house. I need to leave the laundry undone for longer than I would like.
Because I realise I need to truly live, and not merely go through the motions of living. Life is really too short to be determined by default.