Last year for Mother’s Day, I wrote a long long letter to my mum expressing my gratitude and love for her. I wish at least one of my 3 children will do the same and write an appreciation and love letter to me while I am still healthy to read or listen. Since I was “crowned” the MUM title 10 years ago, I appreciate my mum more than ever. Now that I am a mother of three, she has become my source of inspiration and guidance at every nuggets of mothering I come upon. I wish the same for my children, who will view me as a source of inspiration and good guidance to their future parenthood days.
Anyone who has stepped into parenthood will agree that this is no easy job. We all know that the portrayal in advertisements of a loving family featuring smiling parents and tender loving touch to each of the children lasts as long as that few seconds of air time on TV. More than half the time is disciplining the children, adrenalin levels shooting high, worrying about things that happen, will happen and will not happen, finally, shouting and fatigue surely make the chart.
If motherhood seems such a tough and shit job (literally!), why do I have kids after kids? Why do I envy my sister in law when she was pregnant with her 5th child and envy my childhood friend with her 6th baby?
There is only one explanation for that : I LOVE CHILDREN
Sometimes when motherhood hits me more with downs than ups, I wonder if things would be better if I had just stopped at 2 kids. I would have more time with my 2 elder kids and more time for myself. I would have been able to play board games with the older kids without a little one disrupting our games. I would be able to indulge in bedtime reading with my elder kids snuggling up beside me while they listen to age appropriate Science fact books, Tom and Jerry comics, etc without boring the little one on my lap, who is more interested in flipping away the pages. We would be able to go on roller coaster rides as a family and not take turns to look after the little one and fretting who to partner the 2nd child. It is certainly easier to bring the 2 elder kids out without the little one running off in all directions towards his favourite coin-operated car rides in the malls. And on and on…
If we didn’t have the 3rd child, we would have missed out much more joy. The elder kids love the little one to bits. They are EXTREMELY patient with him although he disrupts their playing and at times, is a tyrant in the house. I can enjoy the baby days again, and now the toddler days and relive the days when I am the centre of universe in the little one’s world. With the 3rd child, I am much more patient than with 2 children. I learn to take things slower and at the toddler’s pace. I learn to listen to his wants and let him guide me to appreciate the little things in life. I even find myself become a better mum! I cannot imagine a day without the little one. And I am proud to call myself a mother of 3.
I do not want my children to be put off with the demands of parenthood. In particular for my daughter, I want her to read her mummy’s thoughts in this blog. I want her to know that even though being a mother is not easy, there are ways to ensure you do not lose your identity and able to find enjoyment in motherhood. I wish my children will grow up to love children as much as I do.
1) Come what may
It was hard for me to not seek for perfection in motherhood. When things do not go my planned way, I used to lament about it and it upsetted me. It could be how having children in tow can disrupt plans in anything we do. It could be accommodating to a toddler’s nap time and going back early so that he can have a good sleep on his bed. It could be cooking ONLY the children’s one and only favourite vegetables and missing out sambal kangkong (chili river spinach) or bittergourd in our home meals. It could be missing out movies because my toddler just cannot stay still in cinemas. It could be that I have planned for the early precious 1 hour morning blogging because today I have this motherhood blog post to publish like now, and my toddler woke up at 530am and refused to sleep, and want me to play with him. My blog post is not even half way done!
As we learnt along the way, I realized that I need not let circumstances spoil our plans, I learnt to accept what will come and not be insistent on routines anymore. My toddler can sleep on our shoulders or sling if we are out shopping or having fun. Nowadays, I will cook a variety of dishes to introduce different foods to the children. Last holidays, we chose an animation movie and we giggled when our toddler babbled with his usual volume in the silent cinema. He did fell asleep halfway through the show and we were happy that it was a successful attempt to watch movie as a family. I learnt to work around circumstances and blog while he is pooing beside me now.
Come what may, we will accept and adjust to any hiccups to our plans and lifestyle. My focus is on having a fun time and have a positive mindset. Our elder children learn to adjust to changes in plans too.
And there are days when I wish I can just hit the sack the moment I come home from work and wish I need not bother about the children. There are periods when disciplinary problems creep up and lasted for weeks. These are challenges that, in my mind, I know, are temporary and will be over in no time. Give me any challenges and I’ll be able to overcome them.
2) “Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass . . . it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” – Vi Greene
I love this quote.
I like to apply it to 2 things in motherhood.
First, when children’s growing up pains hit me with disciplinary problems or development setbacks, for example, weeks of toddler waking up in the middle of the night for milk after sleeping through for months before that, I accept these challenges as temporary and periodic. I believe that they will be over in no time and all I need to do is accept them as part and parcel of growing up. I tell myself that I need to handle these challenges calmly and have a positive mindset.
Second, I will not wait till my kids are grown up before I indulge myself in my rightful womanhood.
And what’s that?
Being a woman and everything a woman should be.
No diapers and milk. Just indulging in simple pleasures like enjoying that whole banana split or packet of fries on my own and not having to share with little children. Being pretty and have some basic make up even when I am out doing groceries or wearing a nice T-shirt when I go to the wet market. Enjoying manicure occasionally even though I know the beauty is short lived after washing dishes or building sandcastles with little ones. Go out with girlfriends and not wait till my kids are older to have more free time on hand. Rope in help for child care arrangement and go on a honeymoon trip with hubby and leave all guilt behind. Ok, I am still planning for one after 4 years hiatus.
Being a mother does not mean sacrificing the image and needs of a woman. I once read somewhere that mothers can be resentful of their children after realizing that they have sacrificed too much of their prime lives and neglect their well-being during their motherhood years. That is a very sad thing to happen. Everything is about striking a balance and taking care of ourselves before taking care of others.
3) Keep Calm and Mother On
The key to keeping everything under control when things do not go your way is to Keep Calm.
I particularly love this quote “Keep Calm and Mother On“. A very cool advice indeed. That kind of sum up what I want my kids to know about Motherhood. My mum always tells me what my grandmother told her when she was a young mother at age 22. At very challenging times, she reminded my mum that with children, she had to be very, very patient. So, when I find parenting very trying, especially when the periodic disciplinary issues came up, I had to keep my cool, take a deep breath, or several deep breaths and tell myself to be very, very, very patient. There are many times when I lost my cool, regretted and hope to right things wrong. But when unpleasant words are hurled out of my mouth, there is no turning back. When I lose my cool in front of the kids, there is no turning back too. So, ‘keep calm and be patient’ become my “motto” of motherhood.
In a few years time, when my kids reach teenage years, I will probably write a similar blog post for teenage years motherhood, and then 20 years down the road, if blogging still exists, I will blog on grandmotherhood. All mums have their own learnings that they want their kids to know about. And I would be curious to find out what are yours? I welcome you to share with me in the comments!
This is part of a blog train on Embracing Motherhood hosted by a super resourceful and cool Stay At Home Mum of 3, Dominique from Dominique’s Desk. Check out the next mum, Ruth on how she embraces motherhood tomorrow!
Ruth started out uninspired, unhappy and unmotivated. After becoming a mom, she has started living healthily and now wants to help other moms thrive as well. She decided to go back to work after being a Stay Home Mom for 1.5 years. Find out why over at her blog .