* I wrote this post earlier today but have been inspired to edit it after reading Maxabella's "Things I'm Grateful For". I was going to write a whole new post but decided that this post gives a good summary of things I'm grateful for. Like my gorgeous husband and my amazing son, who put up with me and make my job so easy. I'm grateful for fab friends, near and far, who are there for the good, the bad and the ugly. And finally I'm grateful for the opportunities that have been presented to us in this crazy, exhilarating city I now, sometimes reluctantly, call home. On a smaller scale I'm very grateful for aspirin, peppermint tea and the burgers at The Gallery in Tong Fuk...
I spent yesterday at home with a serious hangover. My first proper hangover in about two years, and it hurt, bad. It was one of those head-splitting, room-spinning, stomach-churning, lie on the bathroom floor in the fetal position hangovers. The kind that requires asprin, soft drink and greasy food to recover from. The kind of hangover that I'm only now, 36 hours later, seeing my way out of. I'm actually blogging in bed, in my pyjamas, it's that bad! But it was so completely, without a doubt, entirely worth it!
Last week wasn't a great week. We had some not-so-good news from home which was like a kick in the teeth. J is still teething and grumpy so we haven't had a lot of sleep. I've also just generally been feeling pretty sorry for myself lately; a combination of not getting my own way on a few occasions, feeling fed up with our pathetic excuse for a kitchen, helper jealousy, and post-holiday/winter in Hong Kong blues (with a pinch of PMS thrown in for good measure...). But I've also had a few reality checks this week too. Reading about the devastation and flooding in Brisbane and yet another tragic shooting in the States made my problems seem pretty insignificant. So instead of feeling sorry for myself I moved onto feeling like a whiny, selfish, spoiled expat - which doesn't help anyone either. Realising that my moodiness was contagious and was bringing everyone else down, I decided that it's all relative and it's ok to complain about little things occasionally if you keep them in perspective. I also decided that I needed to do something radical and fun, and nothing could be more radical for a bookish, stay-at-home mum like me than a night out in downtown Hong Kong.
Thursday night was a birthday celebration for a friend. I was a reluctant partygoer initially, fearing an almighty hangover, and vowed to "take it easy" but my friend K and I missed the ferry from Mui Wo and HAD to have a mai tai at the China Bear while we waited for the next one. At that point I gave myself permission to unwind and see where the night went. Well, the night went a lot of places and ended at 3am, a time when I'm normally being roused from a deep sleep to retrieve a dummy that's fallen on the floor. We kicked off the official celebrations with dinner in Soho, followed by strawberry daiquiris at Soiree, several bottles of Prosecco at Lei Dou, vodka jelly shots somewhere random in Lan Kwai Fong and late night dancing at Insomnia. Before you start to think I sound like I do this all the time, I have to admit that this was only the second time I've had a big night out since we moved here, I am really quite sedate most of the time. I couldn't, and wouldn't, have done it if I'd had to get up and function on Friday, but my husband's at home and I had a commitment from him that I would be absolved from all parental responsibilities for 24 hours so I could get out and have some fun. And I did just that - I partied like someone who only goes one night out a year! It was so great to get dressed up and to carry a clutch instead of a nappy bag. I loved having a really good catch up with girlfriends and oh, how I've missed grown-up conversations! And did we dance? Yes, we danced like our lives depended on it. In our group of 8, all but one of us was married and half of us have kids (we have 7 kids between us to be exact), and 3 of us have birthdays this month, so it was a well deserved night out with much to celebrate. I haven't had that much fun in a really long time. Sad, but true.
I do realise how lucky I am that I have a husband willing to take over for that period of time, that I didn't have to work on a Friday and that I have such a great, fun group of friends, but I want to say to all the mums out there, if you need a break - take it! I feel fantastic for having had some fun (or at least I will once my body stops protesting!). I love everyone after a drink or two, and I'm still basking in that benevolent glow, despite the hangover. Around 5am yesterday I woke up, spooning the dog, and feeling like a terrible mother because I forgot to buy milk before I went out and I kept waking up every hour or so until 9, at which point I realised there was no anxious knock on the bedroom door, with my husband shouting "babe, there's no milk!!", no distressed cries of "mumumumum!" from downstairs; all was well and under control. So I took an aspirin and went back to sleep, secure in the knowledge that I'm not a terrible mother, just a lightweight when it comes to drinking.
While we're on the subject of celebrations, it's my birthday tomorrow. When I was a kid my birthday always fell around the end of the summer school holidays, sometimes it was even the first day back at school, and I hated it. I've struggled with the fact that it's now a winter birthday, and most years I have to compete with Chinese New Year. This year it falls on a Sunday; apparently the most inconvenient day to have a birthday in Hong Kong. We learned that it's absolutely impossible to get a reservation for brunch anywhere special on the last Sunday before the new year, as every Tom, Dick and Harry are out celebrating the upcoming year of the rabbit. Our friends can't come out anywhere either, as most helpers have their day off on a Sunday. And to top it off my husband has to work tomorrow night, so we can't even have a drink together (although that's the last thing I want right now!). But believe or not, I'm not complaining one bit! We're having breakfast in Mui Wo and my husband's going to make his amazing flourless chocolate cake for me and we'll have roast lamb for tea, just the three of us; and it will all be lovely. At my age, tea and cake are the perfect way to acknowledge a birthday, and I've done more than enough celebrating this week!