Living in the Now

I caught myself thinking that day, “I can’t wait for Zach to wean so I don’t have to be chained to him.  I just hope Kyra can go to school for longer next year then I’ll have so much more time to myself.  After my assignment submission next week, I’ll get to spend more time with the kids.”  Through these thoughts, I was essentially telling myself, just wait and tahan a bit more.  Life will surely get better.  But will it really?  This attitude of waiting to live life scared me a little because what if we don’t have a next time?  Life is the now, the present, this breath, this activity.

Life is also the sum of small things – bathing, feeding, cleaning, enforcing naptime.  They are repetitive, mundane, never-ending.   All of these can be outsourced but how much poorer the relationship will be if not for the accumulation of shared experiences through these seemingly meaningless activities?  Isn’t the bond of love built bit by bit, moment by moment, touch by touch, experience on experience?  With this realization, I’m trying to live moment by moment, enjoying each of Zach’s gummy smile, running my fingers over his dimpled hands and feet, feeling smug that his eyes track me across the room like I’m the only woman in his life (not for long, I know!).  Kyra’s nuggets of simple childlike understanding buried amidst her verbal diarrhoea, her literal understanding of words which gets us in stitches, her tight squeeze as she wraps her hands around my neck.  Even during the crazy meltdowns and wee hour wakings, I breathe in their smells and tell myself, yes, I’d rather do this than not at all.  I know full well that all these are going to pass and soon, the kids won’t need me as often, as earnestly, as crazily, and I’m going to miss being so indispensable.

However, this season will pass and I sincerely hope there will be other good seasons.  Many say nothing will ever beat this but I still hope to be able to live life moment by moment, earnestly seeking newfound purpose instead of always looking back at the past.  Even so, I guess if I were to pick a favourite season, being a mother to small children will probably still rank quite highly, because we have never before and will never again give of ourselves so unconditionally and unreservedly.  It is indeed more blessed to give than to receive and in giving, I have received so much more.

So now, when the meltdowns and terrible days come (about 4 out of 7 days a week), I try to remind myself to Keep Calm and Mother On…

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Reflection and Resolutions 2014

My little baby is going to school!!!  I think I’m having more separation anxiety than Kyra.  It’s sad but my anxiety stems from a few reasons.  I’ll no longer be her only teacher – she’s going to adore and worship these other women coming into her life.  Also, I’m sad to let her go at this juncture because our relationship has been pretty rocky.

I end 2013 with some regrets and heartache.  One question I often get is, “How is Kyra adjusting to Zach?” I’d say that she’s adjusting quite well and she really loves her little brother, showering him with hugs and kisses.  But I think with the arrival of Zach, my relationship with Kyra has gotten quite strained.  Since the pregnancy, well-meaning family members have tried to “relieve” Kyra off me – carrying her when she demanded to be carried, attending to her needs and wants, and I can just relax in a corner.  Not that I didn’t enjoy this treatment, but I now think that maybe starting from then, she has felt that I no longer love her as much or at least, no longer available for her.  Added to that, I’m still the disciplinarian.  This situation has prompted some very heartbreaking comments from her lately, like “Mummy, don’t love me” (ie. I don’t want Mama to love me) and “Mama loves Zach, Papa loves Kyra”.

So anyway, it’s the time of the year again where we reflect upon the past year and promise to do better for the next.  I want to start 2014 with a few resolutions and I’m excited to reclaim lost ground with my baby.

  1. Start and end each day with a hug and kiss.
  2. Bend down to her level and have eye contact.
  3. Carry her as much as she still wants me to, before it becomes physically impossible.
  4. Put away my handphone and ipad (or books and magazines) when I’m with her and just be with her.
  5. Focus on building character.
  6. Play with her.

While surfing around, I found some pretty nice ideas that I want to try this year!  I want to start a Blessings/Thanksgiving jar where we will write things that we are grateful for everyday (or as often as we can remember).

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There’s also a New Year’s interview sheet where we can fill it up over some years and see how we’ve grown.  Image

[Click on the pictures to go to the original sites]

I hope 2014 will be a better year for all of us!  We are all good Mamas and can only get better.  🙂

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Dear Kyra, 

No matter how old you are, Mama loves you very much and you’ll always be my baby.  I will do better to show love in a way that you understand but I’ll still discipline you (firmly but not harshly) because that’s part of love.  I know you’ll enjoy school very much and I hope you grow up secure and confident, knowing that you are God’s prized possession and Mama and Papa’s pride and joy, always.  

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Let the Daddies Rise Up!

I attended a memorial service the other day of a great preacher of God.  He had been serving God for 50 years and just a few weeks shy of his 50th anniversary in God’s service, he passed away.  It’s quite interesting that he was the Reverend who dedicated me at the Baby Dedication service and then 28 years later, he dedicated my baby too.  She pooped explosively while he carried her, shocking the first 3 rows of people.  That’s my girl… 😀  During the service, many people spoke about his accolades but the 1 thing which stood out for me was how often he was referred to as a loving father.  One of the speakers made this statement, “Fathers create culture.  They set the tone in the family.  They say ‘do this, do that, don’t talk like that to your mother.’ ”  That set me thinking about the importance of the Daddy’s role.

That boy you dated.  That man-boy you married.  Suddenly overnight, everything changes and he becomes a father!  Wut… Compared to us mothers, who’ve had 9 months of physiological and hormonal changes to help us prepare for the baby, it’s drastically different for the guys.  It is possible that nothing in his life changes during the pregnancy (no vomitting, no sleepless nights, didn’t feel no flutter kicks in the tummy) and then one fine day, a naked, bloody, mucous alien-looking thingey lands in his arms and he’s told to cut the umbilical cord.  No wonder Fathers get pretty shell-shocked.  But the best of them soldier on despite being shell-shocked, faithfully trying to care for the mothers, receiving guests, smiling, trying to keep up with being present but not in-the-way of the MOTHERS (wife, in-law and own mum), who assume utmost importance in the household now just because they have/had milk.

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But the poor boy tries and soon, he gets the hang of things he can do and does well.  He plays with the baby.  She never fails to giggle in glee as he becomes her human amusement park ride.  He talks to her via a soft toy.  Once, the Husband was sharing something in church and Kyra was whining.  My mum told her, “If you cry and make noise, you must come out and cannot listen to Papa.  If you keep quiet, you can remain in the service.”  She didn’t make a squeak.  She was listening and looking at her Papa intently the whole time.  That’s how enchanted she is with her Daddy.  Interestingly and sadly, I begin to find myself being relegated to second-position in the household.
K: “I love you Papa!”  
Husband: “What about Mama?”  *silence*  
K: “I love you Papa and Mama!”

Zzzzz…. Is it because Papa is the good guy while Mama is the disciplinarian?  Actually, not really.  He scolds her when she misbehaves and smacks her hand when she touches the plugs (rules and consequences we have agreed on beforehand).   But perhaps because of the consistent and loving discipline, his authority in baby’s eyes is amplified.  It is a special gift and authority from God to fathers as the heads of households.  When he speaks, the child listens; when he’s around, the child feels safe;  when he loves the mother, the child knows everything is well in her world.  The research about absent fathers is clear and they are all negative.  Check out Centre for Fathering (http://fathers.com.sg/about/visionmission/).

So where does that leave the mothers?  Of course we are important!  We are the life-givers!  We feed the kids, bathe them, clean their poopy backsides, soothe their boo-boos, teach them etc etc… Nobody says (or dare say) mothers are not important.  But I think at times we have to learn to let go and stay out of the way for fathers to do their job.  We have to constantly remember to encourage them that what they are doing is important to the health of the family.  Somehow, unintentionally (or so he thinks… Mwahahahah…), I have outsourced teeth-brushing, last diaper change for the night (every night, unless he’s working late, then I pity him and take over) and weekend baths to him.  These times are my sacred times – I take a long bath, I play Candy Crush and watch my toe-nails grow.  Very.important.stuff.

Of course he will drop the ball sometimes.  We are all human!  Mummies J and M will know I’ve been battling sleep training (another post for another day) with Baby for the longest time.  It’s a long story but basically, I’ve been marching her back to her room every time she sneaks in at 2-3 am because she’s not allowed to climb into our bed and have another bottle of milk.  So for a few months I’ve had interrupted sleep and it’s fraying my nerves and temper.  One such night, she came in and cried.  Papa held her in his arms and allowed her to sleep.  On him!  “Papa love… Papa love…”  Wah… That cut me deep.  I.felt.betrayed.  I cry…. It’s like your partner in crime, your soulmate, your best friend, ganged up on you with the enemy.  Okay.. I am being dramatic.  So okay, the next day, we resolved everything and he admitted he wasn’t thinking straight at 3 a.m. (I mean, who is right?)  Then another night, she tried the same trick again.  This time he marched her back to her room and stayed there with her till she settled down and didn’t give her milk.  He said, “If I give her milk, you cry.  So I decided to let her cry instead.”  Aww… sho shweet…  Touched.  🙂  These days, he’s “tanking the Kyra” more for me, for which I’m really grateful!  [‘tanking’ = taking the enemy’s hits so your weaker partner has a fighting chance].  So I guess like all marriage issues, it is important to communicate expectations, compromise and try to get him to stand on your side and help.  Easier said than done, but in the long run, it will pay off rather than do everything yourself.

Mothers, though strong, can’t do everything alone.  Get his help, share the load, parent and discipline together.  It’s definitely more fun than going at it alone.  Since the kid (especially girls) is going to idolise and worship her father anyway, might as well make him do more to justify the adulation right???

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