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…
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 
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
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…

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. :)