Dear Clarissa

Hello, sweetheart.

Happy 21 months young.

Though it's turning out to be quite a rough day.

You woke up at 330am with a fever.
Fever broke after a dose of paracetamol.

You woke up again at 550am, drank milk and went back to sleep until 7am.

And then you were up the entire morning, resisting sleep while battling a running nose.

"Nose," you'd say to me, a cue for Mama to wipe the snot off your nose for you.

You made me read and sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

You'd point to the house in the book, and say, "House."

I'd ask you, "Who stays in the house?"

Your answer is always the same.

"Ah-guem, Ah-ma, Ku-ku. Baby! Baba, Mama," you'd say.

"Who else stays in this house?" I'd ask again.

"Duct-duct!" You'd exclaim. "PIG! Ah-ah, Yaya!".. and basically everyone and everything you hold dear.

And then you made Daddy go through our photo albums.

And then made him carry you in his arms and walk around the house, before he went out to see your Lao-ma (whom you call "Ah-ma" like we do).

You finally dozed off at 1130am, after more than your usual tablet and phone time.

I said to you, "Let's play a game! I'll let you scroll through 10 pictures, and then you must close your eyes for 10 seconds."

So you did.

With your little finger, you flipped through the photos on my phone as I counted 1, 2, 3.. to 10.

"Now, close your eyes," I said to you.

Frowning a little, you closed your eyes, hands grabbing on to the phone.

We did this for a few rounds before you dozed off.

I pried the phone from your hand gently, relieved that you are finally getting some rest and happy that I've outwitted you.

Indeed, sometimes it is like the Survivor game that Baba and Mama used to enjoy watching together.

Outplay, outwit, outlast (i.e. you doze off first).

My heart's feeling heavy right now because I have to leave on a business trip later this afternoon.

My luggage is still in the storeroom, I've so far only packed some clothes, and my heart is still here.

Always here.

(And then I have to stop writing abruptly because you woke up after sleeping for just 30 minutes.

It's now 15:05pm. You have just fallen asleep.

Daddy came home with your favourite waffle, and you ate it happily.

He watched youtube with you while I packed my luggage.

And he watched you as you drifted off to sleep after drinking some milk. He said that you kept trying to peep to see if he was still sitting there with you.)

It's always hard to go on a business trip, even harder when you are not feeling well.

People are always quick to judge.
"You should have, you shouldn't have; why did you, why didn't you.."

I read an article the other day, about a full-time working mom who discovered, to her horror, that her helper was breastfeeding her baby.
What made me furious was not the article, but the comments which followed.

"In the first place, why did she leave her baby with a maid?"

"You wouldn't leave a bag of money with a maid. Why would you leave your baby with her?"

The worst comment came from a man who claimed that he and his wife never got any help from anyone.

"In my opinion, the wife should resign from her job and take care of the kids until they are old enough to go to childcare."

It made me furious, that despite modernisation and despite all that education, society has not progressed.

There would never be gender equality, for it is nature. Women are the only gender who can bear children, and for as long as that is a fact, there will never be gender equality.
And that's ok.

But what is not ok, is the people who continue to judge. People who think that a woman's life has to come to a complete standstill in the formation years of her children's lives.

I feel angry for all the working moms who get judged.

I don't have much ambition for a high flying career.

All I want is a job that I enjoy doing, that there's something for me to learn, from people I respect, and knowing that I'm making a difference, however small it might be.

I love you, I love being your Mama, and I like my job too.

I wish I don't have to fly out so often, but there is no way for me to be effective at my job if I do not visit the markets to see the consumers.

"Can you change your job? Can you fly less often?"

I've always anticipated these kinds of questions.. but this also came from my own mother.

I guess this says so much there's nothing left to say.

We make decisions based on what's best for us, our family, you.

Sometimes we question our decisions.
Is it really too soon to send you to school?
Or, should I really leave for the airport now?

It might not be the best decision, but please know that it is always made with the best interests of our little family.

It's been a joy watching you grow up and blossom.

I cannot imagine how anyone can be equal parts monkey and lady, but here you are, equal parts cheeky and a sweetie.

There's something amazing happening everyday. A new word, a new sentence, a new level of naughty.

Thank you for being you.

We love you 👶!

I hope you feel better soon.

Love,
Mama.

P.S. I'm at the airport now and we took this picture after you woke up from your nap and before I left for the airport.

And then you were angry with me and refused to say goodbye.

You used to be sad or upset whenever I left for the airport but today you are legitimately angry.

You grudgingly gave me a forehead kiss and then refused to look at me.
"Uhmp!" You said, and wanted to close the door already. 😂

I'm sorry honey. I'll be back soon.

Love you! 😘😘