Success Is Relative, Happiness is Absolute.

I know I have been neglecting this blog. But I can’t help but posting a little thing that  just crossed my mind this minute! Yes, it has everything to do with the title above.

“Success is relative. Happiness is absolute.”

No, I didn’t copy it from anywhere. It was pure revelation.

Yes, I do believe I hold the copyright for that sentence above. 🙂

So what brought it about? Well, it was actually putting my children to sleep. For a few moment there, a scary thought went through my head…

“Is this it…? Rearing up my children? Has my life been reduced to just this?”

But then I realised that not all is lost. No… no… my dear readers… Not at all… So fear not! 🙂

As I was thinking it, I realised that I was not sad, nor any other negative feelings were within me. I was actually… happy.

I may not be a successful woman depending on what your measures are. But I am a happy woman.

“Oh, hell yeah!”

(Some cowgirl might add…)

Success is relative, happiness is absolute.

Regarding the shameful neglect of this blog, I promise I will try to catch up some time soon. I am trully sorry.

Now then, back to VAT reports.

My Giving-birth Story. Part 1

29 January 2009; around 4 o’clock in the morning. 2 weeks before our expected due date.


A normal winter morning, and most people must’ve been fast asleep, but I was sitting on a chair at a small dining-table-turned-office-desk in our little studio-flat in Belgium.

Surfing through my facebook news-feed page, the blue-pregnant-lingerie I was wearing was wet from waist down, so were my panties, so was the chair I was sitting on…, and there’s a puddle of water on the floor –around my left foot.

Yes, my water broke about ½ hour earlier and it gushed down my left leg and formed the afore-mentioned puddle on the floor, wetting my lingerie, my panties, and my dining chair on its way down.

When we were pregnant

While it might seem odd to check one’s facebook while one is in labour… at that precise moment, I couldn’t think of anything better to do whilst waiting for my husband getting ready for the hospital run (it was winter, so getting ready means thermal undershirt, sweater, boots, shawl, gloves, etc)

My peaceful facebook surfing was disturbed by my husband irritated voice. “Are we giving birth or not…?!” He was all togged-up in his winter jacket and sweater, tapping his fingers against the kitchen sink with an ‘are you kidding me…!?’ look on his face.

So then…, ladies and gentlemen, I got myself ready for the hospital. (I was not efficient. I know, but let’s move on… :D)

— o —

I thought it was going to be all fast, and hectic, and frantic, and busy when my water breaks. (Just like in those Hollywood movies we’ve seen around.) But that was not the case for me. When my water actually broke, I strangely felt calm and content… perhaps because I had been through 2 miscarriages before.

Calm was not how I’d describe my husband though. He was nervous and highly strung. He was worried that we might get stuck in a traffic jam. (Yeah right… a traffic jam in Brussels at 5 am?)

So he hurled his pregnant wife in a VW Passat –company car. He drove so fast through the empty roads of Brussels, leaving skid-marks on every turn, checking his watch every 5 minutes. 🙂

We didn’t talk to each other at all on our way to the hospital. It was too intense… at least for him. 😀 Poor thing…

The first contraction was when we were at the parking basement of the Hospital. This is it, I thought. Standing still, and bracing myself to cope with the pain, my husband didn’t understand why I should stop to do that.

“Shouldn’t we just run up quickly and see a doctor or a midwife to check on you?” He said.

Oh men… ! They don’t know anything about labour pain do they? 😀

It was all very, very, sweet though…, being a Mr.Cool-At-All-Time that he is, I enjoyed looking at my husband’s worried face and hearing his snappy impatient tone. It was endearing to see how worried he was and how frustrated he seemed.

What was happening was beyond his control. There was not much he could do to help me. It was just me, myself and my uterus at that point, and I think he hated the thought of not being able to help much.

— o —

Greeted by a midwife who spoke only French, I started feeling anxious. My husband squeezed my hand firmly. The midwife put her fingers into my birth canal, and then… smiled.

She asked my husband to pass her a stainless-steel bowl (all said in French). She put the bowl under my… uhm… crotch… and pulled her fingers out slowly, and with it came gushing down what seemed like tons of water –filling the bowl in no time.

“3 cm cervical dilation. She is in labour, we’ll check you in.” She gave me a hospital robe and there began the adventure.

It was still very early in the morning, if everything was going to go textbook-like, we were informed,  we should have ‘our new bundle’ by noon, or afternoon.

We were so excited…. But as it turned out, things were not straight forward. My labour had to be induced –twice, and a whole set of doctors (head of OBGYN, anaesthetist, neurologist, and some resident-doctors) came in and out of the delivery room.

I will tell you the rest later. To be continued… 🙂

Dian Retno Wulandari. Reminiscing away…

PS: It was my son’s 2nd birthday a few days ago, and I spent the last few days feeling nostalgic, thus my writing this post. 🙂

PPS: The pregnancy was conceived in Indonesia, but I spent most of my 1st trimester in Canada, most of my 2nd trimester back in Indonesia again, and most of my 3rd trimester in Belgium. My son is a world traveller even before he was born. 🙂

PPPS: Our pregnancy was not categorised as high risk, but a normal delivery (non-caesarian) for someone with a spinal condition like me could be categorised as high risk. Luckily we were handled by some of the best doctors and midwives in Belgium.

Grey Hairs, Age Spots, and Stretch Marks.

It’s my birthday today… I am worried scared not sure how I feel about it. I know that my husband has arranged a romantic lunch/dinner somewhere great. Buffet, just the way I like it… with an over the top bouquet of the best flowers in town –as always. But that isn’t what this writing is about.

I want to stay young forever I don’t think I am ready for this new age to dawn upon me. I want to hang on to my previous age and do more with it. Have I done enough through the last year to say that I have lived life to the fullest? No. I don’t think feel so.

As you know from my previous post, in not so long from now I will say goodbye to my twenties and enter the overrated age of 30. Yes, my golden age is dwindling away, and when I’m 30… will I be able to look back at my twenties and smile with contentment? I don’t know… But I am determined to stuff as many things as possible into this extremely limited time I have left in my hands.

“I am still in my twenties… Do not despair, my dear self… I can still shape the history of my golden age. Now is the time!”

Few days ago, just after I cleaned my “stay young forever” mask off my face, my husband said to me: “Why are you becoming so obsessed about the way you look these days?” I squinted at him through my naturally slitty eyes with a deadly look. Not because I didn’t want to say anything, but because I was already on another mask that restricts free movement of facial muscles. 😀 (this other mask is to prevent acne).

Few hours later -mask free- I proclaimed to my husband –and to the whole world for that matter… “I have every right to obsess over the way I look…!” and I better do it while I’m young. No?

You see… I spent practically my entire life not worrying about the way I look. In my teenage I was lucky to have a proportional body, good shiny hair, and a unique face. No worries there. Then followed by university life, career world, and being a wife & mother era. Through all those years I barely used any make up. No sun block, no face powder, no lip balm. Nothing… (to the exasperation of my good friend Amalia). My husband would consider himself lucky when I decided to comb my hair just before we go out shopping. 😀

For nearly 30 years of my life, I’ve never had more than 4 sets of footwear, consisting of 1 pair of sporty shoes, 1 pair of girly shoes, 1 pair of going out sandals, and 1 pair of gardening sandals. That’s my lot.

But during the last year, I have been saying that I want to curl my hair, and that I want to dye it blonde. I bought endless amounts of face cream. I want to wear stilettos, pumps, platforms, all of it! I tried different types and colours of blushes. I bought mascara. I bought lip plumper. Bought long dresses, short dresses, bright, dark, tops, skirts… Everything…! The changes in my behavior must’ve freaked poor hubby out. Bless him… 😀

Point is… I was right (wasn’t I??). I have the right to obsess over the way I look. Like most women do! Now –out of all time- is the right time to exercise this right, to make things more right. Right…??

These days I spent extra time in front of the mirror. Looking closely at my severe age spots scattered around my temple and cheek bones. Running my fingers through my hair, plucking away at my grey hairs. Or simply gazing at the stretch marks around my legs and tummy, convincing myself that they are proofs of a heroic act of bearing a child into the world. *sigh*

With all these additions that come with age… Grey hairs, age spots, stretch marks, wrinkles around my eyes, and some extra fat around my belly… I realized that I am slowly turning into my mother.

Now thatis not such a bad thing. Right?

Right…?!?!

Dian Retno Wulandari. Celebrating a new age.

my 8th bday

That is a photo of my 8th birthday. My last age with short hair. My mother was a model and fitness instructor. My Father died when I was 12 yo. I wanted to be an astronaut. My big brother wanted to be a superhero. My little sister wanted to be me. 😀

Indonesian Mother’s Day: Better Than The Western Mother’s Day

As some of us know very well, mother’s day falls on different dates for different countries. In Indonesia, it falls on the 22 Dec every year. That is today.

As an Indonesian, I have said “happy mother’s day” many times since I was a little girl. To be quite honest, I couldn’t wait for the day to come where I would be the one receiving the mother’s day wishes, and that day was 22 Dec 2007. I was pregnant for the first time, and I received a text from my sister saying: “Happy mother’s day!”  and then another one from my bff. Yes I got 2 wishes that day, not as many as I have wanted it to be, but it was great. After all I was only 3 months pregnant, therefore not many people knew I deserved mother’s day wishes. Although to be even more honest, I told my husband, early December that year, that Indonesian mother’s day falls on 22 Dec, and I had hoped for him to say happy mother’s day to me, but he didn’t. For 2 reasons: he forgot (typical men!), and he didn’t feel the need to say it.

But as time unraveled itself, I had a miscarriage just 1 week after my very first mother’s day. At late March 2008, we were in UK, and the mother’s day in UK was also late March, but I was not pregnant and I didn’t have any child either, therefore I didn’t deserve to receive mother’s day wishes. As sad as it was for me, I tried to still celebrate motherhood for those who were mothers.

So during that particular mother’s day in UK, we went out to do some shopping.  Every single time I saw or interacted with a woman with child(ren), I always said “Happy mother’s day!” with a big smile on my face. But the reactions I got from those women were not quite as I expected. They all looked at me as if I just asked them to give me a bag full of gold coins. Rather like a horror look or a “you are strange” look. I was bemused. “What is going on in this world…?”

I got pregnant again in June 2008, and so my 2nd mother’s day finally came. It was 22 Dec 2008. I was 8 months pregnant, we were living in Belgium. A week before the date, I told my husband that Indonesian mother’s day would come soon, to which he responded casually “Oh really?”. I waited for the day expectantly. But 22 Dec came and went without any single person wishing me happy mother’s day. This time, I confronted my husband “It was mother’s day yesterday! But you didn’t give me any wishes!”. With a confused look on his face he flatly said “But you are not my mother”. I gave him a horrified look. “What is going on in this world…?”

For Chirstmas that year, we drove from Belgium to UK, to celebrate it with Bryn (my in law) and Sam (my husband’s son from his prev marriage). Christmas morning I told Sam that it was mother’s day in Indonesia 3 days ago (hoping I would get some belated happy mother’s day wishes from him). Sam said… “Oh nice, did your baby get you a nice greeting card?”. Haha… I laughed to that. It was a joke, you see… my baby was still inside my belly! But still… “Am I missing something here…?”

Later on… in 2009… I learned that within the western custom one says “happy mother’s day” to one’s mother, in Indonesia we say “happy mother’s day” to all mothers. Major difference! Then I knew why those women looked at me funny when I said happy mother’s day to them. I am not their child! Then I realized why my husband never understood it when I gave hints to him that I wanted him to wish me happy mother’s day. He is not my child! And for the same reason, Sam made the joke about the baby who was still inside my tummy! Duuuuhhh…..!!!

The western people since a long time ago made it specific that the apostrophe (=tanda petik atas) in mother’s day should be before the S, and not after the S (as in mothers’), to signify that the day was dedicated for singular mother, your own mother, not for plural mothers which is all mothers in the world.

Still, I don’t quite understand this idea. Why only to your own mother? Is the quality of the sentiment reduced when you wish a happy mother’s day to not only your mother but also to all mothers in the world? Does it mean less for our mothers if we also celebrate other’s mothers? I don’t think so… Then I can conclude that the way Indonesians deal with mother’s day is better than those of the western societies.

Happy mother’s day to all Indonesian mothers…! And for mothers of the western world, you should wait to get it from your child(ren) on the appropriate date. 🙂

Lot’s of love.

Dian Retno Wulandari. A child to my mother, and a mother to my child.

PS: For the first time ever, my husband remembers that it’s Indonesian mother’s day today (without any cue from me). He and Alix even made a mother’s day card for me. Oh… bless them. He said if he’s not too busy with work or study, he would take me out to movie and dinner this evening. I hope we can watch Tangled (animation, Mandy Moore), but I know he wants to watch Unstoppable (Denzel Washington).

PPS: Most countries (like USA, Ghana, Japan, Belgium, Malaysia, Turkey, etc…) celebrate mother’s day on the 2nd Sunday of May. UK celebrates mother’s day on the 4th Sunday of Lent