Saturday, November 26, 2016

In my time, Mummy

Kids grow up so fast they say. (It doesn't feel that way when they misbehave or they wake you up in the middle of the night.. somehow you wish they grow up faster) But when all is calm and when you start to think back through the years, somehow, they are right. 

Isaac's graduation class photo
Even though Isaac is only six… but within that time, he's gone from crawling to running, babbling to reading and just last week, he's graduated from his kindergarten. (Yay to cheaper school fees but OMG to he's going Primary School???

I remembered just March last year, I actually broke down halfway through dinner with D as I felt Isaac was struggling with his learning. (In case you missed the posting, you can read it again here:

I was worried that he will not be able to cope in school, that he might be left behind and that he won't be able to succeed in future. (Though at that time I didn't have a benchmark or an idea as to what success would mean for a kid…) BUT because he could not remember  what was taught 5 seconds ago, or he could not recognize his alphabets then, I freaked out. It didn't help in my paranoia that at that time other kids around his age were doing much better and some friends suggested that he might need medical intervention. 
I remembered feeling helpless and just breaking down in front of D thinking that just because Isaac might not succeed, I had failed. (Mothers can be so hard on themselves)
I mean, besides smiling and charming people around him, he couldn't read and didn't talk much, besides knowing how many robots there are in transformers, he  didn't have any number sense and could not do simple addition. In short, even as a mother, I saw what he couldn't do more than celebrated what he could do. 

And while people with good intentions will tell you that exams are overrated and there's more to life than school exams, no one would be able to feel the anxiety more than the parents. (Because hello, most professionals come from the same few leading schools) At some point, I got frustrated with myself. On one hand, I really wanted them to enjoy their childhood, but on the other hand, I can't help but compare with their peers on where they stand. I found I was struggling because I didn't know what I actually valued in parenting. 

At least in Singapore, the hallmarks of the child's life are punctuated with the different exam points in their school life. The highlight for a 10 year old is the streaming exams, for a 12 year old the PSLE, the 14 year old the selection process of subjects for O levels, the 16 year old the O levels, the 18 year old the A levels etc. And so, for parents somehow, we use this benchmark to decide how we have also fared in parenthood. If the kids achieve good results, it would indirectly translate that we have done well in our parenting styles, at least in the eyes of many others.
But I personally have never been really successful in the education system. I mean, sure I didn't fall through the cracks of the system, but I didn't achieve top scores. Not many people know this but I actually got D7 for my GP in my AO levels. SO yes… I didn't have a full A levels certificate and if you did get it, you are already one up above me.

Image from
But only when we take a step back, we also know that exams results don't guarantee health, happiness and love. I remembered a few months ago, Isaac read out a bible passage on the screen and I was pleasantly surprised. Even if the words weren't difficult, I cheered because he could read. There were times when he surprised me too with his logic. Like recently, while D was driving, he asked D if he could drive faster. "How much faster?" D asked. Isaac took a look at the speedometer and said "220km/hr." D laughed and explained that's not possible. "Of course it's possible papa, if not why would they put it there?" Isaac innocently asked. 
Moments when he looked out for his younger siblings or when he so willingly give up his things for them warms my heart more than what he got for his spelling tests.

I asked D what he thought success was and he told me that the moment when he can do something without worrying what other people thought of him would be the time when he is successful. (Wherever does he get his wisdom from???) I agree.
I still find myself struggling and on that account, Isaac has done way better than me. Of course he loves to be praised and complimented, but even if it looks silly, he is far more courageous to try it than me, or my 'smarter' kids.

Such things may not be recognized in a school test, but he will be fine in life. And I should learn to be too. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

All in the Name of Love

What is done in love, is done well. - Vincent Van Gogh

So I was at a wedding recently where a couple chose to write their own vows. The groom, feeling up to it, promised the bride the following:
-To wake up earlier than usual everyday to make breakfast for the bride
-To pack and clean the room everyday
-To do all the night feeds and diaper changing when the baby wakes up in the middle of the night
-To give her absolute freedom
-To give her whatever he earns

After hearing the first promise, I told my friend if D was here, he would have said "siao" (which means crazy in hokkien) and I was right.
When he finished, I turned to my friend and said that if he were my son, I would not be smiling. He laughed and told me I have aged. 

When I was younger, I remembered calling my parents up during school hours just because I am thinking of them and to tell them I love them. I don't know what changed, but I don't seem to (be able) to do it now. (Hmm… actually, I don't remember when I last said I love you to D… )

Even as a mother, I still struggle with expressing my emotions and being affectionate towards my kids, especially when they are growing older now. Even holding hands with my kids is more of a practical basis (like not losing them) rather than a 'motherly' reason of wanting them to be close to you (which is probably the same as not losing them I suppose..)

I'm not proud of the fact that I'm 'cold'. In fact, I do envy my friends who have a close relationship with their kids and parents. But strangely enough, I do get uncomfortable trying otherwise and it makes me somehow 'socially awkward'. After some tries, I end up going back to my usual comfortable 'cold' self. 

Truth be told, I don't have a great …good... much of a relationship with my in laws. I mean they are nice (and I honestly think I am quite nice too), but apparently nice people don't necessarily have great relationships.
Our relationship is more cordial than friendly and given a choice, I don't think I would do anything on my end to actively try to have a relationship with them. (Especially when I'm not an affectionate person.. this becomes much harder) 
Unfortunately, I have learnt that many times this puts D in a very uncomfortable position, especially during the moments when he has stood by me and supported my stand on certain issues. (Let's just say the conversations they have will not be pleasant

I have often wondered how is it ever possible that Love can always be patient, kind, not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs? But the decision to love does help. I may not necessarily love my in laws, but I love D and loving him makes me want to do something for him with his family. 

We didn't enter the marriage blind to what problems our families might bring. Naively, we thought they would go away or get better. The in-laws issue never went away from day one… and truth of the matter is, it might never will. While we do argue about it, we are not going to throw our marriage away for it. 

Frankly, such decisions are never made with such conviction. Somehow, everything seems to be magnified when D's the hardest to love. But fortunately, at those times, praying for grace helps… not immediately, but we get by easier. 

So just like the groom who made those promises on his wedding day and got everyone doubt and laugh at his decision to love, he will only be the fool if he gives up trying.