How to Be Happier at Home

My kids would sometimes mention, from out of the blue, how much they miss our previous apartment. Sometimes they would even plead and pretend cry, urging me to move back there. They’re teasing me, of course. But I often have the feeling that they’re more serious than merely joking around.

Don’t you like it here? I would ask, referring to our current unit where we’ve been living in for about two years now.

The boys don’t remember how messy that previous apartment was (the landlord calls it “the penthouse”). Of course, the apartment is innocent; the real culprit is me and my poor housekeeping skills. Even if I have my Pinterest fantasies just like any normal girl, I would often come back to my default style, which I like to label as “loving neglect.”

They don’t remember that there was a leak in one of the bedrooms; it kept coming back no matter how many times and how much money we had spent to have it fixed. They also only have a vague memory of those terrible weeks of basically living in the hospital because they got seriously sick from dengue. I blamed that apartment because that’s probably where my children got the virus.

At least it doesn’t have a lawn or a traditional garden to take care of. I still don’t understand the saying, “In Zen, there are only two things: you sit, and you sweep the garden. It doesn’t matter how big the garden is.” For me, Zen for the practical homeowner is getting the help of lawn care experts.

My kids though will only remember the good things, like the huge rooftop where we would often hang out. We’d blow up giant inflatable pools, grill some meat and have a private summer party. In the morning, we’d run around and do yoga. We installed some fairy lights, and on some evenings we would play some music, have dinner al fresco and just stay there until we’re sleepy.

Whenever I ask the younger one what he likes most about the old place, he would say, “the almost sunset!” When you’re tackling a hard day, you only need to go up the rooftop, sit on the swing there, and take in the view — the humble skyline of my city against an orange sky that turns pink then purple then dark and dotted with stars. I would have to admit that I do miss that one, too.