There are plans, and there are Plans.
Today being a Labour Day public holiday that happened to fall on a Sunday meant it’s one of those very rare occasions when Matthew didn’t need to attend his Music Appreciation Class or swimming lesson.
The plan for today was simple: We would attend Mass together with our Landings community in support this testifying event that’s part of our outreach efforts, have lunch together and take the kids to Port of Lost Wonder at Sentosa.
Only, the plan sort of fell apart because we spent a lot of time hanging out with our friends at lunch and only arrived at Port of Lost Wonder at 4pm. The pool closes at 5.30pm and so as we made our way in, I was already filled with dismay that the kids would have to rush through their playtime. What sort of playtime is it if you have to whiz through it?
And then the strangest thing happened. Or at least, something I had never encountered before. Someone pooped in the pool. There were pieces of poop at different sections of the pool. I guess the kid couldn’t hold it in and that led to floaties? So we had to evacuate the pool for a mass cleaning SOP and we hung around until we realised even if the pool should be cleaned and reopened, there would be only about 15 minutes left to play.
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The kids said they had fun when we left. I told Augz about how guilty I felt that we had shortchanged the children on this day that I thought would be theirs alone. [Our family weekend wanders have been severely compromised or cut short on Saturdays that I spend with my partners in getting our business going.]
The final thing I said to my husband on this: This is how it feels everyday as a SAHM. If I’m not weary to the bone, I feel like I haven’t done my best.
He replied: The kids don’t care about the actual experience. They love the concept of going out and doing stuff; but they barely process whether it actually happens.
I can’t say he’s wrong – they always have a “very good day” no matter what happens (and even if that day happens to be one filled with tantrums that result in harsh scoldings from me). But I wasn’t comforted.
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We ended up at dinner by Trapizza near Shangri-La hotel where I took a walk on the beach with Matthew and Emma after dinner. Both had required a lot of prodding and encouragement when they were younger before they learnt to appreciate the feel of sand beneath their feet. This evening, I felt the sweet reward as we ran together on a beach filled with gentle-soft sand, beneath a near-perfect evening filled with calm breezes and laughter from many holiday-goers. I’ve always loved being on a beach anyway, and still believe it’s my ultimate paradise.
The children and I kicked sand at one other, stood in a row to observe the waves crashing on the shore, laughed and waved at zipliners whooshing past us, raced, danced, chased and drew in the sand. We played.
The kids took turns to be thoroughly engrossed in exploring and doodling in the sand. Matthew wanted to build a tower that goes “all the way up to the sky!!!” while Emma was engrossed in drawing concentric circles, squishing sand together and throwing grains of it in every direction.
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I found my guilt assuaged. Not by the number of things we got to do, but in the quiet moments of unscheduled playtime together – when each of them found a space on the beach to prod, examine and indulge in, and I found mine to find some calm from all the busy days I’ve had and well, to just stop… or pause and just dwell on delighting in them.
Sometime, I work so hard to grasp at the goals I set, only to create anxiety for myself and others, and still fall short of the worst set of expectations – mine. Other days, like today, I am so utterly grateful for the messing up of plans that reveal a greater one in store.
In the end, as I observed my children and took all the photos I wanted of them, I stopped and thought, “This is good. This is enough.” And I found my God moment today.