For my tenure here working overseas in Ho Chi Minh City up to this day, nearly half of the time I lived as a single in this foreign land. Of those years, for a total combined of about 6 months, I was a single parent raising 2 of my eldest kids (6 year old Khaulah & 3 year old Atiq) on my own. They lived with me to keep schooling at their international school and to keep me company abroad, while my wife had to continue working in Malaysia. These were tough times in our lives but we consequentially had to decide to live this way to keep up with circumstances.
Undeniably, these were challenging times for me personally, and to my kids (especially my little boy) as they were still very young to understand, yet had to burden the pain of separation from their mother. There were hard times when the kids caught a fever; even times when we all caught a fever. There were those many nights when my son needed to breathe with the nebulizer due to his asthma. Half of my annual leave for 2014 was actually spent to take care of my son whenever he got sick; he was even hospitalized once for some 3 days, 3 nights. There were also those tough moments when the kids talked to their mom on the phone and their voices gradually turned sad & sobbing while trying hard to talk about their day.
On the bright side, there were plenty of great & fun moments throughout that period. We would go out during weekends or week nights to shop for clothes, buy school costumes, eat ice cream, go out to the movies or just to hang out at the bookstore. We also often went swimming downstairs at our apartment or just went to play at the playground. We also once had a fine joyful day at Vietopia where the kids could pretend to be any profession like a doctor, fireman, nurse, cook, pilot, etc. (Apparently, there was no subsurface engineer). I also had the pleasure of attending their school concert & the school’s year-end play to watch my kids perform. We also once flew off to Nha Trang for a holiday, when my mother & brother came to visit us. Tough times really do give defining moments if it comes with perseverance.
Doing school homework together & reading Quran together was an every night activity. Waking up early & preparing breakfast & school lunch was my personal morning routine.
Fortunately, Makcik Aminah, our maid, would come every week day, wash the clothes & prepare dinner. She also was very helpful to be able to go back late at night after I come back from my demanding work. I compensated that by allowing her to come to my house beginning in the afternoon everyday and my driver would send her back home every night. On weekends I would do the house chores myself, cook the meals or we would just eat out at any restaurant. Eating sushi was always our last resort meal, also most looked forward meal.
Keeping the kids’ motivation was as ever important as keeping my own. My friends & neighbours were always by my side, & they always understood my situation and always supported us however they could. I sincerely thank them for all their support.
Throughout those 6 months, my wife visited us on 2 weekends and my mom & brother once came to assists me when I went outstation. There were also a couple of weekends that we went back to Malaysia ourselves, sometimes just catching the cheapest flight available, just to reunite the family for a weekend.
After, those long months were through, we were all still as close as a family could be, and still excited to venture the world. My wife eventually resigned from her petroleum engineering job, sacrificing her bright career for our family, and came to live with us for good. God bless her.
In this post, I’m sharing some pics taken during these times to treasure the memories. As Robin Sharma once said: Hardest times produce your greatest gifts.