Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Parenthood Resolutions for 2016

I had lunch with some girlfriends yesterday. Within the group, there were 2 pregnant ladies (In case you are wondering… it's not me) and 2 who were engaged. So naturally the topics we talked about mainly revolved around motherhood and marriage.

It was surreal talking to them because we are all the same age but I had the most number of kids (okay… but it's really quite hard to find someone who has the same number of kids at my age) and was married the longest. So suddenly, I was like the grandmaster in the group (My brief moment of pride :P)

That night, after putting the kids to bed, I sat and wondered what I would do differently since it was the start of the new year and before the year pass me by again, I thought, I shouldn't just let the regret build up.

1. Assure the second youngest child in the family
The kids don't sleep on their own unless the grandparents stay over. So usually, the older two sleeps with the dad while the younger two sleep with me. (Isn't it amazing that even when we don't sleep on the same bed, we still managed to have 4 kids??)
Julz holding on to my hand
during TV time...
There was a period when after Kyra was out, Julian was "forced" to learn to be independent and do what the older two do. I have to admit there was a period where he did have some insecurities and was feeling threatened by no. 4. But because I was so caught up with the newborn, I overlooked it. Just recently, I started my habit again of being beside him  just before he sleeps at night. I would just pump out my milk, pass it to the helper who will handle Kyra while I spend that few minutes with him, kissing him and talking to him for a short while before he sleeps.
On hindsight, I realized ever since I started doing that, he's been less disruptive and demanding. Just because he is a big brother to kyra, I often forget he is still only 4. Maybe it's because he's starting to act his age. Or maybe because we went back to quality time with him. Whatever it is, if spending 15 minutes a day at night would give me the chance to remind him I love him as much still, I will grab it.

2. Letting kids play with the simple things
Thanks to the move, I am forced to pack and unpack many things. It's unbelievable how just within a year, we can accumulate so many things. Amongst them… toys. Because they are the only grandchildren for both, when one gets a toy all get a toy too. (The problem is they are not sharing a toy) So for example, I have 3 lion heads because of Chinese New Year, X number of trucks, Y number of balls and the list goes on. Somehow, when we went forth to multiply, the toys also did too. (And no… we are not the ones who have been indulging them)
To be fair, they don't just love playing with play dough and lego, they really just love playing. For example, our sofa cushions contain feathers. Through the years, due to wear and tear, we get some feathers poking through the fabric and escaping. One day, both Isaac and Julian just took a loose feather each, threw it up and tried to catch it. It later progressed to them letting it go in front of the fan and catching it before it touches the ground. (I have to say that took some skill)
They spent quite some time entertaining themselves with it until it was time to bathe. I was proud that they discovered that game and was prouder to see them modifying the game. It could jolly well be a plastic bag, a tissue, cardboard box or even erasers. The amount of laughter and fun they got from it was no less than the toy they were given. The difference is one teaches them to find opportunities in ordinary things, the other just feeds their immediate impulse.

3. Take more photos
I may have a camera function in my phone, but I am really bad in taking photos of the kids. I always reckon that it really takes a lot of effort going after each kid and taking photos of all 4 kids. But I do recognize that, these growing up moments are best captured and framed in pictures. So I decided that since I do a lousy job taking pictures, I should let the kids do it for me. Hence, I probably go visit cash convertors and get three second hand cameras for the kids. D and I are planning to go Bangkok for a family trip this March (God bless us). And the kids will be allowed to take photos of the sights that excite them. We probably talk about their pictures before they sleep and save it into an album. (I just hope that they practice the value of responsibility and look after the cameras) But it may be fun… so why not? :)

4. Be more aware of my emotions when disciplining the kids
Compared to D, I am more short-fused. Unfortunately for the kids, I am also the disciplinarian. It took me 8 years and 4 kids (and age) to mellow down. Now when I am feeling frustrated with the kids, I'd always wondered how I look from the kids' perspective, or what emotions I might have manifested from the way they look and respond to me. I do worry and wonder if all they see D and I as the fun parent and the angry one.
Image from www.wsj.com
Just a few days ago, I asked Audrey whether she had any homework from school. In both times I asked, she said no. I left it alone and went ahead to do the packing of the house. My mother-in-law came and within minutes of checking, she found out that Audrey had some work to be done. I gave Audrey the death scare. I was angry at her for lying. She knew grandma was there and immediately went to her for refuge and cried. That made it worse. It didn't help that grandma was trying to come up with an excuse for her. I stood my ground, scolded her and told her to go up to my room with me. When she was finally up, she stopped crying. (What a great actress she is) I admitted to her that because of what she did, I was very upset with her then and she should quietly do her work while I cool down before I thought I could talk to her calmly. Within minutes, I felt better and was able to help her in her work. In between, she even shared about that day's school's performance. After her work is done, I had a word with her on being responsible with her work. She acknowledged she could do better and we ended the session with a hug and a kiss.

It is tough to be a poker player when it comes to your kids. But if they aren't a good enough reason to be a better person, then what is?

5. Carry them more
I've stopped carrying my first two because they are just way tooooo heavy for me. But with Kyra and Julian, I am glad that I still have the chance of lugging my koalas around. Very soon, they too with grow big and I won't be able to carry them anymore… But before that time comes, I too should really hold and hug them more in my arms.

6. Have more faith
The gospel last Sunday was about the wedding at Cana. In case, you aren't too sure what the reading is about, there was a wedding which Jesus and his mother attended. Unfortunately, the host ran out of wine and this was brought to Jesus' attention. He told the servants to then fill the jars with water. And when the servants took the water from the jars, it became wine. Better than the original wine which was served.
I'm not sure if anyone ever wondered what will happen to the servants if they had served water to the guests. The truth is, whatever they did, they acted because they had faith in Christ. (even if they didn't know he was christ, I mean that was his first miracle after all!)
It's reminders like these that I am ashamed at myself for not believing that regardless what situation, I have enough grace to go through it.

I have made my choice to work on these. I'm not sure if I will be able to succeed but at least working on it is a start. What about you? :)

Monday, January 18, 2016

Growing as a Parent

Heaven is a place called home.. (image from
Every time when I meet with friends, they are all amazed that I am surviving with four kids. I don't regret having them and I always tell my friends that until you have them, you will truly understand the immense joy they bring. Truth be told, even with four kids, I still get tested, feel helpless, and yes, motherhood makes me feel lousy at times.

Just a couple of months back, while playing with each other, Audrey kicked Julian in the balls. Julian's privates swelled up a great deal and he was crying and screaming. I spent the next few hours bringing him around the clinics to make sure all is good. (As a general rule, apparently as long as it isn't painful when you press and peeing isn't a problem, it should be okay)

I took Audrey and Julian out from school the next day and wanted them spend some time together and hopefully maybe talk to them about being nicer to each other. I planned for Slappy Pancakes that morning and thought the kids would have enjoyed themselves making breakfast together.
However, I should have known, there's no such thing as "go as planned" with kids. Before we could leave the house, the two argued because one didn't share a piece of paper with the other.

Throughout the whole journey there, I had to spend the time discussing with them about their actions. While Audrey was okay, it didn't sit well with Julian. When we got out of the car, Julian was throwing a tantrum. He was screaming and shouting and didn't want to join us at the table. He wanted us to leave. Fortunately, that day I was given enough grace to be cool about it and sat at the table with Audrey ordering our ingredients. Julian was still sulking at the corner and once in a while, he would be shouting things like "I don't like mummy anymore", or "Mummy is stupid" (Honestly, if he was not my kid, I would have smacked him upside down) Through it all, I would invite him still to come and join us when he is ready, however he still chose not to. (I should be given sainthood for this)
Sitting and sulking in a corner...

And because there was no reaction from me, at one point, Julian took out his slippers and threw at me. We had a table beside us, and the little girl told her mummy, "mummy, he actually threw his slippers at them" Honestly, if I was there alone with him, I would have left the restaurant half way and we would have been on the way home. However, I saw my first born enjoying herself and I felt it was not fair to deprive her of such joy because of him and chose to focus on her and pretended to enjoy myself.
Deep down I was dreading each minute. I felt embarrassed and thought in the eyes of the others, I must have been the world's greatest failure. I would have cried but I knew I couldn't.

After awhile, Julian finally either got hungry or got tired and asked me to go to the corner to bring him to the table. (Finally, God took pity on me) When I started to talk to him about his behavior, he clamped up and refused to listen to me. Finally, I admitted to him that I was feeling hurt by his actions. With that, it suddenly sounded foreign to him and he seemed to realize something.
Pancakes have never
tasted so sweet..

My mother's instinct told me that what was said was enough and we just continued making the pancakes. I thought that the initial lesson of teaching them to be more loving towards each other isn't going to happen today especially when we just ended a trying session. I left the table to get some water and when I returned I was amazed that my daughter was feeding Julian pancakes. They were laughing and they just enjoyed the moment. And for that moment, they were loving.

On hindsight, if I had acted on my emotions and left the restaurant, I would probably have robbed them this chance of enjoying each other's company. In fact, a little part of me was proud that I didn't react to the situation but responded putting my daughter's needs above mine.

If sadness was created for humans to appreciate and understand what joy is, then trials in parenthood are invented for one to appreciate the immense joys it brings. Everyday has its own set of lessons waiting for us to grow as a family… all I know is, I only fail when I stop trying. And if you love your kids, you are ready for the challenge. :) Share with me what lessons you learn from parenthood!!! Otherwise… if you are reading this… You will be fine! :D