Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Greatest Lesson from the Littlest One...

SO since August 10, I officially am a mother of 4. After Kyra was born, I either got too busy or too lazy. I had many moments that I thought I should write about, but when I got down to it, I forgot what the moments were. (Parenthood ages a person really fast)

Precious moments with Kyra
Doing this for the fourth time, I always thought that I know what to do and would have everything under control. I did… until Kyra came out. 
One moment I would worry about Kyra pooping too much (She was pooping almost after every other meal), the next I would wonder if it was normal she didn't poop even after two days (Apparently it's normal even for 10 days). 
I had a newfound friend during that period - Google/Wikipedia. Whatever I wasn't sure about, Google seem to have the answers. (To be fair, it works better than a confinement nanny since you really don't need to talk when you don't feel like)

And while I learned a lot from Google, the most significant lesson I had learnt during these 2 months, came from the littlest one.
It's amazing how God has engineered mummies (esp) to fall in love with their child even if it's not reciprocated at day one. Whatever the child does (or doesn't need to do), the parents will acknowledge with pride. (Like honestly what can a newborn do when he/she sleeps 20hours a day?) Baby's farts smell good, poop looks good and one can even laugh when baby throws up milk on you. (Yes. Love is that blind)

Every smile or cooing made by her would always be received by a smiling, encouraging parent (aka me). She probably didn't understand or know what the big deal was, but I'm sure it made her feel happy and secure too.
It reminded me of the times when Audrey took her first step or called me mama or correctly pointed out the colors in the book when I named them. I was beaming with pride and was very generous with kinder words.

And as I look back at those moments I have with the older three, I wonder, at what age were they at when I changed from being that encouraging parent to the critical one.
Growing up in a world that can be unforgiving, I always thought that if I'm not demanding, my kids will become spoilt and be complacent.

But maybe when God gave me a baby, He also planned to teach me that while parents may mean the world to the children, it doesn't mean that we need to be as unforgiving as the one which society has become. It is never easy, but Kyra has reminded me that it really doesn't hurt to encourage with patience and correct with love.

Friday, October 23, 2015

That's Good… Enough.

When I tell people that I have four kids, one of the most common response I get is "You must really like kids". I do like them… but mostly when they sleep or when they are in my mind…
Before you judge, let me intro you my kids with the picture below...

Image taken from pinterest
It's not surprising when they become monsters (and I mean literally) these are the top phrases I use almost everyday:
1) Stop it!
2) What did I say?
3) Why did you do that?
4) What are you doing?
(And the classic…)
5) 1… 2… 3…

If words can't get to them, my hand will. Then… there's peace again. (even if it's only for 5 minutes)

Motherhood is probably the most amazing experience ever, but it may not be enjoyable. (p.s. He/she who said it was, is lying)
Try enjoying it when you are sound asleep at 3 a.m. and your child wakes you up for milk or kicks you in the face because both of you are sleeping on the same bed.
Or when you are out in public, and your kid misbehaves and later wails and throws a tantrum.. That's not fun either.
When you bring them out for dinner, and either you or your spouse take turns to eat (when they are younger) or you have to feed them first (oh they eat sososo slowly…) and after which you have to gobble down yours because they become restless waiting for you.
When you tell them to do something and they don't do it and even (dare to) say no. (Hello it's not even a choice!! What you mean "No"?!?!) Trust me, for a control freak, this is painful.
Worse when some "know-it-all" comes along and tells you what you do isn't right, it can be demoralizing. (Like thanks ah)

Honestly, I suspect God created motherhood to give women a greater chance to enter heaven, especially after what Eve did to Adam. (Picture taken from christianfunnypictures.com)

At times, I wonder what is it that I am not doing it right when I read other mummy blogs or mummy posts on FB and see my friends enjoying motherhood and their children while I find myself struggling with it. (And I do feel guilty about not enjoying it)
It doesn't help that we get constant reminders that their time with us is limited since they grow up so fast. (Before I know it, I'll probably be a grandma..)

Judging at how many times I have to discipline them when they don't share and fight with each other (it's a lot… in a day) and the things we get to do together (It's limited, and I suspect I'm going to raise boring kids)… I don't see how I am getting this right. Maybe because they are older now and can do more things (which most likely are the wrong ones), most time spent with them would be to discipline and to correct their actions. I don't know if it is because of what they did that made me more irritable, but I just can't seem to find how people can have fun being a mother. (I know.. I have 4 kids… we are screwed)

Fortunately, there's such a thing as divine intervention. (Thank God for.. God!)
During the meet the parents session in the boys' school, the teachers commended Julian for being patient and always waiting for his friends before embarking on an activity. And for Isaac, he is always that caring brother who looks out for Julian in school, making sure he is comfortable in the new environment. (They should just stay in school the whole day I say…)

In the midst of the mistakes and struggles, something right happen.
And as I sit down that day for my daily reflection, I came to realize that maybe I was trying to be a mummy that was wayyyy too perfect. I was trying to be that laughing parent we see in ads and dramas. Not that I never laugh in my journey as a mother, but truth be told, it's probably not something that happens everyday.

Maybe I will never be that fun parent when compared to other mummies. To be honest, I won't bother with inconveniencing myself to bring them all over the island for enrichment programs. I mean I struggle to plan where to bring my kids during the holidays even!
But I do know that when my child needs me, I will still drop everything and be with him/her immediately.
Or after a disciplining session, I will be the first to offer them a hug and kiss to remind them that I still love them, just not the act.

I am a believer that God gives us the type of children who are best for us. Different mummies will have different journeys with their own kids, and even if we make a mistake, the fact that we are trying day after day… trust me, that's good… enough. :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

When Staying Married is anything but "common"...

Still one of my favorite pics
from our wedding...
Today D and I are 8 years old as husband and wife in the eyes of the church. I asked D what he thought the secret recipe in our marriage is, he looked at me with all seriousness and said it was him. Friends probably agree that he's probably my greatest fortune and I am his downfall… Since he's Mr Nice guy and really is adored by everyone. (Thanks guys… I'm sure if you asked him who the second messiah is, he would also say it is him)

Since the start of the blog, I have been reflecting on what I do as an impact on my kids and have hardly spend the time to reflect what I did as an impact on my spouse and I suppose the latter can't be less important than that of the former. 
While we both love each other dearly, we have our own struggles as with any typical family… Like how we would worry about the monthly expenses and the impending birth of no 4, or how we may not agree with the in laws (ok.. mostly me) while tackling it with sensitivity and respect, or how we sometimes are harsh to each other because of our words. 
The list goes on… And while we should not just wait till a special time of the year to reflect and appreciate each other like our birthdays or anniversaries, I am guilty of it.

But that's the unfortunate thing… We always forget to give our spouse the recognition that what he/she did made a difference in our lives or at least that day.
I remember one of my friends posted last year that she was delayed at work and the mr needed to wait 45 minutes for her. Out of concern, he called to check if she was okay, but she snapped at him for the call.
When she got into the car, she thought her day would end in an argument but to her surprise, the first thing he did was to lean over, kiss her and apologize (okay.. i don't know for what). The two hugged and despite a horrible day, he made it right for her. 
That post gathered over 100 likes (in my opinion it should have more… but that's not the point). And even as I re-write her post, such an act continues to put a tear in my eye...The point is, because of social media, we always tend to see things that seem to cause us to react… Anything to do with government, with the traditional view of family, with violence…. Just anything that will have two camps, we seem to follow and pay attention to it. No one seems to be keen on the "common" stuff… What's sadder is that these "common" stuff is not as common as we think. 

If I challenge any of you reading, to post for the next 7 days, on things that your spouse does that may seem ordinary, but yet makes a difference to you… Would you? 
Truth be told… Chances are you probably might… but it's probably going to be tough for you to look out for it… and because of that not post it. :) 

When D and I were preparing for our marriage, we went for a marriage preparation course which got us to write a betrothal pledge or love letter to each other. It basically is a pledge where we write to remind ourselves how to be life-giving to each other, to love the person how he needs to be loved, not how we want to. 
But it's been 8 years… And I haven't rewritten another love letter/pledge to him… and so… here goes..

Dear D,
It has been 8 wonderful years with you. Some days were easier than others but I would not have exchanged that for anything else.
And as we continue to journey as husband and wife, I would like to thank you for loving me for what seems to be a tall order. I admit putting up with me is probably not one of the easiest options you have made but thank you for doing so.
I know there are many things till now I still need to work on. 
I promise to be life-giving by considering your feelings and position whenever I can't see eye to eye with your parents. And even be more enthusiastic on family dinners and events.
I promise to be more patient and less grumpy when you ask me to do something that's out of my comfort zone even if it's for your convenience.
I promise to remember that your interests make a huge part of you and because of that I will put in the effort to enjoy and appreciate it or at least support you in it rather than putting you down for what I deem as impractical.
I promise to understand that you are trying and at times it isn't easy, and be more appreciative that you are shouldering all the pressures and stress outside so that we are able to pay the bills and a little more every month… something which I take for granted for. 
So thank you my dear, for humbling me and teaching me that someone like me also deserves to be loved.
You are truly a gift and because of you, I know God is real. :)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fatherhood - When a Boy becomes a Man...

Yesterday was one of the (rare) days which I practically like all my friends' FB posts. Most (if not all) of those I liked were posts on appreciating their partners and/or fathers for being fathers. But I realized with each "like" I clicked, I was more so congratulating their wives on a successful marriage and partnership.

When D and I were dating, we talked about the future of us having a family (like who doesn't) but our discussion surrounded more around how to provide for them and how many kids (somehow, for this, we never really settled on a number…) It was only when we had kids, did we see the side of each other that we won't see when we are dating.

Like how D talks to the children, is totally different from how he talks to me.
To me, he can be (and is) comfortable, to them, he is protective and smitten (rolls eyes). 

Or what we will do for our kids...
Like recently, Audrey woke up at 2a.m with bad tummy ache. She was having constipation (she actually didn't poo for 3 days and we left it as that). She had to go to the toilet but she thought it was too painful to poo it out (trust me it was like watching your daughter go into labour). Despite having medical training, he wasn't sure how to help her… and he felt quite awkward seeing her like that. So I sat with her and gave her water, massage her back and made her poo. After 1 hour, whatever was stuck finally came out. After bathing her, D was very grateful and actually thanked me for it (like really?) He confessed he won't know what to do if it was just him. (In case you are wondering, Audrey now poos once a day)
But when the children were babies and had problem discharging their mucus from their nose, D would suck it out with his mouth (and of course he spits it out) BUT I don't think I can ever do that…. Like… ever. (To be fair… I know many dads who have done so.. and mothers who are grateful that the dads have done so)

Or what we worry for our kids…
Like how I would worry they won't be able to cope in school and if they are being a menace in school… and how D will… not worry. (Should I be worried??) Contrary to me, he would be damn proud if his kid was a bully rather than being bullied (Should i really be worried???) BUT the mister can worry about which boy will be taking his daughter out while I'm like… she's only 6?

But both of us play a very different role in our children's lives. I personally learnt that growing up… 
My dad was an air steward when I was a child and possibly because of that (and other reasons), I didn't really have much of a memory of him being around. Most of the time, my mum was the one who tried to play both roles of mum and dad. I know she was trying very hard and I know she loves me real lot, to be fair both my parents do, but I suppose a father's role isn't one that can be replaced by the other parent, and vice-versa.
Growing up, my most intimate times of heartaches (like when I broke up with my ex), my highlights of success (like when I aced my exams/interviews) or even the problems I faced when working was always straight to mummy. But I have to say, games I played growing up (like how dad and I played hide and seek when mummy cooked), magic tricks I learnt (I reckon every father has that silly hiding a coin game which will suddenly appear behind your ear or elbow), sitting on thrill rides in a theme park (mummy thinks that life's too short to scare yourself for nothing), early morning rides from home to school (because mummy thinks if the sun is not out, it's nature's way to tell people to continue sleeping) and many more were enriched because of dad. 

I don't think I could ever raise my kids without D… I mean, unless he dies, I would reckon it would be really tough… But it would be different. A father and a mother aren't just gender roles that society deems suitable and appropriate to bring up a family. And many a time, because of women's rights and gender equality we tend to forget these two compliments each other more than anything. 

I'm grateful to D for teaching the boys how to love, protect and treat with respect the woman he married, and yet teach Audrey, that she is worthy to be treated like a lady from the man she will love in future. 
I'm grateful to D for being able to handle the pressure and stress of providing for the family so that I can concentrate on just looking after the family's meals, disciplining the kids and schoolwork and even sneak in things I would want to do at times.
I'm grateful to D for making parenthood enjoyable. For being my support and my anchor when I have doubts on motherhood. 

Maybe because of their limited daily vocab usage, dads hardly teach their children how to live their lives, but their decisions and actions in life show their kids how to do so. 
So to the fathers out there… May you always be blessed with a Father's day moment of appreciation, to know that what you do makes a lot of difference to your kids and more importantly your wife. :)




Monday, June 15, 2015

When Education Begins at Home…

Occasionally we hear of our friends telling us that they are thinking of relocating to another country for retirement or just for a change of environment.

Is the grass really greener on the
other end? 
However, of all the pull reasons why people go overseas, one of the things that came out was because of the education system. Those who have spent quite some time overseas observed that the children growing up in an overseas education system are in general happier, nicer and more appreciative. In other words, Singapore kids, besides becoming rigid, fixated in being exam smart, have become more competitive, nastier, and less humane. 

Yes the problems of parenting just got magnified. How do I teach my children to be kind and appreciative, be contented and grateful, and yet to practice the virtues of striving for excellence or even to encourage taking risks and even maybe being shrewd?

I didn't think the singapore's education system is the sole reasoning for the upbringing of our kids… but the mister doesn't agree. His point is that with such a system, one looks only at the results. In general, parents slog day in day out to make sure their children don't lose out. Chances are any free time the kids have would be taken up by an enrichment class (sports or educational) or by tuition. In fact, to them, they may not even know or care if their parents had to work that extra hard for them. Hence, in order not to fall victim into such a system, is to leave this system to go to somewhere which you know you won't be tempted to go through the same cycle.

However, overseas education system would also mean a greater exposure to premarital sex, drugs and violence… (Which means… I may have a kind-hearted and happy druggie as a kid?) Though interestingly, there are studies which support the idea that Asians tend to actually hold on more to their asian values should they go overseas. Unfortunately, for now, it doesn't provide me any form of consolation.

I asked D whether the size of a family makes a difference to how a child may turn out. He did agree that he noticed that kids coming from a bigger family are generally nicer. However, it's not because of the size, he mentioned that it's the mother's influence that made a difference. He pointed out that most of these families have mummies that spend a substantial amount of time at home too. These mothers don't necessarily spend a lot of one-to-one time with their children. In fact, with more children, they would definitely be busier. While they may not necessarily spend time sending and fetching their children all over singapore for classes, their children are with them most times to observe how they communicate and talk to other people. Even if it just means a simple conversation with the neighbors or the fishmonger (Okay… maybe we can modify the latter to the NTUC auntie).

Basically, D and I concluded, that the things kids pick up by seeing how we as parents communicate would make a difference to whether our kids will turn out nice or not. With that in mind, it becomes a daily challenge for me. Given the nature of my job, my time is relatively flexible and I stay quite a substantial amount of time at home. While it allows me to assess their work better, the kids also will tend to assess how mummy behaves to different people. 
Like how mummy reacts when the helper doesn't understand what is needed to be done or when something is done wrongly. (Lord, help me) Like how mummy behaves when her mummy nags at her and all. (Lord, Help Me) Or like how mummy responds when her husband's mummy insists on doing something that is opposite of what she has intended to do. (LORD, HELP ME)

They say love makes you want to be a better person. I don't know if "want" is really the right word to be used here… But because I love my kids, and I want them to be better people… everyday now becomes a reminder that for this period when they still think their parents are the world's best…. I need to realize that how appreciative, how nice, how humble or how loving they will be in future, depends on how appreciative, how nice, how humble and how loving I am now. 

And I have been trying… I just hope this is the best education system I can offer my kids. :)

Image taken from autismmythbusters.com

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

If we live like our kids...

The society we live in today seems to be filled with a lot of negativity, hopelessness and cruelty (not just through actions but words) and the irony is most people are okay with it… 
It's amazing how God always (tries and) speaks to us through someone innocent and less intimidating than us - Children. 

1) Look into the mirror and love what you see
Recently, a friend of mine posted a video of her child checking himself out in the mirror. His first reaction was to smile and kiss the mirror. 
If you google baby in the mirror, you will realize he is not the only one. Babies in general love what they see in the mirror. To them, they are perfect… as what God had in mind when He made us.
I am guilty of that. I look at the mirror and I only see the bad things - my eye bags, my wrinkles, my uneven tone, my fats whatever. I don't mean one should have no pride in looking good and I don't mean one should be vain and go the other extreme. But what I need to learn is I need to love myself and be kind. Something which I had forgotten like many years ago.. thanks to the influence of not Barbie but woman's magazines…. 

2) Forgive ever so readily
Yes my kids do fight and argue with each other. They do get reprimanded and punished for being naughty, but even after a bad shelling, it always amazes me how they will readily come to me to hug and kiss me, like nothing had happened. Of course they know why they were scolded but the fact that they were scolded didn't change how they still want to hug or kiss me. 
Some may argue that it's nature's way to ensure that they are loved, but to me, to even want to empty their pride (which trust me… they have a lot of it as well) to come and readily offer the hugs and kisses speaks volume of their ability to forgive.  
I'm not sure if I can do that as readily as them… even if it means to my loved ones. Maybe it's pride, maybe it's arrogance, but this is something I know I am severely lacking. It's a constant reminder that by emptying my pride, I may not have anything to lose…

3) Believing ever so faithfully
I don't know if you ever played this game with your kids before. After a haircut or maybe getting a "new" look by putting on your spectacles, your child gives you a discerning look and you tell them that you are Auntie XYZ. But they know immediately that that's utter rubbish and you are still… Mummy/Daddy.
OR like how when we celebrated Julian's birthday recently and we teased him at dinner, telling him that it was not his birthday since there's no birthday cake in sight. He just smiled and said it will come after dinner. 
I have experienced God's presence in my life many times and I appreciate that. Yet, my faith isn't as strong as it should. If only i believed as much as them… :)

If I live like how a child would be, would life be easier? I doubt it. But at least I would appreciate life. :) 

Friday, June 5, 2015

If I stop being that competitive mother…

Audrey just finished term 2 and we met the teachers… In general, Audrey has been progressing well in class, in short she's not teacher's pet but the teachers don't worry or have complains of her. Audrey did an average of 80+ for all her subjects..

But here's the confession.. she actually did slightly below average amongst her peers… And one of her friends, whose mother and I are good friends, did WAYYYY better than her...
Knowing that didn't make me feel good. Don't get me wrong, I didn't set her out to compete with every and any p1 girl. Ironically, if she comes home telling me that she's always trying to be better than her friends, I would be quite concerned and tell her to just focus on her own race with herself. So why am I uncomfortable?

The truth of the matter is, I am competitive (Okay.. I'm not that crazy to compete on whether my kids' poo smell nicer than others). It's like how my kids perform in school was an indication of whether I was a good parent or not. So to put it bluntly, it was really just my pride/ego being hurt. (Or in asian context, loss of face)

I took this week to actually revise with Audrey all the weak areas in math. I'm not sure if it's universal, but if your child is in p1, chances are she/he will have quite a bit of difficulty doing questions like these:
John has 5 apples. Mary has 4 more apples than John. How many apples do they have in all?

Somehow, Audrey sees "in all" and she just adds the two numbers. She sees it as a one step question since prior to this, she's been just doing one-step questions. If you are having problems with this type of question w your child, maybe you can try rewording the question to this… as a start to introducing to them that such questions are 2 step questions..

John has 5 apples. Mary has 4 more apples than John.
A) how many apples does Mary have?
B) how many apples do they have in all?

We tried solving the question with manipulative and it did seem to work for a while, but somehow without it, Audrey still hasn't managed to get the concept.
Egg carton with colored ping pong balls….

She managed to answer the questions correctly when she used the manipulative
But come the next day, when I tried again (without the manipulative), she got it wrong again. It went on for 2 days… it wasn't working. My patience was getting shorter. I couldn't understand why she couldn't understand it. It was painful for both her and me.
Fortunately, in comes the mister. He broke the question down for her… and in his own way (because he wasn't competing with anyone but focusing on her) he managed to get her to see it within 30 minutes (Darns! I lost to the mister too!

The mister got her to break the question down step by step… To be fair, I did it too…
But he made her write it out… I didn't
I suppose D and I knew it was a two step problem. Here's when NS did some good. Even if he knows she is smart, he is treating her as a fool. I know she is smart and I thought I could be lazy with the minor details like getting her to write it out step by step.
And because he managed to do it right…. He got A+ for review.
Seeing that she now is able to do the questions, made me feel proud of her but ashamed of myself. I was too eager to make her get a concept that I got impatient waiting for that "A-ha" moment. I wanted to achieve something (through her) and she wasn't enjoying the process… neither did i (trust me).

Truth be told, now upon reflection, I don't know why I was even competitive or who was I competing with. It's a thin line that I wanted the best for her, yet I was actually trying to mould her to make me look good. So my question to parents is… when you decide to send your child to enrichment classes… was it really for the kids' benefit… or yours? Think about it… 

A little treat for the little lady...
Of course every entry normally has a "happy" ending… I recognize that Audrey is a sweetheart who persevered and sat through another hour with me clearing her math concepts… and I brought her out for a surprise - Her favorite foot massage. (Guess a little bribery won't hurt.. :P)

What's my point? My point is this… I didn't achieve anything by being competitive. I didn't get any result by being over anxious or over zealous, in fact it went the other way. She's a child and I should go at her pace rather than she follow mine.

Trust me, it's easy to say (when your kids are younger or doing well) that you won't be such a parent… But… chances are 8 out of 10 of you will be… :) I hope after reading this… you will be the 2 though. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

A Parent's View on Parenting

It's been some time since I last blogged. Truth be told, besides being busy and all, I really didn't know what to blog about. I had some people messaging me asking me if all was fine… and don't worry, I'm alive, still pregnant and married. The kids are still alive… :)

SO, I was having dinner last night with some friends. While mostly were parents, there was a non-parent amongst us and because I was sitting beside her, I spent most time chatting with her. Conversations with her made me reflect what I was like in the past…(Honestly, if I were to chat with my old self now, I probably think I would slap myself. )

Here's what I used to think before the kids came…

1) Seeing a child making a ruckus in a shop… I told myself if that's my kid, I would slap him/her
Yes.. Cardinal sin #1. We always think we are a better parent when we aren't the parent. If a child misbehaves in public it's because THAT parent was a softie and had been spoiling the child… after all they are just kids, how difficult can it be to discipline them. If anything, just a slap should shut the kid. 
When my kids came, I cannot understand how they are angels with me alone but in front of family and friends, they know how it you are more compelled to give in to them. *rolls eyes* 
Audrey has had many times when she challenged me in front of her beloved grandparents (Oh… how i hate that) and how childless couples commented that they would handle it better than me (Oh.. how I hate that even more). 
These comments don't help the situation. They won't make you a better parent. It only increases your self-doubt and make you feel worse. Stay calm, it will be over… soon.
(That said, if you are guilty of making such comments… remember this… Karma.)

2) I would be my child's best friend… 
Hmm… I'd learnt that my children will have their own friends and best friends. My role is firstly his/her parent. That's usually not the popular role. In 10-20 years time, I'd probably be snooping (by chance of course) their Facebook (if it's still popular then) or whatever account to see what is happening in their lives. But my role is to equip them with (enough) life skills to let them lead a meaningful life and know that should anything happen, they will always have their family around. 
But yes, I was naive to think it might be possible to be their best friend… it possibly might, but hmm… I'm fine being my husband's best friend. 

3) My parenting style would be different from my parents…
There was something that was different… I didn't use canes/hangers/rulers or whatever to discipline my children. But otherwise, essentially, every parent tries their best given whatever circumstances they faced and that is what I cannot deny. Growing up, I have to say that I took the hardships my parents went through for granted. I grew up thinking that they didn't understand what I was going through… and the rules and restrictions set by them stifled my growth. Well, that's debatable but thanks to that, I have held on to certain values and growing up, I was guided by these virtues than the ones from society (which is practically.. none).
There's always a reason why people say that they appreciate their parents after being one themselves… 

4) I would love my kids more than my husband…
Okay… I love my kids… They are essentially my pride and joy. But I love D much more too. I mean… I really can imagine growing old with him (I can't imagine supporting my kids till I die though…) My kids make me laugh because they are funny, cute and adorable (very objectively speaking…) but D makes me laugh even in a very lousy and shitty day. In fact, I think I enjoyed parenthood because I enjoy my marriage… 
But of course, not many people would agree with me on this point. In fact, most would say impossible… but I guess, one day, my kids will grow up and have their own lives… and it will just be D and me… and I guess I will be a happy old lady… 

5) I won't be able to cope with more than 2 kids…
I wanted to make use of my masters, excel in my career, be a hands-on mother etc. But when kids came, the career portion obviously didn't happen. The mother bit was always a bit unbalanced. I mean like I felt I had exposed Audrey to more things than Isaac. I was mostly guilty. Then of course Julian came and hmm.. career was definitely not happening… BUT I learn to be less hard on myself. I just tried my best and it's enough. What each child got may not be 'equal' but they really didn't know it was not 'equal'. The best thing is… the kids are happy regardless. And that's what matters. OH! And the kids really will sense that you are trying, and in their small ways, they will help to either ease that burden, look after the younger ones or at least themselves… and just make you a happy parent.
So as I always say… Have more kids… it makes you a better person and parent. :)
(BUT if having more than one will also give you a panic attack and cause you to be suicidal, then just have 1)

So yes… here's my view on parenting… it may be different from many of yours… But i'm sure there's some that will speak to you as well… Hopefully for the better. :) 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Is success for ordinary people?

Yesterday, I was just browsing through my Facebook page and stopped at a profile that was a friend of D. She's not a celebrity or anything but with almost every of her post garnered at least 100 likes. She is barely 30, not married, owns a business in technology (one of the few women in the industry), gets invited to seminars and talks(with other who's who) to share on her experience and empower women, gets featured in magazines and papers and finally looks every bit a head turner.

And I remembered thinking to myself.. "Wow! What would it be if I was her?" In my eyes, she seems to fulfill a person's idea of being successful. Then I wondered if I was successful.
In fact, how do you define whether someone is successful?

To a person with little education who yearns for education, a person with PhD or academic excellence will be one with success.
To a childless couple who wants children, any others with kids will be defined as successful.
To someone who has no career (or not much), will view someone with high paying jobs as one who is successful.
To someone who has never really been dating or have a loveless marriage, then obviously someone who has been lucky in love is successful.
To someone who lives in a small apartment, then someone living in a huge place is deem successful. 
To someone who has little money, then anyone who's rich (regardless it's old wealth or not) will be successful.

You get my drift. Basically, success to one is defined by what others have and they don't. In short, it's subjective, depressing and possibly over-rated. 
But the essence of it is, can one be successful still if the person doesn't love himself/herself
If you think about it, it's always easier to love others than to love oneself. To be kinder to someone else, to be more forgiving and highlight their efforts than ours. 
And hence, my challenge for myself  and possibly you reading is… Can you be successful loving yourself?

I'm not saying the world should be a more selfish place by putting oneself over others, but to be kinder to oneself.
I take baby steps in loving myself.. and some can be as bimbotic as it is… but hey, at least I'm being nice to myself.

One of the best things I learn from my kids is to see myself in their eyes. Like when I think I look like a piece of crap, Julian comes up to me and says I'm more beautiful than the girl on the magazine. On days when I feel lousy, Julian comes and sits beside me and want to spend time with me.. and ONLY me. On days when I am unsure if I'm getting this parenting thing right, my kids tell me that they won't want another mummy but me. 

Even if I am not defined as successful in the eyes of the world, my kids think otherwise and the irony is, sometimes they want to be like me! 
I suppose we can only appreciate success when we truly appreciate and love ourselves. With whatever you have, it's a success already. Go out and celebrate that… with a little love for yourself. :)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

An Appreciation of My Cesarean Scar..

So April is Cesarean Appreciation Month.. and before the month comes to an end, I thought that since I have had 3 c-sections, I thought I should blog about it. (But I really don't know why it requires one month to appreciate cesarean…)

No one really shares about it. No one really talks about it too. But with my FIRST c-section, I felt like a total failure (and that possibly added to my postnatal blues… on top of the uneven boobs and the still pregnant figure). I mean I was young when I had Audrey and throughout the whole 9 months of pregnancy, all the books I read focused on the delivery… Vaginal delivery. (Okay I don't blame them, I mean what can you write on c-section that would be interesting to an expectant mother)

So when Audrey required c-section after 12 hours of labour (thank God for epidural), I was disappointed because it felt like after preparing for everything, I didn't manage to finish it. It didn't help that (almost) everyone around me had vaginal delivery, everyone had felt contractions, everyone had something memorable about it. Mine was just… mechanical. I was simply envious of my friends who could have it…
When you have a vaginal birth, everyone asks about the delivery process… When you have a c-section, everyone just asks how's the baby…

After conceiving Isaac, I read about how mothers tried for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth after cesarean). I had hope! I could actually have a different birth experience this time. Except my doctor, who's very experienced and conservative, told me that just because I wanted, it didn't mean I could have it. He told me the stats - basically 80% of the women who have had c-section manage to have a vaginal birth. However, the 20% who don't, not just don't get a vaginal birth, the complications could be worse. (Now that he said that… HOW TO EVEN TRY FOR VAGINAL BIRTH???)

Somehow, with vaginal births, there seems to be a greater deal of empowerment, recognition and support than mothers who had c-sections. It's like when I had to give birth to Isaac and asked D for a "push gift", he would ask me how I even qualify for it when I didn't even push. (Okay I didn't even do anything… I just lied there under GA)
It's like having vaginal birth without any medications ranks right up there, followed by vaginal births and only then comes c-sections.

After 3 c-sections (Btw, I only have ONE scar because it is always from the same place), I learnt quite a bit…

1) Having c-sections doesn't mean I failed as a mum
Just because I didn't deliver vaginally it didn't mean that I love my kids lesser than those who did. We still go through the same routine of waking through the night, fretting over the kids' growth, laughing at the child's success and crying over the times when we can't seem to get it right.

2) Focus on the baby not the birth
After 9 months of wait, I should be happy that I have one more child to love and love me. I should be happy that he/she is alive, healthy and "oh-so-adorable".  Regardless of how the baby came out of me, he/she is the star, not my birth.

3) Congratulate myself on a job well done
I once heard a guy who told me c-section was as painful as stitching his finger without any LA. (I just gave him the death scare and told him he's funny.. which of course, I did't mean it) And while I didn't feel any pain during delivery, the post delivery was terrible. I remembered on the second day after Isaac's birth I was just crying in the toilet when D was helping me with my bath because it was so f****** painful.
Here's a video of how C-section is carried out… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgOkMT3cdDI
It reminded the steak I have every now and then, and that's why even I can't finish watching it.
Point is, the body goes through a whole load of damage for c-section and to think that the birth is less than that of vaginal is really silly of me.

Humans have a very short memory for pain. Pain aside, I am just happy that we have the technology to make births possible. I could die from it… but thank God I survived it.

Monday, April 20, 2015

When You Laughed.. Because of your child.

Compared to many of the mummies I see, I'm possibly one of the laziest mothers who doesn't bother with the child's milestones. (I do remember when they are born though!)

Okay but ask me when they took their first steps, what their first words were, when their first tooth came out etc, I have absolutely no idea. We also hardly take photos of them (so their future wedding montage, if it's still an in-thing, would have to be animated) or with them… I don't know if my excuse is because I'm too busy or tired… Or if I have always thought that there will be the next time.. Or I will remember… 
Well, I don't… and I didn't… (So if you are one of those like me… You won't too!

I did wish I could turn back time… And I did get curious as to what other mothers would wish for… And… Hmm… My heart just broke reading what people googled on….
At this point friends, please pray for mothers going through times like these…..

Mother's regret is always something that bugged me. I do have mine too.. Like last year, Audrey was still rude to my mum (after many times of talking about it with her), I got really upset and I slapped her (on her face…). I am very strict with my kids, but honestly, as far as possible, I don't resort to slapping or caning. I regretted that while I taught her patience, I didn't practice that with her. And to be fair I was more upset of the loss of face of her being rude than just her being rude.
After that, fortunately, D stepped in and spent one on one time with her while I went for a friend's wedding. I did feel bad and fortunately kids have the most amazing ability to forgive (okay but that doesn't mean I would encourage anyone to abuse it) and with a hug and a kiss, all was made up.

Yet, I realized missing milestones aren't the biggest regret I had. Missing the everyday moments is. So my question and challenge to parents.. Do you remember when was the last time your child made you laugh? Was it today? Was it yesterday or was it last week? 

I'm the disciplinarian in the house, and when my kids behave badly, it will be very much highlighted in my radar. I decided a few days back, instead of focusing on things that the kids did wrong, I should look at the times of the day when they got it right or at least when they didn't mean to do wrong. (I'm VERY sure there are more right things than wrong)
Like yesterday, I was at Watson's with Julian. A male-looking woman came and help me to look out for some products. After she finished, Julian asked what did the "uncle" say to me. (she was still beside me…) I almost fainted from embarrassment and I whispered to him it's an auntie. He took a double look and said "No mummy, I meant the uncle" (this time in a whisper) I laughed. Not sure whether it was because at him being confused or him just following my cue of whispering (in hope that the lady didn't hear
So I laughed. And yesterday I laughed more than once (Like when he called his playmate Gloria, Gorilla). It wasn't one of those days that I had tasted success in anything in their milestones.. but it was one of the days that it doesn't matter… and it shouldn't for most days.

Normally when in the car or at dinners, I would be busy fiddling my phone (darn technology), checking out Facebook (darn technology) or just google on anything interesting (darn technology). When the kids get too noisy or start to say things that didn't make sense, I would then shush them up.
For the past few days however, I made the conscious effort to listen to their conversations… Not that it made more sense now, but I know one day, these nonsense will stop and if I don't focus on them, their conversations with me would just answered with the word(s) like "ok", "Ya" or "Don't know".
Dinner times, I would switch it to silent mode and put it in the bag and just focusing on eating as a family with them. The other day, we let the kids try wasabi (just a little bit) and their expressions were hilarious! 

Yesterday, I put away my phone when we drove off for dinner, and turned around to check on the kids. Audrey's smile caught my attention. She smiled so beautifully… and I'm glad I wasn't on the phone, because I would have missed that image. 

Regrets isn't God's way to make you feel guilty. It's His reminder that you can do things better. :) 

Friday, April 17, 2015

What a Mother of 4 really wants as a Baby Bonus...

I had Audrey when I was only 26 and looking back, while there were times when it got a little trying, I never regretted having kids. In fact, the reason why I wanted them early was really because I was scared I couldn't have them.

People normally joked and said that D and I must be Singapore's most bored couple to keep having them…  (Some of our friends have kindly suggested a new tv set with better programs etc to keep us entertained.. God bless their souls) But many don't know that when I was younger, my aunt died during childbirth. 
They never really wanted kids until she was in the early 30s… And even though she was considered young, she never really thought she would be that few percentage that would have problems conceiving. When my aunt started to try, she had quite a bit of problems with her womb. In the end, she did IVF. Even with that, the journey wasn't easy. 
She suffered one miscarriage and for the second one, she was always in and out of hospital because of threatened miscarriage. Then came the day for delivery. Her amniotic fluid flowed back into her blood stream and she died on the operating table without having a good look at her daughter.

For her, money wasn't the issue. Accidents happen, and while there's regret, I know she's in good hands. But from her, I realized while we can plan for anything and everything, we really cannot plan on how many kids we have or if we can have them.
I didn't want to leave anything to chance. D and I agreed that each child is a gift and if God were to give us, He will give more to sustain us.

Having more kids didn't mean D and I had too much money (rolls eyes… they aren't properties you know). Neither did it mean that we had so many accidents and we didn't know how to count… (In case you were wondering, Audrey was planned). But we cannot deny, the joy and meaning they bring to our lives is priceless.

However, not many have the desire to appreciate these joys. I have to admit that on my part, my aunt has greatly played a role as to why I wanted kids and I want them young. Schools and even church seldom highlight and focus on the intrinsic joys a big family would give. 

I know children are expensive (trust me…) and besides whatever the government has done so far, if they asked me… I wished they could consider these:-

1) Hospital fees (and maybe childcare) to be increasingly cheaper for subsequent births (and child)
Every two years with the same delivery procedure (same hospital, same room, same doctor, same procedure) from Audrey to Julian, our hospital fees would increase by at least $2000 each time. And this is just the hospital fees.
You know how we always have a Buy 2 get 1 free concept? I'm not saying (though I don't mind) that my third delivery is free, but what I'm saying is a repeated customer should have some benefits… 

2) Transportation grants 
We got housing grants, we got education grants, how come it stopped short at transport??? Currently our car is a five seater, we know at some point, we need to reconsider that. Now between getting two cars and getting a 7 seater, we know the latter is a cheaper option. (Of course some smart alec will say use public transport, but I really don't think we should over work our trains that much) 
Now with the new loan ratio and all, to even consider getting a 8 year old 7-seater needs to be recalculated. While it doesn't need to be a luxurious X5, that grant does help cushion the pain.
3) Large families get higher priorities to schools of their choice (Ohhh I love this one)
As much as small families cannot comprehend why large families should get such privilege, I cannot understand why small families are on a same ground for school registration. I would rather Audrey go to another school and while we were within the 1-2km and 2km of the other two schools of our first few choices, it was not possible because suddenly, everyone shifted near there or had grandparents living there or whatever reasons. 
But the thing is they only get to use the benefit once or twice (for most)… I have no 2, no 3 and no4 waiting to go to school too… 

4) More income tax relief for dads.
I suspect why the benefits are usually tied to the mothers because the mothers are graduate and they are earning quite a bit. (The irony is some mothers don't even work after first child, so what is income tax) But honestly, maybe for the third and fourth child more benefits can be shared with the fathers. D definitely earns more than me and because he does, he bears more of the expenses of the household. 
At this point, I literally don't pay tax (and i declare them honestly). But the whole concept of the richer you are, you should be taxed more, should be reviewed at other angles like if they have more dependents. Julian's milk powder cost $100+/tin (he drinks Enfagrow stage 3) and while we have not gone to the stage of giving him condensed milk mixed with warm water, we pay a lot for their basic needs. I'm sure there's cheaper ones but Julian has been drinking that since young, and different milk powder has different taste, so it is really personal. We tried fresh milk, but it doesn't satisfy him as much as formula. It doesn't help that he is a milk vampire so each tin goes through quite quickly.
My point? Though we may earn above national average, so too is our expenses. And these aren't luxuries on ourselves but main things like milk powder and diapers for our kids. 
I find it silly how we need to earn more to make sure that the family has enough, just to be taxed on our personal incomes (which is over and above GST which is how much we spend). So… should we earn more or not? 

Family life may not make economical sense to many … and it doesn't. At times, it's better to be single and just spend the money you earn, but where's the meaning in it?
For now, and for most parts in our lives, we can only trust that God promises us that He will guide us through. :) 

Have a great weekend guys… with the ones that should matter the most to you. :)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

When You are Thomas the disciple

Taken from www.stawoodhaven.org 
I don't know if you feel the same, but to me, the twelve disciples who followed Christ were not just 12 different people but each was a character relating to me at a different phase in my life.
I had even been Judas before… Not that I 'betrayed' Jesus explicitly but I chose something else over Christ… and at one point thought I was not worthy of the goodness of God.

D and I have been discussing about finances, selling our place and renting a place near the boys' school for P1 registration etc. We also had some concerns about the hospital bills in case it escalates because of any pregnancy complication. (Well, as this time round my placenta is quite low and there's a risk that it would attach to the previous wound and in worse case scenario, the doctor would need to remove my womb in case of any excess bleeding). That conversation kinda left us a little down and stressed (okay and lousy). It was a conversation that confirmed our fears and uncertainties.

Interesting enough, yesterday's gospel reading at mass was on Thomas (John 20:24-29), okay if you forgot what the reading was just like what you forgot what you had for breakfast today, it was essentially him saying that unless he puts his fingers to Jesus' hands and place his hands on Jesus' sides, then would he believe that Jesus has resurrected. 

Thomas, who had the privilege to experience the goodness of Christ before, doubted that Christ had (or can be) resurrected. It's interesting that Jesus ended with "You believe because you can see. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe". Peter was able to walk on water, yet when the wind blew, he started to fear and doubt.

Personally, it's not that I didn't believe that Christ was God. It was because I focused too much on my fears and worries. And even if you know that everything is going to be okay… you need faith to believe that to the end.

Faith to me is not just the absence of fear but the call to humility. 
I need to be humble to recognize that I am not in control, He is.
I need to be humble that my life isn't in my hands but His. 
I need to be humble to know that God has never left me no matter whether I hear His voice or not.
I need to be humble to know that I don't know everything and I don't need to. 
I need to be humble to know that He is God.

Picture from pinterest.com
Thomas, the apostle, probably learnt that lesson when he touched Christ's hands and side. That lesson had lasted him through his whole lifetime where he died a martyr. 
To be fair, even after a good night's rest, the worries we had yesterday still are here today. But the difference is, those aren't only my concerns anymore and because they aren't just my concerns, I have the privilege of leaving the worrying to Him and enjoy the moment of it. 


Hopefully reading this would sustain you through the week. :)



Friday, April 10, 2015

Can you really teach a child how to cycle in 30 min?

So D wanted to teach the children how to cycle. He thinks cycling (on two wheels) is important for the children since it's like the basic life skills like swimming.
(I don't know about that… I mean… it's not like the kids now need to cycle to school from now on...)

So since the Mr was free and we had some time in the evening a few days back, we decided to teach them how to cycle. But before any parent teaches their kids how to cycle, you need to do prep work first.

You need to get them a bicycle (given), remove their supporting wheels (if any) and also the pedals (Bet you didn't know that). Basically, you are stripping it until it becomes a balance bike.

After which, as any typical parent, we geared them up with their safety gear and off we went to the nearby park to cycle. The plan was simple. We bring them to a park, find a slope and let them balance as they come down the slope.. (At least that's what the video says… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMIyC0tMt1s)

But what the video didn't say is the ratio should be 1 adult to 1 child. (Maybe it's given but we didn't realize it) Also, always remember if you have fun coming down, it may not be the same going up. We chose a short slope initially but it was so short that before the kid can really get the feel they they were at the bottom of the slope already. So we progressed to a longer slope. Problem with that was while it was great to get them to balance, we needed to make countless trips up the slope (with their bikes) and down (to receive the kids).

The kids trying to balance...
After a while, we got tired so we just got them to balance on a straight path. If they reached a certain point, they will just turn back. (This reminds me of those silly gym classes we brought Audrey when she can't even walk.. And we had to go round the obstacles while carrying her… i mean how's that gym for her???? But yes that's one of those silly things I've subscribed to)

So did the kids managed to cycle? Julian was too scared to go down the slope, so he did better on the pavement, but still that was restricted mainly to just him "walking on wheels". Audrey managed to get a hang of balancing first. She had some points where she managed to cycle a little, but after awhile would lose her balance. Isaac could go as far as balancing but not yet on pedaling. So we spent 1 hr in the park and the kids still weren't able to cycle. (D and I were realistic about that)

Well, to be fair, if we wanted convenience we could spend $100/hr for each child to get a coach to teach them, but that would rob us of the chance of witnessing the kids' milestones. On hindsight, the journey of doing an activity with them was more meaningful than being efficient.

As you guys have read in his guest post, D had a period when he was ultra down. He sometimes wished that time could fast forward so that he gets over it soon. But he recognized that even at our down point, we have other things given to us which distract us from the pain we went through. If time really past quickly, these things would as well… and sometimes these other things bring more joy than the pain from the challenges.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

P1 Math… The downfall of a P1 Parent...

I am not a Math Professor, neither do I have a degree in Math. It may seem that I have a bone to pick with the math syllabus, but I don't. I just don't understand why certain methods make sense to the publisher, and certain methods don't make sense to the teacher?


So, here's one of the questions found in the P1 Math Workbook Part 2. Now in case you are wondering why these questions were solved with an addition sign, it was printed with it so the children had no choice but to solve it with the addition sign. 
(I'm sure it was so confusing that even the teacher marked the corrections wrongly for question 1)

There's just some things I cannot understand..
1) What is the purpose of the picture of 8 pears and a paper bag again?? (how does the bag even help me to solve the question???)
2) How would a teacher assess if a kid gives such a working? Should the 1 mark for working (which may not make sense to me) be given the mark or be marked 0? 
3) How does it make sense to solve it using an addition sign? Assuming if the question does not have pictures (relevant or otherwise), a kid would now need to think through a process like this:
Step 1:
8 (original) + ___ (bought) = 14 (now)

Step 2:
14 - 8 = ? 

Then wouldn't it be better to just teach step 2 direct? 

4) The intention of/for such questions. Are we encouraging a (forced) creativity in solving questions here? 

To be honest, I am not at all comfortable with this assignment. Can someone honestly tell me if the solution makes sense? Something maybe I have overlooked? 
I asked D to see if he could understand this… and even he couldn't explain it… (He's a man of few words… but this left him speechless)

But at this point, I'm just a frustrated parent. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Big Gender Reveal…

Considering that I had 3 c-sections before, D and I knew that this would (most likely) be our last kid. We already have 1 girl and 2 boys… So I really wanted a girl but D wanted a boy. His belief was that boys were easier to look after when they hit their teenager years. (You see, with a boy you just need to worry about that one dick… with a girl, you need to worry with the rest of world's)

Our friends had even a running bet on what the gender of the kid would be. Mostly rooted for boys (based on history/"statistics", like how is 2 boys ever good enough for statistics???), a few sympathized me and said it would be a girl. And so last Tuesday when I went for my thorough scan that was the main thing in my mind.
(It's ironic how 7 years ago, when we had Audrey, because of D's preference, I was hoping that it would be a boy… yet now, I am hoping it was a girl.)

I don't know how to see too.. but i
guess it's easier to read.
I'm always amazed at how the sonographer can fish out so many details from the one scan. So anyway, the big reveal. She showed me the bottom and said, "this is what you are having". (There was an awkward silence because I didn't know what was that)
Realising that she typed out girl. (Yay! I win)

Now we know the gender, it was time for the name choosing. Our previous three have quite traditional names but somehow for this child we wanted something a little unique. And so… our choices - Kristy/Kristin Dawn Goh or Kyra (pronounced as kEE-rah) Grace Goh.

Kristy/Kristin means a bearer of Christ, while Kyra means "of the lord" in greek, "little dark-haired one" in celtic and "far-sighted" in old persian.
Chances are we would be waiting for the kid to come out and decide which she seems more like… (I mean she definitely would be dark-haired but that's not the point) 

Through the name given, one can simply translate what the parents had wished for their child. At the beginning, a parent's wish would be very simple and basic - to be healthy and happy. But somehow, I for one am guilty of wishing and hoping for more - be successful in life, marry well, study well, be well-liked, live well etc. The list goes on.
And during the holy week reflection, I had wondered what had God wished for me when He made me. Did He make me just to make Him known and hence to glorify Him or did He make me because He loved me and it's unconditional?

I'm not God and with my limited intellect, I will never find out the answer until I die. But let's just say, I realize that my task now for my kids is to love unconditionally (which doesn't mean to spoil them) and hopefully with that love, it will bear gifts that will last them through their lifetime. :)



Monday, March 30, 2015

The Pursuit of Happiness - by D

Hi everyone, this a guest posting by D.
Happiness is a topic that has been hotly debated and always on everyone's mind. Here in Singapore, in my growing years and as an adult, we have always been exposed to views in the media that happiness meant material happiness; the 5 Cs: cars, cash, condo, country club and career.

And so it was that when I graduated and started my own business as a naive and doe-eyed individual, I never saw what was to hit me. My business flopped and I tried to move location to keep it afloat, incurring huge debts in the process. Things got so bad that at one point I didn't have any income for 6 months, my dear wife was expecting our daughter in a few months and there were mortgages and business loans to pay. Naturally I ended up in hospital twice in the middle of the night with stress-induced gastric attacks. Things looked bleak and happiness seemed so far away... My friends, on the other hand, had blossoming careers and I was wallowing in self-pity; until one day I received a revelation from a very unlikely source, the little-known B-grade movie The Legend of Bagger Vance. 

Will Smith and Matt Damon were the leads of this movie. Matt Damon was a prodigious golfer who was winning awards until he hit a rough patch. Will Smith appeared from out of the woods one day and became his caddy and life coach. One scene which remained etched in my mind was when Matt Damon was playing a major tournament and his nerves were getting the better of him, so much so that he was making amateur errors and failing to keep pace with the leaders. Will Smith told him to deliberately hit his golf ball out of bounds so that he would effectively take himself off the pace of the competition and he could play his own game. He did just that, went from strength to strength, and won the tournament.

I closed my business, sucked it up, kept my head down, started working seven days a week and paid off the bad debts. I played my own game and was no longer concerned about whether other people were soon better or worse than me. I had found my nirvana.

I learnt many valuable lessons in that time. My wife and children were my biggest joys and this really was the true happiness that was all along under my nose. They gave me great strength to persevere and at the end of a hard day, just the sight of your children running up to you to greet and hug you is enough to sustain and nourish you. When you have to fight for a greater cause than yourself, you know you will not fail.

In the movie of the same title as this blog post, Will Smith fights tooth and nail to ensure survival for his son and himself. I personally find it a very moving and powerful movie. When you fight for the survival and a greater cause than yourself, you will succeed. 

I have learnt many lessons in my short lifetime. Man proposes but sometimes God disposes; to make you learn certain lessons and to show you the true meaning in life, sometimes you just have to learn the hard way. 

I wanted to fast-track my career but He made me learn Patience. I wanted riches but he showed me unconditional Love from my family, which is far more valuable than any worldly riches. He opened my eyes to how nasty people can be, even your own friends and ex-business partners who will not hesitate to take advantage of you; and I resolved never to be like them. 

Happiness is not a destination, it is a decision. You decide your own happiness and find your own joy in the mundane grind of life. Get rid of old baggages and see the beauty of the world and Life! My true happiness is knowing I get to see and spend quality time with my family, doing things for people who cannot repay you.

I genuinely delight when people do well in their careers and family. I do not profess to be a sage and have all the answers in life, but like you, I am still trying...

To quote the great Lee Kuan Yew: "At the end of the day, what I cherish most are the human relationships. With the unfailing support of my wife and partner I have lived my life to the fullest. It is the friendships I made and the close family ties I nurtured that have provided me with that sense of satisfaction at a life well lived, and have made me what I am."

I live my life according to two mantras: "Illegitimi Non Carborundum" and "No Regrets, Not Now, Not Ever", as I go about the pursuit of Happyness.... 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The tyrant with a heart…

During the past week, if you switch on the television, most likely you will be watching documentaries on MM Lee, or at least updates on his mourning. It is sad that my children will never truly know how much LKY has impacted Singapore. To Julian, LKY is just the old man who died.
(Isaac asked D why had LKY died and D explained that he was very old and very sick. Julian looked around him saw another old man, he said "he's going to die already…. everyone going to die already" shook his head and walked away.)

Throughout the week, I learnt more and more things about MM Lee which amazes me.. Like how he rejected the $3.3m bribe or how much he has influenced India that they have declared a day's mourning for him (You mean TH also invest money into India??)
But above all, the things that stuck me were how humane this tyrant could be and how loved his wife must be..

1) They were so interested in each other's lives… They WERE each other's lives...

A friend shared this was her
 favorite photo of him… It is mine too
I am sure many have heard this before:

Woman was made from the rib of man,
She was not created from his head to top him,
Nor from his feet to be stepped upon,
She was made from his side to be close to him,
From beneath his arm to be protected by him,
Near his heart to be loved by him.

For 63 years, MM Lee trusted his wife as his equal, his confidante, his life. While he wasn't a Christian, his marriage was his covenant to her. She was his pride and while she always walked two steps behind him, he felt good having her there.

It's amazing how a "chauvinist" like him saw her as an equal. How he trusts her enough to confide in her all his woes and concerns. How he respected her enough to seek and asks her for advise and actually listened to it. (Not many men can do this..)
It's amazing how an educated woman like her saw him as her pillar. That while she knew they were in this together, he was always the head of the family. That while she was busy managing the family, she never felt tired or bored listening to what was happening in his life. (I can't do this either at times..)

I pray and hope that D and I won't take a lifetime to appreciate the fact that we are each other's lives...

2) Their marriage vows weren't just words
How to die like that?
A friend once posted on Facebook that the wedding day should be the day when one loves his/her spouse the least.
There was once when I needed to depend on him after the c-section for Isaac. He had to help me to the toilet and bathed me. He was helpless seeing me in pain, but he tenderly cleaned me and was patient with me. (I was touched… not just literally.. and I knew I could be vulnerable in front of him)
D and I haven't talked much about what would happen when we grow old and fall sick. I mean we planned our finances for fear that we become a burden to our kids, but we never really discussed on what would happen, how we would look after each other, how we might cope with each other's physical liabilities should we one day reach that point. (We did share that how he can't die before me.. as I won't be able to cope)

The fear of not being able to cope alone must have struck a man like MM Lee who saw his life partner become more and more helpless. 
We recognize that one day our kids will grow up and have their own families. D and I know that one day we will only have each other to depend on. Mdm Kwa lived on for a few more years because she had someone to make it worth living, not because she was scared of dying. That's the difference.

Whether you are married or not, is your life worth living?

3) What would life be without the other?

Finally… in life and death, they are together
Many reports have gone on saying how there was a void in MM Lee's life after the passing of his wife. At her funeral, he continuously planted kisses on her lips and face as he knew he was going to miss her dearly.
Even though he had other things to focus on - his country, his family and his work, it was never the same. It took him 9 months to get used to life without her. His health was slowly deteriorating and his life was left with a void.
When younger, I always asked D what would happen if I was no more around. He always said, "Like that la". (Okay.. I was more like hoping how his life would change and how he would be miserable and ladida… but oh well… I grew older and I thought this wasn't important anymore)
MM Lee foresaw what life for Singapore be in 30 years. How can he not foresee what life is like without his partner? I applaud MM Lee for despite all these, not give up his will for living. No one else knows how hard it must be, and we can only imagine. But I'm glad that their 63 years of togetherness continues into eternity now… 




Thursday, March 26, 2015

When the "Tiger Mum" Learns to just be a Mum...

This week has been declared as the mourning period for LKY's death. Throughout the week, videos have provided insights  to what his family is like. (I've learnt many things watching the videos like what's "aplomb" and "jaunty" which I bet not many know either.) One of the things I am very amazed at is how his parents as well as he and his wife were able to somehow groom each child into a maverick. (How come they never write a book on that as well????)

If you have been reading my blog, you will realize that Audrey is quite an independent learner. No doubt, her academic is not my major concern as she gets her concepts fast and I find that my role when teaching her is to make sure she doesn't become complacent or arrogant. I can be harsh with her when needed and push her when she is taking things too easy. In short, she's an "angel" baby when it comes to studies.
He finally got "Ge" right after reading it
as "Yi Ren" for so many times
Isaac is her exact opposite. Don't get me wrong, it's not because he has bad attitude. (In fact, he doesn't understand why people even need to study.) Yet, when you asks him to sit beside you during revision time, he does so happily and with so much enthusiasm.
Unfortunately, Isaac is what society deems as a slow learner.

Yesterday, Audrey had netball in school and I took some time to go through his work with him. There's no denying that Isaac has been lagging severely in his studies. If there were 4 points in the instructions, he probably remembers the last and maybe the first, but he will not be able to digest everything. I can go through a new word with him 5 times, and when we revisit it 5 minutes later, he won't be able to remember what the word is. (Guess we need to revise it 10 times now…)

After sitting with him for just 40 min to do 6 pages, I decided I needed a break. I realized that if I
Two of the pages we attempted
yesterday...
continued, I may actually start to raise my voice and get impatient. I applaud him for his perseverance and told him that he was free to play his toys.

That night, the Mr and I had our own dinner. Because of what happened in the afternoon, halfway through our dinner, I broke down and cried. (The Mr obviously got uncomfortable this time… imagine you are in a restaurant, and you see a woman crying while having dinner with a partner… you will be thinking.. Confirm quarrel)

D asked what happened. I said that I felt bad because I didn't know how to help Isaac. What's worse, I fear that Isaac wouldn't be able to cope in such a system as ours. I shared that how for the next few years when he gets formal education, he's just going to fall through the cracks and suffer.. (Okay, i'm exaggerating a little here…)

D smiled, and asked me when I see Isaac, what do I see.
Amongst the three, he is my most well-behaved child. He is the kindest and gentlest. Surprisingly, while he's not the oldest, he always looks out for his siblings. Like when he and julian wake up from their nap, he will take on the responsibility of changing Julian (and him) out of pampers and help him with his underwear and shorts, before switching off the fan/air-con and bringing him down. (No one told him to do so…)
He is the most giving. Sometimes, we leave our stuff upstairs in our room, and when we asked him to help us to bring it down, even if he was in the middle of something, he has no hesitation doing it for us. (Though he will ask sheepishly why are we so lazy)
He's also the most charming amongst the three. I remember we were in a birthday party when two girls were fighting to play with him. One even cried when the other girl managed to hold his arm. (That was awkward… to see your son being so "hot")

But yes, that is Isaac - the happy-go-lucky, innocent, child-like kid.
If not by me, if not once, academics can always be taught. But these virtues… it's a gift. How do you teach a 5 year old to be charming, to be giving and to be kind?
The toughest part was to accept that the world/system might be unkind to him… of course, I could be the system and force him to adapt in it… but he won't be happy and what good will come out of it?
On the other hand, I could just congratulate for remembering that word we tried to learn for the past 30 min.. and know that he is happy, secure and enjoy life.

He's my child. And I his mother.  And while it is tough for me to not be sucked into the system, my promise to him is that he matters more to me than that. I have to remember that he is here to live God's plan, not mine.
Will he be successful? I don't know. Will he be loved? I am sure. :)