A space I can call my own

A lot of people asked me how I manage to live each day with two active toddlers in the house.

It is tempting to say that everything is great – that I manage them very well while beating deadlines for my part-time jobs and writing term papers for my Master’s degree. But that would be a big lie.

The truth of the matter is: I undergo several episodes of “meltdowns” everyday. Say, I’m writing a term paper and then Nicholas starts to mess with my keyboard. I have mastered doing “Control S” regularly but… you don’t really want tiny fingers disturbing you when you’re trying to finish your paper’s Review of Related Literature and you’re bound to submit the paper in two days. Or when Antoinette just screams like a banshee while I’m reading a difficult material on speech perception. Or…when Jeff forgets to arrange his shirts and what-nots in the bedroom transforming me into a furious bull ready to pounce at the matador and the gold capote.

The day is not complete if I don’t scream (or squeal, to put it lightly) in frustration. The house is a mess. We have taught the children how to pick up their toys and put them in the basket. But the bulk of the clean-up is on me and Jeff. We don’t leave at The Garden Hotel anymore, where the ayis (cleaners) come every other day to tidy up everything, including changing the sheets. That responsibility is on us already. We have talked about getting an ayi, who would come thrice a week to clean the house but that plan is still a plan because I think I do a better job at cleaning the house than the ayi (which maybe untrue because I am an invalid in household chores except cooking).

However, I am happy to announce that I am getting better at doing the laundry and folding clothes. I like putting the clothes in the washing machine and see them clean afterward and then hang them to dry in our balcony. No dryer in this apartment. I abhor folding clothes. I swear. But a mother and a wife has to do what she needs to do. I am complaining, I am. Humility is not my strongest point.

But… I am thankful. Thankful for this new apartment because I finally have my reading nook. The previous apartment was huge, two times of the size of the current one. But as huge as it was, I did not find a space that I can call my own. We had an office that Jeff and I shared but even that did not feel like “my space”. In this 71-square-meter apartment, I found myself my own working area, a narrow space that Jeff managed to squeeze in for me by removing a couch and transferred it near the dining table. I also arranged my own reading nook, inside our bedroom, a space by the window where I can see the trees and a soccer field of the neighboring high school.

Guangzhou is cold these days and I am not excited to go out. But there is a lot to explore in this neighborhood, several people to meet, and shops to visit. January won’t end without a stroll around my new neighborhood.