Some things you only realise when you are a mum.
I didn't know, for instance, that going swimming would for years entail moving in water in a family pod like porpoises.
At first, it was because the kids were too young so it was one parent watching one child each in the baby pools.
Now, even though my 11-year-old son can dive to the bottom of a deep pool to fetch bricks, habits acquired in the early years of parenting die hard. Swimming lessons were disrupted during Covid-19 for his sister, who is seven, so she still can't swim properly.
I am on a solo staycation at Fairmont Singapore and doing laps in the pool without checking on my offspring is bliss.
There are more goodies to come.
This one-night "Mumcation" package, billed as an interlude for mothers to enjoy some coveted me-time, is stuffed with pre-parenthood mirages: A 90-minute aromatherapy massage, high tea where you can invite a friend, and breakfast in bed. You even get bath products from Lush Singapore and a set of loungewear from Uniqlo.
To be honest, in the trenches of the toddler years, going to the public loo on your own, without a little human who needs to pee and can't work the lock, can feel like me-time.
The bar is set higher when the children grow older. Still, for many harried parents, time-intensive pampering is a scarce commodity.
Luxury self-care in the time of coronavirus turns out to be oddly intense.
During my massage at the hotel's Willow Stream Spa, a heated towel placed on the soles of my feet sends a surge of toasty warmth up my legs as I take in whiffs of rosemary essential oil with its woody notes. The masseuse, hands tightly gloved in plastic because of Covid-19, is unfurling all my knotted muscles.
I've only had a couple of massages since the kids were born and usually just drift off to sleep.
But my senses are heightened this time. Perhaps it's a reaction to how the pandemic has deprived us of physical contact -- where handshakes are taboo and good friends get smizes instead of hugs.
The staycation at Fairmont Singapore, which links directly to Raffles City Shopping Centre, is a sensory fest in other ways, too.
From the private balcony of my room on the 20th storey, I can see the Esplanade, Marina Bay Sands, St Andrew's Cathedral, National Gallery Singapore and even the Merlion. It's like playing "Where's Wally?" with Singapore landmarks.
My so-called "tai tai life" continues with afternoon tea at Anti:dote, a tea lounge at the hotel which morphs into a cocktail bar at night. Try the assertive lemon curd with clotted cream on scones; strawberry jam is for plebs. The trout roe on the salmon gravlax pops with briny umami.
The next morning, breakfast in bed from Prego, the Italian restaurant downstairs, is delivered. It's a bountiful offering of hash browns, eggs any which way, too many pastries, French butter and more.
I'm away from the kids but the hausfrau within baulks at potential crumbs in the sheets.
Women's self-care and wellness often comes with a "pink is for girls" veneer that I am ambivalent about. Yet, it is precisely the performative aspect of the scents, sweets and spas cliche that appeals.
After all, how often do I buy something like a face and body mask? Never, I think, as I slap on Mask on Magnaminty by Lush. I don't have a rain shower at home. And hey, I smell like peppermint chocolate.
Try the La Vie En Rose cocktail ($20) at Anti:dote lounge. The sweetness of the peach and rose liqueur is balanced by vodka and lemon. Its subtle depth of flavour will tempt you to order a second one.
WHERE: 80 Bras Basah Road
RATES: The Mumcation, valid till Dec 30, is priced at $385++ for a single guest and $495++ for two guests. The package includes a 90-minute Aromatherapy Relaxation Massage at Willow Stream Spa; breakfast in bed or at Prego restaurant; high tea in Anti:dote tea lounge, a bath set from Lush Singapore and Uniqlo loungewear.
For more stories on exploring Singapore, go to the SG Go Where page.