Space please

My son is now 15 months old. And one of the feelings I have been grappling with these last few months is the loss of freedom that having a child brings. Don’t get me wrong I love my son and being a wife and mum. It brings me a sense of happiness and contentment that’s on a higher plane than those feelings work achievements would ever bring me. Its just that it is 24/7 and I was getting over it.
During the day from the moment I wake up I’m on the clock. I don’t even have the luxury of time to get ready for the day – make up and all that jazz. I just throw on my clothes which by the way I have to pick out the night before, brush my teeth and get my son ready and drop him off at childcare or the inlaws or stay home with me.

 

I’ve had to adjust my routine at my expense obviously to accommodate all the things that need to be done. In the mornings I now spend 5 minutes to do my make up in my car at the train station and have my breakfast at work. It’s that insane. Even at work there is no peace especially since I’m now working part time. I’m doing the work of a full time person I feel in fewer days sometimes. Despite being part time, I get the bulk of the work in my team which is again is insane but I think it’s because I actually want to do work. How are some people just content to do nothing at work? Anyway that’s another blog post. I digress.

When I get home from work it’s a whirl wind of task after task – make dinner, feed child, take out the trash, do dishes, unpack the dish washer, do some laundry, fold clothes, get son’s bath stuff ready, pack his bag for childcare, get his room ready for bed, etc. All this madness til we get to the finish line of my son’s bed time at 7 pm.  Even when my husband got home from work at 5:30 pm, my son was constantly wanting attention from me – coming to the kitchen at my feet or holding his arms out as they walked past and crying for his mum when he didn’t get it.

During the night I’m still in the clock. I’m the one to cover him before I go to bed as he kicks off his covers and check the temperature  in his room in the middle of the night if I get up to go to the bathroom. I’m the one who gets up if he wakes every single time even if it’s multiple times and and still the show must go on for the next day despite me having barely any continuous sleep. That’s where it’s hard. I know I’m pretty fortunate I know my husband helps a lot and my work is flexible I can work from home when I need to.  And on my non work days it is still crazy and I’m flat out all day on days I don’t go to work then too. I take my son to the park in the mornings and the beach or library in the afternoon if the weather allows.And pick up groceries, more housework and cooking. It’s a lot. I’m not saying this to sound like a martyr just to show how shit is real.

People don’t realise how much we do as women especially here. Besides the expense I think it’s another reason it’s hard to have more than two kids in these days.We don’t have much external support. Working, housework cooking cleaning dropping kids off etc we have to do it all. And don’t get me started on when they start school.

Sometimes I found that when my husband was home, I would just go to the kitchen and do dishes. Not because I want to do dishes or that they couldn’t wait but that’s how I get time to myself funny enough. Just  5 -30 minutes to myself where I’m not being drained by anyone else.

I think as women doing it all you need a physical and emotional break from everything including your child in order to keep going; which as an introvert I think I really need even more.

It was hard to explain but I had to tell my husband about this. As the only time I would get any peace was by actually leaving the house or I just wouldn’t get it at all. He would ‘watch our son’ but every five minutes they would come around looking for me. I had to tell him I could not continue to have my son constantly around me or crying when I’m trying to do a million things in the space of 10 minutes.  

To get my space sometimes I just need my husband to watch my son properly and actually take charge and take my son away to another room or the other side of the house or go out for a walk or take him to the park and allow me that time and space to do what I need/want to do as the demands are becoming 24/7 and I can not go on like that.

Much as my husband helps a lot and I’m grateful for it all, there are also a a million things that he doesn’t do and he can never manage to do what I can manage to do in that time. And in order to be superwoman mum needs a little space during the day to power up.  For instance on the weekends it takes my husband about 30 minutes (or more) just to have breakfast and a shower and that’s it. In the same amount of time I get myself and my son ready – dressed nappy changed, teeth and hair brushed, fed breakfast and bottle, bed made, dishes done plus put a load of laundry on in the washing machine and make a cup of tea.

Don’t ask me how males and females can be so different. I think women are efficient because they have to be. A man will never remember to defrost the chicken in the morning to cook for dinner later that night. I will remember because I’m the one who bloody has to cook it. 

I’m glad I did have that conversation though. As last weekend was the first time in a long while that I felt good again. I got time to go to the gym on Saturday morning and go clothes shopping and grocery shopping on my own for a whole 2 hours while my son had a nap at home. And I got to watch one of my TV shows during the afternoon when he was with his dad. I wasn’t dying to watch the show, it was nice to be able to just relax on my own on the weekend. And feel like my space my needs my freedom were also important. And we managed to do this without feeling like I was giving up time with my boys.

I’m realising there is no magic formula. You just communicate your needs. As long as everyone is getting what they need from the relationship then you will all be happy. And I’m realising happiness is not a continuous state. It’s fragments of it throughout your day or week. 

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MOJO come back

It’s the most difficult style challenge yet. I am 4 months post baby but I really can’t even recall when I last felt attractive. I didn’t feel very sexy when I was pregnant and even now that I’ve lost most of the baby weight with only 4 kgs to go to get to my pre pregnancy weight (through no effort thank you breastfeeding) I still don’t feel like my old self. I’ve lost my fashion MOJO right along with my muscle tone. Let me not get started on the flabby belly. I just throw on a t shirt that doesn’t have baby vomit on it so I can easily breastfeed and a pair of shorts or track pants  and if it’s a good day, unbraid and brush my hair into a pony tail and brush my teeth, although that rarely happens before 11 am lately. My priorities these days are: feed baby feed self, get back to bed when I can.

My baby has started waking alot at night since he hit the 4 month sleep regression and I have never slept worse. I think the lack of sleep in the newborn stage isnt as bad as this because atleast then you expect it. Luckily my legs still get shaved I haven’t completely gone feral. It’s hard. My entire existence revolves around the baby and has done so since he was born. I’m not complaining that’s just how it is. There is alot of self sacrifice and responsibility in bringing a helpless little soul into this world.

Is it even possible to even look good again when you have a baby? I know everyone else seems to manage to pull it off. Can I do it? Lose the weight, look good all the time and turn into a hot mamma?

It’s winter and I’m breast feeding. Getting the right clothes to accommodate these two things is tough. And even having thr mental energy to put together an outfit while my baby is screaming..well I don’t know how to do it. How can I wear modest clothes that afford me easy access to my boobs and that don’t look frumpy? True these are third world problems. But when you are on maternity leave for a year these are very real problems.

I’ve made some progress with one successful outfit. But I’ve got to say my inspiration came from underneath. Nice underwear including a decent sexy nursing bra made me want to wear something worthy over it. I ended up wearing a pair of super tight black pants, a long sleeved black top and a Navy blue poncho with brown ankle boots. The poncho is new and I was sure to buy small rather than oversize to fit my small frame. It seems to be working and is my go to outfit for going out. It’s warm and functional. And in it I feel a little bit like a better version of myself. You know what I can never go back to my old self, I don’t even want to. I adore my son and can’t imagine my life without him.

Winning!

There have been a number of amazing moments since the birth of my son and it’s impossible to rank them. They range from my husband not fainting at the birth, seeing my son’s face for the first time when he was born to his first smile. But one vain little one of mine has been being able fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes for the first time since his birth. Oh what a feeling! All I wanted to accomplish today besides keeping my son alive as his only food source by breastfeeding all day, was also to pack up my maternity clothes. I also wanted to shower and brush my teeth before lunch time and I’m proud to say I’ve done all those things! #winning. To quote the Fat Jew, “..getting out of bed and putting on pants is a big deal. Remember to always set the bar low, and then step right over it. 

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I’m walking on air today and no amount of baby vomit or needless crying is going to ruin this joyous day. I gained 15 kgs in pregnancy. 2 months post birth I’ve lost 10 kg so far thanks to breastfeeding and fingers crossed hope try to lose 10 more. But I will dwell on that later for this poor unfortunate soul only loses weight through copious amounts of exercise. For now let me bask in the glow of how far I’ve come to be fitting in my jeans even if they are a lil tight and they have a couple splotches of baby vomit.

My man, my husband, my hero

Everyday I thank God for my good judgement that led me to my husband.

He probably will not read this post but I thought I’d share what kind of amazing person he is.

When I was in early labour he was literally sick with anxiety worrying about me and the baby. Something bad happening to either of us was one of his biggest fears.During 18 hours of labour, he helped me count breaths, kept me motivated, and hydrated so I could get through each excruciating contraction. Even when at some point during labour when I threatened to punch him in the face he still didn’t bail on me and kept me going. I’ve been so mean to him at times and yet he still loves me.Despite his squeamishness he received our son when he was born and cut the umbilical cord like a seasoned med student.

When I completely crumbled with the stress of everything in the days following the birth, when I was at my lowest with tears pouring down my face, he praised me for being so strong when I felt so utterly weak. He kept me going and gave me the strength to continue to look after our son when I could not even look after myself. He did everything as far as bathing me in the shower at the hospital and massaging my breasts as I breastfed.

When I thought I was losing my mind after the birth of our son as a result of hallucinations as a side effect to my pain medication , readmitted to hospital and getting a psych evaluation, he still kept it together. With quiet strength he kept both of us going. There were no recriminations. He allowed me to focus on recovery. He insisted that I rest. He told me I wasn’t crazy and that we would be OK. He believed in me when I stopped believing I could get through it. He got us through it. He pretty much single handed looked after us all.

Currently he is operating on minimal sleep and goes to work. He comes home at 8:30 pm has a rush leftover dinner and then takes over looking after our son so his wife can have a break. He gets up at 2 am to feed our son so that his wife can sleep through the night and have enough energy to face the day of looking after a 4 week old baby.He doesn’t complain about the shitty meals or the messy house or the extra responsibilities despite the hard time he is having at work. He just takes it all in stride and collapses at the end of the day in bed exhausted and does it all again the next day.And in the morning before work helps out with the baby if needed.

He is so selfless it makes me look bad.

I’m just so grateful I have a man like this.

 

 

 

 

The other self/ Ms. Hyde

Please do not get tired of me going on and on about marriage. If you are, please do not read beyond this point?

 

I am discovering a new self, a different me. Marriage is a mirror. A magical mirror, reflecting all my weaknesses, bad habits, faults and every once in a while (very rarely) some strengths.

It is almost as if saying, ‘I do’, sets off this alarm and once it goes off, it then triggers the release of this ‘special’ hormone into your system! I see all my shortcomings oh so clearly now.

I thought life had taught me to be patient, I was wrong. I feel, especially lately, that there are not enough hours in the day to do everything I need to do. This means I end up rushing and racing against the clock; wake up, make Matt’s breakfast (hubby rarely has breakfast, thank goodness!), get ready for work, drive to work, get as much done on my day’s to do list as I can, rush home (beat the terrible rush hour hopefully!), catch up with Matt, make dinner, do laundry or clean my room, give Matt his bath, Matt’s dinner time, put Matt to bed, our dinner time, clean up after dinner, have a bath, read a chapter of a book, or watch an episode of something ( I do this no matter how tired I am), go to bed, wake to give Matt his night time bottle, sleep, wake up…another day begins! So I rush through it all, struggling to see how to free up more time; to spend with my husband and Matt, for me time! I worry a lot that I fail to stop and savor moments worth savoring. Many times I actually stop and wonder what I used to do with all my time before I had my son and got married, I haven’t the faintest memory!

My impatience is at its highest when my darling husband tries to help out; I am actually teaching myself to leave him alone and let him; change a diaper, cook, his own way. This is hard, but I am slowly learning. God help me! I cannot keep complaining he doesn’t help out enough and when he tries to poor guy gets stressed, because I don’t let him be!

That brings me to part where I catch myself behaving like a mad (insane) woman, I complain about not getting help, I make it hard for my husband to help. I worry about not spending enough time with my little man, but I rush through the moments I have with him; bath time, meal times, play time…always mentally ticking off items on this list in my head of all I feel I need to do, so I am with Matt but not really with him! Insane right? I take on projects I know I have not properly planned and made time for, then beat myself up for not completing them (the state of my home is an interior decorator’s nightmare!). What. is. wrong. with. me?!

Constructive criticism turns me into this angry, crying mess! I am fully aware of the fact that I am far from perfect, I read a lot about how I can become a better; person, wife, mom! So, why do I lose it when my husband offers constructive criticism?!

Then the worst so far, I catch myself ‘(s)mothering’ my husband; telling him off so badly when he; leaves a wet towel on the bed or floor, flooded bathroom floor. I start out with the intention of asking him to help with an errand, I end up ordering him around, he makes a mistake with the Matt and I go crazy on him. I am slowly turning into the headmistress at home (because everyone daydreams about getting it on with the headmistress!), if that does not completely damage our sex life, I honestly do not know what will! What is the matter with me?! Why do I behave this way?! The hardest part to stomach is, I know I when I am behaving badly, but I do little to stop it! He had to sit me down very recently, for a talk, it did not go very well initially, remember constructive criticism does crazy things to me? I however, took time to think about it, I apologized, we spoke about how to be more considerate towards each other and are both now on the road to recovery, me especially.

My sister had complained to our Mum a very long time ago that I was bossy, I am only realizing now, after marriage, that she was not telling a lie. I am bossy. Is there any treatment for this? Therapy I go to for this? Group therapy? Help!!!

Last but not least, and this breaks my heart, it really does; I used to take pride in the way I looked, that affected the way I felt, which affected the way I dealt with people. Does that make sense?

Anyway, because I have let myself go (appearance), I do not feel like socializing much. I crave it, but do not actively pursue it. So I do not spend enough time with my friends.

Date night with hubby is sort of not a priority (shame shame shame on us).

I really need to make some changes! Eesshh!

 

Mind over matter

If you are a sensitive person, please do not read this.
I have started to write this particular piece several times and stopped, a big part of me is afraid of the feelings this will stir up. I have decided to give it another go because an even bigger part of me feels I should share this.

So, marriage..

I always wanted to get married. The idea of finding my soul mate, the love of my life and living happily ever after really appealed to me, it did not just appeal to me, it excited me, and made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I pictured long meaningful talks, taking quiet walks with my husband, going on picnics, watching the sunset together, fun family gatherings with our, parents, kids and our siblings and their kids….all the romantic scenarios played out in my head every time I thought about marriage. Come to think of it, for a long time, I felt my life would start after I got married, like I was waiting to live! Ridiculous! Of course after it did not happen in my early twenties, I came to realize I had to enjoy my life, and that I had a lot of self-discovery to do, but that is a story for another day.

Where do I begin?
Pre-marital counselling
My sister had shared with me her experience, so I had an idea of what to expect, two weeks in, it puzzled me how desperately the counsellors were trying to make us understand how hard marriage is. They spoke honestly, from their experiences and from experiences of couples they had counselled, they encouraged us to participate, gave us assignments and exercises we had to work through. It was oh so very real, and really good, I soaked it all up, but the truth is I felt most of the information they shared did not apply to us. At the time I felt we were close, we communicated honestly, we understood each other, we behaved maturely, and most importantly we really loved each other. We would be just fine. We were both stressed by the wedding planning, we argued like any normal couple would, but we were both aware that this was a stressful time and that it would be short-lived.
I felt sorry for the couples that our counsellors spoke about; the ones that fought over roles, religion, finances, sex, career. I was so sure this would never be us, how could I relate to the experiences of couples that seemed so obviously mis-matched?!
Married life.
I had not been fortunate enough to live on my own, let alone with a man. I knew there would be challenges but when I tried to imagine these challenging scenarios; all that came to mind were cute fights and hot make-up sex.

Boy was I in for a surprise!!!
One of my key strengths is my calm nature, my friends tell me how lucky I am to have the ability to remain calm and think through things before reacting. I was not always like that, I taught myself to be this way. Imagine my shock after getting married, when I watched all my hard work go up in smoke! I had moments where I would ask myself what had happened to me, to the calm girl that always told herself to breath, take a step back and think. (I often lose my cool over the smallest issues now; bathroom door left open, closet door left open, bathroom floor left flooded. I grew up with two brothers and a number of male cousins that came to spend the holidays at home, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into living with a man, I was clearly wrong, it’s like I only had half the picture painted and the rest was still in sketch form. ) Where was this girl?! And who was this monster that had taken over?!!
Many times it was like something or someone took over me! The perfect example is the morning of the Sunday we were having my parents over for the very first time. I had too many chores and errands to run, so I turned to my husband ( we were in bed) and asked if he could help me go pick up a few snacks, I explained that I would stay behind and clean up and start some of the cooking. He refused to, and told me I was the wife and that I should do it ( he was teasing of course). I repeated my request and run through a list of what I had to do before 3:00pm when my parents were expected to arrive, but my voice kept rising, and by the time I got to the last chores I had sat up in bed and was shouting at him and telling him if he knew what was good for him, he would go pick the snacks up! I was shocked, he was shocked. He asked why I was shouting and then he began to laugh. I got even more upset and the shouting got worse, this was horrible!! I was horrified, I wanted to stop but could not, and it was like I had left my body and was outside of myself watching this stranger! And the words, this flood of words that seemed to be pouring out of me, I wanted to stop, but could not. I could hear all the talks I had had with my parents and aunt before the wedding playing back, and I was mentally ticking off all the don’ts as they happened. Then it happened, and he sat up (poor thing), he was hurt. I had crossed the line for sure! I had voiced regret,  and I announced that marriage is the new slavery, that men conspired and set women up to believe they wanted and needed to be married, and that it is a good thing, but the that the truth is that it is slavery. I added that marriage is a set up that is perfect for men, they are looked after; clothes washed, food cooked, they get sex whenever they want it, egos massaged, lives organized! I told him women are made to feel lucky that they were ‘chosen’, yet we end up with a lifetime of picking up after men and our children, doing laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping, no days off, no sick days, and then we have to juggle all that with our careers, we run ourselves rugged trying to do it all. Women get a raw deal! He had started to laugh again (bless him), he was genuinely amused.
Then I brought up another issue that had caused a number of arguments before; waiting until 3:00am or 4:00am to wake me to make love!!!! I asked how in his mind he felt it was okay to, to be aware of how crazy the day gets for me, work, then chores and our son Matt and then eventually collapsing into bed half dead, only to be waken a few hours later for sex?!!!! He explained that he does not plan it that way, it just happens, and then he mentioned that it was not a problem when we were dating, so he did not realize it would be any different now, and that he missed it. I explained that, it was alright then, because we didn’t have a child, and I didn’t have to wake up to tend to him and that I did not have what felt like a million and one things to do then, and I did not suffer from a lot of exhaustion as I do now. I had calmed down considerably, I explained that I appreciate that he helps out around the house when he can, but that he could help out a bit more that way I would not be too tired to wake up to make love, or to talk.
He asked how he could help out, and I told him different things he could do. He explained that there are many things I do that he feels are not necessary, and that I should not fuss over.
He continued to tell me that my slavery was self-imposed. That I set myself up with all these ideas of what I needed to do to feel fulfilled as a wife, he was right of course. But how was I supposed to help him understand that I agree with him but that somehow I feel I cannot get myself out of this cycle, if I may call it that. I want a happy, healthy husband, happy, healthy children, a beautiful, clean and comfortable home, a homely home. That cannot happen without me setting out to deliberately make it that way. We women are judged on a very high standard; if we let ourselves go, if our homes are run poorly, if our children are not happy, or are badly behaved, or develop any psychological problems, if our husbands are not happy; the blame somehow comes down on the wife. I do not want that. I want the picture of a successful marriage that society has painted, the truth is that that is what I am a slave to. There are things about our marriage that are ours alone, myself and my husband; our communication style for example, but it is very difficult to ignore societal expectations on every aspect. This is the world we live in. I realize though, from writing this that I can meet these expectations in my own way and own time, I think that’s where my power lies; that, and the need to constantly communicate, try and understand each other, be considerate and be very very patient in order for both of us to be happy. I can still be a good wife and happy individual, I just need to free my mind, which I, interestingly, enslaved all on my own.
I must add though, I often wonder what views women from different cultures have on their first year of marriage? I also wonder what it is like for women that are married and living in the diaspora, no house help, most do without a nanny, do you also have similar challenges? Or is it just me, failing to grow up?

Why I didn’t want a wedding

My hubby and I ended up getting married at the registry and going out to lunch with only immediate family members rather than having a conventional wedding and reception. In the end we went with what we wanted rather than external expectations as it was our decision to make.

And I don’t regret it one bit. It was simple meaningful and I treasure our wedding and how we’re doing things our own way. I really don’t understand why I need to justify this to other people other than saying I didn’t want one. But people just don’t get it. They want to dig deeper, even if they wont ever get it. So maybe a blog post would be a good way to explain.

First off, I got to a point in my life where I felt it necessary to be me. I’m sure you’ve all been there. Where you feel like you’re being influence expectations that you aren’t even sure are your own. And at some point you just say to yourself enough is enough. Im gunna do me from now on, make my own decisions and mistakes, stop living for other people and trust my own judgement. So I didn’t have a wedding or a bridal shower or a baby shower. I think we may do something special when it comes time to renew our vows but not thinking that far ahead just yet.

Yes family are a big part of our lives but when it comes to day to day living as you get older  they are kind of removed and their opinions count and you consider their feelings but you stop going with what they want just to keep the peace.  Australia is not like Africa where your family and friends are very involved in your life, there is a bit more distance culturally. For instance my mum also lives here in Melbourne. She is always working including christmas day(by choice), so I don’t see her that often.And when I do go to see her,  it takes over an hour to get to her house. We talk often but I don’t see her much. my hubby’s family is quite small  and despite the close proximity I wouldn’t say he is  that close to them. Its just the way it is. Our families obviously wanted that milestone and big celebration and may have been disappointed but many considerations outweighed sentiment. And due to being in Australia as opposed to Uganda I did not feel the weight of family expectations when it came to making this decision.

On my hubby’s side given his small family, mine and few close friends , had we had a wedding it would have been very small but despite this still cost us an arm and a leg. In Australia, your family and friends do not fundraise to pay for your wedding unlike in Uganda. It’s all financially on you. I know people taking out loans or spending all their savings on a wedding which is insanity itself.  Everything is so much more expensive. The average cost of a wedding in Australia  for guests alone about $80 per head , double or triple that in Uganda. The flowers alone cost $1000.  A wedding dress $6000. I did look at the costs before making my decision not to have a wedding just to see where it was at. We could afford it but there is a lot of financial and emotional stress that we were going to have to take on.

For me personally, it was hard not to have my people there and I didn’t want to do it without them.  With the exception of my mum, most of the people that matter to me are not in Australia. My brothers  and close friends are in Uganda and getting them visas and flights is not a simple process. It would take months and a lot of expense to get them here and even then no guarantee they would make it not with Australian immigration bitchiness. It is not a fair process and often takes multiple attempts to apply even as visitors.  I have a large extended family and a lot of people that matter to me that I would want there including my brothers, friends, god parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. We are close despite the distance that separates us as we have been through some hard times and the structure of African society means these are your people; there for you always when you need them no matter what or where you may be in life. Most of which would have been absent at my wedding were I to have one in Australia. I  have an extended family here in Australia but its not the same. I would have had maybe 10 of people max, representing my side and that would have been a very sad day for me.

Plus you need at least two good ride or die friends or sisters to help you organise a wedding. It’s not easy. So many things to plan. A lot of stress and decisions to make. Unlike Uganda, here its all done by the bride and groom.I considered having a bridal shower in the absence of a wedding, you know to have a party or a hens night. But even that was something I was going to have to organise myself. My best friends are not here. Bridesmaids – who were they going to be? My sisters in law? My friends here? Nice as they are they are not my first choice or invested.  I would have wanted my brother or god father to give me away in absence of my late father.  Who would even give me away? I would have had to make a lot of unhappy compromises which did not fit in with the life decisions we had made which was to live life for ourselves or own way.

More than anything, I didn’t want to have a fake wedding with a lot of fuss just for the sake of it to make other people happy that didn’t even mean much to me just so I could have this ideal wedding and reception as expected. I knew that’s not what I wanted. Even  had the wedding been in Uganda I would have really cut back on the pomp and bullshit.

The decision was considered one you see.  It was not our dream to have a big wedding and I didn’t feel that family obligation to have one nor could they provide a good case for us having one.It came down to what me and my hubby wanted. Having a wedding was not important to either of us. I had never dreamed of a wedding and did not feel deprived and my hubby was more than happy not to have one.

In the end the money we saved we were able to keep our savings on track, we had a great ceremony at the registry, a nice lunch with immediate family the key people that mattered and we had our dream holiday in the Maldives for 2 whole weeks. We also bought a car and ultimately had enough money for a deposit on a house that we ended up buying. All things we could not have achieved had we had a wedding.

I can’t fault the decision we made. It was a very happy day for us. Meaningful, simple, well worth it. No regrets.